The Journey is not far. It’s expansive.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-2

(1) Tangled

The journey is not far. It is expansive.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-4

(2) The Return

I went for a forest walk this morning. I entered, expectant. Further along, afraid.  What twists and turns might I face? As a woman, would a man try and hurt me? As a human in mid-life, more feelings of loss? As a spiritual being, enlightenment? The wondering passed and my feet on the path continued. The journey felt far, and at times I felt tangled within it with no escape, like that branch above (1). As the path turned I found a paved path. It led where I began. The return was so close, and had always been (2). 

 

Nature can be used as a metaphor for our personal/spiritual journeys. It can be symbolic of our relationships with ourselves and others. Today for me, feeling entangled in the forest, and then to find the paved path to where I began, was a metaphor of my journey. Within the journey are many twists and turns, moments of being snared and entangled, to then being pushed into a clear open space. There is darkness. There is light. There is mess, debris and branches and old leaves everywhere (3). All of this tricks the mind that I have gone too far from myself, from where I began, and will not make it to where I am trying to go. But— my feet continue to step. The path leads to where I began and I see I was never far away, I was really never far at all, ever, and will not be again.

Below are the images and metaphors from my forest walk. Tip: if you’re feeling stuck creatively or worried about where you are on the journey, take your own nature walk. See what you see, how it reflects where you are and how it can be used to provide you with some expression and guidance.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-3

This instantly brought tears to my eyes. I see two trees meeting together at the root, joined at the heart and growing individually as one.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-5

Change & the touch of Autumn

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-7

(3) The mess of the forest and as it should be: as it is.

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…

Moss: how I love thee. Had I known I could have made a career studying moss I might have changed my major. Seems to me studying moss may be more enjoyable than the study of people and relationships. #IAmASocialWorker

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-6

Moss: one of my favorite things. Had I known I could have made a career…-1

Remnant of summer, still reaching toward the sun.

The Soul Reporter.

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The Broken Place.

The Broken Place It’s from here where all of our distortions and dysfunctions originate. We will often, unconsciously so, create meaning and lives and experiences and relationships from these distortions, which originate from this broken place. In time, the meanings, … Continue reading

Guest Post: “The One Who Walks Beside.”

On December 11, 2015 my father lost his wife. Below are the words, images, lessons and teachings from his experience…..

There is an American Indian phrase that is used to designate the person who walks beside another, through out their life; it is, “the one who walks beside.”  This simple expression is clearly referring to a spouse, a best friend, a brother, a sister, etc., who, regardless of the kind of conditions or circumstances that surround the beloved person, will walk by his or her’s side.  This kind of relationship exudes characteristics of loyalty, love, support, protection, respect, selflessness: my wife would say, “they are attached at the hip.”

This phrase accurately describes the relationship my wife and I had.  She was the one who walked beside.  I say “was” because my wife passed away, unexpectedly Dec. 11, 2015.  My wife, Mary Lou, was  not feeling well after Thanksgiving.  She complained of stomach pains, thinking she had an urinary infection, which she had had several times previous.  We went to urgent care, and she was diagnosed with a severe urinary infection, and was given three antibiotic pills.  Mary Lou seemed satisfied that the pills would cure her infection, as they had on previous occasions, and she would be fully recovered in three days.  The next day, Mary Lou wasn’t feeling any better and complained of lower back pain and a severe headache.  We went to see an orthopedic doctor who took x-rays of her lower  back with the result that, other than some arthritis her lumbar area was fine.  The next day Mary Lou was getting weaker. and we decided to go to the hospital emergency facility.  She was so weak that she could not put on her socks and shoes, I had to put them on her feet. Continue reading…..

Dear Mom, Why Can’t I Love You?

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I was in a workshop, my mother sitting a couple seats down. I am looking at her and I hear this question, Why can’t I love you? This question lived within me for the next several days—and then I sat down and wrote her a letter.

Dear Mom,

Lately, I especially notice I cannot look at you. I notice when I am around you who I truly am shuts down and I become broken and numb. But when you aren’t looking I do look at you. In these moments I feel sad for you. I wonder what it’s like to be you right now. Are you lonely? Are you afraid? I want to hug you. I want to tell you I love you.

I know one day you won’t be here. Or maybe I won’t. Either way I know there will be no one else in my life like you. No one to get on my nerves like you do. No one to give me newspaper clippings about the newest eyeshadow color or my birthday horoscope. No one to ask me how I am that actually wants to know and no one who will look at me like you do or give me a bag full of presents—some bought, some taken from your own shelves for my birthday. There’s no one like you.

And, yet I throw away those newspaper clippings. I criticize your bag full of goodies. I reject the look you can only give and the words to me you only say. I do all this while knowing someday you won’t be here. Mom, why won’t I love you. This letter is my attempt to at least try.

I love you mom.

The past is over. Who you’ve been to me, these reasons I’ve told myself why you aren’t worthy of my love are not real. With the past in the past, the present and the future now have the possibility of me having a new experience with you. I am open and ready for this. I invite you to be also. Thank you for listening.

~Nikki

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What I realized from writing, and than sharing this letter with my mom, and later that group of people at that workshop is I was relating to my mom from the past and the future. I was using stories I created about her from the past, even ones I worked through about her not being available for me to justify not expressing love to her because I fear a future without her. Isn’t it funny how we think creating distance with ones we love will somehow protect us….

I’m opening to a new experience with my mother because I know living a life of survival and protection from the past and the future is a small and isolated way to live. I do not want to have regrets and I want to experience another possibility with my mother.

Thanks for being a part of this exchange with my mother,

The Soul Reporter.

Paint with Love.

Source: xxjenliu.tumblr.com via Casey on Pinterest

Love is the key- the simple solution but often so hard to achieve.

It has been a long while since I have written, at least anything of great length. I was in transition- I believed from bearing my entire soul on each blog entry, which I have done for many years, to something entirely new, although I didn’t know what. But, it turns out that wasn’t really the transition I was making.

You see, there was something going on within me, beneath the surface- a battle of sorts. On my spiritual path, I’ve faced many of these, and the ultimate one is between love and fear. This battle of love and fear is what was rumbling.

In this battle love does not fight. In fact, love gently and powerfully leads the way even, it seems, when it looks like fear is winning. We often talk about choice, especially in this New Age of The Course in Miracles and positive self-help: choose love over fear, these teachings tell us. But love has already chosen us. The work then becomes knowing this in a conscious and connected way. This is our evolutionary route—back to love and what we can choose is whether we want to be a conscious participant or not on this journey.

I have a personal example. Tonight, during a conversation with my significant other, I watched myself move from being led by fear to being led by love. It seemed to have happened instantaneously, but actually there have been signs this transition was on its way. And, finally tonight I was able to put it into practice. I guess I could say I chose this practice of leading with love, but mostly it just happened as a natural course of my evolution of consciously participating in my route back to love.

As it happened, this transition to love, I kept going with it because it felt so good. It was so liberating. Somehow I knew there was a solution here- an answer I had been looking for, a remedy to my present suffering. I thought: so damn simple, but God  how I have suffered. In this one moment, in this exchange with my husband, I kept throwing love whereas I would usually throw more fear. In my fear I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. I am paranoyed, afraid he might leave me. I cling and control. Nothing gets resolved and only more pain and suffering ensues.

I always thought it was because I was co-dependent and crazy, which yes, there are many moments this appears true, but actually I love this man. I love him a lot. And I guess this love has frightened me, and instead of taking this love and painting beauty with it, I have taken it, hoarded it, been ignorant of it, and allowed it to almost turn preverse and paint ugly with it. (And of course, it hasn’t helped I have been hurt in this relationship as well).

As my fear told me he was purposely avoidng my calls and texts and I began to feel that familiar panic, love was there and allowed me to be honest. To say things about what was really going on inside me. I actually merged with the truth, instead of swimming around it where the fear lurks, and the truth of this moment was—I don’t want to hurt anymore. I will believe him. I will love in the face of adversity, stress and fear. I will love. Love is the safety net, the simple solution—nothing else.

But this simple solution is not always easy to come by, even though we talk about it like it is. The reason why it is difficult to go to this safety net is because it takes quite a bit for us to get really honest and really real with our selves, with what is really going on within us. We are afraid of the fear and afraid of the love and we move around in chaos and confusion until finally we don’t want to hurt anymore. Until finally we want and are ready for a solution to our suffering.

To love, I mean really love in the face of fear and adversity takes preparation—almost as though we must prepare to receive the love that is within us. We must be ready for it, therefore this process cannot be forced. It must unfold, naturally, and it will. It does. It is.

Love is the gentle force behind the fear. There will come a time in its unfolding when it breaks through and shows us its power and lets us feel its presence within us. That is the time of liberation and restoration. And then love can become our practice. Our way. Our truth.

The Soul Reporter

Are You Recreating Your Childhood With Your Partner?

Got a new column over at elephant journal, and I’m talking about marriage.

Here is the first post:

The Soul Reporter on Growing Up Your Love.

The other day, my husband informed me via text he was going to do something he knew I might not approve of. Him sharing this with me is a new behavior. In the past, I found out these things by accident or because I was snooping around.

I told him how I felt about what he was going to do. I threw in the kids: “Do you think it is a good choice considering we have children?”

Turns out, I had no influence. He was still going to do what he wants to do, and I fell into a funk and sent him this text:

To continue reading…

Connect Before You Cannot

Today’s Soul Report: Reaching Out

I can’t do this alone anymore. These words poured out from me as I walked up a hill by my house. I’m begging to be helped. 

Prior to these words pouring out, I sent a text to my mom. I told her everything that was happening to me. I reached out to her.

This was no easy task. I remember before we left for California, lying in a bed next to my mom. “Mom, I don’t feel comfortable around you.” She didn’t know how to take it, but this was the most honest I’d been with her. I did not, and probably have never felt comforatable around my mother.

In a previous post, I shared a dream I had about my mother. We were in a car, and I was trying to engage her in the beauty surrounding us, but she wasn’t paying attention. I then, tried to warn her of a car that she was about to hit- again she was not paying attention.

My primal relationship is with my mother- as is most of ours. And I’m guessing, from utero to present day, I did not sense a connection to my mother. This disconnect, I am finding has defined most, if not all of my relationships, and the fact that I’ve not had many relationships, especially with girl friends.

As I continued to walk up that hill, over and over again, tears began to pour out too, along with those words: I can’t do this alone anymore. A heaviness in my chest became obvious, and it was almost as though I were exorcising some major entity that had taken up a lot of space in my being.

This entity had a story. It is the ‘I don’t need anyone’ story. The ‘I can and have done it alone, and this is good because, hey, knowing how to be alone and only count on me is a good thing’ story. The story has been with me so long, I did not even know there was much else but this story. I thought the story was Truth.

But this day, where I released that heaviness, where I reached out to my mom, where I declared I can’t do it alone anymore, allowed enough space where I could hear this story. It was like I heard it for the first time, even though it had been playing for many, many years. I saw it, and at once abandoned it. I said to it, yes, but this is not helpful to me anymore. I want to see all the people who are there now. I want to reach out. And I thank you for keeping me safe all these years.

That day happened a few weeks ago now. Interestingly, I’ve reached out several times since. To a relative, who it turns out shares similar issues. We talked and shared and laughed, and it was good. I’ve reached out to a publisher about a book idea, and she wants to see more. I’ve made myself more available to my family, and my mother recently sent this text, which for me says everything:  I want to connect before I cannot.

You see, it wasn’t necessarily I was alone. We are never alone anyway. It’s impossible. From the very beginning we needed someone to get here. We can’t brush our teeth without the one who invented the toothbrush. We are never, ever alone and do absolutely nothing alone, although this is a HUGE story so many of us tell.

For a while, perhaps a long while, this story comforts us. We like to hide and feel isolated. We get to be right when we tell ourselves no one is there for us, and then no one is. I shared in a recent post, how I tested people. I wanted to see, are you there? And guess what, most failed, but I was right. But, really in our pain and power of being right, what we really want is to connect, as my mom says.

In her case, she is going to be 70 this year. Finally, all of those dramas and issues she had while I was a kid, where she couldn’t connect to the beauty or the pain, no longer matters as much. Now she wants to connect before she cannot.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter