The Moon Turned to Snowflakes

The moon turned to snowflakes

The night a woman’s rights were taken. ~ a dream I had

That was the dream the night before RvW was overturned. The sun, to my left, and the moon, to my right shared the same panel of sky. I stood in a boat, on the ocean, near the shore. I was mesmerized by the moon, for the sun was just a faint, dull circle shrouded in gray haze. The moon, also shrouded but not in haze, but within a shiny half black and silver cavern. I could not take my eyes off it. And then the moon crystallized, transforming into giant, majestic snowflakes. A mist began to overtake land and sea, and the tide turned; chaos ensued and I had to get to shore. But the point was the snowflakes.

~

At the request of a therapist, I’m again, picking up the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I reread the introduction. In it she lists symptoms of a woman who has lost her Wild. I have the majority of them, but this one captured me: “…or intertia because that is the safest place for one who has lost her instincts.” I opened my journal and wrote: I have lost my fucking instincts! Last time I truly had those was in my early 20’s. I was with a child, but without a man, and not tainted, domesticated or yet fully reactive to my childhood trauma.

Not only have I lost my instincts, I’ve lost my creativity. It reminds me of season 4 of Stranger Things. Eleven has lost her “superpowers” (of course given and rediscovered to her by “man.”) Like a miner I am digging, seeking in the dark where I lost my superpowers. Was it one event or the slices and cuts of many….? I am also asking, is it too late? In Stranger Things, they keep seeking, digging and fighting and face the darkest spaces and entities just to understand, restore balance and help the people.

The reading of “Wolves” is naming the longing, the awakening of my Wild and also the resistance and push back to what oppresses it. I’m seeing how deeply I have blamed myself for the inertia that caused the weight gain, the depression, the silence, the relationships I am still in and the books I’ve still not written. I’ve been domesticated, altered and suppressed by the patriarchal culture— maybe not specifically and overtly, but generally, collectively and covertly. Inertia, then, was and often still is my safe place.

But I am awakening, beginning little by little to open my eyes, seeing the oppressor for what it is and seeing the impact it has had on me, on everything and everyone. Yesterday on my walk, I took the “short cut”, over a wooded bridge across a marshy area. I stopped and noticed the red-winged blackbirds in the reeds, the cattails bowing like patrons at a queen’s parade and the water, murky with green algae film. On the surface it looks stagnant and toxic— inert. But, who or what but Life itself knows what is present below, what organisms are a vital part to all of Life.

I have become swamped. Heavy, murky, seemingly lost my way and can barely move. Within my own inertia a self has been formed, a self safe and hidden in the murky waters, afraid to move too far from the swamp. Stay too long, naturally toxins, disease and self-defeating behaviors flourish. But open my eyes and really see where I am and start to smell the stink of unmoving water and start wiggling my fingers and toes, and becoming mesmerized, not by something more in some other place beyond myself as I did in my youth, but mesmerized by what I know is already present, and becoming the snowflake inside the moon. 🌙

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Meet Me.

Instead of writing a post that could only come from a place of anger, overwhelm and stress because that is how I have been feeling this week, I will share an article about me from Voyage Minnesota.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki DiVirgilio.

Hi Nikki, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I cannot recall when I started my Soul Reporter blog, but I started writing in a journal in my 7th grade English class. Back then I used it to write out all my fears about school, especially swim class. I found that writing allowed me to express my fears, worries, and thoughts, and doing so helped me process my emotions and understand myself. The Soul Reporter, in a way, became a public journal of my process of knowing more about myself, while also hoping to inspire and provide support for others doing the same inner work. I do not write on my blog as much as I used to but in the near future, The Soul Reporter will be combined with my business Soul Work. Soul Work is a space where I provide psychotherapy, and supervision to other mental health therapists and plan to expand into group work, consulting, and creating and publishing therapeutic material and curriculum.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would say, yes and no. The road has been smooth in the way that the intensity of my commitment to understand myself and then help others has provided support, whether it be financial or otherwise, to allow me to continue this work. It has been difficult because doing deep inner work is difficult, and then trying to convey that inner experience through words often proves challenging. Not to mention how often I procrastinate and tell myself I will write tomorrow.

As you know, we’re big fans of Soul Work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Soul Work specializes in providing therapeutic services, primarily through psychotherapy. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker I help people to understand their internal patterning, process trauma and essentially provide a safe and protective space to understand more of who they really are and also, who they are not. As a writer/blogger I share my own experiences of the deep inner work, I call Soul Work. Soul Work plans to expand into group work, consulting and creating and publishing therapeutic material and curriculum.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
My father was a great comfort to me so many of my most comforting memories come from being with him. Some of them that come to mind are sitting on his patio looking up at the night sky and asking him questions about the stars and the moon. Or when he made “A Special Day” for me and cooked spaghetti and picked some flowers for the table. I also recall listening to classical music and Peter and the Wolf on his record player or him reading to me while drinking hot tea with lemon and honey.

To continue reading, and more information, click here.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

*Heat.

Torn. Stolen from protection, the land, the forest tops. Seclusion, like winter but with A/C, not heat. Summer is here and it can feel like a burden, heavy to some, a comfort to others. A mismatch to balance, to life, to relief.

These are just words coming to me about the heat, and the imbalance maybe I, maybe others are encountering, putting us dangerously close to suffering.

Today’s word (Father’s Day) seemed to be suffering. I found myself using it a lot. I felt my usual suffering again, and I believe I can label it now. Before it was only a suffocating experience. I suffer when the (perceived or otherwise actual) burdens of my family fall upon me, brush up against me and cause me to burn and be swallowed. I lose myself in it— a pattern conditioned by the relationship I had with my mother.

I was conditioned to live and breathe, therefore be burdened by her drama, her life, her everything. Specifically, but not only, with her frequent hospitalizations. Each time, I feared and truly believed— this is it. She’s dying. I’m going to lose her. I was shredded by this each time it happened, along with the deep desire to fix her, console her, love her, train her to be more like me and give a goddam. None of this worked. Just the ripping occurred.

Recently, my mom, near 80 and in memory care, caught COVID. She had fallen and was rushed to the hospital with a 102 temp. The ER doc told me he was putting her on oxygen and would be admitted. This is it, I thought. She’s dying. I’m finally going to lose her.

Next day….

Nurse called, “We are discharging her. Oxygen levels are normal. She’s eating and looks great!” Of course, I thought. Of course she is okay. I was relieved, but I also remembered the days when I was angry by the nurse’s words. I was angry by what my mom put me through, and then she’d just be fine or it was just a drug run and meanwhile I was shredded into tiny bits.

My mom called me when she was out of the hospital. “Hi Mom! How are you?”

“I’m depressed.”

“Of course you are mom. You’ve been through a lot. You have COVID, you were hospitalized….”

“No,” she interrupted, “I’m depressed because they told me I can’t leave my fucking room. I have to quarantine.”

Of course….she’s fine.

The Rock

At the time of this call, I was at ‘The Rock.’ The rock is an actual large boulder that sits near the Mississippi backwaters. I go there and sit on it when I need some guidance, stability and security. When I hung up the phone with my mom, walking away from the rock, a flash of insight said: you are the rock. I took absolutely no pleasure in this. Being the rock was a past, sad story I no longer wanted or needed. I pushed back on the insight and said: I don’t want to be the rock. I want to be nurtured and cared for for once.

The next day, and for several days thereafter, I did not leave my bed. I was overcooked. Done. Depleted. Overburdened. Torn. Stolen from the protection of this need to be ripped to shreds by the experiences of my people, because of course it wasn’t just my mom’s experiences that ripped me apart. It was my family members, those I love most and also the humans on this overheated planet. I needed shade and the shade for me was the bedcovers. Under that shade, I shut down and released the heat through my salty tears that fell and fell and fell.

Once I cooled off and could move around again, I understood I no longer had it in me to keep putting my tiny burnt pieces back together again. I had to decide to stay together even when my people, and the world seemed to not. This kind of suffering was all that I knew to do. I did not learn another way. I was not shown another way or was my younger self told me these are not by burdens to bear.

My energy worker Ed, when I told him this story, said, “What if your mom had said to you, ‘I know you are scared, worried and concerned about me but I am not your responsibility. You don’t have to take care of me. I am going to take better care of me so I can take better care of you.’ “

I was so burnt out, so conditioned I didn’t even know those words could be said. But just hearing them from Ed felt like cool water, and calmed me down.

So when the heat of this life, of the people I love and this land I also love, brush up against me too close, I will know I am caring. I am attending. I am listening. And, I don’t have to be scorched to do so. I can find shade under the treetops. #savethetrees 🌳🧊☀️

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

*This is an excerpt from one of the memoirs I am currently working on.

Fear of Adults

Did adults teach love or fear?

A few mornings ago, a deeply rooted fear approached the surface of my awareness— it may be a major source of my anxiety— the fear of adults.

Adults— these taller, authoritative and not always welcoming figures who literally, and often figuratively, look down on us when we are small. I guess it is one reason why it has been weird to be one and why, in many cases, especially in parenting, I got it wrong.

Who taught me to adult, and how was I taught?

I tried QNRT (Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy) recently and the practitioner asked— what happened between ages 9-11? Searching, mostly I came up blank, as though this entire span of my life I blacked out. However, what I do recall, an image that also came up in an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy session: little me is standing in line outside Ms. Odegard’s 3rd grade classroom. This image of my small self, being towered over by Odegard, folds inside of itself head first, as if choosing at that moment to go some place no one else would see me— EVER. Odegard was a mean, witchy-looking woman (more witch of the west, not south). She scared me, and away, inside myself, I went and stayed. Early experiences of bullying only solidified my existence there, with the added compounding affect of: I’m ugly and weird. I’m too much and I bother people just by being me. But it wasn’t me— I mean maybe the vulnerability of me likely made me a target, but it was also what I wore.

My mom gave love through buying me expensive things. She didn’t have a lot of money, just credit and expensive taste. Let’s just say I was the first person in 6th grade to have Guess jeans— the infamous triangle on the back pocket I exposed by keeping one part of my shirt tucked in at the back. Every bullying event was around something I wore from the barrettes that were pulled out of my hair and stomped on by dirty blonde-haired Allison, to the pink hat that matched an entire pink outfit that was snatched off my head by Jessica. The next day she gave it back to me in a brown paper bag. My hat was in the bag and a big clump of dog shit was in my hat.

Said pink hat and the outfit to match

I easily learned it is not okay to “show off— ” as if that is what I was doing. I was wearing what I had and loving it, until that happened.

I understand that these stories aren’t about the scary adults, but about mean kids, likely acting out because of the scary adults in their lives. Which brings me back to them, and what they mean to us when we are little.

The source of (pretty much) everything is in these young, developing years, and all around us are adults, these taller people that are supposed to know more than we do. So, we listen to them. We watch everything they do and because we are so spongy during this time we absorb a lot. In a way, we absorb them.

We can absorb their unprocessed and unregulated emotions. We can absorb the actions, behaviors and words that are done and told to us. Therefore, depending on what we are absorbing, we can believe that we are good, bad, worthy or unworthy, not enough or too much….And we can learn patterns of behaviors and thought that protect us and then as adults, harm us.

When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.

Dr. Raymond Charles Barker

Many seem to be returning to this childhood time, realizing this is the source of the pain, the repetitive and protective patterns and habits, the suffering. Once understood, which is a process, the more pure, real parts of ourselves can risk showing up and we welcome in a new experience of adulthood. One where, instead of feeling tight and constricted within ourselves, we feel more spacious and free. It is from this spaciousness that we present as an adult that won’t scare and shame away the smaller people.

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Thanks for showing up,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Her.

This is a sad place. We are heroes just for being here.

What does it mean to be heroic though? We have been taught, trained, propoganda’d that heroes are 1) most often men 2) must always white and 3) always somehow bold, dramatic, admired and somehow, unworldly.

I’d like to offer a hero badge for the vast majority of us just for showing up, and witnessing.

I woke up this morning and a watched a great-grandfather from Uvalde walking to the memorial site of his great granddaughter. He was crying and speaking to the cops that were following him. You did nothing to save her. Arrest me. Kill me, he cried.

This is where the stream of consciousness stopped. I’m not sure where it is going with heroes and a grieving great-grandfather. But I know I need to go on a hike and come back to this……

On my hike I saw a turtle and goats. The turtle made me coo and warmed my heart to see it walking ahead of me on the “people path,” then hiding its tiny head as it sensed my presence. The goats surprised me. At first I thought I was hearing small children laughing. Instead it was the baa of the goats. Now the electric fencing made sense- the goats were brought to help restore the forest. I watched them graze, run and bleat together.

For a moment I sat down on a bench in the middle of the forest, listening to the wind in the trees, asking for guidance about a vivid dream I had (which I did receive). I started to tear up about how in love I am with nature, and reminded how much She loves me, loves us all. She is my cathedral. She is is what I am in awe of, and She is what I keep returning to over and over again to make sense of a world full of sadness, where great-grandfathers bury their great-grandchildren. In a world where a young climate activist sits on a tennis court at a French Open, wearing a t-shirt that reads: We have 1028 days left. Nature is what regulates me.

Before the goats, I noticed an old tank and maybe a small utility type structure. It looked like something from another era, clearly no longer relevant, and what I noticed is Her, Nature overtaking this relic. She will always over take. Like the goats, she will always restore and take away. She gives life and takes it, always knowing exactly what is needed for balance. She brightens and darkens. She shimmers and dims.

I’m home now, back with Her, sitting in the sunset watching Her leaves glisten, the cottonwood seed fly, feeling like it might be a little late this year, but She knows best. She is the treasure. She is what makes sense when nothing else does and the world is sad. She is the hero that saves.

Are we with Her? 🐐 🌳 🐢

I am,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

A throw back

My husband just airdropped this to me. Turns out in 2012 I used to write posts like this, and share them to subscribers. The reminder makes me wonder why I don’t really write anymore and that makes me sad. So since I’ve no new material, here’s something old and still relevant.

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

Know the Soul ~ Know Thyself

Yesterday morning I stayed in bed until 1pm. I wasn’t in a state of rumination. I wasn’t in a state of worry. Mostly, I just was. Inside of me there was lots of space.

This wasn’t always the case. I was filled up with worry, anxiety, unprocessed traumas, emotions and experiences. The space I experience now is still somewhat foreign, sometimes bordering on what seems like boredom–– but, I welcome it. Truly, I earned it.

For nearly 30 years I have been consciously doing what I now call Soul Work. It’s a lot of internal digging and discovery. It takes curiosity, presence and commitment. It caused many dark nights of the soul and countless internal shifts. This has brought me a life of continuous growth and change.

Today, with the new moon, I am launching my new business. The vision of this venture is to provide a space for growth and transformation through soul work. In doing so, I would work as guide/coach.

I am also a licensed social worker, working toward my clinical license. Through my education and work experience I have gained skills in assessing and knowledge of interventions and theories. 

These two elements have aligned with my strong desire to be a helper in the areas of self-discovery and growth. Not much matters to me more than this because when we know our selves, we know everything. Further, in knowing ourselves, we push our human evolution as a whole, forward. In light of the times, THIS IS NEEDED. 

Knowing ourselves is a process. The help I offer is not gimmicky or for most of us, quick. If this is something of interest to you, if you find yourself in a consistent state of anxiety, worry and overwhelm, perhaps it is time to tip- toe toward the soul and find what’s there.

Go to this link to learn more. After looking, if you have questions, please let me know. This will help me clarify my service for people. After looking, if you are interested, fill out the form or send me an email and we can begin.

~The Soul Reporter

Stop Trying to be Grateful.

Source: flickr.com via Pete on Pinterest

The other day I made a list. The idea to do so arrived spontaneously.

I will write down everything I am unsure about—all of the issues and questions, currently outstanding, which remain, for now, in the mystery. 

 

As I made the list, I was amazed at how many unanswered questions I have about my life. I would imagine I am not alone here. But, I did wonder how many had some of the questions I had, especially in mid-life? Will I have a home again—and when and where? Will I have friends? Will my children recover from our accident? Will I find work? Will I finally be able to sit down and write my books? This barely begins the list.

As I finished, many pages later, questions and unknowns still loomed upon the rolling hills in my mind. But now, there was space between all of it and me. In this space, a glimpse of compassion for myself arose. I could see why my brain feels fried and fuzzy. Why I am carrying myself a bit too tightly. Why I just might not be fully myself. Why my creative life suffers.

I posted my experience, briefly, online. Why not try it for yourself, I said, and write down the unknowns, which are probably, continuously, swimming around in your mind. Someone commented: “How about putting the energy instead into all the things that are good in your life?”

I was offended….Continue reading here.