The Very Valid ‘Not Coping’ Style of Coping

teapot portrait

Image by Lauren O’Neill. You can view her work here: www.laurenipsum.ie/projects

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”  ~ Anne Lamott

 

Hi. Lovelies.

Gee. It’s been one of those weeks.

So, I was sitting in my lounge room yesterday morning, crying. Not blogging.

Crying because I was in agony. Crying because all I wanted to do was pee and when I did it felt like I was pissing razorblades. Crying because everything hurt. Because I was herxing from the antibiotics for my urinary tract and assorted other infections, and these same antibiotics were playing havoc with my Lyme bacterial load. Because of constipation from the pain meds. Because my stomach was so grossly bloated that none of my clothes fit. Because I’d been vomiting from pressure on my stomach from my wildly overgrown fibroids. Because I’d begun to be attacked by Gorn, after two years Gorn-free and hadn’t slept all night.

Crying because of constantly leaking urine like one of those dodgy teapots that always dribble from the spout when you pour.

Crying because it was only three more days until surgery, and instead of dreading it, now it couldn’t come soon enough.

Everything was hard. I was exhausted. Broken. Pain-wracked.

Miserable.

I’d wanted to blog but my brain was empty. I’d thought to maybe do a little work, but I could scarcely sit upright. All my plans were out the window. It was all just mess.

“I’m not coping,” I sobbed to the empty room. “Not coping!”

“NOT COPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed that one.

After which I cried some more.

As I calmed down from heaving sobs to simple snivelling, I realised something quite profound.

It wasn’t true.

I AM coping. Not very well, and certainly not with any great elegance or panache. It’s fair to say that I am just limping along right now – held together with duct tape, spit, snot, drugs, meditation, cobwebs and sighs.

Is that coping? Well, I’m still alive. I’m making it through the day. I’m hanging on. When I thought I was at the end of my rope, after a while I saw that the rope was longer.

So I stopped snivelling, wiped my face and laughed at myself. Kind laughing, mind you. The sort where I patted myself on the back comfortingly, seeing myself as an overtired and distressed child. I was flooded with compassion for myself. It’s a completely shit space I’m in, and it’s totally okay if my style of coping is a not-coping style right now.

I want to let you know that it’s okay for you too – if you sometimes find yourself in a not-coping/coping kind of a space. Life is messy and hard and unpredictable. Sometimes we ride the crest of the wave, high on life. Sometimes we are deep beneath the suck and pull of a massive tsunami.

I’m not alone, I reminded myself. I prayed to my loved ones who’ve crossed over to look out for me, and I called on all of my Guides and Angels and God to look after me and my husband and all of our family and friends. (That’s you too, of course!)

Then I went and made myself a cup of tea.

 

Later that same morning, my kind friends Bek and Lizzie popped round for an hour. They brought pre-birthday treats and balloons, and we had a sharing of troubles and laughter.

The balloons themselves had a special message for me. Yesterday would have been my beloved Nana’s 101st birthday. Not only that, each year when I was little, Pa would give me a special balloon as one of my presents. A marbled one of pinks and blues and whites, in an era where most balloons were just one colour. Nana would always have sticky bun, as well as cupcakes with pink icing for me.

My friend Lizzie brought me some of those same balloons Pa used to give me. Bek brought me cupcakes and sticky bun. Coincidence much?

cool party candles

Check out how cool those candles are. The flame is the same colour as the candle!

“If you can’t laugh when things go bad–laugh and put on a little carnival–then you’re either dead or wishing you were.”
~ Stephen King

balloons and cake

Yeah, I know. Those balloons look like weird inflatable boobs. Did I mention it’s been one of those weeks?

I was in pain and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck the entire duration of their visit. But my soul was happy. My heart was full. And after they left I lay down and slept for a few blissful hours, feeling my grandparents watching over me.

If not-coping coping is the best you can do, then that’s enough. And remember, you’re never alone. Reach out to your loved ones, to the Angels, to your friends and family.

I’m thinking of you, and sending love,

Nicole <3 xx

 

 

Me And That Misbehaving Technology!

 

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“All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two

 

It’s been a crazy fortnight for me, technology-wise. This time two weeks ago my computer died, and no matter what I did, it took days to get back on my feet with a new, functioning machine.

On Wednesday night we made it home to the farm after our epic trip to Toowoomba and found that the modem had died. So now I had a lovely new computer and no way to connect it to the wider world.

Although we live on the coast, just inland from Byron Bay, in the world of telecommunications we are considered ‘rural remote’. We don’t have a phone line of good enough quality to run ADSL, let alone dial-up. So we rely on a massive aerial and the mobile phone network for our slowish internet service. That’s our only option right now. Or satellite. Which is even slower.

When the modem died I took it in to the Telstra ( communication services provider) shop half an hour’s drive from our home, where it then took ALL DAY for them to work out what to do while I sat there, refusing to leave until they found me a solution. I should now receive a new modem in the post on Monday or Tuesday next week.

In the meantime I had to buy a nifty little prepaid modem, which makes dial-up look fast. I write a five line email, and wait twenty minutes while it sends. But hey, I still have connection! So between now and next week, my blogs won’t look flash unless I send them from a cafe in town.

Now, there’s an idea… 🙂

I shall do my best for you, one cafe at a time!

It’s my birthday tomorrow, and my lovely friend Carly is coming to visit for the weekend. A small group of us (all local farmers) are heading to a tiny local French restaurant tonight, which does a three course meal of fresh seasonal local food for just thirty dollars. The restaurant is way up the other end of our long, winding country road. It always feels like we have stepped back in time to go there. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s such a treat of a place!

Right now I am going to water in my new vegetable seedlings while this blog post loads, and then we are off to the farmers’ markets for breakfast and some shopping. I’m finally feeling quite good on my new lyme meds, which is wonderful news.

Double hoorah, with cake!

Lots of love, Nicole xx

A Big Green #Lyme Anniversary!

Image from The Cake Trail

Image from The Cake Trail

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”W. Somerset Maugham

I was talking with my sister yesterday, and she said to me, “Hey, are you planning anything special for your thirty year anniversary tomorrow?”

“Huh?” I replied.

“You know, this Saturday is the same weekend  thirty years ago when you were bitten by the tick that gave you Lyme disease. Ekka weekend. That anniversary!”

Simone remembered because I glued the tick into her school diary, which, weirdly, she kept for all those years! Thanks, Sissy 🙂

tickindiary5 (1)

Wow. Thirty years. That’s such a long time.

It made me sad at first, to think of how much of my life has been claimed by this disease, and then I decided that enough of my life has been given over to sadness. I thought long and hard about how Lyme has changed me.

This is what I came up with.

If I hadn’t been bitten by the tick I would have gone on to become a lawyer, and my ambitions would have taken me far, far from here. I would have never married my first husband. I would not have gone to the Kimberley for my life changing connection with the Aboriginal Aunties. I would have continued to ignore or hide my psychic gift. I would have shunned this thing that I am, in favour of something more conventional.

Lyme has stripped almost everything away from me. My ability to have kids, to study, to live a normal life, to work in a normal job.

But it left me two things. My ability to love, and my ability to live and work within the metaphysical planes of existence. I had always seen that as a diminishment, and now I see that Lyme distilled me down to my essence, and forced me to live as a psychic. It was the only thing left that I could do.

That’s actually a beautiful thing, hard a journey as it’s been.

Now, as my health slowly returns, as I walk this hard journey of healing, things are being added back in to my life. My ability to think, to write – these two things have become such precious, precious gifts. When I was young I took it all for granted.

No more.

Tomorrow I shall celebrate my essence. The gifts of love, compassion, psychic connection, perseverance, moral courage, gratitude and hope, and the return of words, imagination and the ability to write again.

That’s worth a good cake, don’t you think?

The owl in the tree outside my window agrees!

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It’s My Birthday!

Image from hdwallpapers.com

Image from hdwallpapers.com

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”  William Shakespeare

It’s my birthday! Sit down, have a piece of cake, and let me pour you a cup of tea…

Today I’d like to thank you for the gift of your friendship, for supporting my blog, and for reading my offerings. You being here means the world to me.

I started the day with meditation, and soon I’ll go for a short walk to enjoy the Outback dawn. Then breakfast and some journalling – birthdays are always a time for reflection and planning for me. This afternoon we’re visiting a friend’s cattle property to have a proper bush-bash birthday dinner with cake and good company. And tomorrow I am giving myself a sleep-in and a day off blogging. I hope you don’t mind! But I’ll still be writing because my head is crammed full to bursting of story that needs to get onto the page.

Go on – have a piece of cake or a little tasty treat today and help me celebrate. I’d be so grateful! Thank you and much love, ♥ Nicole 🙂 xoxo tea party

A Day without Context has No Meaning

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

Yesterday was my birthday.  Last night a girlfriend called to see how my day had gone.

“Did you spoil yourself?” she asked. “Did you get massages, and go somewhere fabulous to eat, and get heaps of presents and stuff yourself full of cake?”

“No, not this year,” I replied.

She began to express disappointment for me, but I stopped her. For me, it was a beautiful day. It just didn’t look the way my friend thought it should.

Things started well. I woke from a deep sleep at 4am, slipped out to meditate for my students, clients, friends and family, then I blogged and jumped back into bed for cuddles with my husband and my dogs. I was blessed with lots of kisses, two birthday cards, a beautiful steampunk ladybird necklace, and a windmill (well, the windmill is on someone else’s farm right now, but soon it will be pumping the water from our spring, making my little piece of heaven even more ecologically sustainable ♥.)

My wonderful steampunk ladybug necklace by Chris Huebert

We headed down to Byron Bay for an early morning walk on the beach, followed by breakfast at a favourite cafe. There I was showered with birthday hugs from the staff, who kindly gave me my meal for free, and we bumped into friends who gave me more hugs and who stayed for chai and chats. I had that lovely heart-swelling feeling of being home, in a well-loved space.

And then my day altered course. On the trip home from breakfast I got a phone call from my Dad to wish me happy birthday and tell me that my Nana was worse.  I packed a bag, jumped in my old farm ute and headed up to the hospital, an hour away, to spend the day with her.

Dad came too, and we spent precious hours talking, sharing and healing.  Birthday Lunch was a toasted sandwich and an ordinary coffee in the hospital cafe.  But I got to spend it with my Dad, who I don’t see nearly often enough. That was a precious gift in itself.  We also talked about the unpublished manuscript of ours that he’s reading, and got lost for a while in the world of stories, history and the Pacific we’ve both travelled and loved.

My Dad, helping Nana to smile for the camera ♥

It was hard to see my little Nana frailer, weaker and less with us.  But I brushed her hair, and rubbed cream into her hands and face, and hugged her often and talked with her, and for her. I got to share one last birthday with my other September Girl. And I never cried once.

I saved that for the car.

By the time I got up to Brisbane late yesterday I was wrecked. I fielded more phone calls from loved ones who are all deep in their own issues and dramas right now, and I got to tell them that I loved them, and to help where I could. They sent me love and well wishes too, and I felt that deep connection that ties us all together through time and space, ups and downs, and everything in between.

Ben and the dogs came to spend the night in the city with me and dinner was take-away Chinese from the dodgy restaurant down the road, after which I read through an avalanche of birthday wishes and love on my facebook page, and in my email in-box.

There was no cake, no candles, no fancy meals, no extravagant gifts or lush pampering.

But there was so much love, and life, and connection.

I went to sleep last night feeling truly blessed.

And this morning I shall go somewhere nice and eat cake for breakfast! I might even have some for lunch too.  ♥ ♥ ♥

A cake like this one would be just the ticket…
I ate this one at Queenies Tea House, Nundah, Brisbane, some months ago.

 

Heavenly Chocolate Brownie Recipe

This brownie recipe is so good that my neighbour’s son prefers to be paid by the tin full rather than take cash when he works in my garden! As the picture suggests it is moist, dense and fudgey.  It’s a pleasure to make, using only a large saucepan and a cup. You can have it in the oven in ten minutes, and half an hour later it’s done. I always make a double batch in a baking tray (approx 22cm x 32 cm) because it doesn’t seem to last long around here. The recipe below is for a standard batch.

*Be warned – they are highly addictive!

Ingredients: 125g unsalted butter (one stick or 4 ounces), chopped into chunks (you can use salted but I prefer the sweetness of unsalted butter for this recipe), 200 grams dark chocolate broken into chunks (7 ounces chocolate or 1 cup), 3/4 cup soft brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup plain flour (all purpose flour), 3 eggs, 1 cup of nuts or chocolate chunks or a combination to suit yourself.

Note – Good nuts to use include walnuts, pecans or macadamias.  Chocolate chunks should be largish – if you use small chocolate drops they will melt and you won’t have any evidence of them in your finished brownie. Milk, dark or white chocolate are all fine – use whatever takes your fancy.  I also use fresh berries from time to time for a pleasing variation.

Method:  Use baking paper to line a slice tin (28cm x 18cm or 8 inches by 12 inches) Add the butter, sugar and chocolate to a large saucepan. Melt ingredients over low heat, stirring until all combined. Turn off the heat. It should be warm but not hot.  If you can’t stick your finger comfortably into the mixture let it cool a little. Add the vanilla.

Dump in the cup of flour, and then break the eggs into the cup, beat lightly and add to the saucepan too.  Mix well to combine.  Add the chocolate chunks or nuts and mix through, then pour batter into tray.

Bake at 180 degrees celcius or 160 degrees celcius in a fan forced oven (moderate or 355F – drop a little lower if fan forced) for 30 minutes.  Mixture should no longer be wobbly but a pick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out with traces of mixture still clinging to it. If you like your brownies fudgey take them out now.  If you like them firmer and more cake-like cook for 40 minutes. (You may need to play around with this timing depending on the speed of your oven.  They all differ a little.)

Cool in tin.  To serve dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.  They are excellent warm, served with cream or ice-cream. A perfect accompaniment to coffee.  They also travel well and make great gifts.  Enjoy!