A Taste Of Vietnam

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“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson

 

So, here I am in Vietnam, and our first day has been quite an adventure! We’re staying in the old section of the Grand Hotel, Saigon. Somehow we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite right beside a tranquil swimming pool and green oasis. It’ s a refuge from the heat, and a fabulous spot for writing. After an early morning stroll around the neighbourhood I enjoyed a refreshing swim and then some time working on my book before lunch.

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Ben and I are blessed to be travelling with an Australian-Vietnamese friend who is introducing us to a taste of local life. There’s nothing like having a tour guide with family in the area and inside knowledge! First up we tried local coffee – strong, sweet and good. Then after our swim Thanh took us to a simple noodle shop near our hotel and ordered us lunch. I got to enjoy my first ever bowl of authentic Pho – rice noodles in broth with thin slivers of beef and vegetables and a host of fresh herbs. Delicious!

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Next was some crystal shopping and a wander around some local markets.

So much of today has revolved around food. In the cool of the late afternoon Thanh’s Dad and three of his mates turned up on their motorbikes and took us for a tour of the city, and a visit to the oldest cathedral in Saigon.

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Travelling by bike is a great way to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere, although I must admit to being a little white knuckled at the craziness of the traffic until I finally relaxed into the flow of it. To a western eye it seems so disorganised, but if you step into that zen space and just go with it, there’s a strange logic and beauty to it.

After our city tour we finished up with dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. So much food. So much fun! The pictures below are rice vermicelli with fresh shrimp (prawns), garlic and chilli, and then a tofu and egg savoury custard topped with a meaty mushroom slice and some shellfish in a seafood bisque sauce. Oh my goodness, that was amazing!!! There was more too, but I was too busy eating and talking and laughing to remember to take photos! Sorry 🙂

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Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sending much love your way, Nicole ❤ xoxo

 

I’m on a Plane!

Image from www.w-dog.net

Image from www.w-dog.net

“An airplane crossed the sky, and she imagined its interior-people packed in rows like eggs in a carton, the chemical smell of the toilets, pretzels in foil pouches, cans hiss-popping open, black oval of night sky embedded in the rattling walls. How strange that something so drab, so confined, so stifling with sour exhalations and the fumes of indifferent machinery might be mistaken for a star.”
~ Maggie Shipstead, Seating Arrangements

 

As you read this I will most likely still be on a plane, winging my way back to Australia.

My phone is crammed full of photos. My bags are crammed full of all manner of oddities, as well as a pile of dirty laundry and the one or two items that you pack and then inevitably never use.

My mind, though full of new experiences, is actually delightfully calm and peaceful. I feel emptied out and renewed by this trip away. And more than ready to be home again.

I doubt I’ll blog on Friday morning. Sorry, but I’m hoping to still be curled up in my own bed, asleep at the farm. I hear it’s a cold winter at home. So don’t be surprised to know that it is most likely that two dogs will have snuck up onto the big bed during the night and be squeezed in beside Ben and I. Which is perfectly fine by me. I may have missed them just the teensiest bit.

As much as I have enjoyed my break away, I have also missed you too! I’m looking forward to getting back into my regular blogging routine just as soon as I have a little sleep under my belt, and have settled in again.

Lots of love,

Nicole xx

Things I Have Discovered While Travelling

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“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
~ Terry Pratchett

 

Hello, Lovelies!

I am more than halfway through my holiday, and this morning I have found a little café in Corfu, Greece, so that I can send a few emails and upload a bog post or two.

These are my top ten realisations thus far, while travelling:

  1. You take yourself wherever you go. Whatever is at the core of you – your worries, your habits, your dreams, your beliefs – they come with you.
  2. When you are in a strange land, the things that are an unconscious part of your everyday landscape back at home can suddenly become illuminated in ways that help you to truly see and understand yourself better.
  3. I travel with family, and with ghosts. Even when they are not here with me. I walk into an antiquarian bookstore and suddenly think of my father. I stroll past a florist’s window and know how much my mother would delight in the artistry and the fragrance. I drink a glass of wine with lunch and remember my grandparents, none of whom are still alive. I drink to their memory and their good health anyway. I see a busker in the street and think of my friend Kate, and how she would have loved that. We have a little conversation in my head, and I know that up there is heaven she is smiling down and appreciating the sights and the sounds as much as me.
  4. People all smile and laugh in the same language.
  5. You’ll see more on foot than you’ll ever see from the window of a car or bus.
  6. If the locals eat there, you should too!
  7. Travelling is a kind of dream state, where quiet and forgotten parts of you can come alive again, and new aspects of yourself can be birthed or discovered.
  8. Life is a gigantic wheel of birth and adventure and love and suffering and death and everything in between. Whether it happened 2000 years ago or last week, life has a drama to it, but only in the moment. Eventually, everything is rendered into dust.
  9. If you need wherever you go to be like home and taste like home and behave like home, you should have stayed at home!
  10. Travelling cracks your heart and your mind open, so that you can never be the same again.

When are you planning your next adventure?

Lots of love to you, Nicole xx

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The Energies of June – 2016

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Hello, Lovelies :)

Welcome to June. June is a month for plugging ourselves into the wider world. It’s a perfect time for creating or joining teams, for travel, for organising help, for forming new relationships and strengthening our relationship with ourself.

Cards for the Month:

I’ve chosen two cards for May for you: one from the Osho Zen Tarot Deck, and one from Colette Baron-Reid’s Wisdom of the Oracle. Please note I don’t use these cards in the conventional way, but rather as a stimulus for channelled information.

Here is what I have received from each card:

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“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

 

June is all about connection. Connection to friends and family. Connection to social networks, connections in the workplace, and connections to the world-wide-web. No matter who you are, or where you are, look for opportunities to reach out and connect with other people. Have you been thinking of someone lately whom you haven’t seen for a while? Call them up, invite them for coffee, or drop by and say hi.

Travel. Get out and see a little bit more of your corner of the world, or further afield. Let June have a little adventure in it for you!

Everyone needs a team, and June is the perfect energy for expanding yours. Your team is anyone who helps you in some way. Your dentist, the person who makes your coffee in the morning, the place where you buy your groceries – all of these people are as much a part of your team as the people you work with or your family members.

We all need to help each other, and having a team we can rely on is vital to sustainability, wellbeing and managing stress effectively. Teams amplify energy and creativity. They relieve our burdens and help us all to grow.

June reminds us not to overreach. The thing we don’t enjoy doing or aren’t good at is someone else’s favourite thing, just as you can do things easily that other people might find hard. Who needs you on
their team? How could you help them?

June is also about where you can make a difference.
Take time this month for connecting with people who are important to you, and who make you feel good. Build your team. Put your hand up to be part of someone else’s. How can you be the solution to someone else’s problem?

 

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“Fair exchange is no robbery.” ~ L.A. Banks

 

The second card I’ve chosen is Exchanging Gifts. It’s a sensible message of caution that supports the initial card about connection.

This card reminds us that there needs to be fair energetic exchange when we put our talents and gifts out into the world. Don’t work for free unless you need the experience or you are happy to donate your time and efforts.

Don’t give time (or any other gift) to those who won’t value it. Limit your exposure to the users of the world, especially those who are habitual takers in your life.

Be generous with praise where it is deserved, and support where it feels right. Sometimes our payment is in the satisfaction of having lived true to our values – helping another who had nothing to give in return.

This month you can make incredible progress in your life. Don’t let it be derailed by people who are selfish and clueless and who make it all about them. Set clear boundaries and make sure to hang out with people who encourage and uplift you.

 

 

Best crystals this month?

Moonstone helps us to tune in to the energies of the people around us. It supports empathy and intuition, and is a gentle and reassuring stone for developing psychic ability.

This is a super stone to wear as a ring, bracelet or pendant.

 

Carnelian is a joyful stone of creativity and passion that helps keep us motivated,
inspired and energised. Wonderful if you feel depleted or exhausted as it provides a great boost to your physical body.

Image from www.gem.agency

Image from www.gem.agency

 

Essential oils to support your journey?

Try this sublime diffuser blend of 6 drops of Lemongrass, 5 drops of Joy (a Young Living blend) and 1 drop of Vetiver. This fragrance is uplifting, refreshing and the Vetiver gives that touch of grounding. If you don’t have Vetiver use a drop of Cedarwood instead. Instead of Joy you could substitute 2 drops of Geranium, 2 drops of Ylang Ylang and 1 drop of Bergamot. My fairy friend Sokli calls this her Wake Up Happy! blend. You can find the oils here.

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Need some extra encouragement, support or inspiration?

Try these posts:

Unworthiness Issues – Or Why Am I Freaking Out When Things Are Finally Going So Well?  –  Some reflections on our self-sabotaging behaviours and limiting beliefs.

What does happiness look like to you? – Happiness can be found in simple things. This post gives some examples and suggestions for creating your own happiness list.

The Best Path Magical Oracle – Choose a Magical Path and receive a message just for you!

Meditation for Healing your Relationship With Money – A guided meditation for finding better ways to connect with the energy of money and worthiness.

Life Lucky Dips – Why you need them! – Tips for starting small and getting out of stuckness.

Do What Makes Your Heart Sing – Life is precious, and this post will help you to remember why you need a team. Because you have so many things in this life that only you can do, and the rest of the tasks can be shared with others.

June is a month for living a little more loudly, a little more joyfully, a little more fully. It’s a month for connection and reconnection. For adventures and for honouring your value. Enjoy this fabulous month. I know I will , as I travel around Asia and Europe on my own big adventure!

Sending all my love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

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Beautiful Bangkok!

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“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
~ Anita Desai

 

So here I am in Thailand, after a wonderful flight, with many good movies and some delicious (really!) food. We got into our hotel at about 10.30pm local time, after midnight by my body clock, and Ben made the sensible choice and said that we actually needed to go to bed, although I was so excited that I wanted to do was race outside and DO EVERYTHING!!!

My plan this morning was to sleep in! To be on holidays! To do nothing!

And then of course, as I always do, I woke at 4am. So you know what happened next… I meditated, and sent you all some healing and love. Then yoga stretches, a long hot shower, and another lie down between clean hotel sheets before an early breakfast and some writing time.

There’s a fabulous massage place – Lavana Spa just up the road – so I’m going to toddle up there soon for some serious pampering, after which I’ll sleep (hopefully) and then hit the night markets tonight for some good Pad Thai.

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Oh my goodness. Holidays. It’s only just starting to sink in, this whole concept of nothing to do except whatever Ben and I feel like doing.

I’ll keep popping in and posting while the internet is so good. (Free and 25 times faster than the internet at the farm – mind boggling!)

And I’m a happy dog mumma right now, after hearing that the lovely friend who is farm-sitting for us took Cafe Dog to Doma Cafe in Federal for Sunday breakfast, which immediately scored her a seat at the locals’ table after they all recognised Harry Dog!

Hugs and love to all of you.
Nicole xx

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What to pack?

“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
~ Rumi

 

Just one more sleep and we’ll be on our way. Our first proper holiday in four years!

A friend is staying home at our farm, looking after Nurse Bert and Cafe Dog. Our bags are almost packed, and this time tomorrow we’ll be enjoying a last good coffee before we head out to the airport.

We’ll start with a few days in Bangkok to break the journey and give me a chance to rest and indulge in a few massages, lots of sleep and some delicious food. Then on to Rome where we’ll base ourselves for a few days before joining a cruise around the Mediterranean.

It’s not just a holiday though. I’m revisiting some places I’ve been before and exploring new ones as I put together an itinerary for a Sacred Journey Tour I want to run in 2018 – visiting sacred sites, temples and places of energetic significance. A tour with lots of meditation and spiritual work, as well as yummy food, sightseeing and adventures.

The cruise starts and finishes in Rome, after which we’ll fly back to Thailand for 6 days. There I’ll be sourcing some crystals, beads and silver for other projects I’m working on, and visiting some potential publishers for the hard copies of the Year of ME Planner 2017 that we’re currently designing.

So it will be a lovely mix of rest and work, new ideas and time to soak up the energies and magic of Asia and Europe. I’ve packed my little writing laptop, a kindle full of books, some oracle cards and a favourite crystal, my Planner and a selection of clothes. There’s even room left in my suitcase for whatever treasures I might find while we’re gone.

I’ll be blogging sporadically during my trip, and posting to facebook and instagram when I can. (you can find me on instagram as Cauldrons and Cupcakes and here on facebook) But I am also on holidays, so please don’t expect a daily commentary. I’ve cleverly uploaded a few pre-written posts to be published automatically while I’m away too, just so that you don’t feel neglected. Because I love you all, and I want you to have things to go on with while I am off adventuring.

I promise to enjoy myself doubly much, and to toast your good health and good fortune whenever I get the opportunity!

Big hugs and love to you all,

Nicole xx

 

Holidays – in less than two weeks!

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 

If you’re working with my Year of ME Planner you’ll know that one of the tools I use for life planning is Magical Carrots.

A Magical Carrot is both a reward for work completed, and an incentive to work towards. You can choose a Magical Carrot every month, or allow several smaller carrots to be replaced by one really big one.

My really big Magical Carrot for 2016 is a holiday.

Ben and I haven’t been on one since our trip to Thailand in 2012. Which was just before I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

On our last holiday I was in heart failure and my health was terrible. I truly thought it might be my last-ever trip. Each day was a struggle, and then in the middle of my holiday my precious Nana died, back home in Australia, and the rest of our trip became a blur of sadness and regret.

Now, four years later, I’m cleared to travel again and I am more than ready for the next adventure.

We’re leaving on the 29th of this month, and will be gone for just over five weeks.

Five weeks of downtime. Five weeks of rest. Five weeks of new horizons and curiosities. And five weeks to hold my beloved’s hand and give him my undivided attention.

I’m starting to get excited!

I’ll have written lots of blog posts and activities to be uploaded while I’m gone, and I’ll check in in person once or twice to update you and share a few pictures and stories. But mostly, I’ll be in holiday mode. As much as this psychic ever can be in holiday mode. (Look what happened on my last cruise!)

I’m counting down the sleeps. I’ve dragged my suitcase out and I’m googling the weather in Bangkok and Rome and Venice and Split and Corfu. Soon I might even start packing.

How about you? Do you have a Magical Carrot on the near (or far) or horizon?

I’d love to hear about it!

Lots of love,

Nicole ❤ xx