The Man In The Dress – A Tale of Courage

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
~  Washington Irving

 

I’ve lost a lot of confidence with some daily activities while I’ve battled Lyme disease. One of them is driving. Lyme disease caused me vision problems and poor reflexes that until recently made driving safely impossible, but as my health has improved I have been talking about getting behind the wheel again. In the last month or so I’ve driven around the farm getting my confidence up, but I wasn’t feeling ready last week when Ben asked if I could follow him in our second car because he needed to visit a town thirty minutes drive away to have his vehicle serviced. His ride home had fallen through and there was no public transport. If I didn’t drive, he couldn’t go. It made me nauseous from anxiety. What if I couldn’t do it? Still, I agreed.

That first drive was nerve-wracking.  My hands ached from clutching the steering wheel by the time I pulled in behind Ben’s car. But I’d done it! Ben drove us home, and we quietly celebrated the fact that I’d gained a little more of my old life back.

The next day Ben drove us both back in to Lismore, and then left me to bring the second car home.

To be out of the house, on my own… I struggle to explain how liberating it was, even as it took every fibre of my being to stay focused and to not give in to my anxiety.

After we swapped cars so Ben could bring the newly serviced truck home I stopped at a shopping centre and did a few chores on my own. My first unsupervised shopping trip in years. Oh the freedom of being able to decide where to go and how long to take! Of being able to please myself as I looked at clothes or laboured over yoghurt choices. When I finally returned to my vehicle I saw that Ben had left a swimming-pool water sample on the seat that he’d intended to drop off to a local store. I decided that I’d go there myself. Miss Independent. It felt marvellous.

I couldn’t get an easy park out front of the pool shop so I pulled up in the next block. As I got out of the car I saw him coming towards me. An older man, perhaps in his early seventies; thin and stooped, wearing a large faded dress over his shorts and shirt and pulling an old-fashioned wheeled shopping basket behind him. He looked so odd and awkward as he shuffled along. As he got closer I realised that he was crying, but his face was furrowed with determination.

I wondered if wearing a dress was an act of bravery regarding gender identity. It’s been in the news so much lately as Australia goes to a postal-vote plebiscite over marriage equality. Whatever it was, I could see the old man was struggling.

Walking over I asked him if he was okay, handing him a tissue to wipe away his tears. He nodded, without saying anything.

Are you lost, I asked.

No, he said. I am going shopping. I must go shopping. There’s no food left.

Image from www.atablero.com

Then his story tumbled out. The man had lived with depression and social anxiety his whole life. It became so bad that ten years ago he had moved home with his elderly mother and she had taken care of him. He’d barely left the house in that time, and she had done all the grocery shopping and town duties. But his mum had passed away a few months ago. He hadn’t even gone to her funeral, although he’d wanted to. Now the cupboards were bare and he needed to shop. It had taken days to work up the courage.

There’s not a scrap of food left, he said. Nothing. And no-one to go now but me.

In the end, this man had put his mum’s dress on over his clothes, because then it felt like she was with him, keeping him safe. He didn’t care how it looked anymore. He just needed to eat. He just needed to get to the shops. It was the only thing he could think of to do. Her dress was a shield. A talisman. His only hope.

I asked him if he wanted me to go with him. No, he told me, standing straighter. I’ll be right. He wiped his face with a tissue, his hands big and gnarled and old. Then he put the tissue in the pocket of the dress, thanked me and kept walking. His courage and dignity broke me wide open and I cried for him as he continued his halting journey out into town.

As I drove home that afternoon I pondered what had happened.

What does it matter if a man wears a dress or not? What does it matter who a woman loves, or who a person marries? All that matters is kindness, and taking care of each other.

I understood a little of what it had cost him to leave the safety of the familiar and risk going out into the wider world. I hope each trip out into the world becomes easier, for him and for me. Freedom is wonderful, but it is not always easily grasped.

As always, I’m holding you in my prayers and meditations and sending love, Nicole xx

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

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

Just For Today, Choose Kindness

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.”

“When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

~ Both quotes from The Dalai Lama

I have a little challenge for you today. It’s a kind of soul medicine, and although it can be a little difficult if you’re out of practice, the more you move into the energy of this challenge the more you will find that it was always your soul’s default position. Think of this challenge as a way to restore your factory settings!

Ready?

Just for today, choose kindness.

Choose to smile from your heart.

Hold back any harsh thoughts, words or criticisms, and find a way to be gentle in your dealings with self and others.

Let kindness be both your journey and your destination.

Just for today, choose kindness.

Let kindness colour the way you see the world.

Put away judgement, and seek out things that can swell your heart with gratitude.

Look for the good in people, the beauty in your surroundings, the blessings at your feet.

Appreciate the simple things, and if you can, share those simple things with others.

A caring word, a gentle touch, a nod of support – none of these things will cost you a penny, but to someone they might be priceless gifts.

When we choose kindness, we ease the way for ourselves and others.  We become an agent for flow and abundance.  Our attitude affirms the goodness and connection inherent in this experience we call life.

We may become an Earthly Angel for someone for whom the Universe intends support or encouragement. God and good can only work THROUGH us. Why not be an agent for that good? Why not be choose to be part of a deliberate energy of love and positivity?

Whatever we choose to think and believe, whatever actions we offer up to the world, our energies come back to us, multiplied.

Trust that the kindness we offer today will find its way back to us when we most need it.

Through the act of living from our hearts, we are transformed, becoming magnetic to even more good-will and positive energy.

Just for today, choose kindness.

Let the energy of love transform your life.  Let the energy of love transform our world.

Just for today, choose kindness.

Today, in someone’s darkness, you can be the Light. ♥

Sending all my love to you, Nicole xoxo

How To Ask For A Sign

The Eye of God – Helix Nebula from www.skyimagelab.com

“The Universe sets out little signposts for us along the way, to confirm that we’re on the right path.” 
~  Michelle Maisto

 

This week’s energies are supportive of connection, communication, signs, breakthroughs and synchronicities (you can read more about that here).

But how do you ask for a sign?

I recommend that you ask only once, and then satisfy yourself with the answer as it appears to you.

Here are some things that you can try:

Shuffle your oracle or tarot cards, offer up a small prayer that whatever you do be for your Highest Good, and then shuffle the deck again. As you’re shuffling, ask your question . Say it out loud or hold it as a thought in your head. Either will work.

Choose one card. How you choose is up to you. Split the deck. Fan them out. Top or bottom. Dive right in. There is no right or wrong.  Then really look at the card. Don’t use the book or the ‘proper’ meaning. We are being intuitive here, people! What stands out for you in the picture? What thoughts and ideas do the images provoke? What is the answer that comes to you? Trust that. Don’t ask again.

Ask for your Guide to appear as an animal or some other living thing, some sort of motif that you will associate with them and with their presence.

Image from www.printtuftandfold.wordpress.com

Ask to see a specific image or thing, as acknowledgement of a question, or in answer to it.  Perhaps you are driving and you ask to see a red Kombi van if the answer is yes.  Or you ask to see a particular type of bird or something else you’ll recognise as that sign…

Image from www.justmeblog.com

Ask, and then expect an answer.  Perhaps the answer will be a message on a  billboard, a line from a book, a voice on the radio, the words in a song.  The message will stand out for you somehow, and have a special meaning just for you.

Image from www.joke7x24.deals.lv

Angels are often associated with white feathers.  Guides are often associated with other coloured or patterned feathers.  I have found feathers during some of the most difficult times in my life, and have felt reassured by them showing up for me.

Image from www.angelreach.com

When I sense my Great Aunt’s presence I smell roses.  When my Grandmother is near, I smell or even see gardenias.  A friend smells tobacco smoke when her father is with her.  Sometimes loved ones will create a breeze where there was none, stop or start a clock, or move something.  Whatever they do will make sense to you, based on your relationship with them.

Image from www.allexperts.com

Sometimes God creates magnificent signs, for no reason other than to help us remember the love and miracles in our world…

Rainbow image by Ookami Kouu

And sometimes it’s well-meaning friends who help us know what’s in store for us on the road in life…

AP Photo – Image by Chris Nakashima_Brown

When the road ahead is uncertain, when you need to know you’re supported, when you are looking for answers – it’s okay to ask for a sign.  But do it once, and trust what you get!

♥ And here’s MY sign for you today (Okay, maybe there’s 3…):

Image from weheartit.com

Image from candyprincess4 at deviantart.com

Image from favim.com

Stones, Crystals and Meditation Magic

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.” ~ Caroline Myss

 

I have long been a meditator. In fact it has been a daily practice for me since adolescence. Even with my recent bout of ill-health I haven’t missed a day. It’s as much a part of my life as sleeping or breathing.

As I was walking along the beach on Monday morning I came upon a particular rock. It’s just a stone. But it holds the energies of the ocean and the earth. It is an anchoring stone. And it comes from Byron Bay, which is a place of great healing and transformation. As I held it in my hand I knew that I would meditate with it, and that this stone would hold those energies in a way that could be transferred to someone else.

Which gave me an idea…

I have decided to dedicate a meditation each day of the month to a chosen stone and a crystal companion. The stone becomes the Anchoring Stone, which helps us to stay grounded, clear and calm, connecting into our bodies, and to the earth and nature. The crystal becomes the Connection Stone, enabling us to connect into our intuition, Higher Self, Guides, Ancestors and the Divine.

I will use the energies of the month to support me as I meditate with intention, infusing the stones with that energy.

Here are the stones I will work with every day in July:

The energies and intention I will infuse into the Byron Bay Beach Rock will be that the holder comes to know and understand their body and how to honour and take care of it to give lasting health and wellbeing. This knowledge will also contribute to a state of inner calm and of self-care.

The energies and intention I shall infuse into the Tasmanian Quartz Crystal will be a deep connection to the user’s ancestral line, intuition, Guides, Angels, the Divine – facilitating a stronger understanding of the user’s individual talents and gifts, and those that have been passed down through their ancestral lineage. All of this will help to give clarity of life path.

My team will devise a new competition each month to enable someone from our Cauldrons and Cupcakes community to win the stones as well as a meditation recorded just for them.

All of the love and energy and intention that I pour into these stones daily will then be available for the user in their own meditation. It’s also okay if you’ve never meditated before. I’ll send you instructions!

I’m so glad that this idea found me, so that the right stones can find you.

We’ll post more details soon.

Hugs and love, Nicole ❤ xoxo

A Very Quiet Anniversary

2016-09-04-12-10-23

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

It was our seventeenth wedding anniversary yesterday.

And our day looked like this.

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And this. (That’s a boat made of ginger, filled with moxa – a total OMG treatment – wow!!! I’ll blog about that another day!)

2017-02-02-08-57-51

After which I retired to bed and slept for the rest of the day.

But that’s okay.

Sometimes that’s what love looks like.

I’m working hard with my awesome team at beating this enduring antibiotic-resistant superbug that has been causing so much havoc. It’s working. I’m improving. But it’s been quite the battle. And my regime is intensive just now.

We rescheduled yesterday’s wedding anniversary. Just like we rescheduled Ben’s birthday. And mine last year (which happened the day after major surgery and which ranks as the number one worst birthday of my life!). Hopefully, if my health keeps improving, we’ll be heading to Vietnam and then the Philippines in three weeks. We’ll celebrate everything there.

Meanwhile, I am feeling brighter this morning so Ben and Cafe Dog and I are off to town in search of a tasty breakfast.

Love to you all, Nicole <3 xx