Chronic Illness? This is a Spiritual Retreat for you!

“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” 
Goldie Hawn

I have a beautiful residential retreat coming up, from March 6 to 11 in Byron Bay, Australia. It’s a gentle retreat, a restorative retreat, whose focus is to help you develop and commit to a regular spiritual practice that nourishes, sustains and grows you.

When I think about this retreat, and the practices I will teach you, my heart swells with love and gratitude. These are the techniques I used on my own soul journey, as I moved from resistance into connection, from self-loathing to self-love, from fear into deep peace. These techniques are ones I still use daily, or often. They are what helped me to become more fully who I truly am, rather than who I thought people wanted me to be, or how I thought I ‘should’ be. Quite frankly, these practices have become the foundation of my spiritual and psychic life, and the reason I have been able to cope with suffering, pain and trauma. They are also the practices that have enhanced my gratitude, compassion and inner wisdom.

As many of you will know, I have suffered from serious illness and the limitations that creates for most of my adult life. In fact it was this chronic illness that first created the space for me to explore my own spirituality, intuitive and psychic abilities so much more deeply.

All of the techniques I will teach on this retreat, and the journey I shall guide you through, came to me when I was at my most unwell. Suffering and illness is often the doorway for profound spiritual awakening. I’m sure there are many of you who will resonate with that as the truth of your own journey too.

I’ve had inquiries from people with chronic fatigue and other debilitating illness, wanting to come to our next retreat but worrying if they are suitable or if they will cope. If that’s you let me reassure you… you’ll find a place to fit in and belong here in my Tribe.

Our Awakening to Spirituality Retreat is gentle. You’ll be supported to find your own rhythm for connection and inner journeying. There will be enough time to get from your room to the Hall and to the Dining Room. There is plenty of rest time and quiet time scheduled each day. Our days will be filled with meditation, reflection and simple spiritual practices, creative activities, good company, laughter, love and transformation. There will be friends to lean on, and we can find accommodation for you that is quiet and allows you additional solitude, or find a suitable roomie to give you company if that’s what you’re yearning for.

Our catering is geared for people with food intolerances, allergies and issues. Honestly, it won’t be a drama – we can work it all out. And you won’t be a burden to us, because this is how I’ve lived my life, and how I’ve often had to run these retreats as I have faced health issues myself. I understand pain. I understand fatigue. I understand anxiety and medication routines and incontinence and mobility issues and stupid dietary requirements that usually mean I have to lug my own food everywhere. I understand no one else understanding. I understand the emotional pain and isolation that illness can bring. I also understand end of life spaces. I’ve lived all of these things. I’ve created my retreats for my own needs, which are also yours. My retreats always have able-bodied people alongside people like me who have major health issues. And the health issues in the end are never a big thing. They are just something we manage so that we can focus on the real work – soul work.

Having a health issue is not a prohibitive factor for this event. In fact, it might be the perfect time for you to join us in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere.

Your journey is my journey. Often when we are living with long-term illness, no answers to our health problems, a chronic or a terminal condition, we think that there will no longer be a place for us in the world. There is a place for you in mine.

I can show you spiritual practices that will help you to find your centre again, manage your pain, and give your life meaning and connection. I KNOW that when you begin to incorporate this soul-journey work and spiritual space in your own life that life will regain shape and satisfaction for you, no matter what your situation, or the nature of the days ahead of you.

If you need to talk further with us, please reach out. We are here for you. Our best email is nicolecodyinfo@gmail.com and Dana, my wonderful PA, can send you information and start the ball rolling to have you join us.

Able-bodied and completely well people are, of course, always welcome and invited too! My work is for you all, on a soul level, regardless of the skin you are in.

You can read more about the Awakening to Spirituality retreat here and here.

Love and gentle hugs, Nicole  xx

Grace In Plain Sight

“Un-winged and naked, sorrow surrenders its crown to a throne called grace.”
~ Aberjhani

 

You may have noticed that I’ve been uncommonly quiet here on my blog this past few weeks.

Those of you who’ve known me for a while will also know that if I’m ever quiet it is always for good reason.

Today, I want to share some good and some not so good news with you, in an effort to explain this current spate of absence.

My surgery back in early September went well, despite unforeseen complications. Hooray! Good news. But then I developed a urinary tract infection which turned out to be a superbug. Bad news. I was given an avalanche of drugs, and finally, finally, we were able to eradicate the infection. Good news. But in the process of eradicating the bug my vision was affected. Bad news.

I am currently suffering from a condition known as ocular toxicity. Small crystals have formed in my right eye, causing vision loss and double vision. It’s a rare side effect of the drug I was taking that was necessary to beat the superbug. The effects are usually permanent.

My left eye has already been hammered by Lyme disease, so my vision from that eye is not great. With all of the drugs I’ve been taking recently my optic nerve has become inflamed again so until two days ago I couldn’t see out of that eye at all either – a situation that began before I contracted the superbug. It may also have been damaged by the drug. I won’t know for a few more days.

Scary stuff.

When you suddenly can’t see properly, everything changes.

blind faith

Blind Faith by AronBack at www.deviantart.com

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I have sobbed myself to sleep each night and been in the darkest of spaces this last little while. It seemed so cruel to have this to deal with, after everything else that has been my latest round of health battles. As a writer, to be unable to read or put words on the page has been an agony.

Each day I wake up hoping for improvement, only to find my world a blur. I can see shapes and colour but nothing has definition. My world is two-dimensional and rather terrifying. Overnight I have become clumsy and tentative. Dependent. Smaller, somehow.

But my left eye has cleared a little in the past forty-eight hours.

From experience I know that there is room for further improvement, and already I am coping a bit better with my new situation. I now have limited vision from my left eye, and using corrective glasses and vision impairment settings on my phone and computer I have managed to gain a little more independence. I can read large font for brief periods before I get a headache and end up exhausted from the effort. I’m cheered enormously by this latest development though. I expect to be able to read and write for short periods each day and with some creative thinking I should be able to get around most of these current hurdles and adapt to the vision loss.

My ability to see energy and auras hasn’t changed at all, thank goodness. If anything, my senses have become more acute.

I also have my fingers crossed that both eyes will improve over time, and I have a great team looking into all of this with me.

So, this is a turn of events I didn’t anticipate.

It’s one that has caused me many tears, and a great deal of distress.

But ultimately, no matter what happens to us, we find a way to cope and move on. I’ll be okay. Things will improve or I will learn to cope better with what is, and meanwhile I will keep asking for help and counting my many blessings. I’ll innovate in order to create. I’ll overcome, and where I can’t I’ll do my best to sit in a state of grace with it all.

My husband put it all into perspective for me. Would I rather have dodgy eyes and be alive, or be dead with perfect eyesight?

I’m doing my best to get up and running again. Sorry that all I’ve spoken about here on my blog lately has been health updates. I hope to bring you something far more interesting very soon. Thanks for your patience, and for your support. It means the world to me.

All my love, Nicole xx

PS: How cool is this Unicorn Eye Patch! It’s on my latest wish list 🙂

eye patch

Awesome Unicorn Eye Patch from www.youtube.com

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

Poking Bruises

Image from ifunny.co

Image from ifunny.co

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m still editing this memoir.

Because of that, I did something really dumb.

I couldn’t remember a detail about someone’s appearance. An old friend from the past. Turtle. What colour were his eyes? I couldn’t tell in any of the old photographs I have.

So I googled him.

There he was, standing beside his wife and child. Beside him, unexpectedly, the brother and wife of my ex-husband.

I clicked on the image, which led me straight to facebook.

And there, there was the life I walked away from. All of my ex-husband’s family. Their marriages. Their children.

I’d forgotten how much I loved them all. How dear they were to me.

Their children are young adults now, and I’d only known them as babies. Such a fine, big family. Still doing all the things that I once did with them.

Weirdly, some of those grown children look so much like me at that age that I could claim them as my own.

I didn’t know that this stupid simple act of googling one image would lead to this. My heart broken open. My stupid eyes overflowing with tears. My body one big bruise, and each image poking it harder and harder.

I’m not sorry that I am no longer married to my first husband. I love the life I have. I love my husband Ben fiercely. I’d never change places.

But seeing these images brought to my awareness, so strongly, all that I have lost after thirty years of lyme disease.

This morning I am hollow. I can barely talk. That’s okay. The Byron Bay Writers Festival starts today. So I shall go sit in big white tents and listen to authors speak about their books and their writing processes, and their beautiful ideas. And perhaps I’ll find a kindred moment, with someone else who poked a bruise as hard as me.

One of those nights…

“She used to tell me that a full moon was when mysterious things happen and wishes come true.”
~ Shannon A. Thompson

Tonight will welcome May’s full moon.

I love a full moon. Unfortunately so does lyme disease. Many lyme sufferers find an acute ramping up of their symptoms in the day or two before a full moon.

Last night was a hell night for me. At the edge of sleep I woke up to that horrid wide-awake place. After which there was pain so bad that sleep, if I could have found it, was out of the question anyway.

Today I am barely functional.

It goes like that sometimes.

I’ll try and catch a nap today, and then brace myself for tonight. Or plan to be awake anyway and have a good book to read, a meditation to do, or some other welcome distraction.

It’s been a long while since I had a night like last night. They used to be a regular thing. So I know I’m improving. Gee, I HAVE improved so much. But lyme disease and its co-infection friends are still reminding me they’re here.

Truth be told I’m a bit over it today. A bit cranky. A bit disgruntled. A bit disappointed because of all the things I’d planned for today that will undoubtedly fall by the wayside now.

On the upside? The moon was beautiful last night, and the air, after all our recent rain, was sweet and cool and earth-scented.

To watch the transit of moon and stars across the dark bowl of the sky was a decent consolation prize.

Here Comes The Sun

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“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breathe it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Usually I’m quiet on the blog because Lyme Disease has me laid out and I’m in no shape to write.

I’m happy to report that my absence over the past few days had nothing to do with Lyme and everything  do with Mother Nature. After a hefty amount of rain I ended up flooded in, with no power and a flat battery on my phone. To add to the feeling of being a homesteader the hot water system developed an airlock, so no hot water either.

This is what my world has looked like. And the inside of our little farmhouse was equally gloomy.

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A few days ago my husband packed the ute, took Harry and drove to Brisbane and then travelled on to the farm of an old friend. So Bert and I were home alone.

What to do in a cold, dark house?

We napped. And napped. And napped some more.

Meanwhile a whippy six-foot tree snake took refuge on our front veranda, out of the rain. He was long and slender, with a deep olive body and a bright yellow belly.

At the back door our large resident male carpet snake stretched out on the still-warm concrete, and settled in for the duration.

I was grateful to have a side door so that I could still slip out to our bathroom, which is in the back corner of the veranda.

Then late yesterday afternoon, a few hours before Ben was due back, the rain stopped and the snakes departed. An hour later the power came back on. Forgetting that the hot water wasn’t working I turned on the hot tap in the kitchen and it spluttered and gurgled and then burst into life.

By the time Ben and Harry got home everything was back to normal. They’d missed the entire adventure!

This morning the sky is the most exquisite blue. The sun is shining, and our world  is green and lush.

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The air is clear and clean. It smells so earthy and good that I want to eat it with a spoon.

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The plants are growing like triffids, and flowers are everywhere.

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After being cooped up for so long dogs are ready for an adventure, and I won’t be needing that garden hose any time soon.

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Harry’s feeling healthy and happy and is ready for a game. So I’m keeping things short this morning.

Playtime in the sun is much more important today!

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A Lovely Night of Normal

Image from www.nomi.nl

Image from www.nomi.nl

“Become major, Paul. Live like a hero. That’s what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?”
~ J.M. Coetzee

 

One of the problems of having a chronic illness like Lyme Disease is that so often you end up marginalised in your own life. If you choose to expend some of your precious energy in one area of your day, there’ll be none left for other choices. In fact, there may be no more energy for days.

Because of that, life usually dwindles to a handful of survival skills, and a few crumbs of a greater existence that you do your best to grasp and experience as deeply as you can. If you can. When you can.

As Lyme has stolen my moments, my energy, my social life, my cognitive function, my family, my bodily functions, my years, the one blessing is that I’ve mostly been too ill to care.

But I’m actively healing now. Life is changing. I am changing.

I am reclaiming this wider sense of me.

So, in that spirit, I celebrated Christmas with a staff party this year.

Party? Dinner, really. Nothing too wild. And staff? So far I have just one. Although my dreams are big. 🙂

I just felt the need to say thank you. To my one staff member, to my darling husband Ben, who is my greatest support, and to the Universe, which has conspired with me to change my fortunes and expand my horizons.

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This little party was so important to me – so symbolic and imbued with meaning – that I deliberately stopped my Lyme meds long enough that I would be able to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two, like a real proper grown-up healthy person!

Dana, my wonderful PA, came over to my house in the afternoon and we talked hair, clothes and all the sorts of girly things I haven’t done for years. It reminded me of when I was back in College, getting ready for a big night out. Oh, it was thrilling.

Late in the afternoon I washed my hair. I thought about what I would wear. I painted my toenails!

Darkness fell, and out Ben and I went. We met Dana and her husband at a beautiful Japanese restaurant, and sat at a table with a view out over the sparkly night.

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We ate delicious food, I enjoyed TWO excellent Asahi beers (I had planned cocktails, or champagne, but in the end, after such a hot day, those beers were mighty fine!), and then, some of the last diners to leave, we ventured out into the tropical evening and caught a taxi home.

Today it’s back to green smoothies, detox food, and my usual routine of pills, potions and therapies.

I’m hope-filled right now. To be reclaiming these small spaces in my life feels like a miracle.

Today I’ll be planning my year ahead; with my journal, my coloured pens, and the reading I gave myself on the Soul Sanctuary Retreat.

I wonder how many people shall be gathered at my Staff Christmas Party table in 2015, and where we might be?

How exciting it will be to see this next year unfold!

How about you? What are you planning, dreaming and scheming for 2015? I’d love to know!

Much love to you, Nicole xx

Image from flickr.com

Image from flickr.com