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

A Little Taste of Our Sanctuary

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“Each positive thought is your refuge and your sanctuary, where in that thoughtful moment, you are safe.”
~ Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

 

It’s our final day of the 2014 Soul Sanctuary Retreat, and I thought I’d share just a tiny part of what we’ve been doing.

We’ve come together and we’ve made magic, we’ve meditated and we’ve shared stories that help with our healing and becoming.

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We’ve made a collective mandala, that holds all of our energies, personalities, love and positive intentions.

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And we’ve turned that mandala into individual talismans with crystals and colours that support us, and our power chakras. Yep, that’s right. We made gorgeous jewels!

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We created Vision Boards to uplift us in the coming months, and to remind us of what is important in our lives, and the future we wish to actively manifest for ourselves.

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We’ve made a personal Sacred Mandala that holds our poetry and philosophy for 2015 – they are symbolic of all that is dear to us and all that we are becoming.

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We’ve wandered through the gardens, having time in nature, and connecting with the earth. And we’ve feasted on a smorgasbord of delicious fresh food, all local and organic and cooked by our own personal chefs – Deb and Claire. (We love you!!!)

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We’ve talked with fairies and Guides, learned how to do readings for each another, and found ways to deeply tap into our own intuition and inner knowing.

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We’ve played with essential oils, learned new ways to ground, connect, release and nurture ourselves. We’ve had healings and been given oils and essences just for us. We’ve enjoyed massive nurture, friendship, laughter, a few tears, and loads of hugs.

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In short, it’s been a fabulous time.

I can’t wait for Soul Sanctuary 2015 so we can do it all again!

 

Why You Need A Tribe

Image from wishstudio.com

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.
~ Unknown

 

We all need a tribe. A tribe isn’t often the family we are born into. A tribe is a group where we find a spiritual home – a group of people who care passionately about something dear to our own hearts, and who give us a place to belong. A tribe is a place where we can grow, and learn. A tribe is also a place where we can share our knowledge and wisdoms with those walking the same path.

Tribes are built around common interests. I belong to more than one. I’m sure you’ll need at least a couple too.

Before I belonged to any kind of tribe I banged around uselessly on my own, reinventing wheels that never needed all of that effort. There was no-one with whom I could share my successes or failures, no-one to bounce ideas off, no-one to laugh or cry with. I’m all for self-development, but it’s a hard and lonely way to live.

This past long weekend I hung out in the mountains with my writing tribe – the wonderful Sisters of the Pen. We wrote, talked writing, ate and talked writing, wrote some more, laughed a lot, ate, wrote, slept and recharged our batteries with some self time and time in nature. We gave ourselves space and permission to put our passion for writing front and centre in our lives for a few precious days.

I surprised myself, and wrote heaps on a brand new project, as well as getting plenty of planning and project management done. Yep, that’s 17028 words. Yay! My beautiful sistahs helped me negotiate some plot twists and gave useful feedback on issues I’d struggled to nut out on my own.

Our little band of writers has also morphed into something so much more than just a group of women who dig words. We’ve shared tough times and great celebrations, we’ve been secret keepers, cheer squads and good medicine for each other. That’s the beauty of a tribe. You evolve and grow together.

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I also belong to a business mentoring group – we are all successful six-figure entrepreneurs who run our businesses in a heart-based way, and who value the support, guidance and friendship of like-minded people. (Yes, my spiritual friends – it is perfectly okay to enjoy prosperity!)  Each week we connect by skype, and then on an online forum, sharing our progress, goals and problems. We live vast distances from each other,  but we have managed to forge connections across oceans, and despite time differences. It’s actually hard to adequately express how valuable this group has been for my own business. It’s just so good to have friends who get where I am coming from, because they are in that same space too.

My business tribe don’t just support me, they hold a space for me, and they call me on my stuff. They are the ones who shout out to me to slow down when I’m being unrealistic, they are the ones who champion my good ideas and who aren’t afraid to tell me if they think my plan is lousy. 🙂  And of course, I do the same for them.

Image from biz-tutor.com

Image from biz-tutor.com

My other tribe is my spiritual community, including my students and clients, and my many friends and readers from around the world whom I’ve met through blogging and social media. I am happy to step up as a leader for my tribe, and I include them in my daily thoughts, prayers and meditations. If you’re reading this, know that you are included in that energy and intention.

My spiritual tribe is where I share my own spiritual and psychic journey, and the things my teachers passed down to me. It’s where we can feel included and normal together, where we can share the sorts of things that other people in our lives may never experience or understand.

Tribes sometimes exist already, and all you have to do is find them.

Sometimes the tribe is waiting to be formed.

They can be a group of people who meet for coffee and a chat, or people who connect over the internet. Or a bit of both.

When you find or create your tribe, the beautiful music inside you finds a way to be expressed in the wider world.

Image from macnichol.com

Are you having trouble identifying your tribe? Maybe you’ll find the following exercise useful. Writing in a journal is a great way to connect to your own deeper wisdom.

Journal Exercise:

Start by writing this passage at the top of your page.

Dear Universe, 

I trust that there is a part of me that already knows what makes my heart sing. I also trust that there is a Universal Wisdom which recognises my gifts and talents, and that understands what outcomes and adventures are best for my Highest Good.

I am ready to embrace the possibility of a better life for myself. I am ready to move from struggle into flow.  I am ready for friendship and belonging, and I’m keen to embrace abundance in all its forms. I want you to know that I’m ready for whatever wonderful experiences and opportunities you send my way. I am ready for my Soul to show me my heart’s true desire. I am ready to embrace the kinship of my Soul Tribe.

Now choose any of the following journal starters, and use it to begin writing.  Don’t judge what comes next, and don’t over-think it.  Just trust that what you write will begin to create a greater sense of personal and spiritual awareness in your life.

  • I’ve always loved to…
  • One thing that makes me completely lose track of time is…
  • If I could do anything well, the thing I would choose is _____ because…
  • You’ll never guess how it happened.  It all worked out perfectly in the end. One day…
  • When I look back, the themes in my life have been…
  • If I think about it, the happiest times in my life involve…
  • One thing I never get tired of is…
  • The thing that fires me up, and that makes me feel completely alive is…
  • The sort of people I most want to hang out with include…
  • Something people tell me I’m really good at helping them with is…

Once you are clearer about the things that light you up, seek out others who feel the same, or put your own group together! My writers group was formed after we all met at a series of weekend workshops. My business mentoring group was formed from within an online community, and my spiritual tribe has grown out of my own business and interests.

Tribes give you momentum and support, two things that are very valuable in a society where we are often disconnected from ourselves and each other.

So, what’s stopping you? Go find your tribe!

Image from myfairisle.blogspot.com

PS:If you’d like to spend time in the company of some wonderful people and are looking to connect with a tribe of your own perhaps my Soul Sanctuary Retreat is what you’re looking for. Come join us in beautiful Byron Bay from November 29 to December 5 for a soulful week of connection, rejuvenation and inspiration.We still have a few places left.

More details on the retreat can be found here

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Lost your Creative Mojo?

Image by Shareen M

Image by Shareen M

“Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.” 
~ Julia Cameron 

Have you taken the pledge and signed up for my Creative Challenge Project yet? It’s not too late, and hopefully, if you stick with me, by the end of this year you’ll have something finished, a new skill or interest, or a bigger project in progress.

As I encourage you to embrace your creativity in 2013, I’ve had a steady trickle of private messages and emails from people who feel that somehow their creativity has left the building. For some there is a sense of loss, for others a quiet desperation.  How do they get their mojo back?

Having been in exactly that dark place at times too, I’m not going to try to jolly you out of your funk (as with depression, it doesn’t work and makes you feel worse!), or make trite statements that are supposed to inspire but that always leave you – the struggling, lost one – feeling lacking and even more useless or stuck. Instead I’m going to have a conversation about the nature of creativity as I have found it. Understanding the creative process has been a source of comfort and personal power for me. And it has allowed me to become far kinder towards myself.

Over the next four weeks, each Monday, I shall look at ways to understand and enhance your creativity, and to nurture this important energy within you.

Even if you are brimful of creative ideas and projects right now, long experience has shown me that there will be times ahead when you struggle with self-doubt, lack of creative direction, low enthusiasm and zero inspiration.

Don’t panic. There are always things that can be done to bring you from that place of stuckness back into flow.

The areas I’ll be covering are:

  1. Situations where creativity vanishes
  2. The seasonal nature of creativity
  3. Ideas for creative replenishment
  4. Emergency tool kit for blocked creatives

I look forward to our creative collaborative energies this year.  I know it can be a magical year for you, and one you will look back on with a sense of fondness and accomplishment. Humans were born to create, and creating is one of the best kinds of soul medicine.

Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

Image from www.vol25.typepad.com

Image from www.vol25.typepad.com