I’m Not Ashamed

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

‘Oh, Nicole!’ That’s how the email started.

‘Darling friend, I’m so sorry to hear you are still battling Lyme disease. I hope you’re on the mend soon. Just wanted to give you some advice. What you write stays on the internet forever unless you decide to remove it, and even then it may be too late. So why on earth did you write about having incontinence? Nic, pull it down as soon as you can. That kind of stuff is so damaging for your image, and if you ever get a publishing deal you’ll regret this kind of over-sharing. Trust me.’

Hmmm….

Over-sharing? I don’t think so. Damaging? Some people will judge me, for sure. But they are not my people. You, dear readers, are my people.

Here’s what I know about my tribe, and about life in general.

Shit happens. Terrible, awful things can happen to good people for no reason. Life-changing accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Wear and tear, illness and calamity can render the most sound of bodies and minds suddenly limpy, broken or cobbled together with tape, string, tears, stubbornness and fervent prayers. Many illnesses and incapacities are invisible. People live with all kinds of pains, traumas and problems that most people around them will never even guess at.

Right now I am suffering from neurological incontinence. Inflammation in my brain and nerves makes a signal go haywire and sends a message to my bladder instructing it to void. Which it does with no permission from me. One minute I have a full bladder, the next minute my bladder is emptying wherever I happen to be and no matter what I am wearing, doing or what my plans might be. It’s happened to me dozens of times over the years since I first began treatment for Lyme, and my solution is adult diapers. Which mostly work, and sometimes don’t.

People can suffer from neurological incontinence as a side effect of MS, advanced Lyme disease, brain or spinal cord injury, brain lesions, degenerative brain diseases, or the long term effects of radiation or cancer treatment, alcoholism or diabetes. It affects men and women, children through to people in old age. It affects me.

One day it may affect you or someone you love.

Few of us get a free pass through life with no adverse side-effects! My dear friend Carly-Jay and I often have a laugh over the bits of our bodies or bodily functions that fail us. We belong to a club of people who live well despite how our bodies sometimes misfunction or misbehave. We call that club the Unreliable Club and I’m sure some of you are already card-carrying members. (Maybe we need t-shirts!)

When I was first diagnosed with neurological incontinence (which comes and goes in me – I last had an attack a few years ago!) I looked everywhere for information and found almost none. It’s something no-one talks about.

So, I’m talking about it here. It’s not the end of the world. It can be managed. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s just wee. Everyone does it. Every single day. It’s a normal part of life, and for some people it’s a part of life that doesn’t work well for any number of reasons. If more people talked openly about this kind of thing we’d realise just how prevalent these kinds of issues are AND THEY ARE NOTHING FOR WHICH YOU NEED EVER FEEL SHAME.

The Continence Foundation of Australia offers the following statistics:

  • Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006).
  • 65% of women and 30% of men sitting in a GP waiting room report some type of urinary incontinence, yet only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional (Byles & Chiarelli, 2003: Help seeking for urinary incontinence: a survey of those attending GP waiting rooms, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).
  • 70% of people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem (Millard, 1998: The prevalence of urinary incontinence in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal).
  • An Australian study found that over a three month period, 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence (Millard, 1998: The prevalence of urinary incontinence in Australia, Australian and New Zealand Continence Journal). 
  • The prevalence of urge incontinence, which is strongly associated with prostate disease, is fairly low in younger males and increases to 30% for those aged 70-84 and 50% for those 85 years and over (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006).

It’s wee. It’s not working in a very controlled manner in me just now. That’s okay. I have bigger stuff to think about. This is just small stuff, not worth sweating over.

If you feel the need to unfollow me, unfriend me or avoid me because of my bladder control issues and embarrassing habit of oversharing then go right ahead. I’ll still be here for you when life gets bumpy. And then I’ll remind you that you can still live the dream while rocking adult diapers and I won’t love you any less for it. Instead, I’ll be cheering you on!

Much love, Nicole xx

Don’t Isolate Yourself When the Going’s Hard

“No person, trying to take responsibility for her or his identity, should have to be so alone. There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors.”
~ Adrienne Rich

 

I’ve noticed a worrying phenomena lately. People are going to great lengths to make their life look incredible for social media, while behind the scenes they suffer alone and unsupported.

What happened that suddenly we can only talk up the good stuff, instead of living truthfully in the world?

As our extended family structures break down, and we become more and more remote from our neighbours and communities, we become more emotionally isolated.

We stop inviting people through the door. We stop sharing the small everyday details of our lives. Instead, we carefully curate our instagram images and facebook feeds.

There is a power to living vulnerably and being able to be open about our feelings and our lives.

Of course I advise using your intuition and discretion. Not everyone is a safe pair of hands. But with so many people stressed and overwhelmed by life, with rates of anxiety and depression and chronic illness escalating, with many of us caring for children with special needs, or single parenting or caring for elderly or ill loved ones, all of us need that extra boost that caring human connection can bring.

Image by Black-Avenger on www.deviantart.com

Image by Black-Avenger on www.deviantart.com

It can give us a powerful injection of hope or resilience to find that someone else has experienced our situation or feeling. We become less isolated. Our problem becomes more a condition of life than some shameful thing to be hidden away behind the posts of artfully photographed meals or ‘effortlessly gorgeous’ glamour outfits.

My Nana always used to tell me that a problem shared is a problem halved. As a young girl that never made much sense to me, but I can see the wisdom in it now, and I agree with that wisdom entirely.

Sometimes we genuinely do need to pull back to recalibrate our sense of centre, but please don’t isolate yourself entirely. Find ways to reach out, to ask for help, to sit in the company of others, to be able to share or smile or laugh or cry with people who welcome you into their space and allow you the freedom to feel (rather than hide) your emotions.

If you know someone who is going through a rough patch, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re not alone. Ask them if they’re okay.

We’re all in this together, and no-one’s getting out alive. Let’s all practice kindness for self and for our fellow journeymakers and make life’s journey better and more real and supported for everyone.

Sending so much love your way,

Nicole <3 xx

View From My Windows

2014-02-25 08.11.39

“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.”  ~ Edith Wharton, Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verses

 

My windows are both real and figurative. The picture above is the view from my bedroom window. This view changes hour by hour, and affords me much pleasure. In the early mornings the sky is grey, before becoming silver and gold, welcoming in the day.

I can tell if it has rained or not by looking at the leaves and smelling the air. Birds constantly visit the flowers in the trees, singing and feasting and spreading their special kind of joy.

Occasionally a cow walks past on its way to water. I know this, even if I am lying down and cannot see that far, because my ever-alert ‘cow detection system’ (see image below) goes into full surveillance mode.

At night I can watch the transit of the moon as she wanders across the sky trailing stars behind her. 2014-02-24 10.13.46 There is another kind of window that is precious to me right now too. It’s the first few hours after waking.

This is my little window of ‘feel-okay’ time before I take my lyme drugs and herbs, from which I descend back into pain, confusion and suffering. It’s the time where I write, meditate, and remind myself why I am doing this. (I am doing this to kill the bugs. I am doing this to be well. And it WILL be worth it!!!)

My morning ‘window’ is the time where I can actually be present with my husband. If I have a tiny bit of zest we may even go for some kind of outing. It’s the time where my life still resembles, if only a little, normality.

Looking Out The Window by Peter Ilstead

Looking Out The Window by Peter Ilstead

There’s one last window I have come to know. It’s the one my soul looks through, watching me as I live my life. That wise part of me which knows that all of this shall pass. The part of me that is filled with love and peace.

Our lives are fragile, transitory, wondrous and beautiful things – every hurt, every hope, every moment. I’m glad for mine, even though the journey has often not been easy. The view from my windows is still magnificent.

Sending much love to you, Nicole xx

On illness and being unreliable…

“I’m a very loyal and unreliable friend.” ~ Bono

One of the issues you need to deal with when you or a family member lives with chronic illness is your unreliability factor.

When I speak of chronic illness, I am talking about any condition that lasts for more than a few weeks, that doesn’t conform to a normal healing arc, or a condition that cycles into more active or less active phases.  The condition could be a physical affliction, a mental illness or a combination of these.  For whatever reason the presence of this thing in your life means that there is always a possibility that your plans, no matter what your intentions, may go awry.

Depression makes it impossible for you to get out the front door, irritable bowel means you don’t dare go to that intimate dinner party with the people you don’t know very well, a sudden infection or a flare up for you, your partner or your child and you’re back at the doctors, back on medication, back in bed…

Sick child - image from www.bloggingdad.com

Sick child – image from www.bloggingdad.com

Too often over the years, mine has been the empty chair at the dining table, the empty bed at the retreat, the face missing from the ‘family event’ photograph.

I don’t enjoy letting people down, or being unreliable, so over time I have accepted fewer invitations and my world has shrunk small.  Talk to anyone with a long term health issue and as much as they may seize the day, they often don’t know until they wake up whether the day will be a good one or not – so they become champions of winging it and making the best of those times when they feel strong, positive and with some charge in their battery.

One thing I have come to understand is that you need to have a few friends or family who know what’s going on, who are on your side, and who can cope with last minute invitations or cancellations.

Yesterday I was running on not much sleep, and it was in fact not the greatest of days.  But I had promised to meet a friend for breakfast. She has her health issues too. She understands.  We often text each other at the very last minute to cancel a meet-up, but we do everything we can to get there. We’ve also connected at very short notice, because both of us feel up to it, and why waste a moment?

I’ve caught up with Carly when she’s had an IV line hanging out of her neck, when I’ve been on my way to or home from hospital, and when both of us have felt very much less than glamorous.

Illness has taught me something important.  Friendship is more important that looking fantastic as you head out the front door. Connection is worth more than self doubt. And laughing and being with people you care about, and who care about you, is the very best of medicine.

2013-05-05 09.19.05

Today, both of us are heading back to doctors to have scans and more medical appointments.  Both of us have heads full of wondering what’s going on ‘inside’.

And both of us are unreliable. Not because we want to be.  Not because we are casual about commitment, or how much we care about you.

We are unreliable because our bodies run their own agendas, and we really have no idea how things might look from day to day.

We’ve learned that the cost of ‘making the effort’ to engage can sometimes be too high, and we’ll keep paying for days…

If you’re in the Unreliable Club, I’m sending you lots of love, and I want to remind you that it’s worth trying to make that connection, but that the bottom line is you ALWAYS need to honour your body, and your intuition around situations and relationships.

If you are friends or family of someone with a chronic health issue, I ask that you keep loving them, keep reaching out, and do your best to make sure they don’t end up alone and socially isolated.

One of the greatest tragedies of chronic illness is that so many people end up alone, with no support network. And when we have no one to care about us, and life is so hard, some people give up altogether.

Life is fragile, and we are all vulnerable. Let’s do our best to look after each other, to stay connected, and to live life the best we can with every breath.

friendship-quotes-The-sincere-friends-quotes

Fear of Crossing Roads

Chicken Crossing the Road --- Image by © Corbis

Chicken Crossing the Road — Image by © Corbis

“No one has traveled the road of success without ever crossing the street of failures.” ~ Unknown

I have an embarrassing confession. I’m not good at crossing roads by myself. It’s a legacy of the neurological damage caused by chronic Lyme Disease and various co-infections. Like most things it’s worse when I’m tired or unwell. My reaction time slows down, and I can no longer judge safe margins.

It’s fine when I’m with my husband or a friend, but it can get me so daunted when I’m alone that I’ll go miles out of my way just to stay on the same side of the street or to use traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.

A few weeks ago a friend took me into Lismore while Ben was away. We went to the Farmers Markets and Fundies to stock up on supplies, and then headed down the main street to get some lunch.

As we walked along a slightly dishevelled and grim grey-haired woman came towards us, muttering under her breath.  Her body was rigid and she stared at the ground, barely swerving to pass us.

“Was she out of it or what?” said my friend after we walked by.

But she wasn’t.  I had felt her agitation as she came up the street, and I could see how hard the journey was for her. She was severely agoraphobic  and completely stressed about being outside. My heart went out to her as she bravely forced herself to keep walking, and I wondered how many other people had wrongly judged her.

Image from www.ehypnosis.com.au

Image from www.ehypnosis.com.au

Fast forward to yesterday. We were in Lismore, our closest large country town, and I needed could get a script filled. My husband walked me the two blocks from the car to the pharmacy, and I assured him he didn’t need to wait for me.  After all I only had to cross one country-town road to meet him back at the ute, and he had things to do too.

I started out feeling quite well but by the time my prescription was ready and my lunch-time post-tablet nausea kicked in, two blocks suddenly seemed a long way. Clutching my little bag of meds I began the journey back to our vehicle.  As I walked, slowly, with a hazy head, blurry vision and extreme nausea, I heard a muttered monotone voice behind me.

“Spotlight, Spotlight, Spotlight, Spotlight, Chandlers, Chandlers, Chandlers…”

It was the woman I’d seen a few weeks ago.  She was chanting the name of each shop as she walked past them, sticking as close to the store fronts as she could.  Her brow was beaded with perspiration although it was a cool day.  She looked as bad as I felt.

Molesworth Street, Lismore - Image from Familypedia

Molesworth Street, Lismore – Image from Familypedia

She stayed behind me until we got to the corner of the block. The muttering stopped, and I looked around.  The woman was still there, pressed against the edge of the last building. I could feel her turbulent emotions.  She was overwhelmed by how wide the street was – for her it was like having to traverse a vast ocean.

“Are you crossing the street?” I said.

She took a moment to realise I was speaking to her, so intense was her state of anxiety, but she nodded.

I extended my hand towards her.  “Can you help me?” I asked. “I’m not well and I don’t feel quite safe to cross the road on my own.”

She was beside me in an instant, and she clutched my hand tightly in hers, gripping my elbow with her other hand. Together we waited for the traffic to pass and when there was not a car in sight we walked across.

“Are you going far?” she whispered when we were safely on the other side.

“That white ute right at the end of the block,” I replied.

“I can take you nearly the whole way,” she said.

She didn’t let go of me until she was at her destination.

“You take care,” she said. “Sorry I can’t walk you the whole way. I hope you feel better soon.”

I thanked her for helping me.

“Oh, it’s no problem.” She finally smiled, quite transforming her face. Suddenly she was around my age – careworn but pretty. “There’s not much worse than having to do things alone when you’re sick.”

Sometimes we’re not okay, but still we cope the best we can. Sure we manage, but it really helps to have a friendly hand to hold. Today I wish a friend for you, or if you’re feeling up to it, that you can be that friend for someone else.  It might help you too.

Bless  ♥ xx

'Splatter Heart' by Roark Gourley

‘Splatter Heart’ by Roark Gourley

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Hey Sister, You Okay?

Diagnosis – Lyme Disease

Image from www.caryinstitute.org

Image from www.caryinstitute.org

‘All delays are dangerous in war.’ ~ John Dryden

There’s a war going on in my body.  In fact it’s been going on for a quarter of a century.  First there came the enemy invasion. There was no loud and obvious display of force. Instead it was an invasion by stealth. A mass of tiny bacteria, regurgitated from the stomach of a tick, entered my body via its bite.  My body fought back, and it’s been fighting ever since, but this is a war where the odds for victory aren’t high, and decrease resoundingly over time.

Amazingly, I recorded a tick bite in my sister’s school diary in August 1984, and actually taped the tick to the page! (Why would I do that?) A short while later I was diagnosed with German Measles, but looking back I am sure my rash was tick related, and anyway I had already had measles, and at the time no one else at home or school became sick. I was sixteen years old; bright, ambitious and high-achieving. Sadly, that was all about to change.

For some reason Simone remembered and dug the book out, all these years later…

TickInDiary5

Oh my goodness what a rough road it’s been since then.

My recent diagnosis after years of chronic illness is end-stage lyme disease with heart and neurological complications. I first received a clinical diagnosis of lyme weeks ago, based on my medical history and symptoms.  But I have come to distrust diagnoses – I’ve had so many, and been so disappointed when I’ve not been able to be healed of these things, or the diagnosis has later proven to be wrong. Then, two days ago, I received lab results that made the diagnosis definitive for me.  I finally have a piece of paper I can hold in my hands, reassuring me this whole thing is most definitely not my imagination.

It’s not a great diagnosis. There is much collateral damage after such a long time with this war raging within me. My results list brain lesions, advanced Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lyme carditis and dilated cardiomyopathy, a weird undiagnosable multi-drug resistant gut parasite, severe adrenal fatigue, almost zero DHEA or cortisol or other good hormones, tumors on my ovaries, enormous uterine fibroids, lots of deficiencies due to malabsorption issues, and in fact I could go on. It’s a long and very depressing list, and the catalyst for it all is Lyme…

Here’s my brain in 2000. It’s much worse since then. In fact, I stopped getting SPECT scans because they became more and more depressing.  There is nothing quite like watching your brain get hole-y and feeling your cognitive function slide. Luckily I had a genius IQ to start with (seriously – LOL) so I had a little more up my sleeve, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!

SPECT Scan A

I have fought for a diagnosis for a long time, and I’ve had many. Included in the list have been Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Ross River Fever, Q fever, multiple chemical sensitivity, ME, Fibromylagia, Post Viral Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis (both later recanted), Bell’s Palsy, Guillain Barre, Acquired Brain Injury (I love this one – it sounds like I went down to the shop and just ‘picked one up’…), depression, non-specific auto-immune disorder, mitochondrial disease, endometriosis (but my gynacologist can only ever find gross inflammation, NOT endometriosis affected tisssue), and recently ideopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure..

I’ve also been told over the years that this is all in my head, and that my condition is psychiatric. That’s done so much damage.  I doubt everything that happens. I blow off the worst of symptoms and take ages to act on new health problems. After complaining of severe chest pain on many occasions to my general practitioner, I was told it was stress related, given a script for ‘something to relax me’ and advised to ‘learn to meditate’. It was recorded in my chart that I was a hypochondriac two days before I was hospitalised with a major heart attack.

I always knew there was something VERY wrong, but it has been so hard to find doctors who would take me seriously, or who could manage me on an ongoing basis.  I’ve seen so many specialists and natural therapists, I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on my health, and it is still my greatest ongoing expense. I’ve done everything you can possibly imagine in my quest to be healthy, but it’s never worked completely, and I’ve never achieved wellness.

Past life regressions?  Done. Faith healers, reiki masters, and psychic healers? I’ve seen the best. Diet?  I have tried and complied for YEARS with many, including being a raw food vegan, fasting, a macrobiotic vegetarian, an elimination and anti-candida low allergy diet, food combining, paleo, body ecology and a few other weird and wonderful ones.  I even drank my own wee!

Image from www.ukskeptics.com

Image from www.ukskeptics.com

I’ve IV chelated until I whimpered with pain at every session and vowed I would rather die than do one more treatment. I’ve detoxed and sauna’d, had my blood removed from my body and passed through ultraviolet light before being pumped back in again, I’ve done health retreats, hypobaric chambers, hormone therapy, psychology, psychiatry (they said my problem was physical and send me to an infectious diseases specialist), seen a geneticist, cardiologist, immunologist, gynecologist, ear nose and throat specialist, rheumatologist, environmental medicine specialist, and many other wholistic doctors and clinics. I’ve tried EVERY form of natural and complimentary therapy, and most of the multi-level marketing pills, potions and lotions.  I’ve also used vega machines, biofeedback, Hulda Clarke’s zapper machine and held onto electric fences in fits of inspired desperation after reading about farmers who had cured themselves of Ross River Fever doing the same thing…

I still use homeopathy, meditation, acupuncture, chinese and western herbs, nutritional supplements, chi gung, diet, chiropractic and prayer. In fact, I am convinced that my twice-daily meditation and visualisation sessions have saved my life and maintained my ability to function.

Over time I have become very good at managing my condition, and keeping things in a crazy kind of semi-balanced state. But if I’m honest it’s not living. It’s existing.  Existing with good bits and gratitude, yes, but I have been robbed of so much. So many years and opportunities I will never get back.

There is an upside, of course. I have gone deep within. I have done more work on myself than I ever would have, had I not walked this path. When everything else failed, I have always had my psychic ability and my spiritual connection. It is the one thing that allows me to say I wouldn’t trade this if this is the gift I received in exchange. But it’s a gift that isn’t very useful if I’m dead, which is the way I was recently heading.

So, now I have a diagnosis, what next?

One doc says it’s manageable but not fixable, one doc says it’s sort of treatable although he is not hopeful of a positive long-term outcome this late in the game, and one doc says to me I have drugs for the bacteria, and they’ll make you sick, but they might make you well – what do you think, Nicole?

I said ‘Give me drugs. Give me all the drugs. Cos I’m gonna kill all the things!’

kill all the things

In my long war I have used everything else, and it has all helped. But I have never used targeted antibiotics, anitparasitics and anti-microbials. So now I have a fistful of scripts and I shall rattle like a maraca but it’s something. And I am hopeful. Hopeful I can mend my heart and my brain.  Hopeful that my future here is not only a long one, but one with a better quality of life.

I’ll keep you posted. And I may spend a little more time blogging health things and wellness things, in with my usual mix of stuff. Over the past 25 years I’ve learned so much about health that has aided my journey. Perhaps some it will be useful to you too.

If I have one message for you out of all of this, it’s this: Back yourself.  Trust yourself.  We always know deep down, when something isn’t right.  Don’t ever give up looking for answers. Don’t ever give up expecting that you can have a better life.

Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xoxo

Image from www.weheartit.com

Image from www.weheartit.com

Some useful links:

Lyme Disease Association of Australia

Karl McManus Foundation Australia

Lyme Disease Association, Inc United States

The Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

Cups of Tea and Connection – A Challenge!

2012-02-21 10.17.44

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.”  ~ Douglas Pagels

 

Today I have a small challenge for you.  It will only take five minutes, although you’re welcome to spend longer.

My challenge goes like this:

  1. Take 5 minutes out of your busy day.
  2. Fetch yourself a delicious beverage – a cup of tea, a good coffee, a cold juice, sparkly water, a glass of wine – whatever works for you.
  3. Connect with a friend or loved one. The rules of connection are these: it can be in person, a phone call, or a letter.  (That’s right, a letter, written by hand, on paper, so that you can pop a stamp on it and send it through the post.  Email, facebooking and texting don’t count.)
  • If you’re connecting in person invite your friend along to enjoy a beverage with you.  Or use your five minutes to call them and organise a face-to-face meet up sometime soon.

Image from www.waverlycare.wordpress.com

Image from www.waverlycare.wordpress.com

  • If you’re connecting by phone (or skype!) sit somewhere with your beverage of choice, make that call and enjoy a quick catch-up.  Aim to put a smile on someone’s face. Reach out for the joy of hearing another’s voice and sharing your news.

Image from www.mikehulsebus.com

Image from www.mikehulsebus.com

  • If you’re connecting by letter, enjoy the simple act of putting pen to paper. Letters can be funny, warm, wise, newsy, deep or full of scribbled pictures and snippets of poetry.  Who doesn’t love getting a letter in their mail box?  Maybe you’ll be lucky and get one in return.  Older people and children especially seem to appreciate letters.  Lovers do too. Who can you surprise and delight with one of your letters?

Image from www.theletterwritingrevolution.blogspot.com

Image from www.theletterwritingrevolution.blogspot.com

Taking five minutes to connect with the ‘human touch’ is one of the simplest and most powerful acts you can take to maintain relationships.  It also alleviates social isolation, one of the leading causes of depression.

I hope you can find that five minutes to take up my challenge.  In fact, I dare you to make it a regular part of your life!  Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

 

Christmas as a Meditation on Kindness

Image from www.growingleaders.com

Image from www.growingleaders.com

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 
~ Mother Teresa

Christmas is such a crazy time – as much as it can be filled with fun and family and wonder, it can be equally a time of stress, loneliness, hardship, emotional buffeting and misery.

That makes it a perfect exercise for practicing kindness.

This Christmas why not choose to see the day, or the season, as a meditation on kindness. You’ll find that not only will this have positive benefits for you and your own state of mind, the benefits of this practice will also flow out to the world around you.

How to Begin

Start by making a decision to be kind to yourself. Accept that you may have feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, anger or overwhelm, that you may have your buttons pushed by the people around you – especially family. Create the intention that just for these few hours you will treat yourself with kindness and compassion – that you will allow the unwanted feelings and emotions to wash over you like a momentary cloud passing through a sunny sky, rather than letting them take root and grow. Remind yourself often to come back into your heart, and live from a place of love.

Image from www.weheartit.com

Image from www.weheartit.com

How to Flow Kindness to Others

As you meet people through out the day, remember that they may be also experiencing emotions of stress, loneliness, sorrow, grief, worry, overwhelm, anxiety or despair. Smile from your heart – let kindness build a bridge of understanding between you…

In your mind, wish that person well.  Flow good feelings towards them. Keep smiling.

Sometimes you’ll end up in social situations where people’s moods or behaviours may affect your own positive emotional state.  That’s okay.  Begin by sitting in awareness of how the troubles within the other person’s mind may make them act in ways that reveal their inner turmoil and isolation. Instead of being triggered into negative emotions or behaviours yourself, have compassion for their struggle or attitude.  Let it wash over you like a cloud passing overhead on a sunny day. Disconnect from your need to engage in their drama.  Smile, offer words and acts of kindness, or quietly remove yourself from the situation and maintain your own emotional calm and balance.

Kindness-Quotes-Too-often-we-underestimate-the-power-of-a-touch-a-smile-a-kind-word-a-listening-ear-an-honest-compliment-or-the-smallest-act-of-caring

 

And if you’re game, I have a Christmas Kindness Challenge for you:

The Art of Bliss Bombing

This is a gorgeous activity, and one of my favourites. Take yourself to a public place, like a mall, coffee shop, or a bench in a park near where people are walking by.  (If you are up to it, do this at the family Christmas gathering!) Sit somewhere unobtrusive.  When someone walks past, shoot a radiant shower of golden sparks from your heart to theirs and silently bless them with love.  You can even send joy and love from your heart to trees, animals, plants, bus-loads of commuters and overhead planes.  You might  want to say to yourself, “I bless you with love.  Know joy today.”  If anyone catches your eye, just smile.

beautiful-hearts-larissa-ferreira-sky-Favim.com-209808

Feel your open heart begin to tingle with energy and joy.  In that place of energetic connection look around you at the world and you will see that it IS brighter and more beautiful because of YOU.

Today you have acted as an Earth Angel.  Your Lightwork has helped contribute to our energetic abundance.

It’s okay to let your face crack open from smiling!  Thank the Universe for this amazing experience we call life.  Expect an outpouring of feel-good emotion. ♥ Don’t be at all surprised at how the Universe will mirror your love and energetic abundance back to you as you become more and more magnetic to the flow of good and grace.

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com