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

The Week Ahead – Oracle Reading for Monday 16 January

Grief

“Grief does not change you… It reveals you.”
~ John Green

Hello, dear friends!

I apologise that today’s post is late in coming. In fact I was unsure if I would even be able to write it at all. But here it is.

Here’s the oracle card I have chosen this Monday, and my take on the energetic outlook for the week ahead.

‘Grief’ is from the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Deck by Tori Hartman.

On Saturday morning I chose this card for the week ahead. I thought I might get organised and write my weekly post early, before my unplugged Sunday, and so that I might spend Monday morning (today) working on my almost-finished memoir.

When I pulled this card, I did a double-take. Oh, I thought, looking closely at the picture. It’s a heart-broken girl holding her dead dog. I can’t post that! So, I put the card down, and I moved onto another project and then some client readings and suddenly it was Saturday afternoon, and I forgot all about that card, and I went for a swim on that hot afternoon, with Ben my husband, and with Harry and Bert our dogs.

Well, some of you already know what happened next. Bert collapsed without warning. The next minute we were racing him to a vet. And then racing him from our country home back to a big veterinary hospital in the city. Our beloved dog Bert died at 4am on Sunday. We are all heartbroken. Yesterday was just a wash of tears.

And then this morning I remembered the card, and wept anew.

But, that’s enough of me. I need to talk about this card, and how it relates to you.

Grief is actually a beautiful card. An important card. I’m sure some of you are feeling these energies right now. These energies of grief and loss and tragedy and yearning and heartache and regret and disappointment and emptiness, right as the year began fresh. What an awful energy, you might think, to strike right when we need to be  hopeful and optimistic and to enjoy our fresh start.

It’s okay. The Grief card has a powerful message for you this week.

This is what grief reminds you: Grief is just love with nowhere to go.

That’s as it should be when you first lose something. Until you learn how to keep loving without it.

If you let grief keep rebounding inside you with no expression and no flow, eventually it can lead to frustration, anger, and then to depression.

All of that love, if you don’t eventually give it form again with something else, all of that love held as grief will weigh you down, and prevent you from living truly and fully in your life.

So, feel into the energy of grief this week, for in it are the seeds of so much locked-up positive emotion, so many gifts, so much power to propel you forward again.

This might be grief around relationships, choices, changing circumstances, mistakes, outcomes, all manner of loss…

Where have you got energy locked up in grief? Where is there energy trapped in your life with nowhere to go? How can you untangle that and repurpose it and give it somewhere to flow again?

How can you take all of this love with nowhere to go, and channel it into something new and good?

You might be surprised at the breakthroughs you have this week!

Supportive crystals this week? Rose Quartz, Chrysocolla, Green Aventurine and Citrine. Helpful essential oils? Young Living’s Inner Child essential oil blend, or  a combination (or singly!) of any of orange, jasmine, rosemary and geranium.

Feelings are a part of our lives for a reason. They help us to understand ourselves and the world around us, and they light the path for us, if we can be brave enough to follow where they lead.

Holding you, as always, in my thoughts, prayers and meditations.  All my love,

Nicole ❤ xx

 

 

Day 6 – Oracle Card Challenge

Woman reading a book, indoor light, hands close-up

Image from www.time.com

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher

 

Learning Opportunities

Life has a force within it that drives us to grow and evolve over time. When we begin to live a life with intention and learn to trust our own intuition, we are always shown where our best path is for growth and opportunity. This could be formal learning, or finding a teacher or mentor. It could be us sitting back and truly learning from a life lesson by thinking about what happened, our role in that unfolding, and how we might make different choices in the future. We might be shown a knowledge gap, where we will not be able to go further in life until we are able to add more information or skills to our existing situation.

Exploring our learning opportunities always gives us a positive direction forward.

 

Here’s what you need to do today:

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 learn right now?’

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

Image from www.educonsa.com

Image from www.educonsa.com

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.

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 learn right now?’ 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.

Trust that by becoming aware of what you most need to learn, that this knowledge will begin to find its way to you.

Hugs and love, Nicole xx

 

Embracing your Inner Beginner

Image from www.doremejourney.blogspot.com

Image from www.doremejourney.blogspot.com

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” ~ Steve Jobs

In this time-pressured life of ours, where everything is vying for our attention and our money, and where there is so much emphasis on success, I’ve observed something that saddens me greatly.  Most grown-ups I know are more and more reluctant to be a beginner.

Oh sure, people want to try new things.

But they try new things based on hoping or expecting that they’ll be good at it, and if they aren’t they quickly move on to something else.

Even worse, I know people who won’t even start something because they feel they should have begun learning that thing twenty years ago. Starting late they may never go on to have the results they’d dreamed of.

But do we need to do everything for an external validation of success?

And what happened to the joy of being a beginner, embracing our curiosity, and giving ourselves permission to be REALLY bad at something, in order to perhaps become better, one day, with practice? What happened to doing something just because it makes us happy?

Sometimes the picture in our mind of how we should look/act/sound/perform/create prevents us from getting out there and having fun or giving shape to our most cherished dreams!

Often, when we embrace new things, where we end up looks nothing like we’d expected, but is wonderful and enriching anyway.

The Sydney Banjo Band - www.sydneybanjoclub.blogspot.com.au

The Sydney Banjo Band – www.sydneybanjoclub.blogspot.com.au

A friend of mine took some singing lessons and joined a local choir. He’ll never have a recording contract, or be a household name, but he has found out that he loves to sing and to perform, and he’s made some terrific friends.

Another friend of mine went to an embroidery class with her mother, to give her lonely mother an outing and perhaps spark an interest. Instead my friend’s interest was sparked.  Years later she makes commissioned pieces such as christening gowns, bunny rugs and heirloom blankets for family and friends.  It’s not a full-time job, just a much-loved hobby, but it has shaped her life and given it extra passion and meaning.

A client, who had wanted to be a doctor, ended up married young and being a full-time mother instead. When her marriage ended, long after her children had grown, she decided to go back to study. She was very much a beginner, and had to first complete high school subjects, learn how to use a calculator and computer, and then learn the language of academia – how to study, how to submit papers and so on.  It was a long road, and she was older by far than everyone else in her class.  She graduated at age 64, and now has a job in a rural community as a general practitioner. Allowing herself to be a beginner wasn’t easy but it changed her life!

Image from alpbuzz.blogspot.com

Image from alpbuzz.blogspot.com

Being a beginner is a powerful creative and spiritual act.  Giving ourselves permission to be a beginner takes all the pressure off, and enables us to better enjoy the ride.  Maybe we’ll be good at that thing, maybe we won’t. Maybe it will take time (yes, really!) to know if this new thing is for us, or if we will in fact ever have some small measure of skill. But every journey to a new place teaches us something, and often leads us in unexpected directions.

So today I’m encouraging you to embrace your inner beginner.

Do something simply to try it out.  Do it for the fun of it. Do it without caring about the outcome, or your productivity level.  Do it badly.  Do it laughingly.  Do it earnestly, and with devotion. Because new experiences enrich us, they sharpen our minds and keep us young at heart. They help us grow. And most importantly, in a place of newness, devoid of expectation, miracles happen in the form of transformation…

545334_10151062278213410_593505694_n

Failure is a winning strategy!

Image from thomasvan.com

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. ~ Benjamin Franklin

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. ~ Michael Jordan

As I ate breakfast at a local cafe the other day, a little boy pulled out one of his homework books to show his father. “Look, Dad,” he said, “I came third in maths.”  His dad gave him a big hug and replied, “well done, I am SO proud of you.”

Image by managedmoms.com

While the father went inside to place his order the little boy said to me, “I will never beat Alison.  She’s the best in the whole school at maths, but maths used to be my worst subject and now I’m good at it.”

Then he smiled shyly and said, “Alison’s dreamy.”

When I drove home, I listened to the radio.  A well-known motivational speaker was being interviewed.  He said “I won’t accept failure. Failure is for losers.  Winning is everything.  If you want to succeed get that fixed in your head. Winning. Is. Everything.  It’s the only thing that matters. Second place is all about being the first loser. Everything after first is irrelevant.”

Hey, something inside me screamed in objection.  What about kindness?  What about ethics and values?  What about friendship, and doing the right thing? And trying your best? Are they less important than winning at all costs?

As I went about my day, I kept thinking about this person and the message they were putting out into the world, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to champion failure.

I was no stranger to failure as a child.  Worst of all I would dread school sports days. As I doggedly ran along in my lane, other kids would streak past me, and I was almost always resoundingly, shamefully, embarrasingly last.

Image by entkent.com

What did that teach me? A few things actually.

  1. I am not a good runner.
  2. I might not be a good runner, but I can still be a team player.  Every runner earned a point for their house, though the first, second and third place getters amassed many more. Still, a point is a point, and I could do something to help my team.
  3. I learned courage and perseverance.  I hated running, I hated being last, but I didn’t quit, and that still counted.  Hey, I even got cheered for finishing! (Sad but true.)
  4. No matter how hard I tried I never got any better at running. I learned to be a gracious loser, and to appreciate those with greater skills and talents than me.
  5. Losing made me look for things where I might be able to excel, and eventually I found out that I could swim!

By Thomas Edison’s definition, failure is actually a road to eventual success if you keep sticking at something, learning from each failure as you go.

And what else does failure teach us? We learn that life isn’t always fair.  We learn that we don’t always get what we want. We learn the value of trying our best. We begin to find resilience, and backbone.  We find humour and the ability to problem solve, and to ask for help. We learn to get back up when life has knocked us down.  We learn self respect and courage. We learn to risk and to move outside our comfort zone.  We learn that there are things in life we need to walk away from, and other things where we need to stick with it, and believe in ourselves and our dreams.

We learn not to quit when something really matters to us, and to use failure to propel us on to success. And if we encounter failure early, we are not so frightened or overwhelmed by it as we become older.

Image from rochestersage.org

Failure prepares us for life.  Success is always built upon failure – it is our greatest teacher.

So the question we really need to ask ourselves is not whether we are prepared to fail, but, after having failed, are we prepared to get back up and try again?

Let the Teacher appear…

Image from wallpaper.net.au

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau

If you have a dream, chances are you’ll need help to get there. Whether you want to write a book, climb a mountain, win Olympic Gold, speak a new language or improve your health, your best bet will be to attract a good teacher into your life – one who will believe in you, and have the ability to help you to grow and to shine.

Sometimes the only thing that holds you back from success is not a lack of talent or good ideas, it’s a lack of knowledge, skills or techniques.  But that doesn’t have to be an obstacle – trust that there truly is someone or something out there in the Universe that can help you bridge that knowledge gap. Someone will have walked that road before you, and they’ll be willing to show you how to follow in their footsteps…

Image from personalexcellence.co

You might need a coach, a mentor or a teacher. Maybe a course or a book will help.  It might even be a job, a radio interview you just happen to tune in to, a magazine article or a useful suggestion from a stranger.

Know that the Universe is listening, and that it responds to your call.

Let the Universe know that you’re ready.  Ask for support.  Ask to be shown.  And then trust that the perfect person or information will show up in your life.

Image from thehiyL.com

I’ve created a short guided meditation to faciltate this process, and help you draw that teacher or resource to you.  All you need to do is listen, and stay open to the possibility of help turning up in your life:

Nicole Cody’s Guided Meditation for calling Teachers into your life

 Believe in yourself.  Believe in your dreams.  Allow yourself to be magnetic to change and growth.  Now is your time to shine! ♥ xx

Image from amandacollins.me

Silver Lining – A journal exercise for finding the upside

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

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.

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 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 the most precious memories of my life.  We were all 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…

Journal for Spiritual Clarity and Connection 2 – All about my Mind

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.  ~Albert Einstein

Week 2:  All About My Mind

This week we are focussing on our minds and all that entails for us, including putting our ‘thinking spaces’ in order.  Our plan is to understand and connect with our minds; our thoughts, knowledge, expectations and goals.

Journal Exercise:

This week, write in your journal about your career and life aspirations.  How could you challenge yourself to grow?  Dancing lessons, trekking in Nepal, a language or a hobby?  Is there something that you have stopped doing,  or would love to do?

Use any of these starters to help you:

  • I have always wanted to learn…
  • I used to really enjoy…
  • One thing I would really like to achieve is…
  • A thing I find difficult that I would like to master is…
  • A thing that I am naturally good at, but would be even better with lessons or a mentor is…
  • When I was younger I always imagined myself doing…
  • I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve always wanted to…
  • My real strength is in my ability to…
  • Everyone has something they are good at, a natural intelligence.  Mine is…

Spend time identifying your stresses.  Work out ways to limit these, or to better manage them.  Look into meditation, relaxation and yoga.  Be active in looking for solutions, and in asking for help.

Use these starters to explore what stresses you:

  • I often worry about…
  • I feel sick or anxious when I think about…
  • The thing I feel a constant pressure about is…
  • If we argue, it’s always about…
  • The area where I’m really ashamed of myself is…
  • The thing that embarrasses me the most is…
  • If I could change one thing it would be…
  • It would be such a relief if…
  • The thing that frustrates me and drives me crazy in my daily life is…
  • The thing I feel slipping away from me is…

Activity:

Make time to relax and/or meditate for ten minutes each day.

Read a good book, and make a list of others you would enjoy reading.

Clean out your filing cabinets, desk, old address books, bookcases, and anywhere notes, knowledge and ideas are stored.  Archive anything you need to hold onto by law, and refile or bin the rest.

Do something stimulating – learn to drum, do crosswords or take up knitting.  See a play, concert, gallery showing, or movie. Enrol in a cooking class or French lessons. Trust that if you look after your mind, stimulate it and challenge it, it will continue to serve you well throughout your life.

How to nurture your Mind

We spend a lot of time in our minds. Being able to think, problem solve and create is a wonderful gift, and it’s an area we can strengthen by giving our minds a little positive attention.  It’s also good for our mental health, boosting our ability to work through depression, anxiety and overwhelm.

Our minds are plastic – they change, heal and grow. I know this because after a bacterial infection in my own brain and heart muscle (mycoplasma fermentans) left me with serious damage, I have regained cognitive function, balance (still can’t wear high heels but I no longer fall over for no reason), the ability to plan and work with numbers, and to write – all things that went seriously screwy in me for a while there. Hooray for neuroplasticity.

Look after your mind.  It’s a precious and miraculous thing, and it can serve us well our whole life if we nurture it.  Here are some ideas to help you do that:                    (image by africa)

  1. Stop multi-tasking.  Do one thing at a time. Devote your entire awareness to that one task.  When it is finished, move on to the next one.  This builds concentration and focus skills.
  2. Create a master list book – a place where you can keep all of your tasks and points to action.  Date new entries, and cross them off when the task is completed.  Having a book with all of those lists in one place helps you manage stress and your time. It also builds trust in yourself and your ability to complete tasks.  Once again, complete a task before moving to a new one.  If the task is big, break it down into smaller chunks and write those into your list book.
  3. Daydream.  Give yourself permission to go wandering around in your imagination.  Visualise different possibilities and outcomes for yourself.
  4. Read books and vary what you read. Try biographies of people who inspire you, travel books, novels, cook books, self-help, new writers, classics, children’s and young adult and everything in between.  Ask for recommendations from friends, librarians and book sellers.  Read outside where you’d normally choose. (image by graur codrin)
  5. Take a class to learn something new. Choose things that are far from what you do every day.  If you’re an accountant try jewellery making or Japanese cooking, if you’re a masseuse learn a language or numerology.  Find things that challenge you – if it’s hard and stretches you a little that’s a good thing.  Brains need to be used, or they rust!
  6. Journal. Journalling gives you an avenue for clearing out what troubles you, for dreaming and creating, for aspiring and designing. It’s a great form of therapy and self-work. 
  7. Exercise – oxygenates the brain, and improves balance, hand-eye co-ordination and circulation.
  8. Practice gratitude. Keep a positive mental attitude and count your blessings.
  9. Crosswords, Sudoko, Jigsaws, Logic Games and other puzzles. All these things make you think! Look for things where you can scale up your ability over time by moving from beginner to more advanced levels.
  10. Meditate – it creates space in your brain, and de-clutters your mind.
  11. Play card and board games that require you to think and strategise.  Tactics, forward thinking, analysis and logic are all developed when we play games against others. (image from Flickr by Domiriel)
  12. Eat a diet rich in essential fatty acids, protein and fresh fruit and vegetables. Take a vitamin supplement that includes a strong level of B group vitamins, as well as C and E. Drink plenty of water.
  13. Engage in stimulating conversation and strong social networks.  This can be through a club, social outings with friends, or even the internet.  Where you can, meet face-to-face.  Physical connection with other humans is a basic requirement for well-being. 
  14. Peaceful pastimes such as yoga, gardening, art, or playing a musical instrument.  These put us into the same brain waves as meditation, allowing us to be relaxed and focused at the same time.
  15. Stop smoking, stay hydrated, wear a hat in the sun and don’t overheat, lose weight to cut risk factors for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Be safety-conscious. Wear a seatbelt in the car, and a bike helmet when cycling, skating or carting.  Don’t speed, drink and drive or text and drive.  Be careful at heights.  Use a helmet when playing cricket, baseball or other contact sports. Strokes and head trauma rob us of mental function and most of these situations are preventable.
Here’s some inspiration for trying something new.  This is Suzi Blu and I totally heart her and her wonderful art journals.
Sending you all Love, Light and Blessings, Nicole xx