Chop Wood, Carry Water, then Surf the Net!

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“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” ~ Zen Buddhism quote

“When hungry, eat your rice; when tired close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.” ~ Zen Buddhism quote

 

It has been a frustrating week.

Due to a faulty landline I’ve had no phone or internet connection at the farm, unless I hiked up the hill behind the house with my iPhone.

At first I was angry. It’s a situation that has been dragging on for almost three years, with our landline slowly deteriorating until every phone call became a lesson in frustration due to static and poor line quality. (And our internet runs off this line too!) The telco kept sending technicians, and the phone would work a little better for a while, and then decline again. Until finally it broke altogether.

This week while they worked on our line I wondered what I would do. No amount of wishing was going to give me an ability to be online.

So in the end I drew on the wisdom of my favourite Zen quotes.

I rested.

I did laundry and actually folded it and put it away.

I planted things and tended my garden.

I tidied.

I wrote. So many words.

We did yard jobs. We chopped wood, and carried water to the plants where the hose doesn’t reach.

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Life became so much simpler when I stopped struggling against the things I couldn’t change and chose to be in the moment instead.

It was peaceful.

There was also something freeing about being so much less available, once I let go of the stress of no longer being in control.

But now the line is fixed. I am reconnected with the world. My internet is fast and my phone line is clear. So exciting!!!

And we have enough wood cut and stacked to see us through the winter.

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Afternoon Magic at the Farm

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“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
~ Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

 

Yesterday we came home. It’s a flying visit to the farm – a quick overnight to pick up some clothes, some paperwork and other things left behind in a hurry.

We still need to be back in Brisbane right now so that Ben can be close to doctors and hospitals while he heals. We head to the city later today.

But yesterday we came home.

The first thing we did was pile into the old farm ute and drive down to the river flats to check the cattle. They were fat and happy, there was plenty of feed, and all the water and fences (the things that farmers worry about) were in order.

So we strolled over to the river to look for the platypus, and we threw sticks for the dogs. A good time was had by all.

On the way back to the car we stopped at the site of an old bottle dump, from when the scrub was first cleared and a few woodcutter’s humpies were built back in the 1860’s. Each year more old glass and china fragments work their way to the surface. We gathered a few handfuls and came home to sit on the veranda as the sun set, being serenaded by frogs and cicadas, and the wind-chimes slowly tinkling in the light breeze.

Such simple, heartfelt magic! We can’t wait to be home again properly. We miss this place so much, but we are lucky to have fabulous neighbours watering our vegetable gardens and orchard, picking our harvest, and keeping an eye on our herd. Our treasured patch of land is in safe hands til we return. 🙂

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I should be grumpy this morning…

Image from lalal

Image from The Bump

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”Henry Ward Beecher

I should be grumpy this morning.

Really, really grumpy.

I have now completed my third drug-free week from my lyme treatment, letting my liver have a break. At first I was so grateful to not have to put fistfuls of pills into myself. The drugs themselves are a nightmare, and I was celebrating not taking them. My body sighed with relief and my toxicity levels dropped. For a moment I felt marginally better.

But then some of the old symptoms I haven’t experienced for months flared up. Bartonella pains, babesia night sweats, lyme brain, chest pain. No fun at all. And it has become steadily worse. Worse enough that I’m looking forward to starting those horrible drugs again next week.

Each night now I endure pain, and insomnia. Last night was especially uncomfortable, and I didn’t get much sleep at all.

I should be so grumpy.

But last night I lay awake and listened to the sound of rain on our city roof. I peered into the bright screen of my iPad, loaded the weather radar and watched great clouds of rain dumping their load over the farm, imagining how the parched land would be sighing in relief.

I lay in the dark, hours later, and listened to the soft regular breathing of my husband, newly home from hospital. I reached my fingers out to him in the darkness and settled my hand on his chest.

Finally, after endless hours of misery I fell into a restless sleep.

I was dragged up from a disturbing dream by a persistent tugging on my arm.

Cafe Dog (known to some as Harry!) had my arm in his mouth and was trying to pull me out of bed. He let go, nudged my face and licked me. Then he bounded to the door.

Everyone was already up. It’s a glorious day. The air is fresh and clean from all the rain. The sunshine is dazzling. All my loved ones are happy.

So, I should be grumpy, but I’m not. Life is blessing me right now, and I’m not going to miss a moment. I can nap later, but right now morning calls, and Cafe Dog is keen for us to go to our favourite Brisbane haunt for an early breakfast, some writing and a little socialising.

No matter what is going on right now that is outside of my control, I can choose how I feel in each moment.

I choose love.

I choose happiness.

I choose gratitude.

How about you?

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Things that make my heart glad!

“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.” 
~ Samuel Johnson, The Idler; Poems

 

The New Year is almost here! As part of my sacred promise to live a heart-centred year in 2014, I am aiming to make sure I fill my days with more of the simple things that make my heart glad.

Here’s my list, below.

1. The ever-changing light here at our farm: a brilliant blaze of sunrise, that quirky green haze before the afternoon storm, the dove-grey gloom of dusk. Taking a moment to stand barefoot on the ground and drink in my surroundings is good medicine for my soul.

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2. A cup of tea – on my own, with my husband, or with friends. Tea is such a comforting brew, and there are so many flavours to choose from. There’s always one to suit my mood.

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3. Fresh flowers. These ones are from weeds and vegetables in my garden that have gone to seed. No matter, they still give me joy. There is loveliness everywhere once you start to look.

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4. The beach. Summer or winter, morning or evening or any time in between. Swims in the briny sea, lungfuls of good clean air, the tang of salt on the breeze, sun on my skin, sand between my toes.

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5. Meditation. I swear meditation has saved my life. I fall into its arms twice each day and it never fails to soothe me, restore me and connect me.

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6. Writing, and reading books. One of the great loves of my existence. To be able to sit at home, or at a favourite cafe, and let words tumble onto the page is a form of magic for me. So is reading a book and being transported to a whole new world for a while.2012-05-17 07.34.52

 

7. Fairies. Being able to sit quietly in nature and see who’s there, or talking with Sokli, my most favourite fairy of them all – that always makes my heart glad.

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8. Hanging out at the farm. Down by the river, watching the platypus. Cooking up treats in the kitchen. Communing with the cows. Exploring with Harry and Bert. Dancing in my gumboots. Listening to the birds. Searching for the noisy koalas. Chasing away the wallabies from my vegetable garden. Picking oranges in the orchard. It’s the little ordinary things that bring  a smile to my face. Truly, living here makes me feel so blessed.

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Life is a precious gift. This coming year I am going to fill it with the ordinary miracles of being alive. How about you? What things will you open your heart to in 2014? What makes your own heart glad?

Much love to you, Nicole xx

5 Random Things That Make Me Happy

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“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 

1. Little details of loveliness that show people care. Fresh flowers on a cafe table…

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2. Singing along to my favourite songs in the car!

Image from Ake Hige, Flickr

Image from Ake Hige, Flickr

3. Being lost in a book…

Image from bz55

Image from bz55

4.  Seeing shapes in clouds!

and this… (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

5. Cooking my Nana’s pikelets. I always feel her magic in the kitchen, and that makes me smile. It also makes the food taste good.

Nana's famous pikelet recipe

Nana’s famous pikelet recipe

PS: Pikelets are also coveted by dogs. Dogs make me happy too!

Bert, sneakily eyeing off the pikelets

Bert, sneakily eyeing off the pikelets

Wherever you are, I’m wishing you some sparkles of happiness and joy today.

What little things make you happy?

Much love to you, and a big hug too, ♥ 🙂 Nicole xx

 

 

Your Kaleidoscope Soul

Image from www.bindweed.com

Image from www.bindweed.com

“I am a multifaceted being and my dominant intent for being is for the experience of my freedom, for the expression of my growth, and for the receiving of my joy.”
~ Abraham-Hicks

 

People often ask me about happiness, and how to have more of it in their lives. Invariably, the people who are asking me will tell me in the next breath that they don’t know what makes them happy, and that they don’t have any interests. Then they’ll tell me they are too busy anyway…

Humans are richly complex. Few of us were born to be single-minded in our pursuit of anything. In fact, when I look at your auric field, and I see the diverse colours within it, I already know some of what will make you happy – because we are always happiest when we honour our true nature.

Your soul is a kaleidescope of colour, and you can create endless variations of yourself using nothing more than a sense of awareness and natural curiosity.

Image by Anna

Image by Anna

Honouring the different aspects of who we are rounds us out as people, and makes our lives feel more satisfying. It’s fine to have one main ‘thing’ – an interest, a vocation, a passion. But don’t forget to nurture those other sides of you as well.

You might be a lawyer who is passionate about human rights. But in a corner of your life save some time for jazz music, collecting china owls and travelling to historic locations to photograph architecture.

You might be a devoted parent, who also finds time to make natural soaps, tend a garden and be a member of the local choir.

You could be a bank teller, whose weekends are devoted to scuba-diving adventures and colossal family barbeque get-togethers.

You might collect stamps or rare books, dance the tango, dabble in watercolours, learn the guitar or Italian, be a mad amateur interior decorator or family historian, or enjoy breeding budgerigars.

It doesn’t matter what you do – it just matters that you LIVE, that you spend some time amassing experiences, sharing with others, taking time on your own, making time for relationships and doing things that get you out of the rut of same-same.

You were not born to be a robot. You are multi-faceted, with a unique combination of interests and talents. The more you allow some colour into your life, the happier and more content you will become.

You are not one figure on the colour wheel below. No! You are a little bit Garfield, a little bit Elmo, a dash of Peter Pan and a splash of Lisa Simpson.

It’s up to you which aspect you explore in any moment, or if you choose to be part Tweetie and part Dorothy the Dinosaur at the same time.

Image by Chee Qing

Image by Chee Qing

If you could see yourself the way that I see you, you’d know that you are already interesting, vibrant and magically beautiful.

Life is not meant to be all work, grind and stress. It is not meant to be colourless and devoid of fun.

My wish for you today is that you allow yourself the opportunity to spend time on things that matter or that interest you, and embrace the possibilities of an expanded life.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

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Afternoon Walk on the Farm

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“For [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett’s] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.” 
~ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

I’m home. I celebrated that fact by taking myself for a walk through the paddocks yesterday afternoon. Of course the dogs came with me, and we ambled about in the late afternoon sunshine, enjoying the drop in temperature and all the busy-ness of springtime on the farm.

The jacaranda is starting to bloom and already there is a fine carpet of purple blossoms on the lawn.

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We could do with a good shower or rain, but the rainforesty bits of our property are still lush and green and full of critters.

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The calves are looking fat and are quite happy to come up and say hello. The dogs and I sat down in the soft grass and waited. Up came the curious calves to sniff and investigate. I was very impressed that Harry and Bert managed to remain sitting, even if they did make a few squeaks of frustration that we let the calves come so close with no chasing involved!

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We had a quick dip in the river, which was FREEZING COLD. Bert and I were straight in and out, but Harry raced around in the water like a mad thing. I’m sure he’s part seal. I would have loved to have taken a photo of him but water, phones and mad dogs just don’t mix. 🙂 I left my phone back up in the fork of a tree at the top of the bank.

On the way home we pushed the cows into the front paddock so they could munch down the sweet spring grass. There is a noisy male koala high in the branches of a gum near the gate. We’ve got quite a colony here, and it’s lovely to see them looking so healthy.

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When we came back from our wanderings I spent a relaxing hour watering the gardens around the house and filling up the bird baths so our feathered friends can have an easy swim too. It’s so good to be home! Thanks for coming on my walk with me.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

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