How to Find The Silver Lining To The Storm Clouds In Your Life


“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. “ ~ Buddha

This week’s energies support leaning in to our emotions. Writing is a powerful tool for self-discovery, healing and expansion.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Today I’m sharing some journal starters for exploring things I have considered to be negative in my life, in order that I might mine that situation or relationship to find the positives and gifts within it.  I’ve found this activity to be a great comfort over the years, and it has enabled me at times to radically shift my perspective to one which is much more positive.

Let’s be clear about this before we start. I am not saying that every terrible situation in your life, and every awful thing that has happened is a gift, or is a blessing. That kind of reductionist New Age thinking is the kind of thing I call b*llshit on regularly. No, I am saying that one of the best coping strategies for these kinds of situations is to find something positive in the struggle and suffering we have endured. Ways that we have grown, or changed or evolved. The kindness of strangers. Some other unexpected small gift.

The one thing that is non-negotiable in this exercise is that you MUST look for a positive – that silver lining on the thundercloud in your life.

One of the things that still stands out for me is the day I heard that a dear friend of Ben’s and mine had been badly injured in a parachuting accident (from which he later died). It marked the beginning of a series of terrible and unforeseen events in our life.  But it also gave me an insight that left me better able to cope with what lay ahead.

What happened on that day remains one of my most precious memories.  Ben and I were in shock, but I had organised for my grandmothers to come for lunch, and I needed to pick one of them up from across town. Life still went on, and the lunch had been planned and looked forward to for months. It was the middle of an Australian summer,  a heatwave no less, and the weekend before Christmas.  I pulled into the madness of a suburban shopping centre to buy cream before I collected Nana.

As I stepped out of the car I was almost bowled over by two things, the heat and my grief. The world slowed right down.  I remember thinking that John must be dying. I stood beside my car as if I was suspended in time. Around me shoppers rushed on in the Christmas chaos, ignorant of the fact that this dear man was taking his last breaths. How could the world keep turning, I wondered.  Why didn’t it look any different?

I felt suddenly connected to an unseen group of people around Brisbane, around the world, who were similarly out of the flow of time, locked into grief or despair or helplessness or loss.  I became acutely aware of the heat, the smell of the melting tar beneath my feet and the gum-leaves on the nearby trees.  Green parrots squawked and fought above my head, and tiny clusters of blossom fell at my feet, like some strange sort of summer snow.  I was struck by the intense beauty of the moment, and of how everyone around me was oblivious to it.  I heard my own heart beating in my chest, was aware of every breath, and felt as if I was seeing the world with new eyes. I became overwhelmed with a sense of how precious and fragile and miraculous our existence is, and my despair was replaced with an avalanche of gratitude.

The intensity and gratitude of that moment has never left me.  It became the silver lining to an awful time on my life.

Here are my journal starters.  Use one, any or all of them to get you into writing flow, and to help you focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud.

On relationships that failed:

  • One good thing about (insert person’s name) that I am still grateful for is…
  • If I hadn’t met (insert person’s name) I never would have…
  • One positive thing I learned about myself from that relationship is…
  • One thing I won’t ever do again is…
  • The best thing about this relationship ending is that…

On death, loss and sorrow:

  • One of the happiest memories of (insert person’s name) that I cherish is…
  • (Insert person’s name) taught me…
  • Because of (insert person’s name) I have learned…
  • One thing I will always carry with me in my heart is…
  • We always laughed about…
  • One crazy thing that always reminds me of (insert person’s name) is…
  • One way I can honour their memory is to…
  • One way I can make the most of my own life is…

On making mistakes:

  • The thing I learned from all of this is…
  • If I hadn’t stuffed up I never would have been able to…
  • The one thing this has clarified for me is…
  • One person who’s been really great in all of this is…
  • The thing I’ll do differently next time is…
  • At least I’ve realised…

On diminishment (you being somehow made smaller or less able)  and disappointment:

  • I may not be able to (insert the diminishment) but I can still…
  • I still have the power to…
  • For now I can focus my energies on…
  • This gives me more time to…
  • For now this door is closed to me.  Other doors that are open include…
  • If I’m being made to stop, or slow down, at least I can use this change of pace to…

On people who’ve treated you badly:

  • Because of you, I’ve decided to never…
  • You’ve made me realise that I am better than that because…
  • You’ve shown me how NOT to be in the world.  I’ve learned that…
  • Because you couldn’t give me (love, respect, attention, guidance, honesty, kindness – insert whatever was missing in your relationship) I’ve discovered and grown this great strength in me.  I learned to be the thing you could not do for me.  I have become…
  • The good thing to come out of all of this is…
  • I deserve more because…
  • I believe that the right way to treat people is to…

Summaries:

  • From the hard times in my life I’ve learned that…
  • My greatest personal strengths are…
  • I’m proud of myself that…
  • I’m amazed that I have been able to…
  • One of the best things to come from all of this is…
  • The way I can now help others is…

I hope you can find some comfort too, in these simple activities that can help you reframe suffering on your terms. Holding you, as ever, in my prayers and meditations,

Nicole ❤ xx

50 Things I’ve Learned From 50 Years of Life

“A happy birthday this evening, I sat by an open window and read till the light was gone and the book was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride the day down into night,
to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand” 
~  Ted Kooser

 

It’s my birthday today. Yay me!

I’m fifty, and it feels GOOD. Originally I was going to post a quick picture of me as a kid, looking all cute, and a few others through the years to now. But when I dug out all my old photos and memorabilia a funny thing happened. I saw so many pictures of friends I have loved and lost, so many family members who’ve passed, and friends whose lives have been touched by tragedy. It made me realise just how lucky I am to still be here at fifty, well loved, safe and secure, with work I adore, despite having had so many health diagnoses and prognoses predicting my demise or failure, and several near-death experiences, starting back when I was in my early twenties. Sure my health is still an ongoing adventure, but hey – I’m alive, and determined to make the most of every day. I’m still here! That deserves celebration!!!

Here are fifty things I’ve learned that have been helpful to me and which might come in useful for you too:

  1. Everyone needs cake on their birthday.
  2. I am not everyone’s flavour, but I am some people’s favourite, and that’s enough for me.
  3. It’s always better to be kind.
  4. No-one is immune to suffering. We all get to have our turn.
  5. Big old trees have much wisdom to share if you can get still and listen.
  6. The sun comes up after even the worst nights and things do look better in the morning.
  7. Sleep is under-rated as a coping mechanism.
  8. Clean sheets and a shower always make you feel better.
  9. Life is too short to live it for other people’s approval.
  10. If you don’t do what matters to you now you might never get your chance.
  11. Don’t wait for things to be perfect.
  12. Surround yourself with people who are real, caring and who think well of you.
  13. Shut the door on mean friends and people who treat you badly or with a lack of respect.
  14. Life needs more picnics and less overtime.
  15. Good books, movies and music are a kind of soul medicine.
  16. Sometimes you just need to take a road trip.
  17. Yes, you really do need to eat your vegetables and get enough fresh air and exercise.
  18. Never be afraid to seek a second opinion.
  19. Getting older is a privilege.
  20. Practice good hygiene, wash your hands after you go to the toilet and before eating, and consider others when you are ill. Not everyone has a robust immune system.
  21. It really is okay to indulge your craving for junk food, sweets or ice-cream occasionally.
  22. A part of you never changes, and stays solid and anchored inside you through all of your life experiences. That essence is always there for you to tap into.
  23. A part of you will change and grow and move you far from where you started. As you change you may outgrow people, places or situations. That’s normal. Don’t let it stress you.
  24. Sometimes we come full circle and find ourselves back where we started, but with new understanding and wisdom. That’s a sweet moment of realisation.
  25. Love is worth the risk of pain and loss.
  26. Laughing opens your heart and lets the light in.
  27. There is something magical about being a stranger in a new city. It unlocks all kinds of mysteries inside you.
  28. You need comfortable shoes for big adventures.
  29. Forgiveness is almost always about you and not the other person.
  30. Listen to your instincts, and honour your intuition. It was given to you for a reason.
  31. Some time on your own to think about everything or nothing is time well spent.
  32. Everyone should be able to cook a handful of meals well. Not just for survival but for satisfaction too.
  33. You’re never too old to learn something new.
  34. Do what you can to help others, if you are in a position to do so.
  35. It’s okay to put your own needs first.
  36. Follow your passion, or at least your curiosity. Who knows where it might lead you!
  37. Life rarely goes to plan, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome anyway.
  38. There is always someone or something that can help you manage pain better. Ask and keep asking until you find what you need.
  39. Being vulnerable is a strength.
  40. If you don’t want to do something say no.
  41. If you want something say yes.
  42. It’s better to have been rejected or to fail than to never have tried.
  43. Failure often leads to success.
  44. Every week needs a complete rest day. On the other days? Meditation gives rest on even the craziest of days and can be done in minutes. Learning to meditate is a gift for yourself and an investment in your well-being.
  45. Treat yourself well, and allow yourself pleasure.
  46. Find the things that make you feel like you and then surround yourself with that energy. It could be yoga, a perfume, soy chai lattes or books. Let something define you. Be okay if it changes.
  47. Fall in love. Keep loving, even when it gets hard. It always gets hard. Once you learn how to navigate the first hard bit the wonder of an ever-deepening relationship can reward and comfort you your whole life.
  48. Fall in love with yourself. Let it be a life-long affair and treat yourself gloriously well.
  49. It’s a good thing to be a little different, odd or unusual. Keep being yourself.
  50. Celebrate life – the milestones, the anniversaries and seasonal festivities, the successes and the ordinary. Celebrate on your own. Celebrate with loved ones. Celebrate with strangers. Let each day bring at least one small moment of grace or gratitude. Feel everything deeply and be unafraid.

Thanks for being part of my life.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole  ❤ xoxo

When Inaction is Actually Action

one-breasted-warrior-1

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”  ~ Michael E. Porter

 

It’s been a big Solstice we’ve come through this week, and an ending of Mercury in Retrograde, with lots of shift and growth for many. Throughout this time I’ve been watching friends and clients make major changes in their personal lives, and in their businesses. For many this period of change hasn’t just coincided with Solstice or the position of Mercury. These changes and upheavals have been coming thick and fast from the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. As the new energy of this era kicks in there has been a quickening, and so much of the old and outdated is falling away.

Since Solstice has finished and Mercury Retrograde is coming to an end I am suddenly reading messages from many coaches and spiritual leaders telling us that now is the time. That we must seize opportunities. That we must act! Hurry! You’re running out of time!

Because of this, some of my dearest friends are feeling pressured. Feeling that they aren’t doing enough, or being enough, or riding the wave that might be THE opportunity.

What if they miss out?

The guilt, the self-judgement, the fear and self-doubt are overwhelming.

When the truth is that they have already acted.They are in front of the main wave, rather than behind it.

So today I want to reassure them, and you.

After action, we ALWAYS need time to integrate.

Integration is work too! If we push too hard to get going again during this time when we need to rest and regroup we further exhaust ourselves. We come back to the game jaded. Or worse – filled with self-doubt, deflated, and without the sense of cohesion and strength that would have otherwise sustained us for the next period of growth.

It’s a form of self-abuse to keep pushing when what is needed is rest. This relentless drive to be busy isn’t useful or productive. It doesn’t honour the process, or what you have been through. It doesn’t allow you to truly own the knowledge, soul expansion and wisdom you have gained from these experiences. Instead of strengthening you, it can break you. What a waste of all of that struggle and courage and experience.

Integration and resisting new action actually takes A LOT of energy, and is a powerful conscious choice. Choosing to do nothing, or to go within and reflect on what has just happened for you, is an action in itself, and for you it might be the best thing right now.

Tune in to your own body, to your energy levels and enthusiasm, to your intuition. You’ll know if rest and time out is what is most needed.

Thinking of you and sending so much love, Nicole <3 xx

Image from Bplans

Image from Bplans

The gifts of childhood often come wrapped in ugly paper…

Justin Bieber wrapping paper – image from hellogiggles.com

I know, I know. Everyone blames everything on childhood. It’s a therapist’s favourite playground.

I’m revisiting childhood with you today. Why? 2012 is a fantastic year for personal growth and for letting go of what no longer serves us.  These pains from our past can be really old wounds,  but they are still worth healing. So much energy gets bound up in this sort of pain and it can prevent us from thriving. (In case you missed it, I blogged about letting go and how emotions impact your health recently.  Click on the blue links to go visit!)

Firstly, let’s get one thing clear –  I believe that we choose our parents. (want some proof?  check out my blog about it here) I can hear some of you suck in your breath at that. But think about it for a minute. Our parents are our first teachers in life. Their influence will profoundly impact our development. We are all souls, who had consciousness before we came into this lifetime. And we’ve made choices in our parents that we believe will give us our best opportunity for growth in a particular area. So instead of getting stuck in blame, or repeating old patterns, I’m asking you to step into a new place of understanding about your childhood, and to claim the gifts that were left for you there.  Not to condone bad parenting.  Not to approve of things done to you.  But to set you free from the energy of the past. That’s what forgiveness is all about.

As a psychic I have come to recognise three major groups of parents.  One is not better than another.  (Okay, the first category pretty much sucks.  Fortunately this is the proportionately the smallest group) They each offer different learning experiences. You may end up with two types of parents in the one house. Often, if we’ve been parented in one way, we will actively chose to raise our own family in a different way.  The three broad groups are:

1. Parents who teach us through neglect, abandonment, cruelty or absence.

Bad Parenting image by Chris Jordan

This can be the hardest group for us to resign ourselves to. The downside of this is that we might need to deal with those acts of neglect, cruelty and abandonment.  We might get caught up in a spiral of fear and self-doubt; needing to please others at all costs, endlessly putting others before ourselves, always worrying about breaking rules or getting into trouble. We may turn to substances or behaviours to numb our pain.

But there are great gifts here. We might become perfectionists or high achievers, driven to gain the love or approval or attention of our parents. It can set us up for patterns of excellence and striving throughout life. We may end up with great maturity and ability to handle responsibility from a young age. It can shape great leaders, make you entrepreneurial, a survivor, deeply self-reliant. It can encourage empathy and compassion, that in time can allow us to be the healer or counsellor for others. Needing to retreat into our imagination may shape you as a brilliant writer, artist, poet, musician. Pain breaks the bubble and lets us see life through a different lense.

This is harsh soil for a young one, but it can grow great strong souls, souls with resilience and courage and hope.

2. Playdough and Poo Parents

These parents often wanted children of their own from a very young age, and love having children.  They are deeply engaged with the whole process of pregnancy and early childhood. They will make a safe nest, and you may well be the centre of their universe. For a time.

But within their house is an expectation that you will take flight early. They’ll be there for you with sport and school functions and all those things that mark the progression through childhood, and they’ll start to step away as you move through adolescence, or as another child comes along.  It will be up to you to make decisions about your future.  By sixteen they’ll usually be backing away if they haven’t started to already, although your basic needs (food, shelter, love) will still be met.  They’ll have taken your training wheels off.  They’ll keep loving you, you’ll still be welcome at Christmas or Easter, and especially if you create grandchildren, but from now on it will be up to you. Their job is done.  They raised you, and then kicked you out of the nest, often when you had very few feathers!

This type of parenting gives you early security and an ability to find your feet, although it can be a confusing time when you leave the nest. Your parents won’t exert much influence over your education or adult life, and this enables you to make up your own mind about who you are and what direction you wish to seek in life. (yes, some of this is called learning by making mistakes!)  When you’re out on your own early in life you must learn to trust yourself and your own judgement. It can create great opportunities for early maturity, and for following a very individual path, or for getting on and creating your own path, family and stability early in life.

3.  Elders and Shapers

Working Mother © Jake Wyman, All Rights Reserved

These parents often find it hard to adjust to young children, because they have lives and careers of their own. They love their kids, don’t get me wrong. They will worry incessantly about whether they are doing parenting ‘right’.  They may not be tuckshop mums or fathers group dads, and that can make children feel neglected when other parents (playdough and poo parents usually) have higher visibility and involvement in those early years.

These parents see their job as lifelong.  They will continue to love and worry about their children, and to be there to shape and advise their kids through adolescence; with career directions, marriage, buying assets, going into business, problems, or having children of your own. They will still be an influence in their children’s lives to the end of their own.

Their greatest gift is in giving their children long term stability, and showing their children that it is important to have your own individual path and interests. They will encourage their  children to seek a path for themselves and to find lives that utilise their talents, gifts and passions.  There will be an emphasis for their own children on career or life path, and on making sound choices in life. They may be strict as parents, but less so as grandparents.

We may not appreciate this type of parent until we get older. They won’t be the ‘fun’ parents’.  They will be the ones with rules and boundaries and expectations about school and how we conduct ourselves in life.  But we will also choose these parents if we have strong desires around education, values and being supported and directed for the longer term. And we will maintain relationships with them throughout our lives, using their wise counsel and loving support to guide our own decisions.

Elders and Shapers often parent others as well, by being a supportive influence in the community, workplace, or with the friends of their own family.

Where to from here?

Take some time and reflect on the sort of parenting you have known.  Not to cast blame, but to better understand who you are, and why you are the way you are.  Look past the ugly wrapping paper and see what gifts you’ve been given to work with.  You are stronger than you know. There is no need to react to today in the same way you did when you were a child. Forgive the past, and step into the fullness of who you are.  It’s been no accident.  No co-incidence. The wounds of the past can run deep, but they can also be healed. Get help to heal the past if you need to, so that all you take into the future are the lessons and not the pain.

You are worthy and beautiful, with something unique to offer this world.  You are who you are BECAUSE of where you’ve been. Because of what you know, and where you’ve been, you are empowered to make better choices – ones that reflect YOUR values and ethics, ones that support all the things YOU believe in.  Wishing you peace <3