peace

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.

Behavior Basics, part 2.

As you learned in Behavior Basics, part 1, breaking big projects into small chunks and working in 25 minute sessions is a tested way to more easily work through big projects or seemingly difficult life changes.

The next piece of the puzzle for most of us is, where to actually begin. 

  • Where in this room should I start decluttering? 

  • Where do I start my journey to healthy eating?  

  • Where is an easy place to begin a habit of going to the gym?

  • Where to I start this job search?

The answer to all of these questions…start EASY….the best place to begin is where you WILL begin. Let that soak in. The best place to begin is where you will begin. 

Start with your sock drawer, look for healthy recipes, call two gyms to schedule tours, ask a friend to help you update your resume…small, easy steps.

If you still feel too overwhelmed to begin…look for an even easier place to begin…take a step back and wonder, “what’s the smallest, easy step I can take to actually move forward?”

Here's how this strategy has worked for me:

  • I began my PhD by getting clear on the application requirements.

  • I started to downsize from a big house to a small house by gathering cardboard boxes.

  • I started a meditation practice by attending my first group mediation class.

  • I started my own business by dumping my ideas onto poster paper.

These were the first steps that mades sense to me. I bet you have your own examples of times when you made a big change in your life by starting with a small step.  

Step after step moves us through amazing, life changing adventures. 

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

Our things, aren't THE thing


We’re looking for something…

We’re looking for something…


And yet it seems that's what I expected. The new cute coat, big house or upgraded I-Phone would fill a longing...make me feel like enough. 

But bless me for trying. It's understandable that I got confused since my brain delivered a bump of feel-good dopamine when I purchased something. And bravo to the sophisticated marketing gurus who have spent the past 70 years getting better and better at convincing us that things make us whole, beautiful, popular, acceptable, trendy, even lovable.  

We have been conditioned to look to things to make us feel safe, peaceful and content. For those who see behind the curtain, it's clear that we are looking in the wrong place. 

A world of stuff will never be able to fill that space of wondering what we're doing here. What our purpose is. How to feel content, peaceful and a sense of enough...the existential puzzle of life.

I've looked in the wrong places plenty of times, accumulating things that can't possibly fill that space. 

Now that I can see the things aren't the thing, I buy less and let go of more. I spend time being quiet in order to hear the next easy, step forward.

What's emerging is more self-acceptance, gratitude, love and deep desire to be helpful. 

What's a way forward for you? What can you let go of? What can you do do more of? Where is your true refuge?

If you would like help discovering your way forward, please click here to contact me.

I feel grateful to have you there...I appreciate your attention and desire to understand.

Thank you ever so much,
Nikki

ADHD Resiliency

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I offered a workshop on ADHD resiliency in January at Shawnee Mission Health Center as part of their Health and Wellness series. Several people attended, some with ADHD and some there to support a family member with ADHD.

Here are a few notes we covered in the How to Create a New Routine section of the workshop. I’ve been asked to present this material again this spring, check my New Events tab here on my website or my business facebook page https://www.facebook.com/yourpeacefulspace/ in the next few weeks for details.

Creating New Routines

How do you know you need one?

  • You’re having lots of chatter in your head about a particular challenge.
  • It’s a persistent challenge.
  • You see that a small behavior change could make your life much easier.

How to create a new routine.

  • Remember the conditions that have helped new routines stick in the past.
  • Tie it to something you already regularly do…stack/chain/nest your new behavior with existing behaviors.
  • Make it easy and efficient.

How to make it stick.

  • Practice, walk through it a few times in the beginning.
  • Refine at any time.
  • Visual prompts. Write it down or draw it out and post in strategic places.
  • Hold it lightly whether or not you do this new habit every day, says NOTHING about you as a person…does not touch your innate wellbeing.
  • Again, ignore the “mean voice” that says you'll never be able to do this…always ignore the “mean voice.

As always, just email me with questions, yourpeacefulspace@gmail.com

Thank you! Nikki

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.  

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

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