I’m Not Ashamed

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” 
~ Brené Brown

‘Oh, Nicole!’ That’s how the email started.

‘Darling friend, I’m so sorry to hear you are still battling Lyme disease. I hope you’re on the mend soon. Just wanted to give you some advice. What you write stays on the internet forever unless you decide to remove it, and even then it may be too late. So why on earth did you write about having incontinence? Nic, pull it down as soon as you can. That kind of stuff is so damaging for your image, and if you ever get a publishing deal you’ll regret this kind of over-sharing. Trust me.’

Hmmm….

Over-sharing? I don’t think so. Damaging? Some people will judge me, for sure. But they are not my people. You, dear readers, are my people.

Here’s what I know about my tribe, and about life in general.

Shit happens. Terrible, awful things can happen to good people for no reason. Life-changing accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Wear and tear, illness and calamity can render the most sound of bodies and minds suddenly limpy, broken or cobbled together with tape, string, tears, stubbornness and fervent prayers. Many illnesses and incapacities are invisible. People live with all kinds of pains, traumas and problems that most people around them will never even guess at.

Right now I am suffering from neurological incontinence. Inflammation in my brain and nerves makes a signal go haywire and sends a message to my bladder instructing it to void. Which it does with no permission from me. One minute I have a full bladder, the next minute my bladder is emptying wherever I happen to be and no matter what I am wearing, doing or what my plans might be. It’s happened to me dozens of times over the years since I first began treatment for Lyme, and my solution is adult diapers. Which mostly work, and sometimes don’t.

People can suffer from neurological incontinence as a side effect of MS, advanced Lyme disease, brain or spinal cord injury, brain lesions, degenerative brain diseases, or the long term effects of radiation or cancer treatment, alcoholism or diabetes. It affects men and women, children through to people in old age. It affects me.

One day it may affect you or someone you love.

Few of us get a free pass through life with no adverse side-effects! My dear friend Carly-Jay and I often have a laugh over the bits of our bodies or bodily functions that fail us. We belong to a club of people who live well despite how our bodies sometimes misfunction or misbehave. We call that club the Unreliable Club and I’m sure some of you are already card-carrying members. (Maybe we need t-shirts!)

When I was first diagnosed with neurological incontinence (which comes and goes in me – I last had an attack a few years ago!) I looked everywhere for information and found almost none. It’s something no-one talks about.

So, I’m talking about it here. It’s not the end of the world. It can be managed. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s just wee. Everyone does it. Every single day. It’s a normal part of life, and for some people it’s a part of life that doesn’t work well for any number of reasons. If more people talked openly about this kind of thing we’d realise just how prevalent these kinds of issues are AND THEY ARE NOTHING FOR WHICH YOU NEED EVER FEEL SHAME.

The Continence Foundation of Australia offers the following statistics:

  • Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006).
  • 65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional (Byles & Chiarelli, 2003: Help seeking for urinary incontinence: a survey of those attending GP waiting rooms, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).
  • 70% of people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem (Millard, 1998: The prevalence of urinary incontinence in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).
  • An Australian study found that over a three month period, 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence (Millard, 1998: The prevalence of urinary incontinence in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal). 
  • The prevalence of urge incontinence, which is strongly associated with prostate disease, is fairly low in younger males and increases to 30% for those aged 70-84 and 50% for those 85 years and over (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006).

It’s wee. It’s not working in a very controlled manner in me just now. That’s okay. I have bigger stuff to think about. This is just small stuff, not worth sweating over.

If you feel the need to unfollow me, unfriend me or avoid me because of my bladder control issues and embarrassing habit of oversharing then go right ahead. I’ll still be here for you when life gets bumpy. And then I’ll remind you that you can still live the dream while rocking adult diapers and I won’t love you any less for it. Instead, I’ll be cheering you on!

Much love, Nicole xx

You can still matter, make art, make a difference – even if you’re sick, broken or dying.

“She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.” 

~ Ariana Dancu

Lovelies, I have something important to tell you and I need you to hear it and take the truth of it right down inside you so that it can illuminate those dark places you fear may engulf you.

Stop waiting to be fixed. Stop waiting to be well. Stop waiting to be partnered or thinner or less anxious or more whole. Stop waiting to be better somehow. Stop believing all the gurus who tell you THEIR lives are harmonious, perfect, healthy, wealthy, ever happy and without any kind of angst, ill or drama.

Life is messy and hard and wonderful and short. So short.

Do you think you don’t have the right or the energy to pursue a dream or make a difference because of what’s going on in your life right now or what you’re still struggling to deal with from the past?

I call bullshit on that.

What matters most is that you express what’s in you, that you share what is yours to share, that – to the best of your ability – you strive to live while you’re alive and keep making, creating, sharing, teaching, helping, healing, loving.

What matters least is that you are ill, tired, droopy, depressed, failed at something, just hanging on, disabled, incontinent, divorcing, childless, overweight or terminal. What did that ever have to do with your soul and how it came here to express itself?

Don’t let your current or previous circumstances define you. Choose to be defined on your own terms. Choose to be enough, just as you are, and get busy doing whatever it is you’ve been holding back on. Rest if you must, but don’t give up. The world is waiting for what you have to offer.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite Leunig poems, which I love for the gentle truth of it:

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

A Week Of Wonders

“Well, I always know what I want. And when you know what you want–you go toward it. Sometimes you go very fast, and sometimes only an inch a year. Perhaps you feel happier when you go fast. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten the difference long ago, because it really doesn’t matter, so long as you move.” 
Ayn Rand

Hello, Lovelies!

Don’t you love the glorious blue sky (see top pic) that greeted me at breakfast yesterday on my last day in the Adelaide Hills?

I sat in a cafe and ate on my own, and spent time planning my week ahead. It was wonderful – my table was next to an open fire and I found myself with plenty of quiet thinking time and reflection on the week that was, before I went back to my room to pack and head to the airport to fly back to Brisbane.

Back in Brisbane as I waited at the carousel for my luggage I watched the people coming and going, and I marvelled that I was one of them.

In the past week I have run an evening event, conducted two days of private consultations, been out to dinner and all over Adelaide exploring with friends and then attended a very full-on three day conference that included one late night and very long days. I’ve also drunk coffee and enjoyed a few alcoholic beverages, eaten cake and chocolate and all kinds of other yummy things and managed to still feel good.

Somehow my health has held up for it all. More than that, I’ve enjoyed myself and felt like a normal human being for most of the time I was away.

Look – that’s me at the conference! (see pic below)

That might not sound very remarkable to you. But the truth of my life has been that most of the past fifteen years have been spent in my pyjamas, or in comfortable clothes – staying very close to home, and being in bed early. As someone with late-stage lyme disease and all sorts of other health complications, independent travel has not been on my radar. I’ve always needed someone with me, and I’ve needed plenty of rest and down days.

So this past week has been a glorious victory.

My brain has worked. My body has worked. And I’ve been humbled again and again to still be here on this planet when I’ve had so many close calls that I thought would have ended my life before now.

So for all of you who are currently struggling with health issues or anything else that is slowing you down I want to encourage you not to give up. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see a day again when I’d be well enough to venture forth in life on my own. Sure I’m still working within limits, and I still nurse myself along. I’m careful in my choices. But I HAVE choices, and that’s a miraculous and incredible thing.

It’s back to herbal tea and organic vegetables and early nights and my normal routine again today. I’m looking forward to it!

Don’t give up on your dreams, my friends. Miracles happen every day.

Love you! Nicole ❤ xx
(And yep, that’s me happily upgraded to business for the flight home – yippee!)

PS – Also, I just need to tell you – some days I just want to jump up and down and run around screaming I’M ALIVE AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

An ordinary night of magic!

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

We’re in the city right now, and last night something quite wonderful happened. Our neighbour joined Ben and I and we walked a few blocks down the road in the mild winter air to our local Japanese restaurant.

After a casual and delicious dinner we strolled home again.

That’s it. That’s all that happened.

No biggy, right?

Except that it was. When you live with chronic illness it’s amazing how small your world can become. For the first time in a long while I went out at night. I walked to a destination and home again. And had the energy to do all of that and still feel good about it.

I hardly ever go out at night, and so to combine dinner, friends and walking feels like some small kind of very tasty miracle.

Hooray for feeling better, and for life!
Hugs and love to you, Nicole  xoxo

Being Okay With Where You Are

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” 
Lao Tzu

I’m still recovering from the flu, and gee, it’s taking muuuuuuch longer than I would have liked. On top of that I managed to pick up a vomiting bug because of my dodgy immune system, so that has meant a couple of useless days just as I was picking up again.

I have to be honest. Yesterday morning after a horrid night I was quite despairing. You know; tears of frustration, being totally over it, and yes – being down on myself too. I wanted to be writing. I wanted to be back at work. I wanted to be doing so many other things. I wanted hair free of knots!!! (Try lying in bed through fevers and misery for a month and see what that does to your hair – I know some of you completely get this because things like illness and depression are not friends to long locks…)

And oh the guilt I began to feel that here I was in bed. Again.

I didn’t stop myself feeling any of those things.

That never helps.

This is my truth. I’m getting better slowly. I’m frustrated. I had a less-than-great couple of days. It was okay to be in a bit of a hole.

It’s helpful to be able to be honest about where you are and how you feel. I had a cry on the phone to my sister. I had a cry with Ben. I had a cry with the dogs. After which I slept and slept and slept.

This morning I am doing better. In a week or so I’ll be back to doing all the things I had wanted to do. Meanwhile, I am where I am and it is what it is.

I realised a few years ago that I had bought into this crazy belief that I needed to be 100% on 100% of the time. Because of that belief I pushed myself relentlessly. No matter what my truth was. This perfection thing is all around us – on social media, in magazines and on television and in movies. It’s the expectation at schools and universities and in our workplaces. We’re not meant to have down days, sad days, sick days, ugly days.

Except that we all do.

We all do.

So my lovelies, the next time you have a down day or a sick day, the next day you feel like crawling back under the covers and not facing the day, extend yourself some compassion and know that it’s normal to not be 100% on your game every single day. Only robots and Stepford Wives do that. Everything else you see providing evidence to the contrary is a carefully curated lie. Please don’t buy into that!

A model’s self portrait in the style of the Stepford Wives by Christine McConnell

No matter what your current reality there is no point fighting it. It is what it is. Fighting against your truth is disempowering. You beat yourself up, lower your vibration and end up feeling even worse than you did before. It keeps you in the hole longer.

Accepting where you are at, honestly and without judgement, creates shift.

Don’t like where you are at? Accept that truth. Sometimes that’s all you need to do to create movement in a new direction and a lightening up of your mood and situation.

Don’t want to keep living this current version of yourself? Decide to change it. That’s not fighting it, that’s empowering yourself to move in a different direction. Wanting to change and then deciding to change still honours where you currently are and that’s so important for self-love and self-acceptance. Affirm to yourself I am where I am but I can change. 

No matter our current situation and how difficult things are we still have choices. We change emotionally, intellectually, spiritually or physically. That knowledge can be a life-raft, and it can open doors to new possibilities.

Self-acceptance is, in itself, a powerful force for change and for creating flow.

Sending you love and hugs, and holding you in my meditations, Nicole  xx

Keeping It Real For You

“A good selfie is when you successfully capture the feeling of that very moment!” 
Anamika Mishra

 

Yesterday I ventured out into the world for the first time in weeks. This flu has really laid me low, and I’m still far from well but yesterday Ben, Cafe Dog and I went out to check the mail at our post box, to food shop for his mum and to grab a quick coffee.

Harry Dog was thrilled to finally leave the house too. Me? I was not quite with it, but grateful to be dressed and upright.

Makeup and hair styling? All too hard. I was clean, I smelled okay, and I’d swapped pyjamas for going-out clothes. As far as I’m concerned that’s a win!

We were out for less than an hour, by which time I was completely exhausted, but it was worth it to feel like part of the human race again.

I know. I can hear you saying it. I’m damaging my personal brand with these awful selfies. First it was thigh gap, and now real and unadulterated images of me feeling crappy and fluey and still quite horrid (and still with bad hair, wrinkles and oldness).

Oh well.

I’m really a bit over all of these images and stories in my social media feed about how to lose weight, look younger, have bigger boobs, fewer wrinkles, smaller thighs (or thigh gap!) or whiter teeth, and all of those images of perfectly happy people having perfectly wonderful lives.

Does your life look like that?

Mine doesn’t. And sweethearts it is absolutely fine if yours doesn’t either.

Today I want you to embrace yourself just as you are. Give yourself a hug or a virtual high-five from me if you’ve turned up for life today – no matter how hard things are right now. Give yourself an elephant stamp if you managed some personal hygiene. Have a gold star if you accomplished something on your list. Kind to yourself or others? Seriously – you deserve a medal! That’s the world I want to live in. I want a world filled with people who are honest and vulnerable and real – who show up courageously when life is hard, who reach out to others when they have the strength to do so, and who ask for help when they are struggling to manage on their own.

Let’s be kind to all those people with perfectly curated social media lives too. Because I can guarantee you that behind those images will be the same kinds of health dramas, money problems, relationship issues, depression, anxiety and ‘stuff’ that all the rest of us experience. They were just careful to edit those bits out before they put their life on display.

That’s one gift that chronic illness has given me – I’ve realised what matters, and it certainly isn’t about living my life to impress other people.

Lovelies, let’s agree to just keep being ourselves and to support others to be themselves too. Doesn’t that take off an enormous amount of pressure? Without that pressure we’ve freed up untold energy to put to much more constructive uses. Hooray for that. Hooray for real.

Biggest hugs to you from my personal-brand trashing self, Nicole xx

 

 

My Latest Obscenities…

“Whenever you speak the truth, someone will be offended.” 
Laurence Overmire

Yesterday I posted about having the flu (no fun!) and with that post I included pictures of myself showing me as I am right now – sick with the flu!

Thanks to everyone who sent me messages of love, care and support. I’m so grateful for the wave of positive energy and blessings you sent my way. Right now I’m being very well cared for, including by Nurse Rufous who has taken the reigns from Nurse Bert.

Inevitably though I had a few comments yesterday suggesting that these pictures were a bad idea. I also had a message from an entrepreneurial friend who suggested that the pics might ‘harm my brand’. Apparently the photos are less than flattering, and in the one where I am asleep I not only look sick but ‘old and wrinkled with bad hair.’

Yep, it’s true.

People, I recently turned fifty. I have chronic late-stage lyme. I also have the flu. I’ve been REALLY ill. I look trashed because I am. And I’m not going to apologise for that. Old and wrinkly with bad hair? I own it. Luckily it’s only a picture because I probably smelled bad too! Looking stylish and well-groomed when I’m acutely sick doesn’t even rate on my priority list. (Please note that this is different to being chronically sick, where you feel exhausted, in pain or suffer ongoing problems on a daily basis and in that space making an effort with your appearance can actually help you feel better about yourself. Also, many of us suffer invisible illnesses – meaning that you CAN’T SEE the problem – so you might wrongly attribute someone looking good with being well, which is often an incorrect assumption.)

I also received a message from a young entrepreneur who is just starting out in business. She reached out to me (think SPAM) from a forum for entrepreneurs where I happen to be a member.

Her message? To be prepared for a ‘stunningly sexy summer’ she has a great invitation-only program to maximise our thigh gap. To be selected we had to send a photo of our existing thigh gap (image could be up to two years old as long as it was indicative of our current thigh gap situation) so she could determine what level of program we’d need to be on. There was nothing to be ashamed of, her message assured me. I needed to be brave and send in that photo! Then all we had to do was pay our money, follow her thigh gap program and self-worth would be ours. Also, men dig thigh gaps.

I was feeling a little pernickety yesterday at being told how much my life would change if only I could be disciplined enough to have a decent thigh gap (yes, thigh gap is a thing!). I honestly have more important things to think about, like my health, living by my values, looking after the planet, being kind, writing, supporting my community, living each day as well as I can. Still, I dutifully sent in the only photo I could find of my thigh gap. (Did I mention pernickety?)

Within twenty minutes my inbox exploded. Message after message rolled in. This young entrepreneur was outraged. I was horribly offensive. Sick even. What did I think I was doing, sending her such a disgraceful photo? I disgusted her.

‘Also, is that a WEE thing????? That is SO inappropriate. SOOOOO OFFENSIVE. WTF Nicole?????’, she shouted at me in big stabby caps. ‘WTF???? YOU’RE DESPICABLE AND OBSCENE!!!’

Wee thing? You bet! Here’s my thigh gap after my second emergency surgery to repair a tear in my bladder post-hysterectomy back in September 2016. That tube is my catheter. The yellow stuff is indeed wee (or urine if we are being specific).

The wee’s a good colour. You might also note that there is a healthy amount of thigh gap going on there. So I’m pretty happy with this photo.

Even though it’s offensive.

So, to anyone I have offended with my oldness, my bad hair, my wrinkles and unflattering selfies, my posts about health issues or with my highly offensive thigh gap with catheter…

I’m not sorry!

This is my life, and I’m grateful for it. I won’t hide the ugly and hard bits from you ever. Why should I be ashamed of being human? Why should I feel or be treated as ‘less than’ if I am not young and svelte and in perfect health with an extreme sports yoga-body, perfect hair and total hipsterness?

There’s an unsubscribe button here on my blog, and you can always unfollow or unfriend me if you’re finding this through social media. Because from here on in I am sure there will be more bad hair days and wrinkles and who knows what else, and I’ll blog about it all.

Much love, Nicole xx

 

Me, Flu and You!

 

“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.” 
Robert G. Ingersoll

You might have noticed I’ve dropped off the face of the Earth these past few weeks.

There’s a reason for that.

I’ve just come face-to-face with a very nasty strain of influenza.

For most people flu is a mild illness that causes sore throat, runny nose, fever and chills which last several days. But for people like me who are immuno-compromised and for other high-risk categories such as the very young, the elderly and people suffering from chronic illness or underlying health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, influenza can be a very different illness.

If you’ve only recently arrived at my blog you might not know that I suffer from late-stage lyme disease, multi-organ and system compromise, and ongoing heart issues among other things. I’ve been to hell and back with my health and more than once in the past few decades the dark bird of death has sat companionably on my shoulder.

Still, I’m so much better now. These past few months I’ve been the strongest and most vital I have been in years. My improved health is the result of a great team, a regime, ongoing management and many, many hours of my life. Most of that hard work is invisible to the world. Instead what I hear is how great I look these days. Thanks. I’m working on it! 35 years worth of working on it, and counting…

When you don’t live in the world of chronic illness you might not realise that even when we look and feel well we usually have ongoing issues we are managing and our underlying immune systems may be weak. If our immune systems are in fact stronger than they have been it still only takes a few bad nights of limited sleep, of stress or of us overdoing our physical energetic limits for us to end up in a place where it is so much easier for us to succumb to infections. Sometimes we succumb anyway, even when we are healthy, because our immunity is just not as strong as other members of the community.

So that’s where Influenza A H3N2 (also known as Aussie Flu) and I collided a few weeks ago.

I’m hypervigilant when it comes to germs. I never touch my face, especially when we’re out. I wash my hands well, and always before eating. If I’m out I’ll use a hand sanitiser before eating and after using a shopping cart or touching any surfaces. On planes and in confined spaces I’ll wear a bamboo fabric mask impregnated with anti-bacterial and anti-microbial essential oils. I avoid people who are ill, and will avoid crowds and places that might put me at a higher risk of infection. I’ve managed to travel overseas, go to festivals and events and to holiday well several times, all without becoming ill and even as those around me have been sick – which I put down to me being vigilant and also having a great medical team caring for me from week to week.

So how did I get sick this time?

A client came to my home while she was recovering from having been very unwell. She didn’t disclose this to me and as she greeted me she coughed directly into my face. She was less than thirty centimetres away from me and her spittle covered my face and went into my eyes. She laughed, a little embarrassed, and wiped at my face with her hands. ‘Sorry, Love,’ she said, ‘just getting over the flu.’

My heart sank. But I tried to be hopeful that nothing would eventuate.

Less than twenty-four hours later I developed a sore throat. My glands came up in my neck, groin and armpits. Within a few hours I had a raging fever and could barely stand. I cancelled the rest of my week and put myself to bed, hoping that rest and an aggressive regime of herbs and Vitamin C might limit the damage and have me up again in a few days.

None of that helped. Overnight I deteriorated in a way that really scared me. I went from high fevers to chills and back to fevers again, was so weak I couldn’t sit upright, my throat inflamed and swollen so it felt like swallowing razor blades, my entire body ached, and I had a stabbing headache bad enough that I lost vision in my left eye. Eventually I could barely breathe, and my heart went into tachycardia. Add in chest pain and vomiting. Yep, awful!

I stayed like that for days, alternating between sleep and delirium. My doctors and cardiologist checked me out and decided I was better managed at home to avoid the risk of pneumonia and advised me to only come back to the hospital if my heart rate went to a certain level and stayed there over an extended time, or if my chest pain or breathing difficulties became too severe.

The last fortnight has been scary and hard, especially with all of the chest pain and arrhythmias. If I am honest I’ve also struggled psychologically with being so ill again after having felt on top of the world just a few weeks ago.

I’m through the worst of it now. A year ago this infection may have killed me (and yes, every day I give thanks for having such awesome doctors in my life, and my amazing local GP-acupuncturist and team whom I’m convinced are my secret weapon in the return to vitality from Lyme – thanks Dr Adam and Jodi!).

My symptoms are slowly easing, although my heart is still misbehaving. I currently look like I went one too many rounds in the boxing ring with a hefty opponent. And I’m earth-shatteringly exhausted. I have no energy for anything at all.

That’s how I know I’m still unwell. All I want to do is sleep. And that’s how I’ll know when I am better. I’ll be itching to get up and do something!

Meanwhile I have made a promise to Ben, my staff and my doctors that I will respect the flu and keep resting. I will not come back to full-on life too quickly. I will not overdo it and set myself back.

So, that’s where I’ve been. You know it’s never good news when I go quiet…

Think you might have the flu? Stay home and in bed if you can. Rest and keep up your fluid intake. Please, if you’re unwell spare a thought for others whose immune systems might not be as robust as yours. Practice good hand hygiene, cover your mouth when you cough, cover your nose when you sneeze, and don’t leave used tissues lying around. If you know someone who is pregnant, elderly, very young or who has a health issue avoid them while you’re unwell.  Seek medical advice or go to hospital if you spike and sustain a high fever, have trouble breathing or become breathless, if you have chest pain or severe abdominal pain, if you become dizzy or confused or if you have sudden severe vomiting. Not sick? Think about getting the flu vaccination, especially if you are in a high-risk category.

Thanks to everyone who has sent messages and checked up on me. I’m so grateful for your love and support. I promise I’ll be back on deck just as soon as I have my doctors’ blessings and enough energy to share with all of you as well as having enough for myself. Another week or two and I’m sure I’ll be just fine!

Biggest hugs and love, Nicole xx

Chronic Illness? This is a Spiritual Retreat for you!

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” 
Goldie Hawn

I have a beautiful residential retreat coming up, from March 6 to 11 in Byron Bay, Australia. It’s a gentle retreat, a restorative retreat, whose focus is to help you develop and commit to a regular spiritual practice that nourishes, sustains and grows you.

When I think about this retreat, and the practices I will teach you, my heart swells with love and gratitude. These are the techniques I used on my own soul journey, as I moved from resistance into connection, from self-loathing to self-love, from fear into deep peace. These techniques are ones I still use daily, or often. They are what helped me to become more fully who I truly am, rather than who I thought people wanted me to be, or how I thought I ‘should’ be. Quite frankly, these practices have become the foundation of my spiritual and psychic life, and the reason I have been able to cope with suffering, pain and trauma. They are also the practices that have enhanced my gratitude, compassion and inner wisdom.

As many of you will know, I have suffered from serious illness and the limitations that creates for most of my adult life. In fact it was this chronic illness that first created the space for me to explore my own spirituality, intuitive and psychic abilities so much more deeply.

All of the techniques I will teach on this retreat, and the journey I shall guide you through, came to me when I was at my most unwell. Suffering and illness is often the doorway for profound spiritual awakening. I’m sure there are many of you who will resonate with that as the truth of your own journey too.

I’ve had inquiries from people with chronic fatigue and other debilitating illness, wanting to come to our next retreat but worrying if they are suitable or if they will cope. If that’s you let me reassure you… you’ll find a place to fit in and belong here in my Tribe.

Our Awakening to Spirituality Retreat is gentle. You’ll be supported to find your own rhythm for connection and inner journeying. There will be enough time to get from your room to the Hall and to the Dining Room. There is plenty of rest time and quiet time scheduled each day. Our days will be filled with meditation, reflection and simple spiritual practices, creative activities, good company, laughter, love and transformation. There will be friends to lean on, and we can find accommodation for you that is quiet and allows you additional solitude, or find a suitable roomie to give you company if that’s what you’re yearning for.

Our catering is geared for people with food intolerances, allergies and issues. Honestly, it won’t be a drama – we can work it all out. And you won’t be a burden to us, because this is how I’ve lived my life, and how I’ve often had to run these retreats as I have faced health issues myself. I understand pain. I understand fatigue. I understand anxiety and medication routines and incontinence and mobility issues and stupid dietary requirements that usually mean I have to lug my own food everywhere. I understand no one else understanding. I understand the emotional pain and isolation that illness can bring. I also understand end of life spaces. I’ve lived all of these things. I’ve created my retreats for my own needs, which are also yours. My retreats always have able-bodied people alongside people like me who have major health issues. And the health issues in the end are never a big thing. They are just something we manage so that we can focus on the real work – soul work.

Having a health issue is not a prohibitive factor for this event. In fact, it might be the perfect time for you to join us in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere.

Your journey is my journey. Often when we are living with long-term illness, no answers to our health problems, a chronic or a terminal condition, we think that there will no longer be a place for us in the world. There is a place for you in mine.

I can show you spiritual practices that will help you to find your centre again, manage your pain, and give your life meaning and connection. I KNOW that when you begin to incorporate this soul-journey work and spiritual space in your own life that life will regain shape and satisfaction for you, no matter what your situation, or the nature of the days ahead of you.

If you need to talk further with us, please reach out. We are here for you. Our best email is nicolecodyinfo@gmail.com and Dana, my wonderful PA, can send you information and start the ball rolling to have you join us.

Able-bodied and completely well people are, of course, always welcome and invited too! My work is for you all, on a soul level, regardless of the skin you are in.

You can read more about the Awakening to Spirituality retreat here and here.

Love and gentle hugs, Nicole  xx

A Very Quiet Anniversary

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“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!)

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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