How To Be Strong


“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.” 
~ Masaru Emoto

Someone asked me yesterday how I came to be so strong. And how they could be stronger in facing their own challenges.

I thought deeply on this, and then I made you this list. I hope it helps.

  1. Let your children fail, be disappointed and be let down. At the same time love them, and help them understand that the Universe does not revolve around them, and that good manners and kindness are important always, and especially so when you are losing while someone else is winning. (Thanks, Mum and Dad ❤)
  2. Breathe and be in the moment. In the moment you can get through the next second. In the moment you are larger and stronger and more hyper-aware, and life can actually be beautiful even as it devastates.
  3. Maintain relationships. Have a friend to phone, or a neighbour with whom you can drink tea. Many times my sister has been my lifeline. Online friendships have made the difference when I had no energy for face-to-face.
  4. Cry. And then keep going.
  5. Sleep. And then keep going.
  6. Make a serious motivational music mix for those soul emergencies. PLAY IT LOUD.
  7. Find your faith. That might be God, or nature, or love. It might be the unconditional love of a dog. It might be the stillness of meditation. Visit and sit in that space of faith often.
  8. Meditation. I do it daily. Even a few minutes help.
  9. Have gratitude for the small details of life. A good cup of tea, laughing, the smell of salt on the breeze, clean sheets, the shape of a cloud, sunshine or rain.
  10. Life’s adversity gifts you the opportunity to know yourself better, and to choose how you will behave and think – even when you have little or no control over your situation or the eventual outcome. Step back from yourself, observe and learn. You’ll be amazed at how much strength, grace and courage was always inside you waiting for you to need it.
  11. Make art, follow your dreams, and do them in the moments when you have some energy. When there is no energy for anything then dwell in your imagination with those dreams. Don’t put them down just because you are broken. We are all broken. Broken people can still live well and get stuff done.
  12. Live. While there is breath in your lungs and a beating heart in your body stay curious, keep trying, stay open, and live.

You’ve got this. Go surprise yourself. I know you can, and it’s a glorious moment when you realise that you can live happily even when broken, wounded, dying or less than whole.

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

Advice I Wish I Could Have Given My Young Self And Her Friends

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” ~ Confucious

An old school friend of mine passed away. Over the years we’ve lost others; to suicide, accident, misadventure and illness. But this is the first of my friends who has passed due the cumulative stresses of aging.

I’ve been looking at photos of us all from when we were at school and university, from when we were young and fearless and life was in front of us as an endless rolling wave of possibilities. I can see that this is one of the blessings of youth – to be eager-eyed and unbowed by life experiences. I see that in my friends’ children now and I’m awed by that energy.

But there is a blessing to being older too. And that’s the blessing of wisdom.

If I could teleport back through time here are the things I wish my wise older self could have said to us all back then, back when we were still at school and contemplating the lives we might lead:

  1. Don’t choose a career to please your parents or impress your school or anyone else. Don’t be pressured into making study and career choices that hold no joy except the promise of a prestigious occupation or a big paycheck.
  2. It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do when you leave school. Education is important, and those basics of literacy and numeracy will never go out of style. Get an education for the experience of it, and to broaden you, but know that your life may take you far from your starting point, and that’s fine too.
  3. Travel while you’re young. Take a gap year. Take off after you graduate. Take off before there is a mortgage or a partner or the kind of job you won’t be able to leave for more than a week or two at a time.
  4. Don’t do drugs. Not the injectable kind, or the snort up your nose kind, or the magical pill kind. And don’t ever see drugs or alcohol as an escape or a solution. If you need an escape change your life or get some counselling. If you’re depending on drugs or alcohol but you are telling yourself there is no problem – there’s a problem. And don’t drive under the influence of anything, ever!
  5. Don’t stay in a relationship with someone you don’t love, and don’t get married just because everyone else is. Don’t feel pressured, ever, to marry, have kids, or do things you don’t feel ready for. Most importantly don’t do any of these things just to make someone else happy. The cost will be too high.
  6. Have an interest that has nothing to do with your career. Maybe something you enjoy now. Don’t put it down and forget about it when you leave school because you aren’t ever going to set the world on fire or be the next greatest thing with the musical instrument you play, or the sport you enjoy or the craft you do on weekends. Cultivate that as a life-long interest and you’ll be going a long way towards gifting yourself strong mental health.
  7. Learn to cook. Seriously. Just some basics. And learn to clean the house, to manage your finances and other basic adulting skills. This is the stuff that is the background of life, and being able to do these things will give you confidence and freedom.
  8. Have a bucket list. They aren’t just for old people. If you’ve always wanted to surf Indonesia, trek the Himalayas, wander through India or drink espresso in Italy then hold those plans in your mind and work towards them. Keep adding to that bucket list so there is always something to look forward to, even as you tick things off. Don’t leave it till retirement. By then you may be incapable of the things you could have enjoyed more fully when you were younger.
  9. Relationships take work. And there is nothing like a relationship that has weathered the highs and lows of your life to bring you comfort and stability. Put effort into the important ones. Work through your problems and get help if it’s needed. Sometimes we need to learn how to communicate or to break old patterns so that we can move on, together.
  10. Once you have a job or career don’t let it take over your life. Same with family and relationships. Save some time that’s just for you. No time for yourself will breed exhaustion and resentment and is a recipe for burnout and breakdown. Everyone needs time to themselves to recharge and to indulge interests that others might not share.
  11. Look after your health. It’s so easy to take it for granted when you’re young but looking after yourself is a kind of insurance policy that your older self will one day thank you for.
  12. Do what’s in your heart. Even if it won’t make you money. Even if everyone else thinks you’re mad. Don’t die with the dream still in you. It’s never too late to start, but don’t leave it too long, okay?

Thinking of you, and sending love, Nicole ❤ xx