Doing The Best I Can: Empathy and Self-Compassion

Yesterday was a struggle. I resented the sunshine and just wanted to spend my one day off doing a bunch of nothing. I watched the news incessantly, binge watched a new show and finally took my mat outside to lie in the sun. Eventually B and I made up a soccer game in the living room to get moving and to entertain ourselves. Overworking is difficult. Boredom is real as well.

One of the things I have become aware of is that I am personally up and down with EVERYTHING right now. Taking a business to a brand new online model in 3 days is not what I would call “relaxing”. For me boredom has not been a thing until yesterday. Life has been nonstop problem solving, learning and teaching.

That has led me to reflect on how every person I speak with is experiencing this crisis in different ways.  Read More »

Exhale Fear

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

~Rumi

Many years ago when I was young I was very ill and went through about 5 years of multiple surgeries and hospitalizations. It really sucked. My 20’s and early 30’s I was “sickly” and I lived with a great deal of uncertainly and fear. Meanwhile I was a young mother, quite poor at times and trying to manage multiple things. After each surgery I would withdraw inward from the pain, rarely looking at anyone, talking or moving. I had no practices during most of this time to rely upon, only my youth, stubbornness, my love for my children and refusal to accept the label SICKLY. When I would make it home from the hospital my mom would take care of me and the next day we would walk to the mailbox. The next day I would walk to the next driveway. Then the third day I could usually make it all the way down the street. After that, things would generally fall back into place and life would resume…until the illness began again.

The way of recovery was to DO something physical in order to become stronger. The way out was to BELIEVE that I could do it. The way out was to PERSEVERE despite the pain. I went through this cycle so many times until my last surgery which was about 14 years ago. I was in the step-down ICU for 5 months and left the hospital with a walker. 2 months later I went backpacking (I was 38 after all), that is how quickly I recovered partially because by then I DID have practices.  Read More »

Walking the Line of Doing Fine

“How are you? Are you ok? How are you feeling. “

I’m not an “ok-er”. I’ve come to know this about myself. As philosophical as I am, as much as What Does It All MEAN tends to drive my life I see I am also I realist and a practical person.  

I am NOT ok. Yet of course, I am OK in that way that only someone who knows that All is Well can know. But I also know that the Susan part of me is not ok. I hope that is ok with you because I’m just into being real. If you need me to be like perfect or always ok then don’t read this. (and I’m also ok with the fact that this might not be ok with you).

Everything has changed now. And of course everything is always changing but everything has REALLY changed. And I’m angry. And I’m sad. And I’m grateful. And I’m ecstatic. And I’m afraid. And I am not afraid of anything. And I’m curious. And I just want everything to go back to how it was.

Brave people grieve. Vulnerable people grieve. All people grieve. Do you see the pattern here?

Grief is a walk on the line between acceptance and attachment, letting go of yesterday just enough to accept and live today yet never letting go of the joy of flying through the sea, the wonder of your child reaching for your hand the first time, the sweetness of love given by your partner who knew you at your core and loved you exactly as you are—all of your amazing, neurotic, wonderful, ok-ness even if you never put the toilet paper back on the holder. Read More »

Becoming Still

Winter brings with it a hectic hustle unlike no other time. As a yogi and a nature lover my natural inclination is to become reflective and quiet this time of year. Long cups of tea, reading and writing by the fire is my preference as we move toward the darkest days of the year. But as a business owner (oh the conflicts are many) this time of year calls for action. There are so many minute details and the inevitable need to manage multiple obligations. Though I personally choose to celebrate Solstice over any other winter holiday, family traditions and obligations require my presence. And then there is the unending pressure and the heighten emotions that come with holiday expectations and avoidance of those expectations. The doing and swirling and tension builds on all side, swirling and churning. 

Inside of me I have been feeling a strong urge to explore stillness in a way that I have never felt so strongly. The energy all around me feels frenetic and slightly out of control. The outer world is saying, society is saying, “You must do something NOW and on my terms.” Nature is saying, “Turn inward and rest.” Today particularly, the Winter Solstice, my Inner world is sending a different message. Higher Awareness says, ” Do not act. Be still. Listen. Let the darkness fall. Be with the quiet, be with the dark. Breathe in, listen deeply, reflect. Breathe out and be with the churning, embrace the darkness until stillness comes. Be present here in this moment as if you have nothing else to do, nowhere else to be. Be stillness itself. And when you move again, move with renewed spirit to act, with Awareness.” I believe it is time to listen to that awareness.

Happy Solstice. May we all find stillness in the darkness and celebrate the light, for it is never lost. ~ Jai, Bhagwan, Susan 🙏l

The Story of No Story

Yoga teaches us that when we identify with our “story” (an identity or belief that is developed from our individual ego rather than identifying with our true nature) we are suffering, blinded by illusion. I was originally introduced to this idea by Sudakar Ken McRae and the concept allowed me to move beyond the limiting beliefs of my mind that held me hostage for many years. As a result of that I rarely talk about my experience with chronic illness because I do no longer define myself by that story. Yoga practices (Big Y Yoga) allowed me to use connection to the present moment to overcome the limitations I once experienced in body that therefore impacted my mind. However, I am making an exception to revisit my past experiences and share them with you.

II was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) when I was 16, unfortunately it was a very severe case. After years of suffering from anemia, pain, malnutrition and frequent hospitalizations I was sent to the Mayo Clinic to have the diseased gut removed at age 29. Unfortunately, the surgery resulted in a confounding number of other complications including obstruction, infection, and poor motility resulting in frequent hospitalizations for about 8 more years. My life at that time was one of severe pain and was limited by this severe illness.
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