Posted in Elephant Journal, Inspiration, Published work, Stories, Writing

My Four Walls

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Where do I feel the most comfortable?

What do I love?

My four Walls

and

Writing about them…

‘The worn shutters hang faded and broken, but all I see are a decade of sweet seasons, bursting into life as they penetrate my windows, and shed their light.’

 

Published in

THE ELEPHANT JOURNAL

Author

Nicole Martin

My four walls. My palace. My private sanctuary.

This is where I am who I am. Where the mask is peeled off, where the walls that surround me, see me uncensored, in my most natural state.

It’s behind these walls that my soul is anchored.

A shiny silver spider web glistens in the sunlight and dances with the breeze outside.

I can see it, right there within an arms reach, gripping for dear life to my lounge room window.

I really should clean it away—perhaps I’ll leave it there a little longer—for what is a window, without a web?- A lifeless piece of glass.

The worn shutters hang faded and broken, but all I see are a decade of sweet seasons, bursting into life as they penetrate my windows, and shed their light.

The walls, splashed with scuff marks could do with a paint, but all I see are two little boys, full of the joys of life, crashing into them with sheer delight. Smudging their dirty shoes, school bags and food filled fingers obliviously across their cream coloured surface, with a beautiful sense of childlike freedom.

All I see is my much loved furry companion collapsing against these walls, his tongue falling out of his mouth, gasping for air after he’s run with the wind, and sniffed and played and chased tennis balls, all afternoon with his family. The wall, serving as a support for his well exercised bones.

The tiles are dated—but they’ve had my children’s footprints growing on them for days and weeks and years. They’ve carried the weight of their childhood, as they’ve metamorphosed from babies to young lads, one fast growing step after another. An invisible canvas, warmly holding in its possession, the history of a zillion footsteps.

The washing machine is tired and rusty, but I am thankful for its hard work. Tirelessly, it throws around our laundry, that bares the evidence. The evidence of our existence. Our clothes are clad with experiences. Spillage of a blissful coffee had with friends, sweat from a wicked workout, dirt, spare coinage, pens forgotten in pockets, buttons that have escaped, grass on white shirts, mouldy towels, wet shoes from camp. It labours, to wash the memories clean, so that we may make more.

Six million pairs of well worn shoes lay strewn at my front door. Each one telling its own unique story. A long stroll on the beach? A grueling training session? A trip to the park? A holiday miles from home? They belong there, exactly as they fell, in perfect disorder.

The front door key, it sticks.

We should probably fix that—but one click to the left, one small lean to the right, push the glass just a tiny little bit, and it opens. Like clockwork. The answer lies within the secret code and that’s all we need.

The passageway is adorned with old wedding photos. Moments of the past boxed in a frame, to remind us that we have lived. I haven’t looked at them for so long, I’d almost forgotten they were there. Oh look, there’s Granny, and Mum and Dad in their younger years, all spruced up, smiling at me, as they hang up there. They are leaning, the wire that carries them is a little off centre. A tiny adjustment, and they are perfect, once again.

My favourite couch is sinking into its boots, but it is still warm from where the dog took up position a few minutes ago. He sleeps blissfully unconscious on many an occasion, in that very spot. It’s a place to rest our weary heads after a long day, a sick bed for the unwell, a front row seat at the movies, a meeting place for family discussions, a stand-in trampoline, a secret hiding spot, and centre stage for the wrestling match of a lifetime, that echoes the laughter and giggles of ages.

The aged dining room table has mismatched chairs, but all I see is the heart. The heart that beats to the drum of time. It has hosted many a nail biting card game, precious stories told only once, celebrations, dinners and banter, it’s where secrets and grievances have been revealed and dealt with, timetables learned, it’s seen Christmas dinners, Easter egg feasts, and fairy bread and chocolate crackles for umpteen sequential years.

I look around me, and quietly observe the imperfections inside my four walls. However it occurs to me that it’s the imperfections that contain the most character. It’s the imperfections that make my four walls uniquely mine, that represent a life lived, that represent the growth and uniqueness of my nearest and dearest.

Imperfect? I say perfect.

For the real value, at the end of the day, is not in the four walls themselves

but in the life lived behind them.

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In response to the Daily Post’s

Money for Nothing

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…’

3384930057_dd8a56e347_o

 

“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

 

8596521866_9dc07f6442_b

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.

3500412170_ed6a2a31aa_o

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.

6863035270_07065cb343_o

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.

4644117248_202762e0f2_o

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 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…’

3384930057_dd8a56e347_o

 

“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

 

8596521866_9dc07f6442_b

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.

3500412170_ed6a2a31aa_o

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.

6863035270_07065cb343_o

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.

4644117248_202762e0f2_o

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.