I no longer fit it all in.

This summer I entered grad school. For years, while in undergrad, I knew this would be happening. It is a one year intensive program and because I knew, I intended to clear most everything off my list- even my job. This might be why I am surprised to overhear many of my fellow students discuss their new puppies, upcoming weddings, moving into new houses and taking Alaskan cruises. Yesterday, in class, a student said the schedule makes it hard to go to the cabin every weekend……

To this, I was relieved to hear my instructor say when he did this program he cleared away everything he could for the year.

I mean, I get it. I was young once and many of my fellow students are young. In my early 20’s I crammed everything into several months: built a new house, got married, went to Maui for my honeymoon, opened a business, had a baby and got a puppy. I had it all, or so I thought.

Now that I am middle-aged I see those years as sort of crazy making. I mean I am happy I have my baby, now 17 and my marriage, going on 20 years (the house and business is sold and the puppy became a dog that died). But, in my youth there was a sense of urgency that drove my choices that now, looking back, just doesn’t seem wise.

If I had to come up with a reason for this urgency, which of course I do, it is because I felt unfulfilled, and I felt pressured. I had to have experiences, driven by my own desires and the expectations of society. I wasn’t content, trusting or fulfilled enough to just be. I had to fill up my self and my life.

I no longer feel this urgency, and I find this incredibly ironic. If anything, with half my life over (at least I hope I still have half of it left) I should be trying to fit everything in while I still have time. Instead, I feel more at ease. I am not anxious about the cabin time I might be missing (of course I have no cabin). I do want another puppy, but I would never get one right now. And, moving would be nice, but I can wait. I guess that is what’s different— I can wait now. In my youth, I could not.

What else is different is I understand the importance of focused attention. To bring in too many experiences would undercut my learning, and therefore my future. I want to be a good therapist, or whatever I end up being after I graduate. I want to feel prepared and committed. I now know there is no reward for having a lot on my plate. Doing and having too much brings stress, anxiety and feelings of overwhelm.

I appreciate the experience of expanded time— of being committed and intentional about what can be on my plate right now and knowing that there is time— that whatever else there is, can wait. Before I close this post though, I do have a confession. I have one small regret and a subtle fear: will I have enough time to do what I still want to do? It took me 40+ years to finally follow my desire to be a therapist. When I sit in classes, I am enlivened and know I have found my calling. I think about the books and articles I want to write, the classes I want to teach, the people I want to serve, the groups I want to lead, the business I want to open. And with each of those desires is a quiet, yet persistent thought: will I have enough time…..?

In middle-age, the reality becomes more real- time is running out. Yet, there is still time. Perhaps now, with the diminishing of pressured, often inauthentic urgings to fill up space, the ability to focus my attention and living in this space of expanded time, miracles can occur.

The Soul Reporter

 

 

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Tell me how you’ve changed. If you haven’t, tell me why.

I was immobilized by shock and fear when Trump won the election. That week, it took a lot to get moving again. When I did move I went on a bike ride to one of my favorite spots. I got off my bike and realized something fundamental had changed inside of me.

Usually on visits to my favorite spot I reflected upon concerns surrounding myself, my life and my relationships. But not anymore. A new, more menacing concern was with me- concern about my larger home— our country, our world, our planet and its people. This isn’t to say I had none of these concerns before, but now, the weight of them was heavier. It was almost too heavy and I wanted to go back to the days of only trying to manage my issues. Unfortunately, living in the west with my head just above the middle-class lifestyle, I had no idea this was a privilege.

Since those early days of November, I have since accommodated to this change. The shock has worn off and my fear has dimmed to a consistent concern for the broader context in which we live. Sometimes these concerns are in the back of my mind, and sometimes they are front and center. What I do in my life hasn’t changed all that much. I still get up, do my yoga and meditation. I do my homework, go to classes, spend time with family. I still get on my bike and go to my favorite spot. But now, when I drive up to order my half-caf iced coffee with almond milk or sit at a restaurant deciding if I want a salad or a burger, I realize the freedom I think I have to do these things can shift dramatically at any time. Think, The Handmaid’s Tale (for anyone who watched it or read the book). Watching it felt all too possible.

So, now that I have shared my experience I want to know yours. Tell me what you have noticed since Trump was elected.  Are there changes in your life? Your mind? Body? Emotions? Relationships?

When I look around it seems on the surface everyone is doing just fine, and I wonder is everyone asleep? Aren’t people concerned? Then, I think if they looked at me while I ordered my half-caf iced coffee they would think the same. So, where are you with all this- if you like Trump or not- how has it changed you? And if it hasn’t, tell me why.

Thanks,

The Soul Reporter

What Space Are You In?

Do you ever notice if you are having a new experience with yourself? Are you aware you are having an experience with yourself?

I am having a new experience with myself. Suddenly, I find I don’t have much to say. I notice less chatter inside of my head. I notice I don’t have much to feel. The presence inside feels smooth, almost void of conflict. It kind of feels like death. But, really it’s just a foreign state of less inner conflict and disturbance and more inner silence.

 

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The Devil’s Kettle, Northern Minnesota

Sometimes, in this unfamiliar state I watch myself try and create drama and conflict within me. Sometimes, I question the silence. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s depression or sadness. But I know those states and that is not what this is. This state is not peaceful. It is not joyful. It is not sad. It just is.

The silence allows me to notice life outside of me, people mostly. I watch the drama people bring onto themselves. Then I watch them blame others or their environments. I think some of us don’t feel alive unless there’s drama and conflict. I think many of us fear the silence. I want to say to the people— you are creating this chaos and you don’t have to. This is the lesson to be learned.

But, how?

The Sufi poet Rumi said, “Work. Keep digging your well. Don’t think about getting off from work. Water is there somewhere.” I have dug my well in many ways. I dug through journaling, through reading, through therapy, through processing out loud, through walks in the woods, through crying my eyes out, through running in the streets not knowing where to run, through fighting, and most recently through a yoga and meditation practice I learned from a guru. In my digging I hit rock, branches and mud. I got hit, kicked, pummeled, bruised and I thought, broken. I also hit some clear spots, and rested. I cannot say I have hit water yet or if I am even close. What I can say is the current space is dark, unfamiliar, quiet and still. And for the first time in an unfamiliar space, I am unafraid. Instead I am slightly curious and mostly present.

Your how comes with desire. You must want to find the water. You must want liberation more than you want drama. You must keep digging even when it’s hard. You must keep working even when you think you’re not getting anywhere. You must want to be free more than anything else. And then, you’ll come to a space that feels different than all the others. You’ll wonder where you are, but you won’t be afraid. The space will be clear. Vacant, but oddly alive without any more limitations, without any more rocks to hit or stones to throw or vines to be caught in. You’ll be suspended in this space. I don’t know where you’ll go next, but water is there somewhere.

 

The Soul Reporter.

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Water Self

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Outside the lake home window I watch the water meet the rock. The water swirls around it. It sweeps on top of it. At times, it crashes right into it and whatever the water does, the rock remains strong, still, stable, unmoved. There’s a lesson here, I think. Can I be like that rock when the waves come crashing in? Can I be like the water, swirling around the rock? Can I ebb and flow and also remain steady and secure? Can I be both the rock and the water?

What if the water resisted the rock? Would the water flow? What if the rock resisted the water? Would the rock be shaped? Resistance of any kind would halt the movement and freedom of the water and would cease to shape and mold the rock. How stagnant do I become in my resistance? How do I miss the caress of the water? If the water does not crash upon me how will I be changed? How will I grow?

As I watch the dance between rock and water, non-resistance becomes the goal.

The Resistance Pattern.

I am in a fight with resistance. It’s a fight I’ve been fighting underneath the surface, probably since birth. Now it is a fight that is risen to the surface to which I am fully aware and very uncomfortable with.

A few weeks ago I went through an intensive program called Inner Engineering. It consists of learning practices like yoga, asanas and breathing/meditation technologies. For four days, two of them for 12 hours I sat cross-legged on the a floor learning the practices and listening to videos of Sadhguru, a man and a mystic with a mission to bring these technologies, as he calls them to “create inner wellbeing.”

After the retreat, I did feel well and for a couple of days after. I felt alive and free and large within myself. Then, I had to take all of that and fit it into my life, which right now feels small, constricting, dull and consisting of choices I made when I didn’t feel so alive. What to do? Well, of course- resist. Resist my small, constricting life. I resist homework. I resist winter. I resist my responsibilities. I resist my dog dying. I resist that he is still alive and I have to carry him up the stairs and clean up his pee. I resist Trump. I resist doing my inner engineering practices two times a day. I even resist my resistance. All of this resisting is making me kind of crabby, to say the least.

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And, here’s the beauty- the resistance is here so I can face it. So I can look at it. Feel it. Wrestle with it and eventually surrender to it. In the surrendering I will find there is nothing to resist. Sadhguru said over and over again, only this moment is inevitable. I couldn’t grasp it. I still really can’t grasp it. He says, if you only accept that this moment is inevitable “your aliveness will blossom.” This is because when we are only in this moment we are connected with existence, with life.

My resistance stops this inevitable moment experience. I resist this inevitable moment. I don’t know why. But, what I do know the reasons and the patterns are coming undone and I am doing my best to not resist this.

The Soul Reporter

 

Fired up? Ready.

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Remember “Fired up? Ready to go!” It came from a city council woman that Barack Obama met during his community organizing days. He introduced us to her and her chant during his 2008 campaign. He asked, “Fired up?” And, the crowd answered, “Ready to go!” I answered ready to go. I thought I was ready to go. But something strange happened on inauguration night, 2009. I not only went to sleep with a smile on my face, feeling warm and safe inside, I also went back to sleep for the next 8 years, or at least until Clinton vs. Trump. What was the need to be fired up anymore? I got what I wanted. I got my President. I had twinges of guilt. I felt I turned my back on him, but it wasn’t enough to get me going. I went back to my comfortable life and he and his cabinet did the rest.

Well, as I sit here on what is a dark day for many, Inauguration 2017 I am fired up. I am ready to go. On November 9th, I was changed. Something fundamental inside of me shifted when Hillary lost. I woke up. As some say, these are the times we were made for. In 2008, I wasn’t ready and that’s why I didn’t show up. In 2017, I am ready and this will make all the difference.

But, don’t get me wrong, I am not selling myself an unrealistic story about what I, one person can do, because I don’t honestly know yet what I can do. I also realize my venture into the world of showing up is new and unfamiliar. You see, I have been loyal to a long, stubborn pattern, which allows me to stay hidden. It’s a protective mechanism, I suppose. My dad says its because I am afraid of life because I don’t trust it.

I came here, into this world, afraid of life. I know I did. I don’t know why. I’ve fought this fear consciously and unconsciously all of my life and maybe over many lifetimes. My dreams speak to this pattern. In my dreams I hide from a coach who wants me to play dodge ball. Ironically, I run out of the gym, dodging dodge ball. I hide from the classrooms in my old high school building. I hide from the men who try and chase me (this could be a good thing). Anyway, my mechanism is to hide, to not be seen and it’s strong in me.

But I cannot allow this type of protection anymore. I must break through this pattern of hiding and not trusting life. The last time I trusted life enough to sell most of my belongings and move to California I almost lost my life and worse, that of my children. It’s been a long road back from that time in our lives. I did not want to dream again. I did not want to come out again and give life a chance. I let life have me for a while and it almost killed me as a result. Life was too unpredictable for me to feel safe.

But in 2016, a year full of death and loss for my family and I know so many others, for me, it was also a year of life. I chose life again. I chose to be better because I want to. And part of being better means to face one of the largest giants in my life: a pattern of hide-and-go seek where what I hide from and what I seek is the same, me     and     life.

I am in a place now where I no longer want or need to hide and therefore I no longer need to seek me or seek life. I am here. Life is here.  They have always been here. Now, I show up.

As Trump and his family eat at their luncheon today and dance at their parties tonight, and tomorrow when he and his administration do what they think is best, I will pay attention, but I won’t be brought down by any of their decisions. Instead of trying to change what is by projecting my ideas and values onto people who seem to care less, I intend to be a part of, and focus on, and highlight what I believe is what matters most now: the good work on the ground by people who are conscious and care and the difficult and necessary inner work that allows us to be our better selves. Both are needed now more than ever.

While those who hold false power spin their webs of deceit and greed out of ignorance we will mobilize and unify. Perhaps some will turn away from their webs and realize there is no security and joy in that. But either way, we are busy doing our work, the work for all human beings, all living beings and this beautiful round globe we all live on.

To you~ Fire & Ease,

The Soul Reporter

Let’s Not be Stress this Holiday. Let’s be Truth.

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I have a Christmas wish: can we please stop saying this time of year is stressful? Beyond the holiday, can we also please stop saying everything is so stressful? Most of us say this now- but is it helping? Isn’t it just a catch-all phrase that now doesn’t really mean anything?

What are we really saying when we say this? Are we really saying we need a rest? That we really don’t like what we spend our energy on? That our family dynamics (especially during holidays) makes us scared or resentful or not heard and seen? Or are we just trying to fit in with all the other stressful people and we actually feel good?

Whatever it is, let’s get to the nitty gritty of it and speak honestly and stop saying everything is so stressful. We are what we think, you know, so let’s not be stress. Let’s be truth.

Side note: after posting this on FB someone in-boxed me share the truth of what is going on  with them. This is the point of my post- to have us saying what is, not use blanket terms or just say something that we all say. It isn’t to make anyone feel what they are experiencing isn’t stressful. 2016 was rough for many of us. This is just a request for us to dig deeper. To seek the truth and share it, if so inclined. Share your truth here if you’d like.

The Soul Reporter

My Toxic Relationship with Trump

I made a mistake, and I’m probably not alone. I paid too much attention to Trump. It was fun to laugh at him. I was proud to get on my soapbox about him. And, if I needed a drama/adrenaline boost I could count on him to push my buttons. He was a captivating character who made me curious and also terrified. No matter how I tried I could not wrap my head around how this man got as far as he did on a campaign the pretty much divided many groups of people by making them feel like the “other” that they already felt so well.

My mistake in one way makes sense. It is a reasonable response for those of us who care about our country to pay attention to the candidates. But, Trump was no regular candidate as most of us know, and what really captured my attention was something far more unconscious and yet, oh, so familiar. I was entering into another toxic relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable.

In order to discover this I had to endure the crushing blow of our break up last night and not for the reasons you might think. As I sat down for the long election night the anxiety set in. Florida. Florida. Florida. I needed some licorice to chew on. I wished I could knit. I wanted to go back to smoking cigarettes. I was not emotionally regulated. Then California was called and Hillary took the lead. I could breathe. No longer did I wish to knit and eat licorice.

Then Florida was called. He won it, and it looked like he would win many other key states. I imploded and when I go on emotional overload, I shut down— all the way down. Now I was numb. Numbness helped me take the final blow when Hill conceded. Then, the fear hit like a five-ton truck. Goodbye women’s right to choose. Goodbye Planned Parenthood. Goodbye Universal Health Care and Free college tuition. Goodbye Earth. Goodbye rainbow lit white house. Goodbye diversity in politics. All of what is progress going, going, gone. If this weren’t enough, then fear showed me the violence that could come upon my multi-racial family.

Three hours of sleep later, I was resigned. Bitter. Depressed. But, Hillary spoke and then spoke right to me and my daughter as we both sat there and listened. She opened up my woman soul and it hurt. It hurt so bad. I felt slammed by the patriarchal structure. Then Wolf Blitzer went in for the kill and said, “Hillary Clinton: Very, very emotional speech. You saw her holding back, choking back those tears. She is, uh, well known for being very, very emotional at these kinds of moments. Clearly, a sad moment for her.” I grieved. Why don’t we understand and care for the female soul?

So, now what?

For one, I have broken up with Trump, officially. I have decided I will not watch the inauguration. I will not watch any state of the union. I have deleted my news apps. I will turn down the volume when I hear his voice on the radio or turn the channel when I see his face. I won’t add President in front of his name. And, I won’t worry about my patriotism in regard to any of these choices.

Here’s what I also won’t do anymore because of these actions— take care of him emotionally or be his moral center. Why did I take this on?  Because I sensed he had no emotional IQ or moral center so I assumed the role as many women do and made up for it within my own self. I became his moral center. I took on his lack of emotional depth and fed him mine, even if it was hate and anger. Trump didn’t care what emotion I gave him because he fed off it. It invigorated him. Considering the results we know it wasn’t just my energy and emotion that invigorated him. Many of us gave him our energy and emotion and right now it is all he has. Without it, he fades into the darkness. We, my women, and I’m sure men, have kept him in the light. And, this is extremely unhealthy for us and essentially for him.

We do this with our fathers as young girls. We do this with our husbands as young women. We do this with our children, I am sure especially our sons, but I can’t truly speak to that because I have daughters. We take care of the emotions people can’t take care of for themselves. We give morals and character, even if we just hope for it or bitch about it, to people that don’t seem to have them. It’s deep.

I kept our union going by resisting his ways. By bitching about his lack of emotional depth. By feeling hate and anger for him and fear of him. And, here’s what made this union even more toxic— the man is unstable. He is unpredictable. He is insecure. Oh, what hell for women when we find this in a partner. What hell for a nation when we elect this kind of president. But, it could not be helped. DT is “their” Barack. He’s their change master, the Savior. And, we know how powerful that is.

But guess what’s going to happen, in my opinion? His people are going to abandon him, just like I feel I did, and probably countless others did, to Barack once we elected him. I went to bed on those two election nights with a smile on my face and a happy tear in my eye and woke up the next morning and did my safe, secure life.

Trump will also be abandoned by many others who didn’t want him as the president, who like me won’t give him that title. The big T will be left all alone. Alone with everything and everyone that is our nation and he will do this alone with not only little, to no experience in our political establishment, but also without sound character, emotional stability and mental fortitude. Holy. Friggin.’ Cow. At least Barack, where he lacked in experience, he more than made up for with character, stability, fortitude and a healthy dose of grace and cool.

I am grateful, though, that I invested in this relationship with Trump. It has changed me for the better. It has made me care more for the poorly called “others” that were brutally brought to attention by his campaign. It has clarified what I really want for our nation, for our earth. And, it has brought me back to a core learning: never emotionally engage with an unstable, unpredictable, insensitive, insecure person.

If any of you are feeling “crazy” consider you did what I did. Consider you made it your job to give him what he doesn’t have. Consider you protected him emotionally by giving him your emotions. Consider you got too emotionally involved and attached. It happens to the best of us. In fact, I think it only happens to the best of us because we want so much for people and we expect so much from ourselves. Now expect yourself to get free of it, and not just with Trump, but in any or all relationships where this is occurring.

We too easily become emotional surrogates for others, often without knowing. It will and does drag us down. I think many of us became Trump’s emotional surrogates. I really do. We took care of what he couldn’t. Now, let’s not do it for him as President. He wanted this and now like good old tough love (and right now I use the word love lightly) it’s time to let him go and see what he can do with the power and the shoes he wanted to fill. There’s no excuse with a Republican majority.

Now, we can breathe better. We have space in our souls. We aren’t taking this on anymore. We can self-care and start to heal and mend. As we feel stronger we will get back to the business at hand, whatever that is for us and what we care about. As long as we remember we are not here to take care of anyone emotionally. We are not here to protect grown people from their lack of character and integrity. We are here to do our part, run our race. We get back to our core, our center because this helps everyone, even those inept emotionally. And when we lose perspective and get drained by this news and whatever is to come, we might step outside and look at the stars or feel the sun on our face and know we are a part of something larger than what goes on down here. As much as what happens here matters, its a blip on the totality of what is the Universe. When we touch back down to earth and then to our country, in this case, the United States, and we realize this presidential decision did in fact happen, we can realize it is a part of a larger framework that we are a part of, but that we don’t fully control.

The only thing we are in charge of is our mind. This is our domain, and responsibility to do the upkeep inside this domain is ours alone. We must work to keep it as clean and clear as possible and this is NOT an easy task. But, the rewards are plentiful. A clear mind is an open mind and we need this now. An open mind gives a clear pathway to our heart and we crave this connection now. With this connection we see with both heart and mind and come to understand this is the only protection we need, especially from forming toxic, unhealthy relationships. And we need protection now.

A clean, clear, open mind and an awakened heart is our only direction, and we need direction now— so let’s get moving.

Nikki.