declutter

You're okay

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Stories we tell ourselves: 

  • as soon as my bank account is at the right amount, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as my marriage is better, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as this health situation is resolved, I’ll be okay;

  • as soon as I find the right job, I’ll be okay;

…on and on.

We create a “conditional” sense of feeling okay. It seems all of the big deals in our life must be heading in a positive direction for us to feel fundamentally okay and have a deep sense of well-being.

I am in the midst of a tricky health situation which offers me the opportunity to wonder about how I create my experience of conditional well-being. I want to see past the stories I've created about when it's okay, to feel okay.

I want to feel okay, even when my body isn’t!

Here’s what I am playing with to ease the grip of conditional well-being. These are strategies I’ve learned over years of focusing on spirituality…you’ll recognize them.

  • I’ve added contemplation to my day, time to simply be.

  • I mediate each morning for 20 minutes.

  • When I notice my thinking is spinning out of wack, I switch to noticing what’s happening in the moment rather than rehash the past or predict the future.

  • When I notice a strong emotion, I allow myself to feel it. So, if I feel sad, I let it roll through me, and then I move on.

  • I surround myself with wise people who are further down the spiritual road than I.

So far, the most helpful understanding that has come from engaging in these behaviors is...I am not body. I am much bigger than this body, I am (as are you) as vast as the universe! My body is simply where my soul is hanging out to have a human experience…I find this comforting and mind-blowingly exciting.

I am not suggesting you do what I do, you have your own wisdom and spiritual understandings, but I would certainly be happy to have a chat about this if you’d like.

Sending you love.
Nikki

Pockets of Peace

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Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. 

According to a recent Gallop poll, “In the United States, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during “a lot of the day”, compared with just 35 percent globally”…this makes Americans among the most stressed people in the world. Not exactly the kind of thing we want to excel in. 

Your personal stress meter. 

One way to think about stress is in zones of red, yellow and green. Red, high stress, yellow on guard, and green calm. We likely move in and out of each zone several times a day. As you might guess, it’s good for our bodies and our minds to spend more time in the green zone, feeling calm.

Dr. Rick Hanson explains, “Green is the resting state, the home base, of the brain and body, characterized by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, repair and refueling of bodily systems, and a peaceful, happy, and loving mind. In Green, we are usually benevolent toward ourselves, others, and the world.” So, more time in the green zone is good for us.

Sometimes we worry that it will take too much time and energy to address stress…another problem to solve…something else on our to-do list. 

Want to feel more green??? 

But here’s some good news, by building in small pockets of peace during the day, you can rest in a state of calm more frequently. Consider adding one or more of these short, easy strategies to create moments of peace each day.

  1. Focus on your breath. Inhale for several seconds then exhale slowly…(twice as long as your inhale), this actually helps your nervous system calm. You only need to do this for about a minute to bring your body back into the green zone.

  2. Pause before launching. Pause before you get out of bed, get out of the car, stand up from your desk, or walk into a meeting. Pause and take a deep, relaxing breath. Create the habit of taking a deep, relaxing breath each time you transition from one activity or place to the next.

  3. Be present…here & now. This is particularly helpful when you find yourself caught in the past or the future. Be in the present moment and remind yourself that everything is OK in this moment. It’s natural to re-hash and regret things you’ve said or done in the past…once you’ve done what you can to repair, there’s little else to do. Similarly, we don’t have much control over the future, and come to find out we’re not so good at predicting what will happen. So come back to now and notice your feet on the floor and the rhythm of your breath. 

BTW ongoing coaching may be a necessary piece of the puzzle to bridge the gap between knowing what to do when you feel stressed and actually regularly practicing what’s good for you. Please email me if you’d like to explore the infinite pathways to creating a more peaceful life.

Coming together and falling apart

Spring…falling apart.

Spring…falling apart.

Hello there,

I want to share with you a paragraph of deep wisdom from Pema Chodron. Pema is a Buddhist nun and teacher who's writing is approachable and very relevant. You needn't be a Buddhist to feel the truth of her message below.

Making Room
"Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." https://pemachodronfoundation.org


I am a fixer...from waaaay back and the idea that perhaps there is a rhythm of coming together and falling apart reminds me that not all brokenness needs to be fixed. But rather, there is a grace and peace in allowing what's happening to happen (it's going to anyway) and to notice that perhaps, the most important thing for me to do is to be with the brokenness, because brokenness is part of the whole beautiful cycle. 

Is there something in your life that seems to be falling apart? Reach out if you'd like support to make room for what needs to happen. 

Sending you love,
Nikki

Be your own expert

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Hello there!

I've been out of commission for several weeks and in my downtime I've noticed a couple of things:

  • Sometimes I see myself as a self-improvement project; and

  • Sometimes I outsource my power and wisdom. 

Advice on Facebook, magazine covers, TV, YouTube videos, from friends and colleagues rolls by. 

I read about what foods to eat, how to schedule time, what to wear, how to advance in a career, how to be in close relationships, on and on and on...

It seems my self-improvement tendencies can become a full time obsession. 

Sometimes I grasp. Grasp at the new and improved version of myself. And while changing my own behaviors in order to live a healthier, more spiritual and expansive life is cool...the notion that I need to FIX myself, and perhaps that FIX comes from someone else, doesn't feel enlivening or true.

What's it like for you? Do you feel different when you approach behavior change from a place of internal motivation and nudges...rather than look to an expert for correction?

Maybe it's helpful to recognize that we can be our own behavioral experts. Perhaps we don't need to outsource our wisdom or look to someone else for answers... AND, we've all had the positive experience of an objective partner who will offer new information, reflections and accountability.

So here's my 2-cents if you're considering behavior change: 

  • You can become the expert on how you best learn and integrate new knowledge.

  • You have your own wisdom and sometimes a coach can help you see it more easily.

  • One size does not fit all...we respond to support depending on our specific learning history and perspective.

  • Find a coach who does not position themselves as your savior or guru, but who walks along side and offers support when you ask.

Let me know what you think.

Behavior Basics, part 1.

If only I could….

How many times have we uttered this phrase?

If only I could ______, then I would ______.

But then….we get overwhelmed by the scope of what’s ahead, don’t know where to begin, worry we won’t stay on track or maintain the change.

Something about February has hit me hard and challenged me to reflect on bones of this business and my mission to help you find more peace and self-compassion. To support you to finally get unstuck.

Let’s look the Basics of Behavior Change so you can create what you want. Over the next few weeks I’ll touch on each of the basic truths about how to change your behavior whether you want to create new healthy habits, deal with the clutter in your home, find a job you love, or learn to speak French. 

The first basic, is to Chunk It

Chunking is a term we use in education. Thirty years years of working with adults to change their behaviors and support kids to do the same, taught me the power of chunking.

When you breakdown the bigger task or project into small, doable steps you can make change. Research tells us that 25 minute sessions are an effective way to deal with these small chunks. 

Whether it’s dealing with your physical clutter, getting your calendar under control or learning to play the guitar… the point is to stay engaged with the activity for 25 minutes at a time with short breaks between sessions. 

This changes the way we see a project…instead of an entire mountain we expect to climb in one big step, we see it's step after step...chunk after chunk.

Working in 25 minute sessions, with the focus on the next, small chunk makes behavior change soooo much easier. Loads of people I’ve worked with have found scheduling their work in 25 minute chunks to be a total game changer! The most common comments:
“When I see the project in small chunks instead of the whole thing, I can get started.”
“I can almost anything for 25 minutes at a time." 

Of course, one 25 minute session won’t likely complete your project, but multiple 25 minute sessions, over time, will. You will get the basement cleaned out. You will complete your taxes. You will feel the benefits of healthy eating.

It’s powerful to realize you can deal with whatever comes your way by breaking it down into small, doable chunks.

You can create the life you want, 25 minutes at a time.

Stay Tuned! 
The next basic of behavior change is figuring out where to actually begin your project...I will talk about this in my next video.

Create a new groove...in your brain


By using our attention we can support ourselves to create new habits and stick with them more reliably.

We can actually come to enjoy doing the things that are good for us in the long run. Because we enjoy the behavior, we don’t need to rely on inconsistent motivation...did I just hear a collective sigh of relief??

We can use our attention to re-train our brain, and basically, here's how: 

Step 1. Have the experience of what's good. Notice what you enjoy about your experience and you’ll actually retrain your brain to notice the good more frequently. It's not about rose colored glasses, it's about truly noticing what's already good.

Step 2. Enrich the feeling of the good experience. Stick with it, make the feeling even bigger, help it go deeper, help it linger. 

Step 3. Absorb the good feelings of the experience. Imagine you're a sponge. See if you can notice the goodness soaking in your body. Give yourself a little hug for making a choice that supports your higher good and future self. 

Sure, this takes practice and often some support, but I’ve worked through this with many clients and use it myself…I can easily say, it makes behavior change easier! 

Bonus...you just feel better when you're focusing on the good stuff that's true in your life. 

A snippet of Lea's story

When Lea and I began our coaching, she was interested in simplifying her life, letting go of the things in her home that no longer served her. She also wanted to create habits such as dealing with the mail, keeping her kitchen tidy and completing one task before moving to a new task. 

As she practiced noticing what was already goodenriching these feelings and absorbing them, it became easier for her to appreciate herself for the efforts she was making. Over time, the behaviors that felt so difficult in the beginning, became easier and even enjoyable

You can do this too. Reach out if you want to learn more about how.

Move from "should" to "want to"

You may have noticed…some of us have a much harder time gathering our grit and doing things that don't seem fun. It feels like a tough slog to get to the gym, eat healthy, declutter, deal with our mail, etc...

You might be relieved to know, there are natural differences in the bump of neuro chemicals we get when we do something good for us…so, if you struggle with follow through in several areas of your life, you may need to be more focused on letting the good feeling of making a helpful choice, soak in.

I seen this so many times, (and done it myself) we procrastinate doing these "good for us behaviors” and then, layer on self criticism because we procrastinated. Geez, a super unhelpful, double whammy.

There are ways to shift our attention away from what we're not doing and focus on creating a good life. We can create new habits and routines, leaving procrastination behind, and harsh self judgement behind. 

You can create the life you want...(even it doesn't seem possible right now). 

You can learn to love the things that are good for you. 

You can move important behaviors from the "should" column, to the "want to" column. It’s absolutely possible.

Let Peace On Earth Begin with You

2017 Harris Poll survey

2017 Harris Poll survey

For most of us, the holidays are a sweet time to revisit traditions that connect us to our home, families, friends and spiritual practices.

At a deep level we know these connections can increase our sense of well-being

But often, we also experience the stress that comes with weeks of shopping for perfect gifts and brace ourselves for the influx of stuff into our already full house.

The research is clear, 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…in a 2017 Harris Poll survey found nearly 7 in 10 Americans said they would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if their friends and family agreed to it. 

Did you catch that? Of the 10 sitting around the holiday table, 7 of us would have been all too happy to skip spending time and money on buying gifts.

AND 60% said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn't have to worry about gifts.

Spending more time with family and friends…a solid alternative to lonely, late night online shopping and crowded malls.

So instead, here are ideas to help you spend time together:

1. Togetherness. Together, research and choose one of the micro loaning non-profits such as kiva.org to support small businesses throughout the world.  
 

2. Find a Good Cause. For those who have everything, check CharityNavigator.org to find a highly rated charity that supports a cause this person is passionate about. Check out local shelters for those who are homeless or offer food to those who are food insecure.

In Kansas City? Don’t forget about our local harvesters.org a community food network; they are happy to have monetary donations and hands-on help.


3. Plan Family Nights. Gather around the kitchen table and create a monthly family night for the year. Maybe a movie night, visit a new restaurant, library event, live theater, local and regional state parks, bike ride to breakfast, streetcar ride or city tour, museum visit, volunteer work, art class, or a family cooking class. Most cities are full of amazing opportunities.

Start a conversation NOW to explore how to create new traditions focused on using your energy to create experiences together.

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.
 

Happy Holidays! 

Nikki