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.

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.

The Time of the In-Between

3-4 minute read

What’s Your Expression of Change?

Hello September! It is the time of the In-Between. Have you noticed where you are in your life often aligns with the seasons of the year, and the transitions between them? Do you pay attention to the signs in nature that a season change is coming? What about you— what are your signs that change is coming? What’s your expression of change?

 Signs of the In-Between

 

mums

Yesterday, I planted mums while my hibiscus still bloomed. I hung the fall wreath on the door, added the fall lawn ornaments outside, and decorated the inside with ceramic pumpkins. I did this while the air outside was hot and muggy. This is the time of the In-Between.

Here, in the Midwest, where the signs of the new season peak through and life continues to exist in the season that is leaving, can be quite vivid. The first sign I notice are the sounds during the day of the Cicada, the Locust and the Cricket. It occurs to me this is their final chorus before the air turns cold. In the In-Between, there are days that require a sweater or a light jacket and then back in shorts and a tank top. When the heat returns, there is an abundance of bugs: bees, boxelder and lady bugs— their final jaunt before the cold is here to stay.

It is the time when the deep, green leaves fade. Some begin to turn to their autumn color, and others dry up and fall to the ground. The grass does not grow as quickly, the sun does not shine as brightly, yet still brings warmth on one side of the body while the wind feels cool on the other. The days grow shorter, which initiates a sadness of the summer that is ending and the dread of a long winter. But before this happens, there is the excitement of fall and all that it brings: back to school, pumpkin spice lattes, walks in the woods— stopping to take pictures of the colorful leaves, taking a tag off a sweater that was too warm to wear in the summer, a trip to the apple orchard and making apple crisp, and the anticipation of the holidays that follow.

wreath

I am in the In-Between in my life. I am middle-aged. I am transitioning from a life of homemaking to a life of working outside my home. I graduated from college. After 3 months, I did find a job, but it is a temporary job. I am working, but also not for long. I am married, but I have changed. He has changed. We have changed. We find ourselves in the same bed at night, but little else is shared. It’s enough to still be welcomed to our in-laws, and enough to have a short fight. But it’s not enough to feel as in love, or as connected and fully together as we once did. We are in the In-Between.

The In-Between is difficult, and full of possibility. The In-Between means change. The activity of the squirrels, who run through the grass and up the trees, remind me it is also the time to prepare for the changes ahead. The squirrels understand the necessity of storing their food in various places to be retrieved in the winter. The In-Between cannot last, but sometimes it can feel like it will never end. Sooner or later, new life does unfold. The changes we desire and the ones we fear do occur. Our body and soul know this. They also know if we are prepared for the changes or not.

If you feel like your life mimics the time of the In-Between we are in, take a moment to tune in to your body, to your self, your soul, your life. Are there changes you want for yourself? Are there changes you fear coming? What does this feel like in your body? Do the changes, the unknown of this time in the In-Between, make you feel anxious? Excited? Calm? Do you feel you are prepared? If not, how might you prepare?

My Expression of Change

 

scarecrow

I have been anxious during this time. I feel the anxiety in my belly. I experience myself gripping and clinging, as if I’m trying to stop the changes from happening. I notice my thoughts, which try to control and analyze what is occurring. I also know these patterns. I have been here before. I know change is coming, and it’s coming fast. I know letting go and allowing is the antidote to the clinging and gripping, the controlling and analyzing. I know the transition is happening as it should and soon I will be in new territory. I take deep breaths, get still and consider some of my anxiety could be an indicator more preparation is needed, that I must gather my nourishment for the winter to come. I then begin to seek and gather this nourishment to prepare.

Soon the sounds of the Cicada and Locust and Cricket will fade. The landscape will be less green, and instead flourish with gold, brown, red and orange. Fall will be here. I will gain knowledge and new understanding. I will find resources through relationship and experience that will awaken and strengthen me in this new space. The nourishment I gather will be plenty. Eventually, I will thrive. Just as the snow will accumulate in January, so will my confidence. And in the Spring, change will come again.

I wish you wisdom and serenity during the changes in your life and in your self.

If you feel a need to have assistance and guidance during your time of transition, please contact me @ nikki@nikkidivirgilio.com. Together, we will create a space of support and a plan toward greater awareness and understanding. For a list of services, visit here.

The Soul Reporter.

Seeking the Warmth

image

Today was a sad and contemplative day. It was also a little stressful. My computer was acting funny so instead of doing homework as planned I went to the Mac store. Fortunatley my old 2007 is still going to get me through for a while. I had my bike in the car so I went to a lake, but I couldn’t yank my bike from the back.  I was getting pissed, which means I am going to break something and make it worse. Instead I took a deep breath and took off the front wheel. When I finally got it out of the car and the wheel back on my anticipated quiet ride was infilatrated by something that went clickety, click from somemthing I probably broke.

Six miles of clickety-click I put the bike back in my car. I grabbed the blanket from my backseat and walked to a massive tree by the lake. I stretched out my blanket, bunched up my sweatshirt for a pillow, put my hands on my belly and moved my face toward the soon-to-be-setting sun. And there it was— something familiar—warmth. In the warmth of the sun, my body cooled. Whatever I was irritated by calmed. What I’d been angry about vanished. But, there were tears. This warmth I was feeling— I determined is love.

There was a man and his dog sitting on the bench nearby. I didn’t pay him too much attention until he got up and started walking toward me. At first I was uncomfortable. I would have rather been left alone. But, he stopped and asked, “Are you doing alright,” as if we were old, dear friends. I didn’t answer truthfully, of course. I said, “Yes, I’m doing alright.” He replied, “Well unfortnatley for me my bike tire is flat.” I empathized and we agreed on what a beautiful day it was (despite his flat tire and my tears). Then, he was gone. My previous tears turned to sobs. I sat there until it passed.

When I get home, after I dinner I opened up to where I left off in Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior. She is talking about drinking whiskey. She says, “The whiskey warmth starts in my mouth, travels down my throat, pools in my belly, and now my insides are also wrapped in a blanket, hushed, quieted, rocked gently to sleep.” I realize I had the very same experience as Glennon, but not with whiskey, with the sun, and that man. How often does someone ask us geunuinely, are we alright? I think we are all seeking the warmth.

I recall all the warm spots I have found. I found it with my dad as a kid when I’d stay at his house and drink warm tea and sit down next to the big heater that blew out warm air. I found it snuggling up to my husband on a cold, winter’s night. I found it when my dad rubbed my temples when I was young girl with a headache. I found it in the smiling eyes of my aunt when I walked through her front door. I found it in books. I even found it with my mother (who I often don’t feel nutured by) when I was sick and she snuggled me up in a blanket on the couch and handed me her famous pb & j with the big chunks of butter. I found it at the sunny spot by the lake. I found it in the question of a stranger.

Once I find it my insides are quieted. My mind is calm. I know I am loved. I am restored.

The Soul Reporter

The Month of September

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

Going Against My Grain

What is my grain, currently? Currently, I am afraid. I hold back. I let myself off the hook, and rather easily. I can work hardGrain as a mother, as a daughter, as a wife, as someone who takes care of her home, as someone who works with myself toward greater growth and transformation. I have even shown I can work hard at being a middle-aged student. But—I don’t work hard at my desires—my desires to become a published writer, to be a business owner with any one of my good ideas. I also don’t work hard at making my overweight body healthier even though I have high blood pressure and thyroid issues. I guess we all have our weak spots. Here are mine.

 

Grain3

The issue is I could get by with only working in the places I am strong, until now. Now, I face a body that has to get healthier or it will only continue its decline. Now, I face another fork in the road—follow my desires that are still very much alive inside of me or not. Both choices, right now, terrify me. All week I have faced myself in these weak places and mostly, I’ve been resentful. I resent the inertia I have created. It’s a tangled mess of weakness, fear, anxiety and doubt. It’s a place that has been accumulating for 20+years. It’s a place I have been avoiding for at least that long, and have always known is there.

 

Grain2On the bright side, yesterday, on a walk in one of my sacred spaces I could actually feel myself aligning with my desires. I know it’s time to walk through the tangled mess, fight and claw and probably love my way through until I stop for a moment and realize: I’m through. And, I’m through with doubting my abilities. I’m through with questioning the desires of my soul. I’m through worrying if my actions make a difference or not or where they may or may not take me. I’m through with anxiety clouding my intuition and instincts that move my desires forward. But, I’m not through yet. I’m still here, doubting, questioning, worrying—and still, moving forward anyway.

 

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

Where I Sit.

Straight ahead from where I sit there is a middle path. To my right, another. And another to my left.

2

This morning I questioned who I am, but this isn’t new. I’ve been questioning this for awhile. In the past 10 years I have seen many parts of myself.

I have traveled the left path to play in darkness.

1

 

I have traveled the right path toward light. I try to stay on the middle path for balance.

3

But no matter which way I go, who I am sits on the bench watching.

4

 

The Soul Reporter

The Summer So Far~

A few things I’ve done this summer….

 

Thank you dinner at Louis Ristorante~

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

Up North with my girls~

SONY DSC SONY DSC

The Gemini Birthdays~

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

More Birthday Fun~

SONY DSC

 

 

13

A Day at the Zoo~

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

Butterfly Garden~

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

Sunset Walks~

sunset sunset2 upnorth

And building a house… Stay tuned for pictures and documentation of putting our home together.

The Soul Reporter

Are you Bored? Is it Time to Walk a New Path?

Today’s Soul Report: Enthusiasm

Everyday, subscribers receive in their inbox, a Daily Soul Glimpse: a nudge from my soul to yours to help inspire self-inquiry and relationship with your soul. Below is what they received today:

Yesterday, I was bored with the book I am writing. So bored, I left the desk, picked up The Hobbit that I had been reading, sat in the sun and read. I hadn’t been able to get into the adventure of Bilbo and his friends. But, yesterday when I sat in the sun I was like a kid- giddy with excitement.

Bilbo and his friends had just outsmarted the dragon, and they were inside his lair, where all the riches were. Soon, the little Hobbit would be going home, a place he dreamed about being during his entire adventure.

Still not wanting to go back to my writing work, I took a walk. I walked the usual path- down the boulevard near our home, then back around. Seemed a bit stale and boring this time, just like my writing and I wanted, if nothing else, for my walk to last longer.

I imagined another way I could go to get home- a way I hadn’t been before, but knew the road well enough that it curved up and would lead back to the boulevard. But, just as the road began to curve up, I looked to the left and saw a gravel path. I knew the river was near.

But, that didn’t entice me as a river here in Los Angeles is is not the Mighty Mississippi of my childhood. Instead it is a man-built, concrete tube where sometimes water flows, and most times it doesn’t. I took this path anyway.

It moved right along with the golf course and the “river,” which of course was dry. But there were trees and quiet- and it was new. At every bend or hill, I’d tell myself I would turn around and go home. But, my curiosity won at every bend and down every hill. Soon, I was hearing traffic noise again, and was under the great overpass of a busy highway. The enormity of its pillars and the concrete above me made me feel small and vulnerable, and honestly so was this path.

I did not know where it led. I was alone, and at one point I saw what I thought was a loose dog, a Doberman no less, and my heart stopped. Thankfully, his owner appeared. “He’s chasing rabbits,” he told me.

Continuing to walk, following my curiosity the path led to many paths. One seemed to go around in a circle, although I did not venture it to see. And another led over a little bridge where water actually ran under it. Further, a bubbling creek adorned with river rock. The kind one could step on to get to the other side. It was getting dark, though and I would be calling my adventure over- until next time when I would go farther. Perhaps over that river rock.

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life when all that we need to be really happy is something to be enthusiastic about. ~ Charles Kingsley

On my return home, I found I was no longer bored. I was enthused. Although I did not meet a dragon like Bilbo, only a doberman with an owner, I felt I had gone on an adventure. I thought about my curiosity, and how it has been my courageous friend in many of my walking endeavors. It is one of the areas in my life where I may be afraid to travel new ground, but still I continue. I am also this way inside my soul. Curious to know what else is in there….But, my writing and work in the world, I tend toward timid.

As I said, I was bored with my work, and left it. I thought about how I found that new path. It began by walking the same old one, and then wanting to walk a little further. To be this way in my work, as I am in my soul and on my walks then, is what I’m after. To keep going and be curious of new ways to see. New ways to express. New. New. New.

Curiosity saves us from boredom. And the more detached we are in that area of our life, the more curious we will be. Curiosity will always bring us somewhere new. Give us new insights. New ways of seeing. And when this happens, we find we are enthused.

Just like that quote above- money and fame, even the riches in a dragon’s lair won’t bring the happiness that a new adventure can. That a life of doing work, which fulfills us can- that a life lived with enthusiasm can. This is what I believe we are all seeking.

Self-Inquiry:

What area in your life feels dull and uninteresting? It might be that it is an area where we need to pay less attention, but it also may be an area where we only need to bring new eyes to. In what areas are you more adventurous and curious? Do you find these areas bring more joy into your life? How might you travel a new path? How might you be more daring? Be curious, and notice when you are enthused and when you are not.

To subscribe to Soul Glimpses, click here.