I was blessed with a successful career in International advertising, living abroad and traveling the world. But eventually the jetlag and high-tension presentations left me depleted and stressed, and wondering how I could get back the feeling of being grounded that I experienced growing up playing in the lakes and forests of Minnesota. The pace of Fortune 500 Advertising was non-stop, and it seemed like everyone around me was struggling with anxiety, depression, or other stress-related problems, especially in the world of high tech. I remember reading "The Power of Now" on a flight back to San Francisco from Tokyo, and it really woke me up to how dysfunctional that jet-setter, super-consumer lifestyle was for me -- and the planet. I started working for climate change awareness with Live Earth/Al Gore, and turned to meditation and mindfulness, studying from every teacher I could in Los Angeles, from UCLA to InsightLA, and Against the Stream, etc., which led me to a position at Headspace (meditation app) and to the creation of this website, www.glad.is.
It was then that I got what a friend called “The gladiator-level challenge to my spirit and stubborn gladness." Realizing that my Ex was...essentially living a separate life and in a dark struggle I couldn’t help him with, nor understand. We had just built our dream house in Venice Beach and I had just started this website, we were surrounded by good friends…life was going well, it didn’t make any sense.
Our divorce would be his unravelling, and many times I wondered if my thread would break too. You can want to help the people you love, but in the end, all of our decisions about how to move through life are our own. Single mom-ing in LA was a major, unplanned change in life, but there was more to come; Getting stuck in the Los Angeles Family Court System for three draining years, a battle with breast cancer, and a move away from great friends and a fun, (but expensive) lifestyle in a crowded beach town in California to a simpler life in a remote area of Montana to be near my family.
As we move through life, the chapters don't always make sense or seem to fit together. It's not until "it's" behind you that you will be able to look back, and see your life read like a well written novel. My twin girls and I have gone from beaches, skateboarding, consuming and sitting in traffic - to wide open spaces, free time, and mountain trails. There were a lot times I wondered if it was all going to work out and how I could keep going....dark days, light days, lots of pain - but I still had a lot to be thankful for. And as my Grandmother told us, all those summer days on Juggler Lake, there’s always something to be grateful for.
Three things got me through:
2) Girlfriends. Hug your girlfriends today, because they will be there for you when you need them, no matter how far away you go!
3) Family. A great man.
Everyday I mediated, counted my blessings, prayed, and sat crossed legged on the floor visualizing a fair outcome and return to health. Thankfully, I had developed the tools to keep positive. Girlfriends showered me with such love and encouragement…I don’t know how I will ever pay that forward. Today, I can say my kids and I are living the heart-filled, simple life that I dreamed about when working in advertising. My girls raise goats and chickens and go to a small rural school where kindness is king, clothes brands don’t matter, and being yourself is more valued than how many likes you have.
I know that my story is no sadder or deeper than anyone else’s. It’s just life; and how I choose to respond to it is what really matters -- and it's what drives me to inspire others pull out of hard times and to remind you of the tools you have that may lay buried somewhere deep inside of you. If you’ve found this page and have any questions about what it’s like to leave the city, or how to get through the CA court system, or even questions about breast cancer, I’m happy to share my experiences and any tips or direction that might be useful! Email me at nikki (at) glad.is.
This stubborn gladness, passed on to me, carried me through all the dark days, and still drives all of my pursuits of happiness. I just may be genetically predisposed to optimism (thank you, Grandma!) But, I am also a student of all the places I have lived and the friends I have met on my travels. I'm a seeker, a green witch, and am the sum of the spiritual and meditation teachers, churches and temples, books and classes I've absorbed. And after eleven major moves across the country and abroad, I’m finally home. I think often of the fancy yoga studios and meditation centers in cities I’ve lived, and I can see clearly that a walk in the woods IS the original meditation.
My life is knitted together by the most exquisite human beings. I am the sum of those people, and the places I have lived.
In Gratitude to my grandmother, and all those people and places,