Connecting To Your Life

Have you ever been right before your biggest dream, and felt completely stuck?
Have you had your deepest desire right in FRONT of you, and found yourself frozen in place, unable to move forward?

And inside your head, you are screaming,
What is wrong with me?
Why does this always happen?

Your inner critic is having a heyday, and you’re left there….
and wondering if this will ever change.

Isn’t this what you’ve been working for, for SO long?
What the HECK is going on?

Turns out, that last question may be the most important question you ask yourself.

Perhaps there is a reason you are standing there, staring your dreams in the face.

Would you like to know how to step forward and get out of the crippling fear?


I’m married.

On Sunday September 16th up at Zen Mountain Monastery, I stood in front of my closest family and friends and took a vow to love, and be awake in loving my beautiful man, Chuck.

The day could not have been more magical and sacred.  We felt deeply seen by those closest in our lives, and marveled at the September sunshine that blessed our special day.

We had a three day mini-moon in Woodstock, NY, as my husband had to return to work on Thursday and I had a four day intensive training on non-violent communication starting on Thursday.

I woke up Wednesday with a knot in my shoulder, and feeling deeply anxious.

I didn’t want the honeymoon to be over.  This time was so special, I wanted more time just the two of us to bond.

Thursday I headed to the Lifebridge Sanctuary in Rosendale, NY for the beginning of the four day retreat.  The center could not be more beautiful.  The grounds were stunning.  Nature was all around me, with mountains, birds, and an open sky.

And while I WANTED to feel excited and grateful for being here, all I felt was conflict.

I felt so torn.  I had waited a year to do this training AND I missed my husband.  Non-violent communication is actually a HUGE reason I was able to call in my husband, and I’ve watched it transform my client’s lives.  It transformed MY life.

And yet, I was really struggling.  Thursday night, I had a complete meltdown, doubting myself, doubting being here, and starting to feel a deep ache.

I woke up on Friday and found myself isolating.  This was such odd behavior for me.  I’m a Leo!  I love people, and I love being around them….and yet, on the breaks I found I just wanted to be alone.

But the beauty of the work, is the whole retreat was about what may be the most powerful tool we have as creative beings,
Self Empathy.

As I began to connect with what was actually alive in me, I found I had HUGE fears arising around how I would show up in this marriage…..and they were all based in my past.
I was afraid I would mess it up.
I was afraid I would be too controlling.
I was afraid I would push him away.

All the things that happened in my last marriage came rising up as NOW it was real.  NOW I was married.

Have you ever had your past come up in a crucial moment and take you out?

Being able to connect with feeling devastated, scared, anxious, allowed me to connect with my actual Needs moving forward in the marriage.

Through the self empathy, I realized I needed Inspiration, and most of all, I needed Self Trust.

I mourned my unmet needs in my last marriage, and brought compassion to my strong feelings.  I took the time and space to feel everything and lovingly ACCEPT what was arising.

And I realized my strong feelings and judgements were actually pointing to what was most important for me moving forward.

My judgements about myself in my last marriage were actually the key to creating the life I truly want TODAY, now.


So, take a moment and grab a pen and paper.

Think of that moment when you stopped yourself.  Really put yourself there.  Close your eyes and connect.
What are you feeling?

Once you connect with the feelings, ask yourself,
What do I need?

I imagine there is a pattern here, and you may find you stop yourself because there is a strong need for integrity.  Perhaps that project wasn’t aligned with your voice.  Or perhaps there was a strong need for collaboration….perhaps that project meant you were going to be doing ALL the work.  Or perhaps you had a strong need for learning.  There was a piece of the puzzle you didn’t have and it was vital for you to move forward.

Or maybe, in my case, you just aren’t trusting yourself, and you need to re-connect with yourself gently and lovingly to step forward.

In truth, I realized that I’m very young in many ways.  My new way of being, through Zen, through compassion and a vow to be awake in my life…is YOUNG.  I started this journey just five and a half years ago.  I’m actually a toddler as a practitioner, and a being that sees the world VERY differently than I did for 37 years.

My five year old self was feeling really insecure stepping into this marriage beside the 37 year old, and was afraid she would be crushed.

Turns out, the 37 year old really wants to hug her and join.

And that’s when I realized the biggest need for this four day retreat,

We can’t change the past, and we’ve all done things we regret.  It can be so easy to believe how it’s been is how it will always be, but the actual truth is,
You are becoming in every moment.
Change is constant.

Over the course of the four days, my five year old and the 37 year old met in the middle, lovingly.  I am the woman I am today because of all that came before, AND I am clear what I want moving forward.

So, it’s time to trust, and to cultivate that trust within myself.

What is it for you?

What would it look like and feel like to integrate your past into your present?
What would it look like to meet your needs NOW?

Thom Bond, who led the self empathy retreat said,
Everything we do, we do to meet a need.
Your needs are actually your life energy.
When you connect to your needs, you are connecting to your life.
This is how we CHANGE the conversation with ourselves and transmute to what we LOVE.

What would be possible for you then?


Sunday we sat in a final circle sharing how we were feeling.

I raised my hand and said,
I feel so grateful and inspired.  I came here Thursday feeling deeply torn and sad.  The journey I have taken over the past four days allowed me to connect with my needs and now I am SO excited and READY to be a wife.  I am ready to be present in this marriage the way I want to be.

I drove home, and when I saw my husband, I kissed him.
Long, deep, saying,
I’m here now.
I love you.

And I am so ready for our life together.


Connect within. 
All your answers are there.

What’s stopping you is actually pointing to what you most need.

So, get curious, and ask,
What is going on?

When your needs are met, then you are truly unstoppable.





Photography: Daryl Getman Dag Photo

The Three C’s of Creative Productivity

Do you look at your To Do List and want to run and hide?
Do you see your most important projects looming over you and EVERYTHING on the list is important?

It can be so overwhelming!

What do you do first?

It can feel like your mind is going to explode with all that has to be done,
phone calls

and somewhere in all of this…the actual creation?!

You can feel like you are standing on a HUGE bridge and you KNOW you have to get to the other side, but all the things you have to do seem so daunting.  So, you stand frozen. And now nothing is getting done. OR you are rushing through everything and you can feel you are creating really sub-par work.

Creative flow has gone OUT the window.

Have you ever felt this?

So, what do you do in that moment?
Is it even possible to cross the bridge?

Last week I was filling you in on all that is happening  here are ZenRedNYC.  We are launching some very large events, and in the middle of this…I’m getting married.

Running my business AND planning for one of the most important days of my life has definitely filled my cup.  When I decided to schedule these things together, I knew it was time for some SUPER tools.

And that is what I want to offer to you today.

You may be asking,
How the HECK is Nikol smiling with so much going on?

Because, I honestly put some very specific tools in place to allow me to do my creative work I love AND plan for my deeply sacred day.

And trust me, I’m still feeling SO many emotions, and anxious and excited for ALL of this…..AND I am actually getting things done. My emotions are part of the experience, but not taking me out of productivity.

I’m NOT frozen.

And this is how I wanted to help you today.  Let’s get you out of overwhelm. I teach these super tools to all my clients and today, my loving TGIF gift to you is offering them to you.

I can break this down into Three Super Tools, or the THREE C’s for Creative Productivity:

* Calendar Magic
* Clipboard Hearts
* Colorful Post Its


A large part of overwhelm happens because there is no structure.  Structure actually helps when we are most anxious.  We may know when something needs to completed, but what about all the steps leading to the finished work?

I’m a huge fan of printing out calendars, or you can use one you already have on your wall.  I love to print out from my iCal.  Start with this Question:

1) How many months is your project or projects? However long it is, either print or grab these months from an existing calendar.

Now, let’s start to use the tool so it’s HELPFUL. I specifically created these calendars for the project of my wedding, and the online events I am creating in my business right now.  Both of these are big projects that have many steps.

2) At the TOP of the calendar write down what needs to happen in this month.  For instance, for last month at the top I had written:
– wedding favors
– buy fiance’s ring
– seating plan
– new event title and tagline
– new promo banner created

3) Go into your calendar and write in the events that are already scheduled.  This may be weekly meetings, your newsletter going out to your fans, actual performances, and any other networking or conference events coming up.

4) Now, working backwards from your deadline, write in your calendar what you are working on week to week.

** So many times, the overwhelm happens because we don’t have the big picture.  Having all your months laid out in front of you, allows you to see how much time you DO have, and to actually chunk it down.  In this first tool, you are going from BIG project, to using your calendar to actually MAP OUT your months.


Now that you have the big picture, with the monthly view, let’s chunk it down to weekly.

One of my closest friends, client, and my photographer (she actually shot that gorgeous picture of me on the Brooklyn Bridge at 7 am!) made this beautiful clipboard for me as a gift.  It actually has my company name on it, ZenRedNYC.  I LOVE it!  Too often, as Creatives, it can feel so DULL and BLAND applying these business tactics, so liven up your office supplies!

1) Create a weekly To Do and list out everything you need to do JUST for this week.  At the top, write the dates of the week, and then put down some words or affirmations that are really feeling good to you right now.  I’m personally writing down:

It can be whatever you want!  This is your creation.  Take the breakdown FROM your calendar, and transfer here so you can look at each week at a time.

So, why do I call it Clipboard Hearts?  Because, I love to put hearts around my To Do list.  It reminds me WHY I’m doing the work I’m doing.  You can use any colored pencils or markers or even stickers with this list!  Allow it to be an expression of you.


Lastly, we have the Colorful Post Its.

Overwhelm happens when we are looking at too much at once.  In every instance, your best bet is to practice some self empathy, allow yourself to feel what your feeling, and then chunk it down to ONE step.

1) The night BEFORE your day, take a colorful post it and write down THREE THINGS you need to do for your project.  Why the night before?  Because then you can just go into your day, instead of starting with the anxiety of, “what am I going to do today?”  You’ve already decided, and can then just grab that simple post it and do ONE thing at a time.

2) Take your Daily Post it three things FROM your weekly To Do.

So, we can have continuity and structure.  What at first felt totally unmanageable, now has a timeline, magic, lots of color, and an expression of you within it. 

And with all things, if you get to the end of the day, and something didn’t get done, practice self empathy first.  This isn’t about saying you are wrong, but offering super tools to bring productivity to where you were frozen before.  Start a new post it, and know this is a new day, one you have never lived before.

So, live it well!

Let me know how this works for you!  It has saved my life over and over again, having this calendar to have the bigger picture, then knowing what I’m responsible for weekly, and daily.  Set these magical parameters and watch your projects complete with joy!