Up Late, Writing

“Listen.
I will lose myself
if it means I can find you.” 
Alaska Gold

 

I didn’t mean to do it.

I meant to open up one folder, to check one fact, on one page, and to add one small note that was in danger of being forgotten if I didn’t immediately write it down.

I’m meant to be finishing the edits on the last three chapters of my memoir right now. I’m meant to be getting ready for my August retreat. I’m meant to be finishing the content for my new website. I’m meant to be catching up on sleep.

So it was only going to be one thing captured on paper. Not even proper writing. Just the recording of a small idea…

I sat down a little before 9pm to write that simple thing before I went to bed. A simple thing about a dragon and a sister who loved her missing brother very much and could not give up on him.

At 2am I looked up again and half the night had flown.

The fire had burned to cold ashes while I had been traversing volcanoes, diving with mermaids, flying through the night sky on the back of a winged beast, and engaging in acts of espionage and treachery.

My skin was goosefleshed and my feet were icy bricks.

My cheeks were streaked with tears, and there were three new chapters on the screen in front of me.

I didn’t mean to do it. But I am glad I did!

This writer’s life is such a glorious adventure.

Much love to you, Nicole ❤  xx

October Stones – A New Competition For You

Creativity takes courage ~ Henri Matisse

 

Hello Lovelies

Every day in October I am meditating with these two stones – stones that feel comfortable as I hold them in my hands, stones which are being infused with the energy of my love, intentions and meditations. At the end of October, I shall give them away to a reader, along with a personalised guided meditation made just for the winner.

Let me introduce you to these two stones. The first stone is basalt with seams of milk quartz and it holds the energies of the ocean and the earth. It is an anchoring stone, and it comes from Belongil Beach in Byron Bay, which is a place of great healing and transformation.

The energies and intention infused into the Byron Bay Beach Rock are that the holder comes to know a true sense of creative direction and that inspiration and imagination become gifts to lift you out of stuckness and back into flow.

This beach stone is the Anchoring Stone, which helps us to stay grounded, clear and calm, connecting into our bodies, and to the earth and nature. It’s a nurturing and comforting stone, and holding it brings me to a state of profound inner quiet.

 

The second is a Lemurian Singing Quartz, from the wilds of Tasmania. It’s a very strong energy stone with deep ridges along its sides that can be stroked during meditation. This activates the stone just the way you’d open a filing cabinet to access the files inside. Holding this stone makes me feel hopeful, positive and alive! The Quartz is the Connection Stone, enabling us to connect into our intuition, Higher Self, Guides, Ancestors and the Divine. My intention is that this Singing Quartz helps you to hear your inner voice and to access your creative gifts. It supports imagination, clear vision and passion for life.

Used together in meditation these stones will help you to find your inner creative energy, and remove blocks to self-expression and flow of ideas and art.

 

Instructions on how to win these stones:

Do one of any of the following;

  1. Write a comment on this post or our Facebook page, and let us know why you need creative energy and inspiration. Feel free to add a picture of your creative project or something that inspires you to be creative.
  2. Post a picture on Instagram of your creative project or something that inspires you to be creative with the hashtag #CandCProject  and in your description explain why you want to win these stones
  3. Send us an email to chelsi@cauldronsandcupcakes.com explaining why you want to win these stones
  4. Write a comment on this post telling us why you want to have these stones

This competition closes on October 31st at 8 pm Brisbane time, and I’ll announce the winner on November 2nd.

I’ll be giving away a set of stones every month between now and December, so there are plenty of chances for you to win.

Hugs and love, Nicole    xoxo

 

Boobs!

THE WOUNDED AMAZON, Marble statue Metropolitan Museum, NY: wounded Amazon (Roman Copy, probably after Polykleitos or even Kresilas or Pheidias) c. 450-425 BC.

THE WOUNDED AMAZON, Marble statue Metropolitan Museum, NY: wounded Amazon (Roman Copy, probably after Polykleitos or even Kresilas or Pheidias) c. 450-425 BC.

“The truth of the story lies in the details.”
~ Paul Auster

 

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. When else would I get to shout ‘Boobs!’ as a title for a blog post?

Because today, dear readers, it’s all about boobs. My boobs.

Today is mammogram and ultrasound day as my very thorough specialist ticks every single thing on his rather big checklist in my lead-up to surgery.

Hoopla!

Although, to be honest, like all the other tests I’ve done thus far I don’t expect it to be fun, or even comfortable.

So it’s boobs all morning for me.

Then a spot of lunch in the hospital cafe.

After which they will look at my heart, which means more boob action really…

 

I’ll be quite busy while all the medical technicians and doctors are doing their thing.

I’m carrying around a snippet of my memoir in my head that needs some editing. It’s a wild space in the Kimberley where my aboriginal aunties took me once, so that they could show me a special little bird. As the hospital machines click and beep, and things are done to my surrendered body, I’ll be focusing in on the landscape of my mind, doing my best to remember in vivid detail the smell of the dust and the heat of the sun so bright in the sky that I could only squint beneath the brim of my broad hat. I’ll think about the wonder of this hidden place my aunties showed me. The way we left our vehicle and walked single file along the track to find it. The way the sunlight sparked on the water in the creek. The steep cool rock walls and the lush green foliage. The chirruping calls and flash of wing. The way we all waded into the water in our clothes and sat down silently. All of us watching, watching and waiting. Waiting for the little bird to appear. That’s where I’ll be today. I’ll be back in time, someplace else, happy and safe, remembering.

I’m sure it will be a useful day all round.

Lots of love to you all,

Nicole <3  xx

The Coral Bird

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.”
~ Guy de Maupassant

 

When I was growing up my mother’s parents, Ceddie and Marga, owned a boat (first a yacht and later a motor cruiser) and they would often take us out into Moreton Bay with them where we would while away endless summers and school holidays.

One of my favourite activities was beach combing with my grandmother, Marga. She had a vast collection of coral and shells in glass cabinets back at her home on the Brisbane River, and an eagle’s eye for finding new treasures.

I remember walking a narrow isthmus of sand one day, between Bird and Goat Island. To my delight I found a small piece of bleached coral that for all the world resembled a tiny bird. I picked it up, cleaned off the grains of sand at the edge of the water, and hurried to show my grandmother.

Yes, she said, enthusiastically. She could see the bird too. What a good find it was! I loved her so much in that moment that I spontaneously gave my coral bird to her.

Back at the boat, as we were preparing dinner she showed my coral bird to my grandfather, and he then took out a giant book of Australian birds so that we could work out what kind of bird it might be.

A pied oyster catcher, I decided. Turned to coral by a terrible, mean witch.

NicoleMarga

Me and my beautiful grandmother, Margaret Nurcombe, known to all as Marga.

My grandparents have both passed away now, and last year Mum packed up their home. A few of the boxes made their way to me at my little farm down at Possum Creek, and in one of those boxes was Marga’s shell and coral collection.

Imagine my surprise to find my little coral bird, tucked up amidst my grandmother’s treasures.

coral bird

It evoked such a tenderness in me, to hold that small bird again, and to think back on the many happy times I shared with my grandparents, learning about nature, quiet time and the importance of imagination.

I realise now what defining influences they have been in my life, and I am filled with love and gratitude that they were able to pass such values to me through their own way of living.

I’d forgotten that this small piece of coral was what created my fascination with pied oyster catchers, a bird I often see on the beaches of northern New South Wales.

Isn’t life the most wonderful unfolding story!

Pied Oyster Catcher - Image by Geoff Taylor for abc.net.au

Pied Oyster Catcher – Image by Geoff Taylor for abc.net.au

Guided Meditation for Orienting Mind Awareness

Image from The Hollow Log

Image from The Hollow Log

“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” 
Frank McCourtAngela’s Ashes

This is the second in a series of seven weekly guided meditations I am recording for you.

The focus of this week’s meditation is the mind. This guided meditation will help you to be aware of the positive gifts of your mind, and teaches you a simple technique for accessing intuitive and subconscious wisdoms.

You’ll need to set aside about twenty minutes for this meditation. Sit or lie somewhere quietly, using pillows or blankets if needed to make yourself comfortable. Then simply close your eyes and follow the sound of my voice. It’s fine to let yourself fall asleep during the meditation, or immediately afterwards.

To listen to the meditation, click on the button below:

Image from quoteko.com

Image from quoteko.com

Join Me for a Magical Carpet Ride?

Image by sunshine0

Image by sunshine0

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” 
~ Albert Einstein

I’m a firm believer in the power of imagination. Connecting in to pleasurable memories, imaginings or visualisations has a proven positive affect upon our mood, our creative ability and our energetic vibration. It reduces stress, inflammation and anxiety and helps magnetise us to further abundance and good.

(Note: Conversely, this also works with dwelling on negativities, worries and past pains  darkening our mood, increasing stress, thwarting our creativity and lowering our vibration – so try your best not to go in that direction…)

There’s a question game my friends and I like to play sometimes. It involves using our imagination to take us somewhere fabulous, and then sharing that experience with each other. In fact, hearing about someone else’s magical journey has often inspired the rest of us to make real life travel plans, or at least menu choices!

And at times when my life has been less than wonderful, this game has kept me thinking of a brighter tomorrow, and got me through some less than great days. Many of the things I’ve imagined have ended up coming true. How fun is that!!!

So, my lovelies, why not play this game with me?

Read through the questions, and if you feel like sharing, post your answer below or over on our facebook page.

Here goes!

If I had a Tardis…

Image from kootation

Image from kootation

Or a magical Carpet…

Image by creativeguy59

Image by creativeguy59

And a magical Wallet full of local currency…

And I lent them to you, so that tomorrow morning you could wake up anywhere in the world for a magical 24 hours where you had no worries, vibrant energy and zero food intolerances/medical conditions/other encumbrances, and only good could happen…

1) Where would you be?

2) Who would you be with?

3) What would you have for breakfast (or lunch or dinner)?

and

4) What would you do with your day?

Have fun with it!

Lots of love,  ♥ Nicole xx

PS – My 24 hours? While my puppies are being lovingly taken care of back at our farm I’ll wake up in a private bungalow right on the beach in a beautiful and remote part of Thailand. Of course my husband will be beside me! After my meditation we’ll go for a swim in the warm, tranquil ocean, enjoying the quiet and our own company. After a long walk along the beach we’ll dine on fresh papaya and lime, salad and a made-to-order omelette. Then a trip to visit some temples and local markets – lots of walking around and taking in the atmosphere, snacking on delicious Thai food and drinks. Later we’ll go for a massage and be completely spoiled with pampering. Perhaps another dip in the ocean. Then a romantic candlelit seafood dinner on the beach, before dancing the rest of the night away.

How about you?

2012-01-14 01.38.31

Poor Form, or Confessions from a Bookstore, Byron Style.

Image 

So, I unexpectedly find myself in downtown Byron Bay, at a bookshop cafe, while I wait for a friend.

Except for a brief visit to a second-hand book store on the way to a friend’s funeral a few weeks ago it has been many months since I’ve been in a bookshop. It’s been too long since I’ve had my head buried in a book of any description.

And what I also realise as I sit here sipping chai, is that it’s been too long since I have lost myself in that world that is my own land of story. The characters sit languid, waiting, growing paler and more indistinct.

I have the usual excuses; life, health, family, a crazy schedule…

But it’s all bullshit really.  I recognise a pattern sneaking back into my life where I make everything else momentarily more important that words on the page.  How have I forgotten this basic fact – writing matters to me.  Viscerally matters. I sit here in this bookshop space and it’s like an oxygen mask applied to a dying woman.

Stupid uncontrollable tears trickle down my face. A fat one plops off my nose and onto my keyboard.  I love that I am in Byron.  The woman at the next table doesn’t bat an eye.  She hands me a tissue and smiles.  I smile back.  We grin dopily at each other.

“It’s the books,” I explain.

“I know,” she says in a hushed whisper.  “So many books and I never give myself permission to just sit down and read.”

Yes, I nod. So many books and mine aren’t amongst them yet.  It’s not a competitive thing, or a jealousy thing.  It’s more like being heavily pregnant, waddling with the discomfort of a belly swollen beyond its measure, and ankles fat with fluid from an overburdened system. I’m writing all the time, but not the one story, not that one story that sings me to sleep each night and waits for me in the dusky dawn.

I’m bursting with discomfort and I know it won’t let up until I give birth to a fully-formed story.  I need to sit here in this awful aching until I can hold this creative outpouring in my hands in some viable form.

The woman at the next table is sobbing now. But it’s Byron.  I move my chair across and hug her.  She hugs me back.  And when we’re done, she goes off to buy a book, and I sit down at my laptop…

Just before she leaves, she comes back to my table, a bundle of books in her arms.  “A book a month,” she says to me.  “I’m promising you I’ll read one book a month.”

“Four hours a week,” I smile back.  “I’ll write words just for me, four hours a week.  We hug again.  No tears this time.  

Somewhere far from here, a bright speck in my imagination, a boy called James sits up taller and calls my name from the deck of his pirate ship.  He remembers me.  He waited. Together we sail off into unexplored waters…

In Defence of Fairies

The Forest Fairy – Image by Josephine Wall

Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom.  It is as true as sunbeams.  ~Douglas Jerrold

Those of you who know me will also know that I believe in fairies.  In fact, you’ll know that I count a fairy as one of my dearest friends.

I found myself in an odd position on the weekend. I’m writing a novel with fairies as some of the main characters. And someone I hold in esteem told me that writing about fairies was not only unimaginative, but that children were no longer interested in such things.

Hmmm, I thought to myself.  I know I’m not a child but I’m interested in fairies.  And many of my friends and clients are too.  In fact, whenever I write about fairies I get flooded with enquiries about them, and how people might get to know one or attract one into their garden.

As this learned person talked to me, I felt myself becoming sadder and sadder.  Not only because they were so disparaging of fairies and all things magical (which is of course, the world I live in, although they did not know that), but because I believe fairies deserve to be known, and appreciated, and dare I say it, loved…

Not that fairies care.  They shall go on happily, regardless of us.  But we, we are the poorer for not knowing of them and the work they do in the natural world.

And if there is no room for magic in our lives, and for the ability to believe in things we cannot understand, if there is no room for wonder, well then, what is the point of life?

Image from paganspace.net

Imagination Land

There’s a place I like to set sail for, a favoured destination for short or extended trips…   I call it Imagination Land.

I first discovered this land as a small child, when my parents read stories to me.  Their words came to life, making worlds in my head. Characters became friends. Long after the story ended I found myself going back to those worlds, revisiting the story and putting myself into that land alongside the other characters.

Soon I realised that I could make up my own stories.

Fuzzy-felt boards, crayons and lego provided endless hours of pleasure as I created farms, hospitals, circus scenes, crazy hairdressing salons, fairy lands, castles full of funky princesses and dragons, libraries and outer space adventures.

Now I am grown. For a time, as a young adult, I forgot that this magical place existed. My bags were filled with textbooks. My mind was used for concrete and factual thinking. My feet were on the ladder.  My mouth was full of sand.

I rediscovered the power of Imagination Land during years of illness, where I was confined to bed. Even from my bed I could use my imagination to be at sea, captaining my own ship, or dancing on a starlit night in my finery with some handsome prince. I could imagine me well.  I could imagine me happy.  I could imagine me a different life, a better life…

Books reignited something within me.  Stories still had the ability to transport me to other worlds and other lives.  They stretched me and gave me wings. I devoured them as hungrily as a drowning man gasps for air.

Soon I found that there was a well within me, unvisited since childhood, that was brimming with words. This is my Imagination Land.  A land of infinite possibility and wonder. A place where life and magic combine in unexpected ways. It’s a place I dip my toes before I write. It’s the place where I meet my muse. Here there are fairies and pirates and dreams. Here there are strong women and lighthouses and drought-torn farms. Here there are heroes and villains and mysteries forgotten by time.  I hope that one day my words can bring you here too, so you might share this magic. ♥

How to Nurture your Creativity

“Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!” The Queen, from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

There is a winged dragon waiting at the edge of your conscious mind, and her name is Creativity.  If you climb into the jewelled saddle, and nudge her with your heels she shall take you to a place deep within you.  There is a sacred pool bubbling up from this place and the magical quality of this water helps us to visualise, believe in and create impossible things. Creativity, Imagination Land and the Realms of Possibility are all available to us if we learn to nurture the part of us that would take the journey, and the part which feeds the sacred pool…

I have found the following things to be useful in feeding my creative self.  They are all about engaging with life; learning, experiencing and observing:

  1. Festivals.  Festivals are fabulous!  Music festivals, food festivals, folk festivals, writers festivals, medieval festivals, travel extravaganzas, bridal expos, garden exhibitions, rural shows, trade fairs…  Festivals showcase ideas, beliefs, products and services, and they are filled with passionate people sharing their knowledge and gifts.  
  2. Walks in nature – so many things to see.  Interesting leaves, delicate flowers, animals busy in their own environments, the smell of a summer morning or  a winter’s night, the hoot of an owl, the baying of a dog, a neighbour’s cat perched on a fence – baleful as a tiger.
  3. Markets – farmers’ markets for tables groaning with fresh produce, craft markets for interesting bonnets, jumpers and bangles, car boot and antique sales for all manner of treasures.  
  4. Books – to read, to look up random bits, to instruct, to look at pictures, to give you a magical carpet ride to a place you’ve never been. You can even get talking books to listen to on the bus, or in the car.
  5. Music – not just the stuff you usually listen to, but other people’s music too.  Ask friends for recommendations.  Trawl youtube. CDs, MP3s, records. Even try the radio.  I found this little treasure on facebook.    
  6. Films – late-night foreign movies on tv, DVDs and pizza on a Saturday night, choc-top and the latest releases at the cinema, film festivals (see tip #1), movies for children, sub-titled treasures, golden oldies, footage of you and your family from your childhood, or your parents/grandparents lives.
  7. Outings and expeditions – These need to be able to be done in one day or less.  Choose from picnics, drives, catching random buses or trains, going to places that have always been on your ‘must visit’ list – such as vineyards, art galleries, temples, new shopping malls, cafe you read about in the paper, Christmas lights etc.
  8. Travel – half the fun here is planning.  Get brochures, search the web, speak to travel agents and friends.  Then once you’re there drink it all in. All the culture, the foreignness, the food, the smells, the colour of the sky. Take photos. Capture memories. Bring home an awful souvenir or an outlandish tale.
  9. Lessons  – Stretch yourself with something new.  Guitar, Hindi, water skiing, belly dancing, sushi making, yoga, watercolour, macrame pot holders 101, computing, swordsmanship, barista course, novel writing.
  10. Cloud busting – lie back on the grass, or in a hammock and bust the clouds with your mind.  What shapes do you see?
  11. Poetry readings and other live performance – hearing an artist share their own work is always powerful.
  12. Journal – a safe space for pouring your imaginings onto paper.  I’ve just written a free seven day course on how to journal here.
  13. Live with curiosity – curiosity and creativity go hand in hand.   
  14. Talk to people – they’ll tell you the most amazing things. People everywhere are happy to share their stories and experiences, mostly for a smile, and the joy of being heard.
  15. Make things with your hands – there is a magical flow between our hearts, our imaginations and our hands. Often this process unblocks something that is seemingly unrelated.  A pottery session gives you ideas for your novel, chopping vegetables for soup informs a painting design growing inside you. Make pasta, knead dough, paint an old cupboard, dig in the garden, bead a necklace, repair a bicycle, braid your hair, pick flowers for the table, hug someone!