Author: Nikki Russell

The Prism of the Mind

Until I know the nature of my mind, I cannot understand what mental health is. What is the fundamental nature of the mind? Defining the nature of the mind is a debatable subject for scientists, and it offers many convincing theories. The same is valid for mental health conditions; there are subtle differences between different scientific studies, yet the most widely accepted is in the Medical/Biological and Psychological perspectives, which posit mental illness as a disease or a disorder of the brain, hence the need for a diagnosis. Typical treatments include medications, interventions, lifestyle changes, therapies, and psychoanalysis. I am grateful for the advancement of science because mental health often requires medical treatment, but have we thrown the baby out with the bath water?

Self-Care Inspires Life

I was a new manager in a clothing retail store in the corporate world. In the beginning, I worked 50-60 hours a week. I managed 12-15 employees at any given time with scheduling, crunching numbers, training, and orientations. I sat in my office, dreaming of a way to excuse myself and walk away from the rat race. The job represented how I lived until then, sacrificing my vitality for security. I would leave work daily, pick up my daughter, and stop for my self-care, a bottle or two of wine. I would go home and pour myself a mind-numbing glass of Cabernet, help my daughter with her homework, and put her to bed. I would pass out around midnight, wake up the following day, and start the cycle again.

The Internal Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is a broad term that many people associate with pleasure. When your craving for excitement is replenished, the boredom is filled with fun, or the hunger is satisfied. We want entertainment with relationships, activities, careers, and food. The adrenaline rush or dopamine hit that tells us, ” I am doing something that matters to me.” This is what many people call happiness, the rush of life, the drama of the story. Who would read a book or watch a movie about a character who spends all day doing mundane” things? Intellectually, this definition of happiness makes sense.

Art Heals: Dream Catcher

SuppliesWooden hoop or Handmade wire hoop.Sinew, string, or ribbon.Suede laceBeadsFeathers & other decorative items.Glue (decoupage, Elmer glue, or hot glue gun)Dream Catcher Instructions:Place a line of glue on the wooden hoop and tightly wrap suede lace around it.Tie sinew (string) at the top of the circle & weave your web.Decorate your dream catcher by tying…
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Lessons in Writing

My story is under eternal construction; another layer reveals itself as soon as I assemble it. Writing my recovery story is compelling and something I would like to present in a way that an audience would understand transformation. I immediately reverted to childhood, to one of my saddest moments, and began from there. I revisit emotional wounds that blend into this NOW moment and start composing. I realize the pattern of my life as I attempt not to retraumatize and dull the harsh edges of my traumatic childhood. I retell the same sad story I have uttered thousands of times, one that imprisoned me in unworthiness.

Kindness is Love in Action

by Nikki Russell, CBHPSSFebruary 20, 2024The ripple effect of kindness offers global and self-transformation. Acts of kindness can be as simple as a smile or as profound as a prayer. Sometimes, we know when the effect of our actions is received as kindness; other times, it encapsulates empathy and sends an energetic message that uplifts…
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Intention Board Project

This project is a collage that helps creates the life you desire through the Law of Attraction.

Creating Your Life as Art

Looking back, I can see how I made everyday objects extraordinary. I was eight years of age and getting ready for school; my mom had already left for work, trusting I could handle the task. With Scooby Doo in the background, I began my ascent to my mother’s closet, choosing a black and white striped suit most appropriate for a night on the town, but today I would illustrate how casual chic it was, and wow, a third-grade class. Next, I went to the bathroom mirror with all my barrettes in tow and clipped them one at a time until both sides of my hair had an eclectic blend of yellow butterflies, purple ribbons, and pink hearts. The hairdo was stunning and practical, as it flattened my curls and added an element of wonder. I walked the block to school, and to my amazement, all the kids laughed at me. This event began my creative block; how could I have been so misunderstood by my peers? My mother would spend the next ten years investigating her wardrobe for little hands that craved sophistication, acceptance, and a creative license. Over the years, I learned to tame my eccentric style, balancing neutral colors with a wild personality. I was a closet creative, dreaming of how I would express myself if the world understood my art.

The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness can feel like hunting for an external thing that, when destroyed, justifies the means. Mind you, this perspective comes from a Vegetarian who insists on achieving balance through less sacrificial means. There are two ways to view the world we live in. The first is objective, survival of the fittest, which proclaims intellect is almighty and whoever thinks and runs faster wins. The second approach comes from “Namaste,” which means “the God in me recognizes the God in you.” This is not only from human to human but also from human to object. Recovery cleared this up for me, creating a space in my heart for the value of all living things as a way of life.

The Spiritual Quotient for Life

Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) is discovering the aspects of us that inspire creativity, healing, and purpose. Another name for this is intuition, which lives on our brain’s right side. The intelligence Quotient (IQ), the left side of the brain, measures what we accumulate outside of ourselves; learning happens through reading books, listening to speeches, researching, and observing others. We analyze and compare data intellectually and incorporate it into life. Learning starts early in life, like learning to walk and speak, and evolves into helping us understand, perceive, and assess the world around us. It is critical for survival; it helps us meet mental, emotional, and social demands. Learning does not play favorites; it does not self-correct. The school of hard knocks teaches different lessons and incorporates skills that protect a person from danger. For example, due to the trauma I was experiencing at home as a child, it was much more important to maintain a sense of safety versus learning math, my left brain told me. Confidence was a mask I wore to protect secrets, in comparison to an organic experience that prepared me for harnessing a successful career path

Becoming Real

Any story worth its weight on paper is a hero’s journey, where a person ventures toward empowerment—the gumption to take a leap of faith into the unknown to discover themselves. Entering recovery is a yes to the call of becoming real; the story of Nikki becomes real; conquering fears takes courage and unlocks gratitude.
The profound transformation from something unreal to something tangible is an innate drive within us to become whole and authentic. Love attaches to many things that provide instant gratification, preventing us from letting the flood of emotions wash over us. Grace is the root word of gratitude; an intellectual approach to spirituality produces positive change, yet heartfelt choices align with purpose and develop gratitude.

Patchwork Recovery

Recovery is 1000 small decisions that, at the moment, feel insignificant yet, when added up over time, have. I recorded my recovery journey on countless pieces of paper to create a compilation of ah-ha moments from depths of darkness into life in recovery. My recovery has been a patchwork of written thoughts, shapeless until I weaved them into my life, attempting to live them as profound as they are when they dance in my mind. This is where creativity began to inform my life, realizing that it is my choice to transform past conditioning into the spark that ignites passion. Dare I show the world who I am behind the facade of correct behavior and be the superstar I create in my mind?

Proud Momma

I am so grateful to be a mother. The ten years it took to become pregnant did not prepare me for the journey of motherhood. Just because having a baby is biological does not mean it is natural. Having my daughter activated a wound in me that had been dormant for many years; I would not fully understand this rugged process until much later. The medical community calls this phenomenon postpartum depression. I was attempting to maintain a belief that having a baby would fix me; it did, but not in the way I expected.

Be the Change

I can remember many times walking past a person experiencing homelessness. The thoughts that came to mind brought feelings of shame. Something inside me wanted to give to them, but I was taught they were dangerous, morally defective, and fully capable of making money if they wanted to. As time passed, I stopped looking at “them” but could never shake the feeling that something was amiss with my actions or lack thereof. The poverty around me made me wonder what kind of person I am to pass community members experiencing homelessness. Yet, I was going home, deciding which show to watch, Seinfeld or Friends.

Illustration of a girl holding a heart with rainbows and clouds around her.

In the Pursuit of Truth

Radical acceptance is like waking up in the middle of a dream and clearly looking at life for the first time. The reality of what I had created while I was asleep in my addiction was startling. The truth that I was unwilling to look at had built momentum, and the consequences of those choices were overwhelming. Recovery demands honesty; every courageous action forward balances authenticity and vulnerability. It meant I could no longer play the victim of life; I needed to be responsible for the life I could create with a willingness to work hard to heal and forgive.

Painting of a young woman in the water

Radical Acceptance Opens the Door to Self-acceptance

Radical acceptance comes in moments of clarity, where denial transforms into connection. The test of my commitment to radical acceptance shows up when I try to fix, control, ruminate about the past, predict the future, or avoid pain.

The Inner Child and My Mental Health Disorder

What people see on the outside is just a hint of what is happening within. Moving through life and feeling the world while my trauma weaves stories about my emotions creates a mental storm legitimized by science as a mental health disorder. Some people call this empathic or highly sensitive, being tuned into what my immediate circle feels and carrying the unspoken weight of our disease. Mental health goes back as far as I could research in my family; it is the generational pattern that has been transferred from mother to child; it manifests as the burning of the internal turmoil in the middle of my life and replaces the peace my heart came here to feel.

Forgiveness is Freedom

If I could give another word for recovery, it would be forgiveness because if resentment is the blind spot of addiction, then forgiveness is a corrected vision. Forgiveness is an inner connection versus an emphasis on the crisis. In other words, resentment is fear, and forgiveness is love.

Putting Principles into Practice

In the beginning of my recovery journey my life was about bringing myself to a balanced state of mind so that I could begin to build a life of purpose. Early recovery was about discovering who I was through a healing process that brought me inwards towards many wounds that I felt would be my demise. Through this emotional roller coaster ride, I learned that after the scariest moments of remembering past hurt came equally enlightening moments of truth that helped me face my past and build a life beyond recovery.

Leap of Faith

Relationships have served as a mirror into my heart, showing me where I need to grow and giving me the inspiration to overcome my greatest fears. Relationships reflect my internal frame of reference, the dominant conditioning that insists on being safe. I unknowingly used relationships to justify an abandonment wound I held since childhood.