Apprehension

Image by SeveIV at www.seveiv.deviantart.com

Image ‘Train Tracks’ by SeveIV at www.seveiv.deviantart.com

“You should have seen this coming,’ they said. I did see it coming. I saw it coming the way you see a train coming when you’re tied to the tracks.”
~ Margaret Andrews

 

I’ve been awake since I don’t know when.

No, that’s not true.

2.36am.

I lay awake in the dark for a long while, willing myself to turn over and go back to sleep. But I was wide awake.

 

I thought about the doctor I will see today. I’ve seen him several times over the past twenty or so years. I thought about him sleeping, and hoped that he was sleeping well and deeply, untroubled by anything.

I wondered if he realised how many of his patients lay awake at night, apprehensive and counting the hours until their appointment. Then I hoped he never thought about it at all. How difficult it would be to labour under such thoughts.

My mind wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t steer it off topic for more than a few minutes. Slowly, dawn approached. My appointment is still hours away. No more sleep for me.

I got up early. I meditated. I sat down to write this blog.

Still, my thoughts are a jumble of worries.

 

Pointless, really.

I will see my doctor. I will get my test results. We will chart a path. I will walk the path.

The part of me that is the wise and coping part tells me I am okay, and that I’ll be okay.

The worried part of me snaps back, “Shut up!”

Which makes me laugh. Eventually.

I am okay, and I will be okay.

Worry never solved anything, nor made time pass more easily.

I’ll have a cup of tea instead. I’ll tidy something. I’ll wait for Ben and Cafe Dog to wake up so that we can have a lovely distracting outing.

And even so, I’ll keep on quietly worrying.

Nx

 

This Dawning Day

“Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.”
~ Oscar Wilde

 

I woke earlier than usual today. 3am. The night air was cold, the comforter pulled right up to my chin, warm and snug around me. Outside it was raining. Cities are so different to farms. I could hear the occasional faint slick of tyres on wet roads, the sounding of a train’s horn and then the click and clatter of the rails, the muffled roar of a jet engine as another plane lifted off and headed for far away.

In the dark beside me was Ben’s rhythmic breathing. My ankles were pinned by the weight of Nurse Bert’s heavy head. Harry Dog stirred, crept up from the foot of the bed, and then nestled in behind my back. Too early by far to get up yet, but not to meditate. I eased myself up into a sitting position, reached for my mala and began.

An hour later it was still dark. Still raining. Around me everyone slumbered peacefully in the pre-dawn quiet.

I would have liked to creep down beneath the covers and go back to sleep, but my mind filled with busy-ness. I knew there would be no more sleep today. Instead I slid out of bed as quietly as possible and shuffled for the door.

I’m always so stiff in the morning.

As my feet made tiny halting movements in the dark, more sliding than stepping, I suddenly knew my grandmother’s body as my own. This is the way she would walk, old and frail but stubbornly independent. There are not many mornings I haven’t shuffled in the past twenty years. Most times I move freely once I warm up. But sometimes I hobble all day.

On the way to the bathroom I do my daily check. Glands up. Morning fever. Throat not sore this morning. Good. Pain? I note all the places. I rate them on a scale of one to ten. I rank my fatigue. My level of alertness. Can I form thoughts? Is my memory there or gone?

When I hit the light switch I wait to see if my vision stays blurry or whether the world around me becomes clear.

Not clear.

I still have limited vision from my left eye. It’s been three weeks now, this latest stretch. A lyme thing. To be one-eyed means that the world around me softens and shifts to two-dimensional. I have no accurate way to judge depth or distance. You’ll know if I have an eye thing. I’m always covered in bruises from where I misjudged the edges of my world. Thank goodness Ben drives me where I need to go, and helps me cross the road or navigate obstacles.

I have a host of coping strategies, and once I get out of my mind and my body and into my plans and dreams I am just fine. Life rolls on. I have found so many ways to thrive and keep going despite current circumstances. Overall, my health has been steadily trending in the right direction. I remind myself of this. Much, much better. I am much, much better.

It’s still raining. Still cold.

Harry Dog has snuck downstairs now to keep me company at my computer. I cradle a mug of ginger tea to warm my hands and my insides, and he curls around my feet and goes back to sleep, one ear cocked for any possible sign that it might be Cafe Time.

I’m on edge today, as much as I am trying not to be. I am off to the hospital this morning for scans. An old problem. One that sat in the back seat with a band-aid solution as my doctors and I worked on more serious issues – like heart failure and multi-organ failure, all of which are now sorted. Health problems are always triaged. I understand that. But this one has caused me no grief for a few years. I’d almost forgotten it was there.

I admit it. I’ve had a crisis of faith these past few days. To enjoy an overseas vacation, to feel health and energy and strength in your body, to feel almost normal, and then…

…and then to have increasing pain, increasing fatigue, a sudden recurrence of old problems. For these problems to escalate and then keep escalating. For your doctors to be suddenly concerned and taking urgent action – more scans, more bloods, more tests, more scans.

Well, it’s taken me a while to get myself back on solid ground again. For me to drag myself off the floor and be ready for whatever comes next.

I’m up now. I’m ready. Or I tell myself that anyway as I sip my ginger tea.

It is ironic, I think, that at the moment when it all goes to shit for me (again!) the pipe in our city house bursts, the rooms flood, things become a soggy stinking mess requiring immediate action. And it has been a glorious distraction. Thank goodness. Maybe that was perfect timing after all. Symbolic too, of everything needing a major clean-up, re-install and renovation.

I’m okay, and I’ll be okay.

That’s a well-used mantra in my house. It works. Trust me.

I’d better dress now. Fasting bloods for me at 6.30am, and then Cafe Time for me, Harry and Ben, while Bert gets a little more shut-eye, all snuggled up on our bed.

Today will pass by in the blink of an eye and tonight I’ll be meditating again, waking in my own warm bed again tomorrow and reaching for my mala beads. I’m okay and I’ll be okay.

Much love to you all.

Nicole xx

An Update from Nicole

“Life can be like a roller coaster with its ups and downs. What matters is whether you are keeping your eyes open or closed during the ride and who is next to you.”
~ Ana Ortega

 

Hi, Lovely Friends.

You may have noticed I’ve been absent for a few days. I’ll be honest in saying that these past few days have been one crazy roller coaster ride.

Usually after retreat we bring everything home to the farm, dump it in piles to sort through and pack away later and I collapse for a few days to rest and come back into a normal operating schedule. Usually it would be nap time and cafe time and outings with my boys time. This retreat conclusion didn’t go like that.

Just before retreat ended we had notifications from recent medical tests that required us to be urgently back in Brisbane for appointments early on Friday, and then again on Monday. So we dumped everything in the shed, packed some to bring back to the city, tumbled into bed for a few hours sleep and then got up in the dark in the early hours of Friday morning for another long drive.

No rest for me. Just mad rushing around.

To add to the craziness and drama, a pipe broke in our city house while I was on retreat. The upstairs toilet overflowed – soaking the carpets and then cascading through the ceiling and down the walls into the kitchen below. Neighbours turned off the water to the house and friend did a mop up of the water on the floors and benches as best she could. Ben raced back to inspect the damage, a plumber came and repaired the pipe, and an insurance assessor came and set up big industrial fans and dryers, which are still roaring away. Ben assured me it wasn’t too bad…

But all of the food in the cupboards has been soaked. All my cookbooks are ruined. The oven, the toaster, the kettle, the pots and pans and more besides were filled with a rank brown liquid that stinks to high heaven. Somehow the men missed that, and back then, when it first happened, I’m sure it didn’t smell!

So in the middle of doctors appointments we are scrubbing and sorting and doing our best to clean up. Doors are swollen shut, things have buckled and deformed and it sounds like we are living in a wind tunnel.

But anyway, here we are.

Life.

It’s a mad ride sometimes, isn’t it?

I’ll be back to blogging, answering emails and updating the Year of ME activities in the next few days, as things settle down. Sorry, but all I can do right now is ride this mad roller coaster.

Thank goodness for meditation, and for moments standing barefoot in the garden.

This morning I am SO having a coffee!!!!

Hugs and love to you,

Nicole xx

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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.

Lyme and Making Plans

“She had learned the lesson of renunciation and was as familiar with the wreck of each day’s wishes as with the diurnal setting of the sun.” 
~ Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge

“Success is when everything that goes wrong, fits in your plan.” 
~ Gary Rudz

 

When I was diagnosed, finally, with Lyme disease, back in January 2013, we did a lot of shuffling of plans. A much-looked-forward-to holiday was called off. I cancelled workshops and retreats. My clever PA began adding a footnote to each appointment she made for me, letting people know that I was being treated for Lyme and that I may need to reschedule their session at short notice, depending upon my health on the day.

I’ve had to do a lot of that anyway, in my adult life. Cancel things. Say no. Pull out at the last minute. Always because of unreliable health. Too often that has made me the unreliable friend, family member, or neighbour. The only area I have managed to be mostly reliable has been work. But doing that has meant creating a business where I can work from home, part-time, and where everything else suffers so that I can get that work done.

Sure I’ve gone ahead sometimes and done the thing, but too often afterwards I’ve paid the price. An afternoon of socialising might mean three days of crippling exhaustion. A few hours of gardening could leave me flat out for the rest of the week.

“Gee Nicole,” a friend said once, frustrated at my lack of energy, “we all get tired.” Yes, we do. But Lyme tired is something else. Lyme tired is truly chronic fatigue. Lyme tired is neurological fatigue, as well as physical. It’s the kind of tired where after just a few hours work I am in bed by seven and asleep by ten past. And that’s on a good day. 🙂 Lyme tired is the kind of tired where I can struggle with basic daily living – like showering and dressing, holding a conversation, preparing a meal or attending to the simplest kinds of housework. The kind of tired where my arm stops working, or my eye starts twitching, or my brain goes on strike.

My exhaustion is an ocean, under the influence of some great unseen force. Sometimes it recedes, leaving a gleaming bright shore of possibility. I get stretches where I can do so much more, and I settle in to that as my new normal. But then the tide comes back, and I find myself with a smaller and smaller window of available time where my brain works, or my body works and I can get things done.

To be honest, I’d hoped that this far into my Lyme treatment, an aggressive protocol of drugs and herbs, that I would have been back to much more glorious planning again by now. That I would be saying ‘yes’ more often, and ‘no’ much less.

But as I’ve travelled this road I’ve come to realise that there’s still so far to go. I might be in this hazy half-life place for a while yet.

So, I’ve gotten smarter.

Now I make plans EXPECTING to be tired. I create my business around what I can do on a bad day, or an average week, rather than what I might be able to do if I had a sudden upsurge in energy or was miraculously well again. I plan socialising around my best times (mornings), or for early nights.

I am planning my whole future around having a flat battery.

It’s not pessimistic. I fully intend to get back to well. Or as well as it is possible to be, for me. But oh how it takes the pressure off, knowing that I am catering for low energy, or sudden patches of incapacity.

Anyway, my heart is on the way to being completely normal, and I have my brain back. There is no longer an imminent threat of dying. I can write and think and dream again. And I’ve always been able to do psychic work – no matter how ill I’ve been. That’s a gift that comes through me, and it’s never influenced by my health. In fact, it has often been the thing which has energised me and kept me going during my darker days. So, planning is possible. As long as my plans make space for down-time, disaster and the unexpected.

I even changed my whole business model, so that I can run an ever-expanding enterprise from bed, on a few average health days a week. Imagine how much lovely free time that will give me as I move back towards well. Imagine how much writing I will be able to get done. How much living. That’s exciting for me!

Maybe you don’t have lyme, or some other kind of incapacitating situation in your life, but I can guarantee you that making plans based on reduced energy and reduced input isn’t a bad thing. Instead it’s a plan for life that makes room for life. It’s about designing a life where there is space for you to grow, to heal, to love, to change your mind, to move in new directions, to spend the afternoon napping, or with your lover, or catching a series of perfect waves.

I’m all for planning. Planning moves us purposefully in a direction of our choosing. It enables us to be effective with the use of our time and resources. It helps us to actively design our lives.

But I am also for living honestly, and being realistic about what’s on our plates. I am also for being kind to ourselves. I am all for making room to breathe rather than heaping responsibility, duty and endless tasks upon us.

What kind of plans have you made in your life?

Have you crammed so much in that there is no room for downtime, rest or fun?

Lyme has proved to be a wise teacher for me. I hope that by sharing my story, it also helps you to be kinder to yourself, to be more trusting of the process of life, to focus on your most important priorities and still leave space.

All sorts of miracles and wonderments can happen when we leave enough space for them. It’s not up to us to have to fill in all the blanks. Where would be the magic in that?

Much love to you, Nicole xx

Life-is-a-miracle

 

Animals, Meditation and Energy Work

Image of dog meditating from Petspace

Image of dog meditating from Petspace

“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

Animals are very tuned in to energy and emotion. If you meditate or do energy work, don’t be surprised if your pets suddenly want to climb all over you, or get as close to you as they possibly can.

When we meditate we emit energy. We also create a healing and calming vibration that is very attractive for our animal friends. All of this energy is surplus to our own requirements, so don’t worry that pets might be ‘taking’ your energy. It’s simply a way for them to top up their own energies and to feel good.

When pets sit near you (or on you) as you meditate, the energy created helps with pain management and healing, providing a very soothing vibration for them. It helps them feel emotionally nurtured and spiritually close to you.

It’s fine to extend an arm or hand to touch and include your pet in your meditation practice.

Most mornings and evenings when I meditate, at least one of my dogs will come and climb into my lap or lie beside me. Whenever I do healing work they will lie under or at the foot of the massage table. This is quite a common thing. I even have a girlfriend whose dog howls if it is locked out of her room while she is meditating. If she opens the door he comes and sits quietly beside her for the duration of her meditation. This only happens if she is meditating. If she is simply sitting quietly or reading a book the dog is totally disinterested.

You can also chose to direct energy into your pets through your hands. You can do this in the form of reiki or hands-on healing. There are some simple instructions here that that you can follow – and it will work as effectively on animals as it does on humans:

Strengthening Intuition Week 5 – Sensing Energy in People

Image from Kindled Spirit

Image from Kindled Spirit

I have used reiki and hands-on healing very successfully for cows, horses, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and even birds. Using hands-on healing for ill and injured animals, and for elderly pets with arthritis pain is a simple method by which we can provide comfort and support for our friends.

Animals are very receptive to receiving energy, and give excellent feedback too.

Image from NYC Reiki Center

Image from NYC Reiki Center

They will calm beneath your hands, or even position themselves beneath your hands so that the energy goes where they need it most when they feel that positive flow of energy from you to them. Flowing energy from yourself to others ALWAYS benefits you too, as the energy must flow through you first.

Image from MetAngel

Image from MetAngel

Meditation and energy work are positive practices for you, but they are also wonderful practices to share with your pets. It’s a way for you both to feel good, and to fill up on energy and love. What can be better than that?

Bless  ♥ xx

Reminding yourself why…

“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer.” ~ Author Unknown

Sometimes the thing we need to do isn’t pleasant, isn’t fun, isn’t anything we really want to do.

Or it might have started out easy, and fun, and then suddenly we reach the hard bit!

Now, to get to where we need to go, we have to get through this somehow.

When the going’s hard, when all you want to do is quit, when you are despairing because it feels like nothing is working and you’ll never get to where you want to go, and you don’t know how you’re going to do this thing, and you don’t feel ready,

You just need to remind yourself WHY.

I’m doing this thing because…

IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

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Why are we doing this thing? Because it will be worth it. Because this thing will change our lives. Because we will become transformed.

Don’t quit. Don’t give up on yourself and your plans for a brighter future. Don’t shelve that dream.

Life IS hard somethings. Healing things, changing things, learning things, improving things, creating things; none of that is easy – it all takes time, effort, sweat and some pain.

And lots of people walking your path have quit.

But some didn’t. Some worked through that pain and kept going…

And YOU need to be one of them if you want to break through and end up in a better place.

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
~ Patanjali – the author of Yoga Sutra

Keep going. Rest if you must. But hold that end in sight and strive towards it.

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Today I’m going to hang in there, and I’m not going to quit. Why? Because I know it will be worth it.

How about you? Are you with me?

Start the thing. Keep going. I’m right here cheering you on!

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