simplify

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

Sometimes we get attached to things.

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The lemons.

I have been carting these lemons around the house. When I go to bed, they sit on my nightstand. When I work in my office, they are near. When we eat a meal, the bowl is on the table. An amulet of sorts to ward off the cold, snowy winds. I picked these two lemons from a tree in Palm Springs last week, and I've become unreasonable attached to them. They remind me of the warm sun, playing in the pool with Sugar Bear and laughing with a dear, old friend. I get that these memories are in my mind, not the lemons. I know even when the bowl is empty, I'll still have the memories of our trip. But for now, I want the lemons nearby. 

Maybe you have a similar relationship with your grandfather's bowling trophies, a tea cup from your aunt or a dining room set from your parents. We look at these memory triggering possessions and feel attached to them, as though they carry the love and connections we miss. 

Just to say, it's okay to keep things that trigger sweet memories as long as you have room for them and they don't add stress to your life. Also note that having more items from your grandmother will not keep you more connected to her, a few lovely things, sitting out where you can appreciate them, will do the trick. 

Everything in your home should make your life a little better in some way. So, enjoy your things that prompt sweet feelings and let go of those that don't.

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

Want out of the Clutter?

The process of de-cluttering is often spurred by a significant life transition. A transition holds the place of just before and just after, the line to cross, the threshold to step over.  These are the markers of life. I find myself referring to events in relationship to these transitions, “oh, that was before I moved,” or, “that happened after my daughter left for school.” Regardless of the initial reaction to a job change, divorce, or empty nest, I’ve may come to appreciate the experience for what I eventually learn about myself and what the “after” has to offer. I feel energized by the newness and openness of my reality. I am driven to re-set my personal surroundings to mirror the inner shift in perspective.

Often, while in the process of clearing what now feels like clutter, I expend a lot of emotional energy. After about an hour I feel stuck, sad, tired and overwhelmed. I try to remember to be kind to myself, it takes some effort to consider each item and choose which to keep and which to donate. These uncomfortable feelings are typical but they don’t have to stop progress. I pay attention and do the following when I feel stuck:

  • I step outside and focus attention on what is around me. How my feet feel on the ground, what I hear, what I see. I breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Go for a walk around the block, stretch or dance.  
  • Treat myself to a cup of hot tea, sparkling water or glass of wine.

When I feel rested and clear, I resume the de-cluttering for another 30 minutes, knowing it’s okay to take a break if I feel stuck again. Here are a few more things I do be successful:

  • Deal with de-cluttering projects in short chunks; no more than two hours at a time.
  • Take before and after pictures to share and remind myself of how much I’ve accomplished.
  • Spend a few minutes appreciating myself for focus and efforts, even if I don’t finish the whole job.

Nikki Crawford, Ph.D. is the owner of Your Peaceful Space, where her focus is to help you clear the clutter and create more peace in your life. To learn more, contact Nikki at yourpeacefulspace@gmail.com or call at 913.908.2298.

The Next Trip

As I peek into the openness of next year, I wonder which of my habits served me well enough in 2015, to help me create the life I want in 2016? Are there some I should leave behind?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Leah as we looked into her den. Leah asked me to help her create a room where she could peacefully read. Standing in the doorway I saw that all of the corners were packed with stuff. The couch was used as a large storage bin and every horizontal surface held deep piles of things.  I helped Leah mindfully consider how she wanted this room to feel, what it would look like if it were exactly the way she wanted. We talked about the stuff in the den that made sense to keep and the items that just didn’t fit with her intention of a reading room. At the core of this process was a focus on what Leah wanted to create, a focus on creation rather than blame. It is not helpful to spend time talking about how this den got so cluttered; lots more engaging and energizing to focus on what’s next.

This week I am going through a similar process. I am taking the time to thoughtfully consider how I want to feel as a walk through the days and months of the new year. When I focus on what I want to create for myself I consider the habits that are helpful, and which are inconsistent with my intention. Which enlivening habits will I tuck into my purse for the 2016 trip?