The Minister and Sister Sinner

“Ah. I smiled. I’m not really here to keep you from freaking out. I’m here to be with you while you freak out, or grieve or laugh or suffer or sing. It is a ministry of presence. It is showing up with a loving heart.” 
~ Kate Braestrup

I remember sitting in a coffee shop twelve years ago. We were regulars there, Ben and I, at a place close to our city home.

We knew everyone. One of my favourite people, let’s call him Brian (not his real name) was an elderly ex-dragqueen and retired male escort. He was HIV positive, impeccably groomed and an excellent conversationalist. (People always seem to confide their life story and innermost confidences to me, and I am glad that they feel safe to do so.) I kept an eye on Brian and often invited him to dinner or brought him a home-cooked meal. Brian kept me interesting articles from The New Yorker.

Brian had recently been deep in conversation with a younger man, a man who always seemed stressed and harried and who kept to himself. But, on this particular morning, Brian brought that man – Mark (also not his real name) – to my table and introduced him, telling me to look after him because Mark had just experienced a bad night at the deathbed of someone in his community.

We became friends that day and in the months after we often shared a table and a chat over early morning coffee. Mark was clever, funny and sharply sarcastic. Slowly I came to know what Mark did. Slowly he came to know my world too. Mark was a minister on the other side of town. He confided that to me as some kind of illicit secret some months after I first met him. He asked that I didn’t tell anyone who he was or what he did. Jokingly Mark christened me ‘Sister Sinner’ because I was a practising psychic and the Bible expressly forbids that. I explained to him that being psychic wasn’t a choice, just like being gay wasn’t a choice. We were born this way, made this way. Mark agreed.

A few years later Mark abruptly left his ministry, causing a huge scandal. I sat with him over coffee that same morning as he explained why he was leaving. He was from a religious family and he told me that he had no faith, had never had faith, didn’t believe anything he taught, didn’t believe the Bible and envied me that I had a faith at all. He’d taken the job in the church for security, a clear opportunity for advancement, and a safe place for himself as an undeclared gay man. But he hated dealing with people and he hated having to serve a congregation.

I felt so sad for him. Mark had the kind of job I’d wanted for myself when I was small. He was there for all of the important events in the lives of his parishioners. He got to give them comfort, to guide and support them, and to bring them together as a community. As a child at primary school I’d wanted to be a minister but I couldn’t, because I was a girl and also because I struggled with the teachings of the church. It didn’t fit with the feelings and knowledge that I had in my heart. I kept waiting for a better version of religion to show up, but no matter where I went I didn’t find a doctrine that fitted me. In the end, Buddhism meditation practices and my own quiet faith in something bigger than this little life we live are what serves me. I have seen too much to doubt that there is existence beyond this one, although I certainly don’t have all the answers. Which brings me back to Mark, whom I haven’t seen for ten years.

I bumped into him yesterday, in the corridor of a hospital.

He was visiting his elderly mother who is recovering from surgery. He’s back working with the church, studying and writing and following an academic path.

I was visiting a long-time client who had called me in crisis. She reached out to me for guidance about how to be with her six-year-old daughter who is dying from a brain tumour. I was up at the hospital to support this woman, her family and her daughter in these final hours.

Mark and I chatted briefly. Then he hugged me and laughed in a kindly way. ‘So, Nicole,’ he said, ‘it seems you’ve got your own flock after all, although I don’t know what qualifies you. You’re a minister without a church, without a God, without a pay packet. Meanwhile, I’ve got the gold watch, the all-expenses-paid trips to Rome, the superannuation and the bright future. I think you’ve got a bum deal. Best of luck, Sister Sinner.’

I could tell he meant it in the best possible way. I’m glad things worked out for him. I’ll keep him in my prayers and meditations.

Also, Mark, I know you’ll be reading this and I do know what qualifies me. Being human. Having empathy and kindness. Being present for others. Having a deep desire to serve. Devoting myself to this spiritual path, although it may not be one that you understand, and wanting to share this path with others so that it may bring them comfort and meaning.

There are more people on my particular path than you know. Maybe it’s a path that you would finally find meaning from too.

Much love to you, Sister Sinner xx

How You Shape My Morning

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” ~ Margaret Mead

Good morning, Lovelies!

It’s just after 5am. I am here at my desk, about to begin writing my blog, and I thought today I would share how you shape my morning routine.

I was awake a little before 4am, as I always am, to meditate. Right now I am meditating twice a day for the students who recently attended my ‘Connect to Your Calling’ Retreat. I check in on each of them energetically and work on them as they need it. Then I tune in to you. I offer up my prayers for you and your families. I send you love and healing, I hold the intent for you that you know yourself, care for yourself and are able to express your unique personality and gifts in the world. I send love and light and peace to situations, places, people and leaders. And finally, I ask how I can best serve you today which is usually how I come up with whatever I will write in my blog.

My husband is still sleeping. My dogs are asleep. The world is quiet. It’s just me, holding space for you. This is my sacred time. The time where I can reach out to you, or make a positive difference in your life somehow.

I know some of us have never met, in person anyway. But you matter to me. Caring for you shapes my day. You see, when I was younger and very ill I felt so alone. I had no energy for friendships or connection. My first marriage had recently failed. I was completely broke and broken. Each day was a struggle. I felt that if I were to die no-one would even notice. I was socially and emotionally isolated.

Then one day I went into a tiny shop in Brisbane that sold items from Tibet. It became somewhere I hung out at whenever I had the energy. I bought my first singing bowl, and a Buddhist monk taught me some Tibetan meditation techniques using the singing bowl and a mala, and gifted me some mala beads. One day a new group of monks from Tibet arrived and through a translator I learned that they meditated for their community and the world every day. Each of them worked to support different groups of people, and in that moment I understood that somewhere in the world were people I had never met who were including me in their prayers, thoughts and meditations, with the sole intent that they somehow provide comfort or support to me. They explained to me that many monks and nuns from different faiths did this kind of work, and that this work of holding space for people was something I could do too. This was something I had also been shown by my Aboriginal Aunties.

The monks helped me to establish my own meditation practice for serving others, and I have done that in my morning and evening meditations ever since.

Often I have woken in the night because of my connection with you. Perhaps I will hold you in my thoughts and send you love and energy. Sometimes I will get out of bed and contact you directly by message or phone, or I will see that you have reached out to me or have posted publicly about a problem and I will respond. I see that as part of my life, a life where we are all connected even if we have not ever met in person.

This morning I need you to know that in this tiny corner of the world is a woman whose first thought each morning is you. That the prayers I offer, the meditation I do, the incense I light is for you. Know that there are many others who hold that prayerful and loving space for you too. Our humanity unites us, our love and service binds us. Tune in and feel those waves of energy, those ripples of love that are always there for you. You are truly loved. You matter.

So, that is how you shape my morning.

I’m going to make a cup of tea now, and write in my journal. Then the day will unfold and off I’ll go to meet it.

But tonight in my meditation, and tomorrow morning, I will be with you.

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

The Quiet Calm of Morning Meditation

“Silence is the great teacher and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.”
~  Deepak Chopra


I have a regular meditation practice that has stretched now for over thirty years. Twice a day I sit in meditation, once at day’s beginning and then again at day’s end. Sometimes I walk or perform some other kind of moving meditation, but mostly I am seated and still.

Very occasionally I will miss a session. If I am very ill I may miss one. If I have been out late and drunk alcohol I may tumble into bed without meditating. (Thanks to lyme disease the latter isn’t actually a very common occurrence – neither the late nights nor the drinking – although on my recent vacation I missed ten evening meditation sessions over six weeks. Woohoo!)

No matter where I am I find myself waking at 4am local time. I will meditate and then I will either get up and start my day, or if it is a Sunday or a holiday I will pop back into bed and go back to sleep.

At day’s end, just before I slide between the sheets, or sitting up in bed, I meditate once more to close off my day.

I meditate to enter that place of sacred stillness. I also meditate to grow, to heal, to do psychic work, to work with my hand-chosen students whom I may be teaching or training, and to work with healing others.

Sometimes, like for these next few weeks, I will work with a mala during my meditations. The main beads each represent a person, and I form a deep connection with each one. I am meditating twice daily now for a new group of students who will soon join me on retreat. To feel them energetically each day and to support them on their journey is an immense privilege.

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I can’t begin to tell you what a comfort it is to be home again and back in my usual meditation routine. To slip into that space of quiet and calm and to let go the worries and thoughts that crowd my mind in waking hours. To remember my eternal soul, and the wonder of our unfolding journeys. To connect with those I love, near and far, here and departed from the physical realms.

Always, at the end of each session, I send peace and love out into the world. I send healing to mother earth. I send love and healing to my family and loved ones, to my clients and students, to all of you. I pray for your well-being. I pray that you know how precious you are and that you come to understand that you are never alone – you are loved and thought of by so many souls you may never meet in this lifetime. I know that as I do this there are other souls in meditation across the globe engaged in similar activity. I feel their sparks of light travelling out into the world and I am renewed in my own spirit, no matter what I might be facing when I open my eyes and come back into the flow of my life again.

I just wanted to remind you that even though the media will most often show the world as being crazy and highlight the worst of humanity’s actions, there is actually a swelling number of souls sitting in peace, holding space for peace, and shining love and light out into the world.

You can too, just by sitting quietly and going within. If the only person your meditation practice ever benefits and changes is you, by helping you to find that quiet calm space within you, and by helping you feel your own connection to all that is, then you have contributed to positive change in the world. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a small action.

Sending so much love your way. Nicole <3 xx

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2016 – The New Energy of Connection and Disclosure

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“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
~ Fred Rogers


Since early this year I’ve noticed an unusual and promising trend – people talking!

Not just any kind of talking. Not just pass-the-time-of-day conversations. No. I mean real conversations, with all manner of self-disclosure.

An elderly relative of ours who has long struggled with mood swings and lapsing into periods of angry not-talking and self-imposed isolation, recently confessed to my husband that she was feeling cranky and out of sorts and didn’t know why. It didn’t feel good, she said. She didn’t know what to do about it. It was the first time she had ever talked about her feelings.

A long-time friend invited us to share supper with her. As we sat out under the trees, surrounded by fairy lights on a balmy summer’s night, our friend began talking. This is a friend who has NEVER talked about herself, and instead has always cleverly deflected questions, talked about politics or the weather, and turned conversation back to us. Ben and I sat, mesmerised, as she talked long into the night about her early life, her career, and her relationships. Interlaced with reflection and feelings. Stories she’s never shared before.

While sitting with neighbours earlier this month, sharing belated Christmas drinks, my neighbour talked about remembering flying in the night sky when she was a child. After which we all shared similar strange memories and experiences that we had always held close to us, for fear of judgement.

It’s a taste of these new energies we are moving into. Sharing our stories, discussing our feelings, voicing our fears – all of these things bring us closer together, and help us to understand that we are not alone. That our supposed strange and lonely path is actually a journey walked and understood by many.

I have a simple favour to ask.

Next time you’re meeting with family or friends, put your phone away. Banish the screens. Take time to be with each other. Give these new energies a chance to work their magic by being present and truly listening to the people you are with. Be brave enough to offer your own feelings, thoughts and experiences into the conversation.

Be part of this revolution of connection.

Much love, Nicole <3 xx

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Hey Sister, You Okay?

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I was looking forward to Saturday. In the last few weeks I’ve supported a friend through the end stages of terminal cancer, holding her hand til she passed, ridden the roller coaster of supporting an addict in recovery, and juggled my daily work and writing. Saturday was this wonderful window of calm in front of me like a soft pillow to lay my weary head.

Nothing went to plan for me. My do-nothing day of leisure and self-replenishment which I had so looked forward to became about helping others through various crises and melt-downs.  It’s okay.  The Universe obviously cleared my calender so I’d be available for the people who needed me most.  But it was an emotionally draining day, capping a difficult few weeks, and it left me wrung out.

I was driving through the inner city late yesterday when the traffic suddenly slowed.  Cars tooted their horns.  People yelled and gestured. I though there must have been a dog on the road.

The traffic slowed to a stop.  I couldn’t see what was happening, so I said a quiet prayer, asking that the animal be okay and be guided back to safety.  Finally the cars began moving again, swerving around something in the middle of the road.  Some stopped to hurl abuse as they drove past. I craned my neck, trying to see what was obstructing our way.

Imagine my horror and disbelief when I saw an elderly aboriginal woman in the middle of the road.  She was just sitting there, a shopping bag beside her on the ground, one shoe off, grazed knees.  I pulled my car over to the side as soon as I could find a park and raced back to check on her.

“Hey, Sister,” she croaked at me as I got closer. “Can you see me? All the rest of your mob think I’m invisible.”

“Hey, Sister,” I called to her.  “I see you. You okay?”

She swung her head towards me, squinting in the sun, but said nothing.  I waited for a car to pass and crossed over to her.

“Hi, I’m Nicole.  Are you okay?  Do you need some help?”

She nodded her head yes.

I helped her up, and over to the footpath. She was unsteady on her feet and I wondered if I should call an ambulance.

“Sorry, love. I’m real sorry.”  She leaned heavily on my arm.  “I just live along here. Too late eating lunch and my strength’s gone. I came over all dizzy. I’ve got sugar,” she said weakly.

“You’re diabetic?” I asked as we walked up some steps to a small flat.


I got her inside, and she asked me to make her a sandwich, while she ate some jellybeans.  Then her neighbour popped in and said she would make her friend a cup of tea and stay with her until she came ‘right’ again.

Before I left I asked if there was anyone I could call, or if she wanted me to take her to the doctor.

The old aboriginal lady patted my hand. “I’m alright now I’m home. You know, you’re a true nice girl,” she said.  “Brought up proper. Your mother and grandmother, you do them proud. Here….”  Reaching over to a box she pulled something out. “This is for you.”

She opened a small drawstring bag and put the contents in my hand, one by one.

A bag full of treasures

“This shell, it’s from up my country.”

She placed it on my palm, and tiny grains of sand stuck to my fingers.  I wanted to hold it to my nose and smell the sea.  Suddenly I was homesick for my little farm at Byron Bay with a physical ache.

“Got this stone from the river.  See how nice and smooth it is.” It was a piece of clear quartz, tumbled milky, and still luminous. I felt such comfort, and thought of Angels.

This one,” she held up a twisted grey rock, “I got this one off the beach. It reminds me of a baby wrapped up tight in his blanket, trying to talk to you. Feels real nice in your hand.”

“This one – it’s coral.  Looks like an alien head with them two eyes.” She chuckled. “Friendly fella for watching over you.”

“And this last one, he’s a fossil crab, real old from the old times.  Good for protecting your soft heart.”

I left with brimming eyes, embarrassed by her kindness.

And I never asked her name.

Today I’m holding these precious treasures in my hands and feeling humbled and awed. I wonder if she knew how much these things would mean to me, or what they symbolise after so hard a day, so hard a week.

Hey Sister, you okay?

I feel like it was HER watching out for ME.

Rainbow Dreaming. Rainbow Tribe. We are One. ♥