Is this life of mine my fault?

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Lovelies, I received a very thought-provoking question recently in regard to the quote from Rainer Maria Rilke at the top of this post, and I wanted to address it here on my blog. Like many things in life there is no simple answer, and as it is a question I have asked myself over and over again in this lifetime I wanted to share my response.

Here’s the excellent question:

Good morning,
Mine is a question Nicole that troubles me.
I always love the captions/snippets from other writers under your lovely images and this morning’s starts with ” if your daily life seems poor don’t blame it” 
My question is how does this fit with all the poor souls born into or find themselves in shocking conditions they have no control over such as absolute poverty, war, famine, abusive families?
How have they created this? How can it possibly be their fault?
These questions have troubled me because they don’t seem to fit into the positive thinking or “ask and it shall be given” brackets. Can your guides help with some clarity here ?
Thank you for your blogs, they have been part of my day for years now.
Elle xx

As many of you know my life has had its share of troubles, pain and obstacles. When I was young and idealistic I thought that this suffering was unfair. Why did I have these problems when friends of mine seemed to be floating along on a cloud of joy, love, support and happiness?

But looking into the window of the life of another never truly tells you what is going on. I have found, through life experience and in my decades of working as a psychic and mentor, that all of us have troubles and many of these are invisible to those around us.

Throughout my life, in an attempt to heal, I have also explored every possible avenue including much time spent in trying to undo, rectify or heal any wrong-doing, thought or action I may have taken that may have led to my suffering.

Goodness, how mean I have been to myself – blaming myself for my circumstances and believing that this suffering was all my fault.

War, famine, drought, accidents, random acts of violence and horror, abusive relationships, terrible illnesses. Did we sign up for these? Much of the New Age movement would have us think so. Works such as the book ‘You can heal your life’ and the philosophy of the Law of Attraction make it easy to buy into the concept that any problems or suffering in our lives are a direct result of our karma, our thoughts and our attitudes. Perhaps we even chose suffering as part of our ‘contract’ in coming here to this life.

I have seen the dramatic recent rise of shaming of people who actually need our empathy and support – people with issues as diverse as addictions, autistic children, staying in a marriage with a partner who has mental health issues, cancer, chronic illness, depression, or displacement from their country due to war. Human kindness is too often replaced by judgement from those fortunate enough to not be in the same circumstances. Rise up, they say. Change your thoughts. Juice vegetables. Go vegan. Wear a crystal. Parent better. Use less chemicals. Make different choices. Have more discipline. Heal your past lives!

(Want to read more on this theme? My Sad Unicorns post covers this ‘dangerous magical thinking’ problem in detail.)

I’ve seen mothers told that their young children’s illness is the result of past-life religious transgressions. I’ve listened as people have judged someone with cancer for having caused it by not having a clean lifestyle. Yes, it’s true that there are lifestyle factors involved with many illnesses, including cancer. But that’s not the whole picture. I’ve watched friends who are vegans, vegetarians, yoga instructors – every possible thing that you could consider the epitome of a healthy, anti-cancer chemical-free loving and natural lifestyle be struck down and taken by cancers, savagely and fast.

Dear Elle, yours is an excellent question, and this is what I believe. Life is difficult and wonderful and dangerous and fraught with risk. Things happen for which we will never find a reason. People in power make decisions that affect millions. Accidents and mistakes happen. Weather patterns change. Our genetics hands us a bad card or wild one. Illnesses occur and we don’t yet have the science to interpret and understand them fully. And none of that is our fault. If we look wider we see that this is also true for plants and animals and places. No-one and nothing is immune to suffering, desecration, destruction or death.

So what does that have to do with Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote? I think this quote is more about how we cope with life’s suffering than our thoughts as a causative agent of that suffering. I believe that there is one thing we do have control over. We can choose how we feel, how we react, what we think. In even the most difficult of lives we can find tiny windows of calm, of nurture, of beauty, and small moments of grace and gratitude. That is one of the gifts of suffering – it can promote mindfulness and with mindfulness comes an opportunity to mentally lift ourselves out of impossible pain and hardship for a short while. It gifts us resilience, and meaning and a way to endure.

I hope that helps,

Much love, Nicole xx

Your Help Has Arrived! – Monday Oracle 10 July 2017

“An opportunity is a miracle waiting to happen.”
~ Rue Allyn

 

Hello, Lovelies,

I’m just loving the energies of July. It’s such a supportive month! Here’s the oracle card I have chosen this Monday, and my take on the energetic outlook for the week ahead. I use any oracle or tarot cards shown as a prompt for channelled messages and my own intuitive wisdom, so my take is sometimes quite different to the meaning found in a book. ‘Miracle’ is from the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Deck by Tori Hartman.

If you read my forecast for July, you’ll remember that July helps us to see our place within the bigger scheme of things. It supports love, connection and community and warrants some quiet time this month with loved ones.

Let’s look at the gifts Miracle brings us this week.

This week I can’t emphasis how important it is for you to be able to be open to receiving. Most of my community (and most sensitive and intuitive souls I know) are fabulous at giving, but lousy at asking for help, or accepting and receiving anything for themselves.

Does that sound like you?

This week is great for habitual pattern-breaking, breakthroughs, unexpected gifts and miracles. Yep, really.

Which is great. Unless you keep yourself closed off to receiving….

Miracle reminds us that breakthroughs are at hand, that we are all connected, that magic still exists, that prayers are answered daily, that things can change, that asking for help can make all the difference.

We see an increase in flow this week. We begin to feel more like ourselves again, and stronger within that knowing. We’ll find more energy, more enthusiasm, more clarity. Hooray!

This week Miracle encourages you to ask for that raise, ask for what you’re worth, approach a mentor, enter that competition, raise your prices, ask for the sale, ask someone out, apply for that job or grant, take a risk, do something different or think something different to the way you’ve always done it.

Are you putting those positive intentions for shift out into the Universe?

Are you ready to receive?

It’s the week for it. Please make the most of these supportive energies, no matter what state you and your life are in right now.  Put aside your fears and your worries about not being good enough or deserving enough. Just ask. Stay open. Receive. SO much good can come from that. SO much positive change.

Supportive crystals this week?

Rose Quartz helps us to be open to love and support in all forms and to be able to RECEIVE (Load up your pockets, my loves!). Blue Obsidian gives us mental clarity and self-awareness, strengthening our ability to communicate and connect. Black Tourmaline is great for helping us to see where we need to set boundaries. Citrine helps us to bring the sunshine back into our lives, and to think with optimism and clarity!

Helpful essential oils?

Young Living’s Believe essential oil blend, or a combination (or singly!) of any of Cardamon, Spruce, Ylang Ylang and Orange. Believe essential oil blend is uplifting and promotes confidence, spiritual connection, clarity and a belief that we can change. It also helps us to let go of fear, doubt and old emotional pain and hurt.  I often use this oil when I am writing or journalling, or working with cards for myself. It’s my oil of choice in my diffuser this week. You can find all the oils here.

Holding you, as always, in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, and intending for a you a life of abundance and joy, where you are no longer limited by your doubts.

All my love,

Nicole ❤ xx

What Happens When Someone Believes In You

“You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it’s enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.”
~ Richelle E. Goodrich

 

Memoir is a funny thing for taking you walking into places you would rather not remember. I was thinking, last night, of a time when I had all but given up on myself.

1987.

I was so young then. Barely just begun at University. In a body that was falling apart. In a life that was falling apart. An over-achiever who was failing at everything. And in that terrible place of not being believed when I said that something was wrong.

For something was wrong. Very wrong.

For months I woke bathed in sweat and wrestled fevers through the day. My joints ached and swelled. My heart thumped in my chest and missed a beat or two whenever it felt like it.

The music I’d been been able to read since I was a small child became a spaghetti tangle on the page. I lost my ability to remember information or to place things into a logical sequence of events. Numbers became meaningless.

I forgot where I lived, and the names of people whom I’d known for years.

I fell down in the street, my legs giving way beneath me for no reason.

My legs jigged and danced in bed at night, no matter how I tried to keep them still.

And there was pain. So much pain. Ice-picks being buried in my head. Nerve pain roaring behind my left eye and rendering me sightless from that orb for days on end. Cramping pain. Dull pain. Electrical pain. Sharp pain. It moved all round my body, making a liar of me. No-one has pain like that. Except that I did.

Then there were the rashes that came and went. Exhaustion so overwhelming that it was all I could do some days to lift my head from the pillow. Infection after infection.

So much of my life became blurred. Slowly I was losing myself. That much I knew.

Our family doctor told me that I had women’s troubles, and prescribed valium.

A second doctor suggested anti-depressants, and theorised that I didn’t have the heart for serious study. Why not become a shop assistant or a secretary instead? Or surely I had a nice boyfriend I could marry? Motherhood was very satisfying, I was told, even though modern girls thought they knew better.

When I continued to question my diagnoses, and to ask for my doctors to be more investigative I was referred to a psychiatrist.

Who sent me to a neurologist, just to be thorough. Where I promptly spiked a fever and collapsed. So the neurologist sent me to his friend, Doctor Richard Kemp, the Head of Infectious Diseases at the same hospital.

Doctor Richard Kemp was a man who listened. He was a man who cared. He took the time to conduct all manner of investigation over several weeks. Finally he concluded that I was suffering from an infection. His tests could not isolate it, but he was sure. It was like AIDS without the HIV he told me.

Doctor Kemp also told me, regretfully, that he was unable to treat me because he had no definitive diagnosis.

After which he said something remarkable. I believe you, he said. You know your body better than anybody else, and you know that something is wrong. I know that too. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Hold to your guns. Don’t give up. One day you will be proven right.

In my darkest days I have held on to that the way a drowning man would cling to a lifeline. To have someone believe in you and encourage you is a powerful thing.

Life-changing, actually. Because after that I began to fight, and since then I have never turned my back on me.

Fast forward to 2013 where I received a definitive diagnosis that proved Dr Kemp correct. I have lyme disease. It is an insidious infection that has rampaged through thirty years of my existence, and that – prior to my diagnosis – had almost killed me as I sat in cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, with a brain full of lesions and almost every major system in my body broken.

 

A big part of the reason I have endured is the encouragement I received from that kind doctor. I am still here. Still here, and now finally, because of treatment I am getting better day by day.

 

Who can you reach out to and support? Who can you encourage?

A few words, honestly stated, may mean more than you can ever know to someone who could use a self-belief boost. Destinies can be changed. Futures can be created. Lives can be saved.

 

And for those of you who are struggling? Please, don’t give up on yourself. You just never know when that breakthrough or answer or guiding light will come.

Holding you in my meditations and prayers, Nicole <3 xx

 

It’s Phone A Friend Day

“True friends walk

in when the rest of the world has walked out.”
~ Walter Winchell

There’s no great governing body that has declared today Phone A Friend Day. No. Sorry. It’s just me.

But still, I think it’s a good idea, and I hope you pay attention and adopt this worthy challenge. In a world where we are becoming increasingly stressed and socially isolated, love and friendship can maintain our emotional wellbeing and mental health, and a quick phone call helps to keep our support networks strong.

Today, don’t send an email or a text. Take five minutes and phone a friend, neighbour or family member.

Call someone just to say hi and see how they’re doing.

Call someone because you know they’ve had a rough time. Especially if that rough time happened a while ago. People forget too soon that others are still struggling.

Call someone because you know they’re doing well.

Call someone because you have news.

Call someone because you know they have news.

Call someone just because you care.

You never know what your call might mean to that other person. Or what it might do for you.

Nothing can replace that shared connection, and the sound of a friendly voice at the other end of the line.

Go on. Make the call, and make a difference. We could all do with a little more real connection.

A message from the Universe

Image by Mandy Lynne

Image by Mandy Lynne

“But listen to me. For one moment
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.” 
~ Rumi

As I was sitting in meditation this morning, thinking about you and how I could best be of service today, I realised that there was something you needed to hear right now. So let me bring these messages to you, direct from the Universe. You’ll know which part of the message is for you. It’s the one that stands out, the one that moves you, the one that answers the question on your lips.

You are enough.

Small Red Rose - Image from Wikipedia Commons

Small Red Rose – Image from Wikipedia Commons

Someone will want what you have. Be brave and put yourself out there.

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Your ideas are needed in the world. Speak up.

Girl with raised hand - Image from B2C

Girl with raised hand – Image from B2C

You deserve a loving, faithful and nurturing relationship.

Cats Embrace by Sara Lynne Paige

Cats Embrace by Sara Lynn Paige

From small beginnings great things can grow. Get started. Have faith in your vision.

Reese Matthews beginning a grand Lego project

Reese Matthews beginning a grand Lego project

So much love is pouring forth from the Heavens for you. Call on your Guides, your Angels, Your Ancestors. They are here for you. They are helping you. Expect signs and messages.

Have faith! This idea will work.

Light Bulb Moment - Image from Emagister

Light Bulb Moment – Image from Emagister

Help is on its way.

Ironman - Image by Everett

Ironman – Image by Everett

Keep going, you’re making good decisions and you’re on the right track.

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Trust. There’s a soul just waiting to come through.

Baby - Image by Anne Geddes

Baby – Image by Anne Geddes

You’re closer than you think. The end’s in sight!

Ducklings - Image from Cheezburger

Ducklings – Image from Cheezburger

It will be worth it.

Image from Freelance Folder

Image from Freelance Folder

Know that you’re not alone.

You’re in my daily thoughts, prayers and meditations, and I’m wishing you well.

Nicole xoxo

How to Get Through the Hard Stuff

Image from www.frmtr.com

Image from www.frmtr.com

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

~ Christopher Robin to Pooh (by A. A. Milne)

Life. It’s just hard sometimes.

I know, I know. There’s a library full of books out there on the magic of positive thinking, positive attitudes, thinking beautiful thoughts to create beautiful realities.

And that’s terrific.

But…

Sometimes life is just hard. Or unfair. Or filled with the sorts of things that make you wonder how you’ll ever keep going, or ever get back on your feet.

When you’re in that hard place, it can be impossible to think about rainbows and puppies and sunshiny happiness. Sometimes life is all sad unicorns…

So, my friend, I’ve put together a small list of suggestions and strategies that I have personally tested while in that hard place. Perhaps something here might be useful for you. If you don’t need this right now, tuck it away for a rainy day, or save it for a friend. No one’s immune to suffering. We all get our shot at the hard stuff…

1) Whisper positive encouragement in your own ear. Tell yourself that you can do it. Be your own cheer squad. And if it’s really, really grim and no encouraging words can be summoned then simply grit your teeth and remind yourself ‘this is not how it ends!’

2) Hold a picture in your mind of what you want your end result to be. Visualise it often. Make sure it is positive. Make it as real as possible. The sort of image that inspires you! Keep it fresh in your mind.

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3) Know your why. Why are you doing this? Why? For you, your children, your future, your health, your security? To get the deposit for a house? To never have back pain again? So you don’t die early? So you can finally get out of the rat race? When our why is clear enough and strong enough, we can get ourselves through anything.

Image from Weight Watchers

Image from Weight Watchers

4) Give yourself some mini-breaks. When the going really is tough, and the road is a long one, letting yourself have a moment to catch your breath and get your strength back is always a good idea. Do all you can to make this journey sustainable.

Image from www.webmd.com

Image from www.webmd.com

5) Don’t look back. Always keep looking forward. Keep your eyes on where you want to go. Looking back can fill us with regrets, slow us down, weaken our resolve. Live in the moment, not the past.

Image from Studded Hearts

Image from Studded Hearts

6) Break it down into the smallest possible increments. Smaller, smaller, smaller if you must. Then deal with just that small bit. Then the next one.  Then the next one. Bit by tiny bit. That’s how you make it through.

7) Distraction therapy. You know what I’m talking about. You get through the chemo or the transfusion by listening to music. You survive the weekend with the in-laws by painting the fence or cooking the world’s most complicated dinner. You scrub mold from the walls while you plan your next vacation. As you do the hard thing, let part of you be somewhere else or engaged with something else.

8) Stay away from the non-believers. It’s hard enough without all those people telling you just how hard it is, or that you can’t do it, won’t do it, don’t deserve to succeed etc etc… If you can’t stay away learn the blah-blah song (sing blah-blah-blah in your head to drown out their negativity. Smile at them or put your best ‘I’m-really-listening-to-you’ face on as you do this – you’ll find it’s quite empowering) . Or wear your psychic raincoat.

Image from Traffic Scene

Image from Traffic Scene

9) Celebrate the tiny milestones and look for the smallest wins. Cheer yourself on. Remind yourself that you’re making progress. Chart it on the wall. Sometimes hour by hour IS a victory. Don’t kid yourself it’s not. When the going really is this hard, just hanging in there is worth celebrating.

Celabration Cake 015

10) Have faith and develop a support network. Draw on whatever uplifts you and gets you through. Pray; meditate; spend time in nature; hug your dog; play music; light candles; talk to your Guides, your Nana in heaven, your best friend, God, the sun and the stars. Make positive little signs to remind yourself of the why, and place them around the house. Choose a daily Angel Card. Put a magical rock in your pocket. Or maybe Elvis is your thing. The point is, go with what works for you! Oh, and did I mention that maintaining a sense of humour and a healthy appreciation of the absurd is also very useful?

Image from Charlie

Image from Charlie

We are human. In this cycle of life we shall all know victory and defeat, pleasure and pain. There is a buddhist saying that has served me very well during the hard times, and it is this: ‘This too shall pass’.

It’s true. There is always an end to difficult times. Hang in there, my friend. I’m thinking of you and sending love. {{{HUGS}}} Nicole xx

Guided Meditation for Emotional Healing

Image from www.123rf.com

Image from www.123rf.com

“…spiritual or emotional pain doesn’t become a memory so much as a bruise …” 
~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

I was up extra early this morning, after a difficult night. My daily practice, no matter where I am or what is happening in my life, is to meditate. So I found myself rugged up against the cold night air, sitting on the steps of my veranda at the farm, looking out over the night-time landscape.

An owl came and settled in the grand old Jacaranda tree overhead. The dark sky twinkled with stars, and I knew how easy it would be to offer up my pain and torment, and to find peace and calm again within my soul.

And then I thought of you.

I thought of how much you might benefit from sitting here in meditation with me, offering up your own emotional pain to the night sky and replacing that pain with a sense of peace and emotional expansion.

When we let go of the hurt and pain that sits in our heart, we find ourselves better able to heal, better able to accept positive energy and change, and we more easily move towards inner peace, health and happiness.

heart-energy

So I’ve recorded you a short guided meditation as I sat here under this tree. It will take eleven minutes, but I’d leave a little time either side, just to get ready for the meditation, and then to sit for a few minutes afterwards, integrating the energy of the meditation before you step into the rest of your day.

To participate, find a place where you won’t be disturbed for fifteen minutes. Then all you need to do is sit or lie down, make sure you are warm and comfortable, and follow along to the sound of my voice.

Click on the link below to get started:

Nicole Cody’s Guided Meditation for Emotional Healing

girl-in-love-at-sunset-891

Wishing you well, and sending you love, ♥ Nicole xx

Chronically ill and Happy!

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“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.”
~ Tricia Cunningham

 

I’m not happy because I have a chronic illness – I’m happy because I still love my life! It’s possible, and in fact I think it’s necessary, to find happiness when life has dealt you a crappy hand. Let me explain…

Those of you who have been following my journey know that I’ve experienced poor health, interspersed with periods of being desperately ill, for my entire adult life. At least I finally have a diagnosis now – late stage lyme disease and a range of other bacterial co-infections that have invaded my brain, bones and organs. Having this undiagnosed illness for over 30 years has been a major challenge, physically and emotionally. And the path to healing for me is a long road too – two and a half to three years of a savage drug regime, coupled with other wholistic modalities, herbs and diet.

Chronic illness and disability is different to your average bout of being unwell, no matter how serious that short duration illness might be. By its very nature chronic illness means that the wallpaper of your life is incapacity, pain and limitation.

I call it wallpaper for a reason. When illness is a one-time short duration event it takes over your life, cuts you down at the knees and takes all your energy and focus until you are well enough to move on.

When you live with illness all the time, or a disability, it becomes like wallpaper. You truly learn not to notice it so much, or you find inventive ways to live with it. You adapt, even if that means shrinking your world down. And if that illness persists for a long period of time, one of the best coping strategies in the world is to keep living as normally as you can DESPITE that illness. Of course, your ‘normal’ may also need to be very different to the ‘normal’ of a healthy person.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the great gifts that has come out of my own illness is an ability to be grateful for the smallest things in life, and to put my focus on them. In that way I can find happiness and satisfaction even on the worst of days. On my best days, life is gloriously normal, and I revel in that normality. I appreciate the sorts of days that healthy folk take for granted.

People with chronic illness or disability can still have a life. We can still have interests and friendships, we can still go on outings or holidays, we can still create things, we can still laugh. In fact we must do these things, or what is left to us?

And that also gives me a great gift to share with you. I’ve found a way to be happy, engaged with life, and to keep working towards my dreams, even with illness and limitation. Oh sure, I have my moments. Days where I can’t get out of bed, days where I am wracked with pain or afflictions that prevent me from doing anything much at all. But there are enough days where I can focus on something positive and good that my life, on balance, is still a source of deep satisfaction to me.

What’s my secret? Gratitude, meditation, learning to appreciate a slower and simpler life, finding joy in a cup of tea, sunshine on my face, a beautiful flower, a well-written book, chats with a friend or a cuddle with my dogs.

worrying1

We all experience ups and downs in life. It’s how we deal with those challenges that defines us.

If you’re experiencing physical or emotional challenges, I urge you to find some small positive details where you can muster gratitude, even if only for a moment. These bright points in a dark place can be life-saving, and even life-changing.

If you know someone with a disability or chronic illness, support them in their quest to enjoy life the best they can. I include being old, being a carer, and being a parent of very young children in this category as well.

Everyone copes better when we are included in the fabric of society. Everyone copes better when they have some sun on their face, a friend, an interest, an outing.

Everyone deserves to find happiness.

Corfu Wild Flowers, a bunch

You might find these posts useful too:

On illness and being unreliable

Inviting Stillness…

Real friendship

Finding moments for yourself

How to do Tonglen Meditation – A beginner’s Guide

Real Friendship

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” 
~ Anaïs Nin

My husband Ben, the dogs and one of Ben’s good mates went back down to our farm at the crack of dawn yesterday to check on the cattle and do some heavy farm work. They’ll work hard all weekend, eat like bachelors, leave the house in disarray and arrive back in Brisbane on Sunday night filthy, exhausted and in good spirits.

On Monday, after a final doctor’s appointment, Ben will take me home to the farm again, but for this weekend I am alone in the city.

Alone? No, that’s not quite right.

I’ve talked with my sister each day on the phone, I’ve sent and received texts and emails from friends near and far, I’ve reached out in meditation and connected to the people I care about. I’ve seen a handful of clients and given and received plenty of hugs.

Last night was spent in the company of friends. I’m not driving right now due to health problems, which makes me feel just that little bit more isolated. No matter! A friend picked me up on the dot of five o’clock and we travelled a few suburbs over to the house of another friend.

We sat in the lounge, sipped tea and trawled through the best (?) bits of B grade movies, talked Star Trek philosophy with my friend’s husband, chatted to kids and dogs, ate pizza, laughed, talked books and writing, demolished bowls of apple pie and ice-cream, laughed and talked some more, and then I was delivered safely back home to my front door (my friend waited until I’d let myself in and waved to show I was okay) and I was tucked up in bed by 8.30pm.  Another late night! 🙂

Image by 1darthvader

Image by 1darthvader

I don’t have adequate words to express what’s in my heart about real friendship. It fills the empty spaces, and leaves you satisfied and content.

Real friendship? Yes, real. Real friends understand when you’re not up to disco dancing, bright lights and mad crowds. Real friends care. When you’re with real friends you don’t have to worry about how you look, if you get parsley stuck in your teeth, spill food on your clothes, or make an embarrassing social gaffe. Real friends don’t mind if you act like a Nana, eat early dinner and are home in bed before their young children are even in their pyjamas…

Ben’s home at our farm with a real friend. The kind of friend who rang us during the floods and storms that devastated our farm earlier in the year, and drove down to lend a hand chainsawing fallen trees, carting debris and mending fences. They help each other out. They share. They laugh. They tell bad jokes. It’s a mutual exchange.

I’m home in the city with real friends looking out for me, taking me for outings, calling me to see how I am and sending messages of support and encouragement.

My real friends just let me be me. And they remind me of the best bits of myself – the bits that sometimes get overshadowed by illness, fatigue or despair.

I’d rather have a handful of real friends than an army of casual acquaintances, party friends and ‘friends’ who only call you when they want something.

Today, I’m giving thanks for the gift that is friendship, and wishing that same gift for you. Bless  ♥ xx

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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.

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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.

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