Why Kindness And Goodness Matters

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” 
Roy T. Bennett

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle. That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you. The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact on our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually, some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Sending love your way, Nicole ❤ xx

Love and Devotion Look Like This

“Rather than remain a sealed jar, she sought only to pour herself out to others. Everything she did mirrored her faith. It was as though every waking hour of the day she was devoted to pleasing her God by serving others. This God that she worshiped consumed her. It didn’t ask for a brief visit to a temple, or a small votive offering of food or coin, or a few prayers every now and then. This God wanted all of her.” 
~  Francine Rivers

 

I don’t prepare for retreats the way that many other people do.

My priorities are different.

I am not thinking about funnels, or marketing, or what my hook is. I’m not calculating break-evens or what to sell you next.

No.

I am thinking about your soul. I am creating and holding space for you. I am placing you on a mala that I make with my own hands – choosing a bead for you, on which I will pray and meditate twice a day. I am choosing and preparing crystals for you, cleansing them and channelling their purpose and energies. I walk our rural property, creating grids of stones among the trees, or choosing stones from previous grids, some of them from years ago, but whose energies are important for the work we will do together. I am ensuring that your tools will best support you and your growth. I am honouring your spiritual journey. I am preparing the materials. I am crafting your experience. I am devoting myself to the journey, and to taking you with me to a place of transformation.

There are endless hours spent in this crafting, before we even come together. During our retreat I am yours. I pour myself entirely into the process. And I continue to do so once our event is over and you are navigating your way back into the wider world again. It is an honour and a great responsibility to be entrusted with your care.

Long after we part I will still be praying and meditating for you, sending you energy, wishing you well, night-flying to visit you and keep company a while.

I can’t do it any other way. I must give my whole self to this.

This is what it is to follow your heart, to follow a calling, to live with devotion.

I’m so grateful for this life,

Nicole  xoxo

What Love Looks Like

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“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”

(Sonnet 116)
~ William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 

There’s my husband, Ben, collapsed on the downstairs couch of our city house. Ben had knee surgery yesterday. A surgery he has postponed and postponed because of me. You see, after the surgery he cannot lift anything heavy or pivot on his knee for six weeks.

That’s kind of tricky when you have a wife whose retreats and workshops involve hauling ute-loads of massage tables and boxes of rocks and singing bowls and other heavy things. Ben wanted to be sure that all of my events for the year were finished before he had the operation. Because who else was going to lift and carry all of those boxes?

We’d been told it would be a simple day-surgery procedure. Then, of course, it wasn’t. The operation went well, but was much longer and more complex than they’d expected.

Still, when it was all over and Ben was finally taken to recovery, hours after I’d expected him home, he declined to stay overnight. He just wanted to come home.

I made him up a bed on the couch, because he needs to stay quiet and immobile for the next three days. No driving for a week.

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Nurse Bert and Harry haven’t left his side. There wasn’t enough room for both dogs to lie on the couch all night with Ben, so Harry snuggled in and Bert lay opposite, and there they have stayed. With the occasional swap between them so everyone gets a turn on the couch. And the occasional crazy all-on-the-couch-together moment. They love their Dad!

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That’s what love looks like. Tired dad on the couch, with a dog protector beside him, and one opposite. A tired wife who leaves her comfortable bed and sneaks downstairs to sleep on the other couch because she is lonely and she loves them all and doesn’t want her man out of her sight.

Ben’s sore and groggy this morning, but glad he came home. So am I. Now it’s my turn to look after him.

We’re going to have a quiet few rest days here before we head back to the farm. We both need it. It’s been a big year, and I worked out last night that I haven’t had a proper day off since before my birthday, back in September. After all of that Sustainable Madness we need a little down time now.

For those of you who are doing the Year of ME 2016 year-long course and support forum, I’ll see you online on Sunday, after we launch. There’s still time to join us – more info here.

Much love, Nicole <3 xx

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It’s Finished – Our Mala of Love

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“Be not forgetful of prayer. Every time you pray, if your prayer is sincere, there will be new feeling and new meaning in it, which will give you fresh courage, and you will understand that prayer is an education.”
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.”
~ Amit Ray

 

Well, my lovelies, it is meditation time and I am about to begin prayers and affirmations on my new mala. Many of you are represented personally here in the beads that will move between my fingers this morning. All of you are represented on the last bead, which you’ll see above is the teardrop-shaped clear quartz before the crackle quartz Keeper Stone. There are crystal beads chosen for their energies, and wood, glass and ceramic beads chosen for their colour or symbolism. Every bead has been chosen with love and careful intent.

I’ll be praying this mala twice a day for the next thirty days. Already I have prayed and blessed each bead as I named it and strung it. Already I can say, yes, this pearl is Liz, this banded agate is PJ, this celestite is Jacob, this owl is Joanne.

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My intention for the next thirty days is to use my meditation and prayers to aid in our emotional healing, and that will be my theme in my twice-daily meditations. This is a mala for forgiveness and self-love, for ending guilt, regret, fear and shame and embracing love and flow and abundance.

Each day I’ll hold every bead, one at a time, between my fingers and pray my mantras and then a specific prayer for each bead – each person. I’ll wear this mala every day, all day, so that I carry you with me.

Today, know that I am holding you in my thoughts and prayers. That I am carrying you in my arms. That you are very much loved.

Nicole xx

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The Hidden Secrets of my Grandfather’s Heart

My Grandfather's worn leather wallet, with its hidden treasures.

My Grandfather’s worn leather wallet, with its hidden treasures.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” 
~ Roald Dahl

My maternal Grandfather, Cedric Beresford Nurcombe, better known as Ceddie to those he loved, died two days before Christmas in 2005. He was a wonderful man; hard working, honest, with a great sense of humour and true old-fashioned values.

His marriage to my grandmother, Margaret ( we all called her Marga) remains one of the defining love stories of my life. They met when they were both so young, and were devoted to each other their entire lives.

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Recently my mum shared with me something very dear that she’d found when getting the old family home ready for sale after my grandmother’s death – Ceddie’s old, worn leather wallet, with his initials embossed on a gold button on the front.

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I held that soft leather in my hands and remembered all the times Ceddie had brought that wallet out to buy us kids an ice-cream, or to put petrol in the car, or diesel in the boat. It was as much a part of him as my grandmother’s beaded coin purse was of her.

What was still inside that wallet after his death is what I find most moving, and most revealing about my grandfather.

Ceddie was born in Longreach, the son of a drover, and his early life (which he rarely talked about) was hard. He qualified to become a wool classer, and eventually moved to to the city, marrying my grandmother and setting up the Apex Wool Scour in Brisbane. Still, my grandfather was a country boy who never lost his love for the land, or the memory of where he’d come from.

Here in his wallet was evidence of that. A tiny clipping from a 1950s newspaper with prices for wool sales. Saved as a precious relic for all that time.

Another newspaper clipping from the 1960s – the funeral notice for his sister, Florence.

There are two faded tickets for a Jazz Recital at the Concert Hall in Brisbane back in 1988. My grandparents loved their music. It must have been a memorable occasion for him to have kept those stubs.

But the most touching thing of all is a much-folded and worn piece of paper, on which is written a recipe for Baked Custard. The recipe is painstakingly numbered into steps by a man who was more used to welding, building, power tools and outdoors work than being helpful in the kitchen.

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The kitchen was always my grandmother’s realm. Marga was Queen of the Kitchen and we all acknowledged her skill. She was the one whose love of cooking sparked my own. Marga reigned supreme in the house, and in her garden. My grandfather took care of driving, business and everything else.

But as she aged, my grandmother suffered from poor health. She was diabetic, her eyesight began to fail, and she was hospitalised for a series of infections which had started in her jaw and then nearly killed her.

Marga couldn’t eat the hospital food. She was losing weight, losing strength and losing hope. So my grandfather took careful notes, and made her a baked custard which he brought up to her – good nourishing food to her own recipe. He kept making the baked custard for her until she came home, and even after that he continued to bake it for the rest of his life, taking great pride in his ability to make the ‘perfect’ custard dish. For months it was all his beloved wife could eat. Marga used to credit my grandfather’s cooking with saving her life. In fact, I’m sure it did.

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I treasure the secrets in my grandfather’s wallet. They’re a window into what was most precious in his life. They reveal a man with the tenderest of hearts.

That little scrap of paper with the custard recipe shows me that true love exists and endures, and that love, home and family remain the most important things in the world.

My wish for you today is that your own heart be filled with what matters most to you. All my love, ♥ Nicole xx

Invisible Acts of Love and the Importance of Uplifting Others…

Image by Michael Leunig

‘Tis the everyday things that really count,

And the everyday people we know;

And everyday kindnesses go very far,

Toward making a heaven below.

Life can be a difficult ride, and each of us at times will know pain, trouble, loneliness and struggle.  That’s why it is so important for us to practice love and kindness.

But when we are going through our own difficulties, when we are tired or feeling taken for granted, we might wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of being kind? What’s the point of continuing to be caring, helpful, polite?

Have you noticed that emotional states are contagious? Hang around an angry person long enough and some of that will rub off on you.  The same goes for depression. Uncaring acts beget more. Selfishness breeds isolation, disrespect, contempt and ugliness.

Just as negative emotions have a negative impact, choosing to stay focused on love, gratitude, positive values and caring will have a positive impact in our lives.

Our emotional state and our thoughts travel out from us like ripples on a pond. They radiate energy that affects everything and everyone around us. Eventually some of that energy will be reflected back to us, perhaps weaker, perhaps greatly magnified…

Image from optimestric.blogspot.com

What sort of world do you choose for yourself?

Loving others, living from your heart, choosing kindness, and performing acts of service and devotion that may well go unacknowledged or unappreciated are paths that can truly lead us to a better future, influencing and supporting the positive unfolding of history in ways we may not ever know or understand in our lifetime.

No matter what your emotional starting ground, when you uplift others, you also uplift yourself. When you share your heart, it doesn’t decrease your love – it expands your love, and your capacity to give and receive love.

Image from creativeeating.wordpress.com

Our Universe is built upon unseen acts of courage, goodness, faith, optimism, service and great love.

Whether you subscribe to a particular religion or not, whether you believe in God, karma, Universal Law or death and taxes – know that by your own actions, your choices, your values, sacrifices and personal character you contribute to the future unfolding of our planet.

Invisible acts of love, and uplifting others might not provide us with an immediate reward – but through these acts we are gifted something far more precious – they give us the power to positively shape destiny, and to better shape ourselves in the process.

When in doubt about how to act, be guided by the wisdom of the Dalai Lama:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Looking after Charlie

Charlie is one of the major loves of my life! We rescued him as a very small pup, and he has been an important part of our family ever since.

I hadn’t intended to get a dog… A friend from the country, who breeds working dogs, had phoned me to say that he was giving away pups. His children had left his breeding boxes open and instead of pure-bred kelpies and cattle dogs, he had a mixture of each. He even had some kelpie-labrador crosses, and that was what I had my heart set on.  But when I got to Benson’s to view the puppies, one fat little bundle of fluff came and sat squarely on the toe of my boot and pawed my leg.

It was love at first sight, and that’s how I ended up with Charlie, a kelpie-blue heeler cross.

When we bought our first cattle property, my grandfather, the son of a drover, suggested that we call our place ‘Charlie’s Run’. Back in the day a farm was often called a run, but this time we would name it not after ourselves, but after our dog. My grandfather thought this was an excellent plan, and so did we.

Charlie, on his farm

Charlie has had an outstanding record as a working dog, and as our friend. He’s travelled across the country with us, sleeping out under the stars as we’ve explored Australia, protecting our valuables, and keeping us company. Not only has he been a great help on the farm; mustering the herd, working the cattle yards, guarding things in the back of the truck when we’ve gone to town – he’s also kept us safe.

He intervened between a wild cow and Ben, saving Ben’s life and getting a broken jaw in the process. He stopped me from stepping on a deadly brown snake, and he has saved Bert, our youngest dog (countless times), from acts of puppy insanity such as wanting to bite the chainsaw or the whippersnipper.

The boys – Charlie all wise and sensible, Bert an insane but totally lovable pup!

He has also been unceasingly protective of me. Whenever Ben has been away, Charlie will position himself between me and anyone who comes to the door. He always lets them know that he’s on duty, looking after me. Whenever one of us has been sick, or down, he’s been right there at our side like a shadow, comforting us with his presence, always knowing how much or how little to intervene.

He’s taught Bert how to work the yards, and taken our mad puppy (also a rescue dog – you can read Bert’s story here) from a place of crazyness to a place where Bert can now do most of what Charlie did before, while Charlie sits and watches from under a tree, keeping me company.

Even now, he’s sitting at my feet as I write this.

But now it’s our turn to look after him. Charlie’s getting old. He’s sixteen, seventeen on the fourth of July. And a few weeks ago he had surgery to remove a very aggressive cancer that had manifested as an ugly and fast-growing tumour in his soft-palate. You could tell by the look on the vet’s face, even as he was trying to give us an up-side, just how bad the news really was.

We were all amazed at how Charlie bounced back from the extensive surgery. He’s got a gleam in his eye and a wag in his tail. And we’ve been spoiling him even more than usual.

We all know we’re on borrowed time now. I’m sure he does too.

And we won’t let him suffer. No living in pain for him, no indignities. Hard as it will be, when the time comes, we will look after him, the way he’s always looked after us.

Resting, after a big run around the new farm.

There is something so pure about the love of a dog, their joy in living, their devotion and loyalty. My life has been all the richer for knowing Charlie, and as heartbreaking as it will be when his time comes, it also helps me see the cycle of life, and remember that everything is okay.

Today, I’m looking after my dog. He’s been a bit wobbly on his feet the last week or so – a tumour on his spine it seems. He’s injured his paw, stumbling a night ago and ripping one of his hind claws almost off, necessitating a dash to the vet, where we sedated him and pulled off the whole nail. Charlie’s home now, with a pink bandage on his foot, and my unceasing attention. He’s been ordered to rest for a few days. No outdoors, no running around.

I’ve been delivering Charlie’s medicine by hiding the capsules in freshly peeled prawns. Why not? He deserves them, and they are his total favourite.

My old dog looks at me with a twinkle in his eye. He’s not silly – he knows he’s on a good thing. Ben and Bert have gone back to the farm to muster and attend to the never-ending string of jobs. While Charlie and I are cosied up together on the lounge, looking forward to prawns and tasty treats in the nice warm house, down at the farm they’ll be out in the frosty dawn, tramping through wet paddocks getting cold and muddy, and living on bachelor cooking.

It is my honour to look after such a faithful friend. He has a special place in my heart, and I’m glad to have him just a little while longer so I can feed him prawns, give him hugs and pats and make sure he knows how much I really love him. ♥♥♥