Make your own commitment to the life you want, but be prepared to let go of the hold that busyness has on that life.
Peace : freedom from disturbance
I like living in or near the countryside. The long dirt roads, vast open fields, wild grass blowing in the breeze, low hanging clouds that pepper the horizon — it is the landscape and its sounds that draw me in and remind me of what peace looks and feels like.
It is the quietness and natural rhythm of the country that allows me to really hear and trust myself.
Ironically, it was that quiet and stillness that unnerved me for a long time. I used to glorify freedom as the ability to travel around, roam, explore new ideas, places, and people. To be stationary and still meant to be trapped. …
Maturity comes through facing the illusions of the past and present. When I faced my own reality, I discovered that I was running from a surprising truth.
“What do you really want?”
The question popped into my head one day on a walk; it took form in that slight break between songs on my playlist.
“What do you really want, Nicole?”
The question came to me again while doing dishes on another day. …
A crucial step in my own academic recovery was learning how to grieve as a way to heal. To do this, I started using a personal altar to safely dig deep into my pain and come out the other side. Find out how you can, too.
Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?… Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.”
― Toni Cade Bambara , The Salt Eaters
Grief (noun): deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.
I walked into the room and looked around, telling myself to keep it together. I was coming off of a long weekend where I had launched an important conference that took months to develop and I was exhausted. I had just gotten off the phone with a friend whose mother had passed, her cries reverberating in my ears. Two days before my brother had called, letting me know our mom was back in the hospital, a stroke this time, and it was not looking good. (This was a repeating pattern for us; several years before, this same brother called to let me know that my father had passed, re-triggering the grief from that memory.) …
Just when I thought I had fully surrendered to Spirit, I quickly realized I had even more to release. You will encounter the same.
On Surrender…and surrendering more
What is spiritual surrender? At its core it’s about letting go of the need to control the where, who, why, what, and how of our lives. Releasing these mundane needs of the ego allows us to be led by Spirit, not by might.
To surrender means to allow what does not serve you to stay in the past where it belongs, while also learning from those experiences so you can fully live in the present. Surrender then becomes an acknowledgment of a greater power, one that is smarter and more compassionate, who will catch you the more you let go. Surrender is also what we call Faith. …
I thought I could pray with the best of them…
I grew up Catholic on the far Southside of Chicago, and attended Catholic School from Grades 1–12. No one was more about the cross than Young Nicole: from weekly mass every Tuesday, to weekends spent at Church functions, to taking a Religion class as a requirement every year. Me, the big J (Jesus ya’ll), and the Saints were riding deep.
Yet nothing that I learned in those awkward, anxious formative years of my life prepared me for a moment I experienced as an adult, when I was alone on the back porch of my house. There, at one of the lowest points in my life, I started to try and pray — and I didn’t know where to begin. I realized that the God I was taught about all those years ago was not the God I understood in the present day. To me the God of my youth was always watching. Judging. Kept me stuck in a story of guilt, shame, and sin. …
Last month on Twitter there was a (still) trending hashtag called #BlackInTheIvory that is giving the space to tell our stories of what it means to be Black in the academy. For me, it is bittersweet as this is not the first, nor will it be the last time, Black folks have spoken about the racism, anti-Blackness, misogynoir, whiteness, and white mediocrity masking as rigor and academic objectivity within the walls of the Ivory Tower. My own career within academia over the past 20 years as a student, faculty member and administrator is awash with stories similar to those being told in 240 character threads. As I moved institutions, positions, and/or departments I would have this underlying hope that the next space/place would be a little different. …