Trusting Your Instincts In Relationships

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

 

I have some friends going through hard times in relationships just now. They are wondering how they ended up where they are – with a lover who cheats, with a husband who suddenly wants out, with a boss who keeps lying.

When I’ve talked with them they’ve been so hurt, so distressed and devastated at what has happened.

Then they’ve asked the questions.

Why did this happen?

How did this happen?

Why did I not see this coming?

And the truth is, a wise part of them did see it coming. A wise part of them already knew. So, where did it all go so wrong?

All of us have intuition, and instinct. This force within us operates with a vast amount of information – not just our conscious awareness.

When I pressed my friends, eventually all of them admitted that there had been things in their relationship, from early on, that made them uncomfortable. Or there was a point where things began to change. And that point was a long way from where they are now.

In each situation, my friends had intuitively picked up on an energy or behaviour that was out of flow, out of truth – either with the way the person was presenting themselves within the relationship, or with my friend’s values and beliefs. My friends’ intuition had red-flagged something, using those feelings of discomfort and that instinctive knowledge to bring the situation to their conscious attention.

So why didn’t they allow themselves to be guided by that intuition? Quite simply, their mind got in the way. They discounted or second-guessed or validated that discomfort away. They saw what they wanted to see, or needed to see, rather than what was. They gave second chances, chose to believe what they were told, and shoved that discomfort back down where it no longer bothered them.

Haven’t you done that before? I know I have.

But that’s okay. Intuition is not a one time thing. Our internal wisdom will connect with us over and over again. Our job is to listen, and to pay attention. To give ourselves space to think things through and to honour these feelings and ideas that arise from deep inside us.

Of course, intuition doesn’t simply show us what’s wrong. It can also show us what’s good. We have a compulsion to introduce ourselves to someone at a party. Things blossom into a beautiful relationship.

Suddenly it seems like we can’t stop thinking about a business idea, or studying again. When we are brave enough to honour that instinctive direction we find ourselves loving the changes we have made. They feel so right for us.

We come to an awareness, without evidence or proof, that maybe the aloof girl or guy in the office is just shy, and when we make an effort to get to know them we find out that we were right.

Intuition says, Hey – let’s drive down this street for no apparent reason – come on, humour me! And there you find your dream house, or the shop with the thing you want, or an old college friend walking their dog, the same friend whose address you lost years ago and who you’d had no idea how to track down.

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

Intuition and instinct show us where we are out of flow with the Universe, and also how to get back into flow again, with relationships and actions that support our Highest Good.

So the big question is – are you honouring your intuition? Or are you second-guessing yourself?

Maybe it’s time you started paying attention, and trusting what comes up for you.

If you’re not sure how to do that, these posts will help:

Using Your Internal Compass to Navigate Life

Understanding Intuition and Gut Instinct

or this program of eight free exercises designed to help you connect to and work with intuition, energy and the metaphysical:

Strengthening Your Intuition – A program of Exercises

Image from forsurequotes

Image from forsurequotes

 

Ghosts, Bones, Love and Forgiveness

Image from Jagero

Image from Jagero

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” 
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

Many years ago a woman came to me for a psychic consultation. She was probably about the age I am now, and she had travelled a great distance to see me in person.

She wasn’t my usual kind of client. She was an angry woman. Angry at the world. Angry at me. So angry, and so rude and dismissive of my abilities, so defensive and antagonistic that I wondered why she had come at all.

Of course she didn’t tell me. When I explained what I normally do in a consultation she stayed silent and grim mouthed. I could feel resentment ripple off her in waves. I also knew she was deeply tormented.

Towards the end of our session I asked if she had specific questions or photos of anyone she wanted to ask about. Until that moment she had not acknowledged her torment. She had blocked me at every turn. The woman took out an envelope and removed a picture which she passed across to me. It was a photo of three young children. Her children, taken when they were much younger. Two girls and one boy.

‘That’s me,’ a voice said in my mind. Not my voice, a male’s voice. ‘That’s me’. And I then felt rather than heard the name ‘Andrew’. I glanced briefly at the girls, both bright and intelligent. The older one was cowed now, although you couldn’t see that from the picture. I just knew. She was cowed and broken-hearted and downtrodden by life. How do you tell that to a mother?

The second daughter was now gone. Not dead. I mean gone as in emotionally absent, and by the feel of things, a long way away. I knew she had cut herself off from her family in order to survive better in the world.

The smiling young boy, Andrew, was the one I got the clearest connection from. I couldn’t feel him in the same way that I felt his sisters. But Andrew had a heart full of love, and I could feel how close he still was to home, emotionally and physically. He was clever too, and had loved to dance when he was little. Shy with strangers. I also knew he was gay.

What do you want to know, I asked.

The boy… She stopped herself from saying ‘my son’. He’s twenty. He left home. We haven’t had any contact with him for over a year.

It filled the space between us. So, it came across as anger, what this woman exuded, but as soon as she said ‘the boy…’ her heart opened up and I felt into her river of shame and guilt and love and hurt and loss. Her anger was the repressed expression of unbearable pain.

Are you asking if he’s okay, I said, swallowing, because I knew that he wasn’t.

No, she spat out. I want to know if he is queer. A homosexual, she added. It’s not normal. He can’t come home if he is queer. We won’t allow it.

But you already know the answer to that, I said. He is also your son, he loves you very much, and this is not a choice. He did not choose this. This is how he was born. This is how God made him.

She held my gaze, her face mottled red. No! That is a sin against God. That is not how we brought him up. How can we fix this? What do I have to do to fix this illness so that he can come home again? He’s our only son. He’s disgracing our family name. His father will never forgive him unless he renounces that sinful lifestyle. I need to know where he is so I can get him help and bring him home.

Andrew, I said softly. His name is Andrew. I was shaken by her anger, her rage at her son. Her hate.

How do you know that? she yelled.

Because he’s telling me, I wanted to say. But I didn’t.  And anyway, I knew, and I think she did too. He was dead.

Before I could answer she stood up so suddenly her chair fell over behind her. It was a mistake to come, she shouted. You too are an abomination before the eyes of God. I won’t pay. I won’t listen to your rubbish.

She left my office, slamming the door behind her. I was so shaken that I cancelled my next appointments and went home.

About a year later Andrew appeared to me while I was meditating. He was worried about his mother. He showed me that he had taken his own life because he knew that he was gay, and he couldn’t stop being gay. His mother had taken him to a psychologist, the church had made him do a program, but still this thing in him was there, needing to be expressed. He didn’t want to lose his family. So how could he live, when they hated everything that was this thing deep inside him?

He’d barely finished school when he decided what he must do. He packed up a few of his things so it would look like he’d run away. When he next left the house he took those things and put them in an industrial bin at the local shopping mall. Then he went home and into the woods near his family home, where he took his own life. It gave him comfort as he was dying, to have his home so close.

His father was sure he’d run away, and from that moment Andrew had ceased to exist for that man. But his mother had been frantic. Deep inside she’d known, even though there was no proof. Even though his parents had never even reported him missing. After all, Andrew was an adult now. He’d finished school. These were his choices.

Andrew wanted me to tell his mother where he was, and what had happened so that she would stop looking for him. He showed me the national park near his home. He asked me to tell his mother he was sorry. Not for being gay, but for having put the family through trauma. He was sorry too for not having the strength to live. He loved them all so much. And he wasn’t lonely. He was with Boo.

I found the woman’s details in my file. It took two days to muster the courage, but I called her and I passed on the information, including that Andrew was with Boo, whoever Boo might be. The woman listened to what I said and then hurled abuse at me and told me never to contact her again.

So, nearly ten years later, Andrew came to visit me again. He kept me awake most of the night. He told me that he wanted me to let his mum know that he loves his family and watches over them, that he hears their prayers, and that he forgives them. That his mum can still find happiness in this life. Also, that his oldest sister is pregnant, although she does not know it yet, and that the baby will be a girl. Comfort my mother, he tells me. Make her understand it’s all okay.

I am at my farm and my client files are in my office in Brisbane. It will be days before I am back there. Anyway, I cannot remember his mother’s name and I had promised to never contact her again. What can I do? I get no sleep for the worry of it. For wanting to do the right thing and for being sick to the stomach at needing to contact this woman again. Because, of course, I will.

The next morning I am in the car, thready with lack of sleep, my husband driving me home from breakfast at a favourite cafe, when my mobile phone rings. A woman asks if I am Nicole Cody. When I say yes, she tells me she has flown a long way to see me. She is standing outside my old address but the people there told her I moved years ago.

It is Andrew’s mother.

Can she get a cab to where I live now, she asks.

No, I tell her. I’m interstate. I live on a farm now. I felt bad that she had impulsively travelled so far, that I cannot tell her what I need to face to face.

Before I can say anything Andrew’s mother apologises to me for her behaviour. She tells me that she is no longer with her husband, who is a minister of a particular church. Her oldest daughter is still involved with the church, but married to someone outside the church. Her daughter is conflicted because she has been unable to conceive and finally she and her husband have resorted to IVF which is outside the teachings of that faith and considered a sin. Her other daughter went to Europe over ten years ago, and only came home last month. But she is going back. The daughter will not stay. She has a new life now.

She is talking and talking, Andrew’s mother, but I know these are not the things she wants to tell me. It is not why she travelled so far to try and see me.

Still she talks. I know you were telling the truth, that day you rang me, all those years ago, she said. Boo was my grandmother, who died before Andrew was born. I had never told the children her name. To them she was always known as Granny Parsons. But Boo was what I called her, my special name for her from when I was a little girl.

Here it comes, I think to myself. Here it comes. My arms are covered in gooseflesh.

Two years ago, she says, a hiker found human remains in the park that shares a boundary with our house. I thought of what you’d said and I went to the police. I told them Andrew had been missing all this time. I told them the whole truth. They used DNA to match the bones to my son. I hear the catch in her voice as she says the word bones, and feel my heart breaking for her.

You were right, she continues. He was there all along, and his body has lain in direct line of sight with my kitchen window all that time. Every morning, every night, I was looking out over him, and I never knew. I am so sorry that I was rude to you. Please forgive me. We buried Andrew a month ago. I knew that he was gay from when he was a tiny child. He killed himself because we did not act with love in our hearts about accepting his truth. We put him in a terrible position.

My husband still will not say his name. He did not go to the memorial. He cannot acknowledge Andrew and now he will not acknowledge me. I am cast out of our church, and I am okay with that. A God that cannot love their own creation is not a God I can believe in. She starts crying. Sobbing over and over, I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry.

I pass on the messages from her son. She is sobbing so hard that her breath is coming in hiccups. Will you be okay, I ask as her breathing settles. Yes, she tells me. Yes, I will. I know that she is telling me the truth. In her not-being-okay, she will still be okay. She will live with this Andrew-shaped hole in her heart but she has two living children she can be there for now, and a granddaughter on the way. I feel a shift in her; a sense of relief and a clearing of heaviness. I am crying too as I hang up the phone.

Later I pray that Andrew’s mother can find peace.

Love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion. In the end it is these things that matter. It is these things that endure.

I am grateful that I was able to help. But I am shaken, and fragile and exhausted. I keep my family close all day. I spend the evening in the company of my husband and dear friends. There is a deep need in me to affirm my life and what matters.

Sometimes what I do is hard, and it takes everything I have.

But it is worth it.

Saying No to Conditional Love

live-life-quotes-love-quotes-short-inspirational-quotes-inspiring-quotes-inspirational-quotes-inspiring-quotes

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don’t know it, all of that doesn’t even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It’s not like you have forever, so don’t waste any of your seconds, don’t throw even one of your moments away.” 
~ C. JoyBell C.

*Warning: Swear alert. Swears ahead.

I did something quite out of character for me yesterday.

There is someone who has been an important relationship in my life for a long time. You know the kind of relationships you just expect to endure, and to stay strong and connected. This person knew me, loved me, and was proud of me back when I was well and riding the crest of a wave of successes in my personal and business life.

The life I like to think of as my ‘former’ life. The one pre-illness. The one pre-psychic awakening.

The life I live now embarrasses the hell out of this other person. It has made things uncomfortable and awkward between us, without any kind of touchstone where we can easily connect, no matter how hard I try.

But in truth, we’ve been grown apart for a very long time, and so much of my championing and nursing along of the relationship comes from a sense of duty as much as from a place of love.

We speak intermittently. It’s been months now. I do my best to keep them in the loop of my life, so they were aware that I have been unwell. That I’m still unwell. When they called my home yesterday, Ben answered the phone because I was outside with my head in the toilet, violently ill from my lyme meds. He let the person know that I’d be a few minutes. He was politely honest about my situation.

Still, in keeping with the way this relationship has headed, the person did not ask after Ben, or me, or the farm. They talked instead of their latest achievements, and the achievements of others in their family.

When I was finally able to take the phone, this person did not ask after my health, not even in the polite way we all do where we don’t really need to hear the answer but we do want to observe social graces.

They just wanted to know what was happening with my career. Was I published yet? Why was everything taking so long? What was the hold up?

All I could do was stumble around saying that these last two years hadn’t been my finest (for those of you who don’t know, I was dying from unresponsive congestive heart failure, and then received a diagnosis of lyme disease where the treatment is saving my life but in the process making me endure the seven circles of hell) as this person insistently reminded me of who I used to be, and what I used to do. The life I had no choice but to walk away from.

For a moment I felt like one of life’s greatest losers. The shame was overwhelming. I felt so small.

Image from Midlife Rebel

Image from Midlife Rebel

I’ve been raised to be polite. But something happened yesterday. I got angry. And in that space of anger I also felt a need to put a stop to this.

“Fuck off!” I said gruffly. And then I hung up.

I shocked even myself.

But now, with some time and space between me and the big ‘hang up’, I’m feeling better about things. Cleaner.

Truth is, I still love them.

And I see the insecurity in THEM. The need for me, as part of their life, to be someone who others will judge well, and so judge this person well too.

But allowing them to heap shit upon me is not an act of self-love. Perhaps you remember that back at the end of 2013 I ran a retreat where all of us made a sacred vow – to love and treat ourselves well in 2014, to put ourselves and our needs front and centre in our lives rather than always playing second fiddle to everyone else.

I’m living that vow, and it is radically changing my world. In the best of ways.

It really is okay to say NO to conditional love. I hope that in sharing this experience, you can embrace that truth too.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

2013-12-09 10.05.54

Sometimes You Need to Be The Lighthouse

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean GuicHRD

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean Guichard

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits.” 
~ M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

Perhaps you know of the following exchange, which may or may not be urban myth:

This is the transcript of the ACTUAL radio conversation of a British Naval Ship and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 95. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-03-02:

Irish: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid a collision.

British: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North, to avoid a collision.

Irish: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

British: This is the captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert your course.

Irish: Negative. I say again, You will have to divert your course.

British: This is the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. The second largest ship in the British Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, two missile cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course, 15 degrees north, I say again, that is 15 degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure that safety of this ship.

Irish: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

This is a post for those of you going through difficult times, or difficult relationships. (Actually they can often be the same thing.)

Even though this is a post about Lighthouses I am NOT going to advocate all that New Age feel-good stuff about shining your Light and being a radiant example of unconditional love, peace and incredible oneness in the face of hardship.

Sorry about that.

Not that those things aren’t wonderful and admirable. But sometimes it’s simply not possible to hold that space.

I have a friend going through a very difficult divorce right now, after years of being married to a man who is one part Prince Charming and one part emotionally manipulative bully. Her husband has a fearsome temper. He’s a narcissist. And right now, now that she’s really left him for good (and yes, she’s somewhere safe), the charm is gone – he is battering her verbally and emotionally to get his way.

She knows that is what he does. And usually he wins because other people eventually give in, worn down by his behaviour. She has always given in, worn down by his behaviour.

In the midst of all of this (when her own lawyer began to realise what this woman had been enduring and took her to a Domestic Violence Support Group) my friend wanted to know how to best hold her husband in love and come from that place of Love and Light. Should she pray for him? How should she help him?

Meanwhile this man is raging around her like the foulest of tempests. And she thinks she needs to stay ‘open’ to him, to engage with him, to support him…

“Be the Lighthouse,” I said. “You know, the one you see in the famous picture where there’s a storm and the ocean is smashing down upon that Lighthouse, and the Lighthouse just stands, immovable?”

She nodded.

“Stand your ground. Be well prepared. Let him rage as much as you like, and know that eventually, like any storm, he’ll blow himself out. Don’t engage him. Don’t try to help or fix him. A Lighthouse does not engage with a storm, it simply endures, and goes on honouring its true nature.”

That’s what we need to do with some people and situations in our lives. It’s not our place to be the healer or the fixer. In fact, it might be what is needed is for us to walk away.

Sometimes we can’t walk away – from a job, an illness, a relationship. Instead we need to stay and find a way to make the situation work, or find a way to better cope with that situation. We have to find a way to endure because something in the equation is important to us; important enough for us to need to find a way to deal with this less-than-ideal space.  Like a good friend of mine who puts up with his sister’s rude spouse in order to maintain a relationship with his sibling. Or my friend suffering through chemotherapy and radiation to prolong her life long enough to give her a little more time with her precious partner and children. Each of them ‘enters the Lighthouse’ when they deal with these issues. They batten down the hatches, and let the waves crash around them until the storm is passed. The Lighthouse is their coping strategy.

Or maybe we can’t walk away just yet – although that might be our end game. Instead we need to reach a settlement, have our day in court, finish the job, get to the end of the treatment, submit the final paper. Then we can pack our bags and get on our way!

When we can’t retreat, we can choose to be the Lighthouse, standing firm in the storm.

We make preparations, or follow our emergency plan. When bad weather approaches we put up the storm shutters. We lock down the doors and windows to make them watertight. We make sure we have candles and matches, a warm jumper, supplies and a good book. Where necessary we use a support crew. We do all we can to keep ourselves safe and give ourselves the best chance for a bright future.

As to shining your Light? Why not do that for YOU? Turn your Light inwards for a while. Put your own needs first right now, attend to your wounds, conserve your energy, nourish yourself.

When the storm has passed and the weather is clear and fine – then we can have that New Age chat about Love, Light, Rainbows, Puppies and Unicorns. Okay?

But for now, if you’re weathering that storm because there’s no way to chart another course then my advice is to look after you. Be the Lighthouse.

Plenty of time for other things once the storm has passed.

You might also find these posts useful:

How to get through the hard stuff

How to deal with toxic people

The Baby Who Knew Me!

Image by Aimee at Lily Pad Designs

Image by Aimee at Lily Pad Designs – Note: This is NOT the baby who knew me🙂

“Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all.”
~ Emily Dickinson

“Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. 

Generally speaking, these meetings occur when we reach a limit, when we need to die and be reborn emotionally. These meetings are waiting for us, but more often than not, we avoid them happening. If we are desperate, though, if we have nothing to lose, or if we are full of enthusiasm for life, then the unknown reveals itself, and our universe changes direction.” 
~ Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

 

It takes a lot to freak me out. But last week, in the middle of Woolworths in Byron Bay I consider that I was freaked. Let me explain…

I was feeling ill, miserably exhausted on my lyme drugs, depressed and in pain. It wasn’t the best of headspaces. I hadn’t slept much for days.

As I whizzed through the aisles, throwing a few things in my basket, I saw a little girl sitting unattended in a shopping trolley. When she saw me she gasped, and her big brown eyes widened. Her face went bright red. I thought she was about to cry. I grabbed what I needed, hoped her mother was near, shot her a smile and raced into the next aisle.

A few more aisles over we met again. There was more stuff in the trolley behind her, but again she was unattended. Her face lit up as I walked past her.

“Hello,” I smiled as I grabbed some milk.

She reached out her arms to me, cute as a button. I waved goodbye and hurried towards the checkout. So she launched her super power. This little girl let out a blood-curdling scream. A scream loud enough to shatter windows and perforate ear drums.

 Image by © Ale Ventura/PhotoAlto/Corbis

Image by © Ale Ventura/PhotoAlto/Corbis

As soon as I looked back at her she stopped.

When I turned away, she screamed.

“Do something,” a woman beside me said angrily. “Don’t just leave her sitting there.”

What could I do? I was already so disoriented from pain and fatigue, and that scream was splitting my head open. I hurried back over, put down my basket and put my hand on her chubby little leg.

She stopped screaming immediately and beamed up at me. She held out her arms to me.

‘God, where’s her mother?’ I kept thinking. The little girl stretched so far I was frightened she would fall out of her seat. I stepped up close and to my surprise she grabbed my face and started smothering me in kisses. At least she wasn’t screaming.

“Nicole?” an embarrassed voice said from behind me.

I half-turned, my hair caught up in fistfuls by the little girl. It was a client of mine, Susan, whom I haven’t seen for a few years, although I have spoken to her on the phone a few times last year.

“This is Melody.” She came and stood beside me, and started crying as she detangled my curls from her baby’s hands.

And then I understood. I hugged her and we both cried, right there in the dairy aisle. Bless Byron Bay – it’s a perfectly natural occurrence in our shire for people to hug and cry. Everyone walked right past without batting an eyelid.

Melody (I’ve changed the names here for privacy purposes) is a soul I first saw as a bubble of light in her mum’s aura, many years ago. She was all ready to come through, given any opportunity to be born. But her Mum was in a turbulent relationship, and uncertain if she was ready for children. For her, career was what took all her energy.

In mid 2012 Susan rang me, feeling very unwell, and I asked if she could be pregnant. “Impossible,” she’d answered. “I’m on the pill. And anyway, I’ve separated from Max months ago. I’m on my own.”

Months after that she sent me an urgent message via facebook late one night. More a confession that anything else. She was pregnant after all, most likely from a one-night stand, and with no way of tracking down the father. Her life was falling apart. Susan was contemplating a late-stage abortion, and she wanted to discuss the implications of that for the soul she might not bring through, and for herself.

This little soul, Melody, spoke to me, and said that she didn’t mind what her mother chose, because she loved her so much, and if it wasn’t the right timing she would wait and come through at another time. It was all okay.

Melody was so calm and loving. I trusted that too.

But I was deeply upset by the emotional state that Susan was in, and how very unsupported she was. I stayed up that night praying and doing a healing meditation for her and the little soul with her, asking for the best possible outcome and highest good for both of them. I called in all of the spiritual support for her that I could muster.

Susan rang me the next morning to say that she had found a doctor and booked the procedure. She sounded much calmer. I didn’t hear from her again.

So here we were, in the middle of Woolies, with the baby daughter she decided at the last minute that she had to keep after all.

Susan was up here in Byron on holidays with her daughter and her new partner. She’s happy, and in a great relationship. She loves being a mum. It has all worked out okay.

I got more hugs and kisses from both of them, and then I took my shopping, paid for it and headed back to my patient husband and cafe dog out at the ute – who were wondering what had happened to me to make me take so long.

Synchronicity – that’s what took me so long. I love the mystical magical nature of our Universe. It never ceases to fill me up, and give me hope and peace.

Image from Espaco Yoga

Image from Espaco Yoga

What to do if you’re on your own at Christmas

Image from DTSL

Image from DTSL

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 
~ Mother Teresa

 

Christmas isn’t always an easy time. In fact it can be one of the hardest holidays of the year. Not every family is close, you might be a long way from home, some families are small – there might be only the two of you, or just you and your pets. Perhaps there has been loss or hardship during the year, a relationship breakdown, or the kids are spending Christmas with your ex.

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I thought I’d blog today about how I cope with Christmas, and how some of my friends do. We’ve all been able to turn a difficult day into something that works for us. Here’s how each of us will spend our Christmas Day:

Nicole: Orphan’s Christmas

My parents are divorced, my siblings scattered, and I’ve not had any kind of Christmas with my own family since 2000. I’ve also lived away from home in some very remote areas before that, and been too far away to come home over the holidays.

My Christmas now is an Orphan’s Christmas. I invite friends and neighbours who have nowhere to go, and we share a meal, play some music, talk and laugh and celebrate friendship and kindness. It might be 4 people, it might be 40. It might be someone we know well, or a backpacker or traveller who’s just passing through. What matters is that we each feel included and loved. These have turned out to be some of the best Christmas Celebrations of my life.

Since moving to the farm we start our day at sunrise with a champagne breakfast barbeque with the neighbours from across the river. We all drive down through the paddocks to the water with our eskies and chairs, they bring their barbeque on the back of a ute, Ben and I wade across the river at the shallow part and we cook up a storm.

Later we’ll call loved ones, and maybe go to the beach for a swim. I might lie around and read a book while eating tasty snacks.

This year we have a drinks and dinner drop-by, starting at 4pm. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted on how it all turned out and what was on the menu. (It’s a week away I keep telling myself – I’ll think about it in a few days time when I’ve finished work for the year.)

Always-Have-A-Dream-In-Your-Heart

Alice – Swank Hotel Retreat

Three years ago Alice lost her mum to breast cancer, and then her aunt, all in six months. Then her marriage failed. Most of her family live overseas. She works like crazy all year, and was wracked by sorrow and loneliness at the very thought of Christmas. The first Christmas she stayed at home and cried. It was miserable, but she needed to grieve and it didn’t feel right to be happy or to celebrate so she honoured that. She also turned down invitations to parties and other families’ Christmas dinners. Attending would have made her feel worse, rather than better.

The next year she knew she couldn’t face another Christmas alone in her apartment, so she booked into a luxurious suite at an inner-city hotel for a few days. On Christmas Eve she shopped in town, buying books, new silk pyjamas, bubble bath and fragrant lotions, treats from the patisserie, decadent boxes of chocolates. Then she went back to her hotel suite and bunkered down. Christmas Eve was a cable TV marathon with pizza and red wine. Christmas Day she went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens, drank coffee and read her book, and then retreated to her room for more book reading, baths, naps and room service. Boxing Day was more of the same. It was such a restful and enjoyable break that she’s done it each year since and looks forward to this gift she gives herself.

nap

Damien – Volunteer Christmas

Damien lost his young daughter to cancer and then his marriage broke up. That was twenty years ago. He’s been alone ever since. He works in Emergency Services and is always happy to volunteer to work on Christmas Day so that others can have time with their families. He’ll also do a stint volunteering at the local surf club. He doesn’t put up a tree, or do anything special for himself. But he feels that by working he is giving a gift to others. It’s low-key, and he’s happy with that.

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Michael and Louise – Puzzle madness

Louise suffers from severe chronic fatigue. She has multiple food allergies and intolerances to many chemicals and things like perfumes and deoderants. Going out at Christmas is a nightmare, and she’s usually too ill to enjoy herself anyway. Michael is Louise’s partner. His family live interstate, so he will talk with them on the phone. Since he became Louise’s full-time carer money is tight. Travelling to family is not an option.

Michael and Louise have made Christmas their own personal event. It’s not about the food, it’s about the fun. Michael will buy a few second-hand games for his x-box that they can start playing on Christmas morning. He also finds a monster jigsaw puzzle, which they set up on the kitchen table. They will not eat again at their table until the puzzle is done, which might take weeks. It’s something they look forward to all year.

Jigsaw_puzzle_01_by_Scouten

Marta – A Day of Reflection

Marta’s family are big drinkers. And it’s a family with a lot of tension, competition and unhealthy relationships. Christmas usually starts okay but then degenerates into fights and tears as the day wears on.  A few years ago Marta decided not to put herself through that anymore. Instead she spends her day at home, with a few carefully selected treats, a new journal and pen, and some music. She starts her day with yoga in her lounge room, followed by fresh fruit, good coffee and an almond croissant. Then she attends church quietly on her own. Later she meditates and writes in her journal. She does a year spread using her tarot cards and reflects on each card and what that might mean for her. She reads from a spiritual or self-help book she’s chosen and then spends the rest of the day thinking and planning for her year ahead. Dinner is a beautiful meal for one, where she takes the time to cook something special for herself – usually seafood, followed by a little pudding or chocolate something. Christmas has become a sacred time for Marta, and a day that has gone from being painful to nourishing.

journaling

Christmas is what YOU make it. And if you choose to step away from the idea of how it ‘should’ be celebrated and instead look after yourself and your own needs, maybe it can be a time for nourishing yourself and honouring where you are at in your life.

Not everyone has a perfect family. Not everyone even has a family. Sometimes life is hard, and we need to get through the best we can.

This Christmas I’m thinking of you, sending love, and holding the intent that the day brings you healing, rest and connection – whether you are on your own or in a crowd.

Bless ♥ xx

bigstockphoto_candles_shining_in_darkness_47345701

A Starting Point For Change

Running Away from Home - Photo by Laura Corebello

Running Away from Home – Photo by Laura Corebello

“She had discovered early that what we want out of life can change; that the important thing is to learn to recognize or even simply just to admit what we really want, and then to have the courage to reach for it.” 
~ Candice Proctor, Whispers of Heaven

“The question is: how bad do things have to get before you will do something about it? Where is your line in the sand?”
~ Michael Badnarik

 

Today, under this Traveller’s Moon, is a good time to get clear on our starting place for change.

Understand this. You don’t need to know yet where you are headed. You just need to know what it is you really need to leave behind.

You need to get clear about what you DON’T WANT.

This isn’t a list of dislikes. It’s not an agenda of complaints.

Today I want you to spend some time and be totally honest with yourself. Based on all of your life experiences so far, and on a foundation of your values and integrity, what is it that you just can’t do, won’t do, don’t ever want?

Your starting place for change is to simply recognise the energies and styles of relationships that you are no longer prepared to accept in your life.

Think of it as drawing a line in the sand so that the Universe knows where you are at, and so that you can use this as a measuring stick for future situations, choices and relationships.

Image from Papa's Job

Image from Papa’s Job

It might not be a very long list. That’s okay. What’s most important is that you feel it in your heart and know it to be true for you.

 

Here are some examples:

I will never accept a cheating partner again.

I can’t work in a place where I am bullied.

Working twelve hour days for someone else – that’s over!

Never spending time in nature? I can’t do that anymore.

Image by Alegri

Image by Alegri

Once you have that list, turn your back and put those things behind you.

With what you don’t want behind you, you’ll have a starting place and a clear direction forward, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re headed next.

Knowing what we don’t want is ALWAYS the starting point of working out what we DO want.

Bless ♥ Nicole xx

Image from bohemiabowmans

Image from bohemiabowmans