The Turn In The Road Where My Worries Fall Away

Image from www.stopthesethings.com

“Though a lifetime of listening to the music of the world has passed, even now the tone of the rain on the roof of my home is the sweetest sound I have ever heard.” 
~  Kensi Brianne Smith

 

We’ve been up in Brisbane this past week, and it’s been full on.

I’ve had doctors’ appointments and the sorts of things to attend to that can only be done in the city.

I’ve held space for friends and clients who have suffered tragedy and tempest.

And we’ve been elder caring.

Ben’s mum is old and increasingly frail, although stubbornly independent, bless her. She’s at the age where suddenly she needs help with everything: shopping, cooking, home maintenance, paying bills – all the things she has done so competently for the entirety of her life. But we don’t mind at all. We love her, and she is family.

Still, it’s stressful, and we worry constantly about her.

Yesterday finally we packed up to drive home to the farm.

There is a place we come to, just over the border between Queensland and New South Wales, where I unfailingly begin to unwind and feel better. City and suburbia fall away and at a turn in the road the highway is suddenly blanketed by cane fields and farms with a backdrop of dusky crags.

The tension leaves my body. I sigh audibly. A sense of relief creeps over me.

Many of our friends from the Byron Shire experience the same thing; that falling away of worries as we move into the encircling arms of the ancient volcanic rim that cradles our homes.

How about you? Do you have a place in the journey home where suddenly you feel better too? I’d love to know.

Hugs and love from all of us here at the farm, Nicole xx

The Tawny Family Shows Off Baby!

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“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.”
~ Shel Silverstein

 

We have a family of Tawny Frogmouths that nest in the teak tree outside our kitchen window every year. They are nocturnal creatures, and seldom seen, so I always delight in having them in plain view.

During the day Tawny Frogmouths camouflage themselves by lifting their heads, staying very still, and trying to pretend that they are part of a branch.

After a big storm about a month ago they abandoned their nest, and in the unseasonal heat that followed the youngest fledgling baby was unable to make it back up to the tree where the family was roosting and took up a position in the shade of one of our machinery sheds, pretending to be part of a wheelbarrow. (Great info here on what to do if you find a fledgling Tawny out of the nest.)

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Very cute, don’t you think? We kept an eye on her, and Mum and Dad came down to feed her each night until she was ready to fly back to a higher position.

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After another big storm here at the farm (that knocked out our power and internet for almost a day) we went for a walk and found Mum, Dad and the eldest baby perched on fence posts in the deep shade of the coolest corner of the house paddock. The oldest fledgling was up above, in one of the trees and I couldn’t get a good picture of them!

The baby has gone from a little white ball of fluff to something that very closely resembles her adult plumage colours. She’s still adorably fluffy though, and I keep finding her soft downy feathers on the ground, which I’m keeping to make another talisman.

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Mum looks so cross with me for getting close, and I still kept my distance so as not to frighten them. That expression in her eye! They are a fine family, don’t you think?

Apologies that the pictures are not especially crisp. They are taken on my iPhone from a distance, and my dodgy eyes are still not all that crisp themselves, making photography a little more of a challenge than usual. Still, I am making great progress with restoring my vision, and I’m hopeful that my sight will continue to improve.

Sending hugs, love and a cuppa your way, Nicole <3 xoxo

(PS – in case you’re not sure, a cuppa is a good cup of tea!)

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Day 9 – Oracle Card Challenge

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
~ Sarah Dessen

 

Home and Heartland

Today’s question will mean different things to different people, so work this according to your circumstances. For some people this activity will be about home – where you live, and your home environment. For others it will be about your heartland – a project dear to your heart, your happy place when you are spending time doing this thing.

If you feel that you need direction in both areas, do this activity twice. Once for each situation.

 

Here’s what you need to do.

Take your crystal, and complete this short guided meditation:

Hold your stone in your cupped hands, close your eyes, and slow your breathing. Bring white light into your body until you feel peaceful and calm. Then bring white light into the crystal too. Allow yourself to connect to the stone. You may feel it tingle, or visualise a colour in your mind’s eye. When you are ready, open your eyes. Keep your stone near you, and hold it when you write.

 

 

Now shuffle your cards, while silently asking the question to yourself ‘What do I most need to know about my home?’ or ‘What do I most need to know about my heartland?’

When you have shuffled the cards and they feel ‘done’, select one card using the method that feels right for you.

Place the card face up in front of you.

Clear your mind by closing your eyes and taking one deep breath in and then out. Open your eyes again. Take a minute and look at the picture.

no peace like home

What stands out for you today? Is it an image or a colour? Is it a number or a word? What are your first impressions? What thoughts come into your mind?

Write these down in your journal.

 

Now let’s go a little deeper. What feelings or words does this card evoke in your mind when you think about the card and its images in relation to the question ‘What do I most need to know about my home?’ or ‘What do I most need to know about my heartland?’ Take five minutes and write some stream-of-consciousness thoughts down. Don’t censor or judge them. Trust the process. Draw a second card for clarification if you need to.

Finally, read back over what you have written.

This is a good activity to come back and add to over time!

Much love, and I hope you’re enjoying this challenge, Nicole xx

 

Quiet, Tea and Dogs

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“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour — such is my idea of happiness.”
~ Leo Tolstoy

 

I’m finally home at our little farm house after a very successful retreat.

But it was full on! I worked around the clock to support my students and to hold space for their journey and transformation.

I’m beyond tired, but in the way of happy exhaustion rather than broken by overwhelm and illness.

Today I’m gifting myself quiet time, garden walks, acupuncture, a good coffee and lots of cuddles with Ben and the dogs. No work for me. No screen time. I need a few days to come back into flow with the outside world after being so deeply immersed in the spiritual.

Here’s my best medicine for a weary soul…

And I hope you find some time for yourself today too. Lots of love, Nicole xx

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Watching The Afternoon Fade to Grey

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“On this road
where nobody else travels
autumn nightfall.”
~ Matsuo Bashō

 

Late yesterday afternoon I wandered through the back garden, and then up the hill toward the old orchard behind our house.

My word for the year is ‘home’ and I truly allowed myself to feel into that space yesterday.

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Close to the house a basil plant has self-seeded from last year’s bumper crop. It has flourished with neglect while I have been away and then unwell. It made me so happy to see its broad soft leaves and vigorous growth.

The guava is laden too, and perfumes the air with a heady fragrance that reminds me somehow of passionfruit. I’m looking forward to making some jam and perhaps a chutney with the fruit. I ate one straight off the tree, warmed by the sun and perfect. It was a luxury for the senses.

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The sky turned from bright blue to pale, degree by degree.

The air cooled.

Birds called to one another and sang their evening songs.

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Harry and Bert, exhausted from their mad games and running around, sat on the freshly mown lawn waiting to accompany me back to the house.

They were both so happy to have played and to have kept me company. Nurse Bert seems pleased that I am finally out of bed and well enough to venture out again, although he has been incredibly patient with me.

He couldn’t wipe the goofy smile off his face!

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And so the night slid softly across the sky, the sun set behind the hills, and the first stars winked out.

I filled myself up on it all, and it was good.

What a magical place to call home!

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Misty Morning Wonderland

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“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

 

It’s so good to be home.

The dogs and I went for a very early walk. We have six new calves and the unseasonably warm weather means that our paddocks are lush with dewy grass, and the dam is still full.

Closer to home the guava tree is groaning under a new crop of fruit and our lemon tree is also so heavy with fruit that some limbs are touching the ground. I can already taste the guava cake and lemon butter I will make with them.

Friends are arriving today, and then we will be off to Bluesfest.

But right now Ben and I are off to the Mullum Farmers Markets to stock up on some local goodness.

Did I mention it’s so good to be home?

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My First Morning at Home Again!

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“There is a kind of magic-ness about going far away and then coming back all changed.
~ Kate Douglas Wiggin

 

Hello, beautiful friends!

So, here I am, back in Australia once more. Can I admit to being a little misty-eyed when my husband Ben pulled up outside Brisbane International Airport to pick me up last night, and I spied two madly grinning dogs hanging out the car windows waiting to greet me?

I am so tired. To look from the outside, all I have to show for my time away is a mountain of dirty washing, a serious supply of tasty Philippines dried Mango and notebooks crammed full with ideas, plans and action-steps for the months ahead. But so much more than that has transpired. I’ve been able to reach a place of clarity about what matters to me, and where I want to place my attention. I have met some amazing people and made new friends. While I am exhausted from all of this living, I am also thrilled to have been able to adventure at all!

It has been an emotional few weeks. As I took a boat ride in Cebu on Thursday, the cool salt water peeling off the sides of the outrigger in plumes, I had just as much salt streaming down my face in the form of tears of gratitude. Honestly, there have been so many times in the past few years when I wondered if a trip like this would ever be possible again, let alone solo. There is nothing like the prospect of death to make life taste sweet and to make you hyper-aware of what really matters.

Thanks to the care and efforts of others I have coped fabulously on this trip. I’ve also managed myself and my illness mindfully. I parented myself to do things such as miss the welcome drinks and opt for an early night instead so that I would be fresh for the next morning’s work. There were adjustments and accommodations to be made in order that I coped. That’s okay. I do that anyway in my life here in Australia.

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Meanwhile here at home I have 3247 unread emails to attend to (I should NOT have turned on my work computer in a post-midnight bout of jetlag-induced insomnia), and innumerable phone messages and mail to sort. I have blog posts to write and students to attend to, and calls to return.

And I will get to all of it. Eventually. If you are one of the 3247 emails, or the 271 facebook messages, please be patient. I have triaged you all in the middle of the night, and will contact you in order of urgency.

But first I am going to focus on what matters most.

This morning my attention is on my little family, whom I missed with all my heart. After endless yes-I-am-really-here-now cuddles with Nurse Bert who can’t quite believe that I am home and who keeps checking in with his nose or paw on some part of my body every few minutes, I am heading out with Ben and Cafe Dog for some breakfast and a proper Australian coffee, made with fresh milk and espresso and a whole lot of barista magic.

After which we’ll do a few city-based errands and I’ll make one important visit before packing the ute to head home to the farm.

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Do you remember me telling you about Liz, who was recently diagnosed with end-stage ovarian cancer? My friend Liz arrived home to Australia on Sunday, and was admitted to hospital early last night after collapsing at home.

Luckily I was up and awake at 1.30am when her husband rang to let me know. Liz and her family had a wonderful holiday in Hawaii – the most magical holiday they have ever experienced – and everything went incredibly well. But Liz used up the last of her good days making those special memories. Scans have revealed that the cancer in Liz’s brain is causing problems that can’t be fixed, so it looks like she will now remain in palliative care as her doctors think she may only have days left to live, based on her rapid downhill progress in the past 24 hours.

No regrets, she told her husband as they were taking her off in the ambulance.

No regrets, he told me, when we talked for hours last night about life and death and getting your priorities straight.

Today I need to see my friend, and say goodbye.

So, you see, everything else can wait just a little bit longer.

I’m feeling just a little teary and heart-sore this morning.

And something else…

I am so filled up on life. I am so grateful for every single breath, every single moment, every single connection.

It’s precious and fragile, this crazy journey we are on. Dig deep, my darlings. Find your own heart-path and live a life that matters to you. No regrets. <3