Yesterday

It is November's final day
Then comes December. 

I find myself quiet and contemplative
Tears want to fall, but can't— 
Lexapro numbing— 
It is both a loss and a relief. 

I like being at the corner of the couch
Gazing at the tree 
Snow has fallen
It is windy and cold. 

A question comes to me: 
What do I need to get out?!?!

There is a lot of internal and external weight
Enough to cause my feet to ache
So I plan to make a list of what to get out
And follow it little bit by little bit 
Until my feet feel light. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter 

Archetypes

There are two modern-day archetypes for a 
woman (at least this one)

The one who loves and understands, 
makes concessions

Then there's the one that says 
no 
to all of that 

I strive for the first and then feel 
robbed
I move to the second and feel 
mean and cold, you know not very "lady-like" 

When I was taking care of my dad, 
insulin shots, glucose checks and constant meal prep
I also had to work. 
I'm a therapist and a school social worker. 
I love my work 
But this was hard: managing dad and maintaining the life I had built
Where all day long I hold space and no space is held for me

I resented him
How he'd come up the stairs, sit at the kitchen counter and smile
He loves watching the women work 

One morning as I struggled to get myself out of bed for another round 
Him, at the counter, me forlorn scrambling his eggs
He said, you would feel better if you helped people and smiled. 

There's a saying, often on mugs, pillows and inside pretty frames:
A wise woman once said, "Fuck this shit" and she lived happily ever after.

~

I did say “fuck this shit,” once I found a nurse to come in every weekday morning so I could move him back to his house.

I go to his house on weekends, give the insulin, drop off the groceries and prep the food. This morning, I stayed, ate breakfast with him and had one of our old father/daughter talks I once enjoyed. Sometimes his mind is so clear he becomes the dad I’ve always known.

What I learned from this time of taking care of my dad, and as I still learn because this isn’t over, is although this has been really difficult, I see where I was causing my own suffering. I see how I kept bouncing back from one archetype to the other. As a woman, in the patriarchy, with a dad who is accustomed to the “women’s work,” I felt pressured to do my work with a smile—you know so I could be loved and approved of. But I felt burdened and pissed and abandoned my own needs. And then really pissed being judged by those who have not helped in the ways that I have. My dad didn’t have to take care of his parents, except for one summer taking care of his mom who had Alzheimers. My dad is not a therapist or a social worker. My dad is also not a woman.

So I’d swing to the other archetype and say, “fuck this shit.” It brought relief. It feels good not to give a shit for a bit.

It took my own mental health crisis about a month ago to realize I matter, and I don’t have to be a victim or a martyr to matter. I experienced the weight of caring for others. I began to understand how I was not shielding my emotional, physical, and mental boundaries and no one was going to save me from doing this to myself. Only I was. So I got help.

The days now seem to move a bit more fluidly, sometimes even joyfully. Mentally, I protect my boundaries by doing what is needed without the incessant inner dialogue about what I am missing out on in my own life. Emotionally, I protect my boundaries by creating my own support structures and physically, I protect my boundaries by giving my home and work back to myself. I notice when I am with my dad, like this morning, I do not feel burdened. I am with him. I do not know how much longer I will be able to.

Thanks for listening,

Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Mother tongue

What is my mother tongue
Somewhere mercy is underneath

What is my mother tongue
I know it has something to do with my own mother

What is my mother tongue
I've yet to know it but I know
It has something to do with 
The moss that grows on trees

What is my mother tongue
It's alive and generous 
And also burdened and lost

What is my mother tongue
Somewhere poetry exists 

What is my mother tongue
Moist with lush green forests
And arid rainforests

What is my mother tongue
I'm still trying to figure it out. 



*I've been bone dry for words lately
These came out after a short walk in the forest 
Not even sure what it means and that's okay.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

No Matter How You Slice it— Patriarchy & a Poem

I was asked by my husband to watch a video with Mike Tyson interviewing Sadhguru. It offered many helpful nuggets to help me through the challenging time I’m in. And something else stuck out, I’d be surprised if any man would notice. This is the first piece (don’t worry, it will come together).

The second piece is how I’ve been impacted by what has been going on with my dad. He was hospitalized early September. He then has spent 3 weeks in a transitional care unit. Tomorrow he goes home, with advisement of 24-hour care. I could go into this loop, but I won’t because here is the main point— the fear and the deep-rooted patterning that has surfaced because of this.

In a nutshell: the patterning is around saving dad. I also felt I had to save mom. This has led to me thinking I have to save everyone. It has caused significant stress, and now causing harm to my body and mind. And why do I try to “save” everyone? Because I felt, for one reason or another, my primary caregivers needed saving. Underneath that, I love them and care for them. Underneath that, or maybe on top of that is, if they are okay, I am okay. But they aren’t okay so I need to save them so I am okay. Hope that makes sense. And now I have to leave this loop so I don’t get you, the reader, lost.

So this morning, reflecting on the video, In my journal and began to open the window to my fear. Mike’s first question to Sadhguru was: why am I afraid? I wrote: The fear— my life will be taken over or completely taken for the needs of my father. I don’t want this. This is a whole can of worms I am not opening here.

As I continued to write in my journal, in the back of my mind was a part of the talk that I don’t think Sadhguru even intended to share.

But first back to my dad. As he thinks about going home, how ready he is and how he tells me it will be okay and he can take care of himself, I breakdown to him and tell him how terrible I’ve been feeling. How stressed and how afraid I am of losing the life that I have to take care of him.

He said: well the women here (at the facility) have been helping me.

I said, dad, yes, but they aren’t following you home. It will be me, one woman, who has a life she likes and wants to continue in.

And he says, well what else do you have to do, you have the time to do that.

And I said, dad, no I don’t. You don’t know all that I’ve had to do in the background of your life.

I’ve been paying his bills, talking with doctors, nurses, lawyers, care coordinators. Worrying about where he will live. Taking care of his plants, checking his mail. This one woman.

My dad is a very spiritual man. Meaning he has meditated for 30+ years. He has studied with the theosophical society. He reads a lot, he writes and he and I did Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering program. My dad, with his other faculties declining, has entered into an expanded consciousness that is either right on point or delusional. I can’t quite discern. And while I keep his earthy life of bills and health and daily living afloat, he can continue to float amongst the clouds in the spiritual realm. Meanwhile, I’d like my own state of bliss. I’d like to write my own books. Maybe I could be a woman up on a stage giving my spiritual perspective.

And here is where Sadhguru comes back in. He chose to share with the audience that his father, within in the next few hours, will be dead. He said not be there with him does not mean he does not care and he sent his “girl” (maybe his daughter or granddaughter) to be with his dad (did any man catch that). Sadhguru was with the Americans and Mike Tyson. His girl was with the dying dad.

There are so many layers to the space I am in, but this one keeps hitting. This one where it is the goddam women trying to save us all and I just can’t stop thinking about it. I just can’t stop thinking about how yes, the underlying and very real psychological layers of conditioning and the trauma of childhood neglect does indeed contribute to this fear of my life being taken over AND also, the very real threat of a woman’s life being taken over by man and his needs and his privileged requirements and expectations. Where his life stays afloat while the women work their asses off in the background of their existence.

And here is my sad little poem to reflect on this time I am in:

The poetry has stopped. 
Sometimes I think this is the biggest loss. 

I'm surrounded by those who need
But never ask 
I just do
Too much 
And yet nothing at all. 

***full disclosure- I realize some victim narrative here, that may be dramatic or even false when unpacked to its bare bones. However, I am not at the bare bones. I am still in the meat and it occurs as salty and sour. My writings are moments I share as I process my experience. They aren’t meant to be fixed or static. I continue to evolve, grow, expand.

I also recognize there likely was no ill intent in Sadhguru’s words. This is only how it occurred to me based on where I am in my own unfolding. And lastly, I recognize to care for an elderly parent is different than caring for them in other ways. Two things can be true at the same time: I don’t want to give up my life and I want to help my dad during this time in his life. I also know that I have taken on this “burden” of trying to save others as a way to stabilize my purpose in this life and it is no longer stabilizing me. It is debilitating me. There are other possibilities right now and I am open and willing to discover what they are so a more authentic, stabilizing and sustainable future can be created.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Compass

I found a magical trail. If I lived nearby I’d walk it everyday.

It’s a dirt trail off a paved trail. It follows a creek that begins as a trickle in a marsh

Then

Widens through rock, under trees and over tree trunks.

The path itself descends and descends some more until I feel I’ve found my magical place. No one there. Barely even a squirrel, although I wouldnt mind.

The kaleidoscope of color and the continuous creek made me want to see more and more.

The terrain became more eroded. There were a couple of ways to cross over to another dirt path. I tool the easiest route.

Then, as highway noise got heavier, this magical path led here….

My hikes often occur to me as metaphors, a compass to show me where I am and point to what might be helpful as I travel on.

🧭 The compass readings:

🧭 Enjoy, or at least,be present for the journey. I don’t know what lies ahead. It may not be what I hope for.

🧭 The journey I’ve taken so far has brought me to see the two sides of my current compass: a lot of what I perceive to be missteps, creating a lot of loss and trauma has caused me to deeply mistrust my self and my steps (hence taking the easiest way across). However, on the other side, if only I dare to flip it over, there is an opportunity to live more deeply in knowing and leaving more of the fear and mistrust behind me.

&

🧭 To descend is where the magic lives. To ascend from there you know more than you did before. 🍂🍁

Travel on,

Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Compass

I found a magical trail. If I lived nearby I’d walk it everyday.

It’s a dirt trail off a paved trail. It follows a creek that begins as a trickle in a marsh

Then

Widens through rock, under trees and over tree trunks.

The path itself descends and descends some more until I feel I’ve found my magical place. No one there. Barely even a squirrel, although I wouldnt mind.

The kaleidoscope of color and the continuous creek made me want to see more and more.

The terrain became more eroded. There were a couple of ways to cross over to another dirt path. I tool the easiest route.

Then, as highway noise got heavier, this magical path led here….

My hikes often occur to me as metaphors, a compass to show me where I am and point to what might be helpful as I travel on.

🧭 The compass readings:

🧭 Enjoy, or at least,be present for the journey. I don’t know what lies ahead. It may not be what I hope for.

🧭 The journey I’ve taken so far has brought me to see the two sides of my current compass: a lot of what I perceive to be missteps, creating a lot of loss and trauma has caused me to deeply mistrust my self and my steps (hence taking the easiest way across). However, on the other side, if only I dare to flip it over, there is an opportunity to live more deeply in knowing and leaving more of the fear and mistrust behind me.

&

🧭 To descend is where the magic lives. To ascend from there you know more than you did before. 🍂🍁

Travel on,

Nikki, The Soul Reporter

The Month of September

Below is a post from September 2016. It is 11 years since our car accident, and this September also proves heavy. This entire month I have been dealing with the decline of my dear father. He has been hospitalized and now in a TCU (transitional care unit). It is why I have not been writing as much here, and why I thought I’d reshare this post. The lesson on love, death, change continues to deepen and unfold.

fall

Once, many years ago, while going through a particularly difficult time I got this idea in my head I would die on September 16 (0f that particular year). I was reminded of this today, September 16, on my walk. Suddenly, I smelled something foul. I looked to my right and there was a dead racoon in the grass. Several steps later, once I arrived in the woods near my house, a dead squirrel on the path. The bodies were still fresh. Was this a sign?

I thought: death is all around us. I remembered all the death that has surrounded my family and myself since December. On December 11, just as my kids and I were about to watch A Christmas Story, my dad called. He was not himself. He said, Mary Lou died. Mary Lou was my step-mother. Then, in January my husband’s last grandmother passed away. It snowed in April when Price died alone in his elevator. June took Uncle Mel and then, his wife, my beloved Aunt on September 6.

September 6 is now shared with September 24, my father’s birthday, when my best friend from Kindergarten died in a car accident when she was only 27 years old. Along with September 11 and September 29. On September 29th, 2011 I was driving my white Toyota Matrix on a Los Angeles freeway. My mother and 11-year old daughter were in the backseat, my 19-year old daughter in the front seat with me. We were listening to Enya and playing the alphabet game. Suddenly, a large truck with glaring headlights was in my rear view mirror. Before I could finish my sentence about what I saw, that large truck hit my car. The car flew and flipped through the air several times until it finally landed on its side. I remember wondering, am I going to die?

car

The Toyota Matrix

I have told and written this story many times, and this year, five years later, I notice the story no longer holds the emotions and trauma it once had.  Now, what seems to be unfolding are the lessons and awakenings from that day that changed everything. Death is all around us.

But, what does this mean exactly? And, is it death or just change? Here’s what is becoming clear for me— life. I think I have been so afraid of death and that impending shoe drop (in my case a tow truck that comes out of nowhere) that life has been cumbersome. I noticed this heaviness after I returned from my aunt’s funeral. Prior to her funeral, I sat with her for four days while she went through the process of death, of change. I had never been this close to the death of another human being or for so long.

flo

Me and Aunt Flo

Before I entered her home, I was afraid of what I might see. But, all my fear went away when she opened her eyes and smiled at me (and my dad and daughter). All I felt was love. I knew I loved her, but those four days I felt my love for her. I was able to tell her she mattered. This experience is invaluable to me now.  But there is a physical, mental and emotional price, at least for me, when going through something like this. That price felt heavy. It felt exhausted. It felt sad.

After the car accident, I carried heavy, exhausted and sad for nearly 5 years.

I feel lighter now. Life is becoming more clear, but not because I have figured anything out. But because I’m not taking it all so seriously and maybe because the desire to live life finally outweighs the fear of living life. I am moving, once again, toward curiosity, beauty, wonder and listening. Listening, as I did on my walk today, that I needed to get grounded. This looked like me stopping in the middle of the forest doing tree pose and volcano breath. This means committing to creating a life that will match my desire to stay in harmony with my higher self and nature, and not the day-to-day grind of this current culture.

I also intend to move more toward what my aunt taught me—love. And, believe me, I am a newbie to love. It’s always been inside of me, but it’s the emotion or state of being that I resist the most. At the least, it makes me feel awkward. At the most, it frightens me as if I might be swallowed by it. But, while my aunt was in  hospice I had a new experience with love. As I stroked her hair, held her hand and kissed her forehead as I said goodbye and I love you, love comforted me.

Love is a comfort, not a burden I need to protect myself from. So yes, death, the unexpected, change surrounds us—not to stop us or scare us or burden us, although it can, but to notice it, wonder about it, learn from it and let it guide us to more clarity of life, comfort of love and truth of being.

The Soul Reporter

Crisis

My body knew, for weeks, something was coming. Dreams were foreboding. The Power Path reported- September: Crisis.

I assume what is happening is the crisis. I really don’t want to go into it now. But at some point I will. However, I do want to share some lessons I am learning, not necessarily new ones, but occurring in a deeper and more impactful way.

  1. Crisis points: serve many opportunities for healing and expansion.
  2. Patterns: one of those opportunities is noticing psychological patterning. This is important because some patterns at one time served a protective purpose but eventually can and will destroy in one way or another if consciousness is not brought to them.
  3. Stress: fear/anxiety based programming/thinking only creates stress. The answers/wider paths and perspectives don’t live in this superficial, chaotic space.
  4. A quote from Olivia Newton John: Optimism is a choice. I’m aware of the bad; I just don’t choose to tune into it. I am aware of the fear/worry based thinking. At 50 y/o I am very aware of what it creates. I know it is there, I am learning not to engage with it and instead move into the deeper, wider space.
  5. Acceptance: is an important salve to suffering and anxiety based thinking. It creates space for possibilities that could not be seen in tight thoughts and creates space for grieving and feeling what it is we are trying to avoid.
  6. Writing: it helps me slow down the hits of life that just keep coming, to ground, to process and to share and hopefully help.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter