Friday, June 15, 2018

Gently Appreciating Our Support - #40

Many of you let me know, when I see you in person, that you have read and enjoyed this blog. I can't tell you how delightful it feels to hear that. Sometimes it terrifies me to know someone is actually reading what I write. My new calling as a writer generates various feelings and is very challenging!

In light of our exploration of the premise that what is behind or in back of us is as important as what is in front, it occurs to me that more awareness of you behind me would be healthy to cultivate. You are out there even when I don't hear from you.  

When one of you does hit reply or is savvy enough to figure out how the comment section works, I will celebrate. Comments will be frosting on the cake! And that's no small thing as it brings back fond memories. As a girl, when my mother decorated cakes, she would squirt frosting from the decorating tube directly into our mouths as a treat!

CLUE for the week: Take a moment to determine what is behind you that you can use as support. It could be an inanimate object like a comfortable chair. Or you may recall a person that you feel connected to even though the contact with them is not frequent. Whatever you choose, place a feeling of gratitude and gentleness around it. Celebrate what is behind you!

Please let me know what supports you - back of front!

Thanks for exploring the mystery with me - Nicky Mendenhall

Image is of clouds. I love watching clouds and receiving images.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Can You Trust What Is In Back of You? - #39

What have we learned from studying what is in back of us? 

That we need someone to be behind us and that coaches often fill this role. A crucial part of a relationship of this type is trust.

This week, I want to explain how my osteopath, who practices osteopathic manual medicine, is behind me both in literal and nonliteral ways. 

There are often students following him when he sees me for treatment. I can sense that he is a trusted mentor for them. After my surgery, he told me that one of the students was responsible for my diagnosis; the student remembered the mnemonic for Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus.  

As their teacher, he listened to students. He also gave the student credit. Careful listening is part of building trust.

The Dr. listens to me when I tell him what feels out of alignment in my body.  

Osteopathic Manual Medicine is a hands-on treatment.This means  the Doctor needs to touch the patient and be in close proximity to their body. He asks me everytime he touches me, "Is it okay if I touch your ischial tuberosity?"*  

After several years of being treated by him, I feel very safe and sometimes it feels annoying when he asks permission every time he touches me. However, when I read about coaches who have taken advantage of athletes or doctors who have engaged in inappropriate touching with patients, I realize how important it is that he keeps asking. It is part of what makes me know I can trust him.

Looking someone in the eyes is said to be a way we can know if we can trust them. When we are talking about someone being behind us, we have to use other ways of knowing.  

Do you feel your Doctor is behind you? If so, how? If not, why not? Is it easy for you to trust someone who is behind you, someone who has your back? Why or why not? I'd love to hear of your experiences. Please reply to this email or to to comments.

Your clue for this week: Tell yourself that you can trust yourself to do what you say you are going to do. Then do it. Small things matter. Let me know what you encounter!

Thank you for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

* He actually says Sitz bones but when I Googled sitz bones, thia is what I learned and I decided to share it with you.

The image is of a fabulous spiderweb that my husband found a year of so ago. Look closely and you can see how wonderfully made it is!

Friday, June 1, 2018

What Type of Coach Do You Need?- #38

 Perhaps one reason I resonate with the idea that what is in back of us is as important as what is in front of us is because of my vision. Cataracts in both eyes mean I don't see the little blue flowers my partner points out when we are on a nature walk. Optic neuropathy in my left eye means impaired depth perception.  

But I do have a strong sense of what or who is behind me.  

Janene Armstrong*, my personal wellness coach, is behind me. She assumed a nurturing supportive approach when we started working together nine months ago. After a few months she began being tougher on me. When I didn't think I could do one more plank she urged, "Try it one more time!"

In the last month the two of us have discussed fitness issues in a more collegial way. She is still nurturing and supportive and she still pushes me but now we discuss ways we might work together.

A coach who is behind you knows when to nurture, when to make you toe-the-line, and when to move the relationship to a collegial one. Some coaches specialize in nurturing and some in pushing you to do your best. It's possible to have a good coach who just isn't giving you what you need at the time.

Now there are book coaches who help you write a book. My plan is to hire one in the near future. My needs will be for someone to nurture me (because self-doubt is sometimes my roommate) and for someone to keep me accountable (because having deadlines helps).

Coaches have your back. Coaches are behind you. 

Clue for the week that you probably didn't expect: Try to be your own coach. Keep in mind it is just for this week. Decide what you need. Nurture or push yourself or make time for a conversation with a good friend. However, if you are ready, hire someone to help you. 

Let me know what type of coach you need and if you are able to find it. Or tell me how you are your own coach. Are you still thinking about what is in back of you? Tell me if you are!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

*Jenene is a certified health coach and women’s fitness specialist who serves women over 45 who are ready to take charge of their health and lifestyle again. She helps women to get active, ditch the diet mentality, learn to eat real, nutritious foods that give them the energy they need, eliminate sugar addiction, lose weight, change habits for good.....and feel fabulous again!
*Here’s Jenene's website link: 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Appreciate Your Inner Goodness - #37

In January I printed every post published since 2012. Printed because I am old fashioned enough to need paper in my hands to really study something. After rereading 350 posts, I imagined inspiration waking me up in the night with a fabulous idea for a new creation.  

Let's just say this project has stalled.

Perusing posts has been gratifying (remembering connections forged, marveling at variety of subjects), shocking (not remembering what I wrote and forgetting books I quoted), and startling (some posts sound intellectual or businesslike, some not clear what I wrote or what I was quoting).  

Posts in May have focused on exploring why what is in back of us is as important as what is in front of us. This now strikes me as another occasion my unconscious was involved.

The other day, I was following behind the scene internet links and found an article by Aura Glaser that coincidentally was published in 2012. I found inspiration in this line: 

"Our capacity to turn toward whatever scares or repels us, and remain present with it, depends on our access to inner goodness."*

I am disappointed that I haven't created something new. It helps to express this. The helpful message I receive from Aura Glaser: Appreciate my effort. Appreciate my motivation. Be in contact with and appreciate my inner goodness.  

Weekly Clue for exploring your mysterious Self: Each day, appreciate an effort that you make even if you don't produce a product. Pick an effort that you often overlook that you do out of the goodness of your heart. 

Please share where you place your attention. I am notorious for dropping kleenex all over the house. When I stand up, I usually leave a crumpled one behind me. I'm going to appreciate myself every time I notice that I dropped one and actually stop and pick it up.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, May 18, 2018

What Is In Back Of Our Thoughts? - #36

"It's always that space in back of you that's as important as -- or almost more important than -- the space in front of you."  

Let's look further at this idea that we played with in Post #31.

Scientists say humans have a larger brain structure than most other animals. One reason may be that we have a neocortex which is responsible for developing thoughts. (It has other functions too.) These thoughts allow us to be self reflective - to be aware of ourselves. The thoughts also help us think about the space in back of us. Humans have always been very interested in themselves.

What is in back of or behind the thoughts we have? 

Our five senses!

When we intellectualize, we are submerged in thought. When this happens, our senses are blocked out. We lose contact with our bodily feelings.

Many times it isn't easy to know what is behind our thoughts. There is a voice in our head that warns us of the dangers we will face if we discard or question our precious thoughts.  

Our bodies can help us. Our bodies are home for our five senses. Knowing what is behind your thoughts will put you in contact with your feelings and your humanness.

Clue for this week: Pay attention to your breath whenever you can this week. The breath is a built-in stress reliever. Try and feel your breath for a couple of breaths. Don't just think about your breath, feel the breath. See what happens.

If none of this makes sense to you, don't worry about it. Just use the clue and let me know what happens! If you have questions, don't hesitate to email me.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

The image is one selected from my computer files. I don't remember it but but looking at it gives me a good feeling. Hope you enjoy!


Friday, May 11, 2018

When Exploring Mysteries We Need Clues - #35

I surprised myself yesterday.  

Leaving my analyst's office, I was greeted by a plethora of trees with pink, lavender, and white flowers. They were in front of me and in back of me and all around me. The overabundance of blossoms took my breath away.

A twinge of angst fluttered in my chest. This bodily reaction spoke  of impermanence. A part of me knew that the intense beauty would soon disappear.

Then a thought that surprised me popped into my mind. It was a thought I have never had before: Whatever happens when I die, it will have to be spectacular to beat this.

Does this have anything to do with the unconscious? I don't know but I am wondering about it.  

Maybe the thought was a clue. When we explore mysteries, like we do here every week, we need clues!  

I would like to announce, exploring the mystery, has a new feature! Each post will have a clue - an idea that you can play with all week. These clues will be designed to help you stay in the present moment which will help you live a meaningful life.

This week's clue: Each day, should you decide to participate, find a thing or person of beauty.  Something that makes you feel good. Savor it. Be grateful for it. Just make a note of it in your mind. 

I think my clue, if it was a clue, was telling me to find beauty everyday and appreciate the earth. I'm sharing with you. Let's all find beauty this week. Be sure and let me know what you are savoring. Please remember that you are in good company!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Special Surprise Suggestion - #34

I forgot to include this suggestion in Post 33.

This week, pay attention to what surprises you. Try to be aware of unpleasant or pleasant surprises. Just be aware when things don't turn out like you thought they would or how you wanted them to. You could be dealing with your unconscious or it could be another reason that only you know. We are looking for things that we weren't expecting to happen.That's the first step.

When you recognize a surprise, say to yourself: I have everything I need to handle this surprise. I have resources and I have strengths. Remind yourself of them.

Then remember that there are other exploring the mystery readers doing the same thing and rejoice in being in such good company! Let us know what surprised you, you don't have to tell us what you figured out about why you were surprised but we would love to hear that too.

Thanks for considering the suggestion! Nicky

Friday, May 4, 2018

I Wonder If It Is Really My Unconscious? - #33

The exploration of the space in back continues to fascinate me.  Surprises continue.  

Mason, my youngest son, commented he felt I was being vague about my scar when I didn't mention it directly as one of the concerns about my pink scalp.

I gasped. 

In case you are wondering, the previous sentence wasn't stolen 
from a Harlequin romance. Mason will validate that I speak the truth.

I gasped. The week I wrote about the back of my head, I didn't once think about the bumpy four inch scar from brain surgery. 

I purposefully am not writing I forgot the scar. I often reach back and feel this weird addition to my body.The scar is where I can't see it but I never forget it.

But then, why wasn't I conscious of the scar when I was writing about the back of my head?

I blame my unconscious.

Freud thought that the unconscious was a force. Perhaps the force of my unconscious interfered with my remembering the scar when I wrote about the back of my head. 

But why? 

Well, maybe my unconscious is not ready to accept that my life was saved by surgery.  Harboring a deep distrust of the current medical system, believing more in alternative medicine, how do I integrate the fact that modern medicine made it possible for me to walk again?

I certainly don't understand the unconscious but I do like being able to assign meaning when something stays out of my awareness. 

That there can be meaning in what is not in our awareness or meaning in what we forget is something to explore. Do you ever wonder why you forget something? Would your unconscious have anything to do with it? What escapes your awareness? So you even believe in the unconscious? 

Please reply to this email or go to website and comment.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, April 27, 2018

I'll Meet You Out Back! - #32

Since last week's post, my mind has been obsessed with what is in back of me.  

Wendell (power behind the throne) says that when he is fly casting, knowing what is behind him is vital.  

This week at my analyst's office, while free associating on her  analytical couch, it didn't surprise me (given my obsession) that  exploring the mystery's topic of what is in back came out of my mouth . I said quite a lot about how this was interesting to me and why.  

I was astonished at the response: "I sit behind you and you have your back to me."

Her observation (I wondered immediately why this hadn't occurred to me) nudged me to ponder, this time in nonliteral ways, the importance of what is in back of me. That her observation had this effect on me is fascinating because her observation was literal: she sits behind me and I lie with my back to her. 

Consistent with the psychoanalytic approach, her words helped me go to another level of thinking. And I'm still thinking.

It seems we often do not know what is behind us. If I don't use a mirror to check the hair on the back of my head, I risk exposing my pink scalp through my thinning white hair. This speaks to a literal interpretation. Why having my pink scalp show feels shameful is a question that comes from thinking nonliterally. 

By investigating this question, what will discover about myself? Why does it feel so wrong to show my scalp?

Is there something weird behind you that you don't quite understand? Have you ever been astonished? I'd also like to hear more literal ideas about the importance of what is in back. Please tell us in the comment section anything you think pertinent to this discussion.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

PS - The image  above was from a trip to Amsterdam in 2016. You may not be able to see the rats painted on the man's leather jacket but I saw them and recoiled, after snapping the photo of course.

PPS - I appreciate your insightful responses that now reside in the comment section which is behind the post (really at the end of post but I couldn't resist). There are 12 from last week alone. See if you can figure out how to post in the comment section or simply hit reply to this email which will send your comment to me and I can paste it in. Let me know if you want me to use your full name, first name, or anonymous.


Friday, April 20, 2018

I've Got Your Back! - #31

Obsessed with locating Broken Screen: Expanding the Image, Breaking the Narrative, I resolved to pay $1.50 and see if Interlibrary Loan could find it for me.  A book review promised 26 conversations with artists, filmmakers, designers, and architects. I learn from artists. 

Doug Aitken writes in the preface he organized this 2006 book to capture the essential motivations behind the creative process. The conversations focus on ideas about nonlinearity and fragmentation. 

Skimming the book I learned that nonlinear stories are needed, according to Amos Vogel, "because the old-fashioned, straightforward, linear narratives - with their beginning, middle, and happy endings - have none of the real mysteries of existence that we all know to be true in our own lives."

It was, however, an interview with Robert Wilson that fascinated me the most. Here's Robert:

"It's always that space in back of you that's as important as -- or almost more important than -- the space in front of you."  

My mind keeps mulling over the idea that what is behind me is as important as what is in front of me.  I pondered it yesterday while lying face down on the massage table.

I've noticed more people saying, "I've got your back." I want to continue paying attention to what is in back of me.

Here are two questions for you. Pretend that I am interviewing you and write your answers in the comment section or reply to this email:

Do you want your entertainment to have a happy ending? 

What do you think of the idea that what is behind you is as important as what is in front of you?

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

The image was taken from our hotel, "Ink" in Amsterdam.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Your Future Self & An Owl- #30

Note: This is a demanding post. You will need to look carefully to see the owl in the image (upper right) and you will be asked to use your imagination (right hemisphere of the brain).  

I'm reading Tara Mohr: Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead.

The first chapter does a great job of describing the ever present inner critic. I appreciate Mohr's insight that messages from this part of ourselves are designed to protect us from emotional risk.  

In another chapter she offers an exercise designed to imagine our future selves. I felt hesitant to tackle this visualization after I read the instructions: add twenty years to your age. 

My inner critic rapidly spoke up to tell me that no one as old as I was should even consider this type of nonsense. This cheeky critic even spoke for Mohr saying she didn't have old people in mind when designing this exercise.  

I had to take charge. First, there was murmuring under my breath,"I know you are trying to keep me safe" and then a raised voice asking for silence, 

The visualization of my 92 year old self began. I pictured dancing in flowing purple silk, my body slim and flexible, surrounded by loved ones, trees, and books. I was having a good time. The exercise continued with me feeling non-judgemental, creative, and full of relief at finally knowing how to use Microsoft Word. Love was all around.

The critic was quiet.

Do you recognize your inner critic?

Can you imagine your future self in twenty years? Let me know how adding twenty years to your current age and then imagining yourself goes for you. It's reassuring for me to think that during this visualization I could be stronger than the critical voice. 

Can you recognize your inner critic? What message does your inner critic whisper in your head? Can you silence it? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Saturday, April 7, 2018

It's 2 AM - #29

Yesterday I had a funny feeling I was forgetting something.

I just woke up and remembered what it was: 

I didn't design a blogpost!

Unable to drift back to sleep, I decided to crawl out of bed and open up my ASUS.

It wasn't that I didn't think about exploring the mystery yesterday. I have pledged to myself (and somehow it seems like to you since some of you have been such faithful readers for years) that I will spend one hour a day focused on creating something from three hundred+ blog posts 2012 to 2017.  

Yesterday was the second official day of this process. I had all kinds of ideas. It was very exciting.

That's why I forgot.

See you next week!

Thanks for exploring the mystery with me - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, March 30, 2018

Plum As Teacher Even Though Not Pictured - #28

exploring the mystery wants to help you discover how to be the person you want to be. Often posts concern the importance of maturing. I have written in the past how to raise our level of consciousness. Do those ideas explain why you read these posts?

Sometimes an analogy can worm its way into our brain and help us feel things that are difficult to put into words. I owe my inspiration for this post to Tagore, a Bengali polymath. My rendition may not capture the excitement I felt when initially reading but I trust you will at least find comfort or wisdom.

Think of a plum hanging on a tree. The plum clings tightly to the tree branch. The outer skin of the plum molds itself tightly against the plum's flesh. The flesh snugs itself against the seed. The plum is hard. 

Because of its condition, it is not wise to separate the plum from the tree or try to separate the skin from the flesh. There is no benefit to be gained from prying the tough flesh from the seed.

As time passes, the plum lets go of its hold on the branch. The plum ripens, the skin gradually becomes softer and stops clinging to the flesh so tightly. The flesh softens around the seed. 

Do you sense the vital need to embrace the spirit of letting go as you age? Can you think of other examples in Nature that would give this message? Let me know what you think, I really would like to know. Hit reply to the email or go to the comments section.

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall

Friday, March 23, 2018

Is Mystery Spiritual? - #27

I'm excited to report that I have finished reading blog posts from 2012 - 2015. Now on to year 2016. Some of you have been regular contributors and I want to express my gratitude for your faithfulness to exploring the mystery.

The word mystery implies, I've been told, something spiritual. I remember when I sat down with a man from Adel to develop my blog. One of the first questions he asked me: What do you want to name it?

I still wonder where the title came from. It seemed to just flow out of my mouth: exploring the mystery. I've liked the freedom that the name has given me though I often stumble when asked what mysteries are explored. 

In the next three months, my focus will be on developing a clear focus for this blog. I would love it if you emailed me a word or two that you think describes what we do here.

I've read that the memory of spiritual intensity in childhood is a yardstick for measuring spiritual experiences for the rest of our lives. 

It's interesting to ponder this today, the day my Aunt emailed me the news that her father's, who was my grandfather, birthday is today. He would be 124.  Grandpa and Grandma were responsible for initiating my interest in spirituality. They picked me up on the farm and gave me a ride into town where we all attended the Methodist Church.

I remember one of the Sunday School teachers convincing me to persuade my parents to attend church. This was undoubtedly the birth of my missionary self.

Do you have a memory of spiritual intensity from your childhood that has influenced how spirituality played out in your life? Would you please share it with us? 

Thanks for exploring the mystery - Nicky Mendenhall