self-love

Mini and Mighty Miracles

This morning as I got ready for vinyasa, I was looking at myself in my floor length mirror, as usual, trying not to notice any perceived physical flaws. I knew I was craving yoga and the dose of self-esteem I always receive when completing a practice. I was heading out early, thinking I wouldn’t see anyone I knew, so I didn’t do anything extra (as basic as they come for a Sunday morning). I actually had some eyeliner smudge still under my eye--a classy, and classic look, if I’ve ever seen one.

 

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Per usual, I got there about 20 minutes ahead of time. I like to meditate, stretch and claim my queen spot at the top of the class. My practice has gotten so much stronger in the last few months as I’ve focused back internally. I haven’t thought of him much lately, but sometimes when I’m in this studio, his image flashes in my head. We used to practice here together. I brought him here. ‘Breathe it out’ I said,‘*Put your crown on, he belongs to the past and that is where I bless him and ask him to stay.”

As I continue to stretch I turn my head to the right and unexpectedly meet his eyes, just briefly. It was as if the mere memory of our past had materialized him into the room. He shoots me an obligatory half smile and I automatically turn my head in the other direction. “Fuck,” I mouth silently to myself. I haven’t laid eyes on him in almost 6 months. He puts his mat behind mine, a little to the right. ‘There is the whole big, empty room,’ I think, ‘and he is posting up right there?’ Breathe, I say. Breathe, send love and release.

I went inward, asking for my strength to be present, asking for my spirit to be powerful and for my guides to be vigilant. I felt a space clear around me and I sat up, looked myself hard in the eyes and silently repeated my mantra, “I love you Nikki”. It was in that moment, as I allowed my eyes to land on his mat for a split second, that I realized what a shift had occurred inside me. I didn’t feel anxiety or sadness; not longing or anger. Like a person who existed only in your dreams; a hazy memory, just out of reach as the sun begins to rise. I can remember loving you and knowing you, yet as we share this physical space, I feel no surge of that now.

I had anticipated when we would run into one another, as exes inevitably do; I would've looked gorgeous, perfect, and preferably, would have a total fox with me. I would’ve felt vindicated, pity and complete closure. The Universe plotted otherwise. We collided where we first met, on our mats; how poetic.

I was stripped down, sweaty, vulnerable and alone. No defenses at my ready. And, I felt as if I was standing in my complete power in that moment.  Everytime I lifted my head throughout that hour, I looked myself directly in the eyes and held a steady gaze. It was better than I imagined, because he started to fade into the backdrop. I stopped seeing him, or even feeling his presence. I remember once he had told me that the goal after a break up is to feel absolutely nothing for your ex, then you know you’ve “won”. I don’t care much about winning or how I feel towards him; what I do care about is what I experience when I meet my own eyes in the mirror. And by the end of class, I had a ridiculously giddy smile on my face. I was completely free.

I had prayed for a miracle to untether me from him. Today was the day that I was able to graciously realize that my prayer had been answered. I sent up so much gratitude during savasana for this gift. I sent him love and I sent myself love.

When I was in the middle of that hurricane, I couldn’t have imagined a day where I would’ve experienced this and yet here I am. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “...forgiveness is the only gift I give because it is the only gift I want. And everything I give, I give myself”. I have repeated and practiced daily forgiveness and giving it to God. Turns out that this actually works. I have forgiven myself for the transgressions I committed against my spirit and I have atoned for those. He just happens to be a byproduct of that forgiveness and I am happy about that.

Our final chapter had been written and the closure that I thought I needed was just waiting for me to pick it up (like spiritual dry-cleaning). The Universe had conspired enough for today, and as we rolled up our mats and made our exit, I felt calmness in my heart. There was no drama and no gestures. I hardly noticed him getting up to leave. My focus was on me, on the joy I felt rising in my body. Miracles do happen, I thought. Everyday and in the slightest of moments. Just keep your eyes up and your heart open, and mini and mighty, they will appear. They are meant for all of us.

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*’Put your crown on’ is an adaptation of a quote from James Baldwin “Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it”

 

Interested in learning more about "A Course in Miracles"? Click the link below to learn more about my upcoming book club!

 

 

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

 

The Illusion of Loneliness

“The funny thing is when you start feeling happy alone, that’s when everyone decides to be with you” -Jim Carrey

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Let’s talk about connection baby, let’s talk about me and….me. I am a self proclaimed ambivert (50/50 intro and extro) and do a lot of the typical ‘couples’ things by myself (eat dinner, binge watch Handmaid’s Tale, travel, grocery shop). I have a great group of friends, amazing family and tons of acquaintances and colleagues that I love spending time with. I have a beautiful and fulfilling life that looks pretty great on Instagram and truth be told, is pretty fantastic in real life. I am pleased with my ability to own that sometimes I want to be alone and that makes me a better woman all around.

There is a societal impression, a general consensus, that being alone equates to being without. There is an undercurrent of pity and edginess when you self identify as alone (or introverted or single). I’ve found myself defending my alone-ness before, without provocation. The person on the other side of the conversation didn’t say anything wrong, probably just asked me if I was dating anyone; and my own insecurity about what it means to be single (and liking it) kicked in. “Oh you know me, dating everyone and no one” ...hilarious.

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The truth is I live in this inbetween world of loving my complete independence (or as my good friend Kris says, “Free Agent Status”) and feeling like I have to love it  because it’s been laid at my doorstep (like a birthmark or a hand-me-down car). My other choice is to loathe it and feel enslaved by it? Nah; anyone who is a student of Abraham Hicks knows that you must love your current circumstances (like, ACTUALLY love them) if you are going to intentionally manifest something different. So, I REALLY love my Free Agent Status, I hug her up real good every day. It has afforded me to be selfish and creative. It has allowed me growth and freedom that I never knew existed. I hold it loosely with gratitude and an ongoing curiosity of what else it is here to teach me.

And sometimes, late at night or early in the morning, I remember what it’s like to be partnered or to be truly loved unconditionally by another. Those bookend wisps of the day, the witching hours, when your spirit is quiet and loud in tandem; these are the moments of vulnerability and twang of poignancy. I realize that in the delight of being alone, there are moments of loneliness. I am not exempt because I claim boldness and partnership with my aloneness; I continue to be a human that desires connection and sometimes, I recognize the absence of it. It can be palpable and uncomfortable to rest in; however, I feel like there is something in that inner twist that I am supposed to listen to. Again, this belongs to me; just like any other emotion. It is not my house that I live in, but it is a stiff wind on a sunny day. A bit of a distraction and just demanding enough to catch your attention.

The illusion of loneliness is that it belongs to the single, the introverted, the ones who are physically alone, the ones who are distraught or  in visceral pain. The truth is that it is an emotion that mirrors our disconnection from ourselves. It’s an emotion that belongs to all of us. It illuminates dark corners of our heart that have the ability to be neglected during the day, when distraction and movement is our buoy. There is nothing to be afraid of when this emotion shows up; it is only indicating that you are a human who has a heartbeat. It is a reminder to me to open up my heart and invite in friendship and love. It is reminder that as the gatekeeper of my heart, perhaps I have been too vigilant in minding the borders. Time to tear down the wall, or loosen up immigration laws...or...shit, I’ve entered a whole separate conversation. Point being: loneliness is a self inflicted emotion that surfaces when I keep others out and at a distance and when I label myself as separate from.

There are no good and bad emotions; that is a fallacy. Our emotions are just a lighthouse on the shore; beckoning us towards something. There is a unhelpful belief that if you feel something it must be given a value; begin with recognition and curiosity and leave the evaluation behind. Loneliness is neither good or bad; it just is. Marianne Williamson stated in 'A Return To Love', “We think we have many problems but we only have one: denying love.” Both loneliness and physical aloneness are call to actions that allow us to return to love; love of ourselves and others. They are both the mirror and the avenue through where we are called back to the basic truth that we are here to remember: only love is real. Everything else is meaningless.

Love ya Angels <3

Love ya Angels <3

 

 

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.

 

"She Who Fears Suffering Is Already Suffering From Her Fears"

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I used to suffer from incredibly anxiety; as in, it would stop me from going into a crowded coffee shop or restaurant. I would stand outside and look in the windows, look at the lines, get anxious that I didn’t know how their ordering system worked, or what I wanted, or worried that I would look stupid in front of strangers if I messed something up. I remember distinctly walking into Turtle Bread Company on 48th and Chicago, standing in line and have this panic feeling set in, where I needed to just get out. I told my boyfriend at the time I had to leave immediately; at the time, I had no awareness of what was going on with me, just that I was growing increasingly uncomfortable on a more regular basis. 

 

Photo by  Rob Bye &nbsp;on  Unsplash

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

This has happened to me before in my life, and I’ve brushed it off as being a little high maintenance, perhaps with an element of perfectionism thrown in. This time made me take pause; I had never experienced that moment of panic before, and it scared me. This was at a point in my life where I was not nearly as enlightened or had even a 1/4 of the self awareness that I have today. All I knew was that something in my head had to change; I had to stop giving into this panic and fear that was starting to drive my decisions in a fight or flight way.

There was a conversation I had with my dad when I was decided whether or not to go to graduate school; as we were talking, I realized that many of the decisions I had made up until that point had been driven out of fear or “safety” (not all, but a lot): the college I went to, the job I took after I graduated college, the decision I made to stay in Minneapolis rather than move to Chicago, and on. I didn’t want to do that anymore; that wasn’t my path. I wasn’t a “safe” person; I was/am a woman who wanted to do things with my life, not hide from it. 

Many people, including a lot of the clients that I work with, struggle with pushing past this initial fear or anxiety, to see what lies across the ravine for them. Making the more daring choice, or the more exciting choice, comes with a natural anxiety because you don’t know what to expect. There isn’t a road map or guarantees; and that belief that we need to know, that predictability equals better, is a fallacy. 

In that moment, after hanging up the phone with my dad, I made two decisions 1.) I was going to do my best to start making decisions out of opportunity and purpose, even though the fear was still there, and 2.) Limiting beliefs had started to create narrow parameters on my life, and I was going to start to knock them down, and reach for new, fluid and better fitting beliefs that allowed opportunities to show up for me.

When I share with clients my “secrets” for changing their mind set, I am often met with resistance and the rebuttal “Yeah, but it’s just not that easy”; as if this is a valid reason to not do important work in life. I’ve been in that place of not knowing the “hows” but just knowing that I desire something greater than I currently have. The simplicity about approaching your fear and anxiety is that it is a very easy decision to make: do you want to make choices in your life based in fear or based in hope? You decide; and if you choose hope, the Universe will show up. And if you choose fear, than I can tell you that nothing will change. Make no mistake though, this is an active choice; you are not a victim in life, you always have the choice of perspective. 

Victim or Heroine....Victim or Heroine?????

Victim or Heroine....Victim or Heroine?????

 

For those of you are making the choice to get in the current of change and stop paddling upstream, keep reading. The idea of doing one thing a day that, “scares you” is not something I invented, only something that I used and found great success with. I still do today; this is an important piece of the process, realizing that this isn’t something you do once and your done. This is a new way of life, living in courage—which means noticing the fear and doing it anyways. Courage doesn’t mean choosing the easy way, it means choosing the path least travelled and, although fear might be your travel companion, it is not holding the map.

5 Easy Ways to Reconnect With Your Voice

Build your dream house.

Build your dream house.

Reposted from previous blog. Original post from May 24, 2016

Recently, I had a moment in which I realized that I had been denying my inner voice. It came suddenly and fiercely. Long story short, I had been dating someone that I was passionately attracted to, and yet knew there was something off. On a daily basis I had been shoving down that voice that said, “This isn’t right”. I wanted so desperately for things to be perfect between us. Reality was far from that—and no matter who told me what, until I was ready to see it, it didn’t matter. He ended our relationship in an incredibly painful way, and even in that moment of visceral ache, I was released. Released from this incredibly denial and dishonesty that I had been prioritizing for 18 months. I was able to start to step into this place of authenticity and truth. I want nothing more than to take this lesson and spread it like gospel. Please know that I understand the pain associated with stepping into your truth, and I also know the light. 

I actually had a totally different introduction to this post, and it seemed less than authentic to begin from a place of authority. I am human just like you; I cry, I bleed, I love and I learn. I wanted to share this with you to start from a universal truth, that we are all in process. I can speak from a place of expertise, yet also from a place of student (and life just handed me a elephant sized lesson…thanks life :)). 

The way I integrate this lesson with my clients is that I askthem to honor how “not knowing” or ignoring their voice has served her up until now. I come from the belief that all our actions and belief start from a positive intention, and we must recognize what that is! Often, coping skills or defense mechanism do serve us, and then, at some point can become destructive or unhelpful. 

An example of this is passive aggressive communication. Passive aggressive means that you say something in order to avoid a conflict, however you are desperately wanting the other person to understand your frustration, anger or fear. Where I come from (Minnesota), this is the “normal” way to communicate, and anything outside this realm is considered rude, abrasive and unacceptable. The positive intention is to keep the peace, to manage and have happy relationships. Unfortunately, the result is the exact opposite! I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in therapy wanting to improve relationships, set boundaries and feel more congruent with their inner and outer message because of this pervasive style of communication. 

My goal and advice in each of these moments that clients come to me is the same: use your voice. Start slowly and begin to get familiar with what is in your heart; what is it that you actually want to communicate? What are you actually needing from yourself and those around you? What is your fear in embracing your truth? Begin to ask these questions and your brain will start the retrieval process for the answers (crazy, right)?

Often, our fear in embracing our voice, saying our truth, stating our needs, is that:

  1. We could possibly upset someone else and then their view of us will change
  2. As women, we will be seen as bitchy, rude, unlikeable or abrasive,
  3. It is not okay to ask for your needs to be met; you will be labeled as selfish, which apparently is a punishable offense. 

I want you to start to challenge some of these inner beliefs; are these really serving you? How might life be better if you stated what was really on your mind? How might your relationships improve if you allowed people to know the real you? How might your mental, spiritual and physical health improve if you started to ask for what you need and then allow it to enter your life?

I can tell you from personal and professional experience that relationships can grow exponentially through conflict. And not aggressive fighting, yet dialogue and allowing someone to know you, challenge you and encourage you to see something from a different perspective. How many times in your life has someone given you feedback that has shifted your perspective and made you a more productive, loving, kind person? Do you remember the gratitude and excitement you felt with this new revelation? Connect with this and allow yourself to engage more frequently with real discussions with the people you care about. 

Below are 5 easy, fun and achievable ways to start to use your voice, because your words, thoughts, feelings and desires are so important! Don’t let one more day pass where your voice is unheard!

  1. If you are angry, upset or frustrated with someone, speak out loud the words you would say to them. I often will tell clients to get it out in their car, in their bathroom in front of their mirror or when they are by themselves, where they don’t have to edit one single word. The point of this is not to actually cultivate your message, but to allow your emotions out! Let yourself say the things that you might NEVER actually say to that person. Engage with your feelings, so that you can come closer to a balanced message when you actually talk to this person.

  2. Get familiar with your emotions! Ask yourself “What am I feeling right now” and then LISTEN! Make efforts to understand your patterns of emotions and then record them in a journal or a note on your phone. Once you start to notice what feelings are coming up frequently, you can find ways to process them and approach the situation differently.

  3. Redefine the word “selfish”. I cannot tell you how much I despise this word; it is shaming and denies people (mostly women) the most imperative self care that they need. Self care is what we all need to move through this world; the things that give us energy, fill up our bucket and allow us to show up as the best versions of ourselves. I want you to pick one thing that you would have previously defined as selfish and do it anyways. This could mean, making your favorite dinner (even if you partner doesn’t like it), going to yoga in the middle of the work day, buying that purse that you’ve been eyeing, going out to brunch with your girlfriends, spending an hour a week in meditation or journaling. Replenish your spirit and you will be able to offer the world 10-fold what you think you’re capable of.

  4. Schedule a difficult conversation. We all have that one (or maybe 5) people that we’ve been putting off an uncomfortable conversation with. Stop delaying and text them immediately to meet for coffee, a drink or a Skype date. Write out what you want to say to them and always come from a place of love. Use “I” statements to diffuse any defensiveness. Be ready and able to own your own shit. Remember the goal is to use your voice; if the relationship also improves that is a beautiful bonus. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever was. It is worth it and you will remember that feeling going forward-it will ripple out and allow you to have more authentic, vulnerable and valuable relationships with people you love.

  5. Reestablish or reconnect with your identity. When was the last time that you really thought about who you are as a person? What are your values, your desires, your goals, your fears, your losses? If someone asked you, “who are you?”, what would your response be? Spend 10 minutes a day for the next week journaling about these 7 topics:

    1. Values
    2. Relationships
    3. Goals
    4. Career
    5. Fears
    6. The Biggest Dream I Could Possibly Dream Is…
    7. What I Want for My Future Is…

I cannot wait to have you get started on these amazing steps towards rediscovering your TRUE voice! Believe me when I say, I am walking this journey too and will share my trials and victories. Take the chance to be happy and connect with the truth that you, and everyone, holds within themselves. 

 

Celebrating a bitching blog post!

Celebrating a bitching blog post!

Be Well My Friends,

Nikki

Every Woman's Story: The Ubiquitous Tale of Body Hatred, Love and Triumph

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One of the challenges that I was put on this earth to work on is self love. I actually think this is a journey that most of us have come here to work on, and so I do not believe myself to be a unique soul in this capacity. My journey of self love also connects to self worth and my body. From the time I was a small person I can remember thinking my body wasn’t okay. I have a specific memory around 7 of me in my room, getting dressed and I looked down and pulled at the skin around my torso, and told myself, “You are too fat”. This is a voice that has followed me throughout my life; it no longer has the power it once did, but it still camps outside my front door, waiting for me to invite it in. I picture that voice looking like the mean girl in high school, only with stringier hair and more haggard now, (I mean she is camping outside my house and continuing to bully a grown woman, she can’t be doing that well). 

 

The story of the ups and downs throughout my life and the moments where I can remember other people commenting on my body (good and bad) are not special or that interesting. There are just a few that I think have followed me around like an old scrapbook. The time my slim French grandmother told me I was not thin, the time I opened a social studies book in the 5th grade and saw a stick figure with giant boobs drawn on it with my name underneath, the one time a mean boy in my 6th grade art class called me fat, the countless times my mother was on a diet and although she never commented on my body, constantly yoyo’d up and down with her own, never satisfied. These early moments shaped how I saw myself, and although, as an adult I can rationally disconnect from them, they all still hold an emotional weight in my heart.

Me (left), my cousin (right) around 1988. It was probably within the next 2 years that I started to criticize my body on a regular basis.

Me (left), my cousin (right) around 1988. It was probably within the next 2 years that I started to criticize my body on a regular basis.

 

I eventually grew into my body and started to get noticed in a totally different way around 8th grade; I was cute (not hot) and had developed early and significantly. Meaning, my breasts were unusually large and I had finally thinned out a little. Boys came a’running. I loved the attention but for all the wrong reasons. I think a lot of young woman can relate to this experience; after being told for your entire childhood/adolescence, there is something wrong with you or undesirable, and all of a sudden you are receiving the opposite message, holy shit, you have just entered the motherland of all highs.

 

Throughout high school and college I realized thin equated to better, and so I ran a pattern play that many women resort to, which is restricting food intake. I became addicted to diet pills (when the good ones were still legal to buy OTC), I lost my damn mind when ephedrine became illegal when I was 18. Whenever I hear any medication or countries that still allow ephedrine to be used, my mind goes immediately into addict brain for a millisecond before I come back to rational thought. This is something I rarely share with people—not my parents, not my friends, probably just my therapist and now here. But it was very real—I was addicted not just to OTC speed, but also to the idea of what being thin meant, the attention and power I thought it gave me and the fallacy of happiness. 

Me with some of my college roommates (who were all beautiful and naturally thin). I remember feeling myself constantly comparing my body to theirs. Even posting this pic is a little hard for me, remembering how I felt and probably what this version of me was feeling at this moment.

Me with some of my college roommates (who were all beautiful and naturally thin). I remember feeling myself constantly comparing my body to theirs. Even posting this pic is a little hard for me, remembering how I felt and probably what this version of me was feeling at this moment.

 

In college I met the man that was to be my ex-husband. He was funny, nice and safe. I felt like I didn’t have to try with him. I hid in our relationship. The dynamics between us suited both of us for awhile; my main awareness was that I got to feel more powerful and hidden at the same time. My body weight fluctuated more than it ever has in my whole life in this relationship, I gained so much weight and then would lose it. Gain and lose. Gain and lose. I was the most unhappy I have ever been with myself. This wasn’t his fault; this was my subconscious way of hiding. He ate a certain way, and I took implicit permission to do the same. I hated myself. I knew I had to make a change. Right around the time I completed my graduate program, I committed to myself the following: 1.) I needed to find a sustainable way of living and loving myself, and 2.) I needed to start now. I began to revamp my eating habits significantly; I quit drinking as much, I began to talk to myself differently. I joined the same gym as my girlfriends and started going to fun group fitness classes with them. Never in my whole life had I made such a huge shift that allowed me to regain control in such a short time period. 

 

My body began to change, slowly and then quickly. I could wear cute jeans again, I cared more about what I looked like (in a healthy, proud way). The more I exercised, the more I wanted to move. The thing with change is that it is a ripple effect. You cannot just expect to change your body and stop there; your relationships change, your attitude, emotions and beliefs change, your values and words change. Holy shit, life is actually kind of awesome. My relationship with my husband also changed; it began to deteriorate quickly as we grew further and further apart. Many might not say the reason that we inevitably broke up was because of my body revolution, and it absolutely was a player. I was confident, I reconnected with my needs and wants, I stopped hiding. We had outgrown each other. 

This was during my separation from my ex-husband (with my savior, Lutz); where I was finally rediscovering my body and how to take care of it. Funny, I've kept this shirt for over 4 years because it represented one of the first summer tops I wore that I felt confident in.

This was during my separation from my ex-husband (with my savior, Lutz); where I was finally rediscovering my body and how to take care of it. Funny, I've kept this shirt for over 4 years because it represented one of the first summer tops I wore that I felt confident in.

 

I look back on the choice to prioritize my physical health and how much that played a role on my mental wellness, and the connection is undeniable. My ability to move through difficult moments, elated wins and everything in between has been made more conscious and meaningful because I am connected to myself. I am fully connected to my body, my beautiful vessel that moves me through this life. I am more connected to my thoughts, emotions and words and how powerful they are and how much influence I truly have over them. My personal and professional growth have all been powered by the decision to invest in myself first. Those memories from when I was a little girl still tell a part of my story, and they no longer influence my beliefs about who I am and who I get to be. I am the queen of this hive and I GET to decide how I feel every single damn day. 

Earlier this year (2017) dialed in to lifting, eating a Ketogenic diet, yoga and loving myself daily through meditation, healthy relationships, fulfilling career and aspirations. This is a choice, it is a relationship with self--somedays come easily and others, not so much. Documenting it all :)

Earlier this year (2017) dialed in to lifting, eating a Ketogenic diet, yoga and loving myself daily through meditation, healthy relationships, fulfilling career and aspirations. This is a choice, it is a relationship with self--somedays come easily and others, not so much. Documenting it all :)

 

This is not a story of reaching the mountain top, putting my hands on my hips and declaring “I’m done!” There is still work, there are days that are hard for me, where I need to consciously decide to love my body, love myself, and love fiercely because if I don’t, no one else can or will. I hear the echoes of that mean girl, and that chick can be so loud sometimes. I am beyond blessed to have to tools to not react, not attach and not judge (myself or her). I simply come back to asking myself “What is right about you?” “What do you love?” “What can you do to move through this with compassion?”

 

Finding alignment &lt;3

Finding alignment <3

I know there are more mountains ahead of me and my body: aging, pregnancy, shifts that I cannot predict or anticipate. I am armed like a warrior, though; I feel prepared for whatever is to come because I am strong, physically, mentally and spiritually. When I wake up each morning and make a commitment to practice love, towards myself and others, I am walking my most sacred, challenging, holy path. I may trip and fall, but my body and mind are agile and I catch myself before I hit the ground.