Less Stress for the Holidays

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For most of us, the holidays are a sweet time to revisit traditions that connect us to our families, friends and spiritual practices. We know these connections increase our feelings of well-being. We may also experience the stress that comes with days of shopping for perfect gifts and brace ourselves for the influx of stuff into our already full house. The research is clear that although our consumption of material goods has doubled in the past 50 years, our happiness levels have flatlined.

Here’s an interesting bit of info…nearly 7 in 10 Americans said they would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if their friends and family agreed to it, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI).  A majority of those who spend time buying or making gifts (60 percent) said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn't have to worry about gifts.

Consider that the time, energy and money you spend buying gifts for others could actually be spent with others. Maybe this season you could focus on shared experiences rather than exchanging gifts.

Here are some ideas to help you honor your connections by spending time together rather than shopping:

1. Be Together: Create a gift card for your parents that includes an afternoon at the museum and dinner out with you. Or together research and choose one of the micro loaning non-profits such as Kiva.org (http://www.kiva.org) to support small businesses throughout the world.

2. Plan Family Nights: Gather around the kitchen table and create a monthly family night. For each month in the next year plan: a movie night, visit a new restaurant, library event, live theater, local and regional state parks, bike ride to breakfast, streetcar ride to river market, Union Station, museum visit, volunteer work, art class, or a family cooking class. We have a city full of amazing opportunities.

3. Find a Good Cause: For those who have everything, check CharityNavigator.org (http://www.CharityNavigator.org) to find a highly rated charity that supports a cause this person is passionate about. Don’t forget about our local Harvesters.org (http://www.Harvesters.org) a community food network; they are happy to have monetary donations and your hands-on help.

Start a conversation with your family and friends to explore how you can create new traditions focused on using your time, energy and money to create experiences together rather than shopping for things. This new way of living through the holidays may be just the connection and relief and you are looking for.

This year, peace on earth can begin with you.

 Let me know if you have questions & take good care of yourself! Nikki

Fear Busters for Clutter

               Ruth's living room

               Ruth's living room

More and more it looks to me like our clutter is a result of fear. Fear that we might need that box of doorknobs, fear that we are giving away something that has monetary value, and fear that we're going to forget the sweet memories that seem to be attached to particular items. Here are the top 3 statements I hear from people that keep them stuck in fear and clutter.

1. “I might need this someday.”

This is the rallying cry that keeps us overwhelmed and mired in our stuff. This is the statement that keeps towers of margarine tubs and stacks of unread magazines in homes. If you are ready to shed some stuff, rather than “I might need this someday”, consider the question “If I let this go, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

2. “This might be worth some money.”

This can be true, but the majority of the time we assume items have a monetary value that they don’t.  Even when there is potential cash to be made, we never get around to researching the value and then finding the best marketplace. If you really believe the record albums are worth some money then you have to put the time and energy into selling them. Obviously, you won't get the payoff if you continue to leave them in the basement.

3. “I feel guilty about letting this go.”

We develop emotional attachments to stuff and that can make it hard to let go of even when we don’t really want them anymore. Maybe you have your grandmother's china hutch, an expensive pair of shoes that don't fit, or boxes of your children's art projects. If you are ready to consider letting these items go, here are some helpful strategies:

  • re-gift the set of dishes to someone you know will want them
  • take a photo of the dining room table as a proxy for the table
  • write about how you feel when you see the vases
  • make a quick piece of art to honor the emotions you feel when you look at the painting
  • my personal favorite, wear the dress one last time and savor its farewell tour

 

Noticing the fear chatter in your head while you're sorting through your clutter can be interesting, but you don't need to believe it... just because you think it. Simply continue to deal with your clutter, soon the sense of relief and peace will feel stronger than the fear. Keep moving forward and let me know if you want help.

 

October is ADHD Awareness Month

I am going to be on TV!! Excited and maybe a little scared to be seen by lots of people...but I would love it if you would watch Channel 5's Better Kansas City on Monday, September 25th. I'll be on sometime from 9:00-10:00 am.

October is ADHD Awareness month so I thought I would share a few strategies that seem to work well with my clients especially those who have ADHD.

  • The best place to begin your decluttering project is the place that feels the easiest to begin. Isn't that cool! This might be a corner of your kitchen counter, a junk drawer or one shelf of a bookcase. So this means don't start with the stuff that feels emotionally difficult like old family photos or heirlooms.The big point here, just start easy.
  • Schedule your decluttering sessions. Once you put these short sessions (25 minutes at a time) in your calendar, recruit some friendly accountability. Text a friend your intentions, ask them to check-in with you to see how it's going.
  • Complete tasks completely. Notice the tasks you engage in and see if you can complete them more fully. For example, consider that putting clothes away is part of the task of doing laundry. Wiping the kitchen counter is part of the task of making a sandwich. Putting your car keys in the same spot each time you come home is part of your coming back home routine. No question, this is the #1 way to stop creating new piles of clutter.

My favorite resource for ADHD information,  https://www.additudemag.com/

The Surprising Cost of Maybe Later

I was listening to a webinar with coach Sam Bennett selling a year-long coaching program. She urged us to make a clear decision about enrolling in the program, or not. She said something like, “Don’t add this to your pile of maybe later… give yourself the gift of a clear Yes or No”. 

Wise advice that helped me make a clear decision leaving me feel confident and complete.   

I’ve been in situations where the next step did not feel clear. This is why stuff gathers around the house, in my calendar and in my relationships. The fear of making a mistake or not knowing what to do next leaves me with piles of maybe later.  

Maybe later means not now, I am not ready, this isn’t important just yet, I am afraid, I can’t decide, not sure when I will.

It is lack of clarity, a foggy vision, neither a yes nor a no…limbo.

Maybe later gathers like dust bunnies and stacks of unopened mail, reach for my ankles as I make the bed or glance at the corner of my office.

Another decision put-off, not a clear Yes or No, a maybe later

Maybe laters bump along behind me, drain my energy as they remind me that I still haven’t made a decision. A slow leak of energy that adds up to a steady flow, they leave me in a perpetual state of undecided, undone, flux, a purgatory of sorts.

If you feel the weight of things undone, give me a call and get the maybe laters cleared out of your life, 913-908-2298.

There is power and closure in Yes and No. Final, decision made. Complete, gathered and moving forward, committed, free of the backward tug.

Touch that clear, empowered part of yourself, make space to see what’s next in your life.  

Get Unstuck, Easily

Typically when I feel stuck it’s because I have convinced myself that there is only one correct way to move forward….and I don’t know actually that way.

So, I make another list, subdivide and maybe color code, etc. Eventually, I realize I am in a corner.

Lately, here’s what I’ve found to be helpful instead;

  1. I allow the feeling of stuck. I don’t need to fix the feeling, it’s just feedback that what I am doing at the moment, isn’t working.
  2. I try to expand, rather than narrow my thinking.
  3. I  ask myself questions in order to move into a larger sense of wonder.

Here are some questions I’ve been considering:

 

Nikki Crawford PhD

Unlock the Door and Throw Open the Blinds: A photo series

Photos are on display at Union Station in Kansas City April 9th-23rd as part of the Inspire KC exhibition.

Nikki Crawford, PhD

A story about a woman who feels buried in her stuff.

Gift Wrapping Table

Gift Wrapping Table

“Ten years ago my house was fine, even 7 years ago it was okay. My dog passed away in 2010 and then I retired, it really started to pile-up after that. I don’t have my grand kids over anymore, frankly I am too embarrassed to have anyone over. Only one of my friends and Nikki has been in my house in the past several years.”

Stacks, Tubs & Paper Bags

Stacks, Tubs & Paper Bags

Meet Ruth, a brave and delightful woman who agreed to let me take photos of her home. We are working together to make her home a place of peace where she can feel calm and settled.

The excess stuff is a major challenge for her, yet it certainly doesn't define who she is. Ruth is a very engaged mother and grandmother, dedicated volunteer in her community and church. She is a retired professional who loves musicals. She is a loyal and compassionate friend. I find her to be curious, funny, and engaged in an interesting life outside of her home.

It took courage for Ruth to have her “stuff” photographed, she hopes that in sharing these images she might inspire others to open up and ask for help.  

Overflowing Cupboards

Overflowing Cupboards

Enough? Too much? Too little? - we have our individual thermostats.

A “Thrifty” gene related to compulsive collecting has been discovered by scientists. This gene, they suggest, was helpful to our ancestors who were more likely to survive when they held on to excess resources.

"I don't even know where to begin"

"I don't even know where to begin"

Ruth’s living room, hall and spare bedroom are full of gifts she’s not yet given her family –  many of us use gift giving is a way to express our love. This way of showing affection has gotten even easier as our ability to manufacture and import goods cheaply has improved. According to research at UCLA our consumption of material goods has actually doubled over the past 50 years.

"I really am capable"

"I really am capable"

“I really am capable”, is a phrase I often hear from clients wanting me to know that although they’ve gotten behind on managing their stuff, they function very well in other areas of their lives.

Excessive clothing is an area of struggle for many of us, and low prices have greatly increased our rate of purchasing.  Shopping for many people is a soothing and distracting way to avoid being home amidst the clutter. According to Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain, a textile-recycling company, we as Americans now buy five hundred percent more clothing than we did in 1980.

Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed

Too much clutter cascades into other challenges. A few years ago Ruth had a roof leak fixed, but she has not yet repaired the ceiling because she is embarrassed to have a painter in her home. So when she notices the ceiling she criticizes herself for not having it fixed, which spirals into more self-criticism. She worries that in a health crisis paramedics would have to come into her house. Broken appliances may remain so for months due to the shame of having a repair person come into her home.

No Rest

No Rest

Most of us know someone who lives with too much stuff. Extreme hoarding behaviors have been diagnosed in approximately 2-5% of U.S. residents. Although I don't know if Ruth has extreme hoarding behaviors, she has definitely come to a point in her life when she is interested in drastically changing how she lives.


When I work with Ruth I see a nuanced and beautiful person who is far more complex that any particular set of behaviors.

I see dreams yet to be realized. I see a woman stepping into another phase of her life.

I see we all want the same thing - to live a life of love and acceptance of ourselves and those around us.

I love to find ways to support people who are overwhelmed by their stuff. To walk with them to reclaim their homes and create a life that feels more expansive, satisfying and rich.

I’m grateful to Ruth for being brave and wise and for allowing me to share a small piece of her story.

Nikki

Stuff that makes me Wonder

Do you wonder how you can show your love and appreciation during the holidays, without buying so much stuff? Consider alternatives to clothes, housewares, and electronics. We’ve all been in the position of receiving gifts we won’t use (gravy boats) or don’t want (sparkly Santa socks), but feel stuck with the gift because we don’t want to appear ungrateful. There are lovely ways to let others know you’re thinking about them AND skip the mall. Kiva is one of my favorites and is highly rated by the detail-oriented folks at Charity Navigator, an organization whose mission is to, “guide intelligent giving.” Kiva is a micro-lending charity with networks around the world to support small business owners needing no-interest loans to create or build a business. I have been loaning small amounts of money to this organization for over 10 years and have let my money ride from one loan to the next; as one business pays me back, I choose and invest the same money with another small business. Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. I appreciate that the focus is to help people, to help themselves, there is beauty and dignity in this model. Learn more about how it works go to their website, http://www.kiva.org/
 

Stuff that makes me Wonder

Over the next several months I am exchanging coaching with a woman who is helping me dive deeper into my creativity and I am helping her create a peaceful office/studio space.

Our conversation last week was about “space”. She is from the worlds of theater, dance, and music where performing space is sacred, which is so lovely and prompted me to consider how I can create sacred spaces in my home.

She also encouraged me to see space much more broadly than rooms in my house. Which has me noticing all kinds of spaces in my yard, in my desk, in my cupped hand, even my ear, (I may have just gone too far for some of you), but this noticing has truly expanded my perspective.

So anyway, I am now tuned-in to space as a much broader concept and am going to continue to play with the idea, and have started posting photos of peaceful spaces on facebook.

Join me if you'd like:  https://www.facebook.com/yourpeacefulspace/  Tag with #mypeacefulspace