A Small But Positive Sign In The Shape Of A Snail

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” 
~  Oprah Winfrey

When we holidayed with a friend and her family early this year, her small children asked me what I had done to earn pocket money when I was little.

We didn’t get pocket money when we were growing up, but sometimes we would get paid for chores, and the one chore both my mother and grandmother would pay for was snail collection. Both of them were avid gardeners, and there were always so many snails threatening their annuals, vegetables and flowers. I would wake early each morning to silvery trails along all the paths, and of course all of the soft plants and flowers would have been nibbled voraciously. I’d be sent out with an empty ice-cream bucket (the family size!) to gather snails so they could be disposed of. I’d easily fill that bucket with perhaps half an hour’s work. They were everywhere, especially if you knew where to look.

Fast forward to today, and I have barely seen a single snail in years, except for the giant rainforest snails that we sometimes see around the farm. I’ve grieved and ached for that loss, and for my role in contributing to the demise of so many creatures. Our modern garden is so different to the gardens of my childhood. Where have all the snails gone? The bees? The insects? As a child I would amuse myself for hours catching small green grasshoppers or odd-looking beetles. There was an abundance of wildlife in my own back yard. Birds, dragonflies, stick insects, praying mantis, butterflies, Christmas beetles by the battalion, moths, all kinds of grubs and crawly things. And so many bees, especially when the summer lawn was full of clover.

Forty or so years later the skies and gardens seem empty. And I hadn’t seen a snail in my garden for a decade.

Until today. A tiny snail on one of my roses. Ben pointed it out to me. ‘Look, honey’, he said. ‘A snail is eating your rose.’ ‘Good!’ I responded. ‘I’ll grow more!’ If that little snail likes roses I will make sure she has an endless supply.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little snail has made me. I am hoping to soon see more.

A garden snail – courtesy of the Breathe Easy Project

Here in our little corner of the world, at our farm and at our neighbours, we don’t use chemicals or bug spray or any kind of pesticide. I favour companion planting. If bugs destroy a certain plant I make a note of it and either don’t grow it again or I grow lots of it so we can share it with the bugs, or so they can eat it and spare the rest of my garden.

Birds like to eat snails and bugs. So do lots of other critters. They are all part of the cycle of life, and I want for that biodiversity to continue. To that end we’ve planted lots of native flowering trees that are food for birds and butterflies and possums. We’ve placed birdbaths strategically around the garden. We’ve replanted species around the denuded areas of our farm to encourage biodiversity and restorative ecology. We farm organically. We use worm farms to enrich our soil and to compost all our food scraps. We do what we can to make our home a home for all.

Perhaps that little snail is a sign that we are doing something right.

Today I’m intending for you some small positive sign that you’re moving in the right direction too. Much love, Nicole   xx

 

 

My Favourite Morning Job

“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” 
~  Hermann Hesse

 

Here on the farm my favourite morning job is checking our water points. I slip on my gumboots (still usually dressed in my pyjamas!) and then go for a little walk to check the cattle troughs. They all fill by themselves with float valves except one up in the orchard, that we only need if the cattle are there.

If the cattle are grazing in the orchard I will take the heavy farm hose and top up the trough for them before the heat of the day comes. While it fills I talk to the cows and watch the birds doing their early morning circuits. Our skies are always busy just after dawn.

 

I’ll flick the hose around the vegetable gardens and note anything that needs picking. And yes, a few stray strawberries or sweet little tomatoes usually find their way into my mouth.

Back down at the house again my last stop is the birdbaths. I fill them up, and the one on our front deck has new flowers placed in it from whatever I have gathered from my morning walk.

It’s a peaceful start to my day that never fails to put me in a good mood.

I’m wishing you a peaceful day and happiness too, much love, Nicole  xx

 

Selflessness or Self Sacrifice? – Monday Oracle 11 September 2017

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
~ Sabaa Tahir

Hello, Lovelies!

If you read my forecast for September, you’ll know that it’s a month of possibility and expansive energy, of change and curiosity, and of starting small projects that may take a long time, but that we care about deeply. Keep that in mind as we look at the gifts which the oracle card Guilt brings us this week.

So, what awareness does Guilt bring us this week?

The overwhelming message this week is to stop doing for others what they could do for themselves, and to use your time on what matters to you!

Expect strong emotions this week, and use them as your compass. Projects, people and places may call to you. Maybe you want to dive right in to a new art project. Perhaps you’re deep in a renovation and all you want to do is keep going while your energy is high. You may feel compelled to spend time in nature, or hanging out with a friend. Or maybe you’re the opposite and you’ll feel the need to disconnect and be on your own for a while to recharge your batteries.

You may also be feeling guilty, resentful or angry because there are relationships, duties or tasks calling on your time, and you’d rather be somewhere else, doing something else!

Your emotions will help to show you your priorities and what truly matters to you on a soul level this week. Look to what excited you or engages you. Tune in to any anger or resentment you feel too. That will also tell you something. If you are tired of being the one who puts in all the effort in a relationship, if you’re feeling guilty because you’re spending time with someone out of duty when you’d much rather be anywhere else, if you’re pretending not to mind supporting someone else when really you feel taken for granted – all of these situations show you clearly what isn’t working for you.

This week pay attention to your feelings and let them show you where to put more of your energy and where to put less. It’s not selfish to look after your own needs, and there is little point in wasting precious time and energy on people and situations who have little regard for your efforts.

If self-sacrifice means you are sacrificing yourself in order to please or appease others then the price is too high. Selfless giving doesn’t cost your soul – it fills you up with love or gratitude or satisfaction instead. Make sure your service comes from selflessness! (How can you tell the difference? Tune in to your feelings. Are you drained {self sacrifice} or filled up {selflessness}? There’s your answer.)

This week brings great emotional clarity about life priorities, but with that clarity may also come the realisation that you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done. It may suddenly become urgent for you to make changes that allow what’s important to you to take more space in your life. That’s okay. Honour your needs and make those changes.

Supportive crystals this week?

Ocean Jasper is a healing stone that promotes deep rest and relaxation, that attunes us to our feelings, and that gives us perspective and clarity with projects and situations. Rose Quartz is a stone of love and nurture – the crystal world equivalent of a great big reassuring hug, a soothing cup of tea and a best friend to hold your hand through life’s challenges. Amazonite will help you to bravely make changes.

Helpful essential oils?

Each of the following oils will work beautifully on their own for you this week, but they also make a delicious combination for diffusing. Frankincense elevates our mood and promotes spiritual connection and intuition, Lavender keeps us in flow and relaxed,  Ylang Ylang opens our hearts and is supportive when we feel anxious or overwhelmed, and Orange for joy, gratitude and optimism. To diffuse add 2 or three drops of each oil to your room or personal diffuser. You can find the oils here.

Image from www.fragrantica.com

Holding you, as always, in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, and intending for a you a life of abundance and joy, where you are no longer limited by your doubts.

All my love,

Nicole ❤ xx

PS: Monday’s oracle card, ‘Guilt’, is from the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Deck by Tori Hartman. I use any cards shown as a prompt for channelled messages and my own intuitive wisdom, so my take is sometimes quite different to the meaning found in a book. 

Image from www.corporatelifecoach.blogspot.com.au

Sifting and Sorting! – Monday Oracle 28 August 2017

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.”
~ Kelly Cutrone

Hello, Lovelies,

If you read my forecast for August, you’ll remember that August brings an emerging energy of creativity, emotional healing and an abiding need for more balance in our lives. Keep that in mind as we look at the gifts which the oracle card Rejection brings us this week.

There are two aspects to the energies of the week ahead, and both of them relate to discernment. Let’s look at these aspects in more detail.

1. The act of discerning when making choices. This week we are supported to make good decisions – making choices about projects, business, art, life directions, partners and even moral choices or decisions – by weighing up the various options using our values and our wise internal compass to help guide us to the best option for us. (Note that the best choice for us may not be the choice approved of or understood by others.)

As we weigh up our choices we will reject those that don’t work for us/our project/our art/etc or that don’t adequately represent our values and personal alignment. Rejection is not a bad thing – it is merely an act of sifting and sorting to come up with the best decision for us.

Understanding this helps us to understand that when we are rejected (or our project, art etc) it is also simply a matter of someone else sifting and sorting for their best fit – no need to take it so personally.

2. Acting on our decisions, even at the risk of rejection. Part of the creative journey, the entrepreneur’s journey, the journey of love, the spiritual journey, the journey of the self is to risk judgement and rejection.

This week we are encouraged to act, to decide, to put ourselves out into the world. Being able to do this leads to an expanded sense of personal freedom and inner peace. We are encouraged to follow our hearts and our inspiration and to worry less about what others may think or how they might perceive us. What other people think of us is none of our business! The one person we need to please and satisfy with our decision-making is ourselves. Making choices to please other people, or worse – to please them at the expense of ourselves and our own dreams or needs, is never a good plan.

As we tune in to our hearts and make better choices for ourselves we will see doors opening for us, and windows into new possibilities and horizons.

Supportive crystals this week?

Nephrite Jade (Greenstone) is a stone that supports heart-centred living and emotional expression in life and in art. Carnelian energises and grounds the physical body and aids all forms of healing and creativity – great for overcoming exhaustion and burnout. Fluorite helps us to be honest, objective and innovative with our creativity. Pearls nurture us, helping us to heal the pain of breaking up and moving on from an idea, situation or relationship. These stones can be worn, held, placed into a work space or popped into your pocket.

Helpful essential oils?

For heart healing and emotional support a drop of pure Rose essential oil directly above your heart is just the thing. For emotional courage and feeling uplifted I love Young Living’s Valor. Apply  to your wrists, neck and over the heart. To get clear about what you need to do and for facilitating good decisions diffuse three drops each of Lemon, Basil and Ylang Ylang. You can find all the oils here.

 

Enjoy the act of making choices this week, knowing that this is how you consciously craft your life!

Holding you, as always, in my thoughts, prayers and meditations, and intending for a you a life of abundance and joy, where you are no longer limited by your doubts.

All my love,

Nicole ❤ xx

PS: Monday’s oracle card, ‘Rejection’, is from the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Deck by Tori Hartman. I use any cards shown as a prompt for channelled messages and my own intuitive wisdom, so my take is sometimes quite different to the meaning found in a book. 

Image from www.howdesign.com

Road Trip Treasures!

“You can either be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It all depends on how you view your life.” 
~  Paulo Coelho

 

Late last week Ben and I slipped away from the farm for a few days.

We took a simple road trip into country New South Wales. Just to be together. Just to be on our own.

It’s been a very full year. This time twelve months ago I was preparing for major surgery. And since then there have been family health dramas, constant concern and worry for Ben’s aging mum, and then my latest near-death experience, back in May.

We were more than ready for some processing time, and a little distance between us and our problems.

We were gone for two and a half days. Not long at all. But it felt like weeks.

Here’s the secret of how we stretched time:

  1. We put our phones away and didn’t check our emails, social media or other distractions except to have a quick glance after breakfast and before dinner in case there was an emergency.
  2. We allowed ourselves early nights and plenty of rest.
  3. We kept our days simple and chose easy over ambitious.
  4. We stayed in the moment, engaged with each other and our surroundings.
  5. We held hands, we talked and deeply listened, and we held eye contact with each other and anyone we spoke to.

Those simple choices gave us the gift of replenishment. And if they worked for us I know they’ll work for you.

It was a super trip. Here’s a few of my highlights:

This is Beth, standing in front of the beautiful silk and merino wool shawls and scarves that she makes. Beth reinvented herself as an artist when she turned fifty, after attending a TAFE course in felting. She totally inspired me, and she gives awesome hugs too. (And yes, Ben bought me a gorgeous pink and coral shawl for my birthday!)

 

 

On our first night away we went for dinner at a local bowling club that does an all-you-can-eat $16 Chinese buffet on Thursday nights. It was packed with locals, all soaking up the ambiance that only plastic tablecloths, gold-painted honour boards, decorations from last Christmas and a gigantic empty dance floor can give. The food was delicious!

Book stores. You know the ones that are filled to the rafters with rare and old editions, as well as the latest reads? I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t come home with anything. I’ve now got some excellent reference books to research my next project. And I may have come away with one or two eclectic ancient cookbooks as well…

Op shops, second-hand shops, and those lucky dip kind of places where you walk through the door into a glorious clutter of wares old and new. I found some beautifully made old tablecloth and napkin sets at totally bargain prices, as well as a few little plates and bowls for serving tasty treats in. Oh, and some cake forks and a set of Japanese made 1950’s cocktail forks. And a cake tin. All of which will be put to good use here at the farm.

This glorious sewing, quilting and fabric shop fired up my imagination, and we managed to buy a packet of needles. Just the thing for me to dig all the splinters out of Ben’s hands from when he was off chainsawing and hauling timber earlier in the week.

We also enjoyed a quiet pub meal for two, sitting in an ancient dining room beside a roaring log fire on a frosty night. The table was set with real linen and a candle, and as we ate our delicious food we realised that it was the first time we’d had a romantic dinner date in Australia for over ten years!!! (My fault – my health has been crap, and I’m always in bed so early that we usually favour a breakfast outing or an early cafe meal.)

Ben’s already planning our next adventure.

How about you? Do you have a road trip planned or can you recommend one? I’d love to hear about it.

Much love from your rested and refreshed friend, Nicole xoxo

I’m Taking A Short Road Trip

“Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realise that that is enough to be happy. 
There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it.” 
~  Charlotte Eriksson

 

Early next month I will celebrate my fiftieth birthday.

My husband has been bothering me for months, asking what I want to do to celebrate. And I kept avoiding his question. I didn’t think I wanted a big party, but part of me was trying to juggle the possibility, and all that ended up doing was deflating my party mood.

To further muddy the water I’ve been working on the final draft of my memoir, and combined with a year of hospitalisations, near-death experiences and lingering complications, as well as my background companion Lyme disease, the realisation of just how long I have been living with chronic illness and all that has stolen from me has been quite confronting.

Finally, after a long walk down to the river and back, I had a clear head. I am alive. That is what turning fifty is all about. I am still here, and it is up to me to fill my bucket with the things that matter to me. Fifty is no mean feat for someone who has nearly croaked it four times now. So I came up with a list of options. A birthday celebration list, and this is it:

  • A road trip with Ben, and he has to make some excellent playlists for me as a soundtrack for our adventure
  • A small but fancy and delicious High Tea with my sister and a group of my closest girlfriends
  • A weekend away writing, where all I have to think about is words on the page or going for a long walk to ponder a plot point. A place where my meals are cooked and my bed is comfortable, and I can get a cup of tea whenever I want.
  • A holiday, somewhere new, anytime in the next year, where I can sip champagne with Ben and count my many blessings
  • A raucous dinner party at home with my neighbours and Byron Bay pals, followed by a bonfire in the backyard, under the stars
  • A big meetup with Dana and all my students, YOMmers, and Cauldrons and Cupcakes peeps – with tasty treats and crystals and lots of hugs and fun
  • An early morning beach walk and meditation, with time for ritual, journaling, oracle cards and reflection time, just on my own with the big sky and my Aunties and Ancestors above me and the earth beneath my feet.

 

I brought my list to Ben. This is it, I said. I’m going to do one of these. Can you help me pick?

He read over the list, and then he smiled.

Do all of them, he said.

We’ll start with the road trip.

 

So today that’s what we’re doing. A few totally unplanned days away, wherever the road takes us, while a dear friend looks after the dogs and the farm.

Elle, I haven’t forgotten your question about God, the Universe and why stuff happens. In fact I’ve been thinking about it all week while we’ve had no phone or internet here at the farm. I’ve begun a blog post to answer it but it till needs a bit more thought. It was a big question, and it deserves a decent and considered answer. Expect one in the next few days.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for you to write a list of your own, my friends. Just because you can. Just because you’re alive. And that’s worth celebrating every day of the year.

Sending you all my love, some hugs and a very good virtual cuppa, Nicole xoxo

 

After Rest Comes Rejuvenation

“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.” 
~ William Kean Seymour

 

Are you taking some time for yourself this week?

As part of my be-gentle-with-myself healing process I spent the late afternoon in the garden yesterday, watching my dogs frolic, watering my vegetables and fruit trees, and inhaling the delectable fragrance of newly mown lawn.

Of course I couldn’t go anywhere without young Rufous following me. That dog is curious about everything!!!

When the air cooled and the sun began to dip behind the mountain we came inside, cooked dinner and curled up on the couch by the fire before an early night.

All that outside time made for a deep sleep!

Here are a few snaps of my soul medicine session.
Much love, Nicole xx