Grace In Plain Sight

“Un-winged and naked, sorrow surrenders its crown to a throne called grace.”
~ Aberjhani


You may have noticed that I’ve been uncommonly quiet here on my blog this past few weeks.

Those of you who’ve known me for a while will also know that if I’m ever quiet it is always for good reason.

Today, I want to share some good and some not so good news with you, in an effort to explain this current spate of absence.

My surgery back in early September went well, despite unforeseen complications. Hooray! Good news. But then I developed a urinary tract infection which turned out to be a superbug. Bad news. I was given an avalanche of drugs, and finally, finally, we were able to eradicate the infection. Good news. But in the process of eradicating the bug my vision was affected. Bad news.

I am currently suffering from a condition known as ocular toxicity. Small crystals have formed in my right eye, causing vision loss and double vision. It’s a rare side effect of the drug I was taking that was necessary to beat the superbug. The effects are usually permanent.

My left eye has already been hammered by Lyme disease, so my vision from that eye is not great. With all of the drugs I’ve been taking recently my optic nerve has become inflamed again so until two days ago I couldn’t see out of that eye at all either – a situation that began before I contracted the superbug. It may also have been damaged by the drug. I won’t know for a few more days.

Scary stuff.

When you suddenly can’t see properly, everything changes.

blind faith

Blind Faith by AronBack at

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I have sobbed myself to sleep each night and been in the darkest of spaces this last little while. It seemed so cruel to have this to deal with, after everything else that has been my latest round of health battles. As a writer, to be unable to read or put words on the page has been an agony.

Each day I wake up hoping for improvement, only to find my world a blur. I can see shapes and colour but nothing has definition. My world is two-dimensional and rather terrifying. Overnight I have become clumsy and tentative. Dependent. Smaller, somehow.

But my left eye has cleared a little in the past forty-eight hours.

From experience I know that there is room for further improvement, and already I am coping a bit better with my new situation. I now have limited vision from my left eye, and using corrective glasses and vision impairment settings on my phone and computer I have managed to gain a little more independence. I can read large font for brief periods before I get a headache and end up exhausted from the effort. I’m cheered enormously by this latest development though. I expect to be able to read and write for short periods each day and with some creative thinking I should be able to get around most of these current hurdles and adapt to the vision loss.

My ability to see energy and auras hasn’t changed at all, thank goodness. If anything, my senses have become more acute.

I also have my fingers crossed that both eyes will improve over time, and I have a great team looking into all of this with me.

So, this is a turn of events I didn’t anticipate.

It’s one that has caused me many tears, and a great deal of distress.

But ultimately, no matter what happens to us, we find a way to cope and move on. I’ll be okay. Things will improve or I will learn to cope better with what is, and meanwhile I will keep asking for help and counting my many blessings. I’ll innovate in order to create. I’ll overcome, and where I can’t I’ll do my best to sit in a state of grace with it all.

My husband put it all into perspective for me. Would I rather have dodgy eyes and be alive, or be dead with perfect eyesight?

I’m doing my best to get up and running again. Sorry that all I’ve spoken about here on my blog lately has been health updates. I hope to bring you something far more interesting very soon. Thanks for your patience, and for your support. It means the world to me.

All my love, Nicole xx

PS: How cool is this Unicorn Eye Patch! It’s on my latest wish list🙂

eye patch

Awesome Unicorn Eye Patch from

Nic’s Latest Update: Life as a #Lymewarrior


‘Brave’ by WillowWaves at

“O snail
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly!”
~ Kobayashi Issa

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
~ George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


Ah, Lovelies,

I’d hoped to be bringing you a good news post, a happy ‘post-surgery things are looking up’ story. And it is true, some things have improved. I am out of hospital. I am home in Brisbane, although not yet home to my precious farm. After an entire month of having my hair in a bun on the top of my head I have finally gotten all the knots from my hair and washed it (a three day effort that only others with chronic fatigue or pain will understand!). I have moved from a shuffling gait to a slow walk.

But I’m not as far along my healing journey as I had expected. Because, you see, having Lyme Disease complicates everything.

Having Chronic Late Stage Lyme Disease means that I’m immuno-compromised. Which is why I picked up two infections pre-surgery, which were treated with a metric tonne of antibiotics to get me infection-free before my operation. Treatment worked, but I was a ball of misery as the antibiotics killed not only my infections but lyme bacteria as well.

Surgery went well. Longer than expected and more complicated. I needed unplanned bowel and bladder surgery and repair. But I came out of it strongly and was making a good recovery, even on the new metric tonne of iv antibiotics and antibacterials I was given.

Unfortunately I then I caught a new infection (via my catheter we think) just as I was getting ready to leave hospital the first time. Tests showed it to be an antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infection superbug. It still responds to some old-school antibiotics, but not regular ones, so I was placed onto those.

One tablet, three times a day.

Which should have cleared it. But it didn’t, so now I am on massively increased doses. This old-school antibiotic is also used to clear late-stage lyme (but my urologist and gynecologist know nothing about that – Lyme is well outside their fields). It targets and kills the cyst form of the bacteria by damaging its DNA. Awesome news. So now I am on a drug that kills my superbug AND lyme. (The typical Lyme dose of this drug is just one tablet three times a week.)

Lots of lyme bacteria dying means lots of herxing. So now I am in agony. It hurts to pee. It hurts to poo. I can’t see out of my left eye, and vision is distorted from my right. I am sensitive to light and to sound. My skin hurts. My teeth hurt. My bones hurt. Old injuries are aching and paining. My muscles spasm and cramp. I have a killer headache. I am hot and cold in turns. I can’t sleep. It feels as if someone at odd times is tasering me, or pouring acid on my skin. And then there is my belly wound which goes from hip to hip, and the fact that my insides feel like someone has stitched them into a too tight sausage casing and then punched me in the gut a few times for good measure. And the pinched nerve in my back which has rendered one arm numb and painful and much less mobile than usual. Which instigated a case of shingles. My balance and strength is shot and I need a cane to walk. Let’s just say, it is not one of my better adventures.

I spent most of last night cry-laughing on the toilet. Because of my recent bladder repair it only holds about 200ml of fluid before I need to go, and I need to be drinking LOTS of water right now to flush both the drugs and infection from my system. Peeing hurts. A lot. Before, during and after. Although at least the feeling of pissing razorblades has resolved as the antibiotics kicked in and began working on this little superbug of mine. Now it only burns. So I sat on the toilet more than I was off it. Crying and laughing at the same time, because it was funny but pathetic, and scary but also ridiculous, and as I cried and laughed I panted power phrases like ‘This is just f*cked’ or ‘You can do this, Nic!’ depending on what frame of mind I was in for any given minute.

My friend Jennifer visited me while I was in the hospital and gave me a little bracelet. Inscribed on it is the phrase ‘Be Brave’. Those two words have been a constant reminder to me in the past few weeks. Be uncomplaining. Cry if I need to. Pull myself together. Chin up.


I am mostly coping okay with the pain and lack of decent sleep. I am being well cared for by Ben, Nurse Bert, Cafe Dog and my dear friend Carly. I have everything I need. The hard thing is my vision loss (which is a temporary situation, we hope, and one I have faced several times while undergoing Lyme treatment in the past). This last fortnight I have had limited vision. My left eye is a complete blur, and my right eye has a restricted field of blurry vision – if I wear glasses, cover my left eye and increase my screen magnification by 300% I can read for short periods, but it is exhausting and gives me a headache. I can’t write. The television is a blur. Do you know how much stuff you suddenly can’t do when you can’t see?

I can’t check my messages on my phone or my emails. I can’t see my phone well enough to call a number – but Siri is getting good use as I task her to read my texts or call my mum. I can’t blog or update you. (I needed help to get this post written and published.) I can’t read any messages you may have written to me, so forgive me if I have not responded. Thank goodness for audio books and imagination land, and for good conversation in small doses.

I’m also exhausted, and after ten minutes of anything I am ready for a nap.

It isn’t where I expected to be, four weeks after surgery, but this is where I find myself. Nothing to do but wait for improvement.

I am good at sucking it up. Truth be told though, I am more than a bit over it. Still, it is what it is and it will get better – just maybe not in the timeframe I’d hoped for (and I am ALWAYS impatient!)

I’m missing my Year of ME Planner and choosing oracle cards to guide my week. I’m sad to be unable to tick things off my to-do list. From experience though, I know that it will all be waiting to help me get back on track again with all my dreams and projects just as soon as I am able. Meanwhile my wonderful team are working on all kinds of lovely things for next year’s Planner, our upcoming courses and retreats, and my new website. (Thank you Dana, Bek, Kerry, Chelsi and my PI transcription crew!)

I’m still sending you so much love in my daily meditations and healings, and I’m grateful for all the good energy you’ve sent my way too.

Hopefully things will sort out sooner rather than later and normal programming will resume. I’m looking forward to that. I AM getting better, it’s just a slow and bumpy road. Fingers crossed that my healing gets fast-tracked very soon. I am choosing to see all of this as a fabullous opportunity to kick Lyme’s butt in a bigger way than I had ever dreamed!

Hugs and love, Nicole xx


A Little Nicole Update


“People who want a cure, provided they can have it without pain, are like those who favour progress, provided they can have it without change.”
~ Anthony de Mello


So, here I am, still in hospital.

There have been a few little bumps in the road, including a massive resurgence of lyme symptoms and herxing, post-operation, as I was filled with what seemed like enough antibiotics and other drugs to treat an entire small pox-ridden and hurting country. My poor body has endured a bit of a rough ride. I’m bruised and bloated and scarred and bandaged. Wings of my hair have literally gone white overnight. It’s oddly fascinating.

As well as my four-hour surgery, I have needed to deal with unexpected bladder problems and surgery, lyme-induced loss of vision in my left eye, loss of balance, light sensitivity, bone and nerve pain, raging insomnia and terrible constipation and nausea from my pain meds.

And still, my doctors are pleased with my progress and I am healing well.

Between the pain, the constant intrusion of nurses doing observations, and the insomnia, that’s a lot of time awake. That’s a lot of time unable to be filled with television or books or iPad games or writing thanks to my dodgy eye. (I am writing this with a 200% screen magnification and one eye resolutely screwed closed. It’s taken me about fifteen spurts of energy and then rests to get all of this written; not my usual efficiency – but these are unusual circumstances.)

What can you do when you are in pain and unable to use external distractions? When you want to be able to work on your book but you can’t see to read the words?

I can happily report that I have spent most of the past eight days back in the Kimberley, with my Aboriginal Aunties. Using my imagination and memories as a portal I have returned again and again to the places and people so dear to me, and that form the backbone of my memoir.

I have sat with the late night silence and the loneliness, and spun them into a ladder to elevate me beyond my pain.

I have practiced deep listening.

I have meditated, and I have prayed.

I’ve also time-travelled back into myself. The hours between eleven pm and four am seem well-suited to reflection and analysis of my life. I’ve dug deep into places I had long covered over. What did I really feel? Why did I really make one choice over another? What emotions were in my body? Where was my head? I’ve strung the answers like beads on a mala, knowing that as I hold each one when I am able to come back to my writing I will remember, and that this new understanding will better inform my work. I’ve come to a more honest place. A kinder place. There has been much forgiveness this past week, of myself and others. My stay in hospital has gifted me clarity, and a way forward, finally, to be able to finish this book of mine, and get it ready to send out into the world.

The other thing I have done is gather life stories and vignettes; stories about the nurses and their lives, stories from cleaners and room service tray attendants, from the other patients who are limping slow laps of the ward as they push their drip stands or lug their wound drainage bags and catheter bags, tales from ward orderlies and the lady who brings the morning newspapers. People are endlessly fascinating to me, and their shared stories remind me that we are so alike in our differing journeys and struggles.

For we all face struggles. That is the nature of life. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else.

Even so, it’s a beautiful journey, life. I’m very grateful for mine.

Things will be back to normal, little by little, here on the blog and in my everyday world. I’m okay with things needing to be slow. Slow is all I can do for now.

I’ll swing by here again just as soon as I’m able.

Hugs and love, Nicole❤ xx



The Very Valid ‘Not Coping’ Style of Coping

teapot portrait

Image by Lauren O’Neill. You can view her work here:

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”  ~ Anne Lamott


Hi. Lovelies.

Gee. It’s been one of those weeks.

So, I was sitting in my lounge room yesterday morning, crying. Not blogging.

Crying because I was in agony. Crying because all I wanted to do was pee and when I did it felt like I was pissing razorblades. Crying because everything hurt. Because I was herxing from the antibiotics for my urinary tract and assorted other infections, and these same antibiotics were playing havoc with my Lyme bacterial load. Because of constipation from the pain meds. Because my stomach was so grossly bloated that none of my clothes fit. Because I’d been vomiting from pressure on my stomach from my wildly overgrown fibroids. Because I’d begun to be attacked by Gorn, after two years Gorn-free and hadn’t slept all night.

Crying because of constantly leaking urine like one of those dodgy teapots that always dribble from the spout when you pour.

Crying because it was only three more days until surgery, and instead of dreading it, now it couldn’t come soon enough.

Everything was hard. I was exhausted. Broken. Pain-wracked.


I’d wanted to blog but my brain was empty. I’d thought to maybe do a little work, but I could scarcely sit upright. All my plans were out the window. It was all just mess.

“I’m not coping,” I sobbed to the empty room. “Not coping!”

“NOT COPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed that one.

After which I cried some more.

As I calmed down from heaving sobs to simple snivelling, I realised something quite profound.

It wasn’t true.

I AM coping. Not very well, and certainly not with any great elegance or panache. It’s fair to say that I am just limping along right now – held together with duct tape, spit, snot, drugs, meditation, cobwebs and sighs.

Is that coping? Well, I’m still alive. I’m making it through the day. I’m hanging on. When I thought I was at the end of my rope, after a while I saw that the rope was longer.

So I stopped snivelling, wiped my face and laughed at myself. Kind laughing, mind you. The sort where I patted myself on the back comfortingly, seeing myself as an overtired and distressed child. I was flooded with compassion for myself. It’s a completely shit space I’m in, and it’s totally okay if my style of coping is a not-coping style right now.

I want to let you know that it’s okay for you too – if you sometimes find yourself in a not-coping/coping kind of a space. Life is messy and hard and unpredictable. Sometimes we ride the crest of the wave, high on life. Sometimes we are deep beneath the suck and pull of a massive tsunami.

I’m not alone, I reminded myself. I prayed to my loved ones who’ve crossed over to look out for me, and I called on all of my Guides and Angels and God to look after me and my husband and all of our family and friends. (That’s you too, of course!)

Then I went and made myself a cup of tea.


Later that same morning, my kind friends Bek and Lizzie popped round for an hour. They brought pre-birthday treats and balloons, and we had a sharing of troubles and laughter.

The balloons themselves had a special message for me. Yesterday would have been my beloved Nana’s 101st birthday. Not only that, each year when I was little, Pa would give me a special balloon as one of my presents. A marbled one of pinks and blues and whites, in an era where most balloons were just one colour. Nana would always have sticky bun, as well as cupcakes with pink icing for me.

My friend Lizzie brought me some of those same balloons Pa used to give me. Bek brought me cupcakes and sticky bun. Coincidence much?

cool party candles

Check out how cool those candles are. The flame is the same colour as the candle!

“If you can’t laugh when things go bad–laugh and put on a little carnival–then you’re either dead or wishing you were.”
~ Stephen King

balloons and cake

Yeah, I know. Those balloons look like weird inflatable boobs. Did I mention it’s been one of those weeks?

I was in pain and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck the entire duration of their visit. But my soul was happy. My heart was full. And after they left I lay down and slept for a few blissful hours, feeling my grandparents watching over me.

If not-coping coping is the best you can do, then that’s enough. And remember, you’re never alone. Reach out to your loved ones, to the Angels, to your friends and family.

I’m thinking of you, and sending love,

Nicole❤ xx




THE WOUNDED AMAZON, Marble statue Metropolitan Museum, NY: wounded Amazon (Roman Copy, probably after Polykleitos or even Kresilas or Pheidias) c. 450-425 BC.

THE WOUNDED AMAZON, Marble statue Metropolitan Museum, NY: wounded Amazon (Roman Copy, probably after Polykleitos or even Kresilas or Pheidias) c. 450-425 BC.

“The truth of the story lies in the details.”
~ Paul Auster


Sorry. I couldn’t resist. When else would I get to shout ‘Boobs!’ as a title for a blog post?

Because today, dear readers, it’s all about boobs. My boobs.

Today is mammogram and ultrasound day as my very thorough specialist ticks every single thing on his rather big checklist in my lead-up to surgery.


Although, to be honest, like all the other tests I’ve done thus far I don’t expect it to be fun, or even comfortable.

So it’s boobs all morning for me.

Then a spot of lunch in the hospital cafe.

After which they will look at my heart, which means more boob action really…


I’ll be quite busy while all the medical technicians and doctors are doing their thing.

I’m carrying around a snippet of my memoir in my head that needs some editing. It’s a wild space in the Kimberley where my aboriginal aunties took me once, so that they could show me a special little bird. As the hospital machines click and beep, and things are done to my surrendered body, I’ll be focusing in on the landscape of my mind, doing my best to remember in vivid detail the smell of the dust and the heat of the sun so bright in the sky that I could only squint beneath the brim of my broad hat. I’ll think about the wonder of this hidden place my aunties showed me. The way we left our vehicle and walked single file along the track to find it. The way the sunlight sparked on the water in the creek. The steep cool rock walls and the lush green foliage. The chirruping calls and flash of wing. The way we all waded into the water in our clothes and sat down silently. All of us watching, watching and waiting. Waiting for the little bird to appear. That’s where I’ll be today. I’ll be back in time, someplace else, happy and safe, remembering.

I’m sure it will be a useful day all round.

Lots of love to you all,

Nicole❤  xx

Accidental Angels


“A magpie can be happy or sad: sometimes so happy that he sits on a high, high gum tree and rolls the sunrise around in his throat like beads of pink sunlight; and sometimes so sad that you would expect the tears to drip off his beak.
This magpie was like that.”
~ Colin Thiele


I’ve had a restless night.

Pain. Broken sleep. Fevers.

But I came back into my body after a few hours of snatched sleep, and as I lay there with my eyes closed I heard angels singing.

It pleased me, and I nestled down in the pile of blankets and pillows, listening to their music.

It was only after a long while that I came to realise that it wasn’t angels, but magpies. They were sitting on the powerline just outside my bedroom window, deep in song.

I had no idea what time it was. Only that it was early, and dawn was a mere suggestion in a scrubby sky of low cloud and streaky stars.


Feathered angels.

What a blessed start to my day.

Here are some rather bedraggled magpies who sound a lot like the ones who sang for me…

What Happens When Someone Believes In You

“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich


Memoir is a funny thing for taking you walking into places you would rather not remember. I was thinking, last night, of a time when I had all but given up on myself.


I was so young then. Barely just begun at University. In a body that was falling apart. In a life that was falling apart. An over-achiever who was failing at everything. And in that terrible place of not being believed when I said that something was wrong.

For something was wrong. Very wrong.

For months I woke bathed in sweat and wrestled fevers through the day. My joints ached and swelled. My heart thumped in my chest and missed a beat or two whenever it felt like it.

The music I’d been been able to read since I was a small child became a spaghetti tangle on the page. I lost my ability to remember information or to place things into a logical sequence of events. Numbers became meaningless.

I forgot where I lived, and the names of people whom I’d known for years.

I fell down in the street, my legs giving way beneath me for no reason.

My legs jigged and danced in bed at night, no matter how I tried to keep them still.

And there was pain. So much pain. Ice-picks being buried in my head. Nerve pain roaring behind my left eye and rendering me sightless from that orb for days on end. Cramping pain. Dull pain. Electrical pain. Sharp pain. It moved all round my body, making a liar of me. No-one has pain like that. Except that I did.

Then there were the rashes that came and went. Exhaustion so overwhelming that it was all I could do some days to lift my head from the pillow. Infection after infection.

So much of my life became blurred. Slowly I was losing myself. That much I knew.

Our family doctor told me that I had women’s troubles, and prescribed valium.

A second doctor suggested anti-depressants, and theorised that I didn’t have the heart for serious study. Why not become a shop assistant or a secretary instead? Or surely I had a nice boyfriend I could marry? Motherhood was very satisfying, I was told, even though modern girls thought they knew better.

When I continued to question my diagnoses, and to ask for my doctors to be more investigative I was referred to a psychiatrist.

Who sent me to a neurologist, just to be thorough. Where I promptly spiked a fever and collapsed. So the neurologist sent me to his friend, Doctor Richard Kemp, the Head of Infectious Diseases at the same hospital.

Doctor Richard Kemp was a man who listened. He was a man who cared. He took the time to conduct all manner of investigation over several weeks. Finally he concluded that I was suffering from an infection. His tests could not isolate it, but he was sure. It was like AIDS without the HIV he told me.

Doctor Kemp also told me, regretfully, that he was unable to treat me because he had no definitive diagnosis.

After which he said something remarkable. I believe you, he said. You know your body better than anybody else, and you know that something is wrong. I know that too. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Hold to your guns. Don’t give up. One day you will be proven right.

In my darkest days I have held on to that the way a drowning man would cling to a lifeline. To have someone believe in you and encourage you is a powerful thing.

Life-changing, actually. Because after that I began to fight, and since then I have never turned my back on me.

Fast forward to 2013 where I received a definitive diagnosis that proved Dr Kemp correct. I have lyme disease. It is an insidious infection that has rampaged through thirty years of my existence, and that – prior to my diagnosis – had almost killed me as I sat in cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, with a brain full of lesions and almost every major system in my body broken.


A big part of the reason I have endured is the encouragement I received from that kind doctor. I am still here. Still here, and now finally, because of treatment I am getting better day by day.


Who can you reach out to and support? Who can you encourage?

A few words, honestly stated, may mean more than you can ever know to someone who could use a self-belief boost. Destinies can be changed. Futures can be created. Lives can be saved.


And for those of you who are struggling? Please, don’t give up on yourself. You just never know when that breakthrough or answer or guiding light will come.

Holding you in my meditations and prayers, Nicole❤ xx