Crying Over Sushi

Me, driving!

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?” 
~  Erin Hanson

 

Yesterday was quite a remarkable day for me. In the morning I drove to the other side of town for a meeting with an illustrator who’s joining my team. We’ll be working on a few projects together, including a tarot deck, oracle cards and a fairy book. Squeeeeeeee!!!

From there I drove to a supplier to pick up a few things. Then I was STARVING and also quite urgently needing to pee, so I drove a little further to a shopping mall at Carindale where I was able to use the rest rooms and then eat some lunch.

Lunch was slightly delayed though. As I wandered the huge mall, trying to orient myself and find a lunch spot I saw a woman coming towards me, crying and in obvious distress. She stopped me to ask me where the bathrooms were, and as I touched her arm to ask if she was okay information and images flooded through me. She had just been told that her Nana had died. A lady who had brought her up, and been a steadying influence for a dysfunctional family.

“I’m so sorry about your Nana,” I said to her without thinking. “She loved you very much.”

The woman lifted her head in panic and stared at me. “How do you know that?”

“I’m psychic,” I said. “Sometimes I just know things.”

The woman began crying harder so I led her over to a bench and we sat down together.

I sat and waited as she cried. She needed someone with her, and I knew it was wrong to try and comfort her; she needed to feel her feelings.

Finally she calmed and asked me about a necklace I was wearing. It’s my meditation mala I made for my recent Temple of Light retreat. I explained that each crystal represented a student, and that the final few crystals represented my family, my community and the world. I then took my mala off and showed her how I used it to meditate and pray for them all twice a day.

“Could you pray for my Nana?” she asked me.

So I held her hands and we sat in the middle of Carindale with our heads bowed and our eyes closed and I prayed aloud for her grandmother, and for this woman and her family, and I asked for her Ancestors and Angels to gather around them and watch over them all.

After which we talked about death and souls and love, and how souls and love are eternal. Finally comforted and okay the woman thanked me. We hugged and then went our own ways. I’d never even learned her name or given mine.

A few minutes later I was sitting in a little corner of a sushi restaurant, watching the plates come towards me in an endless stream of yumminess. Now I began to cry. Not over the events with the distressed woman – anyone who knows me will tell you that my daily life inevitably looks like that. I’m here to be of service. My door is always open and my light is always on. Somehow, people find me when they need me. No, I wasn’t crying about that. I was crying about freedom.

I was sitting on my own in a sushi restaurant. I had driven myself from one side of town to the other, I’d merged with other cars on the freeway, I’d negotiated traffic, I’d parked the car, done hill-starts in a manual car on a steep road, visited places of business, enjoyed a fruitful design meeting about projects I had shelved several times due to poor health, and now I was in a fancy shopping mall buying myself lunch. After which I would drive myself home. ALL ON MY OWN after ten years of relying on Ben to drive me almost everywhere, and for the past five years of having been almost a complete prisoner to illness that had stopped me driving.

I was free. And it felt like a miracle.

After lunch I drove myself home and immediately rang my sister to share the adventures of my morning. Later that afternoon I drove to my elderly mother-in-law’s to drop off some groceries, make her dinner and keep her company. It was a very full day indeed.

Wow.

That’s all I have for yesterday… Wow. I got my life back. After years of suffering all kinds of horrors due to Lyme disease I am finally well enough to reclaim my independence.

Wow.

Thanks for sticking by me as I’ve walked this long road. I’m not done yet, but I’m well on my way. I think that deserves a few tears at a sushi train!

Sending the biggest love and hugs your way, Nicole  xoxo

PS –  if you want to join me for the last retreat of the year you can find out more here: Soul Sanctuary – Working With Crystals. But it’s almost full, so please act quickly. I won’t be running this particular retreat again any time soon, so this is your one chance for this one, and it’s going to be AMAZING!

Meditation mala and a happy driver!

 

 

Saturday Night Lights

Image from chestersre.com

Image from chestersre.com

“There is no night life in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day. Night life is when you get up with a hangover in the morning. Night life is when everybody says what the hell and you do not remember who paid the bill. Night life goes round and round and you look at the wall to make it stop. Night life comes out of a bottle and goes into a jar. If you think how much are the drinks it is not night life.”

~ Ernest Hemingway, 88 Poems

 

I had a small adventure last night.

I drove ten minutes to a girlfriend’s apartment in town and then we took a short stroll to a charming Lebanese restaurant around the corner for an early dinner.

Do you know how many years it has been since I have ventured out at night on my own?

I forget sometimes how much Lyme disease has diminished my life. I’ve learned to live happily within a very small box. So small in fact, that I have become quite distanced and disconnected from things I once took for granted. I counted it. Twelve years. Twelve years since I have been out at night like this on my own to meet a friend for dinner.

Mind you, I didn’t think about that as I drove to my friend’s place. I was too busy concentrating on getting driving right. On listening to the twangy voice on my iPhone navigating me through the streets I once knew by heart. On hoping that parking would be easy and that my brain would work well enough to position the car without disgracing myself. Ben usually drives unless I’m having a very good day. I have not driven a car alone at night for some time. It makes me anxious as a learner.

When I socialise it is usually over breakfast, while I am fresh and have some energy. It’s coffee outings at early-morning cafes, if I am going out at all. By day’s end I am in my pyjamas, I eat early, meditate and retire.

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So last night?

It was still an early night by most people’s standards. I met my friend at six. By nine-thirty my night was over, and I drove homewards through Brisbane’s city streets and Fortitude Valley. I was a time-traveller sitting in the safe bubble of my car, my hands clenched tight to the steering wheel. Outside, my usual daytime vista was rendered unrecognisable. Bright lights obscured familiar landmarks. It was as if the world was on a strange tilt.

The restaurants I know only by early morning passings had been transformed from upturned chairs and empty windows to cosy places full of animated people. Queues of rowdy folk milled at traffic lights and outside bars and nightclubs.

Even my own suburban street was unrecognisable in the dark. I never knew one of the neighbours had fairy lights wound through the trees of their front yard just a few houses down from my own. Everything took on a shimmer of unreality.

It stirred memories in me of my younger days, and I was unexpectedly sideswiped by an intense grief. Where had my life gone? All those years between youth and now?

I already knew the answer. I have been at home in my pyjamas, while the world dined, strolled, drank, laughed, partied, romanced.

In my head I’ve been planning holidays for when I am well again. I am finally moving in that direction, so I have given myself permission not to just dream but to plan.

Helpful people keep offering me their kind and well-meaning suggestions. Most of them revolve around meditation retreats, detox places, quiet and solitude and nature.

Screw that.

Don’t get me wrong. I love meditation, my farm, tranquility, nature. But that’s been my life for over twenty years. And sometimes it has felt more like a prison than an oasis.

When I can rouse just a little more energy in these bones, then give me life. Give me people and culture and music and wine. Give me galleries and parties and cocktails. Give me noise and crowds and the thrill of the night.

Let me grab my husband by the hand, dive right in and immerse myself in those bright city lights.

Give me some night life.

I never knew until last night, just how much I’ve missed the throbbing heart of a city, and the part of myself that was once at home there.

Brita-Photography-_-no-one-looks-back-on-their-life-and-remembers-the-night-they-had-plenty-of-sleep1

My Early Christmas Present

Image from securinvest

Image from securinvest

“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.”
~ Roman Payne, Rooftop Soliloquy

 

Monday was my day off. A day to rest, sandwiched between two days of psychic work on either side. I am in Brisbane right now, and the plan was that Ben would be here and we would spend the day together, doing a little running around before I napped the rest of the day away.

But Ben needed to race back to the farm in the middle of the weekend heatwave, when a neighbour told us there was a problem with our water pump. And Monday morning Harry got injured in his fight with the stick and spent the day at the vet’s down near our farm, so I was stuck in Brisbane on my own.

Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? And yet, on that day, with me stuck in suburbia, miracles happened.

I know it won’t sound very miraculous to you, but let me explain.

On Monday there were bills that needed to be paid, and forms that needed to be posted. I’d expected Ben would be there to help me, but he was busying helping Harry. Doing those chores suddenly fell to me. ‘Only if you’re well enough,’ Ben said. ‘We’ll work something out if you can’t do it.’

It needed to be done, so I did what any normal person would do. I got in the car and drove to Chermside – a nearby sprawling suburban shopping-mall.

Image by Jeff Camden

Image by Jeff Camden

 

I haven’t really driven very much for quite a while now. In fact I’ve driven only half a dozen times this year after two years of no driving at all. Lyme disease has robbed me of so much independence, and until recently congestive heart failure had made me unsafe behind the wheel. Even now I have a strong startle reflex and slow other reflexes. It takes all my concentration to drive, and it’s usually very stressful.

But Monday I was feeling stronger. Clearer. I got in the car and off I went, determined to get those jobs done.

At the shopping mall I found an easy park, and my tasks were completed in less than fifteen minutes.

I was just about to get in the car and go home when I realised…

I was out shopping ON MY OWN for the first time in five years.

For five years my darling husband has been at my side for every outing. This was the first time I’d had the chance to do a little Christmas Shopping on my own, without him right beside me.

Oh, the luxury of it all.

I stopped at a little cafe, the sort of place Ben would never go, and enjoyed some lunch while drafting up a list of things I’d like to buy. And then off I went, to look at shops that appealed to me.

I lingered at a place which sold aftershave and perfumes.

I dallied at a tea shop, smelling and tasting different blends and talking tea with the wonderfully informative staff.

I dawdled in a bookshop. At a toy store. At a supermarket.

All in all I spent nearly two hours out on my own.

It tasted like freedom. I had the best time!

On the way home, still feeling good, I called in at a friend’s house and we sat in her back yard and worked on my new website.

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That night, while I was waiting for Harry and Ben to come home I wrapped my stash of gifts and marvelled at how independent and outrageously liberated I was feeling.

Those wrapped gifts represent something profoundly significant to me.

My own little Christmas Miracle.

A returning wellness!

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Signs of Life

Image by G. McKeiver

Image by G. McKeiver

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”Orson Welles

 

There have been some signs this week that my world is beginning to extend beyond the farm, my pyjamas and bed, as I edge ahead in my battle against Lyme disease.

We had to get a new radiator installed in the old farm ute, leaving the vehicle at the mechanics for a few days.  For the first time in I don’t know how long I drove the new ute on Wednesday, by myself, carefully following my husband into town after years of not driving, so that we could then drive home together. On Friday we reversed the journey, and I drove home to the farm on my own. Oh, the freedom! I even stopped in at the butcher, whose door I conveniently drove past. The first time I have visited him in over two years without someone having to drive me!

If truth be told I then spent all of Saturday in bed or on the couch after an epic bout of insomnia brought on by too much excitement. I kid you not. Driving and being out and about plays havoc with my poor, depleted adrenal glands.

But I’m well rested after being in bed by six pm last night, so today I’m going out for lunch with friends!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had this much of a social life. (Yes, sadly I now count a trip to the mechanic as social – it’s me, out of pyjamas, out in the world, saying hello and looking at everything with fresh and hungry eyes.)

For a few years now I’ve been too ill to manage more than the shortest of outings, and my lyme drugs have made me so unpredictably nauseous that including social and food in the same sentence has not been a winning combination. But today, I am going out to lunch.

Sure, I’m only venturing next door to the neighbours, but still, it’s an Event, and I’m celebrating because it’s one more sign that my life is slowly but surely returning to some kind of normality.

They are lovely neighbours, and Ben and I are looking forward to an afternoon rich with conversation, laughter and some delicious food.

Hooray!

Wishing you all a relaxing Sunday with some time for the things that matter to you.  Life is such a beautiful thing. All these ordinary things are so, so precious. Remember that, and revel in the ordinary, my friends. Much love, Nicole xx

The Freedom of Four Wheels

Cartoon Car by Cassius

Cartoon Car by Cassius

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Something fabulous happened late last week.

I drove a car. All on my own.

Yeah, you might be thinking. No biggie. But actually, for me, it was.

I haven’t really driven a car since November 2012 when my health took a turn for the worse. Problems with my heart. Problems with my eyes. Problems with my concentration and reflexes and spatial knowledge. It became untenable for me to drive.

I’ve had to rely on my husband or friends to take me places. Mostly though, I just haven’t gone anywhere. My world shrank small. Honestly, while I was so sick it didn’t seem to matter. Public transport wasn’t an option either. I had no strength to walk long distances or to wait around when I could have been home in bed.

A few weeks ago I began to notice a positive shift in my health after months of horrible uselessness. More energy, more alertness, better reflexes, eyes that mostly work. I received the okay from my doctors. I could try driving again.

For my first outing I drove the short distance to a local coffee haunt at six in the morning, my husband beside me. There was not a car on the road and I felt like a teenager under the watchful eye of their father. I was nervous but excited. Oh, the sensation of freedom! The joy of four wheels! What a rush!

freedom-quotes-sould-quotes-Freedom-is-the-oxygen-of-the-soul.

This past weekend I drove from my farm to Brisbane, a two-hour trip, with Bert the dog for company. I have my independence back. I was able to go back to work. I could head out to the store when I needed something. I drove across town to meet up with friends for breakfast. I took myself to my own doctors’ appointments. And last night I drove myself home to the farm. Hooray! I’m sustainable again. I can look after myself. I can drive.

On the last few miles of our trip last night, as we travelled down the winding narrow country roads that lead to our farm, I put the windows down. Bert and stuck our heads out the windows and sucked in lungfuls of clean cold farm-scented air, and I got why dogs find car rides so thrilling.

There is something quite empowering about being able to drive, about jumping in your car and going wherever you want, whenever you want. I’d never realised the importance of that freedom, that liberty. My car is nothing less than a magic carpet.

Makes me wonder where else I might dare to go…

Image from

Image from Justin Perricone

Photo by Ollie Craford. Lyrics by Defiance, Ohio.

A Room of One’s Own…

room

Thank you, Virginia, for that most valuable of advice.

When I was younger her quote didn’t make much sense – weren’t women independent now, didn’t we have the vote, weren’t we emancipated and equal and couldn’t we Have It All?

A room? Goddam it Virginia, I’m a modern woman. I can buy myself a whole house if I like. Don’t need a man for that.  Don’t need permission. Money? I can earn my own!

Foolishly, I thought that being a child of a new generation meant that Ms Woolf’s wisdom didn’t apply to me. But it is so much more relevant than I had realised.  Being part of the generation of ‘We Can Have It All’ means that most of us don’t have the time or the energy for that room, and all our money is allocated to mortgages and other grown-up responsibilities.  Dreams are relegated to the dusty recesses of our minds, or that mythical ‘one day…’ place.

But I was pondering this morning the healing value of having a corner of life just for yourself and your own interests. A little time for which you didn’t need to account to anyone, and a little cash for the requisites to fill that corner. Same same, as they say in Thailand. Virginia, you really were onto something!

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My corner is a movable place, populated by my Macbook (which I purchased just so I could use the Scrivener program), some notebooks, a pencil case, index cards and pocket money for lattes, snacks and photocopying.

I might lie in bed and write, or duck out to the local coffee shop. I have written on trains, planes, verandas, decks of boats, under trees, hotel rooms, in my car, and many other locations – which is why my ‘corner’ is portable.

I also have a Tibetan Prayer Bowl, a journal, some crystals, a deck of Tarot cards and a few other bits and pieces for my Spiritual Grab Bag. Same same, only different to my Mac Bag. See what I mean?

crystal-circle

We don’t need grand gestures to get started on what’s important to us. We can have our ‘room’ by creating little windows of time, a small basket of tools or accessories, accompanied by the jingle of just a little loose change in our pockets.

So what’s your thing? What gives your life meaning and pleasure? What fills you up?

We all need a room of our own, a few dollars to be spent as we so choose, and the emotional luxury and freedom that this affords us.

2013 is almost upon us. I’m gently encouraging you to create a small corner in life just for you and your dreams.  One you can visit often, even if only for the briefest of times from week to week.

Wonderful new directions, satisfactions and accomplishment can be had by giving yourself a little breathing space.

Go on. I dare you!

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