This is November... light, soft floating snowflakes wee-sized snow accumulations quiet, barren, gray not yet cold, no longer warm.
Tag Archives: walking
What is my mother tongue Somewhere mercy is underneath What is my mother tongue I know it has something to do with my own mother What is my mother tongue I've yet to know it but I know It has something to do with The moss that grows on trees What is my mother tongue It's alive and generous And also burdened and lost What is my mother tongue Somewhere poetry exists What is my mother tongue Moist with lush green forests And arid rainforests What is my mother tongue I'm still trying to figure it out. *I've been bone dry for words lately These came out after a short walk in the forest Not even sure what it means and that's okay. ~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
I went here
and walked away.
It’s something after the month and a half I’ve had.
~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
The Month of September
Below is a post from September 2016. It is 11 years since our car accident, and this September also proves heavy. This entire month I have been dealing with the decline of my dear father. He has been hospitalized and now in a TCU (transitional care unit). It is why I have not been writing as much here, and why I thought I’d reshare this post. The lesson on love, death, change continues to deepen and unfold.
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?
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.
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
I definitely think I should have a bench on a walking path.
If my family knew me at all they’d do this for me at my death…
Even in death I don’t feel known and loved.
Carolyn has a bench
She fought tirelessly to preserve the land and paths in which I walk today
Thank you Carolyn.
What did I fight tirelessly to do?
Today I walked to keep myself from drowning in loss, in abandonment
My work is internal
I fight tirelessly for something I still believe in.
If I don’t have a bench how will it be known it was because of my walks I kept fighting
~Nikki, The Soul Reporter
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
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 hard 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.
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.
On 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.
The Soul Reporter
The Shire in the Woods
My kids call me a hobbit. So it’s appropriate I’m spending a few of my days during spring break at a retreat center called, Shire in the Woods. It was once called The Dwelling in the Woods and from 2006 or so to 2010, I visited the “hobbit hole” called The Loft, once or twice a year. It is a small, cozy cabin complete with kitchen, wood stove, screened in porch, 1/2 bath, and a small spiral staircase up to the loft/bedroom—all surrounded by woods and trails. It’s intention: to get away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.
In those years between 2006-2010, I would enter The Loft and sigh a relief of suddenly being alone with myself. It was a relief to be away from the needs and wants of my family. It was a relief to feel and know myself again. This time there was no relief. Although it was nice to see The Loft again after several years, I was somewhat dreading being with myself. It hasn’t happened since the last time I was here in 2010—and a lot has happened since then.
One thing is I no longer need to get away from my family like I once thought I did. I have worked through enough of my “stuff” and I love being with them—no longer feeling resentment that I can’t be myself with them. And so alone on a Thursday night, fire burning in the wood stove, a cup of hot tea next to me, I find myself texting them just to see what they are doing, almost wishing I was with them watching Parenthood on the couch. But, I’m here and although I feel a little foreign to myself after all these years, I’m hanging with me anyway.
So far I made myself lunch and dinner, using only the toaster oven provided. I took a two hour nap. I have written a a couple of articles, including this one. And, I went snowshoeing. Yes, I went snowshoeing in April on my spring break. I am in northern Minnesota and it still looks like February in these parts.
After lunch, I stood in The Loft over-thinking the possibility of snowshoeing—Is it cold? Will the snow hit my face? Will I get lost? Stranded? What if there are bears or wolves? Then, I just moved. Put on the snow pants I have never worn, that unfortunately were a bit too tight in the gut, wrapped a scarf around my neck three times, put on my pink hat, my green jacket, which quite frankly I am sick of wearing and ready to store away, and then my boots. I grabbed the orange vest provided by the staff so I wouldn’t get shot by hunters (even tho it is no longer hunting season) and a ring full of bells for that wolf or bear (as if that might scare them off). I went outside The Loft, struggled to put on my snowshoes with my tight snowpants and hit the trail.
The snow was hitting my face and I wasn’t cold, but sweating. Not only were there no bears, wolves or hunters there wasn’t even a bird or a squirrel. I was the only one in these woods, which didn’t stop me from looking around for someone watching me when I kept falling in the snow.
You see, it was a bit deceiving out there. It seemed I was walking on solid ground, but then I would notice large, deep crevices in the snow. I soon discovered these were snowshoe prints from previous snowshoers sinking into the snow. I had joined their club and made my own prints in the snow. One of which I took a picture of, where not only did I sink into 2-3 feet of snow but fell hands and face first. That’s when I looked to see if anyone saw me because if they did I would be so embarrassed because obvioulsy I am perfect and I should never fail and fall.
I even got so paranoid about someone seeing me I had the stupidest thought—what if there are cameras out here and someone is getting a real good laugh. Because not only did I continue to fall and my snowshoes kept getting stuck and coming off, I was shouting the F bomb all through the woods. At one point I sat down in the hole in which I sank and almost cried. I was becoming exhausted by this journey and it wasn’t even a long one—or that serious. It reminded me of the journey of the past few years, those years between 2010 and now. A journey I keep being exhausted by—but there was a song playing in my head that stopped those tears from falling down my snow covered cheeks. Shake it Out by Florence + The Machine.
Shake it out Nikki.
I got up, fell several more times but in place of exhaustion was determination to just get up, shake it out and keep going.
Tonight, 6-12 inches of new snow is going to fall and cover all traces of my falling and getting up. Such is life…
Goodnight Day One.
Good Morning Day Two.
I wake up feeling happy, serene. I am relaxed with myself. This is a pleasant surprise. I made some cereal, eggs and toast. Cleaned up a bit and got dressed. My big outing—walking to the main lodge to pay my bill. After I paid though, I kept walking. Here she goes again….but this time with no snowshoes. At first I intended to take the longer way back to The Loft, but I had remembered a beaver pond off one of the trails I wanted to see in the winter time. I mean spring time.
This (above) is what it looks like in winter time. I realized after the journey there it wasn’t about seeing this. That was just an idea in my mind that pushed me forward, like some conquest I had to conquer. Turns out I did more than my share to conquer this goal. I ended up walking much further down a path than I had to. Walking through the snow is similar to walking in sand—it’s a workout. At least for me who hasn’t moved much this long winter. I could not find the path that lead to the beaver pond, but then saw a map posted helpfully on one of the trees. I missed the turn off completely.
I headed back the way I came and found the path toward the beaver pond. And guess what, it was filled with those sink hole land mines again. At least this time I wasn’t losing my snow shoes, but I was soaking my sweatpants in the snow that went almost to my hips. Remember I am a hobbit so I am practically being swallowed by snow.
I was also getting exhausted—again. And this time there was no song in my head from Florence + The Machine—I cried. Hugged the birch tree beside me and cried. I bet no one has ever cried holding this birch tree before. Is anyone looking? My heart was beating so fast. I was standing at the beaver pond realizing some other force pushed me here because I knew it wasn’t for the view, even when I set forth toward it. It was about regaining my strength. Pushing my heart again against life and for life.
I am not sharing what the past few years of my life entailed, but I will share that I set out on another kind of journey and I expected not only the view, but the journey to be spectacular. It wasn’t. In fact many times it was horrifying. I have been exhausted, standing and sitting similar to what I have done on both of these days where I’ve ventured out on the snow packed trails, hesitating. Should I go? Or should I stay? Should I go to that beaver pond? Or just head back? Even while on the trail, epseciallly at the birch tree I stood for a very long time—hesitating—not feeling like I could head back. I’ve been doing this with life. Do I dare venture out again and risk being disappointed, exhausted and scared out of my mind? Or could I have a new experience?
In all this questioning and over-thinking, I just move. It just happens. Apparently, some inkling of hope there are new possibilities. That the past in in the past.
I stepped inside the same steps that got me to the pond. It made it easier in dealing with those sink holes. I continued on with my steps and my tears, allowing myself to cry out the disappointment and exhaustion of the past few years. It was all in place to gather strength, to transform my view, to shed me of what’s not needed—as are all my steps now.
Goodnight Day Two.
Good Morning Day Three.
Today I leave The Loft. Much of the snow that fell has melted in the sun that says, Spring! I look forward to seeing my family. My husband will have dinner made. We will all watch a movie and have good conversation.
Before I leave, sitting at the familiar round table in The Loft, eating buttery eggs, cottage cheese and raspberries I accept what I’ve made a significant flaw, a “flaw,” which has shown itself on this short retreat. My hesitation about life, my caution and slow way of moving forward—perhaps a stubbornness or fear or laziness. I accept how long it takes me to move. I accept it often takes a lot to get me to move. I get it. I accept it.
I have cleaned The Loft, leavning it fresh for the next guest. I am pressing publish on this post. Time to leave. Goodbye Shire in the Woods. Until we meet again….
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.
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.
I have traveled the right path toward light. I try to stay on the middle path for balance.
But no matter which way I go, who I am sits on the bench watching.
The Soul Reporter
Stiff Like Winter.
A Short Spiritual Memoir: Gradual Growth & Awakening ~
I feel stiff like winter.
I long to thaw like spring—and
See what transpired in darkness and struggle.
My life has felt harsh and ugly for so long, like those last days of winter when the snow is gray and the sky matches, and you have had enough of those bitter winds biting your bones. I don’t want this anymore. I want kind and beautiful. I find it again on a short walk. The day is as my daughter describes it: she will not sweat and and she will not freeze. It is a day of transition from winter to spring—a glimpse of what is to come.
As I walk I ask for more of myself to be revealed. I stop and look through the bare tree to the sun peeking through the gray. The song of birds remind me I am back. I needed to come back—home to Minnesota where I experience these transitions from winter to spring and later, summer to fall.
I know I have been through something awesome and difficult, and feel like everything will be alright now—at least for awhile. The end of an era, and it makes me cry. The tears thaw my stiffness and shed my heaviness, and prepare me for the warmth which is to come.
Thank God for this transition of tears. Sudden joy and elation might startle me otherwise. It is these days of transition: 32 degrees. Sun shining hazily through the gray, which make life of deeper meaning and connection possible and compatible with our ever-evolving soul.
As I end my walk, a woman approaches me and asks, “How’s the path?”
“It’s fine,” I tell her.
The Soul Reporter