If someone you love is hoarding...


Recently I consulted with therapists and social workers at a mental health agency to offer ways they can better support clients who hoard. The interesting thing was that several staff shared examples of their own family members who hoard. Researchers estimate that around 6% of the U.S. population struggle with hoarding, but it sure seems higher to me.

Your grandmother may have lots of things in her home, but how do you know if it's actually hoarding? How can you best support her? What's the long term outlook?

Signs that someone is hoarding:

  • Excessively acquiring items that are not needed or for which there's no space. An extra coffee maker for which is no room on the counter or another vacuum cleaner even though there is little open floor space. 

  • Persistent difficulty throwing out or parting with things, regardless of actual value. Perhaps years of junk mail or empty boxes. 

  • Feeling a need to save these items, and being upset by the thought of discarding them. She may feel anxious at the idea of throwing out expired food. 

  • Building up of clutter to the point where rooms become unusable. Her stovetop is covered in groceries that won't fit in the cupboards or bathtub full of clothes. 

  • Having a tendency toward indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, and problems with planning and organizing. "I might need this someday." 

Why do people hoard? 

  • Primary causes seem to be genetics (there is a specific gene correlated with hoarding behaviors) or very stressful events such as a house fire, or extreme poverty as a child. 

How can you help?

  • Help your grandmother create an interesting and engaging life...don't just focus on the problem.

  • Gain her trust by listening to understand, and refrain from sharing your personal judgments. Shame and criticism are not helpful.

  • Don't expect her to make logical decisions about what to keep and what to give away.  

  • Start with most helpful area, such as the stovetop, or bathtub or bed. 

  • Work in small chunks and celebrate small wins and negotiate limits.

How likely is it that someone totally stop hoarding?

  • Not great, the research I’ve read reports less than 50% have significant improvement; hoarding is actually more of a management situation.

  • It’s most helpful if they can get coaching or therapy early and stick with it.





I plan to share a summary of this information on Fox 4's Therapy Thursday segment, (Sept. 13th around 9:15 am), please tune in if you can!

Feel stuck? Maybe it's your thinking.

Grab a cup of tea and watch the Seven Myths That Keep Us Stuck. We talk about the thoughts that keeps us stuck and what we can do to start moving again.

Aristotle once said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle a Greek philosopher from the 300s BC is basically saying, just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

We limit ourselves through believing our unhelpful and fearful thoughts. We create stories or myths from these thoughts, myths that can keep us stuck and overwhelmed, too afraid to take the next easy, small step. Here are the most common myths I see that keep us stuck:

Common Myths

#1). I just need more “how to” knowledge. If I read another article, I’ll finally be able to start.  

#2). I don’t have time! I need a big opening in my schedule to tackle this project.

#3). I need to be harder on myself! If get more serious then I’ll be able to get this thing done. 

#4). After I get _______ under control, then I can move on with my life. 

#5). I am just not the kind of person who could accomplish________. 

#6). It’s not worth doing if I can’t do it perfectly

#7). Once I get clear on my life’s purpose, then I can move forward

My personal favorites are #1 & #3...

Which one's feel true for you? 

Let me know what you think!

A few precious items


If your house was burning, what would you take with you? What does our stuff say about us...if anything?

Here's what I would take:
1. Billfold, practical and beautiful.
2. Passport.
3. Brooch from my wedding dress.
4. Phone.
5. Laptop.
6. Handkerchief from my great grandmother Fern.
7. Earrings found in New Orleans while I was knee-deep in my dissertation.
8. Keychain from my sweet Grace.
9. Quilt my sister Natalie made for me.
Check out what other's included... http://theburninghouse.com

What's the problem with focusing on the problem?


Complaining…we all do it. But sometimes, do you wish your could back off the bellyaching?

My husband and noticed we had gotten in to a bit of a rut...a running commentary on how we thought the world should be. So we decided to go on a "complaining cleanse". About a week into this little experiment, we noticed that we generally felt better when we appreciated something about a situation instead of complained about it.

I realized that in almost every situation the glass is both half empty and half full! There are both good and bad in nearly every situation and I get to choose which I focused on. I am not suggesting you ignore the stuff that feels yucky, but just acknowledge that there is ALSO good in each situation. 

Noticing that I felt better when I focused on the "half full" inspired me to dig into the research to see what was actually happening up there in my brain.

First, it’s good to know that when we notice and appreciate the good things today, it actually makes it more likely we will notice the good things tomorrow…but the same happens with complaining…the more we complain today, the more we will complain tomorrow. This happens due to the chemicals released in our brains when we notice the good stuff or when we complain. 

Researchers have found that when we focus on what's good in our life, not just what's bad, the following things happen:

  • More happiness, optimism and self worth; less anxiety, depression, and envy. 
  • We even sleep better when we focus more on the good stuff!

If you're interested in playing around with this idea:

Notice the good stuff and then let yourself actually feel the experience of the goodness. Try this with your first cup of coffee or tea, hold it in your hand, breath in the aroma and be with that nice feeling for several seconds...rather that complaining that you have to get out of bed early. 

The more you pause to appreciate and experience these good feelings, the more likely you will do it again in the future. 

Bottom line: the more your complain, the more you will complain. The more you notice the good stuff, the more you will notice the good stuff. You choose!  

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, check out Rick Hanson PhD's latest book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness

A few words about fearful thinking...

live...what are you waiting for?.png

Seems to me that once we get a little practice doing stuff that feels scary, it gets easier! 

You see there’s really nothing to be afraid of, most of the time fear isn't a good reason to wait or stop. Often, a choice only feels scary for a short time and then it looks like an amazing idea!

Here’s a short list of decisions that looked scary to me in the moment...

  • Start a PhD in my 40s. 
  • Attend graduate school at Stanford for a semester leaving a husband and 14 year old daughter in Kansas. (Next time we meet, ask me about the room I rented).
  • Give away 80% of my belongings, sell the house in the suburbs and move to a 715 sq. ft. condo in the city. 
  • Leave my career in educational coaching and research to start Your Peaceful Space

Why am I sharing these examples?? Because this amazing life is full of moments when we can choose to move forward inspite of our fearful thinking! This, my friends is how we make our dreams come true, and it's available to you.

What dreams do you carry....but too afraid to set into motion? 

Float this statement in your mind, "I carry a dream that..." then just let the words and images come to you, see what arrises. I would LOVE to hear what you notice!

May is my birthday month and I am giving you a gift!

I've got two bits of good news for you


As I mention in the short video, my birthday is this month and so I want to offer you a gift! To say thanks a bunch for helping me create a amazing life through my work with you, everyone on my mailing list gets a free, 3-part video series on how to deal with procrastination. The first video should be ready by Friday, so keep an eye out for it.  If you're not yet on my mailing list and need help send me a message and we'll get you signed up! 

I am also offering a bonus 30-minute coaching session for those of you who enroll in my Laser Coaching program in May. This way of coaching is proving to be really helpful to those who have signed-up and we're actually having fun! To see if it might be just the kind of coaching you'd find helpful click Laser Coaching Info or just send me an email and I'll answer all of your questions. 

Thanks so much!

A snippet of my story


I've often envied those who have a story of an abrupt insight. I guess I believe the suddenness of the insight makes it more powerful and important. This is not how it works for me. I'll often have a thought that gains steam as it flits around my mind sometimes taking months to land. 

The insight finally lands

We stood in front of the storage unit in Bonner Springs, neither of us could remember most of what we had stored away last year. I knew there would be a Christmas tree, cushions from our small sailboat and plastic tubs of photos, but what was taking up the rest of the 10x20 unit? When we moved from our 4 bedroom home months earlier I demanded we keep the things we hadn't given away and wouldn't fit into our very small condominium.

How is it that I could not remember most of these precious belongings? The insight finally landed, the whole reason I had insisted on selling our big house and giving most of out things away, I saw clearly.... the stuff isn't what makes my life meaningful!

This "stuff" isn't actually the "stuff" of life. 

Let me know if this feels true for you too.

Thanks for being here. Nikki


Just a few easy steps...really!

If you've been thinking about your spring decluttering, but can't seem to start, here are five suggestions proven to help.

Even if this feels like a stretch, try at least one suggestion and see if you can get traction. Just contact me if you want support. 


Schedule your sorting sessions

For most of us if it's not scheduled, then it's not a priority. If decluttering is a priority for you then go ahead schedule a handful of 25 minute sorting sessions...take a minute to do that now if you'd like. 

Go public with your plans

Once you get the 25 minute sorting sessions scheduled, notify someone who can encourage you and offer friendly accountability. It's helpful to be specific, let them know what day/time you have scheduled so they can text or call to check in with you.  

Pick a specific starting point

This is incredibly helpful! Pick the area that's bugging you the most or the area that feels easiest. Start small; a single drawer, box or shelf. 

Remember, it's simply sorting

Most everything you sort will fall into one of four piles; keep, donate, recycle or toss. Gather some boxes and bags and just start storing! Consider that this work doesn't have to be a big deal...just focus on the sorting.

Celebrate your small wins

In order to create a new track record of success, allow yourself to soak up some self-appreciation when you complete a sorting session. All forward progress is worthy of notice...no win is too small!  

I've been wondering...

how I can structure my coaching to be of service in new ways? 

I am currently receiving coaching in a way that's offering me a new level of motivation and accountability and I wonder if some of you might find this structure helpful. 

This particular coaching approach makes it easier for me to feel less overwhelmed and has really helped me be more productive

The deepest result so far is that I more fully trust my own wisdom to take the next step... I am experimenting more and working less!

Soon I'll share more details about this addition to my coaching practice. I am excited to experiment!

Thanks for reading!