Help Can Come From Anywhere


“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” 
~
 Charles de Lint

The other morning, as the house slumbered on, I quietly closed the kitchen door behind me and walked up to the pool which sits in the big open back paddock behind our farmhouse.

My plan was to go for a sunrise swim and enjoy some quiet time on my own after my morning meditation.

I thought I’d be alone. But when I entered the pool enclosure I found a small wet bird miserably balanced on the floating hose of our creepy crawly pool cleaner. He was shaking and looked barely conscious. I eased myself into the water so that no ripples would knock him off his precarious perch and made my way to him. He gave no protest as I scooped him up. The little bird was just a fledgling, a ball of downy fluff and wings not yet formed.

I took him back to the house and warmed him against my body, and then placed him in a covered cardboard box that was dark and warm. Then I called WIRES – the Australian wildlife rescue network – and we worked together to make sure that this little bird would survive and be safe.

Our little visitor is an Australian Brush Turkey fledgling. They are also known as Bush Turkeys or Scrub Turkeys, and they grow to quite a size. Mum and Dad turkey build a huge mound of leaves as a nest and spend much time incubating and protecting the eggs. But once they hatch the tiny birds are on their own. And this little fella had experienced a very rough night and was exhausted from his ordeal.

After a little care he perked right up by day’s end, so I released him back close to where I found him.

I wondered what would become of him, and if he would be okay.

The very next afternoon he ran straight through the kitchen door and then eluded capture for the next twenty minutes. After sipping water from the dog bowl he ran back outside again.

We named him Bruce.

Bruce came back twice more that day and we found him asleep – burrowed into some old teatowels in the laundry basket on the back verandah at day’s end.

He’s now become a regular sight, darting about our yard or in and out of the house as he sees fit. Our dogs watch him with curiosity but ignore him. He’s just passing traffic to them, like the many lizards, birds, possums, bandicoots, wallabies, koalas, cows and occasional peacocks that visit our space.

And one day he’ll grow big and look like this! (See pic below)

Male Brush Turkey showing naked red head skin and yellow neck wattle which is in loose stage, Pearl Beach, Central Coast, New South Wales

Bruce could not have known I would show up that morning to rescue him. If I’d been five minutes later the automatic timer on the creepy crawly would have kicked in and Bruce would have drowned.

Life’s like that sometimes. Help comes right at the last moment.

So the next time you feel like Bruce and there’s nothing more you can do to save yourself, hang on. Life often has a funny way of lending a hand when you least expect it.

Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

PS – here’s a cool little 3-minute documentary to show you what Bruce will look like as he grows up!

This is How The Universe Works…

“There are no ordinary moments. There is always something going on.” ~  Peaceful Warrior

“Everything around us is made up of energy. To attract positive things in your life, start by giving off positive energy.” ~ Celestine Chua

A few days ago, as I sat at my desk early, early, early in the morning, looking at my brilliant new idea I want to launch, looking at all of my hopes and dreams for this and next year, looking at the mountain of work I have between now and Christmas, I felt, for a moment, exhausted. And a little uncertain.

I’d felt so guided to move in this direction. The work had flowed so smoothly. I was on fire in a way I haven’t been on fire for years. And yet…

And yet in the midst of all of this I’d ended up in hospital and then on bed rest – right when I was meant to be getting my magical new idea finished.

I’d nursed my friend in her dying weeks, and willingly put all work aside to do that.

My glorious projects, already on tight time lines, now seemed more than a little crazy.

So here I was, early in the morning, looking at my endless to-do list, still having occasional little heart pains, wondering if maybe this time, I’d been misguided.

I asked Rollo, one of my Guides, whether I was on the right path. I had a need for some kind of validation or direction. I would have been really grateful if he’d just said yes or no. Followed by telling me what to do.

Instead he said this. “You’ll get your answers today. In the same way you help others, others will help you. Trust the Universe.” (He’s big on this Trust the Universe stuff!)

i-am-open-to-the-guidance-of-synchronicity-and-do-not-let-expectations-hinder-my-path

So, I trusted. With a little flame of excitement in my belly, Ben and I took off to our favourite city cafe to have some breakfast. With Harry the Cafe Dog, of course.

I hadn’t been sitting at our regular table on the sidewalk very long, when a smiling gentleman at the table behind me said, “Excuse me, but are you spiritual?”

I smiled too. It was a strange thing to say, but I knew exactly what he meant. I hadn’t seen this man before, but he seemed like a local. We ended up having a lovely discussion while Ben was inside ordering our coffees. After which the conversation continued in sociable dribs and drabs.

After breakfast, while I was waiting for Ben to buy a box of chocolates for a neighbour, the smiling gentleman passed me a box of oracle cards.

“Go on,” he said. ” Have a look. They’re new. I think you’ll like them.”

‘Really?’ I was thinking, but also ‘how cool! This is the sort of stuff I’m always doing for other people…’

So, I took the cards from their box, (Colette Baron-Reid’s Wisdom of the Oracle) shuffled and gave myself a three card reading about my year ahead and these crazy projects, being completely open to whatever the Universe might tell me.

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“Read the messages in the little book,” the smiling man said. “They’re so accurate.”

So I did. Each message built on the one before, and all of the news was good. Believe in myself and my dreams and my community and keep going. This was it. All green lights. I snapped a quick photo with my phone so I would remember the cards and their messages.

I was about to put the cards back, when the man said, “Go on, do one more, one card just to top it off. Just to complete the magic.”

So I did, and got this.

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I read the little book. The message was perfect.

The man and I chatted a bit more, exchanged names and contact details, and then to my surprise the smiling man we now knew as Chris gifted my husband and I two free movie passes.

It was the most magical of mornings. Thank you, Chris!

To top it off, after a busy day of clients, I then needed to go see a friend about my magical idea. I was exhausted, but it was important that I go, so that this idea can be birthed in the world. It’s a timeline thing. A deadline thing. You know how it is. My friend is a graphic designer, and I met her at her home that evening.

I discussing something else my friend gave me a piece of advice that sorted out a problem I’d been struggling with for over a year. Just like that, all the pieces of my puzzle came together. Thanks, Bek!

Rollo was right. I trusted, and my answers came in the coolest and most delightful way possible.

So, how about you? Where do you need a little help or guidance? All you need to do is put it out there, and trust!

Direction or Destination?

image from

Image from picture.4ever.eu

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ William G.T. Shedd

 

Right now is a terrific time for planning.

2015 is almost upon us, and as the Captain of our own ship we get to choose where we will sail next year.

Some of you might already have a specific destination in mind.

Terrific. Beautiful. Wonderful. When you have a destination decided you can pull out your maps and chart the best course to take you there.

But what if you can’t decide on a destination?

Often, if we choose a direction, the destination will reveal itself. And that destination may be one we would have never thought of for ourselves. Yet fate will lend us a wind that drives our boat towards a new harbour, or we’ll meet a sailor in another port who urges us on to a place he’s recently visited that he’s sure will suit us, or an event will catch our eye, or a smile will capture our heart.

Direction can be enough. A broad idea of where we’re going.

We’ll head north.

We’ll go back to school.

We’ll work to get our debt down.

We’ll concentrate on improving our health.

Once we have a general direction we can choose a few specific small goals based upon that direction.

We’ll develop momentum. Our sails will fill and we’ll be on our way. Direction decided, ultimate destination as yet unknown. A grand adventure!

Sailing Adventure by Beth Marcil

Sailing Adventure by Beth Marcil

But what if your boat isn’t seaworthy?

Two choices here. You can stay in harbour and work to get that boat back in shape for your next voyage. Which might be later in the year, or even the year after that. You might also choose to sail on a river or a lake closer to home, and just cruise for the scenery, or the memories. If something goes wrong you’ll be close to shore and to help.

The other thing you can do is go sailing in your imagination, your meditations, your dreams. Just because the boat is broken, or trapped somehow, doesn’t mean you can’t captain your mind and use that for your next adventure.

I dare you to dream a little for 2015. Think about destinations and directions. Choose a course, get your ship ready, and then set sail…

That Strange Wise Universe

“All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this.
~ Miyamoto Musashi

 

Sometimes things don’t go to plan.

We’ve had a lot of rain here at the farm. Lots actually. Think floods.

Last Saturday, after having been flooded in overnight, the causeway dropped and Ben decided we’d make a run for it and head to the city for a few days. I didn’t want to go. I have a workshop coming up. And other deadlines to meet. I had so much work to do, and sitting at home in the rain working on my computer in front of the fire sounded like bliss to me. Also, to be completely honest, I felt like crap. Spending a few days in my pyjamas, holed up while it bucketed down outside, sounded fine by me.

rain

There was only one problem. Stupid amounts of rain were predicted and I was worried about running out of Lyme drugs, and accessing a post office to send off my memoir to a competition that was about to close.

We needed to make a decision.

 

So we hastily threw a few things in bags and jumped in the car with the dogs in tow. A couple of hours later there was more heavy rain, the causeway came back up, but we were now safely on the other side. Our plan was to fill my prescriptions, finish my memoir changes and get them in the post, and come back late Sunday or early Monday morning.

In Brisbane my computer died an hour after I plugged it in. You know, the horrible blue screen of death? That one.

windows-blue-screen-of-death-pfn_list_corrupt

Meanwhile the rain kept coming down.

I couldn’t make the computer behave!

Suddenly our quick trip looked like needing an extension.

As a result this week has not turned out to look anything like I had planned.

But…

On Sunday when I realised that I would need to buy a new computer, the one I wanted was on special – for that day only. (Which also once again validates my personal mantra Everything I want is always on special! Read more about helpful affirmations here: My Embarrassing Affirmation Confession)

Our good friend Tony, who also happens to be a computer wizard, suddenly had a work cancellation which meant he could perform CPR on my old laptop and breathe life into my new one. A process I thought should take an hour or two, but which actually took days. Who knew these things could be so complicated?

While I was in that Universe-imposed twilight zone of no emails, blogs, twitter, skype, facebook or any other form of digital communication I was able to re-read and re-edit my memoir the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper. I finished my draft, made the changes on a borrowed computer, printed it off and sent it on its way. I’m sure I did a much better job of it with so few distractions.

What to do after that? Computer still not working, and new Lyme drugs making me feel less than one hundred percent. I napped my way through most of the next few days.

Result?

My memoir is done, I am well rested and feeling sooooo much better, and my new computer, finally, is ready for business.

Of course, the farm is still flooded in. We might get home tomorrow. Or we might not. Helpful neighbours phone us a few times a day with weather updates. No point going home if we get all the way there only to find that we can’t get over the flooded creek that leads to our front door. We’ve had almost a year’s worth of rain in the past few days, and it’s still raining! We’re safe here in the city, our cows are safe back at the farm, and there’s nothing else to be done.

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I’m okay with whatever happens. This week has worked out just fine, with no help from me.

Life’s like that, isn’t it? You can plan all you want, but often the Universe has a way of making your plans ridiculously irrelevant and replacing them with something far more magical and synchronous.

Are you holding on too tight right now? Maybe it’s time to let the Universe have a little elbow room.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

seasons_millman

Goth Boots and New Beginnings

Image from UniSexShoeStore

Image from UniSexShoeStore

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibres connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibres, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
~ Herman Melville

 

Have you ever found yourself in the right place at just the right time, even though it didn’t mean much to you in the moment?

A few weeks ago my husband needed to go into Lismore ( a small country town about half an hour’s drive away) to get some farm tools and supplies. Problem was, on my new medications I was really unwell, and Ben was worried about leaving me at home alone for so long on my own. Solution? I went with him.

We only had a few chores left when we stopped at a favourite bakery so Ben could get some lunch. I ordered a pot of peppermint tea, and we sat outside at a little table. My husband then left me there with my tea, and the friendly staff supervising me, while he walked a few stores up to get a tractor part.

While I sipped my tea a mother and daughter came and sat at the table beside me, and then the mum went inside to place their order.

I smiled at the daughter and said hello, and she glared ferociously at me.

I will admit to this – I was very unwell that day, and she scared me a little at that moment. I wondered if I should have smiled after all.

The young woman was dressed as a Goth. She had multiple piercings, a severe blue-black bob, a white powdered face with heavy black eye makeup and artful black and grey lips. Her clothes were dark, with lots of layered jewellery and dark images. She was plump, awkward and uncomfortable in her skin. Even with her confronting glare and the hostility she radiated, I found her quite beautiful. It was a beauty of which she was totally unaware.

Amidst the tradies, farmers and office workers the young woman looked completely out of place, and everyone stared at her. Judged her. She spent most of her time with her head down, using her long hair as a shield between her and the world.

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It was the lips that did it. They were so carefully drawn. When she turned her head away I stole another glance. Her entire ensemble down to her scary platform boots with the big spikes, was thoughtfully chosen and stylish. So much care had gone into that outfit.

She snarled a smart retort at a spotty youth who made a rude comment to her, and suddenly I was reminded of my dog Bert, who sports a big spiked red collar and who acts and looks so tough when we are out in public to hide his complete terror of the world, but who is a complete pussycat underneath that tough exterior.

I realised that the young woman’s snarl and glare were her defense mechanisms. This Goth Girl was the most stylish person I had seen in Lismore all day. I could see the fragility under the fierce make-up, the piercings, the boots more suited to a Klingon warrior.

Disney Goths Image from Hellee Titch

Disney Goths Image from Hellee Titch

I couldn’t help but listen as she talked over lunch with her mum. She was well spoken, funny and thoughtful. But I could also feel how tentative she was. How nervous and unsure. My heart melted. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that she just needed some encouragement. My intuition was that she had been very brave in coming here for lunch, although I had no idea why. In my sick and miserable state I certainly wasn’t in work mode, and didn’t even think to try.

I felt compelled to say something to this girl. But I had no idea how to do that. And I was feeling so fragile myself. I wasn’t up for any kind of upset or confrontation.

As they were getting into their car I knew it was my last chance. I hobbled over and tapped on her window. The glass slid down and she jutted her jaw at me, scowling.

“Excuse me,” I said, feeling a bit stupid but determined to say something. “I just had to tell you that I think you’d win the award for the most stylishly dressed person in Lismore today. You really rock that look.” I meant it sincerely, and I smiled at her again, and walked back to my table, heart thumping in my chest. The girl reminded me of someone, but in my addled state I just couldn’t think who.

A few minutes later Ben returned. We drove to the other side of town, made a few more stops and then finally went to Bunnings, where Ben left me in the car while he went inside to get the last things on his list.

A tentative knock on my window startled me as I sat there, half-asleep. It was the mother from the bakery. I rolled down my window. The woman couldn’t believe that she’d run into me in the Bunnings carpark. She couldn’t stop thanking me. Her daughter’s name was Lisa, and apparently my comment to Lisa had been just what she’d needed to hear.

The mother’s face became fraught with worry. After enduring ongoing bullying at a college in the city, Lisa had suffered a complete breakdown. That very day the mother had picked up Lisa from a mental health unit, where she’d been a residential patient for some months.

Lisa’s counsellor had told the mother that it was probably time for her daughter to change her image to something less confronting. It was the one thing Lisa had not been prepared to do in her ongoing support sessions. In defiance of the advice, Lisa had carefully and bravely made herself up in her usual choice of fashion for her entry back into the world.

My comment had apparently made Lisa’s day, and helped her to feel more confident about herself and her style.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

What had Lisa been studying? I asked.

Beauty and hairdressing, the mum said. We talked for a few minutes more and exchanged telephone numbers.

I didn’t give the incident much more thought until I was speaking with a client last week. She runs a successful city hairdressing salon, and she’d been having trouble finding a suitable apprentice. Bingo. She was the one I’d been trying to think of when I’d met Lisa. My client is heavily tattooed, favours a Goth look herself, and is one of the most intelligent and sweet-natured women I know. I told her about Lisa, the young woman I’d met outside the bakery. A few phone calls were made. Magic happened. One talented young woman has now been taken under the wing of an equally talented mentor. Wins all round.

There is a synchronicity and magic in this Universe, and it often finds a way to work through us, so that we become a part of that flow of goodness.

I very much trust in that. Don’t you?

 

Inviting Help into Your Life

Showing the way

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
~ Charles de Lint

 

Divine Guidance.  Signs. Help.  Answers to prayers.  Last-minute reprieves. Dramatic turn-arounds. Miracles. Most of us have asked for them at one time or another, but are we actually heard?  Can we really reach out like that and expect things to change?

I believe that the answer is yes. But it is useful to understand the process.  Our job is not only to ask. (I’ve written about that process here: Asking for a Sign) Our job is also to be receptive to answers, no matter what they look like, or how they come to us. Our job is to ACT on those answers and synchronicities. Our job is to know that we need to trust in Divine Timing. Especially when what’s happening in our lives is not going to OUR timing – the timing we want for ourselves and our plans and dreams.

Let me explain…

Back in November 2012,I stood on a moonlit beach in Thailand thinking of a particular set of circumstances in my life. My beloved Nana had just died, and I would not make it home for her funeral. And earlier that day, when I still suffered from congestive heart failure, I’d been crippled with severe chest pain. The pain had gone, but it had left me frightened and bemused. Once again I’d hit a wall with my health, and no matter what I’d tried (and the list was exhaustive) nothing was working. I realised I had reached my limit. No matter what I did, I was dragging myself through life, not enjoying it at all, but trying my best. For my husband. For my friends. For my clients. Every day was a struggle. And every day I was getting worse. Again.

I missed my Nana. I felt like more of my cheer squad was now in heaven than down here on earth.

My deteriorating health was impacting my marriage, my work, my very ability to draw breath. I knew in my heart I couldn’t go on like this. I didn’t have it in me any more. I’d found the end of the line. I stood there on that beach, oblivious to the beauty, with tears streaming down my face and I said, “Do you know what, God? I just can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

I was ready to go home.

Image by Richard James

Image by Richard James

I meant it.  I said what was in my heart.  There was no neediness. No wanting or hoping. So it wasn’t really a prayer, or even a request for help.  I just said it how it was.  A definitive statement without expectation. I was squared away with dying. In fact, I fully expected that death was where I was heading. I was okay with that, sad as I would be to leave my husband. I was so very tired. I had no fight left in the tank. I really was done. I turned on my heel, went back to our room, and then forgot all about this seemingly one-sided conversation in the days ahead.

Less than a week later, I bumped into a friend in Bangkok who told me that she’d been having thyroid problems.  She mentioned that it could sometimes cause chest pain.

We talked some more…

Oh, she said. You need desiccated pig thyroid, not that other stuff you’re on. There aren’t too many doctors back in Australia who prescribe it, but there’s one in Brisbane. And she gave me his name.

A few days later I was back in Brisbane, and I called that number. By some miracle I ended up with an immediate appointment with a doctor who usually took a year to see. In fact, I’d tried to see him three times during the past ten years and been unable to get an appointment at all. But he was in his office, it was a Friday afternoon, his secretary had gone home with the flu, and he’d just had his last appointment of the day cancel. Could I come in straight away?

I could, and I did.

Before I saw him I had to fill in a very long and exacting health history. Standard procedure for doctors who think outside the square.

I wrote it all down. All thirty years of it. Something I hadn’t bothered to do for a long time.

He called my name and I went into his office.

I looked around at the pictures and the box of toys on the floor while he read my history. It took a very long time.

Finally, he looked up.

“This is textbook Lyme Disease,” he said. “Ever been tested for it?”

I’d never even heard of it.

He gave me forms so I could send off some blood samples, and that was the day I began to get my life back.

He was right. I did have Lyme Disease. I told my sister. She stumbled upon some information concerning another doctor who was about to open a new clinic, specifically treating this illness. I was one of the first patients to be seen.

These two physicians changed the course of my trajectory forever.

Now I am healing.

One day I fully expect to be well, whatever that may look like.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I know that somewhere, right now, someone is reading this who needs to know that they are not alone. That our thoughts and prayers are heard. That answers sometimes come from left field, and in manners that we could never have imagined.

Sometimes we need to ask for help. Sometimes we need to surrender.

And it usually doesn’t happen in the timing we’d hoped for.

But…

…wherever you are at, know that miracles are possible.

Change is possible.

Help is possible.

Healing is possible.

And you are worthy of all these things.

Sending you much love, and holding a candle for you in my heart, Nicole xx

Image from Vastu Chai

Image from Vastu Chai

Wrong Numbers and New Friends

Image from www.Radio2.nl

Image from www.Radio2.nl

“Sometimes wrong numbers are the right numbers.” ~ Cecelia Ahern, The Time of My Life

 

Late yesterday afternoon I tried to call my sister. My new drugs are kicking in and so my eyes were all twitchy and I was having problems seeing. Somehow I put in one wrong digit.

“Hello?” An older woman’s voice, surprised, answered the phone.

“Mum?” I said. I’d been expecting Simone. What was Mum doing there? Was it even Mum? It had to be Mum… Trying to place the voice against the background noise of a blaring television I tried again. “Hello? Mum, is that you? Can you hear me? It’s Nicole. “

There was a pause, and then the woman spoke again. “That’s a beautiful name, darling. Nicole did you say? That’s French isn’t it?”

By now I had worked out that this definitely wasn’t my mum on the other end of the line, but something made me keep talking.

“Yes,” I said.

“Well, you can call me Mum, sweetheart,” the old lady said. “I’d like that very much.” She asked where I was calling from, and I explained that I was here in Brisbane for a few days but that I normally lived on a farm.

Well, ‘Mum’ was away! Telling me all about her days growing up on a farm on the outskirts of Toowoomba, and then later the animals she kept at her little house in Brisbane after she married and when her children were growing up. She’d had ducks and chickens and a lovely big vegetable garden, right here at Mount Gravatt. Of course as she’d gotten older she’d had to let all that go…

Photo by Erika Stardig

Photo by Erika Stardig

“Ducks,” I said. “Good eggs, duck eggs. Great for cooking.”

“Oh, do you like to cook?” she asked.

We chatted for a few more minutes, and she told me about her son who had gone off to fight in Vietnam and who came home and tore the chook shed down after his father’s home brew kit, kept in a lean-to beside the shed, had exploded one hot summer’s night and scared the life out of them all.

Eventually I excused myself and hung up so that I could call my sister.

Just before I went to bed last night my phone rang. It was still early so I answered it, thinking the number was my sister’s.

“Hello, Nicky,” the voice said, “it’s Mum again. I have my own Mum’s recipe here for Duck Egg Sponge. I knew I had it somewhere, and I thought you’d like to have it. She cleaned up at the Show every year with that sponge. You can probably get duck eggs down at your farm so maybe you could give it a go.”

I carefully wrote down the ingredients and instructions.

Image from Dann Good Cake

Image from Dann Good Cake

“Are you okay, love?” she asked as I began coughing violently – a side effect of the evening’s drugs.

I waited for a wave of nausea to pass and then briefly explained that I was unwell and starting on new medications which made me feel sick.

“How about I call you in a day or so?” Mum asked. “Just to see how you’re getting along. Would that be okay? You know I’ll worry about you if I don’t. And don’t you go making that sponge cake yet. You should really be having a shower and hopping into bed. Go on then, off you go. Sleep well, Nicky love. And I’ll ask Saint Peregrine to watch over you. And Raphael too. He’s my favourite Angel. I’m a lapsed Catholic dear, but I’m still very fond of some of their Saints and Angels.”

I just love the synchronicities and everyday miracles of this life, don’t you?

We are, all of us, so very much loved, and connected in magical ways we’ll never quite understand while we’re down here living out our days.

Image from Epoch Times

Image from Epoch Times

How Synchronicity Happens

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” 
~ Charles de Lint

Have you ever wondered how synchronicity happens? It’s a wonderfully magical concurrence of events that leads to an opportunity, a ‘chance’ meeting, a lining up of the stars in some way advantageous to you.

I was at the opposite end of one of these events recently. Let me explain…

Our usual pattern in the mornings here at our farm (when I am well enough) is that I wake up early, meditate, blog, feed the animals and then my husband and I head off to a favourite cafe for some writing time. We’re usually in and out of Byron Bay or Bangalow well before the tourists are even on the march.

But last Friday that didn’t happen. I felt quite average (after a horrible couple of days) and so we stuffed around at home doing one thing or another, and didn’t leave early. In fact we almost didn’t go at all, until Ben decided that a little outing would do me good.

Then we quite spontaneously drove in the opposite direction to price hay for our wiener calves, after which we headed back into Bangalow for a cuppa and some writing.

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We’d totally forgotten that it was a) Friday and b) school holidays. By this time it was mid-morning and town was packed. We were almost about to go home when a parking spot opened up miraculously in front of us. Happily we pulled in and then crossed the road to a local haunt.

A girlfriend we haven’t seen for months waylaid us outside the cafe for a chat. People stopped to admire Harry and to pat him. It took ages just to get to a table.

We ended up getting next to no writing done, but had a lovely social time. Then Ben decided on the spur of the moment to go to the Post Office, and I got the idea in my head that I might as well go to the butcher to get some soup bones. By now it was lunch-time, and the main street of Bangalow was thick with people.

“Nicole Cody?” I heard someone say. “I just knew I’d run into you today!”

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The face behind the big dark glasses looked familiar, but I was having a bad day, and I struggled for a moment to place her except for her name; Karen.

She’s a beautiful client of mine who used to live here in Australia, but who’s now relocated to the United States. She was down in our part of the world for a few days and decided to come to Bangalow for a look, hoping to run into me.

And I can tell you that on a Friday at lunchtime in school holidays the likelihood of that should have been totally negligible. And yet here we were, in perfect synchronicity – exchanging hugs and happily catching up.

I felt like I’d been pushed around a giant chess board to position me in the street in front of the butcher just for her. And I didn’t mind a bit! 🙂

The Universe has a magic to it – not to be understood by the head, but known by the heart.  Trust in that! Who can say what magic awaits you?

Much love to you, ♥ Nicole xx

I am open to the guidance of synchronicity and do not let expectations hinder my path

The Joys of a Shared Table

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” ~ Michael Pollan

 

If you had asked me to create a memorable meal when I was younger I would have had the cookbooks out in a flash, planning some elaborate and fanciful spectacular.  Menu planning for ‘Spectaculars’ runs in our family. We used to call going to my grandparents for dinner ‘a trip to the Palace’; all of us dressed for dinner, the table set with the best china and crystal, flowers, music, wine, and lovingly prepared food of restaurant quality.  As a child I grew up turning melons into piles of perfect tiny spheres for one of Mum’s ‘Annual Christmas Creations’, or hollowing out endless half loaves to make little toasted bread baskets for prawn salad.

I still love a party, and planning something special, but I’ve come to realise that it’s not just about the food. It’s the experience – the people, the situation, the sharing.

Here are some of my most memorable meals:

Ben and I ran into two charming elderly brothers on the veranda of a tiny country pub in the middle of nowhere.  They were staying in a shack down by the river and suggested a spot a little further along as a good place for us to camp. On a whim I invited them to dinner, and cooked a camp oven roast with all the trimmings, bread and butter pudding and home-made custard.  They brought an empty cereal box full of live yabbies (little freshwater crayfish) as a gift, and entertained us with stories all night. The next morning while we were making breakfast our dog Charlie, who was still a pup, found the box of yabbies and spilled them all over our swag, and then ‘played’ with them. We couldn’t get the stink of yabby guts out of the sheets and had to throw them away.

bush kitchen

On the day that my beloved grandmother Marga (Queen of the ‘Palace’) passed away, my sister, Mother and I sat with her as she took her last breaths.  Afterwards my sister and I went for a walk and ended up in the courtyard of a little cafe in New Farm, where we ordered a very late lunch of ginger-beer, toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches and hot drinks.  We sat in the sunshine on this glorious Brisbane afternoon, not really talking, just sharing space and taking comfort in each other. The waitresses were so kind, and brought us tissues when we both kept eating with tears sliding down our cheeks.

toasties

The best hot chocolate of my life was at a little outdoor cafe in the medieval city of Gubbio in Italy. I was travelling with my husband and some friends but had taken time out to sit on my own and write. Was I alone though? No! I was sitting on the terrace with Gubbio laid out before me, surrounded by flirty Italian waiters, while the shopkeepers called greetings to me.  That hot chocolate was sublime, but it was also flavoured with the romance of that ancient city.

gubbio square

During a trip through the centre of Australia a few years back, we got flooded in on a remote stretch of road with several other motorists.  We all camped on the road, glued to the radio for the weather and road updates, and pooled what food and drink we had with.  Dinner was an interesting affair of chips, chocolate, lollies, sweet biscuits, sausages in bread, baked beans and instant noodles, washed down with beers and cups of tea sweetened with condensed milk. Our dining area was a huddle of folding chairs and eskies under rigged-up tarps in the pouring rain. It was cold and wet, but we had a lot of fun and met some interesting people!

central-arnhem-road-650Last year I took my good friend, Carly-Jay Metcalfe to visit one of our neighbours. Gordon’s an old farmer with many a story to tell, and he’s dad to another very good friend, Shannon.  Our farms are opposite each other, separated by a river which is low enough to cross over in our gumboots at the shallowest section, if it hasn’t been raining.  We came bearing home-made scones, jam and whipped cream, and Gordon made us a pot of tea that any CWA stalwart would have been proud of – Gordon’s tea is a bracing brew.  All afternoon we sat in his humble kitchen, laughing and sharing tales.  The food was fresh but not fancy, and there was not a tiara in sight. But it was one of the best afternoons on record.

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When I look back, my most treasured food memories aren’t really about the food at all. A meal can be a main event, but what makes the occasion memorable for me is the joy of a shared table.

What’s your most memorable meal?

Life’s Spontaneous Adventures…

My trusty old Hilux – much loved by my dogs who get to ride with the wind in their hair…

Much to my mother’s ‘sense of style’ mortification, I drive an old Hilux Ute (a pickup for my non-Aussie readers). One thing I have found to be a truth in this life – when you have a ute you have friends.  Friends who need to move things.

I have also found that having a ute quite often leads to unexpected adventures.

Last night proved to be no exception. A friend is moving offices, and wanted help to move some bookcases and shelving. We drove through the evening peak hour traffic to get to his current workplace, loaded the ute, and then followed him back to his home, down on Brisbane’s bayside.

Once we were all unloaded he suggested we join he and his partner for dinner, at a favourite bistro on the waterfront.

It was a beautiful night.  Cool, not a breath of wind, and just a few light showers every now and again.  We ate at the Marina, looking out over the water and the twinkling lights.

I’d like to report that my Baked Atlantic Salmon and King Prawn Risotto was excellent, as was my glass of Mojo Sauvignon Blanc. I wish I’d taken a picture of it, but alas, after all that furniture moving I devoured it entirely before I thought to share it with you.  Here’s the happy evidence of its demise:

So good, I almost licked the plate clean…

After dinner, we said our goodbyes, and then my husband and I took a last walk around the Marina, enjoying the scenery and all of those magnificent boats. We talked of travel, of sailing, and all the places left in the world still waiting for us to explore.

And then the completely unexpected.

A chance encounter with old friends from another place and time… An invitation aboard their boat… The opening of another bottle of wine…

Laughter, music, conversation and catch ups. The opportunity to step out of the everyday…

Dave’s boat, drinks and dancing!

One of the things that thrills me most about this life is all of the turns and twists, the synchronicity of events, the joyful bumping into people you would never expect to see on a rainy night in Brisbane.

There is something so magical about life. I’m hooked on it. Aren’t you?