Grounded Goodness

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
~ Rachel Carson

 

Yesterday was one of those days when my body just wasn’t cooperating.

At first it got me down. I had so many things to do, and I couldn’t see well enough to do any of them!

Ben came to the rescue and suggested what I needed was a walk and then a nap. He was right.

So, here, in pictures is my walk around the farm, and then the beginnings of fruit salad for dinner.

The bird is a tawny frogmouth fledgling who took shelter on the wheelbarrow in one of our sheds. Cute, hey?

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Song of the Sisterhood

Image from www.new.vk.com

Image from www.new.vk.com

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.”
~ Isadora James

 

 

These past few days have been hard. It’s been one thing after another. Then there’s the pain. It’s unrelenting. Drugs have helped take the edge off but it’s ground me down. The pain, and the worry.

Sleep is eluding me. I’m so tired but I’m wired too. I can’t get comfortable. My body throbs and hums and stabs and aches. Late at night my head gets crowded with the wrong kinds of thoughts.

I’m trying to keep a positive outlook. After thirty years of poor health I’ve become an expert at downplaying everything. At diverting attention away from myself. At convincing others that it’s all good. Especially when it’s not.

If Ben asks me, I tell him I’m fine. Just a bit sore and tired. We smile at each other and hug a lot. Sometimes we catch each other’s eye and shake our heads because… fuck… we can’t seem to take a trick. So much stuff seems to have been going wrong all at once, after it had all been going so right. But that’s life sometimes, hey?

I’m okay, I tell my mum. I tell Dad the same.

I tell my sister I am a little worried, but okay.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

And I am. Honestly.

 

Yesterday I met a group of dear friends for a birthday lunch. We celebrated, and ate gorgeous food, and laughed and talked about all manner of interesting things.

I’d thought I’d gotten away with it. Not talking about myself.

But after our meal had been cleared away and all the presents opened, the birthday girl leaned across the table and fixed her steady eyes on me.

“So, Nic,” she said. “What’s going on with you? With your health? We’re your friends. We need to know.”

I couldn’t keep the stupid tears from overflowing my eyes. And I told them. I told them everything. Not just the facts, but the fears too.

My dear friends listened as I gave up all my pain and terror. They hugged me and patted my arms and held my hands and passed me tissues.

Then we traded stories. We held space for each other and the messiness and uncertainties of life. We worried for each other, and we cared.

 

Afterwards I felt so much better. So much lighter.

I hadn’t realised what a burden it was to be lugging all of that around on my own.

 

It’s true, you know. I’m okay and I’ll be okay. I really mean it.

Besides, something beautiful happened yesterday.

I was lifted up by angels.

 

Feeling blessed to have such wonderful friends in my life. <3 xoxo

Apprehension

Image by SeveIV at www.seveiv.deviantart.com

Image ‘Train Tracks’ by SeveIV at www.seveiv.deviantart.com

“You should have seen this coming,’ they said. I did see it coming. I saw it coming the way you see a train coming when you’re tied to the tracks.”
~ Margaret Andrews

 

I’ve been awake since I don’t know when.

No, that’s not true.

2.36am.

I lay awake in the dark for a long while, willing myself to turn over and go back to sleep. But I was wide awake.

 

I thought about the doctor I will see today. I’ve seen him several times over the past twenty or so years. I thought about him sleeping, and hoped that he was sleeping well and deeply, untroubled by anything.

I wondered if he realised how many of his patients lay awake at night, apprehensive and counting the hours until their appointment. Then I hoped he never thought about it at all. How difficult it would be to labour under such thoughts.

My mind wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t steer it off topic for more than a few minutes. Slowly, dawn approached. My appointment is still hours away. No more sleep for me.

I got up early. I meditated. I sat down to write this blog.

Still, my thoughts are a jumble of worries.

 

Pointless, really.

I will see my doctor. I will get my test results. We will chart a path. I will walk the path.

The part of me that is the wise and coping part tells me I am okay, and that I’ll be okay.

The worried part of me snaps back, “Shut up!”

Which makes me laugh. Eventually.

I am okay, and I will be okay.

Worry never solved anything, nor made time pass more easily.

I’ll have a cup of tea instead. I’ll tidy something. I’ll wait for Ben and Cafe Dog to wake up so that we can have a lovely distracting outing.

And even so, I’ll keep on quietly worrying.

Nx

 

Changing Your Perspective Changes Everything

Staircase Perspective by George Oze

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”
~ Shannon L. Alder

 

I met with a new doctor yesterday. It was a trial of sorts. I wanted to see if they would become my Lyme Recovery Plan A, or whether I would need to keep moving through my list.

I’ve seen this doctor before. In fact, they gave me my initial diagnosis. Then they told me that Lyme was very controversial, and that they would not be treating me for Lyme. They would treat all my other issues first.

This doctor is expensive, and arrogant, and I wanted a faster result. To give me a diagnosis and then tell me  you wouldn’t treat me for it? I chose another course, and a doctor who would treat me for Lyme straight up.

Now, four years later, I am back at this doctor’s door. And I have to tell you, the meeting didn’t go well.

They asked me what I’d been doing. They reviewed my results. They accused me of doctor shopping, because I had left this doctor’s care and gone elsewhere. They paced the room, questioning the decisions of my other doctors, including making statements about the doctors making rookie mistakes and bad calls that a first year medical student might make. These were mostly doctors who have progressed my health, and truly supported and helped me on my journey back to wellness.

It was hard to take.

When I told the doctor what I had been doing with my diet and other methods I was using for myself they said to me sarcastically, ‘Are you a doctor?’ before dismissing me mid-sentence and moving on.

I came out with a bruised ego, a battered sense of self, a handful of scripts and a list of new tests a mile long.

I didn’t like that doctor very much.

There wasn’t exactly any rapport or bedside manner.

As I waited for my husband to come pick me up I began to think that I needed to keep looking. That maybe this wasn’t my answer after all.

Even though so many circumstances had aligned to get me through their door.

I poured my heart out to Ben as he drove me towards the place where I might get my first tests done. If I followed through.

‘I don’t know,’ I said to Ben. ‘I’m beginning to think I should choose another doctor.’

‘Why?’ said my ever-logical husband. ‘This doctor diagnosed you when no-one else knew what was going on. You’re still on some of the treatments they initially gave you, that none of your other doctors were willing to change because your other doctors have been intimidated by this person, and because it seems that this doctor was right in all the calls they made. So this doctor has a big ego, and you don’t think you’re going to be friends? Does that remind you of anyone?’

‘No,’ I said grumpily. In my head I had already dismissed this doctor, and I was now working on my Plan B.

‘What about House?’ Ben said. (For those of you who don’t know, House was a TV show, and the lead character was Dr Gregory House, a genius investigative doctor whose behaviours made him less than endearing to the patients whose lives he saved.)

Ben put his hand on my leg reassuringly as we drove along. ‘Isn’t House a doctor who is arrogant and a pain-in-the-arse and rude and also brilliant? Wouldn’t you prefer to be treated by House and put up with all his shit if it got you better? Who cares if you don’t much like this doctor or if they hurt your feelings? They seem to know what they are doing.’

Wow.

In that brief moment my perspective shifted.

Ben was right.

I decided to stick with it and make this House-like doctor my Plan A.

Hooray for that.

Suddenly the ego and the attitude have become secondary, background issues, instead of my prime concern.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

After all, I didn’t like him to start off with, but in the end, House became one of my favourite characters of all time…

Image from www.tumblr.com

Image from www.tumblr.com

The Phone Call I Hated to Make

Image from www.wowreads.com

Image from www.wowreads.com

“When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”
~ Shannon L. Alder

 

I had to make a phone call yesterday. A call that I was dreading. If you read yesterday’s blog you’ll know why. During a meditation I’d received health information about one of my clients. Bad news. The worst news.

If it was true…

During my meditation it had been so clear. I saw the woman’s face. Liz, her name is. Then I saw Liz’s body. I saw a huge mass of tumors in her abdomen. I saw small tumors elsewhere. I saw her body consumed by these dark masses. I felt the urgency of needing to contact her, the certainty of what I was seeing. I was flooded with sadness and futility. It kept me up all night.

Yesterday morning I was an exhausted mess. The further away I stepped from that meditation, the easier it was for doubt to creep in.

Maybe I’d imagined it.

Maybe it wasn’t physical, but emotional, or symbolic.

Maybe I was just plain wrong.

There was the fear too. What would I say? How would I start? How would my information be received? Would I even be believed?

What if I was wrong?

I made the call at about 8.30 in the morning. The woman I’d been worried about all night answered and burst into tears.

‘I knew it would be you,’ Liz said. ‘I read your blog this morning, and I just knew. I’ve already rung in sick to work and called my family doctor’

‘I might be wrong,’ I said to her.

‘No,’ she said. ‘I’m sure you’re not. I’ve been asking for help, and telling the Universe that I’m not coping. Yesterday I kept thinking about you all day. And that friend of yours with the little girls – the one who died. I was going to ring and make an appointment to see you. Then I read your blog this morning and I knew.’

We both cried and talked for the next ten minutes. Liz is 52, happily married, with a son in Year Six, and daughters in Year 8 and 9.  Liz’s mum died of cancer at age 62, shortly after being diagnosed. Liz’s mum had been obese, a heavy smoker and drinker, and a diabetic. Liz has been careful to eat well, to exercise regularly and to stay slim. She doesn’t drink or smoke. She hasn’t needed to go to a doctor for years.

Lately though she has been tired. For maybe the last two years she’s had back pain on and off, headaches and belly aches and crushing fatigue. Her stomach has been swollen and bloated. She’d put it down to stress, approaching menopause, and to not completely giving up wheat and dairy.

Although lately she’d begun to worry that something more serious was happening.

Liz rang me at lunchtime to give me an update. The local doctor had been able to fit her in straight away after a cancellation. After his examination he’d sent her straight to hospital, given her mum’s history. Liz had an ultrasound, followed by a PET scan. She was then told to wait for the result, and asked to ring her husband so that he could come to the specialist’s rooms too.

Liz said that she could tell from her local doctor’s face that it was bad, before she’d even had her scans. Then the scans took forever, and more than one person was called in to help during her ultrasound. The room went quiet. That was when Liz was sure. But still, while she was waiting for the results Liz was trying to be optimistic. Liz told me that whatever happened, she’d decided to spend the money she’d put aside towards new carpets and curtains to take her family to Hawaii at Easter instead, a place she’s wanted to visit ever since she was a little girl.

Liz called me again last night. She has been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. It has spread to her liver, lungs and brain – everywhere. The doctor apologised over and over to her. She said he appeared genuinely upset.

This is the same cancer that claimed Liz’s mother. There is nothing doctors can do except offer surgery to remove the larger masses to make her more comfortable, give palliative chemotherapy, and provide pain relief. This may or may not extend her life or provide a better quality of life.

The doctor could not give a timeframe for the pathway of her illness. But he was clear in saying that her condition could only be managed now. He was very sorry.

This weekend Liz will weigh up her options and try to decide on a plan for the time she has left.

I’m devastated for her and her family.

She asked me to thank you for sending your love, energy and prayers, and asks if you can continue to do so. Especially for her husband and children. She knows it won’t change her outcome but Liz says that the thought of all of that support is making this easier for her.

And she kept thanking me. Which, for me, was probably the hardest part of our conversation. This truly was a call I wish I’d never had to make.

So, can you join me in remembering Liz and her family in your thoughts, prayers and meditations? Can you send them love and well wishes and positive energy?

Thank you. Bless you. Be kind to each other, today and always.

Nicole xx

Image from www.quotesgram.com

Image from www.quotesgram.com

 

PS – I also have one other thing to ask of you too. No matter how well-meaning, please do not bombard me with information for Liz about miracle cures for cancer, about alkaline diets or black salve or bicarb soda or cannabis oil or your awesome network marketing product or clinics in Mexico offering salvation or any other such things. Perhaps we might have that conversation some other day, but not right now.

 

 

Listening as a Healing Tool

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“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
~ Mary Oliver

 

Unexpectedly, yesterday afternoon, I felt a sadness descend upon me.

At first I tried to ignore it.

Then, to laugh it off.

I immersed myself in busy-ness.

But it didn’t go away. Instead it settled on my bones like a numbing fog.

Until I could barely think or move or breathe.

I couldn’t think why. I couldn’t shift it at all. I was burdened with this great weight.

Finally, not knowing what else to do, I climbed the hill behind my little farm house and sat down in the thick plush grass of the old orchard. The hill continued on behind me, and I felt safe with it at my back. The sun shone above me. And as I sat I remembered my old Aboriginal Aunty, and what she said to me once, when I was experiencing a similar kind of sadness, brought on by homesickness and worry.

Just go outside, she said. Go sit down, and listen a lil bit.

Listen to what? I asked.

Just listen. All dem answers come when you just listen. Go on, go now. Sit. Be quiet. Open your eyes. Open your ears. Be alive with listening.

An Aboriginal woman sits by rock carvings in Western Australia. Photograph: Medford Taylor/Getty

An Aboriginal woman sits by rock carvings in Western Australia. Photograph: Medford Taylor/Getty

Be alive with listening. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard? Such wisdom in those words.

Yesterday, remembering that, I sat quietly, with nature all around me.

I listened.

I waited.

I trusted…

I heard the grass finches chirping and peeping and flitting from place to place. I heard the birr of their wings. I heard the rush of air as a flock of fat pigeons flew overhead.

I heard my husband down on the flats by the river, driving the tractor that tows the spike aerator. I smelled the good clean scent of dirt and grass.

I filled my ears and there was more and more to hear. Bugs and beetles and birdsong and cows. A distant call from a renegade rooster.

I heard the sleepiness of Sunday afternoon. I heard Harry and Bert playing dog wars in the back yard. I heard the rustle and creak of the heavy boughs of the Sydney gums as the wind shifted and the salty afternoon air blew in from the bay.

The afternoon shadows grew longer, and still I sat.

The sun warmed my skin. The breeze tangled my hair. The grass tickled my calves.

I heard my heart beating. I felt its pulse strong and steady in my throat. In my ears. In my hands.

As I listened something inside me grew larger –  a vast lake of silence – and I found myself rowing out into the middle of that lake in the small boat of my mind. There I bobbed, every breath a ripple taking me closer and closer to what it was that was troubling me so.

Image from macwallhd.com

Image from macwallhd.com

I remembered, then.

Being with my friend Angela as she died. Holding her hand, whispering comforts, and watching the flickering artery in her neck through translucent skin that was stretched too thin over her bones.

At first you could see the beat was steady but weak.

As the afternoon and then the night dragged on that flickering pulse became weaker. The beat more irregular. Her breathing too. I waited to see if each breath might be the last. If that flickering pulse would slow to a stop. But I was busy then, holding space for Angela, helping ease her into that place of transition. Being the support crew for her and her loved ones. I sang to her, I whispered, I anointed her with oils, I helped her to die. It was all for her. There was no space for me to feel my feelings. Not then. I was busy holding that space of peace and love and oneness.

Yesterday, in the sun with the hill at my back I remembered my own pain, and tears ran down my face. I tapped into a grief and a rage so strong it felt as if I were the one who couldn’t breathe, couldn’t flow, couldn’t find my peace.

It all came flooding out and I let myself cry until there were no more tears.

 

Then I listened some more.

I felt the earth cradling my bones. I felt the breeze caress my cheek. I heard the throb and drum of my own strong heart. I heard the trees breathing. I heard the earth sighing. I heard the world turning.

The first stars came out as the sun sank behind the curve of the horizon. My little farm house lit up with a soft glow from the kitchen light. I could see Ben come up from the river paddock and call the dogs home. He glanced up and saw me sitting in the grass and pulled the door to, happy just to know where I was.

I remembered how peaceful Angela was, after my work with her. How I helped her find that place of sanctuary.

I heard the truth of that place being whispered back to me by the earth, the sky, the trees, the stars. I heard the truth of everything being perfect in each moment. I felt the peace in my own heart. I felt it sink into my bones, until I was light with the weightlessness.

I came back down to my little farmhouse, cooked an omelette, took a shower, and crawled into bed. The windows were flung wide. I was still listening, and the earth and the moon and the stars and the sky kept whispering their comforts to me. I fell asleep to their song.

“The earth has music for those who listen.”
~ George Santayana

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Weekend Roasts, Owls and My Email Address!

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“Are you still forgetting things?” “I don’t know, I can’t remember,” I said.”
~ Stephen King, Duma Key

 

Last night Angela’s husband came around to the farm for a roast dinner. It’s only a week since Angela passed away, and everything is so hard and new for him. Before her breast cancer diagnosis Ange had also suffered from lyme disease, and the tick which bit her left her with a profound red meat allergy. It’s been years since they’ve had red meat at their house. I promised her I would cook plenty of lamb roasts and steak barbeques for her husband, who has always loved that kind of food.

He arrived early enough that we could go check out the tawny frogmouth owl and her chicks in her precarious nest in the teak tree beside the kitchen, after which we ate well, drank red wine, told stories, problem-solved and let all of our collective dogs roam around the house or collapse at our feet in sandy heaps (after their beach adventures yesterday morning!).

The grief of Angela’s loss is raw for us all. But saying her name, laughing and remembering, and letting it be okay for tears to fall was good medicine.

tawny-frogmouth

It’s been a hectic month or so for me, and somehow when I sent out my blog post early yesterday with all of my coming courses and workshops I put the wrong email address on there. It’s all fixed on the post now, but for those of you who missed it here it is again. In fact, here are numerous contact details. I promise at least one of these will work:

You can contact me by email, via my wonderful PA, Dana at: nicolecodyinfo@gmail.com

and the link is nicolecodyinfo@gmail.com Dana works part-time and is a busy mum, so you won’t always get an instantaneous response, but she is awesome at getting back to people promptly and at helping you with whatever you might need.

My official website (forgive it, as it is old and in the process of being revamped for launch in 2016) is www.nicolecody.com and the contact form is here.

You can reach us by phone at +61 7 3256 0815 or at 0438 438 775 (that’s +61 438 438 775 for international callers)

We’re on facebook here: Cauldrons and Cupcakes and you can leave a message for me anytime!

and if you get really stuck, there is this email cauldronsandcupcakes@gmail.com – although it might take me a few days to get back to you as I am usually swamped with messages and emails. 🙂

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It’s a bright sunny morning here at the farm, after days of broody skies and gloom, so my washing machine is busy turning muddy farm clothes and sandy couch covers back to clean. A day of chores and writing for me, and some gardening later, in the cool of the afternoon. But now it’s off to breakfast with Cafe Dog, who needs his daily fix of social. That’s him yesterday morning at the beach BEFORE he became one big sand monster!

Sending much,love to you all, Nicole (((HUGS))) xoxo