That One Time I Was Dismissed by Marianne Williamson, Spiritual Guru Turned Presidential Candidate

Maybe more of you now know who Marianne Williamson is. Some of us have known of her since, at least, the early 90’s. I was a follower and lover of her books. In fact, I wanted to be Marianne “when I grew up,” and often dyed my hair chestnut brown to try and capture her essence. Now Marianne, or as I call her— MW, is running for President of the United States. And, after Donald Trump’s (who ironically I call DT) election, the possibility of a MW presidency is all too real. Vox today says she “can plausibly claim to represent a demographic swath of the public” who say they are “spiritual, not religious—” and, this demographic is increasing.

First of all what does it mean to be spiritual, not religious? Well, I’ll save that for another post. Because today, speaking as one who would fall in this demographic, I feel it is my civic duty to say: DO NOT FALL FOR THIS WOMAN. In fact, if in 2020, it is DT and MW on the ballot, for the very first time, I will not be casting a vote.

Here is MW’s message, and from her I quote: “He has inspired masses with fear, and I have inspired masses with love.” Further, “I’m going to harness love for political purposes.” That sounds amazing, right? To me it sounds terrifying.

I have a story to tell about Marianne Williamson and from my story I will never look at her, or anyone who claims themselves to be a spiritual guru, the same. Also, from my story, I will always be extra cautious when I put another on a pedestal, as I did her. Now that this spiritual guru has turned to presidential candidate, I see that MW and DT are two sides of the same coin. Both proclaim to inspire masses of people. Both believe in their own hype, so to speak, to do so— and they sell it to the American people. Both tap into the American psyche for gain. Both don’t speak on experience and policy (because they can’t) so they go in for the gold- our emotions and fantastical desires for country. One speaks to those who fantasize about keeping America white, which to them means safe. The other speaks to those who fantasize about unity and love. MW reaches to the lost souls, to those that are “spiritual, not religious,” and especially those who have self-righteously and superficially walked the spiritual path, being captured by crystals and auras. And both are running from misguided beliefs that, in DT’s case, puts us in great danger. For Marianne, I do not proclaim to know what will become of us if she were president, but I choose to not find out.

My story

It all began with this blog post I wrote on January 27, 2011. To give some context, I have spent 30+ years exploring my internal landscape. This may be better known as self-discovery, self-help, personal discovery. As I do personal growth work, I often come across parts of myself. In this particular post I was confronting a perfectionist part who I called Sergeant Williamson because my perfectionist was masquerading into a spiritual guru, trying to make me spiritually perfect. The post was all about me. Nothing about THE Marianne Williamson.

On January 30, as I was lying on my couch in California (where we had just moved from Minnesota) feeling premenstrual, my phone lights up. It says: Direct Message from Marianne Williamson. I laughed out loud, and said to my husband: you will never guess who just inboxed me on Twitter.

I could not reply because she did not follow me. I cannot recall how I reached out to her, but I told her to follow me so I could respond. And so she did (I will say her following me sure helped to increase my followers. She since has unfollowed). My first question to her was: Did you read it? to which I never got a response. Eventually we also had an email exchange (I can no longer access these emails) but she did not write “more than forty characters or whatever….” No matter what I said, which was to tell her my post had nothing to do with her, she kept asking the same question: “How did I offend you?”

Marianne has been giving lectures based on The Course in Miracles at the Saban theater in Beverly Hills for many years. One night, a friend asked if I wanted to go. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to meet Marianne, and perhaps have a live conversation with her that would be more productive. I posted my account of this exchange here.

It turned out being face to face with the “guru” did not prove useful, at least as far as coming to common ground. I found Marianne to be harsh, dismissive and cold. Maybe this makes sense because she could only see me as someone who spoke ill of her no matter how I tried to tell her I was speaking of my own personal development. It was a disappointing experience for me because in my idealistic view point, someone who writes about love and spirituality, must also be able to understand personal growth and discovery. They must be open to others, right? Be loving? Kind? if nothing else, be a good listener?

At one point, she told me I had be careful with my words because women can be “catty” to one another. I told her that did not resonate and I won’t be taking that advice. She then waved a dismissive hand in my face and said, “Good luck with your blog or whatever” and walked away.

I had one more online interaction with Marianne when I saw her post this: “People can translate for themselves, and I appreciate those who don’t project all kinds of stuff onto my words that I didn’t say:)” I could not help myself- and responded: “I know how you feel.” She said she would try and remember that, and wondered why I am so intent on attacking her all of the time.

Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. We all have bad days and do shitty things. I get that. But this exchange with Marianne showed me her character and because I am a US citizen, still a qualifying vote, she did not show herself to be a leader I would follow. She has an arrogance about her (and she taught me of my own which I wrote about here). She showed me she can’t listen. That her view is the only one that matters. That she had to be the expert about my blog post. That she would continue to ask the same question and give me advice until I bent to her will. I would not. I will not. She reminded me, and continues to, of my most difficult relationships where there is complete unwillingness to even consider my experience- and these are abusive relationships. These are not attributes of a true spiritual leader, and now she wants to lead my country. I will not follow. I will not vote for her.

I do appreciate that she brings a different perspective to our politics. It’s deeper and needed in this time of chaos and superficiality. But for me she is a con. She is indeed harnessing what sounds like love, but is not love. In order to truly harness love, we must be love- and that is not easy. She has harnessed influence and power, and for her, enough of it to take on the oval. She believes she is our savior. And we must all be vigilant of wolves in sheep clothing.

I’ll be sure to let you know if I get inboxed by MW again.

The Harsh Reality

My latest Mental Health article at The Volk magazine.

“It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins.”

 ~Katherine Tingley

The above quote may seem harsh to some, and to others validating. For me, it is validating. At 15 years-old, I understood I had an issue with intimate relationships. I found out in my early twenties that issue had a name: codependency. I read a book called Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie. My copy of the book is full of fading purple highlights. Melody gave what I experienced a framework and language. Often codependency has its roots in the house of a child with at least one caregiver experiencing addiction. This was true for me. My mother had a drinking problem, later prescription drugs, and was in and out of treatment centers much of my childhood. My mother also has a mental illness which was not diagnosed until a couple of years ago. To put it simply, in my home life was unstable; the only predictability was the unpredictability and chaos that came from my mother. I spent three decades sorting most of this out.

Director: Michaela Rae // Camera: Ivy Christina Fashions: Meghanlee Phillips Hair: Kaisa Johnson // Makeup: Mikelle Brown //Model: Tyler Bakken
Director: Michaela Rae // Camera: Ivy Christina Fashions: Meghanlee Phillips Hair: Kaisa Johnson // Makeup: Mikelle Brown //Model: Tyler Bakken

Today the number of people experiencing mental health issues is staggering. According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. For youth, ages 13-18, 1 in 5 will experience a “severe mental disorder at some point during their life.” Specifically I’d like to discuss two common diagnoses: PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Diagnostic criteria for PTSD are exposure to traumatic event(s), recurrent and distressing memories of the event(s), avoidance of stimuli associated with event(s), and various changes in mood and behavior, which can include hypervigilance, problems with concentration, and sometimes disassociation (DSM-5).

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) “Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” Approximately 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event in their lives and 8% have PTSD (PTSD United).

ADHD is termed as a “heritable brain disorder,” where symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and can cause anxiety, boredom, and/or mood swings. One in nine U.S. (6.4 million) children is diagnosed with ADHD (Ruiz, R, 2014).

I focus on these two disorders due to emerging research which questions whether attention issues and the overall increase in ADHD diagnosis may be due to trauma. One of the reasons this matters is treatment. Seventy-seven percent of children diagnosed with ADHD receive treatment while thirty percent are treated with only medication (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). From what I understand, ADHD medication will not help a child who does not have ADHD: therefore, having an accurate understanding of a child and their history, particularly trauma history, is important. From this research, this need is becoming clear.

One study of particular importance was done by Dr. Nicole Brown at Duke University. During her residency she began to notice that many of her patients were being diagnosed with ADHD. These patients were living in low-income neighborhoods, often characterized by violence. She conducted a study of 65,000 children.  The parents of these children were questioned about the ADHD diagnoses along with any Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs. These experiences can include physical and emotional neglect and abuse, caregivers with mental illness and/or addiction, or who were incarcerated. She found that sixteen percent of children diagnosed with ADHD did have at least four ACEs. There were only six percent diagnosed who had no ACEs. The recommendation from this study, according to Dr. Brown, is “We need to think more carefully about screening for trauma and designing a more trauma-informed treatment plan.”

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who is a pioneer in the ACE’s study and was just named California’s first Surgeon General, is calling for developmental screenings of Adverse Childhood Experiences much like we do already for mental health when we visit our doctor. The ACE’s study showed that the more adverse childhood experiences we have, the more it impacts our overall mental and physical health well into adulthood. This brings me back to the quote I shared at the beginning of the article.  We are witnessing, and many of us are experiencing, the wreckage of human life.

To point to our childhood homes as the root of this wreckage, again, may seem harsh. I must also state that there are systematic inequalities that can induce and enhance this wreckage. The truth is many of us grew up or are growing up in harsh conditions. This harshness can create trauma, which impacts us in a variety of ways through behavior, mood, relationships, and our experiences. To recognize this isn’t to blame our caregivers. It is to understand ourselves and, essentially, humanity. Understanding leads to a greater capacity for healing, growth, and compassion for ourselves and others. It is important to remember that we are our best resource and often what troubles us has solutions within. For those of us who commit to this, understanding will create less harsh conditions in our homes for our children. Specific to a diagnosis of ADHD or PTSD, it is important to be professionally screened, recognizing that symptoms of inattention can also point to a trauma history. Below you will find a list of resources—websites and books— that further this discussion and offer education on trauma and ACEs, including a site where you can find out your own ACE score.

To find what your ACE score is, go here: https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

Nadine Burke Harris on how childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime: https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime/discussion

The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. 

The Deepest Well, by Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. 


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Nikki DiVirgilio is a Licensed Social Worker and writer. If you’d like to contact her with questions, comments and guidance in going deeper, email her at nikki@nikkidivirgilio.com. To read more from Nikki, visit her blog at www.nikkidivirgilio.com

Guest Post: Wash Your Spirit Clean

By Louis DiVirgilio, Ascend the Ascent Blog

What makes it necessary to wash our spirit clean?  

Our spirit is the eternal energy that moves all life, without which there would be no life.  Why then should we, “wash our spirit clean?” 

If you haven’t noticed, our earth life is one big ambiguity.  We are born on earth, and our out come, inevitably is the grave.  In between, we strive, but with an anchor of the fear of death around our neck.  As the singer/song writer, Prince, sings, …”In this life your are on our own.”  If that wasn’t enough, we are our own, destroyer, and our own savior, and with only a finite capacity of understanding, we are let to make sense of the deepest mysteries of the Cosmos, like: What is the cause of the cosmos?  From where do we come?  Where shall we fine peace at last? What power governs the duality of pleasure and pain by which we are driven? 

Many of us turn to the religious scriptures and doctrines to dispense a higher authority for answers.  However, a reliance on religious belief has shown that great errors of doctrine and scripture have distorted their version of the truth. 

“Much that is called religion has created an unconscious attitude of hostility towards life.  True religion must teach that life is filled with joys pleasant to the eye of God, and that knowledge with out action is empty.  All men must see that the teaching if religion by rules and rote is largely a hoax.  The proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it with out fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you’ve  always known.” 

~I haven’t found who is responsible for the above quote.

It was Emerson who said that to go through life depending on some eternal power to save one’s soul was like running up bills on the chance of somebody else’s paying them, with no thought or intention of paying them oneself.  If not from religion, you may ask, then where are we to look for our own salvation?  Are we our own savior? 

To continue, please click this link.

Be Too Much

Hello. How is June unfolding for you?

Earlier in the month, I wrote about the energies of this month. It was about paying attention to subtlety as a way to be a conscious participant in the changes around us and within us.

Personally, I feel I like I can tune in even more. I can do this by slowing everything down and being present. When I do this, I instantly receive information that tells me what changes are occurring within me.

One of the changes occurring was triggered when my daughter, who is an esthetician, asked to do eye make up on me. I told her to do something bold and bright— something I’d never do on myself. Here is the result:

At first, when I looked in the mirror, I had a two second identity crisis: who the hell am I? When I woke up the next morning, having removed the make up, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life. I realized there is big, full life out there for me to experience. Creating a new look on my face helped me to see how much I play myself down in order to not be seen. And this made me feel it is time to grieve the way I’ve been playing and let it go.

Sometimes what we think is our personality— the who we think we are— is actually a product of deep insecurities and fears. Once faced, processed and understood, we begin to see that beneath this—who we thought we were— is not really who we are.

What I am coming to understand is the person I thought I was expressed from an old tape of fear and neglect. Who I really am expresses from a divine intensity inside of me. She is a whole other person who lives, laughs and loves with that intensity— and maybe even wears bright make up.

To end, click on my video I posted today. I came out with no make up giving shout outs to those of us working real hard expanding our consciousness and self-awareness and finding the hope in that. Click here to listen.

I’d love to hear your comments and questions. Leave below or contact me here.

~The Soul Reporter

June Soul Report: Stay Attuned to Subtlety

For some, this month may make us feel we are in a strange time. This strangeness is not new, however. It’s just becoming more visible.

Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.” This is why the best guidance for this strange time is for us to be acutely attuned, present and aware as much as we possibly can. Further, not so much about what’s going on outside (we know that’s strange), but what is going on inside.

There are many subtle and not so subtle happenings occurring during this time. June holds the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The season is in full bloom, awakening from its winter sleep. We use our primary senses to notice this: trees are green, the sun is hot, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass, the sound of birds and insects and children playing. These are the obvious signs a change of season has occurred. But what about the the less obvious signs that brought this change?

For example, the other day, after pulling some pretty intense weeds, I took a rest on my lawn chair under a tree. Ready to rest, read my book and soak in the sun, swarms of gnats from all directions came at my forehead, lips, hair, and glasses. They were relentless, and it was irritating. It was all too easy to get caught up in it all and just complain, which I did by sending my husband a text about it. But, there was another, deeper occurrence within me— I wondered why. I knew it was unusual to have so many gnats. I’d never noticed it quite like this before. There must be a reason. I thought about the winter, all the snow and all the months of it. Then the spring and all the flooding. I thought about how the river, which is near where I live, is still flooded. I googled “increase in gnats” and found some clues. And finally, I just opened my book and let the gnats do what they do.

There are reasons why things occur. We have a choice to pay attention or not. If we do not like the changes, we can choose to complain or dig deeper. We can choose to be a victim or be curious. And, we can always open to acceptance of what is.

Humanity is having a growth spurt, and it’s intense. When children have growth spurts, the rapid changes in their physical body can make them clumsy and awkward. If it’s a hormonal growth spurt, like puberty, then things can get really interesting. Shall we say, strange…..?

When humanity is having a growth spurt, life can look much like it has: chaotic, scary, and often shocking—having many of us shaking our damn heads or constantly rolling our eyes. Many of us are also complaining about what’s happening, and choosing to be victims and feeling hopeless, even apathetic. During this time we are also noticing constructive and creative happenings that make us say wow, bring a tear to our eye and give us hope. This is a time where it is all too easy to keep our primary senses engaged in the chaos and the construction. But, from what I am gathering, June needs to be a time to bring our attention within, on ourselves. To be engaged within, to be curious and dig deeper.

So much has happened “out there” lately. But what is happening “in here”, in us. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What have we gathered over these past few intense months, and maybe years, that needs to processed and metabolized. What of all of this can be used for growth and healing and what can be let go? Beyond this process, what is occurring right now, in the present moment, that needs our attention? Essentially, why are we where we are? And the answers are often subtle.

There are forces that create everything. We are a force and so I am asking us to get clear about what we are creating.

You see we cannot continue to get caught up in the outer chaos because we are at risk of losing our way in it and then find ourselves somewhere we really do not want to be, and strangely, if this occurred, ask ourselves what the hell happened— how’d we get here? LET US NOT GET TO THIS POINT. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.

Instead, let us use this opportunity of June to slow it all down, stretch it all out and use our curiosity to check in with our selves, our souls, our bodies. Let us wonder: how did we get here….what are the subtle and often unconscious forces that brought us here….and what are the subtle forces bringing us forward….? Let our inner wisdom provide us with guidance. Because we cannot afford to live unconsciously right now.

As June moves on and I open to more subtleties of the energy of this time, I will share them. But for now, stay attuned, awake and aware to what is just below the chaotic surface of our existence. This is where we can fully sense what is occurring and not only be a part of the shift, but create our own for the betterment of humanity and our planet.

Stay in touch and reach out to me anytime. Contact me here.

~The Soul Reporter

Guest Post: Our Human Heritage is Divine by Louis DiVirgilio

Being the inheritor’s of a God-Spark is not a possibility easily accepted.  Yet, within the human spirit lies a recognition that we are more than we appear. 

There is a cosmic urge to reach beyond our grasp, do the impossible, know the unknown, to live an examined life.  This is all part of our evolutionary heritage.  This God-Spark represents our essential core. We live, move, and have our being, as does all manifest life, from this Source.

This idea is not some divine inspiration that was brought down to me by an angle or written in stone nor broadcast by the voice of God.  I learned this idea by studying ancient philosophies and spiritual writings.  I found the idea of Divine Consciousness expressed in the Old Testament, in Genesis, …”the power of God was moving over the waters” (space), … God’s Consciousness, (his power), spoke the Eternal Word which energized all manifestations; from no-thing, to all things.  Divine Consciousness was installed in all things and its vibration sustains All.  I also found the idea in the New Testament, in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossian, “It is my task to fully proclaim God’s message, which is the secret he hid through all past ages from all mankind, but has now revealed to his people. God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all people.  And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God.”  

To continue reading visit his blog here…..

Self-Reflective Practice: Recognizing Patterns of Self-Protection

Sometimes I’m amazed at new insights about myself, especially at my age.

One I just discovered was so deeply rooted, I thought it was just my personality.

This pattern’s motive is for one single use—the holy grail of psychological mechanisms: self-protection.

Here it is: if I am quiet and shut down around someone or in an environment—it is because for one reason or another- I do not feel safe.

I am not shut down and quiet because I am:

a) an introvert

b) weird

c) anti-social.

I am shut down and quiet because actually…….

I LOVE MYSELF. I CARE ABOUT MYSELF.

What I needed in order to see this pattern: to—finally—be with people who, and in environments that, create a sense of safety and worthiness.

When I was a little girl, I was just quiet. I kept to myself. The more quiet and to myself, the more isolated and therefore, weird I thought I was. But, recently when I noticed myself being shut down and quiet around certain people, I also noticed the story I was telling about myself: you’re weird and everyone thinks you’re weird. And then the berating: what is wrong with you? Why can’t you just talk to people? Do you think you are better than they are…? (Well, I mean yes, sometimes I do).

But— a stream of high-level consciousness broke through. I connected this adult moment in real time with my child self. I saw my child self do exactly what grown up self is doing and realized: I AM NOT WEIRD. I may not even be an introvert. My little kid self who shut down to stay safe did so because she loved her self.

A-fucking-ha!

“It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins.” 
~Katherine Tingley

Self-Reflective Practice

This week, and quite honestly from now on, consider your personality traits, that you think you are just stuck with or maybe even like, could be deeply ingrained self-protective mechanisms. For many of us, in our childhoods, conditions were harsh. These harsh conditions showed up in our childhood homes, in the schools we attended and in the world we lived in. Harsh doesn’t have to mean abuse. It can just mean unkind or not hospitable to the souls and spirits that we are.

To protect ourselves from harshness our wisdom created mechanisms to keep us safe and protected. Mine was to shut down. What was/is yours?

Once you discover it, pay attention to it. Where does it show up? Consider why. Do you have to hang on to it to keep you safe or can you start to let it go? Could it be that you are more than what you think your personality is? Now that you are a grown up, is it possible to be safe even when around unsafe people?

Finding our self-protective patterns can be a tedious task. And some are buried more deeply than others. I am 47, and just discovered my deeply ingrained pattern. But you know, now that I have, I feel lighter. I feel freer. I feel more myself. And, I know I have worked to build or perhaps, uncover, the foundation within myself— a foundation I stand safely on— even in the harshest conditions.

As usual, reach out if needed. I am here to hold space for your stories, your challenges, your process.

To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at thesoulreporter@gmail.com 

Connect with me on Social Media: Facebook Twitter Instagram

~The Soul Reporter

Living Deeper

Below is my mental health article published in The Volk, Spring 2019

Mental Health: Living Deeper

By Nikki DiVirgillo, MSW, LGSW

When I was young, I looked through a telescope and viewed the stars in the sky. The expansive night sky with its twinkling lights told me I was special: connected to a great force and intelligence.  In my early twenties I lived my life from this acknowledgment and my desires manifested effortlessly. Then, one night as I wrote in my journal, I made a profound connection. It brought a vital link from childhood experiences to what I was beginning to experience internally, which was anxiety. This discovery led to the opening of my Pandora’s Box where I made one childhood connection after another, throwing me in to what some have called a dark night of the soul. The details of this long, dark, night are irrelevant in light of the lessons I learned and the growth that followed.

Photography by: Will Miles
Photography by: Will Miles

The main lesson, from which all the other lessons fall under, is that if we want to become more of who we really are, if we want to “live our best life,” and experience calm within ourselves, then we must live deeper, and then once we do, live deeper still. Many of us work at the surface of life; we are conditioned this way. We begin in a family, however that looks, with adults who are often existing at the surface of life. Then we fit our tiny bodies into a school desk with bodies taller than us telling us what they think we need to know to live a successful, fulfilling life. We move on to a job to pay for the lifestyle we think we should have. Through all of these stages who asks what we want? What we think? What we feel? At what point do we wonder, where are we? Who are we? And, is this all there is? If we don’t, at any point, stop and ask ourselves these questions or listen to those who might be asking us, we will continue to work at the surface level until our bodies and minds break down. Sure, some will earn what we see as success working at the surface, but will they be fulfilled? Will they be living an authentic life?

What we know is there is a mental health issue (more likely a crisis) in our country. According to the NAMI website (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.” What is also clear is that mental illness is on the rise for our younger population as well. There is no truer sign of a culture’s overall well-being than how its children are doing. According to the 2018 Children’s Mental Health Report from the Child Mind Institute, anxiety disorders have increased 17% in the past ten years. From my professional perspective, I have also seen an increase of students in school diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Something is not right.

My personal theory of what’s not right is that we’ve lost touch with who we really are because we primarily work and function at the surface of life and the surface of ourselves. When I looked up at that star-filled, night sky I was tapping into expansiveness, into space, into mystery, truth, and cosmic order. When I wrote in my journal and made childhood connections, I was digging in beyond the surface to a deeper part of myself, an unconscious part, just as vast and mysterious as the night sky. This space was filled with beliefs, memories, trauma, and emotions stemming from my upbringing. This “stuff” has to be processed, and often our first que that we are ready for this inner work is the experience of anxiety and/or depression.

To listen to our emotions, seeing them as a signal to slow down and check in with our selves, is not something that comes naturally to many of us. We weren’t taught this. Further, to listen and be curious enough about what’s happening inside of us, will open us to change. And, change is frightening, especially at first, because we have only known the surface of ourselves. The surface can lure us with its comfort and safety, but the real value is going beneath our surface. We are more than what we experienced as children, and more than what the culture tells us now. Therefore, when something prompts us to live deeper, like the stars in the night sky, there are points of light within ourselves that we must, and can follow to help us along this journey.

Here are my points of light for you- if you are going through a dark night, if you are experiencing anxiety, if you are feeling an urge to step into something more:

Photography by: Will Miles
Photography by: Will Miles

                 Find Space: this can be anything from looking up into the night sky, taking notice of the stars and the moon, and during the day, the clouds or shades of blue to clearing out a cluttered corner, closet or drawer. Space bring perspective and perspective helps us start to see possibilities and pathways that can bring depth and more internal satisfaction. Meditation is another way to find space.

                 Be curious: Once you’ve created space, it’s time to get curious- curious about you. This is time to self-reflect, be mindful and ask questions. Beginning this deeper work requires resources to support us. This is important because we may be processing traumas and feeling feelings we haven’t consciously connected with. Consider a journal and seeing a therapist as useful resources as you explore yourself and books!

                 Seek connection: What I have come to trust and understand is all of us, every single one of us, is looking for connection. We long for deeper connections with ourselves, with our experiences and within our relationships. One of the most important lessons I learned has to do with attachment theory. This theory states the importance of having a secure physical and emotional attachment to a primary caregiver. These attachment needs are present as soon as we are born and continue as we develop and grow. However, it is in our earliest stages that attachment matters most as this will shape our future relationships. If our physical and emotional needs are not met consistently, we will develop insecure attachment. Being insecurely attached will cause anxiety and create difficulties in relationships, along with a disconnection with ourselves. I recommend exploring attachment theory through books or the internet. You will find the four types of attachment and perhaps understand which one best describes yours.  Through the process of understanding ourselves, and evolving from greater understanding we will find our relationships change too. Deeper connections with ourselves and others is possible!

These points of light begin the process of deeper work, the work that will eventually guide us to more clarity, wisdom, connection and peace.

Today I Praise….Coming out on my Spiritual Path

Today I Praise…

Today I do not sit in a church

Today I walk on a path and I praise….

The coolness of the breeze 
The sun shining between clouds 
The still barren trees 
The ones sprouting buds 
The cardinal I could not catch 
The camouflaged deer 
The still swollen river 

And….

Finally, Me. 

Today, I arrive in a clear open space after a long fought journey. 

I have risen- again. 

Today, I praise Life Itself. 
Today, I praise the Life I AM 🙏🏼

My parents grew up Catholic. They did not bring me to church. They did not have me confirmed. The closest I came to anything religious was baptism. 

This, other than their bodies and intentions that brought me here, is their greatest gift to me. 

Without a religion to follow and adhere to, which I knew quite young, when my very religious aunt made me go to church, that it was not for me. My entire little body recoiled sitting there amongst praisers of Jesus. 

How did I know at such a young age this was not my way? What did I know instead? 

The answers to these questions have unfolded as a journey to mySelf. In this journey I have found who I am and most importantly, who I am not. That proved to be the hardest part. It’s an excavation of Soul and it leads to our Self- our higher self.  At least this is my truth and journey. 

In so stating my spiritual path, I am fully aware that it is unpopular. I feel this and have experienced this- especially with Christians, and even those who do not attend church regularly call themselves this. I have been judged and isolated by them and others. 

A Jehovah Witness friend would not break bread with me, yet asked me to lunch- telling me if I wanted to see her she’ll be at the Kingdom Hall. I had a cousin- a born again Christian- tell me following any other religion is following Satan- after I explained to her what Namaste meant. Never heard from her again. As a young girl, Christian parents forbid their children to hang out with me saying I was a bad influence. 

More generally, from what I understand, Christianity does not condone a path that believes that salvation lies within. It believes only salvation lies with accepting Jesus. Where does that leave the rest of us? Not saved, of course. Fortunately, I’m secure in my journey and I am fine being left to it. 

At this time, when so many of us are coming out of our shame surrounding who we are and stepping into our truth- it’s
Important for me to come out with what I just shared about a topic we are told not to talk about but infiltrates everything. And what a better day than on Easter!

It’s always been my least favorite holiday. When my kids were young I made the most of it with colored eggs and hiding Easter baskets. Until this morning I still dreaded it. There’s an assumption in this country that most of us are Christian. It can be triggering to those that are not. 

But today, I claimed the spiritual  path I’ve always been on. It’s an ever expanding one where I rise and fall a lot but I always learn and grow when I do. Salvation, for me, lies within and that is my journey. Namaste.

This Week’s Self-Reflective Practice: Seeking Validation Part II

Validation: “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile”

Two weeks ago I gave general and personal examples of validation seeking, and explored potential roots of this need for validation

This week I’d like to start by sharing a poem I wrote while in the midst of some buried trauma and pain around validation seeking.

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

I wonder if this is how children feel…

Who is listening? And who is there to talk to? 

Who is there that isn’t too drunk? Too high? Too distracted? Too wounded? Too insane? Too selfish? 

This deprivation turns to desperation. And then to rage. 

Who is listening? Who is there to talk to? Who has space for me? 

We are all in the same boat. Violently rocking. Or barely hanging on. Or with a stiff drink in our own hand thinking: this is the life. 

But is it? 

Do I need you to see me to know I exist? To know my experience matters? Do I need you to hold my space?

Where am I in this? Can I do it without you? 

Is it too much to ask a wounded mother and father to do this? 

Is it appropriate for that same wounded mother or father to ask their child to do this?

Who is listening? Who is there to talk to? 

This poem could go further. I thought it might. But, turns out I had to live it through a little deeper in my own life in order to finish this piece on validation.

What I now understand is that poem is from the old story. Old does not make in now invalid. Instead this story is valuable, essential and leads me to where I am now where it is old enough to gain perspective and understanding in order to let it go and make room for a new story. 

I cannot proclaim to know all the pieces of the new story yet. The new story is unfolding. But here are some pieces that I have gathered so far….

Piece One, The Repair Journey: On my walk this afternoon, I listened to a Super Soul podcast of Elizabeth Lesser. She spoke about her book, Marrow: A Love Story and the work she and her sister did together to repair their relationship. She posed the question: Who do we need to clean up space with so we can truly connect? Who have we hurt? And, then ask and listen. 

We hurt people in many ways, often stemming from our wounds of neglect and trauma. One of the ways we hurt people is by expecting them to meet our needs and to validate us.

Piece Two, The Spirit & Soul Journey: Maya Angelou said, beware of the naked man who gives you his shirt. She also said she doesn’t trust anyone that says I love you when they don’t love themselves. I remember my mother telling me to look in the mirror and say: I love myself. And, my mother didn’t, and doesn’t love herself. It has been a strained relationship, but in many ways I took her words to heart. It framed a life, my life. I have been on the self-love journey this entire time. 

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Self-Reflective Action

To begin Repair: As we step into our reflective practice on seeking validation, let’s be curious about which relationships in our lives need some tidying up. Who can we do some repair work with? Who have we hurt, and then ask and listen, defenses down. Also, consider is this person safe, willing and ready to begin the process. There are some people who, at this time, are far too wounded and therefore will be too defensive to clear space with.

To begin the Conscious Spirit & Soul Journey: Consider that you are on a self-love journey, no matter how low or how badly you feel about yourself. Do you believe this to be true? Then, where do you think you are on this journey? Are you the kind of person who is naked, but giving your shirt away? Or do you have so many shirts and won’t consider sharing one? Either behavior shows there is an imbalance within the relationship with yourself. What if you looked in the mirror and said: I love myself? Notice what you feel. What you think. Do you believe it?

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Which brings me to the next piece…..

The New Story

This weekend, while journaling, I understood that a new rhythm unfolds inside of me. The Voice Inside says to me gently: let it happen. No need to figure it out, alter it, halt it. Let it occur. 

This new rhythm is of my own making. I no longer beat to the drum of my old childhood wounds and buried trauma. There is a new sound coming forth. 

Here is the poem of this new sound: 

There is a new rhythm coming forth. 

It is of my own making. 

Why would I do anything to disrupt and disturb it. 

It is coming together to create a new dance in all of my relationships. In the relationship with myself.

It comes with a trust toward my eternal and steadfast vision of the person I want to be, the person I know I am. 

It is not a head path or the old wounded way.

It is a soul path, a heart path. 

And it is unfolding, and I am watching, noticing and gratefully looking forward to what is transpiring. 

In this new rhythm I begin to understand I am fully nourished by Spirit, by my Soul’s Journey. My my very own Self.

As always, I am here to help you investigate this topic because sometimes it’s a lot to do this on our own. If you have questions about this week’s practice or have insights to share, please contact me. For deeper, more concentrated work, I am available for tele-therapy.

To learn more about me and my services, click here. To reach me for questions or to share, click here or email me at thesoulreporter@gmail.com 

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Next week’s Self-Reflective Post will be about eating and noticing our thoughts around it. 

~The Soul Reporter