Shiny Unicorn Attack (Cos It Had To Happen…)

“Never laugh at live dragons.” ~ J R R Tolkien

So, I’m standing in a health food store yesterday, waiting while someone finds a product I’d ordered.

I’m miserable. My eyes are streaming and one is gummed closed. My face is blotchy and puffy. I have a UTI and a chest infection and I am herxing badly from Lyme die-off. I’m wearing an adult diaper under my jeans. I am wheezing and coughing. I’m in pain. I look like death. I feel like death. I’m sleep deprived. It’s not my best day. (see yesterday’s blog for the full update)

I’m so uncomfortable. To distract myself while they find my stuff I go for a wander through the aisles. I could use some new lip balm. A sales assistant sidles up beside me and asks me how I am. ‘Awesome,’ I respond.

She looks at me and I smile.

‘Ok,’ I add. ‘Not awesome, but I’m doing okay. Thanks for asking.’

And then she does it. She hits me with the big New Age Shiny Unicorn.

‘Your problem? It’s a mental thing,’ she says. ‘You created it and you’re in charge. Just use some positive affirmations and you can turn it all around. You’ll be feeling better in no time.’ She attempts to lead me towards a helpful display of positive thinking books and Louise Hay affirmation cards.

I had to seriously reign in my violent thoughts.

‘Actually,’ I say, ‘it’s not a mental thing. I’m in pain. A lot of pain. I’m quite unwell. I’m happy, and I have a great life and a lot of gratitude and a good attitude, but I also have pain. No amount of positive affirmations are going to fix that right now.’

She tries again, beaming at me. ‘Oh, come on. You won’t know if you don’t try! You’re a master manifestor who is just doing it wrong. What else is possible? How could you create a happier day?’

I’m sure I’ve wet my pants. I think I can feel urine trickling into my shoe. My skin feels like insects are biting me. I excuse myself and go back to the front counter.

After I’ve paid for my supplements I have a quiet word with the manager about her overly-cheerful staff member and explain the conversation I’ve just endured. The manager has the good grace to look horrified and we agree that some staff training might be appropriate.

Rant over. If you don’t know what the problem is here then refer to this blog post.

Hugs and love, cranky Nicole who is actually still mostly happy and with a good attitude xx

What To Do When That Tsunami of Suffering Hits

Image from www.emaze.com

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.” 
~  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

 

None of us is immune.

As I have grown older, through the private worlds of others that I have accessed in my life as a psychic, and in the unfolding of my own days, I have come to understand that suffering visits us all.

For almost everyone, at some stage, there will not just be one burden too heavy to bear. No. Instead what we will have is a tsunami of suffering. One impossible thing heaped upon another.

We will find ourselves in a place where the hits come so thick and fast that we will wonder how we can go on.

My sister and I still laugh about once when I became so desperate and dogged – at a time where everything was going wrong, where my life was nothing but bad news, and where only my husband still stood beside me and him in his own world of pain – that I rang Lifeline, an anonymous phone counselling service, hoping to find a glimmer of light in the darkest of times.

The counsellor asked me what was wrong, and I began to list things off.

She became quieter and quieter. Finally she stopped me.

That’s too many things, she said. I’m sorry. I’m only trained to help you with one problem. I’m completely overwhelmed. It’s just too much. I’m sorry.

After which I spent an hour counselling and reassuring her, before getting off the phone to make myself a cup of tea and reflect ruefully on the extreme emotional isolation I had found myself in, and to marvel that even in that place I had still managed to find a way to laugh at myself and my situation.

Image from www.chaivan.com

I have survived a tsunami of suffering more than once, my friends. So I feel well qualified to offer a perspective. Coping skills have become one of my magical powers, not that I ever imagined I would be in a place to have that kind of knowledge. I’m glad to be able to share what I know in the hopes that it may ease your own suffering, or your sense of isolation.

A tsunami is catastrophic, and sometimes the way things break in you, or in your life, they can never be put back together the same way ever again.

But I have learned one thing well. Humans have incredible resilience. We have a great capacity to move through suffering, and to find ourselves eventually back on shore again. That shore may be completely different to the place we started. It will become familiar in time. You may even grow to like it better than the ‘before’ place.

It’s seldom graceful when we’re in the maelstrom. We just have to survive it any way we can, and with as much kindness and compassion for ourselves and those around us as we can muster.

Here’s what I know to be true:

  1. It helps to have someone to talk to. Someone who won’t judge. Someone who can listen and hold space while you unburden all the things, the tsunami of things, that are going wrong in your life. If there’s no-one you trust go outside and speak to the trees, talk with your pet, or your dead gran. Your Angels, Ancestors, Guides or God, if that works for you. Talk to your own wise self, or write it all down in your journal. There’s ALWAYS someone who’ll listen, and who’ll hold that tender space of care and love for you. It just might not be in the place you’d hope or expect it to be. (Like friends, partner or family. Be okay with that, so that it doesn’t add more pain to your burden.)
  2. Set short goals. Get through the next breath. The next minute. The next hour. Til sundown. Til sunrise. Tiny increments can get us through the most impossible pain.
  3. Breathe. Just breathe. In and out. In and out. Mindfully slowing your panic and bringing your awareness always back to your breath and then into your body or out into the world. Let your breath calm you.
  4. Ask for help.
  5. Don’t hide stuff, about your situation or relationship or whatever else is happening. It is what it is. When we hide things or make them out to be less than what they are we create shame, and make it impossible to stay open and to be able to accept help.
  6. Get creative. Know that you can survive stripped down, stripped bare, and that it is possible to make yourself and your life over from the ground up.
  7. Drugs, alcohol, emotional eating and self-harm don’t fix anything, and ultimately add more to both your burden and the distance you’ll have to travel back to yourself when this is all over. Try music instead, or binge-watching a box set of DVDs where the characters can become friends. Books are also great medicine. Can’t focus to read? Try an audio book or podcast. Knitting, art and crafts are also good. Sometimes you’ll look back and have no idea what you did with your time. That’s okay too.
  8. Meditation and time in nature heal more than you can know. Go try them and begin to experience their magic for yourself.
  9. People will often go all judgey, hard-arsed and holier-than-thou about the need for extreme self-care when your life has gone pear-shaped. They’ll be spruiking green smoothies, whole foods and superfoods. If you can manage this, great. But if you’re broke, miserable, exhausted and barely coping my advice to you is this. Eat something. Remember to drink water. Don’t overdo the caffeine. Or the sugar. It only makes you feel worse in the end. But if it’s what’s getting you through, do whatever you need to do, honey. Get some sleep. Try to make healthy choices, but know that toast can be an emergency food group.
  10. Find a support group, a counsellor or a caring practitioner who will listen, and who can guide you back to solid ground. That might not even be until after the worst has passed.
  11. Do the best you can. Be okay with days where you don’t cope, or barely cope. Some days will be better, some will be worse. That’s how it goes.
  12. Everything changes. Everything. Bad times end. Life may be different afterwards, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to know joy, happiness or safety again. Life returns to us in increments. Somehow, we find a way forward.

Some extra advice:

  • Walk away from people who tell you ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘you just need to work on yourself more’ or ‘God only ever gives you what you can handle’ or that ‘your outer world is only a reflection of your inner beliefs’. You don’t need that shit. You’ve got enough on your plate.
  • If people don’t understand, let it be. Sometimes the only people who will truly get it are others who have been in that same hard space. Some people will never understand. It’s likely that some of those people will be friends and family.
  • Your dark night of the soul, no matter how painful, has the power to be transformational. The circumstances of our suffering can steal so much away, but you can find a gift if you look for it. That gift could be resilience, compassion, wisdom, caring, courage, a stronger sense of self, a new view of yourself and the world, a deeper connection to humanity or an understanding of what really matters to you.

Sending you so much love, and holding you in my prayers and meditations. You’ll find a way. You’ll get through this. Nicole <3 xoxo

Image by SeaquestDS

The Power of Story

Image by Kathy Fornal

Image by Kathy Fornal

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” 
~ Philip Pullman

 

The past few days have been rough for me. It’s a lyme thing. Partly because of the pathogens that have invaded and taken up residence in my body and partly because of the ongoing treatment to evict them.

I’ve been in excruciating pain. Pain that sets my face into hard lines during the day. Pain that has me whimpering, crying and howling in agony each night. The pain has been slowly escalating over the past few weeks, and now, at its crescendo, my bedroom is no longer a refuge. Nights no longer bracket my days with healing sleep. Instead I descend the stairs into a fiery hell.

I keep everyone awake; my husband, the dogs… even when they sleep in the guest room. My muffled sobs and screams are difficult for them to hear. They find it hard to settle, and they want to be near me, as much as I keep sending them away.

The night before last Ben stole back to our room and held my hand as I struggled. Nothing was helping.

Finally, he began to tell me a story. A story about a little girl who wakes up in a big old house in the middle of the night. She is wide awake and the rest of the house is fast asleep.

She takes her small suitcase and goes to the kitchen, where she packs a few snacks.

Image from Pickcute

Image from Pickcute

“What are the snacks?” I ask.

“Two small square sandwiches, four biscuits and a pot of jam.”

In my head I see each of these things. I wonder about the size of the sandwiches. I wonder about many things. It prompts another question. “What kind of jam?”

“Strawberry.” He strokes my hair tenderly and goes on with the story.

The little girl opens the big front door and heads off into the moonlight.

Soon she comes to a pink forest. All the trees are pink. Their trunks are like glass, lit from within so that they create a soft pink glow. Their leaves are every other shade of pink.

As Ben is creating this imaginary world I am still convulsing and writhing in pain. Tears are streaming down my face. But my mind is no longer so distressed because I am now the little girl wandering alone through this glorious pink forest while the rest of the world sleeps.

Some time in the early morning, I fall asleep for a few merciful hours. And when I wake up my head is still filled with pictures of this night-time escapade.

Over a cup of afternoon tea I ask Ben something that I have been pondering all day. “What is the ground in the pink forest made out of? Is it grass? Or dirt? Or snow? Or something else?”

“I’m sorry,” he says, smiling. “I can only tell this story at night. You’ll have to ask me then.”

Finally, amid all of this current misery, something to look forward to. My beautiful husband is helping me reclaim my nights instead of fearing them.

Image from HDWallIMG

Image from HDWallIMG

 

Lucky Dip #2

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” 
~ Bob Marley

 

It’s one of those ‘not coping very well’ kind of days. I’ve been enduring nights of no sleep, constant pain, fevers, sweats and anxiety. But that’s okay. It’s all for a good cause. And I’m prepared for days like these.

This morning I reached into my bag of Love Letters to Myself and got this:

2014-03-02 19.09.44

Perfect. Music is one of those powerfully magically soul soothers.

And so’s the message on the back of the card…

2014-03-02 19.14.50

You know, those messages might just work for you too. And you’re welcome to my choice of songs! Here’s my Playlist:

Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabrielle and Kate Bush

Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush

Cloudbusting – Kate Bush

and we’ll end on an ‘up’ note with

Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves

Wishing you magic, music and miracles in your day today, Nicole xx

Love Letters to Myself…

Image by Dinah Corley

Image by Dinah Corley

“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.” 
~ Marvin J. Ashton

So today I begin the next round of drugs that are making me well. Problem is, in taking these drugs they are also going to make me sicker first.

It’s not just the physical symptoms either. The relentless high level pain, nausea, fevers and chills are something I’m getting better at dealing with.

Besides the pain, the worst part is that horrible space of insomnia, brutal depression, social isolation, abject misery and anxiety. That’s not a normal part of my psyche. Most of it is actually a documented side-effect of the drugs, and of the bacteria that have invaded my body. But it doesn’t matter WHY I feel it, the fact is it’s likely to be part of the scenery for the road I’m about to travel.

That’s why I spent a little time yesterday making preparations for the days ahead. I’m not being negative. Having walked this road before I know what to expect. Perhaps I’ll be fortunate and NONE of this will happen in Round Two. But if it does, I’m ready.

Image from WAH

Image from WAH

I have recorded myself some meditations and ‘bedtime stories’ full of gentle encouragements, relaxation and pain minimisation techniques, sleep inducers and reminders of who I am and what’s important to me for those moments when I’ll struggle to get into the right headspace.

I’ve been meditating for over thirty years, and I still have times where getting into a peaceful space eludes me. No point in forcing that. I need to make these next few weeks as easy for myself as possible. When things get tough I can listen to one of my guided meditations!

I also wrote myself a few little love letters, wrapped up some of our feel-good DVDs and CDs that never fail but make me smile, and filled a couple of postcards with coping strategies. Because let’s face it – who remembers this stuff when you’re down in the hole? I now have a box of letters and presents that I can ‘Lucky Dip’ into, trusting that I’ll pull out exactly what I need when the going gets tough and I need some extra support.

Maybe I’ll share some of these over the next six weeks. Perhaps you might find them useful too, if you ever feel the need to wrap yourself in a blanket of love. If it sounds like a good idea let me know and I’d be happy to do that for you.

Okay. Let the count-down to the other side of this ordeal begin!

5 weeks, six and a half days to go…

Walking Through The Fire…

Image of Septiroth from Angelfire

Image of Septiroth from Angelfire

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.” 
~ Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

It’s the hardest thing I’ve done, this path I’m walking right now.

In fact I’ve found, daily – to my bewilderment, that I can endure more pain than I’d ever thought possible. I sob, it brings me to my knees, I rage against it and then break into tiny pieces wondering how I can take it anymore, and yet here I am.

Enduring.

And something else…

In bringing me undone pain is also somehow stitching me back together.

I am learning to go beyond the pain to a place that is endless, timeless and beautiful.

A place that fills me up and allows me a spaciousness in my soul I could never have imagined.

Perhaps we must all first be broken, in order that we can truly heal.

I look forward to sharing this part of the journey with you when I am out the other side.

You’re in my daily thoughts, prayers and meditations.

Bless ♥ Nicole xx

“I remember awakening one morning and finding everything smeared with the color of forgotten love.”
~ Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

Bird walking through the fire - by Luana Silense

Bird walking through the fire – by Luana Silense