The restorative power of deep rest

A primitive type of jellyfish called Cassiopea, which goes to sleep nightly, is seen on the floor of their tank at Caltech in Pasadena, California, U.S. in this image released on September 20, 2017. Courtesy Caltech/Handout via REUTERS

“It’s in the morning, for most of us. It’s that time, those few seconds when we’re coming out of sleep but we’re not really awake yet. For those few seconds we’re something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our most distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then…and then — ah — we open our eyes and the day is before us and … we become ourselves.” 
Jerry Spinelli


Don’t you just love the image of the sleeping jellyfish? It’s the sort of whimsical possibility my mind constantly entertained when I was a child, although I never imagined that they might sleep upside down!

I was lying on my acupuncturist’s treatment table yesterday as he felt my pulse and tut-tutted in his mad professor way at the energies within my body, the colour and texture of my tongue and his many other diagnostic tools. He knew it. I know it. The past couple of weeks of family illnesses and drama have exhausted me.

Hmmm, he said. Deep rest. That’s what you need. Deep rest, and rice and beans and sprouts. Warm foods. Warm liquids. No stimulants. No spices. Deep rest. Sleep.

I know he’s right. A good deep rest now and I’ll be back to normal. For me, deep rest is not just sleeping. It’s also quiet time. Time pulled back from the needs and demands of others. Time stepped back from work and busy-ness.

The alternative? I’ve been down that path, and I know you have too. In fact, I know some of you are walking it right now. That’s the path of pushing. We’re tired but we keep getting up. We’re exhausted but we fill ourselves with caffeine or sugar or both, and we force ourselves to keep on going. We bribe ourselves, pep-talk ourselves, bully ourselves and trash-talk ourselves to get our bodies upright and responsive. We push, push, push. And then we break.

All the while we think that we are okay to keep going. We’re not. We’re barely in our bodies. We’re drunk on lack of sleep. Our innovation and enthusiasm, our ability to bounce back, to laugh it off, to create with joy – all of that is missing.

It can be found again through deep rest.

That’s what I’m doing right now, and will be for the next few days. I’m doing a disservice to myself and to you if I don’t.

Today I’m asking you if you’re okay. Do you need to rest? Do you need to step back for a moment? We can’t help others sustainably nor keep on creating if we are not looking after ourselves first. The energies of 2018 do not support push in any form. If you’re pushing, it won’t be working. Look for another way. Your best solution is most likely to be taking a break, refreshing yourself, and then starting again.

Gentle hugs and much love, Nicole  xx


Lyme and Making Plans

“She had learned the lesson of renunciation and was as familiar with the wreck of each day’s wishes as with the diurnal setting of the sun.” 
~ Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge

“Success is when everything that goes wrong, fits in your plan.” 
~ Gary Rudz


When I was diagnosed, finally, with Lyme disease, back in January 2013, we did a lot of shuffling of plans. A much-looked-forward-to holiday was called off. I cancelled workshops and retreats. My clever PA began adding a footnote to each appointment she made for me, letting people know that I was being treated for Lyme and that I may need to reschedule their session at short notice, depending upon my health on the day.

I’ve had to do a lot of that anyway, in my adult life. Cancel things. Say no. Pull out at the last minute. Always because of unreliable health. Too often that has made me the unreliable friend, family member, or neighbour. The only area I have managed to be mostly reliable has been work. But doing that has meant creating a business where I can work from home, part-time, and where everything else suffers so that I can get that work done.

Sure I’ve gone ahead sometimes and done the thing, but too often afterwards I’ve paid the price. An afternoon of socialising might mean three days of crippling exhaustion. A few hours of gardening could leave me flat out for the rest of the week.

“Gee Nicole,” a friend said once, frustrated at my lack of energy, “we all get tired.” Yes, we do. But Lyme tired is something else. Lyme tired is truly chronic fatigue. Lyme tired is neurological fatigue, as well as physical. It’s the kind of tired where after just a few hours work I am in bed by seven and asleep by ten past. And that’s on a good day. 🙂 Lyme tired is the kind of tired where I can struggle with basic daily living – like showering and dressing, holding a conversation, preparing a meal or attending to the simplest kinds of housework. The kind of tired where my arm stops working, or my eye starts twitching, or my brain goes on strike.

My exhaustion is an ocean, under the influence of some great unseen force. Sometimes it recedes, leaving a gleaming bright shore of possibility. I get stretches where I can do so much more, and I settle in to that as my new normal. But then the tide comes back, and I find myself with a smaller and smaller window of available time where my brain works, or my body works and I can get things done.

To be honest, I’d hoped that this far into my Lyme treatment, an aggressive protocol of drugs and herbs, that I would have been back to much more glorious planning again by now. That I would be saying ‘yes’ more often, and ‘no’ much less.

But as I’ve travelled this road I’ve come to realise that there’s still so far to go. I might be in this hazy half-life place for a while yet.

So, I’ve gotten smarter.

Now I make plans EXPECTING to be tired. I create my business around what I can do on a bad day, or an average week, rather than what I might be able to do if I had a sudden upsurge in energy or was miraculously well again. I plan socialising around my best times (mornings), or for early nights.

I am planning my whole future around having a flat battery.

It’s not pessimistic. I fully intend to get back to well. Or as well as it is possible to be, for me. But oh how it takes the pressure off, knowing that I am catering for low energy, or sudden patches of incapacity.

Anyway, my heart is on the way to being completely normal, and I have my brain back. There is no longer an imminent threat of dying. I can write and think and dream again. And I’ve always been able to do psychic work – no matter how ill I’ve been. That’s a gift that comes through me, and it’s never influenced by my health. In fact, it has often been the thing which has energised me and kept me going during my darker days. So, planning is possible. As long as my plans make space for down-time, disaster and the unexpected.

I even changed my whole business model, so that I can run an ever-expanding enterprise from bed, on a few average health days a week. Imagine how much lovely free time that will give me as I move back towards well. Imagine how much writing I will be able to get done. How much living. That’s exciting for me!

Maybe you don’t have lyme, or some other kind of incapacitating situation in your life, but I can guarantee you that making plans based on reduced energy and reduced input isn’t a bad thing. Instead it’s a plan for life that makes room for life. It’s about designing a life where there is space for you to grow, to heal, to love, to change your mind, to move in new directions, to spend the afternoon napping, or with your lover, or catching a series of perfect waves.

I’m all for planning. Planning moves us purposefully in a direction of our choosing. It enables us to be effective with the use of our time and resources. It helps us to actively design our lives.

But I am also for living honestly, and being realistic about what’s on our plates. I am also for being kind to ourselves. I am all for making room to breathe rather than heaping responsibility, duty and endless tasks upon us.

What kind of plans have you made in your life?

Have you crammed so much in that there is no room for downtime, rest or fun?

Lyme has proved to be a wise teacher for me. I hope that by sharing my story, it also helps you to be kinder to yourself, to be more trusting of the process of life, to focus on your most important priorities and still leave space.

All sorts of miracles and wonderments can happen when we leave enough space for them. It’s not up to us to have to fill in all the blanks. Where would be the magic in that?

Much love to you, Nicole xx



What’s Your Carrot?

Image from Kinolife

Image from Kinolife

“Dangling a carrot in front of a donkey—or anyone else for that matter—is not nice, and not fair, unless you eventually plan to give it up to them.” ~ Vera NazarianThe Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration


Traditionally a carrot was dangled in front of a donkey to keep him moving forward, even if he didn’t want to go. He trotted along, all the while hoping to get his mouth around that sweet juicy treat.

We all work better with a little incentive. When we plan something and work towards it, or choose a reward for the achievement of a certain action or purpose it allows us to hold a pleasurable image in our head, even when where we are right now is nothing but pain and hardship.

It will be worth it, we tell ourselves. It will be worth it because…    there’s that juicy carrot at the end of all of this!

Image by Bev Ribaudo

Image by Bev Ribaudo

Early this year, while I was still so sick from my latest round of lyme drugs that I couldn’t get out of bed, my husband put a deposit on a cruise holiday next year. You need to have something to look forward to, he said.

What a wise man.

On the nights when I couldn’t sleep, wracked with pain and fever, miserable with both lyme disease and the side effects of the drugs that are treating it, I would google that holiday. I’d read reviews from people who’d taken the trip already. I searched out the ports we’d visit and what we might do there.

I even googled the onboard cocktail lists!

For me, that trip is a shining light at the end of a dark tunnel.

What’s your ‘because’? What’s your carrot?

Are you being mean to yourself by holding that carrot so far away that you never have any chance of being able to take a bite?

Worse still, is there no carrot at all, leaving you with nothing but work, work and more work?

I challenge you to find a carrot sweet enough that it will motivate you to do (or keep doing) the thing you need to do.

Little carrots. Big carrots. Allow yourself the pleasure of anticipation, and the thrill of the reward. You’re worth it!

And do share with us what your carrots are. Maybe you’ve got an idea that will be just the inspiration someone else needs!

Image by Relo Mary

Image by Relo Mary

Simple ways to make your week look better

Image from

Image from

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

~ Marian Wright Edelman


Another Monday’s rolling around and that means that you have the opportunity, in small ways, to shape your week to play out differently.

Unless you won the lottery on the weekend or are about to embark on some stunning vacation, chances are that this week is going to look a lot like last week for you.

But there are some simple things that you can do to give this week a sense of greater meaning and satisfaction, so that by week’s end you feel a sense of being more in control.

These things are:

  1. One consistent small change, repeated daily.
  2. A small window of time to work on something important to you.
  3. A reward to look forward to.

The small change needs to be a positive step that you know will make a difference in your life. No grand gestures please – just make it something small, do-able and measurable.

Ideas include:

  • drinking 2 litres of water each day
  • cutting back smoking, sugar or coffee – make it measurable ie go from two coffees each day to one, from two sugars to one, from four cigarettes to two
  • eating fresh vegetables each day
  • tidying your desk and getting tomorrow’s to-do list done before you go home each day
  • cleaning up after dinner so you’re not greeted by a stack of dirty dishes in the morning

Life shoots by so fast – we’re already approaching the middle of the year. What dreams did you have for this year?  What did you hope to achieve?  This week, make sure to take a tiny step towards something that’s important to you.

That could be:

  • going to yoga one night after work
  • going to the library to get some research materials
  • cleaning out a closet
  • signing up for a class one night a week, or over the weekend
  • gathering materials for your project or craft
  • spending time with someone important to you

And finally – your reward! It’s life, people.  It’s meant to be enjoyed.  How does that look for you? Promise yourself that if you get through Monday to Friday with your consistent small change, and your window of time for yourself, that on the weekend (or Friday night) you’ll enjoy a small reward.

Some ideas to get you started include:

  • going to the movies
  • wandering through the weekend markets
  • going to a favourite store or cafe
  • going to the park, the beach or on a picnic
  • a drive in the country
  • a sleep-in
  • a visit to the travel agent for some inspiring brochures
  • taking yourself shopping, or for a haircut, a massage or a spa
Southbank Markets. Picture: Grant Parker Source: The Courier-Mail

Southbank Markets. Picture: Grant Parker Source: The Courier-Mail

No, this is not a plan for global domination, or for massively sexy and abundance-making overnight results.

But when we take small actions, consistently, and remember to nurture ourselves, take time for our dreams, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life – life becomes a lot more livable, and we find ourselves happier within our existing life circumstances.

Why don’t you try it for yourself?  There’s nothing to lose, and small course corrections, over time, often lead to huge positive life changes.

Sending much love to you for a wonderful week.  Love and Light, Nicole xx


PS – If you want a really cool tool to add in to your small changes this week, why not try one of my awesome affirmations.  At worst it will make you laugh, and at best, well… magic might happen!

Here’s the link: Nicole’s Very Cool Positive Affirmations