The Lady And The Poet

“Once, poets were magicians. Poets were strong, stronger than warriors or kings — stronger than old hapless gods. And they will be strong once again.” 
Greg Bear

I’m in Adelaide for a conference this weekend. The event began with welcome drinks at our hotel last night, but I was feeling tired and poorly and wanted soup, so I snuck out the main doors thirty minutes before our event began, hoping to find something more comforting than alcohol and strangers. It was my birthday on Thursday, and I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on my life and sitting in meditation and prayer as I asked for clarity about my road ahead. I wanted to prolong this soulful space just a little longer, so I honoured that need and heeded my intuition by heading out into the night.

As I wandered up the city street a man called to me. He was sitting on a small ledge outside a closed shop, rugged up against the cold. In his hands was an upturned empty cap, immediately marking him as some kind of busker or beggar.

‘Can I offer you a poem?’ he said.

I apologised and explained that I was in need of soup. But I promised him I would stop on the way back. As I walked off I saw his look of resignation, and I knew he’d been told such things many times before by people who hadn’t come back.

A block further along I found an excellent soup and dumpling house, ate a bowl of steaming oily broth with wontons and bok choy floating in the silky liquid, and then made my way back out into the busy Friday night streets.

I stopped in front of the poet, who was stooped and huddled on his seat. ‘I’m ready for that poem,’ I told him.

He sat up straighter. ‘This one is about the drought,’ he said, ‘and a message of hope and rain for our farmers.’ After which he launched into his poem.

He spoke eloquently, dramatically. It was a performance filled with emotion and delivered with care. I have long been a lover of poetry, and this one moved me deeply. It took me to the heart of my country. Within the words I also felt a strong message of hope for my own life – the symbolism a gift threaded with a secret meaning I was sure was just for me.

When the poem ended I stood for a moment, still wrapped in the imagery and sentiment wrought by his words. Then I reached for some coins.

‘Did you write that yourself?’ I asked as I fumbled in my handbag.

‘Yes’.

As I zipped open my purse I saw smaller notes, a handful of coins and tucked away right at the back my ’emergency hundred’ – a green crisp $100 note that I carry in case I am ever in need of a larger sum of money at short notice.

I thought about my capacity to earn money, and how much my work is valued in the world. And I thought about the poet, sitting on a cold city street, hoping to trade his words for coins.

It seemed inequitable. The poet had shared something original and good. Something that had given me insights and meaning and unexpected value. I reached for my emergency hundred and handed it to the poet.

He gazed at the note in his hands, then up to me, and then back to the note.

A tear came to his eye.

He tried to give it back to me. ‘Haven’t you got something smaller?’ he said. “I don’t mind if you give me something smaller.’

‘It’s fine,’ I said. ‘Please. Take it. I want you to know that I value your work. I value the gift of the poem you gave me tonight. It would mean a lot to me for you to accept my gift in return.’

He nodded, his eyes downcast. Silent.

Finally, he looked up.

‘What’s your name?’ I asked.

‘Justin,’ he said. ‘And you, you’re a true lady. Thank you, my lady.’

I walked away with a full heart.

Rain Princess by Leonid Afremov

Celebrating Life, Lungs and Second Chances!

“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.” 
Chad Sugg

A little while ago I received an invitation in my email. It’s for a party this weekend to celebrate something extraordinary. Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of my dear friend Carly-Jay Metcalfe‘s double lung transplant. Carly has Cystic Fibrosis. At the time of her transplant things were dire and she’d been given just a week to live. Suddenly she was gifted life again through organ donation.

So this weekend we’re celebrating her Transplanniversary with a quiet little gig for family and friends. Of course we will all be thinking about Carly’s donor and her family too, because while we are celebrating Carly’s life we are all aware that one family lost their loved one and donated organs which enabled our gorgeous girl to be saved.

Carly-Jay, or Carls as we call her in our household (Aunty Carls to our dogs – she is Godmother to Rufous!) is one of my dearest friends for so many reasons. She loves books and writing and good coffee and mugs of tea as much as I do. She has a wicked sense of humour and one of the biggest hearts I know. And she and I are both in the second-chance-at-life club and the socially unreliable club. Illness often means we break dates with one another. It’s just how it is.

That’s me on the left: almost blind, drug-bloated and rocking an eye patch and dark glasses after I lost 70% of my vision in one eye and 90% in the other as a result of life-saving medications for an acute hospital-acquired superbug bladder infection – the same infection that recurred and nearly killed me last year. Carly insisted on taking me out for breakfast AND cut up my food for me, put my coffee cup in my hand and was my human seeing-eye-dog. We were practising me being blind because it was predicted I would stay that way. Carls kept me entertained with rollicking descriptions of everyone around us and hardly bumped me into any furniture at all. What a treasure she is! (And yes, I eventually got most of my vision back, luckily!)

Carly having blood taken from her foot, because we both belong to the crappy over-used veins club!

Carls and I live with chronic and progressive degenerative illnesses (hers is Cystic Fibrosis and mine is Late Stage Lyme Disease with Lyme Carditis). We share the same kind of normal – living with often unseen aspects of disability (not that we think of ourselves as disabled – more ‘unabled’ when poor health puts limits on us) that impact us and our families. Modern and alternative medicine keep us alive, upright and functioning, but sh*t still keeps going pear-shaped for us, and our health is a very up-and-down road. Carls isn’t just a friend. She has been my live-in nurse and helper on more than one occasion after I have come home from hospital, or have struggled with treatment for one thing or another. I’ve been her cheer squad when it’s all been a bit horrendous for her too.

It’s good to have someone to talk to who gets what I am going through, and who can share a laugh with me over such awesome topics as incontinence, fatigue and crappy veins. That’s what friends are for, right?

I’m so looking forward to Carly’s party on the weekend. (I have a few catering surprises for her too, in honour of another friend we lost suddenly to illness some years ago, but stay tuned for those as they need to stay secret for now!) One of the most powerful things Carly’s taught me is to rock your scars and own your wounds, and both of us subscribe to the philosophy of celebrating the everyday, and laughing, no matter how bad things get. So we’ll be doing lots of laughing and celebrating come Saturday. With snacks. And loved ones. She’s still here. I’m still here. That’s worth celebrating!

Life is beautiful, and every breath is a gift. For all of us.
Sending all my love to you, Nicole   xx

PS: Just a little reminder. When you die you won’t need your organs anymore, but someone else might. Please consider becoming an organ donor and have that chat with your family and friends.

My beautiful friend, Carly!

Fun With Friends!

“Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.” ~ Richard Branson

 

Hi Lovelies,

I’m in Adelaide right now, which is cold and wintery and wonderful. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to my channelling event on Monday night. I love being able to hug people and put a name to the face of friends I have only known online.

This week I have a balance of work and fun, and I’m lucky to have one of my favourite families taking me around the sights and to delicious eateries and magical places.

Yesterday included private appointments in the morning followed by bookshops, pop-up crab spaghetti restaurants (no – that platter in the pic was not all for me!), ice-cream and lots of laughter, hugs and sharing. After dinner I had an early night back at my hotel room with meditation, a hot shower and then a long sleep beneath clean sheets.

July is a month that focuses on relationships, heart connection and soul nurture, and I’m certainly getting plenty of that right now! I hope you’re managing to find some connection time too.
Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

    

 

An ordinary night of magic!

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

We’re in the city right now, and last night something quite wonderful happened. Our neighbour joined Ben and I and we walked a few blocks down the road in the mild winter air to our local Japanese restaurant.

After a casual and delicious dinner we strolled home again.

That’s it. That’s all that happened.

No biggy, right?

Except that it was. When you live with chronic illness it’s amazing how small your world can become. For the first time in a long while I went out at night. I walked to a destination and home again. And had the energy to do all of that and still feel good about it.

I hardly ever go out at night, and so to combine dinner, friends and walking feels like some small kind of very tasty miracle.

Hooray for feeling better, and for life!
Hugs and love to you, Nicole  xoxo

Join our Book Reading Challenge for April 2018

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  
~  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for April…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in April.

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Monday Oracle 16 April 2018

Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” 
~ Ann Voskamp

 

Hello, Lovelies!

April is a month that brings a delicious flow of new ideas and inspiration. Your job is to honour this flow, making room for change in your life and for acting on these ideas and inspired thoughts. If you’ve lacked direction you’ll be glad to know that April gifts you sudden flashes of insight and clarity. Keep that in mind as we look at the gifts of inspiration which the oracle card Four of Wands brings us.

I just love the message of this week’s card!

We’re reminded that tiny steps taken each day in the direction of our dreams will indeed help us to eventually achieve them. It doesn’t matter how small that step is, just as long as we are putting one foot in front of the other.

From the smallest and most humble of beginnings great things can grow. So it’s okay to start small. In fact that’s one of the best ways to start anything.

But don’t start from a place of chaos. If everything’s a mess take some time to clean things up first so that you can begin fresh and unfettered by old stuck energy.

Want to grow things faster? Think cooperation. Think finding a team. Think gathering support around you for your ideas, projects and dreams.

When we surround ourselves with people who believe in us or who are further along the path than we are we can grow ourselves as well as our dreams.

What dreams can you put some energy and love into for the week ahead?

Supportive crystals this week?

Clear Quartz amplifies intuition and your ability to tune in to Universal and Personal Wisdom. It’s a great stone to enable you to understand at a soul level what you really need. Amazonite helps you to live bravely and from your heart, especially in regard to your creative projects. It will boost self-confidence and self-worth. Orange Calcite connects you to inspiration and is a wonderful beginner stone for tuning in to the spiritual realms. It’s also great for all forms of creativity. Unakite (pictured below) opens your heart to love and draws love, friendship and helpful people to you. It helps you to overcome feelings of isolation or loneliness.   

Image from http://www.crystalage.com/

 

Helpful essential oils?

Hands down it’s Geranium again this week. Geranium is such an underestimated essential oil. With its sweet floral scent it’s brilliant for helping you relax, unwind and get connected to your essence. It will uplift you and stimulate creativity, sensuality and emotional flow – all energies that are great for shifting us into a more creative space. If you’re an over-giver and your tank is dry, geranium oil will fill you back up again.

Apply it to your pulse points at wrist, neck and over heart like a perfume. Place a few drops in your bath water. Diffuse it. One of my favourite uses is as a centering and inspiring pick-me-up. Put a drop in the palm of your hand, rub hands together and then inhale the aroma. (Here’s a simple three-minute meditation you can do using geranium or any of your favourite essential oils – click here)

Need an extra boost of encouragement? Try Young Living’s Believe essential oil blend. It’s fabulous in your diffuser while you work, or as a quick pick-me-up with a three-minute meditation. Believe is uplifting and promotes confidence, spiritual connection, clarity and belief in ourselves. It also helps us to let go of fear, doubt and old emotional pain and hurt.  I often use this oil when I am creating, writing or journalling, or working with cards for myself. 

 You can find the oils here.

If you’re looking for some extra support for your spiritual and creative flow come check out my upcoming Pop Up Shop, Channelling Night and One Day Workshops in Brisbane 26-27 May. I’ll be teaching foundation spiritual practices (the things I used to develop my own psychic and intuitive skills, self-awareness and compassion), meditation and mala making (this second workshop is brilliant if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, stuck or suffering from anxiety or depression). No matter what level you’re at I’ll have something for you on my program. More details here!

Holding you, as always, in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, and intending for you a life of abundance and joy, where you are no longer limited by your doubts.

All my love,

Nicole ❤ xx

PS: Monday’s oracle card, ‘Four of Wands’, is from the Inner Child Cards – A Fairy-Tale Tarot. I use any cards shown as a prompt for channelled messages and my own own intuitive wisdom, so my take is sometimes quite different to the meaning found in a book. 

Join our Book Reading Challenge for March 2018

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”  
~  William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for March…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in March.

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

This is my reading list so far for March:

  • Somebody I Used To Know by Wendy Mitchell. This frank and heartfelt memoir of a woman diagnosed with early onset dementia has been instructive in helping me to understand and better care for Ben’s 92-year-old mum who also has dementia.

It was a busy month looking after family and working on my own book so I didn’t get much reading done. But I dug out four manuscripts that need tidying up and sending off and I read those too. So that’s one book by Wendy and five manuscripts by me. I have also reread my memoir three times!

It will be lovely to hold a published book of my own in my hands one day. ❤

Join our Book Reading Challenge for February 2018

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”  
~ Voltaire

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal. Stay tuned for details in a post next week!

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for February…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in February

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

This month has gifted me lots of time sitting in waiting rooms, hospital rooms and doctors’ rooms, so there has been ample opportunity for me to read. This is my reading list so far for February:

  • Silence: In The Age Of Noise by Erling Kagge is only a short book, but profound. Kagge is a Norwegian explorer who once spent fifty days alone in Antartica. He writes about the nature of silence, and how to find it – not just in nature but in our everyday lives, and as a space within ourselves. It has given me much to think about, and it was a work where I needed to read a short grab and then stop to absorb and think about it a little, so that one small book lasted me well. It certainly opened up a quiet space within me.
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wison is an examination of anxiety and depression within our society, as well as a very personal journey through Sarah’s own dance with chronic anxiety. At turns funny, heart-warming and heart-breaking, and always honest and filled with compassion, this book has helped me to understand friends and family better, and to also see patterns of anxiety in myself and how they have created an endless whirlwind of damaging busy-ness in my life from which I am only now recovering. I highly recommend this book if you suffer from anxiety, or love someone who does.
  • Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma Dasa – This is an old favourite that I revisited, looking for inspiration to cook a birthday dinner for a friend. Kurma Dasa comes from the Hare Krishna and Vedic traditions with his cooking, and I love his recipes. They are tasty and easy to prepare, and often have a little philosophy sprinkled into the descriptions.
  • I also listened to Mythos by Stephen Fry as an audiobook this month. I immersed myself in a world of Greek myths and loved them all!

How to Check In with Yourself Each Morning

“Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.” 
~  Glen Cook

After yesterday’s post where I talked about the importance of self-care and of knowing and honouring your priorities in life this year I had a flood of messages from people asking me how to actually do this. Fair call, so today’s post is designed to help you navigate a little closer to knowing yourself. Just follow the directions below:

  1. When you first wake up, lie quietly in bed with your eyes still closed. Feel into your body with your awareness. Are you ready to open your eyes and spring out of bed with a smile on your face and maximum energy levels? Are you wishing you could roll over and go back to sleep because your energy levels are so low?  Be aware of your energy, and of any aches or pains. Have you woken up with worries on your mind? Be honest with yourself. Score yourself on a level of 1 to 10 with 1 being completely wrecked and 10 being amazingly well and wonderful.
  2. Based on the score you just gave yourself spend a moment and think about the kind of physical and emotional support you’ll need today. Does your body need to eat better and have more hydration? Do you need an easier day? Or are you feeling ready to handle anything? On low-energy days don’t push yourself. On high-energy days look for areas where you can challenge yourself a little more or tackle a bigger project or task. (*Note: If you suffer from chronic illness, chronic fatigue, or other debilitating situations this is a super-critical step in self-awareness to make sure you don’t push yourself too hard – which always results in more setbacks, pain and distress!)
  3. Stretch, and count your blessings. Find at least three small things to be immediately grateful for in your life. Do your best to get yourself into a positive (or more positive than before) headspace.
  4. Think about what really matters to you – it might be your partner or family, your pets, your health, a project you are passionate about, something you want to experience or achieve in the world. These are the things that you’ll think about on your deathbed and wish you’d spent more time on. Muster some gratitude for these things in your life too.
  5. You can do this next bit while you’re still in bed, or over a cuppa at a place that’s  comfortable for you. What worries are in your head? What needs to get done today? Write it all down. Starting the day with a list instead of this all rattling round in your head helps you to stay clear and to better prioritize. 
  6. Take a deep breath and look back over your list. Are the people you love and the things that matter to you represented there? Tune in to your body again. On a scale of 1 to 10 how is your emotional battery? (At a 1 you are at your most fragile and are not coping – at 10 you could take on the world and you feel strong and unbreakable) Now tune in to your physical battery on a scale of 1 to 10 with a score of 1 being completely wrecked and 10 being amazingly well and wonderful. Has your score changed from when you first woke up, now that you’re upright and moving into the day ahead?
  7. Think about your true priorities first. How can you find time for them today, or schedule some in very soon? Include health and self-care in this.
  8. Now think about your worries and to-do list. Based on your assessment of yourself physically and emotionally, what can you really get done today? What are the tasks that will alleviate your stress if you get them done, what are your pressing priorities, what can be delegated and what can be left to roll into tomorrow if necessary? Where might you need help?
  9. Take a couple of calming breaths, and remind yourself that you’ve got this. All you need to do is honour your energy and your priorities. Self-awareness makes everything easier.
  10. Find a few quiet windows during the day, close your eyes and do a quick tune-in to your emotional and physical energy levels again. Use your breath to bring you back to a place of calm. Reconnect to or adjust your priorities and focus for the rest of the day. Practice kindness with yourself as you endeavour to live with more honesty and awareness of your own energy and needs.

Being able to check in with myself and then manage myself better has made a huge positive difference to how I cope in the world, and it has also helped me to put my focus on what really matters to me. I hope this simple technique helps you too.

Biggest love and hugs, Nicole  xx

Join our Book Reading Challenge for 2018

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
Nelson Mandela

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal. Stay tuned for details in a post next week!

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for January…

Let’s start the year off with the books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in January

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx