The Wind

I am moved by the wind. How it recites to me in whimsy the colors of the sunset, the secrets of the trees. I often laugh as it shares the giddiness of its antics; toying with the birds pushing them back as they labor forward then toppling trash cans and blaming raccoons. There is so much to learn if one eavesdrops thoughtfully and observes her variance. It takes patience to understand her divergent ways and I embrace each distinction. It fuels me on a quiet day. It satisfies me when I am lost.

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Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

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5 More Minutes

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I woke up today, did my yoga, took my shower, had my oatmeal and my luscious rich morning coffee. The air was perfect. A slight breeze wafted through the windows and the sun glared just high enough on the glass to glow but not shock my eyes. There was a healthy silence; one saturated with calming energy and a peaceful fullness.

My husband wandered in with his coffee and sat down next to me. He took a deep breath and we smiled in a silent understanding then closed our eyes for just 5 more minute before we had to start our busy days.

These are the times I acknowlege the gift of my new home, the comfort of my couch and the security I have built in my life.

Namasté

©NicholeDonjè

We’ll Call Him Mr. Blue

One of the things, I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would enjoy in my new home is birds. They are everywhere. Our property is as much theirs as it is ours. There was an old bird bath tucked in a corner when we bought the house. When we first discussed it, my attitude was, toss it. My husband was reluctant and decided in his yardscaping madness to place it in perfect view of our kitchen window . He cleaned and filled it up. By the end of the day the birds were in it; drinking, splashing, and bathing as intended.

To my surprise as soon as I started watching these beautiful creatures of multiple colors and features, all of a sudden it became one of my favorite things in our new home. I found myself happy and honored to share it. I even clean and fill the bath myself.

Recently a huge bluejay, we’ll call him Mr. Blue, started visiting and often. He seemed to be taking over and moving in. After a couple of weeks we were in the yard cooking out with friends. I noticed a strange protrusion at the top of and under his beak. He came so close and stayed long. My friend Pam and I felt he was trying to get our attention. He flew closer to the top of the fence and looked at us, pecked a bit, obviously annoyed or disturbed with his issue. We couldn’t help but believe he was asking for help. We talked to him and he looked at us then flew back up into the big pine.

Over the next 2 days my husband Scott and I paid special attention. Mr. Blue was staying close, not leaving the yard. He had found a branch in and cozied up in a hollow of one of the big pines by the bird bath. He’d fly down every 15 mins or so to drink.

We were worried. His behavior seemed odd. I grabbed the camera and the telephoto lens. We made our mission to get a close and clear enough shot of whatever it was affecting him. We did. It was a growth of some sort. Poor baby, he looked so tired. Through the lens we could see him closing his eyes. He was weary.

We went online to see what he might eat. I put some berries and chopped veggies hoping to help, then called a wildlife rescue. I was told unfortunately, that if he was still flying there was nothing we could do. She said as long as he can eat he will survive.

My heart broke knowing it was just be a matter of time. That there was nothing I could do but make sure he had water and pray he’d eat some nuts and berries. It’s funny how we adopt these creatures. They become part of our home and our routines. We care for them as if they know we do, well knowing it is we creatures ourselves who need to love.

Its been two days. I miss him. His trust, his rocket blue sleek feathers and his quiet moments at the birdbath where he let me get so close. I can’t help but pray he gets better and returns, but know more likely that he’s not coming back. I hope his spirit will bless that birdbath so that others know it is a safe haven and a home.

Good luck my dear Mr Blue, thank you for the time.

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Namastè

NicholeDonjè

A simple truth

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Underneath the skin
Is a breathing organism
Made of blood and energy
Feeding our minds and our hearts.
We discover ourselves beneath the surface
Beyond the mirror
Internal.
It is the only truth.
Our gap is in the idea of ourselves.
Our weakness is our assumptions
Of what and who we think we should be.
But beneath the surface
We live freely, breath openly, invite others in
Unafraid of ideas or projections
Unconcerned with fear or failure
A simple truth;
To be shared
To be embraced
It is Life.

Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

A Given Day

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On an amazing Saturday in Miniwaska State Park my husband, niece, 12 year old rat terrier Shyann and I went on a quiet yet complex hike up to one of our favorite points, Millbrook Mountain. The trail has some steep inclines and ragged, rooted, rocky paths. I will admit I was exhausted by the time we reached the top, we all were, but it was well worth it.

Along the way we stopped to catch our breath in a hollow. This is one of my most beloved spots in Miniwaska so far. The way the sound of the river softly mumbles as the birds serenade begets a calmness that only nature can induce. The air there is always slightly damp and cool, a retreat from the humidity that besieged us after exiting our air-conditioned Prius. We sat on the moss covered stones, searched for unique rocks (the best and cheapest souvenirs available), laughed and bathed in the muted voices of the trees.

I wandered taking photos as I often do in these woods.  This place is my creative muse. I watched as my niece retreated up along the brook alone. She sat on the rocks taking it all in so quiet in her beauty. It warms my heart to see her enjoying this special place, calm; knowing that it soothes her as it does me.

She’s was with us for the week and we had all been looking forward and excited to share this place. On the way we picked blueberries and discussed how different a “real” blueberry tasted in comparison to store bought. There is nothing like plucking the berries of the bushes and wishing we had them at home all year long. There are so many in those woods. We were actually able to continue to moisten our palates with berries on the long hike after drinking all our water.

At the top we sat and watched the eagles glide, mediated and warmed in the sun. The air was so much clearer up there, less humidity and more breezes. We sat for quite a while refueling our energy sources for the trip back. I wish we could do this with her every week; escape into the real world and renew our souls. For now we have this day, these memories of an amazing young lady full of dreams and desires, delectable blueberries, two middle aged hippie wanna be’s and a 12 year pup who now only goes one way…we had to carry her down!  

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Namastè

©NicholeDonjè

The Joy of a Sunset

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Last night at a friend’s place for an Independence Day cookout, a nice group of us gathered to sit, laugh, eat great food and enjoy one another’s company. It was a perfect and the weather was wonderful. Soft cool breezes danced by as the music of Sinatra and big bands played.

With all that there was about a half hour where everything stopped. Everyone gathered along the wall smiling and sharing, taking in the joy of one of our greatest gifts here on earth…a simple sunset!

Namastè

 

Nourishment

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I love this picture for two reasons. One is that its a great photo and it was taken in a moment when my creativity recently took off again. Two is that its a reminder. This was taken at Fort Wetherill in Jamestown,Jamestown, Rhode Island. My family and I went there a few months back to get out and chill out for the day. For me it is far more than that.

In high school my best friend Shawn and I would spend hours on the weekends climbing the cliffs and wandering the abandoned fort, talking and laughing for hours. In college I went often with my friends Liam, Gamache or Jonathan and sometimes a group of us. It’s a beautiful ragged place filled with forgotten history and caverns of secrets. To this day some of my most vivid and favorite memories are sitting on the rocks in one of the many coves listening as the waves crashed against the cliff walls. To me it will always be magical and is a huge symbol of creativity, friendship, memories and dreams.

I think I’m thinking of this site, because I am seeking. There is a mystery in the tunnels and caverns of that old fort, places to be re-discovered. These locales have been filled with debris; covered and sealed to keep others out or warn them of possible danger. I’m realizing this is a bit of where I have been. Hiding in the caverns and under the facade of danger.

As I start digging myself out I am realizing that I have covered and hid so much beauty. I have forgotten about the precious secrets and ignored the treasures lying in the debris. Its a puzzle. I am pulling my world apart not to rebuild or change whats there, but so that I can actually see what exists. There is such potential and life behind the walls and within the mysteries. Its exciting! Under and inside all of this is who I am and how I got to where I am.

It’s as if I’ve climbed out from a dark place and there is a new world to explore. It has been a week of acceptance and breath, of peace and true clam. Today I have managed to do a bit of everything I love. I am moved by the simplicity. I have uncovered the joy I feel in a quiet day filled with thought, nature, physical exertion, friendship, love and art. I have a new perspective and clarity. The time I have had for my recovery has been more than physical, it has given me the nourishment my soul has been searching for.

Namastè

 

©NicholeDonjè

The Next Phase

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face”. Eleanor Roosevelt

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Today I am sitting here at my desk in my studio simply grateful. Grateful to all of those who have been there for me during my recovery and all of those who have reached out. It is a wonderful gift to have someone you haven’t heard from say hello and check in. Its a simple thing, but knowing that they are there and that the connection we made however long ago still exists is fulfilling.

Something that has become very clear for me in my life is that connection is imperative. I love people. The relationships I have built mean the world to me, even if time has distanced us. Everyone we create a moment with, creates meaning. It may be an acquaintance, a colleague or a friend.

It was a leap for me to share my post yesterday. I have come to realize that as much as I long to connect, I have kept so much to myself. I don’t like to share things that may seem sad or negative, so I simply don’t. When I started this blog I really wondered if I would be able to open up. I am not someone who wants to get on a pedestal about some political topic, I don’t love an argument; and lets face it that’s what most people do on the internet. What I want is a dialogue. I want to built a pathway of openness. You may ask what that means…hell if I know! All I can say is I’m working to find out and sharing my life, my art and my observances is how I feel I can.

We all have stories and experiences. I hope that somehow I might peak someone to share theirs. I don’t necessarily mean with me or the world wide web, but with someone. Being open, vulnerable and taking chances are how we face that fear Mrs. Roosevelt mentions. I myself fear vulnerability. I like to be strong, to know, and admittedly to control. Control is exhausting and lonely. What I realize now is that I was using all the wrong words. What I truly want is to be empowered, wise and collaborative. This is my next phase, this is my intention. This is where I begin again.

Namastè

 

©NicholeDonjè

Did you say…brain tumor?

“The body is wiser than its inhabitants. The body is the soul. The body is a messenger.”
Erica Jong

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Brain surgery…say what?!?!

For those of you who read my blog you may have noticed that I dropped off the grid for a bit. I am writing to tell you that I am fine and I want to share my story.

Over the years I have experienced a very strange phantom smell; cigarette smoke. Picture yourself sitting on the subway, on the beach, or possibly at home alone and all of a sudden you smell cigarette smoke. Sometimes it is so strong it effects your breathing. However, there isn’t another soul in sight. Despite those realities you are so uncomfortable that its making you feel as if you are going crazy. Sometimes it can last for hours. Other times it lasts for days. You’ve told various doctors, family and friends; all of whom have either brushed you off or decided it must be your deceased father visiting. This has been my reality for about 15 years.

Scott and I jokingly call it my “smoking ghost”. Fast forward to 2015. Little by little, as the year progressed, new things started to happen. My vision started getting wonky, my hearing was slightly muffled and the allergies that I DON’T have, according to my allergist, were at their worst. Sinus pressure behind my eyes was making me tired and dizzy. These issues were now constant. It was no longer just when it rained or when the crazy trees with fluffy white flowers bloomed. Allergy meds were no longer working for more than 2 hours. My nasal spray became useless. Needless to say, I simply felt like shit almost all the time!

In 2016, after being ignored for years, I changed doctors and told the new one that I was not letting this go again. There was something going on and it is not my dad visiting me. After a good discussion and thorough assessment, she sent me to an ear, nose and throat specialist. We agreed if he didn’t find something we would come back and go in another direction.

Finally, I felt like I would get to the bottom of this craziness! I met with the ENT, who was determined I did have some allergies. However, he could not grasp how my allergies were year round and not somehow seasonal in nature. The test results were inconclusive. Next, he had me come back for a blood test to get a clearer result. He said this was most likely just allergies, but set me up for an MRI just in case.

Fast forward to April 25th. The ENT had tried to get a hold of me several times. My experience tells me that if there nothing wrong…they don’t call, especially the actual doctor. We played phone tag for a bit and that evening, after my class at TAI and on my way to a meeting at The Players I was finally able to get a hold of him. He confirmed that yes in fact they had found something. He set it up not panic me and I heard what he said very clearly, “It’s benign, it’s a brain tumor…it’s not cancer”. I’m fortunate that I have gotten to a place in my life where I could let myself hear one thing…IT’S NOT CANCER. He gave me the name of a neurosurgeon he knew well; one of the best in the city. I was told to call, make an appointment and say that he sent me.

As I sat in my meeting I was in a complete fog thinking…I have a brain tumor? You see, I had joked about this for years. I researched it and could not find evidence to lead me there, but somehow I had known it was a real possibility. I didn’t hear much in that meeting. All I could think about was how I tell my husband without panicking him. I would be sure to start with, it’s going to sound bad and scary, but ITS NOT CANCER. We got through it together and started planning for a trip to the surgeon. Honestly, the idea of the surgery itself was scariest part. Brain Surgery…what??? Now, the fascinating thing is that when you talk to a surgeon they are like…yeah dude if you’re gonna have a tumor this is like the best kind to have. Really? The best kind to have is to not have it, but ok. Needless to say he took the edge off and helped us both to calm down.

To be honest I had started thinking about all of the symptoms that made me feel awful and crazy over the past year and for all intents and purposes I was relieved. Maybe I would feel better, think more clearly, and have more energy. Then I went further, maybe I would stop biting my nails, want to eat better, start creating like mad! Wouldn’t that be somethin’?!

May 23rd, the surgery date, came pretty fast. I felt good about what was to come. It wasn’t cancer, it was surgery. We kept the news amongst close friends and family until after it was over. Though I knew in my gut all would be fine I didn’t need the added stress of people worrying or getting me worked up. People have surgery all the time and I had one of the top neurosurgeons in NYC. I knew that I would in some way feel better after it all and that there were great possibilities. My biggest fear was the surgery itself. One can’t help but panic just a little bit when a doctor tells you there are going to cut a hole in the front of your head, break down and removed a tumor, then put you back together. I thought, what if I wake up in the middle? What if something slips and I end up bent over and drooling? These were real fears.

As we waited outside of the operating room just before surgery the anesthesiologist walked Scott and me through the process. He asked if I had any questions. I asked just one, “I won’t wake up in the middle will I?”. He said that if I did they had done a really bad job. I replied, “That’s what I’m afraid of!” With some assurance it was clear that I would NOT wake up and all would be fine and I was. On the operating table I was asked to count backward from 5. I remember getting to 4. Then I started to hear voices. My eyes were closed and I panicked a bit. I started saying (or trying to say) “I can hear you…I can hear you I’m not asleep”. I stopped and listened only to realize I was in the ICU, it was 5 hours later and the surgery was over. Thank God! I guess they did a really good job.

The surgery was 4 weeks ago. I am up, getting around and feeling pretty good. I have some energy and I can once again get back on my computer to write. I have 1 week left then I’m back in the real world. It has been quite a ride. My mom was with us for two weeks and Scott’s back in the thick of it with his job hunt. Life is moving and I am happy to say my mind is clearer than ever. I wish I could say the nail biting and bad habits have disappeared, but that would be a lie. “NOT CANCER” is good enough; I don’t need miracles.

So here’s my reason for sharing all of this. We all need to remember that no one knows your body better than you. If a doctor doesn’t hear you, go to another doctor. Many of us have a tendency to take no for an answer. Especially when we don’t understand something ourselves. I smelled cigarette smoke for most of my adult life. I accepted no. I accepted that there was no answer so it can’t be real. I understand why someone might ignore it. It is not real for them, but it has been very real for me. Never again.

My seizure neurologist, who was wonderful by the way, asked me a lot of questions. Her goal was to understand my symptoms and what it has been like for me. She also needed to clearly assess if anything may have been caused by seizures. She said to me at one point, “You must be angry”. I told her, “Yes, I have told every doctor and not one even reacted to it”. In the same breath I also said I was angry at myself for not pushing it. She looked at me with a pinched nose like she wanted to reprimand someone and said, “No, this is not your fault.”

Never let go if you know there’s something wrong. I truly do understand that this not my fault. We go to doctors for help. We trust they know more than we do and they will help. With all of that said, you know your body better than anyone else. If it is telling you something don’t stop until you find someone who will listen. I am incredibly fortunate, but I can’t help but think that I knew something wasn’t right for a very long time. Doctors ignored my symptoms until I made them listen. It terrifies me to think that if it had been cancer…I very likely would have died long ago because it had gone untreated. I am lucky. But, I can tell you I will never do that again! I love my life and I plan on being here as long as I can and so should you.

Namaste
Nichole

 

©NicholeDonjè

Joys

Favorite Things:

Well here is my new favorite thing. My backyard in spring at sunset. In that golden hour the sun sets just outside my studio windows. Like the yellow brick road, it draws me out to sit with a drink and reminds me to take a breath and be grateful. This moment is pure joy.

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So much happens in a week its hard to keep up.

This week I am grateful for epiphanies, a great haircut and an open mind. I am grateful for not being claustrophobic and for intriguing outreaches. I am grateful for dear friends and books that excite me. I am full of joy and an aching back that gave so much satisfaction after weeding the yard and planting the beginnings of a garden. I think I never “liked” flowers because I never really had the chance to learn about them. Since buying our home I can’t wait to see the flowers grow and play a role in their cycles. I am exhausted and giddy. I drank my morning coffee in the yard over stimulating conversation. I worked with the earth. I sat and read Rumi. I reached out to friends and made a wonderful dinner. I am exhausted and I am happy.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the pull of what you really love.” – Rumi

Namastè
Nichole Donjè