Self Discovery

Mindfulness Musings and Rose Haze

Place: Aster Cafe

Time: Twilight, early summer 2018

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I’m straight Carrie Bradshaw’ing- drinking a glass of wine, alone at a street bistro, observing foot traffic and having an inner monologue about it. Feeling contemplative and in a twinkly haze from a glass of rose and the damp, liquid heat of summer coming in quickly. 

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There is a table of young 20-something women to my left. As I eavesdrop I place them at 22- just about to graduate college. One woman is beautifully dramatic and effusive in telling her friend that she had a successful interview as another one shares that she wants to move to LA to pursue acting, promptly pulling out her phone to share her reel. I’m definitely pushing some energetic boundaries right now as I get sucked into listening about another of the women’s boy troubles (also, feeling like an effective creep as I unsuspectingly listen while wearing earpods).

I have a knowing half smile listening to these women share their excitement for their futures, wondering, that if in a past life there was a 34 year old listening to 22 year old me? Having excitement and curiosity about what life experiences I was anticipating; having her own reminiscent moment about her 20’s. Sort of like nesting Russian dolls of nostalgia.

Sitting at 22, thinking I had a plan for life and having no idea what twists and turns were meant for me. What growth. What surprises. What love. What relationships. What careers. What losses. What spirit. What perspective. All I saw was possibility and the linear wins that mean the most to a young woman; a job, a boyfriend, friends, a life that all laid ahead. I had no clue that I was on a journey of shedding adolescent layers in favor of spiritual lessons and laws. 

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At any given point on your path, at any given age, do you wear that knowing smile for the younger women at the table next to you, but not for yourself? It’s as if we have the ability to have wisdom and compassion for the twists and turns we’ve already traversed but not for the ones we are traversing.

How do we apply the beauty and depths of our stories to our current reality? The answer is simple; these young women to my left have reminded me that everything lies in the now. The silliness. The dreams. The love. The friendships. The challenges. The wins. The fear. The opportunities. It’s all happening in this very moment. There is no way to predict the future, or change our past. We are not defined by either of these, yet we chain ourselves to that fallacy.

Our anxieties and fears as adults are a result of us leaving the present moment. This happens every day and there is nothing to judge when you notice it. Simply bringing yourself back to NOW (where everything that belongs to you is).

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Below are 5 simple tips for practicing mindfulness and allowing yourself to return to the magic of the current moment:

  1. Look at your hand. Hold your hand out in front of you and study it for a few moments. Look at the lines and nails and jewelry that adorns it. Breathe in this moment. Breathe into your hand. Allow yourself to be present in studying a tangible part of your physical being.

  2. Practice Triangle Breathing: Breathe in for 7 counts, hold your breath for 7 counts, and release it for 7 counts. Repeat this until you feel yourself returning to the present moment. Give gratitude for this breath.

  3. Earthing: take your shoes off and stand on the grassy earth. Feel the blades of grass on the soles of your feet, feel the coolness or dampness of the ground beneath you. Breathe into gratitude for your connection to Gaia, our Great Mother Earth, and all she provides for us. She is our great connector; our only constant. That’s magic baby.

  4. Find a crystal that you connect with (I like rose quartz or opalite for this). There is no right or wrong way to do this, but only to follow your inner knowing (as they say ‘the crystal chooses you’). Hold this gem in your hand and squeeze it; feel the energy it emits and allow it to become your only focus for several breaths. Allow it to ground you into the here and now.

  5. Engage your other senses: utilize essential oils, an ice cube, a cup of hot tea to summon your spirit into now. Breathe into your senses.  Allow it to fill your entire physical body and then beyond. This is mindfulness when you slow down; you can almost feel the clock tick a bit slower when you breathe in deeply and let your senses be stimulated and awakened.


I drifted back into my present moment: sitting at Aster Cafe, the sun a bit lower, my glass a bit emptier, yet filled with gratitude and blessed ideas. I buy my 22 year old inspirators a round of drinks quietly and tell the waiter to give them my thanks. I was lovingly reminded that all we are given is this; this moment holds the promise of the next, but not a guarantee. When we allow ourselves to open our eyes, breathe into our physical and spiritual bodies we are almost instantly gifted the ability to broaden our borders and welcome in more. Mindfulness is not a fad; it is our infinite superpower.
 

With Much Love Always,

Nik

 

Lessons From Bali: Part 2

Lesson #5: Get Still and Your Higher Self Will Become Louder

I have a post-it note on my bathroom mirror that say “Get Still. What Is the Next RIGHT Move?” I stopped looking at that post-it about 6 months ago. I didn’t want to be still, I wanted to move. I wanted sensation. I wanted distraction. And at the same time, I wanted clarity, direction and my manifestations to show up... yesterday. I was wondering daily, “What am I doing wrong? I’m so versed on the Law of Attraction and Power of Thought, but nothing is going the way I want.” Insert foot stomping here. Stomp Stomp.

 

Finding that peace...can't you tell?

Finding that peace...can't you tell?

The way I have traditionally found stillness was on my mat. Yoga has saved me in so many other difficult moments of my life that this last year I turned to my old friend to try and find clarity and balance. The issue was that my main problem was almost always in the yoga room with me (literally and figuratively).  I was so upset with myself; why couldn’t I hold my balance or flow with love, advance my practice or meditate during savasana? And then I looked to my left. My main distraction was on the mat next to me. And then I looked within. And my main distraction had oil spilled all over my insides. I couldn’t connect to stillness because I was still looking outward for my peace.

In Bali, I was blessed with individual yoga instruction from the most amazing woman, McKinley (Kin). There were so many moments of divine intervention in Bali, but one of the first was learning that I was the sole student in the yoga cohort at Escape Haven. I had been desiring individual yoga coaching for over a year, and without trying, here it was waiting for me in the form of this petite powerhouse.

Kin and I had an instant connection; I trusted her almost immediately. She was warm, vulnerable and inspiring. Every morning, we would sit together in silence after we had finished the asana part of our practice. We meditated, physically together, yet completely individually. There was no competition, no distraction, only mutually held respect for one another. She helped me remember how sacred and important stillness and silence is in finding clarity.

ahhh...there you are

ahhh...there you are

 

In yoga, there are 3 components that must be present: Prana (breath), Asana(movement), and Meditation. In America, in mainstream yoga, we pay lip service to the Prana, but focus our efforts on the Asana. In Bali (and all over the world), the Prana is paramount and meditation is not an optional 30 seconds at the end of your practice, but an integral dedicated practice of stillness.

It is here, in that warm, supported stillness, that I began to receive what I had been asking for. Clarity. Calm. Spiritual knowing. Colors and vibrations increased. Inspiration. Release of toxicity. All the promises of meditation. All the gifts of releasing control. It is in these 30 minutes after moving through Kundalini series that I finally heard my voice again. It was only once I stopped stomping my foot and took a humble seat on the ground, shut my mind off and allowed God to show up, that she did.

Thank you Kin for your beautiful reminder that our voices are always with us, sometimes we just have to shut up and sit down to hear them.

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Lesson #6: Be Brave, Bold and Clear: When You ASK for Clarity You Will Surely Receive It.

Do you know what it means to play small? It is when we set goals for ourselves within strict limitations of what we think is possible, tangible or reasonable. Our human brains have this habit of scaring us into thinking we only are capable of having the basics; less, we are selfish, dreamers or too big for others to handle. I have been one of these people: I have had moments where I’ve operated out of fear, or limited thinking and beliefs. This is a universal human experience we can all relate to; even in the moments I’ve declared out loud “I’m done playing small; I’m ready to do it BIG!”, I have that little niggling voice in my head that says…”yeah, but are you really ready?”

The fear in asking or naming what we really want is two-fold: 1.) We will then be responsible for going and GETTING it, and 2.). We will realize that our own discontentment is no one else’s responsibility to fix. There is a fallacy of fear as you look your dreams in the eyes; we believe our fear to be legitimate truth-tellers, when they are actually liars that keeps us stuck.

Traveling, for me, has always been a reminder of what the reward is when you play big and lean into the fear, rather than lean away. Leaving the comforts of your daily rituals and relationships and getting on a plane to an unknown land; it reinstills bravery in the heart. I had been sick to death of playing small at home; I knew I needed a jumpstart.

Prior to my departure, I sat in meditation, feeling the anxiety and fear of the unknown come rushing towards me. All the what ifs, all the dangerous possibilities, all the potential outcomes that lay on the other side of this trip; and then I remembered I was in meditation. “Shut it brain,” I said to myself.  That’s the most profound thing I could think of in that moment: Shut it. Shut down the negativity, the fear, the annoying voice that was creating a loud racket. Shut it. I had to make room in my head for CLARITY and POSSIBILITY, rather than fear, which had been the loud, cantankerous bus driver for the last couple years.

A lotus cannot grow without the mud.

A lotus cannot grow without the mud.

Going to Bali was about releasing what was no longer serving me in order to create clarity; it was about taking back control of my thoughts, in order to step into bravery and bold action. I had to remind myself that I was capable of naming and claiming what I desire and what I deserve. In telling my thoughts to shut it, here is what I was able to create space for: my new, brave, bold and clear declarations:

  1. I am ready for my husband; I am ready for love, companionship and adventure with my forever partner.

  2. I am a successful therapist and coach that is creating a financially thriving and service oriented practice that will serve others and be a part of fulfilling my life’s purpose.

  3. I am the creator of my world and experience; I am responsible for my ultimate happiness.

  4. I am an impactful and successful writer.

  5. I get to create my days exactly the way I desire.

  6. I am pure faith and trust in the Universe’s laws.

  7. I am a woman of love, integrity and kindness. I operate from the lens of these values always.

  8. I am authentic and honest in all my interactions with myself and others.

  9. I am humbled by contrast and lessons. I use these as opportunities to grow and strive towards my complete divine alignment.

  10. I honor my self-care practices without apology or defense. I choose to love myself Every. Single. Day. 

I also remind myself that I am a Spirit having a human experience and I am not supposed to be perfect and clear every step of the way. I get to have moments like the ones that led me to Bali. Those experiences of breakdown were necessary and important for the evolution of my soul. These declarations are just a taste of what I was able to walk away from my soul vacation knowing more solidly. I am still in the process of releasing the ghosts of the past and un-shuttering the windows to allow the light in...and I am so grateful.

Thank you brave, bold Nikki for making the choice to shut it.

Lesson #7: Sometimes There Are Volcanoes Threatening You in the Background. Go Anyways.

Not a volcano in sight

Not a volcano in sight

In my haste of booking the trip, I failed to do any peripheral research on what the haps was in Bali. Oops. As soon as word got out that I was going, I was bombarded with texts from the loving people in my life asking if I was still going “...due to the impending eruption of the volcano”? Uhhh….shit, there’s a volcano? I had flashes of being consumed by flowing, hot, liquid magma (Austin Powers ref...anyone?), and my fossilized body being discovered by anthropologists, Vesuvius-style, 500 years from now. #dramaqueen.

I considered for a split second not going (especially given how anxious my dad was...I hate worrying him). Ultimately, I decided that if it was my fate to meet my Maker in a fiery end of lava and ash, I was prepared for that. Dark, I realize; however, when you feel like you are destined for something, you are willing to take the big risks. Was it anymore dangerous or reckless than someone swimming with sharks or skydiving? It was a calculated risk that I was ready and wanting to take. I was all in on Bali and this adventure.

What I began to realize is that there are always “volcanoes” in the background of our life: heartbreak, job loss, death, disappointment, uncertainty. I had been living in the shadowy foothills of a smoldering relationship volcano for 18 months, could the real thing really be anymore frightening? At least the Bali volcano was honest about its’ capabilities and intentions-- “I might kill you if I erupt, but at least you’ll have had a beautiful vacation prior to your untimely end”. I appreciated the transparency, it was refreshing.

One of my favorite quotes is “A woman who fears suffering is already suffering from her fears”. Boom. Yes. That is so beyond true; I can spend my life sitting afraid of what might happen, or I can go live and experience my own bravery, love, and yes, maybe some scary shit. And, ultimately, most likely, God Willing, live to tell about it.

Just think, I could've missed this...

Just think, I could've missed this...

We have all had those moments where you build something up in your head to be incredibly frightening, and then you do it, and you think “Man, I’m so happy I went through with it!” It reinstills a reminder in your heart of what life gets to feel like: exciting, courageous, rewarding, divine...FREE! I’m not saying to be reckless; but be unreasonable sometimes. Ask yourself:

  • What the best case scenario would be, and how would you feel if you missed out on that?
  • How would this experience better you, even if it doesn’t turn out perfect?
  • Why do I keep thinking about it; what keeps drawing me in to this? What would the Superwoman version of me do?

There will always be volcanoes threatening you in the background of life. I’m so glad I went anyways.

Thank you Volcano for reminding me that that sometimes when we conquer our greatest fears we reap the greatest rewards. And also, it’s rarely as bad as it seems.


Lesson #8: We Are Never Done.
 

As the amazing Abraham Hicks says “You never get it wrong, and you are never done”. Our work as spirits with bodies is not a linear beginning and end. There are no God Monogrammed checklists or ribbons you run through when you are done learning as a soul. We are evolving, incorporating and shifting our perspectives every single moment. You are not the same person you were when you were 5 and you won’t be the same person you are today, next year. That is the blessing of our human experience; we GET to do this. We get to grow and change. We get to be humble and thrive. We get to experience emotions (ALL the emotions) in order to become more complex and thoughtful spirits.

Just normal Bali decor...NBD

Just normal Bali decor...NBD

I went to Bali to complete a God Monogrammed checklist: meditate, connect to higher self, release darkness, make some decisions, get a tan, drink some juice, practice yoga like a mother, make friends, sleep, remember who I am. Check, check, check, check! I laugh reading this, because although I checked off my items, one by one, I forgot that each of these then has a ripple effect in my life. I wasn’t going to be done just because the check was marked.

I wasn’t anticipating the changes and shifts each of these items would create as I ventured home. Just because I stepped off that plane in Minneapolis on December 23rd, didn’t mean that my Bali work was done. My Bali work will never be done, and that is because when you know more, you are then responsible for that information. I don’t get to be complacent or lazy in my life; I don’t get to enter relationships that are toxic and unfulfilling. I am responsible for being kinder and more generous in my relationships with others. I am responsible to myself and my career, demonstrated with integrity and effort. I am responsible to being honest with myself. I am changed forever, and I now get to act in accordance with those commitments.

The chapters behind me are already written and the ones ahead have yet to be scribed. I am excited and divinely trusting of what I will create on the pages to come.

Thank you Universe for re-instilling trust in my heart. Thank you for reminding me that we never get it wrong and are never done. Here’s to a beautiful life :)

 

Nik <3's Nik

Nik <3's Nik

 

Bonus Lesson: Even The Magical Island Of Bali Has a Rainy Season.

Let me reiterate, in my haste of booking the trip, I didn’t do a ton of research on Bali. Basically none. Apparently, December is part of their rainy season (basically equivalent to winter). It rained every day. It was overcast and the mosquitos were out in full force, leaving behind little welted reminders that even the smallest action can have a powerful impact. Initially, I was disappointed; I had just come from the freezing tundra and I was craving Vitamin D and balmy breezes. What was this rain business? Didn’t God tell them that I spent a boatload on this trip and wanted some damn sun? Stomp stomp. #bratattack

Stunning and quite damp

Stunning and quite damp

What I quickly realized was that there were also elongated pockets of sunshine and warmth. And even when it was raining, it was still actually quite lovely. I got more time alone in my hot tub because I didn’t feel pressured to hang out at the shared pool with everyone. I read more. I wrote more. I spent QT with me. I didn’t hate on the humidity because my hair was already in vacation mode and I wasn’t stressing a little more frizz than usual. I actually treasured the hours the sun was out; I was so grateful and did not take a minute of it for granted.

Escape Haven in the rain

Escape Haven in the rain

Every beautiful part of the world, or part of our life, has the potential for a proverbial rainy season; and just like Bali, it is not all good or all bad. We cannot continue to live in the all or nothing thinking schematic. Yes, winter is long, and it makes summer so freaking sweet. Yes, that relationship was traumatic, and I’ve taken so many gifts from it. Yes, life and people disappoint us, and we get to appreciate the gifts that those disappointments hold.

It stopped raining for a second, so I ran outside to catch some muted rays.

It stopped raining for a second, so I ran outside to catch some muted rays.

The rain was unexpected yet beautiful; it was a lesson of remembering that everything comes in seasons. Nothing is forever, our current life is temporary. A reminder that things that show up, or don’t show up, are always meant for us (or meant to miss us). If you are reading this blog, these lessons are meant for you. You have called this into your life. You are also ready and prepared for what is next. You are brave and ready. Your Bali is calling you.

 

Blessings and love my fam,

Xo Nik

Lessons from Bali: Part I

It is called the Island of the Gods for a reasons. You feel Spirit the moment you step off the plane. Each morning the Balinese people practice a 5 step gratitude practice to thank God for everything that they are graced with. It is humbling when you see that the majority of the Balinese people live off of $1/day. The breeze is fragranced with frangipani flowers, which are what I imagine God’s garden smells like. It penetrates your skin and your soul, I still have moments where I have phantom frangipani memories, sitting in Minnesota (where everything is covered in a layer of lovely snow).

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When I arrived in Bali, I had been traveling for almost 2 days; I got off the plane in Denpasar, Bali around 1 am, prepared to gather my luggage and get my tired tush to my hotel. I had planned everything PERFECTLY. I was a little plane sweaty but so thrilled I had set my feet on Balinese soil finally! I soon was told that because of the quick layover in Seoul, my luggage had been delayed. Now, I’ve travelled a lot in my life and I’ve never had this happen. I even put a moonstone crystal in my bag to ensure that it arrived with me (Moonstone had other lessons to give me). The amazing people at the airport were so kind and accommodating, they had me thanking them profusely by the end of our talk because they were going to take care of me and get my things to me ASAP. God Bless the Balinese, seriously! They did an absolutely amazing job and did get me my bag; only it was 5 days later.

 

Lesson #1: I Can Be So Happy Without All the “Stuff”

I am a bit high maintenance-I can own it. I like my hair things, my makeup, my clothes. I like to look a certain way. But do you know why I like to look a certain way? Because I think that it makes me more valuable and powerful. If my hair is straight, and my nails are done, and I have the cutest workout clothes, I am more (fill in the blank): loveable, powerful, relateable, enviable, sexy, desireable, acceptable. But I never stopped to ask myself, “do these things contribute to my ultimate happiness”? Prior to being without all my stuff in a foreign country, where I knew no one, and was completely alone, I wouldn’t have been able to answer it.

 

The answer is a resounding “no”. I had attached so much worth to things that I had lost the forest for the trees. Things are nice and make us comfortable or are an expression of self, however they are not our essence. They do not necessarily make us better. They hold energy and can actually weigh us down when we do not charge them with proper intention. When we assign such incredible meaning to our “things” it is easy to lose sight of our true divine spirit.

 

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I spent those 5 days wearing the same Lulu outfit I had worn on the plane for 2 days, a swimsuit I had bought at the mall when I got there and a sarong I was gifted when I arrived at Escape Haven. I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t do my hair. I was so Bali Basic and I loved every second of it. When my suitcase finally arrived, I was grateful, and slightly indifferent. I had stopped caring if it showed up because I was so blissfully happy with the clothes on my back (isn’t that always the case, when you stop caring and focusing so hard on something, it appears).

Since coming home I have had the opportunity to look at my home, my closet, my heart and begin to declutter and slough off the things that do not serve me, that assume energy and attention, and that don’t contribute to my ultimate happiness.

Thank you Korean Air for losing my luggage, without that experience I would never have seen how I was losing myself in the image.

 

A view from my front porch. How could you be anything but joyful?

A view from my front porch. How could you be anything but joyful?

Lesson #2: People Will Judge You. They Are Just Holding Up a Mirror. Thank Them.

The beautiful retreat I was staying at, Escape Haven, normally hosts 14 women at a time. Due to the threat of volcanic explosion on the island, there were only 4 guests staying there during my week. This intimate setting was exciting to me; I couldn’t wait to meet and befriend the other three women. I instantly clicked with a beautiful woman name Kyla from America, but living in South Korea, with the yoga instructor Kin (also from America but living in Bali), and with the GM Renee (who had the most gorgeous Aussie accent that I had ever heard). I had good vibes with this quiet, lovely woman from Amsterdam, Ann, although we both recognized we were fundamentally different, we still had a great time getting to know each other. The last woman in the group was Amber, from Melbourne. From the moment she met me, she made it clear she did not like me. We had an intro night where we all met each other and as I introduced myself I noticed out of the corner of my eye she rolled her eyes at some of my words. She was consistently unkind and sharp with me throughout the week, saying snide and snarky comments about Ky and I.

A typical version of me would be upset by this; but, because of the ridiculously amazing backdrop, the incredible staff and literally nothing to complain about, it was so clear that this woman’s anger and unpleasant attitude had nothing to do with me. So often, we walk through the world, taking personal offense at people’s unkindness. Sometimes it is REALLY hard not to. Sometimes it feels fucking GREAT to step into self-righteousness and judge that person right back...well, it feels great until you remember that you always reap what you sow.

My personal hot tub

My personal hot tub

I was having a facetime date (in my personal hot tub...damn I miss Bali) with my spiritual coach, Vanessa, and telling her about all these archetypical women and was curious about who they all represented to me in my life. Amber, I realized, was the Judger that I have been and the Judger that I have experienced from others. I was having a revelation that I was allowing my reaction about this woman’s behavior justify my judgement towards her. She was just holding up a mirror for me….uhhh….Holy Spiritual Awakening moment!

Thank you Amber from Melbourne, for holding up this incredible reflection of where I judge myself and others. I will continue to welcome this lesson into my life and be grateful to you for being a teacher where I lovingly needed one.

Lesson #3: Your Truth Is What Heals

As I have laid out in previous blogs, I was ignoring my truth for a very long time. I went to Bali to connect with it again. That was the main goal: to leave distraction behind and heal. Previously, in my life, I have planned out trips thoughtfully and very adult-like. I did not plan this trip like that; I felt a calling. I felt pulled to this island (or maybe pushed). I had never thought about going to Bali before October of 2017, yet, when I started researching women’s yoga retreats this one was the only one that spoke to me. Within one week of finding Escape Haven, I talked to two people and asked their opinions and, between clients one day, I booked my ticket. It was the most impulsive, yet the most sure I have ever been about a choice. This was my truth: I needed to Escape and find a Haven from the chaos and uncertainty at home (corny AF, I realize, but very accurate).

 

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Back in Minnesota, I had a difficult time admitting to myself that something was very wrong. That my body had been rejecting what I had been force feeding it: that this relationship was right. My body was angry with me, screaming at me to stop; fatigued, shutting down, breaking out in rashes, fluctuating weight, pits in my stomach, knowing in my heavy heart. I had ignored it all because I trusted the words of someone else over my own truth.

In Bali, with the noise, the clutter, the ruts, and schedule gone, I started to really hear my voice again. I broke down crying one of the first days when I asked myself “Why is it so easy to be happy here?” The answer was simple: because I was doing what I wanted. What I loved. I wasn’t concerning myself with anyone else. I wasn’t focused on anyone else’s needs. I wasn’t analyzing words, or worried what I looked like. I wasn’t stressed about operating on anyone else’s schedule. I ate what I wanted. I wore what I wanted. I slept. I was free. I was nourishing myself-mind, body and spirit- for the first time in years.

 

Ate these bad boys every day

Ate these bad boys every day

 

I realize that in daily life we have to take care of external needs, we can’t be on vacation mode constantly; yet, what is possible? How do you take your God Given Holy Truth and honor it as much as possible? I keep asking myself, ‘what would make it really easy to be happy right now’? Often the answer is “rest” or “meditate” or “write” or “receive love”. They are simple; of course, a regular trip to Bali wouldn’t hurt, yet truth can be found anywhere you stand, as long as you are brave and true and ready to hear it.

This trip prepared me for calling in the Truth once I got home. It was Warrior’s Work and through it I have found so much healing in my heart and soul.

Thank you Bali for gifting me the truth that I knew all along; you allowed me to be ready to hear and receive it.

 

Lesson #4: Kindness and Friendship is Possible ANYWHERE

 

Bali Tribe

Bali Tribe

 

The Indian man on the plane who was so kind to me. The Korean stewardess who ran like a banshee through Incheon Airport to get me to my connecting flight. The amazing, kind and beautiful staff at Escape. Kyla. Kin. Renee. My masseuse, Wati. Janine, the owner of Escape who I never met, but who offered for me to stay another week because she heard great things about me. The people back home who cheered me on, told me I was inspiring them, asked me questions about my travels. The lovely woman at The Practice who smiled at me when I laid my mat down (entering a new yoga shala alone can be intimidating). Emily, the gorgeous coach, who launched her own swimsuit line after she moved to Bali. And countless other amazing interactions I had in the short time I was there.

Throughout my life I have felt like an outsider; I’ve pictured myself like a little girl peering in a window at a warm house where everyone was accepted and welcome, but somehow I didn’t belong. I realized through my travels to Bali that I was the only person who was in my way. No one was guarding the door to the house, I had created a story that prevented me from entering. This trip reset something for me in my heart; I was loveable, likeable and wanted. I had discounted myself so many times, I just assumed that others must do the same thing. This was a freaking fallacy!

It was so easy to connect and allow others to show me kindness and love as I ventured across the world alone. I didn’t feel guilty or unsure of myself. I promised myself once I got home, I was going to open myself up to friendship and love. Historically, I have kept people at bay, limited contact or told myself that they wouldn’t want to be me “real” friends with me. I vowed that I would stop creating these limitations for myself immediately. I had witnessed how powerful opening myself up to relationships was in Bali, and I didn’t want to lose that amazing feeling.

Just a cool pic of a Balinese man motoring around on his bike.&nbsp;

Just a cool pic of a Balinese man motoring around on his bike. 

In setting this intention, and since I’ve been home, I have never had more beautiful friendships emerge from the woodwork of life. Relationships that had been acquaintanceships have blossomed into sisters, trusted confidants, collaborators, more genuine and authentic in nature. I have continued to push the boundaries of what I was previously “comfortable” with and continue to ask Spirit to hold space for whoever is meant for me to continue to show up, and for me to show up for them. I pray for whatever relationships need repair receive that repair; I am grateful for every single person who has reached back when I reach out. It isn’t scary out there; it is abundant, it is rich in amazing people who also desire love, kindness and authentic connection.

Thank you Bali for the reminder that people are kind and true and I desire and deserve connection.

 

....(Part 2 coming shortly....stay tuned!!)

 

A Practice in Self Love

When coming out of a dark and difficult period, we can vacillate between feeling lost and feeling grateful. This can be so confusing and exhausting; sometimes jumping from these emotional lily pads on a minute to minute basis. We get stuck in our heads, analyzing ourselves, others, events, emotions; everything is fodder for judgement. Experiencing darkness is an essential part of experiencing life; we all have these moments of grief, heartache, getting knocked on our asses and making the decision to either stay down or get up. I have had days where I stay in a place of anger and then judge myself for that anger. I think “I should be grateful for this pain--thank you God!” and then I think, “WTF, I don’t have the perspective to be grateful yet”. And around and around. Ultimately, I am able to come to gratitude because I trust that all of this is meant for me and my greater divine timeline is being unfolded.

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The last month for me has been this rollercoaster of trying to get grounded and get back to taking care of my own heart. This idea of practicing self love is so undefined and almost scary at first. As healers, a lot of the time we think we are supposed to know all the answers, all the ways to get “back to happiness” or live this perfect, Instagram life. The reality is that we too have pain, we too have moments of doubt and insecurity, moments of being humbled in life’s raging current. And because we are healers, we often jump to action before we are ready; “I must take care of this. I will do all the things!” There is nothing wrong with doing all things, and there is also great need for quiet, patience and love towards yourself and your process. I sometimes look at the process and I want to be “done”, as if it is my enemy. It is that quick moment that I have been reminded or remember that pain is not my enemy but my teacher. I recall that when you love your problems, and can really sit in that love, the solution will appear. Breakdown/Breakthrough.

“One of the biggest lessons we learned from our trip is that when you stir up energy with deep healing work, it’s vital that you give yourself enough time to process it.” -Crystal Muse

I recently stumbled across an app called Insight Timer (an amazing meditation app that is totally free--whaaaa?!); I have been listening to a guided meditation from a woman named Sarah Blondin entitled “Loving and Listening to Yourself”. In this meditation she asks you to place a hand on your heart and a hand on your stomach, gently holding yourself as you repeat the words out loud “I love you”. It is uncomfortable and awkward; and the first time I did this I was sitting in my car outside of Caribou, sobbing, as I repeated these words to myself. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear them. I didn’t realize how void I had been of giving myself what I had been seeking in others. Each time I have practiced this since then, I still feel that energy bubble up through my entire chakra system, as if it is a current that hasn’t been turned on in years. There is crackling, uncertainty, emotions that are tucked away that get pushed to the surface. And then comes the warmth. If floods me-through my heart and out my eyeballs. The tears are not of sadness of but of pure love, of relief. Oh, there you are:).

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I encourage you to try this; it is unlike anything I have ever experienced. To physically and emotionally give yourself love. Recognize the shame and discomfort that may arise, and hold space for that; you are clearing out the darkness. That is the only way to light. Allow compassion to replace that shame, “I am allowed to love myself. I am allowed to hold myself and speak to myself the way that I desire to be held and spoken to”.

My other practice of self love in the last month has been physical outlets; seeking to expel energy that creates anxiety, a build up of anger and helplessness. I find more inspiration when I am moving, when I give myself permission to stop thinking about my “process” for an hour and just sweat and breathe. I gain clarity, focus and regain grains of trust in myself (I got the inspiration for this blog post this morning while I was on my spin bike at 6am). Instead of waking up and staring at the ceiling, wondering about things that aren’t helpful, I put my feet on the floor and meet friends and strangers at new classes and old classes. I am reminded that people are kind and welcoming. I am reminded that I am strong and beautiful. I am reminded that I am powerful and can overcome physical challenges and that just by showing up I am making progress. I am reminded that I am allowed to get out of my head and into my entire body. I am blessed that I am able, capable, strong and resourced to have gyms to escape to and rediscover myself in. Movement in my physical body has always equated to movement in my ethereal and spiritual bodies as well; in moments of sadness and loss there is stability and trust in what waits for me on my mat, on the stairs, on a bike, hugging a friend at a class.

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I tell my clients that physical movement is often the precipice of change in so many other areas of your life; when you feel physically strong, your mental strength, clarity and motivation soon follows. There is another component to this which is that we store energy and emotion in our bodies and through releasing it by sweating, stretching and grinding we force these emotions to the surface. The times that I have cried at yoga and spin, where the tears are mixed with the sweat on my face, have been times of intense release and vulnerability. These are moments when I give myself permission to just be present in whatever is coming up; I don’t pretend. I just am Nikki--a kind, beautiful, loving, emotional woman who is in it.

I have practiced this branch of self love for over 6 years, and yet with each new life lesson, it takes on a new iteration. I was originally upset that I felt as if I had to leave my home gym [to escape ‘that man”] that I have spent the last 6 years building my body and community at; but the amazing, beautiful gift in it has been being able to lift my eyes up, away from the track that I’ve always known and take steps towards new experiences and people. The choice to try new things has been the most incredible reminder that I am brave. It might not seem super brave to jump on a reformer at solidcore or walk into a new class at TigerFit, but for me it is! It is humbling and allows me to remember on a regular basis that “I can do hard things”. When I did my first headstand in Bali in December, it shifted my perspective on what was possible for me in my practice; it matters the accomplishments we find, no matter where they appear. Bravery gets to be mini and mighty, sometimes in the same moment.

Before December 27th, I thought I was taking care of myself, I thought I did love myself fully. I thought I was doing “all the things”. I had the most blessed, humbling opportunity to realize that I wasn’t. I got to/get to recalibrate and reconnect with what that ubiquitous term, love, actually means for me and how I want to practice it and commit myself to it now. I desire to weave together the quiet moments of integration and rest and the loud, rhythmic beat of change. That is my intention; as a healer I share with you that I walk this path not in front of, but alongside of you. My pain and my love is my work; there is no separation.

“Sometimes we ‘act’ like we love ourselves so that we don’t have to change. Except our spirit very much wants us to change what’s not working for our lives. But we’re afraid to do what it takes to change. Fake self love can turn into a cop out for really growing” -Danielle LaPorte

Be Well Always,

Love, Nik

 

I Am A Force

Today I had the first glimmer of my old self. I woke up this morning and although I was still hit initially with the pain, it subsided more quickly. I actually slept last night. I actually ate yesterday. I’ve been hearing messages from my helpers and guides about this relationship and what it means for me. That it is a launchpad. A divine gift. It was a traumatic force that made me wake up. I have choice again. Detoxing from him will take some time, and I can already feel the love in my heart return. I have more compassion for what I traversed. I’m remembering who I am without him.

My higher self, my divine awareness is flickering back on. I went out to dinner with a girlfriend and laughed last night. I teared up knowing my best friend is having her baby today. I am making plans to travel, move, create. These are bits of me that I put on a shelf to create as much space as possible for him. It is beginning to stop being about him, finally, and starting to be about me.

I don’t pretend that I’m okay yet, because I’m not. I am forever changed. I wept for most of yesterday, on and off. It feels like a Great Purge. Sobs leaving my body. His energy that still feels like it is in me, on me, lives in my space, escaping with each tear or breath released. He infiltrated my life, my head, my heart. You don’t just move on, you have feel it. I have to feel it. I have to experience this in order to walk away completely. I can’t numb it nor do I want to. I want to feel my truth. Also, smudging helps :)

I have been reading a lot about people who treat others like this and how it affects their “victims”. I dislike that word greatly. It implies powerlessness and meekness. I am neither. Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a force. Never down for long. A nurturer and a protector. A seeker. Resilient AF. I called in this experience with this man for a reason. I needed him to illustrate something for me. I allowed myself to accept pain from another person and called it love. Make no mistake, though-I accepted it. I welcomed it. He mirrored for me the emptiness in myself that I get to heal.

The idea of betrayal is one of the most archetypal stories on our planet; a person you trusted and loved abuses those sacred feelings and forces you into one of the darkest moments of your life (basically every Disney movie ever). The darkness demands that you examine yourself and what you are capable of. You either crumble or rise; you redefine faith and self. You shed the old beliefs of limits and step into the version of you that you were always destined for. This is Universal. This is mine and I am grateful for it.

For myself, for my clients, for anyone who reads this--the power in this story is not about how he ruined me. Because he didn’t. It is about the Rise. It is about the fucking Holy Rise from true darkness. That is my truth today and I’m sending you all true love on your own journey on your own Rise.

 

Current resources that I am leaning on and highly recommend:

Leaving A Narcissist: Day 7

I have woken up every morning since finding out, wincing. As if someone has poked my brain with a stick or found the spot in my brain that contains every memory of us and touches it as soon as I regain consciousness. We were together since July of 2016.  Even though he was still technically with his girlfriend, he was REALLY with me. At least, that was what I believed.

Everyone in my life knows, because the only way out of living a complete lie for 17 months is to be grossly honest. I know not everyone likes it; I know not everyone gets why I’ve decided to share this with the world, but when you’ve lived under the regime of the Prince of Lies for so long, it seems as if they only way to take back any power is to reveal the truth. And to have witnesses bear that and validate it for you, as I need people to help me reconnect with True North.

I am a therapist and a coach, I help people see their truth for a living. How could I be so skilled in assisting others and be so lost in my own life and relationship? Great question. How could I stay with a man so long that kept me hidden, gave me so little, told me nothing but lies, and gaslighted my reality? When you are “chosen” by a narcissist, you feel as if you have won the GD lottery. You are groomed, carefully, slowly, calculating. Our rules were laid out early and clearly and because I loved him so deeply, I agreed.

I tried to end the relationship with him. I asked him to let me go. I asked him if there was someone else he loved. I asked him to not make promises he wasn’t going to honor. I told him that I wasn’t going to do this sick dance anymore. I wondered why someone who looked so together on the outside, was so lost on the inside. I didn’t understand his truths. I knew he was lying to me about things and I didn’t push him on it because when I did he would pull away from me, sometimes for a whole day. It was my punishment for questioning the rules we both agreed to. When I would challenge him things, he would blame his mother, the death of his father, me for being too needy and never satisfied. He cited this as a reason that he didn’t love me the same way was because he felt as if he could never please me.

He would railroad the other women in his life and then tell me I was special. He would talk behind everyone’s back that we both knew and cared about and then would be charming and sweet to their face. I wondered what he said about me when I wasn’t there; and in actuality, I was more afraid that he wasn’t talking about me rather than saying anything negative. I worried I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or popular enough for him. I worked on all those things consistently to prove to him that I was his perfect match.

He broke up with me in May, but never left my side. The longest we ever went without talking was 5 days, and that was in October of 2017, because I was finally finding my backbone again. He became frantic at that point and begged to come over and talk to me. I thought he was coming back to ask me to marry him. That is laughable looking back.

He never gave me a reason for breaking things off in May, only that he felt he had to work on himself around the grief of his father and his relationship with his mother. Like a good little girl, I instantly jumped to support him and show him that he still needed me. I begged him not to go and to let me love him while he did this work. I knew it was off, but I was addicted to him. He kept me close enough to make me still feel as if I “got a piece of him” but so far away that I could never find out who he really was and what he was really doing.

He was my only sexual partner during the entire time I knew him and I was obsessed. He told me that I was the best lover he ever had, that I taught him how to be “good”. Before and after every time we had sex, he would make sure to remind me that it “meant something”. I soon got irritated with this, because when you’re in a relationship with someone you love, you don’t have to tell them that having an intimate relationship “means something”. The reason the sexual component is so intense with a narcissist is because it is truly the only way to feel as if you are receiving any intimate contact with them. They hold you at bay, compartmentalize you and distort your reality in every other facet of life, that sex just becomes the quickest and easiest way to feel loved by them.

My friends and family watched from the sidelines, trying to pull me off him. They told me that he was too broken or something was off. They told me he was image obsessed and demented for starting a relationship with me while he was still living with someone else (this also makes me demented, I realize). But his promises of marriage, family and a life together kept me there. I wanted those things with him. I wanted to be his partner. I wanted to feel chosen by Jason. And he would tell me things like:

“you’re my muse for life”

“You are the reason I get up in the morning”

“you will always be mine”

“I have never been as attracted to someone as I am to you”

“Our babies will be so cute”

“I miss waking up next to my Nik”

“I’m putting all my effort into fixing myself so we can be together and live our life the way we want”

“I will always take care of you”

“You are my safe spot”

“No one knows as much about me as you do. You know me better than anyone”

“Pick a week and we can go to Mexico”

“I would rather go to Spain with you”

“I’m selling my house and then we can find a place and rent together before we buy our next house”

“I can only relax when I am laying next to you”

“It has never crossed my mind that we won’t eventually be together”.

A snapshot of why I stayed

A snapshot of why I stayed

 

And this is the tip of the iceberg. He made me feel as if I was the ONLY one that mattered, but these moments were stretched out, weeks between these professions of love. Crumbs that sustained me for over a year. I was addicted to the surge of love I would feel and I would chase that high. I tried to date other guys, but no one could compare to Jason. He was perfect in my eyes. When I told him that I had started to date again in September of 2017, he freaked out. He told me he was physically ill and couldn’t stand the thought of me being with other guys (even just for dinner). I thought this meant he was coming back to me, for real this time. It worked, I thought! The oldest trick in the book, dating someone else to get the attention of the guy you really love and want. No, it did not work. Because he came back just enough to reclaim my attention and I dropped all those other men. He said he was giving me his full attention and commitment and I instantly felt guilty for seeing other people (even though he had broken up with me, again). I told every one of them that I was back with my ex-boyfriend. We were actually dating again. He actually took me out to dinner at Martina, he actually slept over (mind you, this happened once). But soon, we were back to the same cadence. He wouldn’t call me his girlfriend, he was more and more elusive with his time, he wouldn’t give me straight answers, he was less affectionate on the phone, the time gaps between our conversations grew more and more. It felt like I was crumbing for less and less, and I was so exhausted. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted from this relationship with him. I was so fatigued and so twisted up inside I decided to take a trip to get away from him.

So I went to Bali. Before I left, he again, came over and told me we needed to end it. This scene is so familiar in our relationship that it didn’t even phase me. I think I may have actually rolled my eyes. And I was done. I told him, “Fine, let’s take these two weeks I’m gone and give each other some space.” And he agreed, but did not follow through (and neither did I-I’m a fucking Jason addict). Me being gone was like a renewed sense of desire; he FaceTimed me EVERY day, twice a day when I was Bali. He would text me non-stop. He was all of a sudden enamored and in love with me again. He talked about our future; our upcoming trips, our plans for when I got home, how much he missed me and loved me and couldn’t wait to see me. I was so happy. I was so encouraged. Again--oldest trick in the book, start focusing on yourself and your dude will open his eyes and finally see the light. No, he did not see the light because there was never a light to see between us.

The entire time that I was in Bali he was with her. His actual girlfriend. The girl that he brought around his friends. The girl that he brought to the State Fair, 4th of July, Christmas parties. The girl who would come to his house and cook for him. The girl he brought to his family home in Florida. The girl who was living the life with him that he promised me. He’s actually been with this woman for quite some time. The earliest marker that I’ve been told is October of 2016, when he text a mutual friend and asked about her. He took her out for dinner in May to celebrate her divorce. They’ve been on vacations together. He’s met her children. The list is sickening. This is why I wince when I wake up. The wince is about starting to marry what I believed to be true and what the actual reality of his life is, and how big I compromised my life for him. The contrast is so great that it is painful for my brain to process and accept. I am on Day 7 of finding out who Jason really is; it is not easy to realize that man you loved was an illusion. It is not easy to experience the emotions that come from ending a relationship with a true, living breathing sociopathic narcissist.

I realized and continue to realize through this unfolding process that I have undeniable codependent traits. That I devalue myself in my relationships with men. That I have soul searching to do while I pick up these pieces and go forward. I am so inspired and encouraged by making connections with other women that he has done this to. Simultaneous to me, before me, and whoever may come after me. I am here. I understand how you feel. We are stronger together and he is true criminal against women. He sins against our minds, bodies and hearts. He is a thief in the night. Although I have only known about his true character since Wednesday of last week, I already know of 4 other women besides myself that he has treated this way in the less than two years I knew him (and I’m sure that is just the beginning).

I write because I feel stronger when I write. I share my story because I’ve kept it inside for so long. I’ve protected him, sinned against myself, excused his behavior, compromised every part of me to be good enough for him. I know that he was a lesson that I needed to learn and someday I will understand it more fully. I know that I will continue to write and process and hope that it finds its way to whoever it is meant for. Right now I have gratitude for the beauty of truth. Painful, gut wrenching beautiful truth.

To myself and the Other Women I have hurt throughout my relationship with Jason:

I love you

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you.