When stillness finds us

When Stillness finds us

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Occasionally

there are moments in life

when the dust that clouds our appreciation for our blessings

finally settles

and stillness and contentment

  are all that remain.

~Nicole Martin

Photography by

Nicole Martin

Posted in blogging, Dogs, mindfullness, Stories, Writing

If only we could think like a dog

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Author

Nicole Martin

‘Us Humans Have It So Violently Wrong’

‘What skin product am I using I hear you ask?

I know, I know, you would all like to be as handsome as me. I’m sorry, some of us just have good genes, it’s just life.

People often comment-

“He must be what, 2-3?”

I’m actually almost 7, don’t fall off your chair.

I find, some good sea air, regular chasing of tennis balls around, and around, and around, the oval, some good social bonding with my buddies, cuddles with mum dad and my brothers, and lots of sleep, are the secret to my fabulous complexion.

Yes I know there’s a little grey there, but I think that actually adds to my appeal, don’t you agree? A little sophistication goes a long way. Other dogs all want to look like me because it shows how many years I’ve been having fun.

I said to them,

“Look guys, be patient. Your turn will come. It takes many years of living to look as good as me!”‘

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MORAL OF THE STORY

Us humans have it so violently wrong.

Love yourself as you age.

It’s this beautiful transitioning into maturity, that should be embraced, respected, admired and celebrated.

Stop trying to make yourself appear younger.

We all make this mistake, don’t we?

Why?

Because we believe people will love us more if we’re more attractive. But that is so sad, because they WON’T! It’s one of  the biggest misconceptions of life.

People just want you. That’s all they want, and if they want something else, something fake, then YOU DON’T WANT THEM.

Detach yourself from EGO, and you will feel lighter than you ever imagined possible.

Think like your dog.

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Posted in blogging, Inspiration, mindfullness, My wordpress, Wordpress prompts, Writing

Do not spend your life’s entirety engaged in thoughts of What if’s, If only’s, and I should have’s.

‘People will become, who they are told they are-and moments will become, what you believe them to be.’

Author

Nicole Martin

Today really IS just another day. You know those days? I have them often- A common, ordinary,  deja vu , bland,  kind of day?

The weather is standard for this time of year.

I have the same clothes on as I did last week.

My dog lies curled up on the couch, where he normally lies, with the same sulky expression on his face.

The housework is there as it was yesterday still waiting to be attended to- I see it, process the thought -“Darn it, I really should put that washing away”-and embark on something more pleasurable knowing it will still be there tomorrow.

Is this acceptable, I wonder?

Is it acceptable that my day is ‘Just another day?’

Am I wasting my time?

Sometimes it bothers me.

Sometimes, I wonder whether I should be trying to make it spectacular in some way.

Whether I’m selling my life short because I’m not jumping out of a plane, or sipping some exotic beverage in Cuba, adorned with a little pink umbrella.

Should I be filling my days with ‘bucket list’ plans and setting challenging goals to prove to myself  I’m not just a standard person, who is stuck in a standard day?

I mean, do I need to embark on saving  an endangered species from extinction to make my day count?

Would I have less worth as a human being if I wasn’t teaching English to orphaned children in Siberia,  or feeding the homeless, or participating in Yoga lead by a Budhist Monk in the mountain peaks of Tibet?

I often ponder these questions as I sit in my ordinary study, ‘stuck’-it would seem- inside the bubble of an ordinary day.

As quickly as they came, the questions in my mind concerning the validity of my perceived mediocrity vanished as my attention was redirected-for a moment-to a little Ant who bravely believed he could walk right over my left hand and get away with it.

“Do you mind Ant?” I asked him

He carried on, completely unperturbed by the possibility of his impending death.

I watched and wondered what he was doing as he stealthily skimmed the surface of my skin, weaving in between my veins and negotiating a path through my fine hair. Perhaps he had been told to collect some food for dinner? Or to grab some supplies to reinforce the delicate structure of his home?

Why do I write of the Ant? What is it’s relevance?

Good question.

Initially, my mind was delighted to inform me that I was a mediocre person experiencing a standard day, with little or nothing to enjoy.

Along came an Ant, and instantly, these self produced thoughts were replaced by the simple delight in observing the funny little antics of nature.

So is one’s sense of mediocrity simply a state of mind self-perpetuated by societal or self-driven judgements?

I think so.

One will be ‘bored’ or ‘standard’ or ‘mediocre’ if one believes it to be the case.

I believe there IS merit in ‘Striving for excellence.’ However in order achieve this, we must fill ourselves with the knowledge that we are ALWAYS so much more than we believe.

That every single moment in our lives is interesting, spectacularly unique and overflowing with possibility and second chances- until the day we die.

It is never, ever too late to realise there is no such thing as a standard day.

Each day is new.

Each day is a gift.

The ‘Labeling’ of an individual-or a moment-as mediocre is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

People will become, who they are told they are-and moments will become, what you believe them to be.

Do not spend your life’s entirety engaged in thoughts of

What if’s, If only’s, and I should have’s.

Instead, focus on what you are doing RIGHT NOW- and relish in the gift of living an extra ordinary life.

Oh, and just one little thing-never underestimate the value of an Ant!

“We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.”

-Brad Meltzer

Just Another Day-WordPress Prompt

Posted in Elephant Journal, mindfullness, Published work, relaxation, Stories, Writing

Massage-The one I’ll never forget

‘She lead me into a room-Exquisitely decorated, exquisitely oriental. Chinese characters in bold whispered their foreign word from all angles-portraits of Eastern Medics and Masters extirpated my breath with their stares…’

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“You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken.

Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it.

Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path.

Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look.

Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching.

March to the beat of your own drummer.

And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”

Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Always take the road less traveled-Publisher-The Elephant Journal

Author

Nicole Martin

🔵

This morning I really felt I was in need of a good massage.

My arms, shoulders, back and neck felt positively tortured, and were responsible for a level of fatigue and discomfort that was beyond my usual tolerance.

It’s amazing how this ‘stiffness’ becomes normal after a while.  I’ll barely notice it until it builds to a pathological level, causing headaches, irritable mood, and lethargy.

Today, in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, I discovered a gem.

I made the spontaneous decision to book in for a massage, however, it was proving to be more difficult than I thought.

“Sorry-booked out.”

“Sorry-will next week do?”

“Oh gosh no, but we’ll put you on the waiting list.”

Disheartened, I gave up on the seemingly exquisite idea of being spoilt, as clearly everybody else in this town had the exact same thought. As I made plans to down some paracetamol instead, an interesting ad for a massage therapist caught my eye. I hesitated, believing the response would be the same, but took my chances one last time.

“Hello?”

“Oh hello, my name is Nicole, I’m hoping you have a spot for a massage today, but I know you’re probably booked out, so don’t worry, I guess I’ll just have to—”

I hurried my introduction, added in a few deep sighs, and prepared myself for rejection when I was interrupted by a sweet voice simply saying,

“12:00 my girl, you come in.”

“Oh. Really? Wow, ok thank you. You sure?”

“You good gal. 12:00.”

Before I could get another word in, the conversation was over.

‘I had never seen a massage place like this one before.’

Her studio lay tucked away behind some old buildings at the top of a flight of stairs. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an element of anticipation. I don’t know about you, but booking a massage with someone unknown always concerns me. I have certainly had my fair share of odd massages, in some very odd places.

Like a little child, I pranced to the top of the stairs, and quickly ran down them again, as I panicked and thought I was in the wrong place. A quick scan of the area downstairs revealed nothing, so I stealthily re-climbed the stairs for a second look. Peering carefully around a concrete corner, I saw it-Signage.

Large, hand written, white letters were splayed across her window, much like words on a chalk board aligning a market stall, where vendors sit cross legged, hoping to sell their goods. I imagined it reading-

“Grapes $5.00/kg.”

Instead, it read

MASSAGE OPEN

 

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The strong scent of massage oil and incense began to awaken my senses as I approached the entrance. Instantly, I was on the back foot.

‘Incense and me just don’t go together.’

My stomach churned as asked myself whether I’d made a terrible mistake.

I had never seen a massage place like this one before.

Incense and me just don’t go together. For some reason, I associate it’s odour with Witch doctors, Magic tricks, Ouija boards and Tarot cards-you know, all that spooky stuff-

“wooohooooo I can see her…your dead great aunt in law…she is trying to tell you something…” -that kind of rhetoric.

With no sense of an open mind, I made a judgement that this massage was going to involve a few magic prods here and there, some Abracadabra words, a poof of smoke and

‘shabam’

-I was now a frog.

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Photo credit: Paul Grey via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

As I entered the shop, there was another customer sitting down in the waiting area. She glanced over at me and nodded her head, but kept quiet. I nodded in return and took a seat.

The reception area was small but neat, the walls adorned with Asian images. As I waited, nervously suspicious, she turned her attention to me, speaking in soft tones.

“Hello. Please pill out da form.”

She gave me the fright of my life as it occurred to me that this person I thought was a client, was actually the therapist.

She was of Chinese descent, elderly, half my height, with a crooked gait, and wise eyes. Her skin as pale as white porcelain, her feet as tiny as a toddler. Her English was exceptionally limited.

I filled out the form, which included the usual questions-injuries, sore points etc, and handed it over to her on completion. She glanced at it for a fleeting moment. As I sat there, in silence, waiting for the next instruction, I felt as though I were lost in time—as if I were no longer in 2015, but on a mission somewhere in Ancient China in 1756. I began to sense that this session was going to be different. I was already feeling the wonder and intrigue.

Strangely, I was keen for more.

She lead me into a room. -Exquisitely decorated, exquisitely oriental. Chinese characters in bold whispered their foreign word from all angles-portraits of Eastern Medics and Masters extirpated my breath with their stares.

Massage oil and candles-carefully positioned on dainty little tables clad with silk cloth, proudly owned every corner.

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Photo credit: Jonathan Kos-Read via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Modesty was left outside as she instructed me to undress. She was not interested in waiting outside for me to do this. I carefully placed myself face down on the massage table. As I did this, I happened to glance upward.

Wooden bars-I pondered their role.

“You know, I might look small, but I am bery bery strong.”

I was completely unsure of what to expect at this moment. What a pleasure. What an invigorating feeling to be faced with a new taste, an unknown entity.

Her hands were powerful. Her technique flawless. I lay there mesmerised, weak under her force. She located every pressure point with ease and accuracy.

I found myself drifting into a semi-trance, as my muscles let go for the first time in years. Every single muscle fibre in my body was re-energised and invigorated.

The soft background tunes took me to the Great sinking Titanic-really? I know bizarre

-and the quiet clunk clunk of the air conditioner sent me direct to a deserted island where tropical fish frollicked in crystal clear water. I lay in a hammock on the beach where I was setting up for a siesta beside the cooling fan.

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Photo credit: sinosplice via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

She placed a hot towel over my back, and then another, and then another, and then another.

Completely buried under a stack of hot towels, she began to walk, all over my body.

Ahhhh, so that’s what the roof rack was for.

Her feet kneaded my legs and back with delicate precision. It actually felt amazing until she stood still on top of my lungs for what felt like hours. Death by asphyxiation crossed my mind a few times, but she clearly knew what she was doing—

“bixing your spine to berfec.”

It was the perfect massage.

The influence Eastern Massage techniques had on her style was refreshing and effective. How fortuitous, to find such a gem, and have such an experience in a day that was not planned as so. My body felt light, relaxed and refreshed.

Going with the familiar, has become habitual for me. I think it’s because it feels safe. Control is my middle name, and it’s so darn restrictive.

Do you do that?

Take the same route home from work everyday? Buy the same food week in, week out at the same grocery store?

I stumbled upon a little bit of magic today. It just goes to show, there is a fascinating world out there just waiting to be explored and experienced, in so many different ways.

What have I learned?

‘Always take the road less traveled’

It’s growth, It’s freedom.

To my boy

  A lonely strand of hair

I am John

The face I will never forget

MORE POSTS FROM NICOLE HERE

Posted in Elephant Journal, mindfullness, Published work, relaxation, Stories, Wordpress prompts, Writing

Massage-The one I’ll never forget

‘New massage therapist in town makes one hell of an impression’

Ripped Into the Headline

According to local resident Jon West, the new massage therapist in town is like ‘no other.’

“I’m sure she must be into magic or something because I felt like she’d cast a spell on me and just like that- poof! -my aches and pains were gone. I’ve never felt anything like it”

Of Chinese descent, ‘Marta’ at ‘Relax if you will’ incorporates Eastern techniques into her practice, providing a much needed alternative to western massage methods.

Below is a true recount from one of her still ‘dazed’ customers- and trust me, it has to be read to be believed.

ARTICLE AUTHOR

Nicole Martin

Continue reading “Massage-The one I’ll never forget”

Posted in Daily muse, Inspiration, mindfullness, My mantra's, Stories, Writing

Faces

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Faces

 

‘I love its vulnerability, it’s impossibly human position. I love how it reaches out, willingly or not, sucks the breath out of your lungs and pulls you in…’

 

By N.A.Martin

📝

I adore faces

All of them

They carry on their surface, the angles, shapes and colours that collectively unify to create an outward appearance

Their story

Their unique, impossibly raw and beautiful story

Faces cannot lie

Can you see who they truly are when they meet your eyes?

Can you see their powerful individualism that is their reality?

I love a happy face

One that has warmth and sunshine pinned to its smile. One that smothers you with its bright yellow rays and wraps itself around your every breathing cell

Every happy face, is a beautiful face

I love a sad face

I love its vulnerability, it’s impossibly human position. I love how it reaches out, willingly or not, sucks the breath out of your lungs and pulls you in

Every sad face, is a beautiful face

Perhaps one of our failings as a human race is our perception of beauty

Our perception that character, and the insuppressible beauty of uniqueness is imperfection

I find, that overwhelmingly, the most alluring quality in a face is its powerful mystique

It’s honesty, it’s invisible reflection of the soul, it’s unquantifiable energy, it’s stunning uniqueness, it’s story

To me, the character in a face is the epitome of human perfection

Beauty beyond definition, for it cannot be measured

Faces blooming with emotion, life and character have endless depth and come with infinite interpretations and possibilities, unlike the finite form of perceived physical beauty

In the words of Amy Bloom-

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.

And you are beautiful.”

📖

About N.A.Martin

The Face I will Never Forget

Tomorrow

I am John