Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.

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!