Catching my breath…

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” 
Robert Frost

 

Hello, Lovelies.
It’s been an emotional few days for me. One of our community lost her partner to suicide on the weekend. Another, her teenaged son. Two unexpected deaths. Two families left behind, broken and powerless and emptied out of reason and hope. And I have done my best for them, to bring comfort and support and to be there as friend and witness. To hold them in my meditations and prayers.

With the energies of the past few months, and the intensity of the full moon, it’s been hard for many sensitive souls. It’s been harder than usual for people with mental illness. So I’ve been busy. My psychic senses have been working overtime. The past two nights I’ve woken suddenly in the early hours and somehow found myself at my computer, or on the end of a phone, talking to clients who were suicidal. Reaching out to others too, who I knew were doing it tough.

Each time I woke unexpectedly, with someone on my mind, and sent a message out into the world so I could check on them. There the person was – in a world of pain and darkness, ready to end things except that now I was talking with them instead. Talking and holding space and helping them come back to themselves, helping them to know that their feelings were momentary, and not worthy of a permanent action they would regret.

Fulfilling work but exhausting too.

So this morning I will walk on the beach, I will sit beneath tall trees, I will let the sunshine and rain fill me up and empty me out. And I will read Bukowski. Many years ago this poem helped me through some of my own dark days. We all have dark days. It’s part of being human. Know that they will pass.

Bukowski was right. Bless Bukowski, and bless all of you.
You are precious and dear to me, and your life matters. I’m here for you.
There are many others who are here for you too. Seek them out. Ask for help. Talk to someone. Connect with someone. Know that things will change, and that you can change too.
Sending so much love, your friend, Nicole ❤ xx

‘The Laughing Heart’ by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvellous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Suicides and Sudden Deaths – Perspectives From My Experience as a Psychic

Image from www.radiomonash.net

Image from www.radiomonash.net

“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
~ Tiffanie DeBartolo

 

The morning I am blogging about suicide comes directly after the night where I have been awake for most of it, messaging and then skyping with a suicidal client.

It comes directly after the news that another person in one of my Lyme support groups has taken their own life.

It comes two days after a very ill friend died, in a way that could technically be viewed as assisted suicide. She had been in great pain, and was in palliative care. The morphine given to her in increased doses relieved her pain but depressed her respiration and slowed her heart rate, speeding her death. All of us were relieved that there was no pain or suffering in her final hours.

Suicide, and thoughts of suicide, are common in our society. I’m grateful that we are starting to have more of an open dialogue around this. As a psychic I have been witness to perspectives on suicide that most people don’t have. I’d like to share these perspectives with you, in the hope that you will begin to see suicide differently.

 

Suicide is defined as the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life. I have seen four circumstances that I define as suicide (*note that this classification is my own):

  1. Being in a situation where help is (or is perceived to be) unavailable and the escalating pain, illness (mental or physical) and lack of control make ending a life seem to be the only viable option. This situation, arising out of desperation, exhaustion, disconnection or other intense negative emotional states is the most common form of suicide that I have encountered. It is also the one most regretted by those who take action to end their lives.
  2. The deliberate sacrificing of one’s life for a greater purpose or higher ideal. The primary motivation behind this type of rare act is love, and it is usually a spur-of-moment choice. I do not include martyrdoms for ideological causes (such as suicide bombings) in this category. Instead think of the parent who risks and loses their life to save their child. The spouse whose last act in a car accident is to position the car so that their partner is spared the worst of the impact.
  3. The assisted and hastened death of someone who is already dying and whose life has run its course.
  4. The deliberate ending of a life where that life’s parameters are non-negotiable, non-changeable and no longer acceptable to the person living that life. That person is not in the same situation as the first circumstance I discussed. The decisions made here come from a place of clarity and peace, rather than from heightened emotional distress or disturbed thinking.

Suicide is, in so many ways, a complex issue.

There is much to say about this topic, and it has raised so many questions from you, my dear readers, that I am going to break this subject down into more posts over the coming Wednesdays. I’ll examine each type of suicide, and I’ll also look at accidental and sudden deaths, and how these impact the soul, as well as those left behind.

Be aware that in the overwhelming majority of suicides there is a realisation of deep regret at their actions in the moments before and after death –  when they understand that it was truly not what they wanted to do, that they have made a terrible mistake but that it is now too late to change this sudden ending of their precious life.

And of course the fallout for loved ones left behind after suicide is often immense, life-altering and devastating.

No matter what the circumstance of the suicide I can render the truth of it down to this. After death, ultimately, a soul returns to love.

Wherever you are this week, and whatever head space you are in, know that you matter to me, and that you are in my thoughts, meditations and prayers.

Be kind to yourself. Reach out to others. Live from compassion. Life is messy and sometimes hard, but we’re all in it together.

All my love, Nicole xx

 

Need Help To Cope?

The following links provide support for those who are suicidal or bereaved by suicide:

Australia List of links and contact numbers here

 

International Support 

Wikipedia has a great list of international support services here

Suicide.org also lists support services for all corners of the globe here

 

10 Easy Steps For Self Care During Troubled Times

“They called her witch because she knew how to heal herself.”
~ Te’ V. Smith

 

It’s simple enough to be well-intentioned and kind to yourself when life is going smoothly. Or if you are on holidays. Or in a really good head space.

But when we are hard up against it – when we have crushing deadlines, or horrible dramas, or the people around us are treating us badly, when we’re ill, depressed or in pain – that’s the time where we most need good self-care, and it is usually the time where we are least inclined to give it to ourselves.

After years of illness, and in my line of work (as a psychic and a support for many people going through their own hardships) where there is no ‘off-switch’, I’ve learned the hard way that self-care is essential. Always. Fortunately I’ve also discovered that it isn’t such a difficult ask of ourselves, and that a little self-awareness and kindness towards ourselves goes a long way towards keeping us resilient and coping in the most troubled of times.

Here are my top ten tips for getting yourself through whatever you might be facing right now:

1. Drink enough water. When we are well hydrated our body is less acidic, we can flush toxins and stress hormones from our system better, we sleep more deeply and our brains work more clearly.

2. Have a shower, wash your hair and put on some clean clothes. For an additional touch of self-love use a perfume, scented moisturiser, aftershave or essential oil whose fragrance lifts your spirits or reminds you of someone you love. If washing your hair is just too hard, pull it back neatly, plait it, or tuck it under a scarf or cap. When I was at my most ill, I’d make myself bathe and put clean pyjamas on. It helped. A lot. And it was always worth the effort, even when I was exhausted. Clean sheets can do wonders for the soul too!

3. Find five minutes for meditation. Meditation calms and centres us, and helps us find our way back to ourselves, our soul and to Spirit. Try any of these simple techniques: Easy Five Minute Meditation, Three Minute Essential Oil Meditation, Taking Energy From Trees, Eating The Sun Meditation.

4. Dance. To one uplifting song. Sing along, and let your body move to the beat. Dance in your lounge room. Dance in the car. Of if you’re confined to bed, sway, tap your hands, draw that music deep into your body and belt out the lyrics.

5. Have a plan, and then work the plan. Choose a time when you can sit down for ten minutes with a cup of tea or a cold drink and your diary. Think of something you want to get done and then break it down into steps and assign those steps to the coming days, weeks or months. Allow more time than you need – because in troubled times we need to allow ourselves extra flexibility. No need to give yourself more pressure when you’re already under the pump. Plans enacted help us to take control back in our lives, and give us something to work towards. It’s okay if your plan is for completing something small. Every time we act instead of procrastinate something strengthens within  us.

6. Go for a walk in nature. Can’t walk? Then try to simply earth yourself instead. If you’re confined to bed or unable to get outside sit by an open window or door. Use your eyes and ears. Use your skin. Let your mind wander outside even if your body can’t.

Image from funnystack.com

Image from funnystack.com

7. Eat something healthy that will nurture and strengthen your body. Choose foods that you know support you. Food gives us energy and helps our bodies work  better. Eating irregular meals and junk food slows us down and makes us feel worse instead of better. Sometimes poor food choices are all we will have. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t sit in guilt. Eating is better than not eating. Decide to make a better choice or plan to bring healthy food tomorrow.

8. Hugs and the company of friends can be healing. In hard times we often feel that the only way to cope is to withdraw. But in that space of social isolation life becomes even more difficult. While it is important to take time to be on your own, you need emotional support too. You can get this from online groups, phone calls, coffee or meal dates, craft dates, pets, good friends and supportive family. Reaching out to others can make a world of difference when life is filled with difficulty.

Image from atozlibrary.com

Image from atozlibrary.com

9. Learn something new, or escape for a time into another world. A book, a movie, a newspaper, a short course. A trip to a new part of town. Stay curious. When we’re in something for the long haul we create emotional space and better coping capacity for ourselves by having something new or interesting to think about that takes us away from our troubles.

10. Get enough sleep. Sleep is a healing balm that restores the best parts of us. Shut yourself away for an early night, or spend the weekend in bed catching up on your rest. An epsom salts bath, some lavender essential oil or a relaxing herbal tea at night will all help get you into that restful space.

Seeking Help Is Not Failure

Image from news.discovery.com

Image from news.discovery.com

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.”
~ César Chávez

 

I had a long chat with a close friend yesterday. She’s been struggling for a while – I’ve heard it in her voice, I’ve seen it in the way her usual happy disposition had given way to a furrowed brow, a tight smile, and an inability to laugh things off the way she once had. I’ve felt it in her energy.

Are you okay? I’d been asking her this year.

Yep, she’d say, shutting down the conversation. Or ‘just a bit tired’ she’d say, before moving us on to talk about something else.

She was doing all the right things – exercising, eating a great diet, getting time out for herself. But at the same time she was spiralling down into a very flat place, where every day was an effort, a place where all the joy had been sucked out of life. Each day was just another day to endure. My friend was shrinking; becoming less visible in her life, and with her friends, and becoming less and less emotionally available to the people who loved her. She didn’t have the creative drive, or the enthusiasm, or the innovative and problem-solving ideas that were a normal part of her disposition. My friend was less like herself each day.

Her life is not so different to many. She has a family member who is in need of extra attention right now. She rarely gets an unbroken night’s sleep, and hasn’t had a decent break for a long time. They have financial pressures, and their household is dealing with changed circumstances. As well as all of life’s usual stress.

Having continuously elevated levels of stress hormones is never good. They rob us of sleep and mood enhancing hormones. They diminish our libido, paint every day grey and leave us as exhausted, miserable shells of ourselves. Our digestion becomes compromised, and our immune systems. It becomes impossible to feel happy, because we lack certain hormones and chemicals that allow us to relax and operate in our usual way.

Some of us can bring ourselves back with meditation, diet, and lifestyle changes. Sometimes a therapist or support services can help. But my friend was doing all of that, and she couldn’t just hand back her family, or walk away from her life. Changing her current circumstances is not an option.

Image from tumblr

Image from tumblr

My friend found herself looking forward to that glass of wine each night. In fact she was beginning to rely on that glass of wine. No, she didn’t have a drinking problem. But she had a sleep problem. An exhaustion problem. A ground-down by life problem. She was chronically over-tired, stressed and wired.

Sound familiar?

Crunch time came when she was at the doctor for something completely different, and the kind physician asked her how my friend was coping.

My friend burst into tears.

The doctor suggested a low-dose anti-depressant. My friend was so reluctant to say yes. But in the end, out of desperation and needing to try SOMETHING to help, she did.

And it HAS helped. Finally my friend has been able to sleep better, to unload some of the tension inside her, and to go from feeling cranky or numb to a place where there is some sunshine again.

We talked about it yesterday.

It was as if my friend had a terrible secret she needed to confess.

I was just grateful she had finally found something that was working, and that could help her cope better with her life right now.

Who would ever want their friend to suffer?

My friend summed it up so well. ‘I needed to do something to make life livable again,’ she said.

As a psychic, people ‘confess’ often to me that they are on medication for stress, or depression, or anxiety. For them it has often been a last resort, after they’d tried everything else and nothing had given them relief. They are all strong people. In that strength they’d often carried on for far too long without seeking help.

Image from pinterest

Image from pinterest

There is too often a shame, or an embarrassment with their ‘confession’. Some kind of stigma about how they may be perceived – because they weren’t ‘strong enough’ or because somehow they are flawed or weak compared to the rest of society.

They often feel that they need to get on and off the medication fast too. What if they become dependent? What if people find out?

Goodness. Why should mental health be different to any other kind of health? Some people take hormones to balance their thyroids, or to regulate ovulation. Some people take insulin to stabilise and regulate their blood sugar. Some people need blood transfusions or anti-virals or immuno-suppressants. No stigma there.

If you are stuck in a place where life isn’t working for you, you deserve to explore all of the options which could lead to a change in how you feel. Talking to someone can help. Changing your diet, exercising and using behaviour-based therapies can help. Changing your life circumstances might do the trick. And for some people, taking medications or supplements to help improve their brain chemistry and hormones works well too.

It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to seek solutions. It’s okay that one of those solutions may come in the form of a small pill which helps normalise your body’s functionality until you’re back in a place of being able to cope on your own.

You deserve to be well, to be happy and to be able to function in the world.

If you need to, ask for help.

Everybody needs help sometimes.

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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…

When you don’t know what you want…

“Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure.” 
~ Lemony Snicket

Yesterday’s post was all about using your imagination to create a day designed around one thing – giving yourself emotional satisfaction and pleasure. I was thrilled with your responses – it’s such a fun game and I really hope you take the time to play it from time to time, on your own or with loved ones.

I also received a trail of sad little messages in my inbox yesterday. They were all similar, but this one sums them up:

Dear Nicole, while I loved the idea of your magical carpet ride I couldn’t think of a single place I wanted to go, or any food that I would eat, or even who I would be with. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve drawn a blank. Is there something wrong with me? I feel like such a failure. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I love your blog, but I don’t think I’m any good at imagination games. All I know how to do is work. I’m just really stuck where I am. 🙁 Could you maybe blog about that?

Oh dear.

Whenever we have that empty feeling, or it seems there is a big wall between us and that place where we know what we want it’s time to pay attention.

Image from tumblr

Image from tumblr

Common reasons for not knowing what we want include:

  1. Being physically, emotionally or mentally exhausted.
  2. Being in Survival Mode – survival mode is where we are functioning on reserve energy; doing the bare minimum to sustain life, pay bills and get through the day. In survival mode we think we cannot afford to waste even a shred of extra energy on anything non-vital.
  3. Being a low priority in our own lives. That’s a self-worth issue, honey!
  4. Having an ingrained belief that we are not worthy of pleasure.
  5. Having an ingrained belief that we can’t have fun until the work is done. Newsflash, people – the work will NEVER be done!
  6. Running on limited resources and worrying that if we don’t make the perfect choice we will waste time, money, effort or satisfaction. We are risk averse. Better to stick with something safe and reliable, even if it’s boring, than risk choosing something that doesn’t deliver, or, even worse, brings criticism from others. (Note – this is also a red flag that you are heading towards Survival Mode!)
  7. Fear that our choices will be judged, criticized or belittled by others. When we live in fear long enough we learn not to be visible or to do anything that may draw attention or criticism. We let others make the decisions for us.
  8. Social and cultural isolation – where our world has shrunk so small that we aren’t even aware of what choices might be available to us.
  9. Believing we don’t deserve pleasure, because of a past action, decision or some other choice we have made on which we judge ourselves negatively.
  10. Fear around taking time for ourselves or spending money on ourselves because we believe that unless we are 100% productive all the time we won’t be loved or lovable.

Sometimes all it takes to break free of this stuckness is to simply acknowledge that we ARE stuck, and to feel around for WHY we cannot connect to dreams any more.

Without hope, without dreams for tomorrow, life becomes colourless and meaningless.

If you’re one of those people who is stuck and don’t know what you want, that’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you need is some inspiration.

So_Precious_FKG-590x548

So precious by Georgina Hart

So read books, watch movies, go to travel agents and get some brochures, or browse online. Research and ask others what they’ve enjoyed. Try to make a little room in your life for possibility. Make a little room in your life for self nurture and self care. Reach out and make some new connections. You’ll be amazed at how, once you give your heart and imagination a little room, that the road begins to open up in front of you again.

This technique of ‘exploration through information and connection’ works for fantasy magical carpet days, relationships, holidays, jobs, homes, and other matters close to your heart. Why don’t you try it and see for yourself?

Much, much love to you, ♥ Nicole xoxo

dare_to_dream__by_this_is_the_life2905-d3fn4ea

Thoughts on Housekeeping

housewife

If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, “Who could have done this? We have no enemies.” ~ Phyllis Diller

I’m finally home at my beautiful farm. We arrived early yesterday  morning, and I enjoyed a whole sunshiny day at home, doing homey kinds of things.

I’d kept my diary clear – no work, no outings, no visits from friends, no schedule of any kind. Why? I’ve just started Week Three of the week on, week off meds regime that just about floored me a fortnight ago. I was truly expecting that yesterday would be a total horror.

And then it wasn’t.

It’s an interesting thing, housework. Most of us hate it, resent it, and would rather be doing anything else. And yes, at times I can put my hand up and say ‘me too!’ to that school of thought.

But yesterday it was a pleasure to put a load of washing on and hang it out in the sunshine, to tidy up here and there, cut fresh flowers for the house, burn a little incense, play my favourite music, bake fruit cakes and cook up a big pot of soup.

Mine was a leisurely, moodle-y kind of day, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing house.

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It was prescient too, because by nightfall the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling less than flash. And it’s been all downhill from there. But at least my home is tidy, the washing’s done, I have clean sheets on the bed that smell of sunshine and fresh air, there’s cake in the tin, soup in the pot, and I have fragrant blooms by my bedside.

From a Feng Shui point of view, it’s energetically a good thing to clear your clutter and let your home or office space be clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing.

Creatively, emotionally and psychically sensitive people are all deeply affected by their environments too.

But even more interestingly, there are neurological studies that show people with depression and anxiety respond well to task completion where there is satisfaction or pleasure from having got the job done. It’s therapeutic for us to see an end result and to have been a major factor in that result – especially tasks that require physical involvement and that we enjoy.  Pleasant tasks or tasks that result in a feeling of accomplishment bring us emotional comfort and the increased activity level helps ward off or decrease depressive episodes. Creativity and positive new thought patterns are stimulated.

Housekeeping is also an act of self care, self love and self nurture.

Think about it. Haven’t there been times when performing routine or maintenance tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking, gardening, putting a set of bookshelves together, painting a piece of furniture or finishing some bookwork has put you into a better emotional space? Or given rise to a fresh idea or a solution to a problem?

Image from www.devivohomes.com

Image from www.devivohomes.com

If the thought of housework right now leaves you cold then take a look at your life:

  1. Are you getting enough rest? Exhaustion and housework don’t mix. Everything is an uphill battle when you’re exhausted or unwell. And what takes you six hours when you’re tired or unwell will usually only take one (or even less) when you’re firing on all cylinders again. Rest and recovery need to always be your first priority.
  2. Do you have any time for yourself and for your own interests? If there are other interests and activities that call you, find someone else to do that housework. A clean house feels good no matter who cleaned it!
  3. Do you actually schedule ‘down time’ and ‘maintenance time’, or are you just playing wishful thinking, expecting that somewhere in your crazy schedule, after all the other work is done, the housework will just miraculously happen?
  4. Can you get help with the tasks that are too hard or that you don’t enjoy or have time for? That way you’ll have more time for the tasks you DO enjoy.
  5. Can you get someone in to get it sorted for you, so that you can more easily keep it that way?
  6. Is there someone sharing your space who needs to pull their own weight here? We end up resentful, angry and exhausted when we’re always doing for others with no help, thanks or time left for ourselves.

Housework doesn’t have to be all misery and agony. But if it is, find ways to make it easier or get some help. A clean, comfortable home is an important refuge in this crazy world!

On illness and being unreliable…

“I’m a very loyal and unreliable friend.” ~ Bono

One of the issues you need to deal with when you or a family member lives with chronic illness is your unreliability factor.

When I speak of chronic illness, I am talking about any condition that lasts for more than a few weeks, that doesn’t conform to a normal healing arc, or a condition that cycles into more active or less active phases.  The condition could be a physical affliction, a mental illness or a combination of these.  For whatever reason the presence of this thing in your life means that there is always a possibility that your plans, no matter what your intentions, may go awry.

Depression makes it impossible for you to get out the front door, irritable bowel means you don’t dare go to that intimate dinner party with the people you don’t know very well, a sudden infection or a flare up for you, your partner or your child and you’re back at the doctors, back on medication, back in bed…

Sick child - image from www.bloggingdad.com

Sick child – image from www.bloggingdad.com

Too often over the years, mine has been the empty chair at the dining table, the empty bed at the retreat, the face missing from the ‘family event’ photograph.

I don’t enjoy letting people down, or being unreliable, so over time I have accepted fewer invitations and my world has shrunk small.  Talk to anyone with a long term health issue and as much as they may seize the day, they often don’t know until they wake up whether the day will be a good one or not – so they become champions of winging it and making the best of those times when they feel strong, positive and with some charge in their battery.

One thing I have come to understand is that you need to have a few friends or family who know what’s going on, who are on your side, and who can cope with last minute invitations or cancellations.

Yesterday I was running on not much sleep, and it was in fact not the greatest of days.  But I had promised to meet a friend for breakfast. She has her health issues too. She understands.  We often text each other at the very last minute to cancel a meet-up, but we do everything we can to get there. We’ve also connected at very short notice, because both of us feel up to it, and why waste a moment?

I’ve caught up with Carly when she’s had an IV line hanging out of her neck, when I’ve been on my way to or home from hospital, and when both of us have felt very much less than glamorous.

Illness has taught me something important.  Friendship is more important that looking fantastic as you head out the front door. Connection is worth more than self doubt. And laughing and being with people you care about, and who care about you, is the very best of medicine.

2013-05-05 09.19.05

Today, both of us are heading back to doctors to have scans and more medical appointments.  Both of us have heads full of wondering what’s going on ‘inside’.

And both of us are unreliable. Not because we want to be.  Not because we are casual about commitment, or how much we care about you.

We are unreliable because our bodies run their own agendas, and we really have no idea how things might look from day to day.

We’ve learned that the cost of ‘making the effort’ to engage can sometimes be too high, and we’ll keep paying for days…

If you’re in the Unreliable Club, I’m sending you lots of love, and I want to remind you that it’s worth trying to make that connection, but that the bottom line is you ALWAYS need to honour your body, and your intuition around situations and relationships.

If you are friends or family of someone with a chronic health issue, I ask that you keep loving them, keep reaching out, and do your best to make sure they don’t end up alone and socially isolated.

One of the greatest tragedies of chronic illness is that so many people end up alone, with no support network. And when we have no one to care about us, and life is so hard, some people give up altogether.

Life is fragile, and we are all vulnerable. Let’s do our best to look after each other, to stay connected, and to live life the best we can with every breath.

friendship-quotes-The-sincere-friends-quotes

Smoke Alarms and Lost Souls

My soul is full of whispered song;
My blindness is my sight;
The shadows that I feared so long
Are all alive with light.
~Alice Cary, Dying Hymn

 

*Names have been changed in the following story to protect the identity of those involved.

A few weeks ago I went to bed early, and fell into a deep peaceful sleep. I was woken from that sleep by the shriek of our smoke alarm. Beep beep beep, it blared.  Beep beep beep.

I felt as if I was drugged – that awful slow limbed, thick witted state where you struggle to make sense of anything.

“Ben,” I said to my husband, shaking his shoulder hard, “Wake up, there’s a fire.” Then I threw open the bedroom door and raced downstairs, the dogs hard at my heels.

I couldn’t smell smoke.  There were no flames but the smoke alarm kept beeping until I stood directly underneath it.  And then, of course, it stopped. It was 2.03am.

I turned on the lights and checked every room, but the house was fine.  No fire.  So I trudged back up the stairs with the dogs and got into bed again.  Ben was still fast asleep so I crawled back beneath the covers and tried to make myself comfortable.  The dogs fussed and scratched and I tossed and turned, but that only lasted a moment.

Suddenly the dogs stopped their fussing and became quite still.  A cold creepy feeling came over me, and I realised that the corner of the room was softly illuminated.  I turned over, with my back to Ben so that I could look towards the light.

And got the fright of my life…

A young woman, maybe in her late teens, was standing right beside the bed.  She was all dressed up for a night on the town, but her makeup was streaked and her eyes were frantic.  And she was glowing dully.

She was dead.  I knew it instantly.  And I also knew she wasn’t supposed to be. I immediately understood who she was; the grown daughter of a work colleague. We’d often looked after her when she was little but the family split up and moved away and we lost contact with them when she was barely six.  “Isabelle, you’re not supposed to be here, ” I said to her.

Before I could say anything else she was sucked backwards and vanished so that I was left staring at wardrobe doors and emptiness.

For the rest of the night I couldn’t sleep, so I meditated and prayed for Isabelle. It was all I could think of to do.

The next morning I told my husband what had happened.

“Why would she come here?” he asked.

The only thing I could think of was that we had always been loving, but strict, and she’d always felt safe here.  She’d often come to us, my husband especially, when she was small so we could solve her problems.

We spent the morning trying to track her down, but her mum had remarried and we knew she had changed her name.  We came up with nothing. It was a feeling of great frustration and helplessness.

'I Heart Sparklers' by Soul Lost At Sea

‘I Heart Sparklers’ by Soul Lost At Sea

The next night I slept deeply again, but my husband lay awake most of the night.  He didn’t see anything, but he said he felt her around, all night.  He told her to go to the light, and that she was safe.

Yesterday we heard, in the strangest of co-incidences, that the young adult daughter of an old work colleague had died in tragic circumstances recently. The young girl had been a problem, and had really gone off the rails as she grew up, so we were told.  Dropped out of school.  Depressed.  Anti-social.  She’d drunk a fatal combination of alcohol and energy drinks and gone into cardiac arrest at a party.  Ambulance officers revived her at the scene, but she had slipped into a coma at the hospital and died the next day.

Oh Isabella, my heart aches for you, but at least you are not lost anymore.  You are home now, safe, and surrounded by love.

Remembering to take care of YOU!

“Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Recently I received a message from a lovely lady, asking about balance:

I thought of you as I was reflecting on my past week & trying to set goals for the months ahead and wondered how you ‘balance’ yourself, between giving yourself all the appropriate time you need & still helping others. I struggle with giving me some time to myself. Any tips or ideas would be gratefully appreciated.

It’s always a tricky thing – this balancing act, and truth be told, there is no magic formula to create a perfect life where you can neatly tick all of the boxes.  Sometimes you need to go all out for other people.  Most of us are good at that bit.  Where we suck is in going all out for ourselves.

But do you know what? It’s YOUR life – this ain’t no dress rehearsal, and your goals and dreams deserve as much air play as all of those people you are supporting to achieve theirs!

Keith Urban performing on stage - he owul dnever have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Keith Urban performing on stage – he would never have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Find some time each day that’s just for you.  Even ten minutes is a help. Not to be productive, but to replenish! It could be a morning run, a meditation, a first cup of coffee with the crossword from the back of the paper, a picnic lunch and time with a book in the park in your lunch hour, a long hot soak at day’s end. It’s worth it to get up that little earlier to find a quiet moment.  Those quiet moments are what fill us up and help us get through the day.

Goals – identify them.  Go ahead and allow yourself some dreaming time. If you need help these try these posts:

Writing as a Manifestation Tool

Writing Yourself into a Brighter Future

Gifts to give yourself this Christmas (Valid all year round!)

When you’ve written your goals and dreams, pick three. Now pick one of the three and break it into do-able chunks.  Schedule a little time each day, or a bigger chunk of time one or two days a week, or one insane period of a few days and work on your goal chunk by chunk until it is done.  Give up on perfection and embrace action!!!

Carve out some time in your Schedule. Only you know how much effort you’ll need to get something done. If all you want is a few moments to yourself then find a way to squeeze some time in by starting later or finishing your day a little earlier. Maybe you’ll need to give yourself Monday nights, or Sunday afternoons.  Maybe you’l need to get bold and block out whole swathes of time in your diary.  It all depends on how big your dream is and how much you want to make your dream a reality.

Sleep! People who are juggling caring for others, paying the bills and a myriad other responsibilities usually cut corners trying to squeeze more into their day. It’s a false economy that leads to burn out.  Give yourself the gift of sleep.  Nothing will get you back on your feet and making good decisions faster than a solid night’s sleep. Say yes to some pillow time, and put everything else on hold. If possible take a whole weekend and devote it to rest. Can’t rest at home?  Check into a hotel or take your tent and vanish for a few days of sleep and soul restoration. You and your sanity are worth it!

Set clear boundaries.  When your dance card is already full, saying yes to more offers of dancing is insane. Know your limits.  Let go of things, or take a night off and let someone else be responsible. If you’re drowning, put your hand up and ask for help. When you need to say no, say no.

Eat well.  When you’re struggling to find space for yourself in a busy life, believe me that is the WORST TIME to skip meals, live on crappy take-aways or cupboard food (yeah, you know what I mean: instant noodles, corn chips, sweet biscuits etc) When we are under stress we need to fuel ourselves up with plenty of healthy, nutritious food and lots of good clean water.

Image from www.wilstop.info

Image from www.wilstop.info

Take proper time out to nurture and maintain yourself.  Get your hair done, visit the dentist, see a movie, go to the library and stock up on your favourite movies and books, enjoy a massage or something else relaxing and meaningful for you.

Get your support crew together. We can’t do this journey alone.  My support crew includes my husband, the Sisters of the Pen – my writing cadre who are also the dearest of friends and secret keepers, my online community, a few close friends (and yes some of these people live on the other side of the world and we skype, text and call each other!), my acupuncturist, herbalist, dentist, doctors, my accountant, my Guides, and a host of books, motivational videos, courses and websites. I will also add in a few good coffee shops, cafes and farmers’ markets for good measure.

Carrots – you need some so work them out and then dangle them enticingly in front of you.  We call them rewards for a reason.  What is hard work without some well-earned pleasure at the end of the road?  Have a range of small treats and bigger ticket items.  Never put yourself into financial hardship to reward yourself – sometimes my best reward is a coffee at a favourite cafe, a walk on the beach, or a new book and a whole Sunday to myself.

hammock-on-the-beach

I’ve done burn out. And nursed that deep resentment from putting everyone else first and me last.  Trust me, it isn’t worth it. It isn’t useful. All it does is break your spirit and your body and leave you floundering and exhausted.

It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and to honour your dreams.  If you don’t, who will?  Your life is yours to live, so be an active participant and make the days count.

Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

beach - wategos

Useful extra reading:

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

Simple Pleasures

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Simplicity is a choice