Another Layer of Living Spherically.

I had my final writing class last night- Intermediate Memoir: Forming (or  maybe it is Shaping) the Longer Work. We ended with appetizers, snacks, wine and 10-minute readings from our manuscripts.

A couple of weeks ago, I put together 64 pages of a manuscript. This class helped me to finally, after 10 years of gathering material for my memoir, see a form that resembles a book. But, before I could keep adding to those 64 pages, I decided to take advice from a classmate and sign up for another writing class this past weekend.

By the middle of the first class, everything I thought I knew and was ready to implement into my book was breaking down and shelving my book, yet again, seemed like a good idea. But, I stuck with it. The instructor ensured us the first day was about demolition and the following day would be about building.

Demolition-the breaking down of ideas and beliefs is not easy. If we allow for it, we will move out of a space we are familiar and comfortable with and enter a new space. However, often before a new space appears, we sit in the rubble of what we thought we knew or was enough.

Joseph Campbell said, “The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form- all symbolizations, all divinities; a realization of the ineluctable void.”

I’m not quite ready for that void, but remain committed to the ever-expanding realization. I thought my writing, those 64 pages were good, that I was off to a good start. I was. I am- it’s further than I have been. But, before I could  fully relish in this and get too comfortable, I took myself to a class, allowing for new knowledge. It causes me to question what I thought I was just coming to understand.

Even now, I see this post as being all inner monologue (a term I learned this weekend, which I do a lot of). The instructor says it’s not that interesting. I remember when writer Melody Beattie told me I can’t use my journals as my books. I was devastated. It was all I had. Hearing inner monologue isn’t interesting devastated me again.

So before I bore you any longer with my inner process, my take away (another term I learned) I want to give you, which is not something I am supposed to tell, but show- is we must live spherically, or go crazy, we shall.

I heard this in Under the Tuscan Sun, and it sticks. I don’t know what they meant by it, but I  know what I take from it. We must keep expanding and opening to new thought inside and outside of ourselves. We do this for growth, to align with evolution.  We do this so we don’t become crazy loopers w hen we are old.

What the hell are crazy loopers? Its something I am observing in some people lately-mostly people in their 50’s, 60’s and 7o’s.  It would seem they have attached themselves to a certain story or aspect for themselves, and they loop within it over and over again. Read this piece from Elephant Journal I wrote where I go into this further.

For now, I think the link above (that is, if you click and read) will give you the rest of the message I want to share.

Here’s to living spherically,

Nikki

Dear Writing,

Source: poetrygrrrl.com via Stefanie on Pinterest

I have held you hostage long enough.

Used you as pawn to earn me a living and give me a following. This is not your purpose. It is not how our relationship began, and it will not be how it continues.

All these years, trying to make you mean something beyond what you naturally do, has finally allowed me to see you are too sacred for such highjacking.

I could blame it on the interenet, I suppose. Everyone here trying to get fans, likes, comments. Manipulating posts and tags and pictures to be the “hot” article of the day. But, what does it really mean?

There was a time I thought 20 views was a lot. Then, almost 600 was like—and…? Now, I’ve reached over 1200 on one, and I’m wondering, again, what does it mean—and when does it stop? Nothing. Never. 

It’s a circus out there. One I play with finally leaving behind. Do I want to write? Of course I do. And its time to go back to the basics. To make the work sacred again. Not to prosititue it for numbers and gains.

Do I want readers? Of course I do. But they will come or they will not without my using you. That is not why you are here. And honestly, I feel like keeping you hidden again—away from eyes. Maybe in this way, I can create something new. Reconnect with you again in the way I know is true.

You are like breath. Always have been. When I want to tell someone how I feel, I don’t knock on their door or call on the phone, I take out a pen and I open to a blank page. I write. It’s what I do.

You are whispering to me, reminding me of who and what you are. I’m listening—to you only. Not to the numbers. Or the web. Or voices out there or inside who manipulate for more views. I will listen, and I will write. Just simply write.

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.

Trying to be Alone

Today’s Soul Report: A Writing/Walking Meditation (written several weeks ago)

I am called forward by the sound of a bird. It is the only sound I want to hear. Soon I hear them all:

traffic noise that I don’t want to hear;

a wind chime;

an old porsche- the driver pushing on the gas to get it to rumble;

a child’s laughter, and the sound of water hitting the car as its being washed by father and son;

a weed whacked.

I see: 

a tiny lizard running deeper into a bush;

groceries being taken out of a car;

two friends talking loud. A young boy paaaes by on his cell phone;

a young mother walking her baby.

There are too many out today. But who am I? No one more special than the next. 

More birds. A place in the shade;

they turned on their front yard fountain. No one home to listen.

All of these beautiful spaces with no one to sit and listen, to the fountain. The birds. 

I feel:

it is hot. Sun exposing me;

I have a great opening line. I’m afraid to go deeper;

I don’t want to see people or have them see me;

like the lizard that runs to the dark everytime a footstep is felt.

I want:

a writing room. The one I see in my imagination. More like a cottage. Moved away from the main house. I walk there with my tea. Smiling. Ready to enter.

I am: 

selfish I’m sure. To want nothing but birds. Wind. Quiet. A cottage to write that only I enter into;

aware I created a life before knowing who I was. This life now makes me feel confined- in moments;

longing for a life that will one day come. But, only after the kids are raised and the money is raised. The career established. Or am I just being dramatic?

wandering the streets to try and find a space that is just mine.

I know the pursuit is selfish. The longing of it makes me unhappy. Soon I will enter my over priced rental. Family of four. No room to write. Only a wall space between the bedroom closet and drawers. My husband will probably be in there sleeping. It’s Saturday. I will feel pressure to join the family.

I hear be grateful being chanted from the positive thinking cult on my left, and on my right I hear some form of my dad and the Buddha tellling me it’s too bad I lost my desire to only be useful- and nothing else.

I find a place. I’ve been here before. It’s on a graffiti filled rock. Above the Rose Bowl. The only space where there’s shade. I see people have been here. But no one is here now.

What’s the rustling in that bush? Probably another lizard.

A Safe Purpose (a rejected essay)

Today’s Soul Report: A Dangerous Purpose

What is your safe purpose? What do I mean by this? Well, actually it came from my very wise daughter. The other day, I found myself smiling, more than I have in awhile, and I remembered days in which I felt full, and realized it is a full life, which brings happiness. At least for me. The day I found myself smiling, I felt full. And what was I doing? Laundry. Yes. Laundry.

I love laundry. I really do. In fact, and this I just realized, I could probably be happy having a job as a laundress. I think it would be extra wonderful if it were at Downton Abbey, and not some dingy place like, say a laundry mat. Yes, I see myself in the lower half of Downton, washing her Ladyship’s attire. In between the cycles of wash, rinse and dry, I read and write in my journal. I don’t have to make a living from writing because I have my living quarters there, and receive pay for doing laundry. A simple task, at least for me, which gives purpose and fulfillment, and is completley satisfying. Clothes are dirty. They are sorted. They are washed, and now clean. Folded, smelling good, and put away- and then more laundry accumulates. Does anyone relate? Or is this just me?

Does not matter- because I love doing laundry, and as I shared my love for this satisfactory task with my daughter, she says, “So laundry is your safe purpose.” Yes. By God, it is. “But,” she continues, “what is your dangerous purpose?”

I love doing what I’m doing, but while I’m doing it, I’m miserable. ~Viola Davis

That would be writing, something other than a blog post, which is another safe purpose. Over  7 years of writing them, I have learned how to compose a blog post, and in an instant I can publish. Satisfying. But, a book? A screenplay? A children’s story? Then, not only do I have to write it, I have to edit and submit it, and seek publication, and an agent, or e-book it, which I don’t want all my books to be e-books. Arduous. Can I just do some more laundry, please?

You have a talent that none of us have. Just find out what it is and do it. It’s doing nothing that’s the enemy. -Sybil in Downton Abbey

But, I am not a laundress, except every two weeks for my family of four. And unfortunately (and fortunately), something else has been put into my heart to do. An itch, that won’t be satisfied until I do it. When I sit down to do it, it’s often excruciating. I look for exits. Something easier. What I have in me to give, even in an attempt to give, looks weak in comparison to how I feel it inside, therefore I’d rather keep it inside. Hold it. But it itches, and it won’t stop. It wants to be freed. That dangerous purpose, wants to be realized, and because it is in me, I am the only one to free it.

And then, on a walk I realize how to free it. My inspiration? A man with a mop bucket. He’s working, and I envy him. He has work to do. It is work, which gives purpose and makes life full. No matter how long a process, to complete, or short. No  matter how internal the work is, or external. It’s work, and I have lots of it to do. Laundry, and writing and who knows what else. To work satisfies the itch. To not work, as Sybil so suggests, is the enemy. It simply is, just time to move into that dangerous purpose, and work.

To get me started, I have a tip that might work for you too, and it begins with a question- could it be, the impulses I receive in a day, are clues about the work that is to be done for that day? If so, it is time I not just listen and take notes about those impulses- it is time I act upon them, and see them into completion. ***Beyond this, it is time to put the fantasy away- the image I have of me as said writer, writing, happily and consistently as a livelihood. The more I work, the fantasy becomes weak in comparison because it cannot not offer what is truly at the heart of wanting to be that writer- which is to help. To share honestly, and as one commenter said, to do this, and I quote her: “You articulated many thoughts I wasn’t even aware I was thinking.” This is why I dare to move into that dangerous purpose.

***These last few sentences were added after the “rejection” of this piece. Maybe with them, it would have hit that “sweet spot” they look for that combines spirituality and creativity, and it could have been published. The timing of the rejection was ironic, but of course perfect. I was just finishing up yesterday’s post about finding my voice, which I think does hit that spot, when I saw the email come through, and I immediately became anxious, but did not allow myself to read it until I accomplished the post, and shared it. I needed a victory, because somehow I might have known I was getting the old, thanks for your submission, but I am afraid….song and dance. I was not as elegant and strong as I thought I might be. First, my heart races. I am mad. I want to vent. I am angry. Bitter. Want to lash out and defend myself- what do you mean- me not writing spiritually.? I send my husband a text. I cry. This is all in 5 minutes or less of time. I turn off Pandora. My head is down and I ask my question from the last couple days: what can I embrace now?  It turns out I am embracing this post, and the last words, the editor said to me: “That this piece didn’t come together for me is neither here nor there. Keep going.”

He’s right it is neither here nor there. I will keep going. Unfortunately, and fortunately I have to. #theartist’slife.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

 

Where the Magic Happens

Today’s Soul Report: Further Embracing

In times of frustration, creative or otherwise, ask- what can I embrace now?

Yesterday, I wrote an honest post about my creative/work struggle (click here to read). My ending question was: what can I embrace now, until I’ve had enough- enough of the puppy’s paw on the nail- enough of the pain of my frustration?

I had no answer until I walked out of my front door, red umbrella in hand. It was raining and I had to pick up my daughter. Being carless since the accident, it is one of life’s mysteries and blessings, that her school is within walking distance. Now, one could think it was not one of life’s blessings, to have hail fall once I stepped out the door, as it did, but it soon stopped. Rain is not common in Southern California, so really how often do I have the opportunity to walk in the rain? I embraced it, and it was soft, calm, and in a strange way, purposeful and delightful.

There was something else I had embraced after I wrote that post, which was less obvious until it occurred to me this morning. While talking to my father on the phone, I embraced a rather embarrasing, yet persistent impulse, which was to ask him if I was a good writer. You know, those “singers” on American Idol who can’t sing, yet their moms and dads tell them they can, but they really can’t- was I one of those? But more than this, my little girl wanted to know- Daddy, am I good at something? Validate my purpose and talent, daddy.

And he did. “Yes,” he said, “you are a good writer.” In a way, the sad, neglected, little girl needed permission to do her art, and dad gave it. At age 39, his words brought a tear, and liberation to move even deeper toward me.

This is not to say, we need this validation to do our art. I’ve written hundreds, if not thousands of posts, and essays, unpublished, with no validation whatsoever, and in some cases we might not ever get this from our mom or dad or whomever would feed this most for us. But, what I am observing, as I push more and more of myself forward into some sort of artistic and helpful expression is, to bring all of who we are to it. This is where the magic happens. Where we speak deeply to others, where we feel the most alive, and at home.

When we do create something, what makes it move people beyond just the giving of information or our art, is when we put our whole self into it, and not just a part of our self. Especially, the part who thinks she should do it a certain way in order to be liked. To move, and be in the fullness of that creative current, that indestructible life force, is to bring our whole self. I’ve suddenly noticed how people write. I notice a certain generic style and this is fine, but I don’t notice a voice. A person inside the message. The life force vibrating within it. This is not necessary for us to learn or even be inspired, but maybe it is to be moved. Really moved.

We went to a screening last night of a movie that will be out at the end of March. It served the purpose it had- it entertained in the moment. It was funny at times and had interesting images to be taken in by, but once the lights came on, it was over. The movie did not linger. It did not stay with me, and this is fine. But the movies, which do, like Shawshank Redemption for me, lingers, and continues to teach me, and often shows up when I write. Rumi’s poetry lingers, and does more- it awaknes and enlivens. Once, on a cloudy Minnesota day, I sat outside and read an entire book of Rumi poetry. When I was done- my insides were swirling as it is said he did- the whirling dervish. In a way, I felt high. His magic literally moved me. It went somewhere deep. It’s rare, but it happens. And I guess as I write this out, I see this is the instrument I want to be. No small order.

My daughter who is an actor, admires Meryl. Yes, cliche- she is one, if not the greatest actress of our time, but not only does my daughter admire her, she wants to give what she gives. But she, will admit, wanted that yesterday. That’s the perfectionist. That’s the ego. Someone asked my daughter, what Meryl was doing at 19.

“Meryl was going to school,” my daughter said- and so is my daughter.  If we continue to keep that desire within us, and allow that intetnion to move us, it will begin to reveal itself. We will begin to see not a copycat of Meryl or Rumi or whomever, we will begin to see ourselves. Our essence will be within what we give. Not just in our art, but to every person and experience we meet.

This is where the magic happens.

Once we find our voice, which means after some time and probably with lots of practice, a personality or a style emerges out of all the parts of our self. I had no idea the last seven years blogging was not about being followed and getting comments and having my blog turn into a book. What it was really about was turning a journal writer into another kind of writer. To turn my insights and stories outwards, first to practice so the reader understands, and than to find a style, a self- I did not even know was there.

That little girl, who I have often denied, who needed to hear her dad say, she is a good at something, can now be brought into the mix of what is me. The less afraid I am of all the parts in me, the less I resist and deny my parts, wholeness arrives and embraces the fullness of creating, loving and living, and that paw is gently removed from that nail.

Listen to Adele’s words in this video, from AmericanVogue 

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

Little Bug

Today’s Soul Report: Help is on the way

I helped save a bug. An itsy-bitsy one. I was outside, filling up the dog dish with water, when this tiny little bug flew into the water. In an instant it jumped out, dry, as if never wet, ready to fly. But then, maybe the wind blew, and it fell back in. This time , I thought, it might not make it out, so I helped it. I put my hand in, trying to flush it out. It landed on my finger, and after a bit of wobbling, it flew away.

Why did I help this bug? It’s spirit. It kept trying to live, and keep going. It inspired me to assist. My insight from this tiny experience- someone might see my spirit, and lend a helping hand (toward my desire to be a published writer). If not, at least I know I keep going even after being thrown in a dog dish full of water, which often happens- not literally of course.

Sometimes life feels shitty and yet somehow I remain committed. My bet is we all do. Maybe this is the miracle.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way and not starting. ~The Buddha

Keep striving, no matter where you are. Help is on the way.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter

The Universal Story

Today’s Soul Report: Fairy Tales

 

I am putting together pieces I have accumulated over the years for the memoir I am writing. Here’s a piece on fairy tales, that I’d like to let go of, that won’t be getting into the book. However,  it is the perfect theme of my book. A woman imprisoned within her own self, with a wish for something more, who goes into the dark forest and meets monsters and obstacles, all there to untie her from herself, so that she may reunite with herSelf and be free- or at the very least, have extended moments of liberation, and whispers of who she really is.

And here is the piece:

Fairy tales tell the story of transformation. They are symbolic of our growth and when taken too literally, we miss their meaning. We must look deeper, and see how they show us our process of becoming.

For instance- Cinderella. As with all princesses (to be) they have a wish. If we just believe, and perhaps sing about it too, they might just come true. Our wish, coming from innocent faith, sets the intention to leave our current existence behind, usually one exhibiting some sort of imprisonment or enslavement.

From here the trials begin. Cinderella faces, and for a time, succumbs and is controlled by her jealous step-mother and sisters, which are aspects of herself. Her own jealousies and insecurities. Through this, however she remains innocent and faithful, and when the fairy godmother appears, she is open to her. She requested her with her wish, and attracted her with her innocence and faith. The fairy godmother, a higher aspect of herself, has come to show a way to get through to the land of her dreams.

Once shown, there is still more work to do. More trials to get through, and hopefully as she goes through them, she finds her strength, wisdom, courage, and patience. At some point, all of the energies, energies she has been facing and have surfaced on her journey, come together, and a miracle happens. A wish is granted. A dream fulfilled. And as I have heard Oprah say, now dream a bigger dream. And if we do, we will begin the process again. And even if we don’t, as we know, for now, at least for most of us, there is not the “happily ever after.” This is because we are not stagnant beings. We are not done. We are still growing, and growing brings with it everything we need to grow. The sun. The rain. Dirt. Weeds….you get the point.

We must allow ourselves to go through the trials, those middle places where we release our insecurities, and look at them with as much curiosity and understanding as we can muster. Try and empathize with their nature. We must also allow, and notice the moments where we are the wise prince or princess of our dreams, living and loving beautifully and abundantly. This story is inherent. It resides within. It is universal.

Namaste,

The Soul Reporter