Crying in car parks

“Let your tears come.  Let them water your soul.”  ~ Eileen Mayhew

Over the last twenty-five years I’ve done my share of crying in car parks.  Not just any car parks.  I do have my standards. The car parks I shed tears in have always had a theme.  I’ve cried in hospital car parks, pathology car parks, specialist medical centre car parks, diagnostic imaging car parks and in the stark impersonality of inner city parking garages close to where my doctors’ rooms might be.

I’m always careful to make it all the way back to my car, and be safely alone inside, doors closed and windows up, before I start to cry.  Sometimes I’ve barely made it, but I am proud to say I’ve never yet lost it in a doctor’s office.

Why all the tears?

I’ve had twenty five years of illness, countless different diagnoses, all of them bad, or worse – indifferent. And almost always, I’ve been told there was little that could be done.

It actually got to the point where I stopped trying to get to the bottom of whatever the problem was, because it always seemed there was something new going wrong. Embarrassing to explain to others.  Melodramatic.  I even began to question whether it was all in my head.

It didn’t help that many people, doctors included, didn’t take me seriously. I became intensely wary of discussing my health, and eventually I ignored most of my problems, or found ways to manage, minimise, hide or work around them.  In fact, I had to be nearly crippled from the pain of a heart attack before I even took serious notice the last time something major went wrong. Any normal person would have done something hours before.  But me, I was waiting for it to pass, evaluating it against previous pains and issues, hating to draw attention to myself or to inconvenience anyone. Wondering if it really was as bad as it felt. It wasn’t.  It was worse. And months later I had another one that only showed up in blood tests afterwards. Still I talked it down, shrugged it away, notched it up on the board with all the other health dramas and then went back to living.

There have been hospitals since then.  And doctors. And lots of other helpful healers of all descriptions. Just as there have been for over two decades. But that’s a story best left for another day.

I have become a master of gratitude and making much of the little things that give life texture and meaning.  As my life has shrunk smaller and smaller, I have let the detail become richer so I didn’t feel like I was missing out.  I have found clever ways to cope, to make the best of things, and to not dwell on all that has slowly eroded from my life. I’ve also clawed my way back from the abyss countless times. For that I am proud. No matter what has happened, I have not yet been defeated. I’ve always found a way to stagger back to my feet and keep going.

I tell myself things are great. And I can’t complain about my life.  There is so much good here, such a rich canvas of blessings. But always, at the back of my mind, is this terrifying understanding that there is something seriously wrong, and that over time things are getting slowly worse, rather than slowly better.

Today I sat in yet another city car park and I cried. This time I cried for a whole new reason. These were tears of relief.  Tears of exhausted, soul-weary gratitude.  Today I got a diagnosis.

Today, for the first time in a very long time, I felt validated. And I felt the smallest flicker of hope.

So tonight I shall pack my bags and my husband will drive me home to our farm. Tomorrow I will sit in the sunshine and sip tea while I contemplate my future. I do intend to have one, and tonight it actually looks possible.

When I’m ready I’ll share it all with you, but for now, just let me draw breathe.

Thanks for listening.  Nicole ♥ xx

Not where I’d expected to be…

I keep trying to write a post, and nothing comes out right.

I keep trying to explain what’s in my heart and there are no words.  But that’s okay.  Words will come later.

I’m standing at the wheel of life, watching it turn, and knowing it will keep on turning. Nothing I can do to slow it down.  Nothing I can do to change that.

Today I’m watching someone I love labour through each breath. It’s down to counting every breath. These might be the last breaths.  The last moments. So for today, nothing else matters.

Today is about holding hands, revisiting old memories and happy times, thinking about the preciousness of life, and how love builds bridges that can connect us all.

No time for being anywhere but in the moment…    ♥

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Burning the Past – A Ritual for Cleansing Pain

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A friend of mine has gone through some hard times recently, and now that they are behind her she asked me if I had a ritual to help her let go of that painful period in her life.

I love the use of rituals in our lives.  Rituals cause us to take pause, giving weight to things that are significant for us. They help our brain focus and pay attention, and they help us orient ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Burning has long been used as a ritual of release, so today I’m going to show you a simple burning ritual for cleansing and releasing situations and relationships that have caused you pain.

Many years ago, after a particularly painful relationship breakup, my sister, a girlfriend and I went to the local park and had a ceremonial burning of old letters and photographs one afternoon. I used a great big cauldron from my kitchen and we sat around on the grass, sipping champagne and feeding paper into the fire.  The flames were green and blue from all of the chemicals in the photographs.  A little boy walked past with his mum and said exitedly, “Look Mum, real Witches.”  That made my day, although let’s be clear – I am no witch – it was just a very Macbeth moment!  On the downside, my cauldron was never the same again…

Image from Hecates Cauldron

Burning Equipment – a large flame-proof pot or bowl, or an outdoor fireplace.  Matches. Long tongs.  Don’t use one of your good bowls or pots! Go to a second-hand store and find a big old saucepan or cauldron, or see if you have an old brass or metal bowl in the back of a cupboard.  You could also use a barbeque pit or a campfire, or a terracotta pot.  Be sensible about your burning. Burn outside, observing fire restrictions and keeping your fire away from anything that might catch alight.

Gathering Your Burning Fodder – Never burn in the heat of the moment!  A calm, thoughtful and considered burning is much more powerful and effective.  Begin by finding images, letters or other material related to the situation.  Don’t burn any legal documents.  Don’t burn anything out of spite.  All you are looking for is material that can REPRESENT what you wish to release.  For example, old photographs or letters, old newspaper clippings or advertising – anything that holds emotion for you and that you can afford to send up in flames.  If you have no images or material, then sit down and write a letter to the person or persons involved, or a summary of what has gone wrong and what you wish to let go of.

The Ritual

You can burn alone, or you can burn with friends or loved ones.  Choose what is appropriate to you.

Sit in front of your pot or burning space, hold the images/paper in your hands and just speak from the heart about what this represents to you and why you need to let this go.  Finish with the words I release you. I am done.

Then burn that stuff to ashes!  Feel the flames eating up and rendering that old energy into nothingness.  Let it all go.  That’s why we need to do this ritual outside, where the old energy can escape and be diffused on the wind.  You don’t ever want to do this ritual INSIDE your home – you want that old energy gone!

Honour any emotions that come up for you, but allow the ritual to give you a sense of finality.  When it’s cooled enough, dump your saucepan in the bin or keep it in the garage or garden at home for future burning needs. Celebrate the end of the Releasing Ritual with a beverage or some food – head out for a meal, or go home and have a cup of tea or a drink. Allow yourself reflection time, to recognise that you have closed the door on that part of your life.

In burning the past, you leave yourself free to claim a brighter future.

That Sweet Sudden Grief…

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“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place.” 
~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

I didn’t expect to be blogging about grief today. But grief snuck up on me last night and broadsided me. This morning I can still taste its bitter-sweetness.

It’s been weeks since I’ve thought of a girlfriend of mine. We’d been close since childhood. Kate was a performer, an artist, a free spirit. My dearest friend. She died suddenly, after an accident, back in 2010.

I’d thought that particular wound was healing over nicely. Mostly my memories have been happy ones lately, and the sting of her passing had faded to a dull ache.

And then last night a song ripped off the scab, and the wound was as fresh and raw as it ever was.  Music.  It’s always my undoing. It’s always my salvation.

I chanced to hear a late night song on the radio and suddenly we were young girls again in the 80’s, me and Kate, running amok in late-night Brisbane Streets, living in the craziness of share houses, experiencing all the pains and joys and revelations of growing up and growing older. Last night Hunters and Collectors ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ took me right back to a life I’m so far from now – squeezed up against the thumping speakers at a live performance at the Mansfield Tavern – Kate and I singing along to every word of this song with Mark Seymour as if it were our personal anthem.

We tumbled out of the pub afterwards, laughing because our ears were ringing so loud we couldn’t hear each other at all.  Kate yelled at me “I so want to shag him”, her eyes bright with excitement and life, just as their van drove slowly past, windows down in the summertime heat.  They tooted their horn in acknowledgement as they drove off and we almost died laughing.

I miss my friend. Sometimes I miss her so much it’s a visceral thing.

Is this what love is then? A healing and a hurting, and a healing and a hurting, over and over until your heart is all scarred up?

That’s okay, if that is how this process works.  I’d rather a scar that I can feel than an empty place where the rain gets in and the wind blows cold.

One simple song and I was in a time machine, going back twenty years to a place as fresh and real for me as if it were just yesterday. Does music have the power to do that for you, too?

The night of Kate’s untimely death two years ago, another friend sent me a link to a song, Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nail’s Hurt . What a gift. That song expressed for me all that I felt and couldn’t speak; Kate’s pain, my loss, my utter hopelessness and despair at having someone precious snatched away just as things were finally working out for them after a lifetime of disaster.

Music got me through.  And it’s still my bridge to her. That’s a good thing. Something for which I’m forever grateful.

So this morning I’m raw, and full of feeling, life and love. This morning I’m giving thanks for all the musicians, artists, writers, risk takers and untamed spirits who make this planet richer with their art, and who express for us what’s in our hearts, in ways more eloquent than we alone might say.

Mr Cash, Kate Prentice, I honour you…

And Kitkat, this last song’s for you – cos I know how much you loved it. Every time I hear it, it makes me smile (AND think of the time Queensland won the Sheffield Shield!).  Love you, my friend ♥ xx

Guided Meditation for Emotional Support

Can miles truly separate you from friends… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?
~ Richard Bach

Life is a glorious adventure, but sometimes the road is hard.  Sometimes we become overwhelmed by our troubles, we feel alone, and we think that we don’t have not enough strength to face even the smallest uphill journey.

I want you to know something. I want you to know that you are loved.  Even though you might not understand it, there is love all around you. You are never alone.  There is so much that supports you energetically.

Disconnection is a feeling we’ve all had, but it is truly an illusion.  Today I’ve recorded a Guided Meditation to help you connect back into the energies of love and support. All you have to do is sit back, relax, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of my voice.

You’ll need to allow about fifteen minutes for the entire process.  It’s a great way to start or end your day.  Just click on the link below to begin:

Nicole Cody’s Guided Meditation for Emotional Support

You’re in my thoughts and prayers.  You’re in my daily meditations. From my heart to yours, I’m sending love across the miles.  ♥

Bittersweet cupcake celebrations…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

This should be a post about birthdays and love, and it is all of those things.  But it’s also a post about love and loss, and the way grief can affect us.

The Fourth of July has long been a special day for birthdays in our household; a date shared by our niece, our beautiful old dog Charlie, and a treasured friend, Kate.

It’s a day for kisses and candles, hugs and birthday wishes. A day for cupcakes and celebration for humans and dogs alike.

This year it’s also been a sad day. My friend Kate passed away unexpectedly on 26 October, 2010. At forty she was just too young. Death snuck up and snatched her away in the form of a brain aneurysm. She’d laugh I’m sure, and say that she was one of the ones who died young, leaving a good-looking corpse.

It’s my second year celebrating the Fourth of July Birthday Cupcake Fiesta without her.

At this point I must disclose our secret Motto for Life:

I thought it would have been easier this year. I happily still ate a cupcake in her honour. I smiled at the things we’ve shared, and some of the crazy things she’s done in her life.

But I find myself missing her more than words can say, even though it hurts a little less somehow.

I’m not uncomfortable about death, and I know that all of us are here in the most temporary of ways. At first I was sad when Kate died because she would never get to do any more of the things she’d dreamed about. After a hard life things were finally working out for her, and it’s true to say that she died at a very good place in her life, but with so much more to come, that will now forever remain unfinished.

That’s how it is for all of us.  We die as works in progress.

But this year I realised something different. I’m sad for the loss of the physicality of our friendship. I can’t just get on the phone anymore.  There isn’t someone to go on driving adventures with, or to celebrate cupcake feasts, or to share those special or hard moments in life. I can’t get a hug, or a song, or a crazy dance routine to cheer me up and make me laugh til my face hurts.

I’m sure those of you who’ve lost loved ones will know what I mean.

There is something wonderful about having someone to share life’s ups and downs with, about having a person who knows you well and holds your secrets and is there for you when you need them. Many people find these relationships with lovers and soul mates, or family members, but occasionally we are also blessed to find them in the form of friends.

Kate always loved an excuse for tasty treats and a party.

So this is for her.

Happy Birthday, Kate.


And this, because Kate adored Eva Cassidy, and because time really does help us heal…


If I have one wish for you today? That you hug the ones you love, that you phone a friend and have a good old chat, that you eat a cupcake, and smile for no particular reason except that it’s good to be alive.

Knowing When to Walk Away

Walking away… Last Deviation by Seryia Uchina

“Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realise our worth and value, but because we finally realise our own.” ~ Robert Tew

You know the old saying I am sure.  The definition of madness (some actually say stupidity) is to do the same thing over and over, and yet keep expecting a different result.

Walking away is not an admission of defeat.  Walking away is about recognising our own boundaries, our own limits, and our own needs.

So how do you know if it’s time to walk away?  (And I’m not just talking relationships – I’m talking jobs, business deals, addictions, habits, workloads, friendships, situations… )

Look for these signs, and ask yourself honestly if any of these describe you:

If it’s just not adding up, no matter which way you crunch the numbers…

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If the warning bells keep going off in your mind…

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If you’re not being respected, honoured or valued…

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If they keep doing the thing they promised to stop doing…

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If it’s always your fault, even when it’s not…

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If it’s only ever about them…

Vanity by John William Waterhouse 1908

If the only thing you ever get is pain, pain and more pain..

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If you recognise that to continue with this situation/relationship is only going to drag you further and further down…

Image by Bert Blondeel

If your head is so full, or your body is so tired, or both, that you need to push back for a bit and go get some fresh air…

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If there’s no love left, if you’re not having fun any more…

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If your heart is being pulled in a new direction…

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Any of these things are serious cause for consideration.

Life is short. For you. For them. If it’s not working, and you’ve done all you can do, or all you’re willing to do, walk away. Do it in your own time – there’s no need to make life harder for yourself. But do it. Do it because if you don’t value yourself, no-one else will.


♥ You may find these posts useful too:

Knowing when to let go

Emotions and their impact on your health

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

How to Nurture your sense of Self Love

What to do when you don’t know where you’re going