Coffee Trumps Blogging

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“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.”
~ Lemony Snicket

 

Cafe Dog has had a hard time of it lately.

While I’ve been feeling so poorly there have been no cafe outings. None at all.

I’ve had a string of terrible days, with misery heaped upon misery. Infections. Drugs. Drugs that caused lyme herxing. More misery. Insomnia.

But last night I slept well. I mean really well. And Cafe Dog knew it.

He was bent over me this morning, waiting for me to wake up.

As soon as I cracked an eyelid open he began his happy dance.

“No, mate, we’re not going to the cafe today,” Ben said.

“Yes we are,” I said, getting out of bed. “It’s now or never!”

So I got up and dressed (in clothes closely resembling pyjamas but with a stylish jacket over the top!), and we now seated at our favourite table at our favourite breakfast cafe. The pain is manageable because all my fabulous drugs are doing a great job. I get to have a decent coffee, and Harry gets to say hello to all of his adoring fans. I get to write my blog from my travel laptop as I sip my latte. It’s a mental health win for us all.

Hoorah!

10 Easy Steps For Self Care During Troubled Times

“They called her witch because she knew how to heal herself.”
~ Te’ V. Smith

 

It’s simple enough to be well-intentioned and kind to yourself when life is going smoothly. Or if you are on holidays. Or in a really good head space.

But when we are hard up against it – when we have crushing deadlines, or horrible dramas, or the people around us are treating us badly, when we’re ill, depressed or in pain – that’s the time where we most need good self-care, and it is usually the time where we are least inclined to give it to ourselves.

After years of illness, and in my line of work (as a psychic and a support for many people going through their own hardships) where there is no ‘off-switch’, I’ve learned the hard way that self-care is essential. Always. Fortunately I’ve also discovered that it isn’t such a difficult ask of ourselves, and that a little self-awareness and kindness towards ourselves goes a long way towards keeping us resilient and coping in the most troubled of times.

Here are my top ten tips for getting yourself through whatever you might be facing right now:

1. Drink enough water. When we are well hydrated our body is less acidic, we can flush toxins and stress hormones from our system better, we sleep more deeply and our brains work more clearly.

2. Have a shower, wash your hair and put on some clean clothes. For an additional touch of self-love use a perfume, scented moisturiser, aftershave or essential oil whose fragrance lifts your spirits or reminds you of someone you love. If washing your hair is just too hard, pull it back neatly, plait it, or tuck it under a scarf or cap. When I was at my most ill, I’d make myself bathe and put clean pyjamas on. It helped. A lot. And it was always worth the effort, even when I was exhausted. Clean sheets can do wonders for the soul too!

3. Find five minutes for meditation. Meditation calms and centres us, and helps us find our way back to ourselves, our soul and to Spirit. Try any of these simple techniques: Easy Five Minute Meditation, Three Minute Essential Oil Meditation, Taking Energy From Trees, Eating The Sun Meditation.

4. Dance. To one uplifting song. Sing along, and let your body move to the beat. Dance in your lounge room. Dance in the car. Of if you’re confined to bed, sway, tap your hands, draw that music deep into your body and belt out the lyrics.

5. Have a plan, and then work the plan. Choose a time when you can sit down for ten minutes with a cup of tea or a cold drink and your diary. Think of something you want to get done and then break it down into steps and assign those steps to the coming days, weeks or months. Allow more time than you need – because in troubled times we need to allow ourselves extra flexibility. No need to give yourself more pressure when you’re already under the pump. Plans enacted help us to take control back in our lives, and give us something to work towards. It’s okay if your plan is for completing something small. Every time we act instead of procrastinate something strengthens within  us.

6. Go for a walk in nature. Can’t walk? Then try to simply earth yourself instead. If you’re confined to bed or unable to get outside sit by an open window or door. Use your eyes and ears. Use your skin. Let your mind wander outside even if your body can’t.

Image from funnystack.com

Image from funnystack.com

7. Eat something healthy that will nurture and strengthen your body. Choose foods that you know support you. Food gives us energy and helps our bodies work  better. Eating irregular meals and junk food slows us down and makes us feel worse instead of better. Sometimes poor food choices are all we will have. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t sit in guilt. Eating is better than not eating. Decide to make a better choice or plan to bring healthy food tomorrow.

8. Hugs and the company of friends can be healing. In hard times we often feel that the only way to cope is to withdraw. But in that space of social isolation life becomes even more difficult. While it is important to take time to be on your own, you need emotional support too. You can get this from online groups, phone calls, coffee or meal dates, craft dates, pets, good friends and supportive family. Reaching out to others can make a world of difference when life is filled with difficulty.

Image from atozlibrary.com

Image from atozlibrary.com

9. Learn something new, or escape for a time into another world. A book, a movie, a newspaper, a short course. A trip to a new part of town. Stay curious. When we’re in something for the long haul we create emotional space and better coping capacity for ourselves by having something new or interesting to think about that takes us away from our troubles.

10. Get enough sleep. Sleep is a healing balm that restores the best parts of us. Shut yourself away for an early night, or spend the weekend in bed catching up on your rest. An epsom salts bath, some lavender essential oil or a relaxing herbal tea at night will all help get you into that restful space.

It’s Phone A Friend Day

“True friends walk

in when the rest of the world has walked out.”
~ Walter Winchell

There’s no great governing body that has declared today Phone A Friend Day. No. Sorry. It’s just me.

But still, I think it’s a good idea, and I hope you pay attention and adopt this worthy challenge. In a world where we are becoming increasingly stressed and socially isolated, love and friendship can maintain our emotional wellbeing and mental health, and a quick phone call helps to keep our support networks strong.

Today, don’t send an email or a text. Take five minutes and phone a friend, neighbour or family member.

Call someone just to say hi and see how they’re doing.

Call someone because you know they’ve had a rough time. Especially if that rough time happened a while ago. People forget too soon that others are still struggling.

Call someone because you know they’re doing well.

Call someone because you have news.

Call someone because you know they have news.

Call someone just because you care.

You never know what your call might mean to that other person. Or what it might do for you.

Nothing can replace that shared connection, and the sound of a friendly voice at the other end of the line.

Go on. Make the call, and make a difference. We could all do with a little more real connection.

Seeking Help Is Not Failure

Image from news.discovery.com

Image from news.discovery.com

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.”
~ César Chávez

 

I had a long chat with a close friend yesterday. She’s been struggling for a while – I’ve heard it in her voice, I’ve seen it in the way her usual happy disposition had given way to a furrowed brow, a tight smile, and an inability to laugh things off the way she once had. I’ve felt it in her energy.

Are you okay? I’d been asking her this year.

Yep, she’d say, shutting down the conversation. Or ‘just a bit tired’ she’d say, before moving us on to talk about something else.

She was doing all the right things – exercising, eating a great diet, getting time out for herself. But at the same time she was spiralling down into a very flat place, where every day was an effort, a place where all the joy had been sucked out of life. Each day was just another day to endure. My friend was shrinking; becoming less visible in her life, and with her friends, and becoming less and less emotionally available to the people who loved her. She didn’t have the creative drive, or the enthusiasm, or the innovative and problem-solving ideas that were a normal part of her disposition. My friend was less like herself each day.

Her life is not so different to many. She has a family member who is in need of extra attention right now. She rarely gets an unbroken night’s sleep, and hasn’t had a decent break for a long time. They have financial pressures, and their household is dealing with changed circumstances. As well as all of life’s usual stress.

Having continuously elevated levels of stress hormones is never good. They rob us of sleep and mood enhancing hormones. They diminish our libido, paint every day grey and leave us as exhausted, miserable shells of ourselves. Our digestion becomes compromised, and our immune systems. It becomes impossible to feel happy, because we lack certain hormones and chemicals that allow us to relax and operate in our usual way.

Some of us can bring ourselves back with meditation, diet, and lifestyle changes. Sometimes a therapist or support services can help. But my friend was doing all of that, and she couldn’t just hand back her family, or walk away from her life. Changing her current circumstances is not an option.

Image from tumblr

Image from tumblr

My friend found herself looking forward to that glass of wine each night. In fact she was beginning to rely on that glass of wine. No, she didn’t have a drinking problem. But she had a sleep problem. An exhaustion problem. A ground-down by life problem. She was chronically over-tired, stressed and wired.

Sound familiar?

Crunch time came when she was at the doctor for something completely different, and the kind physician asked her how my friend was coping.

My friend burst into tears.

The doctor suggested a low-dose anti-depressant. My friend was so reluctant to say yes. But in the end, out of desperation and needing to try SOMETHING to help, she did.

And it HAS helped. Finally my friend has been able to sleep better, to unload some of the tension inside her, and to go from feeling cranky or numb to a place where there is some sunshine again.

We talked about it yesterday.

It was as if my friend had a terrible secret she needed to confess.

I was just grateful she had finally found something that was working, and that could help her cope better with her life right now.

Who would ever want their friend to suffer?

My friend summed it up so well. ‘I needed to do something to make life livable again,’ she said.

As a psychic, people ‘confess’ often to me that they are on medication for stress, or depression, or anxiety. For them it has often been a last resort, after they’d tried everything else and nothing had given them relief. They are all strong people. In that strength they’d often carried on for far too long without seeking help.

Image from pinterest

Image from pinterest

There is too often a shame, or an embarrassment with their ‘confession’. Some kind of stigma about how they may be perceived – because they weren’t ‘strong enough’ or because somehow they are flawed or weak compared to the rest of society.

They often feel that they need to get on and off the medication fast too. What if they become dependent? What if people find out?

Goodness. Why should mental health be different to any other kind of health? Some people take hormones to balance their thyroids, or to regulate ovulation. Some people take insulin to stabilise and regulate their blood sugar. Some people need blood transfusions or anti-virals or immuno-suppressants. No stigma there.

If you are stuck in a place where life isn’t working for you, you deserve to explore all of the options which could lead to a change in how you feel. Talking to someone can help. Changing your diet, exercising and using behaviour-based therapies can help. Changing your life circumstances might do the trick. And for some people, taking medications or supplements to help improve their brain chemistry and hormones works well too.

It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to seek solutions. It’s okay that one of those solutions may come in the form of a small pill which helps normalise your body’s functionality until you’re back in a place of being able to cope on your own.

You deserve to be well, to be happy and to be able to function in the world.

If you need to, ask for help.

Everybody needs help sometimes.

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Sometimes You Need to Be The Lighthouse

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean GuicHRD

Lighthouse on the High Sea by Jean Guichard

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean – not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger: ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits.” 
~ M. L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans

Perhaps you know of the following exchange, which may or may not be urban myth:

This is the transcript of the ACTUAL radio conversation of a British Naval Ship and the Irish, off the coast of Kerry, Oct 95. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-03-02:

Irish: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the South, to avoid a collision.

British: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the North, to avoid a collision.

Irish: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

British: This is the captain of a British navy ship. I say again, divert your course.

Irish: Negative. I say again, You will have to divert your course.

British: This is the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. The second largest ship in the British Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, two missile cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course, 15 degrees north, I say again, that is 15 degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure that safety of this ship.

Irish: We are a lighthouse. Your call.

This is a post for those of you going through difficult times, or difficult relationships. (Actually they can often be the same thing.)

Even though this is a post about Lighthouses I am NOT going to advocate all that New Age feel-good stuff about shining your Light and being a radiant example of unconditional love, peace and incredible oneness in the face of hardship.

Sorry about that.

Not that those things aren’t wonderful and admirable. But sometimes it’s simply not possible to hold that space.

I have a friend going through a very difficult divorce right now, after years of being married to a man who is one part Prince Charming and one part emotionally manipulative bully. Her husband has a fearsome temper. He’s a narcissist. And right now, now that she’s really left him for good (and yes, she’s somewhere safe), the charm is gone – he is battering her verbally and emotionally to get his way.

She knows that is what he does. And usually he wins because other people eventually give in, worn down by his behaviour. She has always given in, worn down by his behaviour.

In the midst of all of this (when her own lawyer began to realise what this woman had been enduring and took her to a Domestic Violence Support Group) my friend wanted to know how to best hold her husband in love and come from that place of Love and Light. Should she pray for him? How should she help him?

Meanwhile this man is raging around her like the foulest of tempests. And she thinks she needs to stay ‘open’ to him, to engage with him, to support him…

“Be the Lighthouse,” I said. “You know, the one you see in the famous picture where there’s a storm and the ocean is smashing down upon that Lighthouse, and the Lighthouse just stands, immovable?”

She nodded.

“Stand your ground. Be well prepared. Let him rage as much as you like, and know that eventually, like any storm, he’ll blow himself out. Don’t engage him. Don’t try to help or fix him. A Lighthouse does not engage with a storm, it simply endures, and goes on honouring its true nature.”

That’s what we need to do with some people and situations in our lives. It’s not our place to be the healer or the fixer. In fact, it might be what is needed is for us to walk away.

Sometimes we can’t walk away – from a job, an illness, a relationship. Instead we need to stay and find a way to make the situation work, or find a way to better cope with that situation. We have to find a way to endure because something in the equation is important to us; important enough for us to need to find a way to deal with this less-than-ideal space.  Like a good friend of mine who puts up with his sister’s rude spouse in order to maintain a relationship with his sibling. Or my friend suffering through chemotherapy and radiation to prolong her life long enough to give her a little more time with her precious partner and children. Each of them ‘enters the Lighthouse’ when they deal with these issues. They batten down the hatches, and let the waves crash around them until the storm is passed. The Lighthouse is their coping strategy.

Or maybe we can’t walk away just yet – although that might be our end game. Instead we need to reach a settlement, have our day in court, finish the job, get to the end of the treatment, submit the final paper. Then we can pack our bags and get on our way!

When we can’t retreat, we can choose to be the Lighthouse, standing firm in the storm.

We make preparations, or follow our emergency plan. When bad weather approaches we put up the storm shutters. We lock down the doors and windows to make them watertight. We make sure we have candles and matches, a warm jumper, supplies and a good book. Where necessary we use a support crew. We do all we can to keep ourselves safe and give ourselves the best chance for a bright future.

As to shining your Light? Why not do that for YOU? Turn your Light inwards for a while. Put your own needs first right now, attend to your wounds, conserve your energy, nourish yourself.

When the storm has passed and the weather is clear and fine – then we can have that New Age chat about Love, Light, Rainbows, Puppies and Unicorns. Okay?

But for now, if you’re weathering that storm because there’s no way to chart another course then my advice is to look after you. Be the Lighthouse.

Plenty of time for other things once the storm has passed.

You might also find these posts useful:

How to get through the hard stuff

How to deal with toxic people

5 Ways to Be Kind to Yourself Today

hammock love

Hammock – Image by Sodahead

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 
~ Oscar Wilde

I’m working today, conducting some psychic appointments. There’s such a joy for me in that – both the joy of spiritual connection, and the joy of being of service.

And I’m also choosing to be extra kind to myself today. Why? Because I’m unwell still? Partly. But it’s much more than that. In fact I felt the need to blog about it because so many people tell me that they either don’t feel deserving of putting themselves as a priority in their own lives or they don’t really even know HOW to treat themselves well.

I was once notorious for NOT treating myself well. I’d drive myself into the ground, pick myself up and then do it all again.

No more.

How can I ever reach sustainable heights if I’m flying with broken wings?

Now I make a concerted effort at the start of every day, or as I go to bed the night before, to identify five things I can do that will be a kindness for myself. I look for ways to comfort, nurture, support, relax, ease my burdens or to create moments of stillness. (Pssst: Wanna know a secret? I prefer to be clear about how I’ll be kind to myself and list these things so that I actually do them. Otherwise my day might go by in a blur and I won’t have done a single thing for myself at all…)

Treating ourselves as precious and worthy sends a strong message to the Universe that we ARE precious and worthy. It helps magnetize us to relationships and opportunities that treat us with respect, with goodness and with integrity.

Treating ourselves with kindness fills up our cup, so that we can more sustainably keep giving to others. And I know how many of you are big givers, how much you support others, and how many demands you have upon your time.

Lovelies, treating yourself with kindness keeps you sane, helps you cope, and makes even the hardest days more bearable. And on the good days, your world will take on a new luminosity and grace. Things will simply flow better.

Cup of Kindness - Image by www.queenofyourownlife.com

Cup of Kindness – Image by www.queenofyourownlife.com

Treating ourselves well might feel odd at first, or even wildly wrong – especially if we have entrenched patterns of self-sabotage or low self esteem. But I promise it gets easier, and after a while it even begins to feel good.

Here’s how I’m being kind to myself today:

  1. Yoga breathing and meditation to start my morning while I burn a favourite aromatherapy oil blend.
  2. Early coffee with a friend for hugs and a catch up. (See you soon! xx)
  3. Home-made Thai pumpkin soup and salad for lunch and a half-hour sit in the sunshine doing perfectly nothing – with Bert the dog for company.
  4. An epsom salts bath with lots of lovely fairy-approved crystals at the end of my working day to ground, cleanse and relax.
  5. I’m then planning an early night, tucked up in bed with a good book (Inga Simpson’s Mr Wigg), before I head off to see my Lyme Doctor tomorrow.

How about you? How will you be kind to yourself today?

So often we have advice for our family and friends about self-nurture and the need to take care of themselves. Isn’t it about time we did the same?

Remember to talk kindly to yourself too. More gets done with love and encouragement than angry words, blame and meanness.

Bless xx

Join Me for a Magical Carpet Ride?

Image by sunshine0

Image by sunshine0

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” 
~ Albert Einstein

I’m a firm believer in the power of imagination. Connecting in to pleasurable memories, imaginings or visualisations has a proven positive affect upon our mood, our creative ability and our energetic vibration. It reduces stress, inflammation and anxiety and helps magnetise us to further abundance and good.

(Note: Conversely, this also works with dwelling on negativities, worries and past pains  darkening our mood, increasing stress, thwarting our creativity and lowering our vibration – so try your best not to go in that direction…)

There’s a question game my friends and I like to play sometimes. It involves using our imagination to take us somewhere fabulous, and then sharing that experience with each other. In fact, hearing about someone else’s magical journey has often inspired the rest of us to make real life travel plans, or at least menu choices!

And at times when my life has been less than wonderful, this game has kept me thinking of a brighter tomorrow, and got me through some less than great days. Many of the things I’ve imagined have ended up coming true. How fun is that!!!

So, my lovelies, why not play this game with me?

Read through the questions, and if you feel like sharing, post your answer below or over on our facebook page.

Here goes!

If I had a Tardis…

Image from kootation

Image from kootation

Or a magical Carpet…

Image by creativeguy59

Image by creativeguy59

And a magical Wallet full of local currency…

And I lent them to you, so that tomorrow morning you could wake up anywhere in the world for a magical 24 hours where you had no worries, vibrant energy and zero food intolerances/medical conditions/other encumbrances, and only good could happen…

1) Where would you be?

2) Who would you be with?

3) What would you have for breakfast (or lunch or dinner)?

and

4) What would you do with your day?

Have fun with it!

Lots of love,  ♥ Nicole xx

PS – My 24 hours? While my puppies are being lovingly taken care of back at our farm I’ll wake up in a private bungalow right on the beach in a beautiful and remote part of Thailand. Of course my husband will be beside me! After my meditation we’ll go for a swim in the warm, tranquil ocean, enjoying the quiet and our own company. After a long walk along the beach we’ll dine on fresh papaya and lime, salad and a made-to-order omelette. Then a trip to visit some temples and local markets – lots of walking around and taking in the atmosphere, snacking on delicious Thai food and drinks. Later we’ll go for a massage and be completely spoiled with pampering. Perhaps another dip in the ocean. Then a romantic candlelit seafood dinner on the beach, before dancing the rest of the night away.

How about you?

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