A Glimpse Ahead in the Days of COVID-19

In every home I’ve lived I have found a trail.

In my current home, it is a wooded trail— the Mississippi backwaters on one side and a junk yard on another. I’ve worked to ignore the latter. Although I appreciate the trees and the river, this trail is my least favorite of all the ones I’ve walked. And so I found another one that goes mostly through my neighborhood to a dirt road circling an abandoned lot edged with pine trees. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken to sitting under one of the pines, the one that now has a sign that reads: No Trespassing. Also ignored.

But today I needed the backwater trail. It is a short trail, made a bit longer if I take the narrow, tree root, moss filled one along the rivers edge. I took this route. On my way back to the neighborhood I noticed another trail with fresh black dirt and took steps. To my surprise it extended beyond the trail I have known and further, extended not only my walk but my time with the trees. As it ended in a familiar place, I felt grateful for the creation of a path I had wanted since I moved here.

During COVID-19, other than moving from panic to calm, panic to calm, I’ve observed people in my life and the ones I see on my essential runs, and notice how they are responding to this pandemic. My father, for instance, finds hope in the blades of green grass sprouting in a newly dug out hole in the ground. Another laughs loudly with the gas station attendant saying, “Well you know we are all going to get it.” My mother texts daily from her assisted living facility, “Is everyone at home now?” Or today, “Prince Charles has the virus.” Sadly, others have become more self-centered, ego-centric, individualistic and shut down.

As for me—today, on my walk I found a new path that shows me the life road I am currently on. The soil is fresh. It has not been traveled yet. It comes as a surprise, and yet offers what I have been seeking for a very long time. It tells me if I venture to take a new path, even while things are falling apart and feel unstable, I will arrive in a familiar place, feeling grateful and changed.

I wish for all us to be guided and changed for the better, while knowing there is loss and unimaginable grief, known and unknown to us.

We Know

We know ourselves. This has come to me recently in a conscious way.

We all know when something isn’t right within us and amongst us. What we do with this is where we need to place our attention. What do I mean by this? For many of us, when we know something isn’t right— what do we do about this? Do we try to understand what it is? Or do we push it away and put our energy to functioning as if all is well?

We also know when something is right with us. Most of us would like if others noticed this. Again, what we do with this is where we need to focus our attention.

Is it enough that we know this? Is it enough that we truly do know ourselves? Or do we believe we need the other? Do we not trust ourselves to know who we are?

If we did, imagine what that might mean?

Perhaps we do not know because from right out of the womb, even before, when our parents paint our rooms blue or pink, we are told who we are, what we will like. In school we are taught what “they” think we don’t know and need to know, and on and on it goes.

But we know. We know ourselves more than anyone else can know. And this is the key to our unfolding, our conscious knowing of who we truly are and also, who we are not.

Congratulations! What happens when you get on the other side of your shit.

Many years ago, at a retreat, I had an intentional encounter with a horse. I timidly walked toward the horse. Within me was all the anxiety and doubt of my struggling and unprocessed traumas. I stood with the horse for a few moments and then it led me to a pile of shit. I thought: of course. Of course this horse would bring me to a pile of shit. Only me….At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Then, it became one of my more profound lessons: it’s just shit.

Which brings me to now~ A quote that keeps running through my mind:

This is a time of divine fulfillment. The fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold in a clear, harmonious way.

This quote is a favorite of my mothers. I will forever associate these words with her and today they ring true for me. I can’t help but wonder if this was her gift to me, not just the words themselves, but to have the experience of the words. 

To experience is the shift I have made, where the words I have grown up with, surrounded myself with, and those that live within me come alive— and it’s absolutely splendid. 

As I write, on my vision board are these words: The rebirth of Awe. And….

  • Finding real
  • Second wind
  • Instructions for life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
  • Born to write
  • Join the thousands of people around the world who are opening up, digging deep, and transforming their lives!

It is very possible I have known all along what I am up to. Yet, for many years I had doubt, insecurity and practiced indecisiveness as if it were an appreciated art form. 

The words, so many words, are coming alive right before my eyes!

It is also very possible, that as I earlier said to my father in conversation, that the signs and mystical experience I seek, are all around me and have been with me every step of the way. 

All of this to say, and most importantly, experience the turning of an important corner where the fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold and where I live in the energy of Congratulations!

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
 

This is where I am. And it does not come without some old guilt-ridden programming. The kind of guilt that needs reminding such as: Nikki, you have worked diligently for 32 years to know and understand yourself. You have opened up to your desire to get through “your shit” sooner rather than later. You have dug deep, so deep to the literal “big mother wound” of neglect and abandonment. You have been twisted and turned through many dark crevices and have come out the other side only to be taken in yet again. You, dear heart, have transformed your life AND you’ve earned every minute of celebration and awe you now experience. 

Own it. Stand in it. Experience it. It’s yours. And if and when you feel ready, share it. 

This is where I find myself today. It is where I have been for the past few weeks and because it was such a new experience, I did not have the words to express what it has been like. But the words come now, through my own voice, but mostly through the voice of others who have come before me. I relish in their generosity. Especially from my dear poet friend, Rumi. This, what Rumi writes, is on the other side of the shit we must all travel through. Bless you dear hearts as you journey through yours. 

 
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

You have fallen in love my dear heart

Congratulations!

You have freed yourself from all attachments

Congratulations!

You have given up both worlds to be on your own

The whole creation praises your solitude

Congratulations!

Your disbelief has turned into belief

Your bitterness, into sweetness

Congratulations!

You have now entered into Love’s fire, my pure heart

Congratulations!

Inside the Sufi’s heart there is always a feast

Dear heart, you are celebrating

Congratulations!

My heart, I have seen how your tears turned into a sea

Now every wave keeps saying

Congratulations!

O silent lover, seeker of the higher planes,

May the Beloved always be with you

Congratulations!

You have struggled hard, may you grow wings and fly

Congratulations!

Keep silent my dear heart, you have done so well

Congratulations!

~Rumi

~The Soul Reporter

To Be Admired

What’s this selfie for?

In the hopes to be admired. 

I want to be admired and I also fight against it. The fight against it has mostly won. And, has come at a price. I hide. I have been stingy with sharing and passive/aggressive about it. I have silently said to readers, followers and potential ones:

look at me dammit. Pay attention to me. Admire my face and my insights. So I show off.

And then on the flip side I’ve said:

forget you. I know you won’t notice me. See I knew it- no likes. Another post of such great words (I mean I have the best words) and no one cares. So I shut down.

This has been my dance with all of you (and my nearest and dearest ones). It’s dysfunctional and toxic and not how I want to show up in the world. Therefore, I have mostly remained hidden. This is also unhealthy because the truth of me, and all that I’ve come to realize about life and myself, wants and needs to be exposed. 

The truth is I’ve reacted to all of you, which is really just my own battle with myself that I’ve drafted you all in, and it comes out of a conditioning that came from my upbringing. 

Essentially, I was ignored. I longed to be deeply seen. I know now it wasn’t personal. It was the impact of being raised by those who did not see themselves. 

Until we see ourselves we cannot and will not see another. 

If the desire to be seen, and essentially deeply known and valued, is not identified and satisfied, this desire becomes increasingly toxic. At its worst it becomes the dance I have described- on one end a compulsion to be admired, which can be as extreme and defined by a narcissistic personality disorder. And on the other end, a complete erasure of self characterized by self-neglect.

The desire to be admired is a trap, part of the psychological mindset, which creates dysfunctional and protective patterns and behaviors. In the age of social media and a particularly exaggerated version of an admiration-seeking U.S. president, we are afforded the opportunity to really look at the deep inner wound of neglect and abandonment. In doing so, we can limit the toxic interplay it does create and instead tease out the toxins and understand, and most importantly feel the hurt of not being seen.

This post is part of my own teasing, a confession in a way to make the dysfunctional dynamics known and to state I want to now come to all of you, readers and followers, and to my family and friends, in a more authentic and whole way. To share only to be admired comes from the smallest of self and truly not worthy of any of us. This way of showing up is also not sustainable and will eventually come back to haunt us us in one form or another.

We may never be able to be truly seen by another or by our primary caregivers. But we always have the opportunity to heal the wound and to fully see ourselves. The more of us that do this, the more we will see each other. Only this will bring the kind of shift so many of us desire in the world.

~The Soul Reporter

Self-Betrayal to Self-Love

The dominant culture, which is mostly reactivity from unprocessed trauma, tells us that we aren’t supposed to let people hurt us. But the truth is people do hurt us. 

My mom hurt me today. And there’s been plenty of other days as well. As her young child I was constantly hurt. I learned to cope and self-protect through a variety of ways. As a child, it was through art, music, books and my imagination. As I grew older, other ways were through perfectionism, OCD and controlling behaviors and the big one: codependency.

Today, I stopped taking her hurt. I set a firm boundary. And then I let myself be hurt. When our mothers hurt us it’s the ultimate betrayal. If the hurt is constant and consistent, we will learn to betray ourselves. We will make choices and create an entire life and get involved in relationships from this deepest wound.

If we are brave and committed to change, we will begin to awaken to our life built from self-betrayal, and we will feel shattered. At the very least, bruised. And, this is the place where we learn self-love, self-compassion, and forgiveness of self and others. It is a deep and holy space of grief, surrender and heart opening. We will learn self-love and begin, little by little, to create a life for ourselves painted from the womb of our rebirth and our deepest reckoning with ourselves. 

We will recognize that we no longer need to protect ourselves from hurt. We will come to experience our heart as strong, worthy, willing and ready to feel feelings and remain stabilized. We will learn the difference between self-betrayal and self-love. We will see setting boundaries and making conscious choices as our gateway to creating new experiences, experiences based and waged in self-love. 

To continue on this self-love journey, my self-reflective practice for the month of November is this….to explore, experience and learn:

What does self-love look like in my relationships…..

Beyond relationships, what does it look like for me in my life…. How do I paint and create my experiences through self-love?

I am excited to begin experiencing this.

~The Soul Reporter

Glimpse Through A Sunroof: Increasing Our Inner Capacity

This glimpse through a sunroof tells a story. I did not know this when I took the shot. I only knew I just bought a new car and had pulled it into my driveway after saying goodbye to my mom, who was recently discharged from a hospital into a nursing home. 

Leaving my little mom who is, as she says, “not aging well” in a stark room, is that darker cloud hovering over the others. The other clouds are the week that had just ended. It was a week of juggling work, family, self-care, and my mom. The glimpses of blue sky are the new car and the experience of holding all of this while maintaining steadiness, stability, and even some joy.

This is the individual story. 

The larger, universal-soul story is we have tremendous capacity to hold any and all of what comes to us. Yet, many of us cannot because we are full to the brim, often running over, with clutter. The clutter is both internal clutter and external clutter. When we are filled to the brim with clutter, we are at capacity. When we are at capacity we do not run efficiently, and therefore, either do our lives and relationships. 

This used to be me—I was at capacity and not running as well as I am capable or as I am now. My clutter expressed itself in controlling behaviors and overall rigidity. It also looked like shutting down and isolation. Don’t get me wrong, I am still in the recovery process, as these patterns were deeply rooted and honestly kept me sane for a long time. One of my more useful patterns is being VERY organized. Being organized kept the overwhelm at bay. My most useful companion on this journey is my burning desire for space, order and understanding WHY. 

I compare myself to the Princess and the Pea. I am sensitive to discomfort. It does not matter if the discomfort is internal or external. If I feel it, I deal with it. Dealing with internal clutter takes diligence, patience, commitment and courage. What comes from this process, at first in small glimpses and then expanded ones, is self-knowledge, flexibility, enthusiasm, inner spaciousness, creativity, freedom, healthier relationships, clarity, calm and overall graciousness and generosity toward ourselves and therefore, others.

This is our potential. Our promise. Our possibility. And, it’s an ever-evolving process that I desire for us all to be consciously attuned to. It is also my desire to be a companion on this journey. So, follow here on this site, and here @adailyglimpse Facebook and Instagram for more. 

Stay tuned for a breakdown of internal & external clutter.

Attempt at Poetry: while I find myself between here and there

My dad once wrote, inside my Shel Silverstein’s book, A Light in the Attic:

Poems are the purest expression of ourselves. Always be true to yourself and make your life a great, living poem.

This has been a challenging few weeks for me. There have been many shifts and changes. As I find myself in the space between here and there, when one way of being has ended and before a new way begins, I resist the urge to create from a space of urgency and distract from discomfort. Instead I remind myself to be curious, open, and to listen and lean in to what is before me, even if it only feels like empty space and nothing new is here for me.

This morning, I did not stew in my bed with my unhealthy thoughts. Instead I did two things: I yelled at my Higher Self (something I have never done) and said: WHERE ARE YOU? YOU SEE ME STRUGGLING! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME? DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND WATCH ME SQUIRM! and then I went on a walk. As I made my way on the path, my Higher Self said: Listen. And I did. What I heard is below. The opening to my Higher Self begins with this trickle of water:

©Nikki DiVirgilio 2019

July Soul Report: The Future is Here~ Slow Down & Surrender

My first and foremost curiosity is: How are all of you doing?

This afternoon, my daughter said she felt off. Tired. Unmotivated. Had no inspiration. Didn’t even want to put on makeup— had tried several looks that weren’t working. The makeup part is unusual for her. She is an esthetician and a talented makeup artist. 

She asked me if I was feeling off. I told her no. I went on, “You might think mom is being woo-woo, but a veil has been lifted for many of us right now. This veil protected us from certain realities and allowed us to live in illusion.” 

I went on, “For some this is an incredibly difficult time. For others it is a time of celebration. I am celebrating. And, it makes sense that you are feeling off— you’ve gone through some big changes.”

Weep, and then smile.

Do not pretend to know something

you have not experienced. 

There is a necessary dying…

Very little grows on jagged rock. 

Be ground. Be crumbled,

so wildflowers will come up 

where you are. 

You have been stony for far too many years. 

Try something different. Surrender. 

~Rumi, A Year with Rumi, Coleman Barks 

Btw: Rumi is a fucking gem! If you’ve not read his poetry, find some. If you have, find it again!

Currently, I am not engaged with a large circle of people, but from my small circle, I can tell you EVERY SINGLE PERSON I know has made seismic shifts in the last few weeks. I am also hearing from fellow therapists and social workers that clients are coming in with an unusual amount of challenges and traumas. 

Me

For myself, during this time, I’ve faced the deeper, if not the deepest, psychological wound within myself. It is a wound made from neglect. A wound that has caused incredible suffering, and has been passed down to my daughters, and was passed down to me. It is the generational trauma of neglect, which so many of us feel. Which so many of us endure. It is silent. It is insidious. It is ours. Many don’t know it is there. But now is the time to surrender to our childhood, generational and historical traumas. To bear witness to them. To feel the pain, fear, and sadness they hold. To understand them and their message. To release them and be transformed. These traumas need not stay in our minds, our bodies, our souls any longer.  

These traumas wreak havoc and prey upon EVERYTHING— from our relationships to the countries we live in. For example, President Trump has an entire closet (and then some) full of unprocessed trauma that is damaging the United States. But, in this post, I am not going to go into that. The focus for this post is to report that the FUTURE IS HERE. The new paradigm, the cosmic shift, the new reality— that some of us have been talking about for a while— happened. In a very real sense, we made it AND there’s more to come. 

For July’s Soul Report the message I am sharing to help assist us is: Slow Down & Surrender 

June’s Soul Report was also about slowing down, slowing down in order to sense the subtleties of energies, patterns and dynamics. This was to help us prepare for this big shift that has now occurred. 

July’s slowing down is about getting clear now that some internal debris has been lifted. It’s about commitment and being conscious participants in our ongoing personal growth and transformation. It is about creating our own Bodhi Tree (under which Siddhartha Gautama became enlightened) moments. These moments are glimpses of insight about who we are and who we are not. These moments build upon each other to become a lighted chain that leads us to greater awakenings of who we really are.  

The root of suffering is attachment.

~The Buddha

As I reflect upon my own journey thus far, it is indeed true that the root of suffering is attachment. How I experience attachment comes from a psychological perspective that has to do with attachment trauma. As infants and small children, if we did not securely attach to an adult, we have already made our first step into suffering. If a secure adult did not answer our cries for nourishment, protection and affection, we attach to this trauma. If a secure adult did not answer our questions about life or we were reprimanded when doing so, we attach to this trauma. If we were exposed to a caregiver who was addicted, we attach to this trauma. The list of traumas are many. 

As adults we now have attachment trauma. We feel neglected, abandoned and empty. We put out our feelers, literally our feelings of fear and insecurity, and find our fix- the thing to fulfill us. Mine was, and is, a 32-year codependent relationship. For others it can be anything: shopping, success, drugs, gambling……….and the list continues. The cycle also continues. And I, who have spent my entire life living and processing my attachment trauma, want to do whatever I can to help and assist others as many have done for me.  

And that my friends, was a tangent, but apparently a needed one. 

And brings me to what occurs as we process our traumas: space. Space in our minds. Space in our bodies. Space in our souls. This space allows for generosity for ourselves and every living thing. This space allows for greater efficiency so that when new traumas or challenges come, we can process them more quickly and easily. This space allows for our natural desires and tendencies to surface and create a more satisfying, deliberate and peaceful presence. This space allows us to see, perhaps for the first time, what our burning desire is— that blue flame inside us all that keeps us going and brings us everywhere. 

What once kept me going was the desire to fill my empty space. But this was only part of the journey and leads me to discover what actually is within that empty space. I am here now, and I celebrate and anticipate its unfolding. 

I am here to process and hold space with any of you moving through these shifts and changes. I am here to answer any questions you might have about this month’s Soul Report. 

Contact me here.

Thank you, and you’re all doing great work!

~The Soul Reporter

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

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.