Hello friends, and welcome back to 20 Questions! Today I have a very special guest: another ChicagoNow blogger, Nina Vallone! Nina is a mom, writer and fellow soul sister, and I’m lucky to know her through this community platform. Here are her lovely answers to my 20 Questions.
1. Who are you?
My name is Nina Vallone.
2. What do you do?
I am a blogger at ChicagoNow, I meditate, I mom, I wife, I daughter, I sister and I friend. And I seek for ways to move from fear-based living to faith-based living and to be more kind, patient and loving with myself and those around me. And I do enjoy red wine.
3. Why do you do it?
I write because it lights me up and makes me feel like the truest version of myself. I also love to write about what I learn and need to share it with the world. I struggled with anxiety for a lot of my life and have learned so much about it and how to work through it — I feel like I need to share my story with other people so they know they aren’t alone out there.
4. How did you find your way to it?
I’ve been writing in a diary since I was a wee one and then started writing silly mysteries in sixth grade. It’s always been in me; I wrote in public relations and advertising as a career and realized my favorite writing is about what I like to talk about: the journey of life and the falling down and finding our way around it all.
5. How do you feel when you do it?
Again, I’m lit up from the inside. Not much feels as good to me as writing does — not even red wine and some parmesan cheese! Even when the writing is bad, I still feel like I am in complete alignment with my soul.
6. What is the joy that keeps you up at night?
Knowing my kids are safe and sound down the hall and I get to lay next to my hubs. Gratitude keeps me up at night with joy and awe.
7. What is one thing you still have to practice every day?
Self-compassion. This is a doozy for me. A DOOZY!
8. What are you always searching for?
Ways to keep the strongest connection to my soul/to God/to Source. Like the internet, some days the signal is in perfect alignment; some days, it’s spotty.
9. What have you found after searching?
It doesn’t take much searching. Our soul/Source/God never leaves. We are the ones who take breaks from our soul, our true self. Whenever we feel anxiety or we are suffering, it is because we’ve lost our connection to Source energy.
10. How do you stay connected to your inner core of peace?
Meditation and gratitude. Meditation, for me, helps create the gap between thought and action. Meditation has helped me slow down my thoughts and my life and keeps me (most times!!) in the present moment. Gratitude keeps my life in perspective. Neither erases negative circumstances, but BOTH keep me connected to who I know I really am: A divine being having a human experience.
11. What makes you feel led or guided?
OH WOW. I love this. I just love this. OK, I feel guided when I’m in nature — walking (especially with a like-minded soul!) or staring at the lake near my house. I can get quiet and linger there. It’s in the quiet I can hear God. And I also feel guided when I take courses from the most wonderful meditation and spiritual teacher. She has been a true light in my life.
12. What do you do when you can’t hear God (or the Universe, or Source, or your intuition) speaking to you?
My habitual reaction was to act out of fear. Whether fear manifests as anger, controlling behavior or insecurity — that’s the gut, the low-level reaction. Since I’ve been on this kick-ass spiritual journey, though, I’ve learned to turn inward and first accept I’m in a funk. And I sit with it for a while. After some good reading or talking with my soul sisters, I can usually re-connect. Focus wheels help too 🙂
13. What is the difference between resistance and fear?
This was the hardest question! Fear is the lowest energy we can have. It is the exact opposite of God and Love and Faith. I think resistance is the vibration of energy we hold when we experience fear — and whatever we resist persists.
14. Where does the idea come from that we are broken, unworthy or undeserving?
It comes from our parents, grandparents, our teachers, their parents and those before them. It’s old karma from generations ago that finds its way inside us. And we all have the power to strengthen our faith until it is bigger than our brokenness.
15. How do you move past that to connect with others on a soul level?
Oh boy. I think, again, it’s about strengthening our faith that helps us step into our power. I work on this every day, it seems. It’s a journey — and I think we meet and manifest the people in our life who help us to grow.
16. You have a great series on gratitude on your ChicagoNow blog. Tell me, why do you think gratitude is so important for you personally on the daily?
Thank you, Lexie! Living from a place of gratitude has made a marked difference in my life. From small, material things like my beloved neck pillow to the big, obvious things like my family and my health — it all has made me live outside of myself. When I live in gratitude, I live more calmly, I feel happier and I am living from a place of truth. It doesn’t take away illness or bad circumstances. At all. But it definitely manifests more gratitude. Whatever we think about we bring about. I know, for sure, when I think about what I DO have and am grateful for it, I get MORE of it.
17. From one “soul sister” to another, do you get the side eye from friends and family sometimes because of your interest in and dedication to your spiritual practices and what some consider the woo-woo stuff? If so, how do you handle it?
Hell yes! The side-eye indeed! For a long time, I couldn’t tell anyone the books I read or the classes I started taking. Now, I don’t pay it much mind. I know what works for me, and I love to share it. And everyone is entitled to their opinion! What’s woo-woo to them is truth to me — it’s all ok!
18. I love that you blog about both mascara and meditation — you have a great mix of light and heavy in your posts. Where do you turn when you’re not sure what to write about?
Your questions are so fun. Thank you, again. When I’m not sure, I turn to what I’ve been talking to my girls about. So if we’re heavy into mindfulness, I write it. If we’re talking about the best new product to get rid of fine lines, it gets some blog space.
19. My kids are still young, but I know yours are a bit older — do you consciously try to model a dedication to your practices in front of them? Are they interested?
They are not that interested, sadly. As teens, they are forging their own paths. BUT, that doesn’t keep me from trying. They read some of my blogs; they watch me write in my gratitude journal. They take walks with me (sometimes). 🙂 They know I have meditation time. And I think, mostly, they watch my behavior with them and with those I love. When I don’t get ‘life’ right, I explain to them why. So I have faith my behavior will rub off. This said, I started my journey when they were a bit older. If your kids are young and pliable, take them on quiet walks, have quiet time, teach them their thoughts become their world.
20. You reference a lot of music and lyrics in social media, which is another love of mine as well. I’m particularly interested in exploring how music heals. Do you think music sort of gives us permission to sit with our feelings? Or how do you “use” music most in your life?
You are a kindred spirit. A hearty YES. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I think there is a note, a lyric, a song that can fit any of our moods. And it does heal. Happy music aids in our happiness. Sad, emo music sometimes helps us feel our sadness — and we need to feel our sadness! I use music to fit my mood. I change it up a bit as well. I always love alternative and R&B. It’s been a 90s sort of season for me lately. I think it’s because life’s been busy lately, so I’m resting in the old because I don’t want to take on a lot of new right now — but come on…who can resist the new ADELE?
Thanks, Nina 🙂 I feel the love! And, I love someone so grounded in what they believe and who they are. May we all be so blessed!
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