Listening To My Body

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“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.”
~ William Wordsworth

 

Yesterday I stopped.

Although I am on holiday and had a million exciting events planned I decided to cancel all of them.

Instead I put myself to bed and slept. Rising in the late afternoon I took a short walk, ate a simple meal overlooking the world from the top floor open-air cafe of our hotel. I watched the river flowing. I watched the sun set. I watched the play of lights in the night sky, and then put myself back to bed again.

So much sleep, and I feel as if I could still sleep some more. So it’s likely I will.

 

Once I would have pushed through this exhaustion. I would have allowed stubbornness to keep me upright and engaged, no matter how fatigued I might be.

No more.

Part of my holiday plan is to listen to my body and give it what it needs. It needs sleep. So I will happily comply.

How about you? If you take a moment, close your eyes and tune in, how do you feel? How much charge is in your physical battery? Your emotional battery?

What do you most need right now?

Try to give yourself some of that today.

Thinking of you, and sending so much love,

Nicole ❤ xoxo

A Taste Of Vietnam

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“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson

 

So, here I am in Vietnam, and our first day has been quite an adventure! We’re staying in the old section of the Grand Hotel, Saigon. Somehow we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite right beside a tranquil swimming pool and green oasis. It’ s a refuge from the heat, and a fabulous spot for writing. After an early morning stroll around the neighbourhood I enjoyed a refreshing swim and then some time working on my book before lunch.

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Ben and I are blessed to be travelling with an Australian-Vietnamese friend who is introducing us to a taste of local life. There’s nothing like having a tour guide with family in the area and inside knowledge! First up we tried local coffee – strong, sweet and good. Then after our swim Thanh took us to a simple noodle shop near our hotel and ordered us lunch. I got to enjoy my first ever bowl of authentic Pho – rice noodles in broth with thin slivers of beef and vegetables and a host of fresh herbs. Delicious!

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Next was some crystal shopping and a wander around some local markets.

So much of today has revolved around food. In the cool of the late afternoon Thanh’s Dad and three of his mates turned up on their motorbikes and took us for a tour of the city, and a visit to the oldest cathedral in Saigon.

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Travelling by bike is a great way to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere, although I must admit to being a little white knuckled at the craziness of the traffic until I finally relaxed into the flow of it. To a western eye it seems so disorganised, but if you step into that zen space and just go with it, there’s a strange logic and beauty to it.

After our city tour we finished up with dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. So much food. So much fun! The pictures below are rice vermicelli with fresh shrimp (prawns), garlic and chilli, and then a tofu and egg savoury custard topped with a meaty mushroom slice and some shellfish in a seafood bisque sauce. Oh my goodness, that was amazing!!! There was more too, but I was too busy eating and talking and laughing to remember to take photos! Sorry 🙂

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Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sending much love your way, Nicole ❤ xoxo

 

Five Things That Made This Week Extra Wonderful Already!

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
~ Charles Dickens

 

1.New Journal Challenge!

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It’s been a while since I ran a journal and oracle card challenge, so I’ve decided to cook another one up for you. It’s fabulous, it’s free, and there will be more details here on the blog on Friday so stay tuned!

 

2. New Swimmers!

I needed new swimwear for my upcoming trip. Usually this is not the kind of shopping I look forward to. But… The very first place I went into, the very first swimmers I tried on – perfect fit! Don’t you love it when that happens? 🙂

 

3. Money In My Pocket!

When I was looking for a bag to keep all my journals and crystals in when I go travelling I came upon a pencil-case I though I’d lost years ago. When I opened it up there was $350 cash. Bonus! Now I have extra spending money.

 

4. Our House Sitter Brought His Dog to Stay!

I was worried about leaving Harry Dog on his own for the first time without Bert to keep him company. But our wonderful house sitter has brought his gorgeous Black Labrador with him and she is the sweetest girl, so now Harry has a friend and he won’t be lonely. Such a win!

5. Holidays!

Holidays? Yep. They start today. Hooray!!! By the time you read this I’ll be on my way to the airport! Two weeks in Vietnam and then two weeks in the Philippines.So excited!!!  I’ll keep you posted on all the fun and goodness. 🙂

 

Biggest hugs and love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

Only Someone Who Has Chronic Pain or Illness Knows…

“Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”
~ Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor

 

I’ve been unwell since my teens.

There have been so many diagnoses. (I won’t list them all here, although perhaps I should.)

I’ve pursued so many kinds of treatments. (Really. In over thirty years of continuous concerted effort I’ve done more kinds of diets, therapies, herbals, treatments, drugs and totally-out-there-hokey-but-I’m-doing-it-because-desperate regimes than I care to mention. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. And I’m still here. So some of it must have worked.)

There have been times where I have only been able to see myself through the prism of loss.

But that’s soul-destroying. It makes you die while you are still alive. And I want to live. So mostly I choose to view my life by framing it up around what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

I have read deeply and widely, in order to get an inside angle on my health. I have come to understand my body better. I have become a master at hiding or managing disability and at creating a life that works on my terms. Mostly.

Some days a pain comes. Or some other symptom. After which I spend hours backtracking and investigating. Was it because of something I ate? A chemical? Lack of sleep? A million other possibilities? Did I do this to myself or make things worse? I’ve lost days to this kind of hypervigilance. It never helps, although it can gift me a temporary illusion of control.

I have a long, long list every single day – of pains and problems and freakish symptoms which it long ago became too boring to mention, even to myself. Mostly it is background noise in my life. I live with pain. I live with the kind of things that would have other folk rushing off to the doctor. After a lifetime of discussing them with doctors and having no resolution these kinds of things become your new normal, and then, eventually, just part of your life.

Mostly, just like other people with chronic or terminal illnesses, I have continued to look quite unremarkable on the outside. Maybe just a bit tired sometimes, or a bit puffy or drawn or pale.

Image from www.wallls.ru

Image from www.wallls.ru

These days I’m actually doing much better. Especially after two solid years of horrendous antibiotic therapy for Lyme. After major surgery last year ( and then the superbug I acquired) and an avalanche of new drugs (and some old favourites) and then Chinese herbs, essential oils, modified diet (again!) and intravenous vitamin C.

I feel like I’ve turned a corner. I can function better, I have more energy than I’ve had in years. Life is opening out a little more for me. People comment on how well I look.

Although that better is comparative.

I still can’t drive. My vision is still impaired. I still need early nights and nana naps to get through the day. I have a horrible startle reflex. When I’m tired. I lose words. I sound like. A badly. Edited film. With pauses and breaks in. All the wrong places. Because. Brain not working properly.

I’m still immuno-compromised. (And please, will you quit rolling your eyes and commenting about how it always seems to be one thing after another with me? Yes, that’s true. Because I am immuno-compromised after so many decades of illness. The bugs that barely register with you or that inconvenience you for a few days still have the power to take me down, or even out. Don’t visit me when you’re sick. Wash your hands more. Practice good hygiene. Rant over.) Incontinence issues? Yep. Not quite nailed the superbug? Yep. Foods that send me spiralling into misery? Yep. Exhaustion? Yep. Pain that wakes me up and keeps me up? Yep. No libido? Yep. Tendon stiffness that sees me hobble when I get out of bed, or up off a chair after sitting for a while? Yep. Pay for increased activity levels with increased night-time pain and exhaustion the next day? Yep.

Yep.

Still, I have coping strategies, and meditation, and healing foods and emergency triage treatments. I have a wonderful local GP and acupuncturist. I have an incredible husband who is my full-time carer (although I hate to think of it like that, it’s the truth.) I have a beautiful group of friends and an online community who lift me up every day.

My life is good. It’s precious and wonderful and I am grateful for every breath.

Mostly.

I am one of millions just like me. People living with or despite conditions and illness. We’re doing our best. For some of us that’s actually pretty messy and awful at times. Most of which you won’t ever see. Some of us can’t get help. Some of us aren’t believed. Some of us don’t have the financial resources or the energy or education or support to even try to get past what ails us. Some of us will fail, decline, die despite help and treatment. Some of us have trajectories that are all downhill.

So, what can you do?

If you’re one of the millions, try to find some small thing each day to focus gratitude upon. Look at what you can do. That’s a big ask at times, but I’ve come to realise that what we focus on magnifies. I’d rather focus on the pleasure of savoring a cup of tea than on the fact I can’t see the bloody thing clearly anymore. When I focus on what still works and what’s still good, peace comes to me. You can heal or endure when you’re peaceful, more than you ever can when you are stressed or angry. (I know this from experience, but I won’t say ‘trust me’ – it’s better if you experience this yourself too, so that you can own it as truth in your body rather than just a concept in your mind.)

If you’re not one of the millions yet, know that it’s entirely possible that one day you might be.

If you’re not one of the millions, please stop pandering that New Age drivel to us about how this is all a beautiful learning experience, or that our souls chose this, or that we somehow created it, or perpetuated it. Or how we can turn this into a wonderful soul-growth opportunity. Or that God only gives us what we can handle. Don’t hang that judge-y guilt-trip on us. It’s not helpful and it’s not kind. Especially when we are having a bad day, which, incidentally, may be invisible to you. If you are one of the millions, stop hanging that guilt-trip on yourself.

Know that if a vegan, paleo, superfoods, raw diet, prayerful contemplation, soul-searching, vibration lifting, better exercise routine, detox or no-negative-thoughts regime actually worked for everyone there would be no more cancer or depression or chronic illness, or genetic abnormality or disorder already.

Don’t hang judgement on us when the network-marketing-product, special diet, cleanse-in-a-box, worked-for-your-neighbour or someone-you-read-about-online cure, doesn’t work so well with us. Or when we just don’t want to try one of those things. Again. For whatever reason.

Don’t tell us we’re heroes or warriors. We’re only dealing with the hand we’ve been dealt. Don’t tell us that you don’t know how you’d ever cope or that we’re incredible the way we are coping. Some days we don’t cope. Don’t perpetuate the myth of the incredible brave-warrior-ill-person. It’s just one more pressure we don’t need.

Please don’t treat us like we’re invisible. Please keep including us and inviting us. Even when we’re unreliable, or can only attend for a short while or not in the way you (or we) would prefer.

Unless you’re going to be mean or judge-y. In which case it’s actually better if we’re invisible.

Let’s not hide illness and disability anymore. Let’s bring it out into the open where it belongs, instead of shaming ourselves and each other around our perceived frailties and failings.

Every single one of us will know illness or injury or critical failure of something we had previously taken for granted at some stage in our lives.

Let’s treat this with kindness. Kindness isn’t a cure, but it’s a very helpful medicine.

Holding you in my prayers and meditations,

Nicole ❤ xoxo

Acceptance – A Short Documentary about Owning Who You Are

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“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”  ~ A.A. Milne

“You are always welcome at my table.” ~ Nicole Cody

 

Last year I invited my friend Kerry Warnholtz to come spend some time with me as I prepared for and then ran my Chakra Wisdoms retreat.

Kerry is a talented photographer and videographer who sees the world through soulful and ever-watchful eyes. I hoped that she might be able to capture some footage and a few stills for my new website. My brief to her was that I wanted her to somehow show the love and care I put into each event that I run, and how precious each of my students is to me – how much I take that teaching and mentoring responsibility into my heart.

Kerry didn’t just capture that – she captured me – a little snapshot into my life, and the struggles I have had in coming to a place of self-acceptance. This short film speaks a lot to my WHY – why I do what I do – and I thought many of you might relate to the struggles I had in my earlier life to accept myself as I am.

What I want you to know, more than anything, is that I believe in you and that I want you to be who you are and be true to yourself. Being you is the most important thing you can do, and it’s time. The world needs us to stop pretending to be who we are not or to represent ourselves in the world as less than we are. It’s time to embrace ourselves and each other in all of our glorious diversity and similarity.

So, watch this little documentary. Come meet me at my farm, and in my life, and know that you are always welcome at my table.

You are among friends here.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me,

Nicole ❤ xx

 

PS – If you want to see more of Kerry’s wonderful work you can find her at www.tsi-multimedia.com

Why I Know The Universe Supports My New Friday Scheme

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“These are the days that must happen to you.”
~ Walt Whitman

 

I decided recently, as part of my yearly Year of ME Planning Summit, to make Fridays ‘Ben and Nicole Days’.

I already have ‘Unplugged Sundays’. I started that last year, and it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

This year ‘Ben and Nicole Friday’ has been added into the mix. Ben’s always helping me out, or bending his days to fit around me. Fridays are now about me doing that with and for him. It’s a day where I will spend the day with my husband, doing whatever he needs me to do, or whatever we decide on collectively. This will help us to get some writing projects done, and some collaborative schemes. It gives us time for tidying and sorting and doing tax and working on our businesses and finance.

So, how did our very first ‘Ben and Nicole Friday’ go?

Well, we started with bloodtests for me. Lots and lots of bloodtests. Not so exciting. But necessary. After that the day was all uphill.

There was a trip to town. Coffee and croissants. Swims. Writing time. Naps in the air-conditioning because HEATWAVE just now in Australia!

Then the neighbours came round for a late afternoon swim in the pool.

Which turned into drinks and dinner.

And then this.

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I’m liking Fridays already. 😀

How about you? Are you making sure you’ve got time for what matters this year?

Lots of love, Nicole xx

 

Choosing Your Perspective

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“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also
true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
~ Henry Miller

 

I have never been much good at arranging flowers. I’ve never had the eye for it.

That is, until I found myself suddenly vision-impaired as a side-effect of some medication.

Usually my friend Christine arranges flowers from my garden for me when she comes to clean my house. It’s such a simple thing, but her arrangements always give me so much pleasure. Whenever I tried to create an arrangement of my own they never looked as pleasing as Chrissie’s.

While I have been in the city, recovering from surgery, there have been no flowers in our little farmhouse. So now I am home I decided to have another go and do it myself.

It was easier this time. Everything is blurry, so all I had to do was cut some blooms from the garden, choose a vase (an old teapot!) and then begin. I found myself arranging them by placing a few taller flowers and then filling in the holes with colour. It became all about the colour rather than the individual flowers or their shapes. It became about emotion and flow rather than about getting it right, and suddenly I had a vase full of flowers that spoke to my heart.

All I’d needed was to change how I saw things.

It’s amazing what a simple change of perspective can do for you.

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These flowers on my kitchen windowsill are in honour of my friend, Kate, who passed away 6 years ago. Every year on October 26 I pick the first gardenias for her. This year for the first time there was a red rose too. I felt that shift from grief to acceptance. I still miss her madly but I walk this world with the ghosts of so many departed loved ones at my side now that it has become oddly comforting.

 

I still can’t see very well (I have about 20% vision in one eye and 50% vision in the other) but I am back doing most of the things I always do – with some necessary modifications. I’ve also had some bonuses. As I watched a wedgetail eagle soar above our farm yesterday I realised that the giant bird left a momentary energy trail in the sky, which I could see as a river of colour behind it, mapping its flight path through the sky. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

This doesn’t mean that suddenly I am okay with vision loss. It’s been incredibly hard. At least once a day I teeter at the edge of a dark deep hole. It’s only recently I haven’t fallen in several times a day. Still not a day goes by that I don’t shed a quiet tear or become momentarily swamped by misery. Truth is, I would much rather have my sight.

But crying and feeling bad doesn’t help. It doesn’t solve anything. And after a while it just gets boring. It is what it is, and adapting works better for me than stubbornly resisting what is and being only okay if it all changes back to how it was before.

I do my best to focus on what I can do. I look at how I can adapt and keep moving forward. I search out alternatives and new solutions. I change my paradigm. Looking from a different perspective always helps. It’s one of my best coping skills.

How about you?

Where in your life right now would you benefit from a perspective shift?

Lots of people have been telling me how panicked they are, or how regretful, that this year is almost over and they never got done what they’d hoped to. You can keep looking at life from that perspective, but it essentially means that you give up on your cherished dreams and outcomes. It’s almost over – I’ll stop trying. It’s almost over – there’s no point in even starting.

What if you change that perspective? There are two months left until year’s end. That is time enough to create change and to forge a different result for yourself.

If you’d like to join us for a month of dedicated perspective-shifting and outcome creation, sign up for #GeShiDoMo – our November-long program for creating and completing goals – and finish 2016 strong. I’ve designed this program so that if you are really stuck you can ease back into momentum again. There are choices that allow for all kinds of goal-setting and achievement, and a special category for those of you who actually need to have less DOING and more BEING in order to find a path back to self-care and life balance.

There is always time to change our perspective and try life from a new angle. I know you’ll be glad that you did!

Sending much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

flowers from my garden