Love is Love but it needs to be Law!

“At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”George Clooney

 

On the 27th of June 2015 I used a Facebook ‘Celebrate Pride’ filter on my profile pic to celebrate the legalisation of Gay Marriage in America. This filter imposed a rather gorgeous rainbow over my face.

At the time Facebook was awash with rainbow profiles as people showed their support for the LGBTQI community and to celebrate equality of marriage rights. The rainbows stayed up for a week or two and then everyone gradually moved on.

But I just couldn’t. It wasn’t fair that all of my LGBTQI friends and clients here in Australia weren’t afforded those same human rights. So I decided to keep up the rainbow profile as a personal protest and reminder until we achieved marriage equality in Australia too.

Yesterday, the 15th November 2017, the Federal Government announced the results of a recent plebiscite canvassing the people’s opinions on the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Australia voted YES. Hooray!

My rainbow profile pic is staying though (I have updated it slightly with a new rainbow heart flourish to celebrate our progress so far!). Right now all that’s happened is that the wishes of the voting public have been recorded. It’s too soon for me to change my picture. I need for this to be legislated, so that the rights of my LGBTQI friends are protected by law.

Let’s hope the Australian Government acts soon.

Love is love, in any language. And we can always use more love in the world.

Sending Equality-Spangled Love your way, Rainbow-Faced Nicole  xx

Image from www.heroarts.com

Music For Dinner

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 
~  Victor Hugo

 

Last night we were so churned. We couldn’t eat. We couldn’t sleep. After a while we turned off the lights and lay in the dark, side by side, dogs snuggled up beside us, and we played music until our hearts were full.

All the feelings we couldn’t put into words floated up and out of us, carried away on the voices of artists and instruments.

Something happened there in the dark, as the music wrapped around us. All the worry emptied out. Peace came.

And then we slept.

50 Things I’ve Learned From 50 Years of Life

“A happy birthday this evening, I sat by an open window and read till the light was gone and the book was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride the day down into night,
to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand” 
~  Ted Kooser

 

It’s my birthday today. Yay me!

I’m fifty, and it feels GOOD. Originally I was going to post a quick picture of me as a kid, looking all cute, and a few others through the years to now. But when I dug out all my old photos and memorabilia a funny thing happened. I saw so many pictures of friends I have loved and lost, so many family members who’ve passed, and friends whose lives have been touched by tragedy. It made me realise just how lucky I am to still be here at fifty, well loved, safe and secure, with work I adore, despite having had so many health diagnoses and prognoses predicting my demise or failure, and several near-death experiences, starting back when I was in my early twenties. Sure my health is still an ongoing adventure, but hey – I’m alive, and determined to make the most of every day. I’m still here! That deserves celebration!!!

Here are fifty things I’ve learned that have been helpful to me and which might come in useful for you too:

  1. Everyone needs cake on their birthday.
  2. I am not everyone’s flavour, but I am some people’s favourite, and that’s enough for me.
  3. It’s always better to be kind.
  4. No-one is immune to suffering. We all get to have our turn.
  5. Big old trees have much wisdom to share if you can get still and listen.
  6. The sun comes up after even the worst nights and things do look better in the morning.
  7. Sleep is under-rated as a coping mechanism.
  8. Clean sheets and a shower always make you feel better.
  9. Life is too short to live it for other people’s approval.
  10. If you don’t do what matters to you now you might never get your chance.
  11. Don’t wait for things to be perfect.
  12. Surround yourself with people who are real, caring and who think well of you.
  13. Shut the door on mean friends and people who treat you badly or with a lack of respect.
  14. Life needs more picnics and less overtime.
  15. Good books, movies and music are a kind of soul medicine.
  16. Sometimes you just need to take a road trip.
  17. Yes, you really do need to eat your vegetables and get enough fresh air and exercise.
  18. Never be afraid to seek a second opinion.
  19. Getting older is a privilege.
  20. Practice good hygiene, wash your hands after you go to the toilet and before eating, and consider others when you are ill. Not everyone has a robust immune system.
  21. It really is okay to indulge your craving for junk food, sweets or ice-cream occasionally.
  22. A part of you never changes, and stays solid and anchored inside you through all of your life experiences. That essence is always there for you to tap into.
  23. A part of you will change and grow and move you far from where you started. As you change you may outgrow people, places or situations. That’s normal. Don’t let it stress you.
  24. Sometimes we come full circle and find ourselves back where we started, but with new understanding and wisdom. That’s a sweet moment of realisation.
  25. Love is worth the risk of pain and loss.
  26. Laughing opens your heart and lets the light in.
  27. There is something magical about being a stranger in a new city. It unlocks all kinds of mysteries inside you.
  28. You need comfortable shoes for big adventures.
  29. Forgiveness is almost always about you and not the other person.
  30. Listen to your instincts, and honour your intuition. It was given to you for a reason.
  31. Some time on your own to think about everything or nothing is time well spent.
  32. Everyone should be able to cook a handful of meals well. Not just for survival but for satisfaction too.
  33. You’re never too old to learn something new.
  34. Do what you can to help others, if you are in a position to do so.
  35. It’s okay to put your own needs first.
  36. Follow your passion, or at least your curiosity. Who knows where it might lead you!
  37. Life rarely goes to plan, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome anyway.
  38. There is always someone or something that can help you manage pain better. Ask and keep asking until you find what you need.
  39. Being vulnerable is a strength.
  40. If you don’t want to do something say no.
  41. If you want something say yes.
  42. It’s better to have been rejected or to fail than to never have tried.
  43. Failure often leads to success.
  44. Every week needs a complete rest day. On the other days? Meditation gives rest on even the craziest of days and can be done in minutes. Learning to meditate is a gift for yourself and an investment in your well-being.
  45. Treat yourself well, and allow yourself pleasure.
  46. Find the things that make you feel like you and then surround yourself with that energy. It could be yoga, a perfume, soy chai lattes or books. Let something define you. Be okay if it changes.
  47. Fall in love. Keep loving, even when it gets hard. It always gets hard. Once you learn how to navigate the first hard bit the wonder of an ever-deepening relationship can reward and comfort you your whole life.
  48. Fall in love with yourself. Let it be a life-long affair and treat yourself gloriously well.
  49. It’s a good thing to be a little different, odd or unusual. Keep being yourself.
  50. Celebrate life – the milestones, the anniversaries and seasonal festivities, the successes and the ordinary. Celebrate on your own. Celebrate with loved ones. Celebrate with strangers. Let each day bring at least one small moment of grace or gratitude. Feel everything deeply and be unafraid.

Thanks for being part of my life.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  ❤ xoxo

Road Trip Treasures!

“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.” 
~  Paulo Coelho

 

Late last week Ben and I slipped away from the farm for a few days.

We took a simple road trip into country New South Wales. Just to be together. Just to be on our own.

It’s been a very full year. This time twelve months ago I was preparing for major surgery. And since then there have been family health dramas, constant concern and worry for Ben’s aging mum, and then my latest near-death experience, back in May.

We were more than ready for some processing time, and a little distance between us and our problems.

We were gone for two and a half days. Not long at all. But it felt like weeks.

Here’s the secret of how we stretched time:

  1. We put our phones away and didn’t check our emails, social media or other distractions except to have a quick glance after breakfast and before dinner in case there was an emergency.
  2. We allowed ourselves early nights and plenty of rest.
  3. We kept our days simple and chose easy over ambitious.
  4. We stayed in the moment, engaged with each other and our surroundings.
  5. We held hands, we talked and deeply listened, and we held eye contact with each other and anyone we spoke to.

Those simple choices gave us the gift of replenishment. And if they worked for us I know they’ll work for you.

It was a super trip. Here’s a few of my highlights:

This is Beth, standing in front of the beautiful silk and merino wool shawls and scarves that she makes. Beth reinvented herself as an artist when she turned fifty, after attending a TAFE course in felting. She totally inspired me, and she gives awesome hugs too. (And yes, Ben bought me a gorgeous pink and coral shawl for my birthday!)

 

 

On our first night away we went for dinner at a local bowling club that does an all-you-can-eat $16 Chinese buffet on Thursday nights. It was packed with locals, all soaking up the ambiance that only plastic tablecloths, gold-painted honour boards, decorations from last Christmas and a gigantic empty dance floor can give. The food was delicious!

Book stores. You know the ones that are filled to the rafters with rare and old editions, as well as the latest reads? I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t come home with anything. I’ve now got some excellent reference books to research my next project. And I may have come away with one or two eclectic ancient cookbooks as well…

Op shops, second-hand shops, and those lucky dip kind of places where you walk through the door into a glorious clutter of wares old and new. I found some beautifully made old tablecloth and napkin sets at totally bargain prices, as well as a few little plates and bowls for serving tasty treats in. Oh, and some cake forks and a set of Japanese made 1950’s cocktail forks. And a cake tin. All of which will be put to good use here at the farm.

This glorious sewing, quilting and fabric shop fired up my imagination, and we managed to buy a packet of needles. Just the thing for me to dig all the splinters out of Ben’s hands from when he was off chainsawing and hauling timber earlier in the week.

We also enjoyed a quiet pub meal for two, sitting in an ancient dining room beside a roaring log fire on a frosty night. The table was set with real linen and a candle, and as we ate our delicious food we realised that it was the first time we’d had a romantic dinner date in Australia for over ten years!!! (My fault – my health has been crap, and I’m always in bed so early that we usually favour a breakfast outing or an early cafe meal.)

Ben’s already planning our next adventure.

How about you? Do you have a road trip planned or can you recommend one? I’d love to hear about it.

Much love from your rested and refreshed friend, Nicole xoxo

I’m Taking A Short Road Trip

“Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy. 
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.” 
~  Charlotte Eriksson

 

Early next month I will celebrate my fiftieth birthday.

My husband has been bothering me for months, asking what I want to do to celebrate. And I kept avoiding his question. I didn’t think I wanted a big party, but part of me was trying to juggle the possibility, and all that ended up doing was deflating my party mood.

To further muddy the water I’ve been working on the final draft of my memoir, and combined with a year of hospitalisations, near-death experiences and lingering complications, as well as my background companion Lyme disease, the realisation of just how long I have been living with chronic illness and all that has stolen from me has been quite confronting.

Finally, after a long walk down to the river and back, I had a clear head. I am alive. That is what turning fifty is all about. I am still here, and it is up to me to fill my bucket with the things that matter to me. Fifty is no mean feat for someone who has nearly croaked it four times now. So I came up with a list of options. A birthday celebration list, and this is it:

  • A road trip with Ben, and he has to make some excellent playlists for me as a soundtrack for our adventure
  • A small but fancy and delicious High Tea with my sister and a group of my closest girlfriends
  • A weekend away writing, where all I have to think about is words on the page or going for a long walk to ponder a plot point. A place where my meals are cooked and my bed is comfortable, and I can get a cup of tea whenever I want.
  • A holiday, somewhere new, anytime in the next year, where I can sip champagne with Ben and count my many blessings
  • A raucous dinner party at home with my neighbours and Byron Bay pals, followed by a bonfire in the backyard, under the stars
  • A big meetup with Dana and all my students, YOMmers, and Cauldrons and Cupcakes peeps – with tasty treats and crystals and lots of hugs and fun
  • An early morning beach walk and meditation, with time for ritual, journaling, oracle cards and reflection time, just on my own with the big sky and my Aunties and Ancestors above me and the earth beneath my feet.

 

I brought my list to Ben. This is it, I said. I’m going to do one of these. Can you help me pick?

He read over the list, and then he smiled.

Do all of them, he said.

We’ll start with the road trip.

 

So today that’s what we’re doing. A few totally unplanned days away, wherever the road takes us, while a dear friend looks after the dogs and the farm.

Elle, I haven’t forgotten your question about God, the Universe and why stuff happens. In fact I’ve been thinking about it all week while we’ve had no phone or internet here at the farm. I’ve begun a blog post to answer it but it till needs a bit more thought. It was a big question, and it deserves a decent and considered answer. Expect one in the next few days.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for you to write a list of your own, my friends. Just because you can. Just because you’re alive. And that’s worth celebrating every day of the year.

Sending you all my love, some hugs and a very good virtual cuppa, Nicole xoxo

 

5 Simple Ways To Love Yourself Better

 

“Have the courage to love yourself like you always wished someone would.” 
~  Vironika Tugaleva

 

Everyone knows that self-love is vital to building self-esteem and self-confidence, for setting healthy boundaries and feeling good about yourself. Problem is, if you don’t feel good about yourself to start with, if you don’t like yourself much and you’re feeling pretty depressed and miserable, then trying to love yourself is like holding onto a single helium-filled birthday balloon and expecting it can fly you to Mars.  Mission Impossible!

So what do you do when your sense of self is hanging by a thread, but you just can’t make that mental leap from loathing to loving?

When loving yourself and feeling good about yourself seems impossible, then what you need to do is parent yourself. That’s where you do the things you know you need to do, even when you don’t want to, can’t be bothered, or feel that you don’t deserve to treat yourself well.

Good parents create environments where we can grow, be safe, and learn to get to know ourselves and the world around us.  They support us, provide emotional connection and support, love us and guide us until we move to a place of maturity where we can do these things for ourselves.

Even when you find it hard to love yourself, there is a wise part of your soul that intuitively knows what you need to get back to a place of balance. Your job is to let that parent part of you – the Wise Soul – make the choices for the part of you that is struggling to get on your feet and feel good again.

Image from www.linkedin.com


Here are five simple things you can do to make a start towards healing your relationship with yourself. I’ve also added suggested crystals that are supportive for each step:

1.  Decide to accept yourself right now, as you are and where you are in life. Too often we tell ourselves that we’ll like ourselves better when we’ve lost weight, found a job, left a bad relationship, found a good relationship, stopped smoking, gotten fit, or won lotto. When we put conditions on loving ourselves, we never get to that mysterious just-around-the-corner place that is forever up ahead and out of our reach.  Be honest with yourself.  If life is painful, admit that. Don’t numb yourself with alcohol, drugs, food or overwork.  Reach out for help if you’re having trouble coping, or need some new skills and strategies to make tomorrow look different to today. Best crystals for self acceptance – Tiger Eye, Blue Calcite or Rhodonite

2.  Create a safe space.  Everyone needs a place to call home, where they can relax, be themselves, and surround themselves with things that reflect their sense of self. Music, plants, posters or paintings, colours and fragrances – all of these things can help ground you and give you a sense of belonging and security.  It’s not about the objects as much as the energy they create. Start by making sure your space is clean. Dirt, mess and clutter drain you and create stagnant energy.  Clear the clutter, and then begin to make your space somewhere that is inviting, uplifting and positive. Best crystals for a sense of safety and peace – Banded Agate, Smoky Quartz, Rose Quartz, Sodalite and Snowflake Obsidian

3.  Practice respect.  Respect yourself enough to avoid, minimise your exposure to or end toxic relationships and to stop toxic behavours. Respect your body by eating well, and by exercising daily – even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard and you don’t want to. That’s what parents do.  They make sure we drink enough water, eat our greens, get enough sleep, and get out of bed in the morning.  In everything that you do, ask yourself “Does this action or choice honour me?”  When we suffer from a lack of self-love it’s easy to make choices that don’t do the best by us.  In some cases we even choose things that sabotage our well-being.  Once again, if you’re really struggling here, ask for help, whether it’s a counsellor, personal trainer, rehab facility or a good friend who has your back. Great crystals healing self-sabotage and supporting self respect – Black Tourmaline, Amazonite, Yellow Turquoise, Bloodstone

4.  Find something to look forward to and work towards it, or include it in your life.  Whether it’s an overseas holiday, salsa dancing lessons, art classes or writing your life story, everyone needs to have a sense of purpose, and that purpose doesn’t have to be career related. Don’t be afraid to dream big, even if you have to start small. Best crystals for joy and connection to the flow of life – Green Aventurine, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Fluorite

5.  Spend some time in nature each day. Fresh air and sunshine has been used as a remedy for depression and to heal all manner of ills for centuries. Watching animals in nature has been proven to lower blood pressure, increase endorphins and relax tension in our muscles. Having contact with pets also helps us heal and feel better about ourselves, and teaches us responsibility for others. Best crystals for connection to nature and the earth – Jasper, Carnelian, Hematite,  Septarian Nodules, Unakite

Treat yourself with kindness today and always. Holding you in my prayers and meditations,

Nicole ❤ xx

The Turn In The Road Where My Worries Fall Away

Image from www.stopthesethings.com

“Though a lifetime of listening to the music of the world has passed, even now the tone of the rain on the roof of my home is the sweetest sound I have ever heard.” 
~  Kensi Brianne Smith

 

We’ve been up in Brisbane this past week, and it’s been full on.

I’ve had doctors’ appointments and the sorts of things to attend to that can only be done in the city.

I’ve held space for friends and clients who have suffered tragedy and tempest.

And we’ve been elder caring.

Ben’s mum is old and increasingly frail, although stubbornly independent, bless her. She’s at the age where suddenly she needs help with everything: shopping, cooking, home maintenance, paying bills – all the things she has done so competently for the entirety of her life. But we don’t mind at all. We love her, and she is family.

Still, it’s stressful, and we worry constantly about her.

Yesterday finally we packed up to drive home to the farm.

There is a place we come to, just over the border between Queensland and New South Wales, where I unfailingly begin to unwind and feel better. City and suburbia fall away and at a turn in the road the highway is suddenly blanketed by cane fields and farms with a backdrop of dusky crags.

The tension leaves my body. I sigh audibly. A sense of relief creeps over me.

Many of our friends from the Byron Shire experience the same thing; that falling away of worries as we move into the encircling arms of the ancient volcanic rim that cradles our homes.

How about you? Do you have a place in the journey home where suddenly you feel better too? I’d love to know.

Hugs and love from all of us here at the farm, Nicole xx