Just Tell One Person…

“The key is this: Meet today’s problems with today’s strength. Don’t start tackling tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. You do not have tomorrow’s strength yet. You simply have enough for today.” 
Max Lucado

Did you read yesterday’s post about the energy of this week? It’s a week of help coming our way, and of hope being restored, but first… first it’s a week that may be quite hard for some. It’s an energy where many of us will feel regret, remorse, guilt, shame, pain or sorrow as we look back on the past and realise that we can’t change it, or that we may need to let go of cherished dreams and plans we’ve long held for our future, leaving us with uncertainty as we look forward in life.

It’s also a week where we can come face-to-face with habits, behaviours and attitudes that are harming us, and where we know we need to change or get help because now we see what we are doing or what we are ignoring and we know we can’t keep living like this.

So, for those of you in that hard place – with shames you are hiding, and fears you are nursing – take the first step and tell someone you trust, or a stranger of good repute whose calling is to help people with the kind of problem that you do.

When we tell someone our truth we shed light on this difficult thing and we crack open the place from where it can begin to transform.

When we hold a secret to our chest it weighs us down more and more with every year. When we hold a secret to our chest and tell no-one of our plans to change it is easy to back out on the promises we made to ourselves. You only need to tell one person, to take one step, to open your circle of one into a circle of two.Two is where change happens, and hope returns. When someone else knows, the problem that has become beyond your ability to fix on your own suddenly has a chance to be healed.

Who can you tell this week? My wise old Nana always used to tell me that a problem shared is a problem halved, and the older I become the more I know it to be true.

Sending so much love your way, Nicole   xx

 

What’s Really Going On, Nicole?

NicoleFluffyJacket

“Once you become self-conscious, there is no end to it; once you start to doubt, there is no room for anything else.”
~ Mignon McLaughlin

 

I’ve had a cranky few days.

I could explain it away as lack of sleep – too much noisy koala sex outside my bedroom window keeping me awake all night – but that would not be it. A contributing factor? Sure. But still, I know my own mind.

Which is why I have a handy question for such instances.

‘What’s really going on, Nicole?’

That’s what I ask myself. Because I know that I know…

So, yesterday, I asked myself, ‘What’s really going on, Nicole?’

‘Oh, just shut up!’ I told myself in my best cranky voice. ‘Leave me alone. I’m just tired. I’m just busy. That’s all.’

The word ‘just’ is a huge red flag for me. It’s my cop-out word. It’s my loaded word. It’s nothing… It’s just…

It’s just that I’m obviously avoiding some big fat thing that I don’t want to talk about.

Hmmmm.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Are you sniffing, and flicking your hair, and shaking your head, and turning away, and saying ‘Fine, I’m just fine…’ at something too?

It’s no good living with a stompy five-year-old in my head having a temper tantrum. That’s not how I want my year to be. 2016, among other things, is about bringing what is hidden into the light. It’s about owning our shadow, and the unclaimed and rejected parts of ourselves, our families, our societies.

I decided to make a pot of tea and do some journalling using a technique called Left Hand Right Hand Dialogue for connecting to that cranky inner child.

 

Let me show you what followed:

Big Nicole: ‘Hi, Little Nicole’ I asked with my dominant hand. ‘What’s really going on?’

Little Nicole: ‘Your planner is dumb!’ I responded with my non-dominant hand, in words so cranky they made stab holes in the page.

Big Nicole: Surprised, (I love my Planner and have been using this method for years) I asked ‘Why do you feel that way?’

Little Nicole: ‘I don’t want to do it. I don’t like it. It’s stupid.’

Big Nicole: ‘Why don’t you like it?’

Little Nicole: ‘I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to have to do that thing.’

I immediately experienced a sinking feeling in my stomach. My stupid Planner. Yep. It’s four days into January and I still haven’t chosen or brainstormed my One Big Thing.

Except.

Actually.

I have.

Last year when I was working with Bek, my graphic designer, she asked for an example of a mind-map that we could use as an illustration in my Planner. I happily obliged, telling myself, ‘I’ll just choose this thing, because it’s a good example, and it’s not really my One Big Thing. ‘Next year I’ll choose something different. Something business-y. Or health. Or… something.’

Here’s that thing I keep avoiding.

mind map

What’s really going on, Nicole?

Shut up, alright. I just don’t want to do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

People will know I’m weird. I won’t be able to take it back once it’s been said. People will judge me. I’ll be laughed at. Rejected.

It won’t be good enough.

I won’t be good enough.

I don’t want to do it.

Except that I really do. It’s the thing I care about so much. Every time I think about the manuscript, finished and needing editing and sitting in my bottom drawer. Every time I think about it, or avoid thinking about it, or do it, or actively avoid doing it, Black Cockatoos fly over my farm, squawking loudly. My Aunties, encouraging me. Reminding me. I am this thing. I need to be this thing.

That’s what my Aunties told me about Black Cockatoos, all those years ago as I sat in the dirt in a circle of wise Aboriginal Women.

“Dis fella keep you company too. Remind you of your black sisters, up here in dis country. Even when you leave and go far, far from here, dese black fella birds and their yella-tailed cousins will find you. Sing to you and say ‘Remember, Remember,’ No way we let you forget. Dat story in you now. You belong part of our family now.”

“One day you live somewhere, you call dat country home. Smell like dis place. Earth. Sea. But make you happy again. We send all dem black fella birds remind you your promise. Remind you your story. Then you know it’s time. Time to be dat story. Live dat story in your heart. Live your true Dreaming.”

 

Already, people who are working with my Planner have been sending me encouraging messages about my memoir. Because I used that stupid example, and it’s there on the page for everyone to see.

Have I started it yet? they ask. Can’t wait to read it!

Do you need an accountability buddy?

??????????????????????????

Bugger.

Today I will sit with my Planner and map out how to properly make my memoir my One Big Thing.

I’m not resisting now. I’ve had my little moment. It’s time to own this thing in me. To own my story and put it out into the world. And then move on to something else.

I am what I am. My ‘Otherness’ is what shapes me. It will all be okay.

I highly recommend asking yourself the question.

What’s really going on?

Examining stuckness, resistance and repressed emotion is always a good thing. Bring that which is hidden out into the Light.

book

The Power of Sharing Our Shames

Dreamtime Sisters by Colleen Wallace Nungari

Dreamtime Sisters by Colleen Wallace Nungari

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
~ C.G. Jung

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
~ Brené Brown

 

We did something very powerful yesterday, here at our retreat.

Earlier in the day we’d been doing some journalling, looking at our triggers and the things that upset, angered or depressed us. Bravely the women asked themselves questions and moved deeper and deeper into that place of self-knowing.

It was confronting. Challenging.

From there we began to name and examine the major obstacles in our lives.

Oh, how hard that was.

Many of the women quietly sought me out to ask questions or share some painful revelation.

And there was one common theme that ran through every conversation, although the subject matters varied greatly.

That theme was shame.

Just before we finished for the day, as we sat in our circle around our beautiful crystal mandala, I asked those women to be brave, and to share one of their shames within the group.

The courage of these women was remarkable, as they bravely bared their hearts to each other, and held a space of trust, love and deep acceptance.

There were shames over marriages, lost and broken relationships, addictions and family dramas. Shames about mothering, illness, depression, debt, and shames over choices or behaviours that were deeply regretted.

As each woman shared her shame many of us nodded. Or cried. That shame our sister shared could have been ours. So many of us held that same heavy stone inside our hearts.

Image from Getty

Image from Getty

Gradually the energy of the group shifted.

There was an easing.

A gentle opening and transformation.

Who would have thought that someone else felt the same way we did? That someone else had addiction in their family, or found motherhood unfulfilling – although they loved their children, or was isolated from their parents or siblings and was dreading Christmas. Who would have known that someone else had totally screwed up a relationship or struggled with money issues when they were meant to be examples of business success?

As the voicing of shames ended, a new energy came into the group. We began sharing stories of encouragement and support. One woman, swamped and belittled by her shame, would be given helpful and meaningful advice by someone who’d been through that same thing. Another, overwhelmed by her situation, would be helped by women who could see a clear way forward for her because they weren’t in that place of emotional overload.

In that circle of support and sharing, shames were transmuted and lost their power.

Those dark secrets we hold inside us rob us of our ability to feel joy, to move forward, to be our best selves. They make a lie of every good thing that comes our way. They hold us in a place that has no real truth for us, tainting our futures and stealing our possibilities.

Those shames we most fear to share are the ones which most need to be released and shared within a supportive environment – a place where we can be met with empathy and kindness.

Oh the magic that happens when those heavy burdens of shame are shared and released!

Image form www.apisanet.com

Image from www.apisanet.com

Vomiting in Public Places OR The Controversial ‘Vomit Post’

“Girls blush, sometimes, because they are alive, half wishing they were dead to save the shame. The sudden blush devours them, neck and brow; They have drawn too near the fire of life, like gnats, and flare up bodily, wings and all. What then? Who’s sorry for a gnat or girl?”
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This was always going to be a post about kindness, but interestingly, when I mentioned on facebook yesterday that I might be blogging about vomit, it raised quite the controversy. Some people were all for it, whatever I wrote, and others were deadset against any mention of bodily functions.

Well, I was never one to step away from controversy.

So now it’s a post about acknowledging our humanity, as well as about kindness. I’ll get to the kindness part in a minute, after I’ve dealt with the humanity bit.

It’s a fact of life.  As humans we are all bound to experience episodes of illness, and at times that’s going to include vomiting. Some of you might be cringing right now.  After all, vomit is gross, vomiting is gross, and cleaning up afterwards is grosser (if there is such a word…) Vomit is not a topic to air in polite company.

So why am I doing it today? I’m doing it to honour all of the people who have to deal with the horror, shame, distress and inconvenience of having a bodily function over which they have no control.

I’m not talking that self-induced ‘I drank too much’ situation. I’m thinking about the people who ate the bad food, who caught the nasty stomach virus, whose kids got sick while they were out shopping, and those people so stressed or overwrought in their lives – whose anxiety so overwhelming – that their stomach became a battlefield.

I’m also talking about the silent army of people with medical conditions (including pregnancy) that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Believe me, it’s a much bigger group than you may realise, because, of course, we don’t talk about these things in public.

And then there is the spiritual phenomena of ‘clearing’ where our body shifts energy and vibration (yes, think vomit, poo and flu!) through our body in ways that make us purge ourselves as we heal and ‘let go’ of what is no longer needed in our lives…

A girlfriend of mine has cystic fibrosis. She’s been through the wringer on numerous occasions on account of her illness, including a double lung transplant and a few rounds with cancer.  Vomit and poo are things she has had to deal with often. She’s even had to endure a colostomy bag for a time. Vomit and poo are part of the currency of her daily life. My friend is a friend who understands what I’m going through.

We have often laughed together about the horror of that sudden urgency – and our ability to locate and hold in our heads a map of every public restroom in the area. It’s like we share a secret language, and when we find another member of the ‘club’ it’s a relief to be able to talk openly about where we are at.

©clambert/stock.xchng

©clambert/stock.xchng

It’s not really funny though.  Humour is just the way we cope. Sometimes if you didn’t laugh you’d cry.  Sometimes, if you didn’t laugh you’d really wish you were dead instead.

Vomit and poo, chronic illness, misery and pain – they’re all best suffered silently, behind closed doors at home, so that we don’t offend the sensibilities of others.  Even if that imprisons us, and reduces our life to four walls.

That’s fine if you know your illness is a temporary thing. But what if this is something that becomes part of your new normal?  What then?  How do you adjust your life to the vagaries of a misbehaving body?

Which is why my post was originally going to be about kindness.

A few weeks ago, as I was ramping up my Lyme med levels and introducing some new ones, my husband and I ventured into Lismore. It was a rainy day, and we had a long list of chores. I had been fine all day.  No nausea.  Not a single side affect from my drugs. Of course that changed.

I began to feel hot, clammy and weak. My husband took me back to the car so I could rest, and I sat waiting for him as he completed the last of his shopping. The nausea became worse and worse, and then the awful realisation – I knew I was going to vomit. There was no restroom in sight. We were parked on the side of the road outside a strip of shops.

Supremely embarrassed and ashamed I opened the car door and was sick in the gutter.

I kidded myself I was discrete. I was grateful for the rain, and the lack of passers-by. But my relief was short lived.  I was still nauseous.  I needed to be sick again. I cracked open the door and said hello to the gutter.

This time, when I finally lifted my head, a woman from a nearby shop came over and offered me a glass of water, and a tissue. I was overwhelmed with her small act of kindness, and the comfort it afforded me.

Image from kleenex

Image from kleenex

A short time later, after I was sick a third time, she came back out and ushered me into the bathroom at the back of her shop. When I was finally okay and trusted that my stomach would behave she handed me more tissues and a packet of mints.

“It’s awful being sick when you’re out,” she said. “You poor thing. I really hope you feel better soon, love.”

No judgement.  Only kindness. Her compassion helped ease my shame and humiliation, and it made a difficult day more bearable.

Life is sometimes messy. None of us are immune from the spectrum of suffering.  While we uphold the idea that all of this human frailty is something to hide behind closed doors we disenfranchise many in our community who are already marginalised.  It’s not just bodily functions – it’s the child who lost their hair to chemotherapy, the woman whose skin is greasy from the cream she needs to control the disfiguring eczema, the man whose hands shake from Parkinsons so much that he spills his coffee as he drinks.

None of us likes to be unwell. None of us likes to be at the mercy of our bodies.  But sometimes that’s just how it is, and we need to be able to saddle up and keep riding, despite our afflictions. If we didn’t we’d miss out on life altogether, and what’s the point of that? A  life lived between bouts of illness, squeezed into the good days, or forcibly extracted from the bad days is sometimes your best shot at any life at all.

My post today isn’t just about vomit.  It’s a tip of my hat to everyone who is enduring or has endured short-term or chronic illness and found the courage to keep going. And for all those clearing heavy-duty muck out of their lives. It’s also an acknowledgement of the goodness and the decency of ordinary people who make the suffering of others easier to bear – strangers, carers, healers, family and friends.

Be kind to yourself today. Practice compassion for self and others. A little kindness goes a long way.  Bless ♥ xx