There’s a woman I know who once told me, “It turns out I had a mandolin-shaped hole missing in my life.”
A few years ago, after some very tough times, she turned to the mandolin after flirting with the idea of playing it for some time.
She bought this beautiful instrument, attended music lessons, went to music camps, and brought the mandolin very fully into her everyday life.
She fell in love with the music and really, more than fell in love, it became an integral part of her life, part of her soul medicine, part of her daily joy.
She had a mandolin-shaped hole missing from her life, and she filled it.
I share this with you because, with only 10 days left in the calendar year and in this decade of the 2010’s, I’ve been reflecting on her and her mandolin, on the joy she now has from having filled that particular hole in her life, and what this may mean for me, for my loved ones, and for my clients.
I wonder what it would feel like if, in 2020, we got more curious about the shape of things missing from our lives and made movements toward them and what the impact on our souls might be.
If you’d like to join me in being curious about the shape of things missing from your own life, what your soul is longing for, please join me in today’s post where I elaborate on this and provide some gentle prompts to help you inquire about this alongside me.
What is the shape of missing things in your life?
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD
Let me ask you: what is the shape of missing things in your life?
Is it a mandolin-shaped hole? A potluck-around-the-kitchen-table shaped hole? A passport-shaped hole?
It is a missing piece the size of a cozy cottage to call home?
Is it the exact dimensions of a rising and falling chest on the other half of the bed?
Is it one big hole? Or several little holes?
Or – and this is important – are there pieces, perhaps, to be removed? Ways in which you need to actually make more holes in your life.
Does the shape of the missing thing from your life resemble peace, safety, rest?
And if it does, what other proverbial puzzle pieces might need to be removed to help you have that other thing?
Would it look like removing contact with someone or someones?
Might it look like leaving a lucrative but soul-deadening career?
Could it, would it, possibly look like leaving old parts of you behind – the part that’s so concerned with what other people think, the part of you that always thought you would be a lawyer?
Bear in mind that sometimes bringing the shape of missing things into our lives means a letting go of other pieces that are taking up that precious space.
Also, when I invite you to notice what the shape of missing things in your life might be, I want to be clear that I don’t necessarily mean physical objects, though the shape of something missing from your life may include something physical like the mandolin did for one woman.
And if it does, I want you to consider that the physical object may represent something bigger, it may be a conduit to something more powerful and archetypal.
For instance, the mandolin was a conduit to creativity, to growth and mastery for that woman I mentioned.
And perhaps that potluck-around-the-kitchen-table-shaped hole might be representative of a desire to feel more connected to others, to feel like part of a community in your urban jungle.
Consider that the tangible objects you feel compelled to bring into your life may be a conduit to something so much bigger.
And one more idea I want you to consider: sometimes the shape of a missing thing in our life is already there; we just need to bring it forth and forward, more centered and prominent into the puzzle of our life.
I’ll tell you: I have a passport-shaped hole in my life. And a toddler-Buddha-belly-shaped hole.
Meaning, I have both of these things already in my life, but I want more time with them.
More time losing myself in kissing the sweet plump swell of my daughter’s toddler Buddha belly, of planning and embarking on international trips and feeling the thrill of being a stranger in a strange land.
I’ll be making more room for both of these things in 2020 because I know that’s what my soul is most longing for in the new year.
Why paying attention to our soul is so very important.
“I’ll tell you right now, the doors to the world of the wild self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door; if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much that you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” –
So as the year and decade end, as the new one begins, instead of resolutions, I want to invite noticing.
Noticing around the shape of missing things in your life.
Which also means noticing around your longings, around what your soul is craving.
So often (if not always in some environments) we leave soul out of daily conversation.
It’s too California-woo, it’s too soft, it’s not empirical, data-backed or able to be measured by neuroimaging (at least not yet).
And yet, one thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the latest CDC research about the heartbreaking, tripling rates of suicides in children ages 10-14 in the last 12 years.
As a mother and as a therapist, this makes me so sad to contemplate.
What does soul have to do with rising suicide rates among our young people?
What does soul have to do with escalations of school shootings, domestic violence charges, increased rates of anxiety and depression?
It’s too simplistic to say that soul has everything to do with these tragedies when destructive, deeply entrenched systemic social structures and forces co-create the circumstances in which these things have the opportunity to occur.
But I do think that soul has something to do with the rise in mental health-related tragedies we see unfolding before us.
If we continue to leave soul out of the conversation about mental health, if we continue to focus only on prescribing medication without tending to the parts of us that are crying out for more – more connection, more creativity, more nourishment in various forms – we’re having half of the conversation. We’re solving half of the problem.
This is why, when I invite you to notice the shape of things missing from your life, I want to invite the question, too, of what your soul is most deeply longing for in order to feel nourished and good in this coming year and decade.
It may not solve everything to feed your soul; but it can likely help you at some level.
In my personal and professional lives, I’ve never once seen a prioritizing of soul nourishment be detrimental to someone’s mental health.
On the contrary, I’ve only ever seen the opposite.
So please, as we slide into the new year, into the new decade, as you fee compelled and possibly pressured by all those sneaky Instagram ads for weight loss coaching programs, better shapewear, the perfect leather loafer, and the critical everyday black work trouser, use each ad or resolution you feel internally driven to make as a kind of mindfulness bell to ask yourself, “will doing this, getting this, going after this, nourish my soul? If not, what will?”
How do we better get in touch with what our soul is longing for?
“Once we get used to listening to our dreams, our whole body responds like a musical instrument.” – Marion Woodman, Ph.D.
Some of my favorite ways to get in touch with what my soul is actually longing for (versus what my mind tells me I should prioritize) is:
- Paying attention to where my mind wanders when folding laundry;
- Keeping track of the recurrent imaginal scenes that bubble up in my mind;
- Reflecting on what my 8, 10, 12 and 16-year old selves really loved;
- Analyzing my own dreams;
- Asking my husband and friends to reflect back to me what I kept repeating I wanted across the past year;
- Seeing what my biggest pain points are – sometimes the root of what my soul is longing for is in that pain;
- Paying attention to what feels like it’s pulling me versus what I’m pushing myself towards;
- Noticing where and how my body feels best and my heart feels happiest;
- Allowing myself to daydream and following the threads of my daydreams.
All of these can be clues to the shape of things missing from your life.
So tell me, in 2020, what is the shape of things missing from your own life and what might you consider doing to fold those things into your day to day in the new decade?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you and to know what you will be doing to nourish your soul.
“Practice listening to your intuition, your inner voice; ask questions; be curious; see what you see; hear what you hear; and then act upon what you know to be true. These intuitive powers were given to your soul at birth.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.