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

Circles of Stones

“I live my life in growing orbits which move out over this wondrous world, I am circling around God, around ancient towers and I have been circling for a thousand years. And I still don’t know if I am an eagle or a storm or a great song.” 
~  Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Yesterday, one year ago, I was placing stones in a crystal grid under the magnolia tree in the back yard, in preparation for a retreat.

Strange then that I found myself making circles of stones again yesterday.

I made a grid to hold the stones we will use at my September meditation retreat, Temple of Light. (There are still a few places left if you’d like to join us, but be quick – it’s almost full. More details here.)

Crafting the grid  brought me to a place of deep peace. But I still felt as if something was undone within me.

Then, finally, I knew what I wanted to do.

I lost a friend this week – Justine – a woman who was a healer and a teacher, a woman full of love and light. Like a stone her loss weighed heavily within me.

Carefully I chose some crystals. I circled stones and then circled some more. I sang energy and love into them. I sang my sorrow and my grief. I laid stones to honour my friend’s journey. I made space to support her loved ones. I made space that connected my heart to hers.

This is what I know to be true…

The earth turns. The sun shines. The rain falls down. The night comes. My breath moves in and out of my body. The earth turns, the sun shines, the rain falls down, the night comes. We are born, we live a while and then we die.

I am reminded at every turn that our lives are precious gifts, loaned to us only for a while.

The best we can ever do is follow our hearts.

I’m holding space in my circle of stones for you today – that you find a path that supports you and lights you up, that you find a way to honour your own heart’s yearnings.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me. I’m glad to have you here beside me.

Nicole xoxo

 

How To Ask For A Sign

The Eye of God – Helix Nebula from www.skyimagelab.com

“The Universe sets out little signposts for us along the way, to confirm that we’re on the right path.” 
~  Michelle Maisto

 

This week’s energies are supportive of connection, communication, signs, breakthroughs and synchronicities (you can read more about that here).

But how do you ask for a sign?

I recommend that you ask only once, and then satisfy yourself with the answer as it appears to you.

Here are some things that you can try:

Shuffle your oracle or tarot cards, offer up a small prayer that whatever you do be for your Highest Good, and then shuffle the deck again. As you’re shuffling, ask your question . Say it out loud or hold it as a thought in your head. Either will work.

Choose one card. How you choose is up to you. Split the deck. Fan them out. Top or bottom. Dive right in. There is no right or wrong.  Then really look at the card. Don’t use the book or the ‘proper’ meaning. We are being intuitive here, people! What stands out for you in the picture? What thoughts and ideas do the images provoke? What is the answer that comes to you? Trust that. Don’t ask again.

Ask for your Guide to appear as an animal or some other living thing, some sort of motif that you will associate with them and with their presence.

Image from www.printtuftandfold.wordpress.com

Ask to see a specific image or thing, as acknowledgement of a question, or in answer to it.  Perhaps you are driving and you ask to see a red Kombi van if the answer is yes.  Or you ask to see a particular type of bird or something else you’ll recognise as that sign…

Image from www.justmeblog.com

Ask, and then expect an answer.  Perhaps the answer will be a message on a  billboard, a line from a book, a voice on the radio, the words in a song.  The message will stand out for you somehow, and have a special meaning just for you.

Image from www.joke7x24.deals.lv

Angels are often associated with white feathers.  Guides are often associated with other coloured or patterned feathers.  I have found feathers during some of the most difficult times in my life, and have felt reassured by them showing up for me.

Image from www.angelreach.com

When I sense my Great Aunt’s presence I smell roses.  When my Grandmother is near, I smell or even see gardenias.  A friend smells tobacco smoke when her father is with her.  Sometimes loved ones will create a breeze where there was none, stop or start a clock, or move something.  Whatever they do will make sense to you, based on your relationship with them.

Image from www.allexperts.com

Sometimes God creates magnificent signs, for no reason other than to help us remember the love and miracles in our world…

Rainbow image by Ookami Kouu

And sometimes it’s well-meaning friends who help us know what’s in store for us on the road in life…

AP Photo – Image by Chris Nakashima_Brown

When the road ahead is uncertain, when you need to know you’re supported, when you are looking for answers – it’s okay to ask for a sign.  But do it once, and trust what you get!

♥ And here’s MY sign for you today (Okay, maybe there’s 3…):

Image from weheartit.com

Image from candyprincess4 at deviantart.com

Image from favim.com

Love-bombed! A lesson in trust…

Image by Arkenidae at deviantart.com

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
~ Thomas Merton

 

On Monday I wrote a blog post about the energies of the week ahead. (If you missed it you can catch up here.) It took a lot of effort to do what has usually been easy. I’m still recovering from my recent superbug infection health scare. In fact, after I blogged that I had turned the corner, hooray, and it was all uphill from here, it wasn’t. There have been a few fairly major complications, but I’m in good hands and finally I am slowly improving. SLOWLY.  So slowly. I’m home. Resting. Sleeping. Recovering. Any energy I find is quickly spent on such simple things as showers, meal preparation or being upright for an hour.

My poor body is decimated after the ridiculous amounts of oral and IV antibiotics and other treatments I’ve taken in a bid to kick this infection.

It’s been such a worrying time for my family and I.

Unexpectedly, there has also been an avalanche of psychological stuff to process. I mean, things got serious enough before I finally responded to drugs that I actually spent a long sleepless night redrafting my will, writing instructions for my staff, and jotting down all our internet banking passwords and details for Ben in case I kept going downhill and croaked it.

Thanks to my awesome doctor and his wife, and their hard work and worry, things are finally back on track. (I so owe you lunch, with champagne and every good thing, Adam and Jodi <3 )

I’m still here. I keep reminding myself of that. Good friends keep reminding me of that. But I’m so weary of this seemingly endless battle. I’ve been feeling uncharacteristically ground down this time – after all the other health things that have been my journey with chronic late-stage Lyme disease and the complications it brings to everything related to my health.

So as I sat in this place of struggle yesterday my husband returned from our mail box with a big surprise. A virtual explosion of letters! Forty-nine – one for each of my years here on this good earth. Forty-seven cards and notes of encouragement and well wishes. Two letters from new sponsor children who wrote to thank me for helping them, wrapped up with love, prayers and gratitude. In a week that is all about kindness and being of service, kindness found me. I have been love-bombed by dear souls whose messages have truly uplifted me when I needed it most.

Thank you to all of you. There is such wisdom in these letters and cards. You’re my miracle this week. My message of love from the wider Universe. My cheer squad reminding me not to give up. I hear you. Thank you <3

May you all find the grace, love and encouragement you need this week too.

Sending so much love your way,

Nicole <3 xoxo

PS – I have to say that there is a joy and an intimate preciousness to holding a real letter or card in your hand that just cannot be bested by a text or email. Call me old-fashioned. I don’t care!

 

The Energies of May – 2017

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” ~ Amelia Earhart

 

Hello, Lovelies :)

Breathe a sigh of relief. May is here with her gentle heart-nurturing energies, after the upheavals, revelations and hard work of April.

We’ve identified or faced the difficult stuff, and now that we know where we stand the only way for us to move is forward. Of course May also reminds us that we might need a cup of tea and a nap first – and that’s perfectly okay!

Cards for the Month:

I’ve chosen two cards for May for you: one from the Osho Zen Tarot Deck, and one from Colette Baron-Reid’s Wisdom of the Oracle. Please note I don’t use these cards in the conventional way, but rather as a stimulus for channelled information.

Here is what I have received from each card:

 

“Where there is love there is life.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

May is a heart-centred month. Our little soul garden has such potential for blooming and flourishing now. May encourages us to get out of the shadow of others and shine our own light. It’s a month where projects and ideas can thrive and we begin to trust our own judgement.

It’s a month where we can develop deep and lasting love connections, and where we can finally heal from the pain of previous heartbreak – whatever the cause.

May shows us how to be independent in love, rather than collapsing into relationships and situations that swallow us whole so that we lose our sense of self or surrender what is dear to us in order that a relationship might work. In May we see that losing ourselves in love isn’t the way to love anyone, especially ourselves.

May is also a great month for overcoming addictions, and healing our body, mind and spirit of deep wounds and traumas so that we can stand strong again.

The second card I’ve chosen is Peace. In May we are encouraged to drop the things from our lives that pull us into craziness, pain or chaos. Strong boundaries may be needed. It’s also a time for forgiveness, no matter how long a burden of pain has been carried.

“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

If you do one thing in May, let it be an act of forgiveness. Forgiveness untethers you from being stuck in the past. It gives you wings. It gifts you freedom. It restores peace. Sometimes, that is also the precious gift your forgiveness gives someone else.

Forgiveness ultimately is about freeing yourself, even if it is someone else you are forgiving. Remember that. It never validates or justifies what happened. It merely says that you are going to put the burden of this heavy thing down now, so that your energy can flow again and you can move away from the pain.

Forgives needs to start with yourself. Every day is a fresh beginning, if only you will allow that. You woke up this morning different to who you were yesterday. Sometimes the change is big. Sometimes it is infinitesimally small. But you changed. So did the other people on this planet. Allow for that possibility in yourself and others, while always maintaining kindness, compassion and common sense.

If you extend an olive branch to another and it is rejected? Be at peace with that. Respect that other person’s choices. Let it be peaceful on your side of the relationship. Be glad that you tried. Flow love anyway. Know that no might not mean never – it might simply not be the right timing yet.

Create space in your life for quiet and peace this month. Find a space that can be your sanctuary or create one. (Not sure how to do that? My lovely friend Helen Joy Butler can help. Go check out her website here)

Best crystals this month?

Rhodonite and Amazonite

Rhodonite is a stone of compassion and love that supports the heart chakra and aids emotional healing. It really bolsters our emotional resilience too.

Image from the GemStoneGeeks

Amazonite taps us into our inner strength and restores hope and trust – a very uplifting stone.

Essential oils to support your journey?

Each of the following oils will work beautifully on their own for you this month, but they also make a delicious combination for diffusing. The essential oils you will find helpful in May are Geranium, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, and Jasmine. Geranium will soothe anxiety, Rosemary enhances focus and concentration and lifts us out of fatigue and burnout, Ylang Ylang supports us to be able to receive love into our lives and to feel more loving towards ourselves, Jasmine is a wonderful oil for connecting to our intuitive and natural optimism. To diffuse add 2 or three drops of each oil to your room or personal diffuser. You can find the oils here.

Make space in your life for relationships, love, connection, forgiveness and gentleness this month. With yourself. With others. You’ll be so glad you did.

Lots of love, Nicole❤ xoxo

 

Vale, Tony, my precious friend

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
~ Ray Bradbury

 

On Tuesday night the world lost a gentle gardener of souls.

My friend Tony slipped away.

Tony was the heart of Sangsurya, the place where I run my retreats.

We’ll be a little quiet here for the next few days as we mourn our friend and honour his life and legacy. How many lives he has shaped and changed, including mine.

Bless you, Tony. May your heart spin ever faster.

Onwards on your journey, dear one.

You will be missed.
<3 xoxo

Photo taken at Sangsurya by Dana Hartnell

 

A Very Quiet Anniversary

2016-09-04-12-10-23

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

 

It was our seventeenth wedding anniversary yesterday.

And our day looked like this.

2017-02-02-09-24-50

And this. (That’s a boat made of ginger, filled with moxa – a total OMG treatment – wow!!! I’ll blog about that another day!)

2017-02-02-08-57-51

After which I retired to bed and slept for the rest of the day.

But that’s okay.

Sometimes that’s what love looks like.

I’m working hard with my awesome team at beating this enduring antibiotic-resistant superbug that has been causing so much havoc. It’s working. I’m improving. But it’s been quite the battle. And my regime is intensive just now.

We rescheduled yesterday’s wedding anniversary. Just like we rescheduled Ben’s birthday. And mine last year (which happened the day after major surgery and which ranks as the number one worst birthday of my life!). Hopefully, if my health keeps improving, we’ll be heading to Vietnam and then the Philippines in three weeks. We’ll celebrate everything there.

Meanwhile, I am feeling brighter this morning so Ben and Cafe Dog and I are off to town in search of a tasty breakfast.

Love to you all, Nicole <3 xx