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

Return To Santorini

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

 

So, here we are, sitting in a very low-brow bar in Santorini. We’re up on the roof, drinking cold beer on a hot day, and availing ourselves of the free wi-fi, which is patchy but hey… free.

There are many gorgeous (and very expensive) ‘tourist cafes’ lining the cliffs and looking out over the cauldron of Santorini’s extinct volcano and the glamorous yachts and cruise liners below. The cafes are full of beautiful people, and the wealthy elderly.

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But that’s not us. And I rather like this humble eatery we have found. We look out over rooftops to the ocean on the other side of the island. We peer down into people’s backyards. It cost us just 8 Euros for the two of us for cold beers and excellent gyros with all the trimmings. There is a local radio playing ‘easy-listening’ Greek music mixed with an eclectic blend of 1970s and 1980s hits. A sleepy cat is watching us from under a canopy of grape-vines, and the breeze is scented with wood smoke and spicy roasted meats and vegetables from various Sunday lunches.

There are locals eating here. So I figure that speaks to the quality of the food, cheap as it is.

I’ve truly relaxed into the pace of holidays now, although I must confess that it took me a while, and now our travels are almost at an end. We’re back to Rome in a few days. From there a flight to Thailand and a few more days of rest, and then home.

The most important thing I discovered on this vacation?

Me.

Okay, gotta go. We need to walk this beer off, before a gelati and then a cable car ride back down to the harbour, where we’ll hop on a tender back to the ship.

Blowing kisses to you from Santorini,

Nicole xx

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Packing My Bags. Destination? Adventure!

Image from www.usrenewal.org

It’s official. NO more sleeps ’til I begin my holiday!

Of course that doesn’t mean I’ve packed.

Right now my house looks like a bomb’s hit it.  But I trust that in a few hours everything will have been put back into some semblance of order, I shall have found my passport, my swim suit and my kindle, and I’ll be ready at the front door with appropriate luggage.

Holidays. This notion of unplugging from the grid has been there in the back of my mind for months as I’ve waded through 2012. Relaxing time. Writing time. Time to stop and do… nothing! No matter how hard the going got (and at times it’s been pretty tough this year), I’d think to myself November is my month.  All I have to do is make it through to November.

Well, I made it. Today Ben and I head off to Thailand, and that’s November sorted.

I’ll be a bit of an ad hoc blogger these next few weeks.  But I know I won’t be able to help myself.  I’ll want to share what I find with you!  All that Thai food, all those wonderful markets and temples and wild spaces and crazy Bangkok shopping. Thailand is one of my favourite destinations.

 

We’ll be at Kanchanaburi to lay poppies on the POW war graves, and to walk the Bridge over the River Kwai on Remembrance Day.

And some time after that I shall be lying on a beach in Koh Samui, drinking cocktails out of coconuts and succumbing to endless massages.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

I’m excited.  Today I start my holidays.  I’ll write you from someplace new, and share a pic or two in the next few days.  Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

Farmers’ Markets – Nom Nom Nom!

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” ~ Michael Pollan

Have I told you how much I love food?

I do, you know.  Food is one of life’s great joys for me.  There is nothing better than fresh food – from produce grown with love and care. Good food is medicine for the body and nourishment for the soul.

Byron Shire, where my little farm is situated, is plush with Farmers’ Markets. I rarely need to buy anything but toilet paper and dried staples from the big grocery stores. Instead I get my food seasonal, local and freshly harvested. Thursday, I can head to the Byron Bay Farmers’ Market, Friday I can visit the markets at Mullumbimby, and Saturday there’s a market behind the pub in Bangalow.

This morning I’m heading out to Mullum (Mullumbimby!). We’ll stock up, have a fresh juice and a really good local coffee from beans grown right here in the Shire, and then we’ll consider our breakfast options… There’s always entertainment, and lots of friendly faces. And I’ll come home laden with hand crafted breads and cheeses, eggs, fruit and vegetables and a few extra goodies. I always seem to gather lots of hugs too, which is the pleasure of shopping in your local community (emphasis on community!).

Here’s a taste of some of my previous market forays…

The Mullum Food Court – LOL – not a fast food in sight. That’s my kind of dining experience!

Food for the Soul.

Seedlings for my garden.

Potatoes!  Dutch Creams and Nicolas. Mmmmm….

Delicious hand crafted cheeses and cultured butter from the Bangalow Cheese Company.

Red Dragon Fruit – a breakfast favourite with a squeeze of lime.

 

Better get some lime to go with that Dragon Fruit.

Eggs and lavender, so I can do a spot of baking, and make a little meditation tea.

 

Juicy Coopers Shoot tomatoes – famous throughout the Shire.  Once you’ve eaten one of these you’ll never want a shop-bought tomato again!

And a little ‘nom nom nom’ to take home…

Maybe there’s a local Farmers’ Market near you. Why not go for a visit?  There’s nothing like the taste of fresh food, and I think it’s important to support our farmers who put so much care into looking after their land and feeding us from the efforts of their devotion.

Good fresh food raises your vibration too – perfect for sensitive souls and those of you wishing to develop or strengthen your spiritual and psychic ability. Enjoy! ♥

 

And finally, a song to nom along to! LOL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gifts from the Road…

Sunrise from the ute window as we make the long drive home…

I’m home.  I slept in my own bed last night. Today I have work in front of me – a long, intense stretch of it, in fact.  But it doesn’t matter.  I feel renewed, and something in me has been mended.

Maybe it was all that good roadhouse and bakery food.  We started with a breakfast at Kibbles Bakery in Casino at barely 7 in the morning on Day One of our trip.  They stumped up toasted sangers, bacon and eggs and an enormous pot of excellent strong tea, and then charged us so little money I queried them twice.

Road trip food!

Maybe it was all the wide open spaces, and the smell of sunshine and dust and gumleaves. Our trip took us well and truly off the beaten track, and delivered us more than a few amazing vistas.  It was a pleasure just to stop and sit for a while, enjoying the solitude and the sounds of nature. And of course, we got to pick up my birthday windmill!

Every road led us to another beautiful panorama

There were moments of whimsy, like the artist and potter friends we visited, whose farm was littered with little sculptural surprises…

Wallaby, guarding a bowl of drinking water for the fairy wrens and willy wagtails

More than once we came to a new town and discovered something wonderful, like the milkbar at Bingara that is straight out of the 1920s, and which deserves a blog post all its own.

The Gem of Bingara

Romance was a delicious malted vanilla milk shake with two straws!

 

Of course I still took life with me.  I have a Channelling Intensive Retreat in a few weeks, and my students were worn round my neck, worked through my fingers twice daily or more so, as I prayed my mala. Maybe they needed the nurture of the Outback energies too…

My mala beads, one large bead for every student on my course, and a few extras for people that I love and want to include in my daily prayers and healing meditations

We covered vast distances on this trip, and I had the odd sensation of moving through life in a blur, and being simultaneously cocooned safely in the arms of the land, quiet and still.

Life reminded me of the things I loved.  I found a second-hand bookshop in Glen Innes, and spent way too long perusing the shelves. Of course I came away with a few, some of which were devoured before we even made it home. I was reconnected to a story of my own that I’d put down a few years ago, unsure how to proceed.  On this trip I was gifted clarity and inspiration. I made notes that will help me complete the project I have struggled with so long.  Once again I see the wisdom of Universal Timing.

Book shops – I love them so!

I said goodbye to my friend who died last week, in a way that felt right and that allowed her past suffering to become a bright blaze of light and love. I held my husband’s hand. I said hello to myself again. And in the shortest of times really, something shifted and all my burdens eased or fell away.

The calm of early morning as the world falls away beneath my wheels

I’m looking forward to the next adventure, but right now I’m ready for life again, and being here for you! Wishing you blue skies, sunshine and happiness. Bless ♥ xx

 

Day 17 – Gratitude Challenge

Image from favim.com

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
~ Charles M. Schulz

Yesterday, after I blogged about gratitude, I blogged about food.  I realised that I just couldn’t go 30 days without sharing one of my other great loves.

It’s so easy to be grateful for food, and the food related moments in our lives. When I look back through my own life I think of my mother, painstakingly turning cupcakes into mice and pirates and pigs for my seventh birthday party.

I think of carrying my precious home-made wedding cake balanced on my knee as I travelled by canoe from the island where our tiny plane had landed to the island of Gizo in the Solomon Islands where I got married.

I think of the amazing cup of hot chocolate I enjoyed on the terrace in Gubbio, Italy, and the incredible tappas and sangria I enjoyed on a sun-soaked afternoon in Barcelona.

The best hot chocolate of my life, as I scribbled notes for my novel at a tiny alfresco table on the terrace in Gubbio, Italy.

I think of the coffee at my favourite cafe in Byron Bay, or of scones and mugs of tea on the veranda at my farm.

Nana teaching me to make scones, Marga teaching me to make the perfect plum pudding, Mum teaching me how to make boiled fruit cake.  BBQs and dinner parties with friends. How much food, and love, and happiness are intertwined in my mind….

Food is indeed a great source of gratitude.

Counting Our Blessings and Using our Gratitude Rock

If you need a detailed reminder of our daily process, you can review it here in Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge.

  1. List five Blessings in your journal, explaining why you are grateful for each one.
  2. Count your Blessings off on your fingers, summoning positive emotion and saying Thank You from your heart for each one.
  3. Take your health request from under your gratitude rock and affirm Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for the Gift of _____________  in my life.  Know that this gift is finding ways to express itself in your life and that you are becoming magnetic to this gift of health.  Really feel that positive energy in your heart.
  4. Tonight before you go to sleep, hold your Gratitude Rock and affirm I am richly Blessed. I have an Abundance of Good in my life. Visualise one thing you have been grateful for today. Swell that positive energy up in your heart like a beautiful golden light, and give a heart-felt Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to the Universe, then imagine a tiny shower of golden light travelling from your heart into your Gratitude Rock.
  5. Still holding your Gratitude Rock, bless your fellow travellers on this Gratitude Journey by sending them golden light, and saying Thank you.  I Bless You.  I intend for you Love, Miracles and Abundance. Know that as you are saying this for them, they are also saying this for you. Feel that connection and gratitude and know that there is real love and support for you here. Place your rock back beside your bed, and go to sleep, cocooned in this good energy.

If all you do today is these five steps, know that is enough.

If you’d enjoy working with an additional challenge, here it is!

Gratitude Feast

Today, treat yourself to a favourite food.  It might be a trip down memory lane to a favourite meal from your childhood, a visit to a cafe or restaurant, or a dish you keep for special occasions or visitors. You might even ask your mum or your grandmother to bake something for you!

Banana-Nutella Pancakes in Thailand. Mmmmm….

As you eat your food savour it with all of your senses.  Really pay attention to how it smells; how it looks on the plate; the texture, temperature and taste on your tongue.  Enjoy each mouthful.  Take time to appreciate not just the food but the surroundings, and the company if you have any.  Allow yourself to take pleasure from your meal.

When you have eaten, say Thank You to the person or people who have prepared and served your food. Say Thank You to the farmers and all the unseen helpers who have helped bring this meal to you.  And remember – Thank You to the Universe for the abundance that is all around you.

I sincerely hope you enjoy today’s challenge.  Bless ♥ xx

Fairy Tea Party – won’t you join us? Image by rowdyHarv – Flickr

Too Busy? Relax!

Image from blogs.monash.edu

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.  ~ Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris

We’re coming into a weekend, and I have a mile long list of things that still need to get done.

So, I should be doing them. Right?

Well, actually…  No!

I’m tired. It’s been a crazy week. Truth be told I’m about as sharp as a beach ball right now. So instead of stressing about all that work, I’m going to take the day off. Maybe I’ll get a massage.  Maybe I’ll go the movies.  Maybe I’ll curl up with a book.

But one thing’s for sure, I’m giving myself a mini-vacation; a mental health break if you will. Having once been the Queen of Burnout I recognise that when life is this busy, I need to take a break so I don’t end up broken.

The work will wait.  And when I come back I’ll be refreshed and my approach will be entirely different. There’s a great power in relaxation, a power to heal, to restore, to calm and renew.

When you are way too busy to take the time to relax, that’s always when you need to relax the most! Even if it’s just a few minutes of breathing while you’re seated at your desk at work.

 

You might also like to read these related posts:

Emotions and Their Impact on Your Health

Doing Nothing is Productive

Nothing Grows Well in Depleted Soil

Drinking in Colour – How to Do a Healing Walk

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Image from wallpapers-biz.co.cc

Are you one of those people who needs to be productive?

I certainly am. Not from any external pressure –  I just LIKE getting stuff done, and I always have several projects on the go, a big fat to-do list, as well as a schedule that stretches out towards the horizon.  Life, and its possibilities, lights my fire!

But there is nothing like a good dose of burn-out to help you realise that less is more, and a dose of near-death really does help you to clarify your priorities.

Where one upon a time I worked endlessly, I now work in bursts, and then have some time out that is totally unscheduled.

Before my big cycles of crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn – okay, you get my drift – my life looked like this:

Image from freeicons.eu

I was a busy little robot working harder and harder, doing more and more, and somehow expecting that I could just carry on that way forever.

I actually thought that if I worked harder and harder I would achieve more and more, ad infinitum.  But of course you end up working with the Law of Diminishing Returns.  More does not make more.  More becomes less.

More work means less sleep. Less fun.  Less clarity.  Less inspiration.  Less connection.  Less well-being. Less healing capacity.  Less opportunity to be spontaneous. Less flexibility.  Less ability to cope with the unexpected. Less true creativity. Less chance of seeing new possibilities, meeting new people and expanding in new directions.

When you keep trying to fit more and more in, something will inevitably break, and that something might be you.

I know this, because I’ve been there.  More than once.  And most of it has been self-inflicted.

I’ve had to ask myself the big questions in life.

I am okay with diminished output if it means better quality of life, and a longer life. I mean, realistically, how much can you get done here if you’re dead? And in the end, does any of that stuff on your to-do list really matter?

So now my life looks much more like this:

Image by Lecsmile – Photobucket.com

I have periods of deep rest, relaxation and doing totally NOTHING.  And then I have periods of doing things, being active, connecting, learning and being crazy-mad infatuated with taking up all life has to offer!

Truth is, I’m more productive than I ever was, in the areas that matter to me.

I hadn’t expected that.

Oh my goodness I wish I’d know this important little nugget of wisdom years ago.

Less is more.

Image from msugradwellness.wordpress.com

That’s right.

Doing nothing is good for you.

If you don’t know how to do nothing, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Naps.  Napping is awesome!
  • Curl up on the couch with a magazine.
  • Go to bed early or sleep in.  Sleep all day if you feel like it.
  • When something frees up in your schedule, don’t fill that spot with another task or expectation.  Let yourself luxuriate in that new spare time.
  • Dawdle. Potter along on a nice slow walk, amble through a park or shopping mall.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Read a book.
  • Nap.  Did I say that already?  Oh well.  Have another one!
  • Lose yourself in a book.
  • Hang out at the library.
  • Go for a surf.
  • Get a massage.
  • Take a bath.
  • Quit something so you can free up your schedule!
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do.
  • Have an early night and bunk down with some tasty treats and a good DVD.
  • Go on holidays.
  • Have a phone free, computer-free day.
  • Stay home and do… nothing! No housework, no odd jobs. Do what makes you happy. Maybe some craft, or cooking, or just hang out.
  • Spend time with the ones you love.
  • Sit in a coffee shop and read the weekend papers while having a long breakfast or an extended brunch/lunch.
  • Go window shopping, just to pass the time and fill yourself up with images, ideas and dreams.
  • Sunbake.
  • Sit by the ocean or the river.
  • Perch on top of a mountain.
  • Fluff around, not getting anything much done, but not minding that either.  Some people call this procrastination – I call it exploring my desk or kitchen drawers to see what’s really in there…
  • Spend time with the family pet – these guys really have relaxation down to an art!

Magic happens when we give ourselves down-time. And a magical life is definitely one worth living. You never know what might happen if you just create a little space in your day…

Image from The Fox and The Child, Hopscotch films, 2009

 

My Embarrassing Affirmation Confession

Image from thebeginwithinblog.com

You affect your subconscious mind by verbal repetition ~ W. Clement Stone

Affirmations are a known powerful tool for change, and are used by many people for creating positive shift and personal growth.  Louise Hay has made affirmations a modern-day medicine for the soul. (You can sign up for her daily affirmations here)

An affirmation is a simple statement, said in the present tense, that affirms positively a fact or situation that is desirable in your life.  You state that thing as if it is already happening, and you repeat that statement many, many times, to imprint the message in your subconscious mind, so that this thing becomes true for you.

Here are some common examples:

Image from affirmart.blogspot

Image from affirmart.blogspot

Image from alexafalk.blogspot

I must admit that when I first heard about affirmations I was quite sceptical.

Stating something as a truth and then repeating that statement often, even if it hadn’t yet shown up in my life, seemed a little daft.  If nothing else, I felt  fake to be claiming things that weren’t actually true for me yet.

But the experts agreed that affirmations could change your life. What did I have to lose by a little positive thinking?

And this is where my embarrassment comes in…

I created a test affirmation.

I didn’t affirm that I choose health.  I didn’t affirm that every day in every way I am getting better and better.  I didn’t even affirm that great wealth is mine now.

No.  My affirmation was pretty much a deliberate act of ‘New-Age Thinking’ defiance.  There was nothing spiritual or enlightened about it at all. I chose it because I expected it to fail miserably.

This is what I chose:

Everything I want is always on special

That’s right. I affirmed that whenever I wanted to buy something, the Universe would provide it for me at a discounted rate.

Image from l3electronics.com

I thought this was hilarious when I made it up. It seemed like the silliest idea in the world. But I dedicatedly repeated my affirmation whenever I thought about it – which was often seeing it made me laugh so much, and seeing I was going through a pretty rotten time financially back then.

And here’s the second part of my embarrassing confession…

It worked!

If I needed chocolate, my favourite brand was on special. Pasta? Reduced to clear! Holiday? Stay ten nights, pay for five.

The more I affirmed, the more noticeable it became until one day I just accepted this statement as my new reality.  Everything I want is always on special.

I’m so well known for this affirmation now among my family and friends that they expect this miracle to roll out for me too! I recently went to the shop to buy some ice-cream for dessert, taking a friend with me. “I knew this would be on special,” she said as she took a tub of heavily discounted premium deliciousness. “I should come shopping with you more often!”

We needed a holiday. A few days ago my husband and I booked a cruise. Why a cruise? We got 78% off the advertised rack rate. And then got a room upgrade!

Image from maritimeheritage.org

When we went to book the airfares QANTAS was having a one day sale, and  a return ticket from Brisbane to LA was ridiculously discounted. The travel agent couldn’t believe our good timing. We just smiled, looked at each other and repeated Everything I want is always on special.

Affirmations work. I have plenty of others that I use now too, but my first ever affirmation is still my favourite.  It might not be ‘spiritual’ but it’s lots of fun, and it affirms to me that I live in an abundant and benevolent Universe.

Here are some others that I love:

Something wonderful will happen to me today (I love to affirm this when I first wake up – it sets the tone for my whole day!)

All good things come to me

I am surrounded with kind and helpful people

My creativity flows, and my good ideas are endless

My body is returning itself to health. Healing and well-being are my natural energies

If such simple thinking can change your life, and bring positivity and joy, maybe it might be worth you trying some affirmations for yourself. The video at the bottom of this post has some good ideas for affirmations too.

I’m holding you in that good space – wishing you well, wishing you love, joy, health and abundance.  Bless xx


What does Happiness look like to you?

In our age of overwork, stress, social isolation, time pressure and exhaustion, it is increasingly important to know what fills you back up again, what makes you smile, what brings joy and happiness into your life.

What does happiness look like to you?  If you don’t know, make it your mission to find out, and then make a list to put on your refrigerator, mirror, or somewhere you can be often reminded of these things and their importance in your life.

This is some of what happiness looks like to me:

♥ Browsing in bookshops, and finding some new treasure to take home.

Shakespeare and Company Bookshop, Paris. Image from stylestudio.blogspot.com

♥ A shared meal with friends

Image from rhinoafrica.com

♥ Going to the movies to see something on the big screen

Image by Robert Pearce

♥ Wandering through the markets

Bangalow Markets – fourth Sunday of every month!

♥ Travelling to new places and soaking up the atmosphere

Bangkok floating markets – Thailand

♥ Losing myself in a book

Image from imbookingit.com

♥ Hugs

Image from mdjunction.com

♥ Time in nature

Heaven’s in my backyard!

♥ Swimming in the ocean

Beach – Byron Bay!

♥ A cup of tea with friends

Carly-Jay Metcalfe and Gordon Greber

♥ Working on my book

Cafe writing – my favourite kind of breakfast!

♥ Snuggling up in bed with the one I love – or family cuddles

Charlie and Bert – actively guarding the house!

♥ Baking, and sharing my creations with others!

Brownies and a cuppa on the veranda

Life’s too short not to include lots of the things you love.  Happiness is a choice. Remember to enjoy the journey.  Much love to you ♥ xx