If A Whisper Doesn’t Work, Maybe A Scream Will

As I am sure most can relate, there are things I know I need to do but  tend to put off doing them  in hopes I can buy myself more time.  I am speaking of what my body has been telling me….and what my soul has been telling me….but I have not been listening enough.

Knowing I needed to slow down physically was not enough.  I would see people around me doing more than I do so it was easy to justify my continued pushing. I did decrease my energy output/exercise routine significantly, but it was apparently too little too late.  Now my back is saying it will NOT be ignored.  I feel like it whispered to me through low back pain – I tried to respect my body by stopping certain stretches I thought exacerbated the pain (back bends especially), and I also decreased my mileage with running as I knew I needed to switch things up. My body needed something other than pounding on pavement – so I walked more and  practiced yoga more consistently.

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Pushing pretty hard at this point….coming back to bite me now! 😦

I remember my brother Tom telling me to slow down and not wait til my body was screaming like his was. He has been an avid runner for years and ended up needing hip replacement and having knee and back problems as well. His words have been fresh in my mind since that time a few years ago and definitely served as motivation to slow down as I spoke of above. Apparently it was not enough though as  my body is now screaming at me. My back pain is more like sciatica and I have several disc issues which Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment did not touch and my very qualified and gifted PT has not been able to help either.  I am now awaiting an appointment with a surgeon but am truly hoping it does not come down to that.

I speak of this because it is impacting my every day. The things I love to do most – running, yoga, hiking, baking, cooking and yes – even cleaning – are all painful for me.  Despite  doing less, I feel more tired than I have in a long time.  However, I deeply believe all things happen for a reason and there is a lesson in this for me. (I seem to be getting a lot of lessons lately and am feeling like I must be a terribly slow learner ;)). Maybe this is so I slow down and listen to the whispers of my soul…maybe my body needs to heal more than I realized…maybe I need to take care of me more in different or new ways that do not always involve physical activity. I have started reading more  novels – this is something I rarely do as I tend to be tired by the time I go to bed, used to feel guilty reading a novel when there is a pile of parenting/work related/spiritual books on my bookshelf – so I would read a page or 2 of those and fall asleep.  It feels like a luxury to read for fun. And I know the joy I get will decrease my stress and therefore improve my pain levels.

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Slowing down has allowed me time to sit and enjoy this Thanksgiving cactus

 

Are there ways that your body is whispering or even screaming for you to hear?  Is there something your soul needs that you have been ignoring. If so, take a moment and in the quiet, listen for the messages. Sometimes they are more clear than others…but they are always there. And those messages ALWAYS feed the love ❤

 

Many Blessings

 

Suzanne

Letting Go

As a parent letting go can be quite a challenge. We have to let go in so many different phases and chapters of our children’s lives.  Right off the bat, we have to let go and let medical staff clean up and take care of our baby(ies) as soon as they come into the world…with my boyz being preemies, I had to take that a step further and let others care for them for almost a month with my involvement being minimal comparatively speaking.  They start walking and we have to let go of their hand so they can do it on their own….they go to pre-school /daycare and we have to walk out the door while they stay there with others…they go to full day Kindergarten where we let go and hear about a whole day without mom or dad 5 days a week.

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This was the first day all three were home – for 3 1/2 weeks the nurses had more contact with the boyz than Steve and I did. I was SO happy to have them all home and loved having all three by myself.

 

And it goes on as they progress through school, move from pre arranged play dates to their own plans to be with friends, go from help on their homework to doing it on their own… and hopefully keeping track of said homework! 😉  But the ‘letting go’ that most people associate with parenting is the transition to college/post high school life.

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Our first of three big letting go experiences….Induction Day at USNA June 2018

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I have never felt so clear about my need to surrender and let go as I have these past 2 to 3 years. Of course, that does not mean that it has been easy, or that I have done a good job of it much of the time. I still hold on for dear life at times – not because I do not feel like I can live without them or that I don’t know how to fill my life in this next phase – but because I worry and I want them to be happy and fulfilled and healthy just as any parent does.

I found Junior and Senior years to be a challenge with balancing the need to let the boyz ‘own their stuff’  and have increased independence /responsibility while at the same time these are the years that colleges are really looking at and will make a huge impact on their futures. 16-18 year olds want more independence, are more interested in social life, and are balancing so many academic, athletic, extracurricular and social demands on top of physical and emotional changes.  As a parent it is hard to know how much to step in and how much to let them go.

A few weeks ago I heard an interview on NPR of authors Dr Anthony Rastain and B Janet Hibbs who co-wrote  ‘The Stressed Years of Their Lives’. It is a book about the transition to college and how in this current time, so many students struggle – with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, technology addiction.  The interview spoke to me because Janet Hibbs is a therapist and her son was struggling his second semester of his freshman year of college – to the point which he did not go back to school after Spring Break.  This was of course devastating to her son and the whole family.  They worked with Dr Rastain and others to help her son find his path, which thankfully he did, but it was not quick or easy.  It was SO amazing to hear her speak about her experience as a mom/therapist – we want to prevent these things and can be very hard on ourselves for mistakes made because we ‘knew better’ or ‘should have known better’.  I downloaded the book immediately, listened to it daily until I was finished and have since recommended it to any parent with children high school/college age that I can.

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The book points out the incredible increase in mental health issues in teens and young adults, the complexity of the world they live in compared to what we experienced, the competition to get into schools and then how the pressure continues once they are in college.   Technology and social media have served to exacerbate these problems as a simple trip to the grocery store can look like an important event missed out on when you’re 19 and see a post of your friends all laughing by the cereal aisle and you were not included.  Technology can serve as an escape as well – be it gaming, binging on Netflix, Youtube, social media obsession or the like. And of course, the ever present alcohol and drug scene that shows itself at just about every college campus and is a whole new arena to negotiate for many kids.

This parenting phase has certainly created some growth and expansion for me – though it has been painful and challenging to watch the boyz falter at times, I am learning to accept what is more often and to be more forgiving of myself and the imperfections in my parenting journey.

There are two things we should give our children,

one is roots,

the other is wings

 

Letting go absolutely feeds the love and enhances self growth and healthy relationships with our young adult children.

Keep Feeding the Love…

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

Back In The Saddle

I have been reflecting on what takes me out of writing as it has been a few months since I have posted here.  The main thing that comes up for me is emotional overwhelm with life situations.  I may have the time, but the emotional energy is not there and the content is more difficult as I am focused on a life stressor that grips me in the moment (or months of moments!).  In thinking about this, I realize how much blogging would help me during these times – as it does always bring perspective and shifts the way my brain is carrying thoughts and emotions.

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This tree is in the flow of its life…blooming and beautiful – I have walked past it many times and just noticed it for the first time a few days ago

The past year has been a bit different than expected – with so many visits to the boyz due to their participation in sports/spectator activities and parents weekends, we did not feel the ’empty nest’ in the traditional way during their first semester. Then second semester Brendan came home and with that was a host of emotions to grapple with for all of us.  This has taken much of my energy and focus, and along with that, the drive to write.

IT IS EASY TO WRITE WHEN LIFE IS FLOWING ALONG…

IT TAKES COURAGE TO WRITE WHEN LIFE’S CHALLENGES ARISE…

BUT THAT IS WHERE THE GROWTH AND HEALING HAPPEN 

 

My perfectionist self would like to be super consistent and inspired at all times. But I am recognizing my humanness  and life’s non-linear path, and I am becoming more accepting of the ebb and flow.  So bear with me if you will … you may also recognize an area in life where you have much ebb and flow despite your desire for consistency.  Know I am right there with you and by acknowledging this with self compassion, we are, once again, feeding the love.

 

Love and light,

Suzanne

Shifting Energy

Shifting energy is something I talk with my patients about all the time and a skill I do not think I could live without. When we are dealing with something difficult or are just in a lower state with anxiety, depression, grief or anger, it is so important to find ways to shift our energy.  Our body is pure energy and vibration….and it impacts our surroundings. Ever go into a hospital or a funeral home and feel the heaviness there? That is grief, illness and pain literally filling the air. Ever go to Disney Land, a playground, or a  birthday party and feel the joy and lightness there?  That is curiosity, passion for play and excitement filling the air.

I have been studying  Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology for the past 12 years or so and it has now become second nature to me to mix things up in order to shift my mood as much as possible.  That might mean stepping outside for a breath of fresh air or taking a long walk to breathe in nature’s smells, sounds and sights. It might mean dancing in the living room to music that is set at a vibration higher than what I am currently at (if we put it to music that is too high relative to where we are, we will want to turn it off because it does not resonate at all in the moment). It might mean crossing my opposite elbow to opposite knee 10 x each side. It might mean lighting a candle, doing some light stretching or yoga.

I remember one time when I was upset about something for several days – I cannot even remember what it was about as it was several years ago,  I went to a Zumba class and felt such a shift afterwards. The music, movement, side to side and crossover motion were all tremendous in helping me move to a new emotional place inside.

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Midweek of February break we took a beautiful ski to the Great Camp Santanoni with friends (who are the ones who sold us on getting a Brittany Spaniel!)..it was a MUCH needed day out in the midst of a difficult week.

So we can do these things any time and any where – even when  it is winter and we are stuck inside…when life hands us some tough times and there is stress/pain or sadness in the air. There is always something we can do to shift our energy. And the more you do this with conscious awareness, the more you will notice the effect and turn to these things when you need them.

 

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Tarra was one pooped pup on the way out…her 3 yr old friend was still full of energy!

Dancing, walking, fresh air, music, yoga, and much more all feed the love to increase our vibration and lighten the heaviness life can bring at times. ❤

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Life is not Linear

We have had some unplanned, unwanted and undesirable events come up in the past 2 weeks. It has sent me reeling…it has made me look at things and re-evaluate my consistent perfectionistic desires.  There is so much we want in life…so much we plan for without even realizing it….and so much we fear getting in the way.

A part of me wishes life could flow smoothly, that things could go according to plan, and that we could rely on a steady outcome. But what would that life be like? Where would the growth be?

I am seeing on a new level, how life is so full of struggle and that our job is to take each one and hopefully learn and grow from it. This is so cliche – but cliches tend to be ripe with wisdom if we take them in.  A significant skill in using the struggle to move forward is not staying in the past…in the ‘what ifs’. I am surprised by my ability to do that in this situation. I tend to perseverate on the past, on ‘mistakes’ and ‘if onlys’….but I am feeling grateful for the gift of this learning, not just for my son but also for myself and Steve, as his parents. While this is his experience, we all feel for our children and go through their pain with them no matter what their age.  He is also teaching me about acceptance and resilience. His attitude is positive in the midst of sadness and disappointment.

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I was in the Dr office last week and this just said it all

While I am feeling the struggle of life, I see how easy it would be to become cynical and view life through the lens of ‘life is so hard’. This is not a view that appeals to me or that I have ever held. I see life as a gift.  Sure there are many ups and downs…and often the downs seem more frequent and long lasting than the ups, but without the downs we would not even feel the ups.

Life is not linear. I talk with my patients all the time about healing and how it is not linear – they often come in upset if they have had a set back – but set backs are an expected part of the journey. We do not lose our knowingness of the growth we have had – we just go off course for a moment and then re-group and get back on. There is an ebb and flow to healing from anything and an ebb and flow to life in general. Linear is neat, clean and controlled…but the ebb and flow contains the juice of life – the joy, the pain and all things in between.

I feel so grateful for the support of friends and family, for the love that all have shown to us and to our son, and for the encouragement and belief all have in him.  This is a tremendous opportunity to re-evaluate, to re-adjust and to re-define plans, goals and values.  My only prayer is that we use this time to dig deep and that we all come out with more clarity, love and passion for what is to come next.

And I thank my friends and family for feeding the love in the midst of this painful experience.

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

Letting Go Of A Dream

Letting go of a dream….that sounds pretty dramatic doesn’t it? Sounds like something that could make us feel defeated… resigned…heartbroken.  This weekend Steve and the boyz let go of a dream. We sold the ’66 Mustang that Steve’s parents had bought for him  when he was  a teenager.  At some point it stopped running and the car had been sitting in his parents garage for years and then in our shed for more years…in hopes that one day Steve and the boyz would restore it and he could share his teenage love with them.  Sadly, that experience did not seem to be in the cards.  Time and money – the 2 things that seem to fall short – prevented them from being able to seize the opportunity.

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Our mechanic, Keith, came to tow the Mustang to it’s new home…

The restoration was always something Steve, Seamus, Brendan and Casey talked about, dreamed about and hoped would someday come true…but today they said goodbye to that vision.  Steve and I have been focused on cleaning out our house and on getting in a stronger financial position.  He realized that it was not likely we would have the large sum of money it would take to restore the Mustang especially now that the boyz are not even home to work on it with him. He saw that getting the car out of the shed, would free up space for other things and would give him access to more ‘stuff’ that was buried behind the Mustang that he might want to sell or give away. Steve felt better about bidding the Mustang farewell as it went to a family in Burnt Hills, where Steve grew up, and the father is going to restore it with his 23, 18 and 14 year old sons.  He is glad it will bring joy to a family in the way it did for him.

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As you can see, it took up most of the big center part of the shed…now there is more space to organize the rest of the ‘contents of the shed so they are not jammed in there!

 

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Dave seems like a great guy who will fulfill his own dream of restoring an old car with his sons. 

So while there was a tinge of sadness in saying goodbye…there was also some relief in freeing up the space, gratitude to Steve’s parents for OK’ing us to sell it so we can create a better financial picture, and appreciation for all the car has meant to Steve through the years.

We are in a new phase of our lives. There is much sadness that our ‘raising the boyz’ years are over…(though don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it is really over when they graduate – the parenting thing is still in full force – it just looks different than it did for the past 18 years!)…but there is also some excitement about the things that are here for us now.  It is time to shift some of our dreams… We now know we will never travel out west during a summer vacation as a family…we will not have a pool that the boyz can swim in with all of their friends. But that is ok because so many of our dreams did come true and we were blessed to do many other things we never even imagined.  And now as we let go of some dreams, we also allow the doors to open to new opportunities and experiences.  It is in the letting go that we truly free ourselves and open our hearts to life. Holding on is like a contraction in our body and letting go allows for expansion in our body, our hearts and our lives.

It is in the letting go that we feed the love ❤

 

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

A New Perspective on Regret

A tendency to be pretty hard on myself and a bit of a perfectionist streak  lead me to  find things I regret.  I can look back at my day…week….year and wish I did X,Y or Z differently.  I remember when the boyz started Kindergarten and I was so upset, wishing I had been less stressed and more present during those 0-5 years home.  I also wish I had been more confident in high school and joined the running team instead of soccer as I think an individual sport would have suited me much better. I wish I had continued blogging from the time we came from India….I wish ..I wish…I wish…

 

shallow focus of white dandelion

 

A few years ago I came to terms with a certain level of regret – like when I go on a trip and inevitably there is something else I wish I had packed or something I intended to pack but forgot about.  After a few consecutive trips like this, I came to the conclusion that there will always be something for my brain to find that it wishes I brought with me and that awareness alone, helped me to release the regret.

Thought patterns become ingrained in our minds like habits. We have grooves in our brain and we can lazily keep going down that same track..ie ‘I wish…” Thankfully we can change those grooves at any point – no matter what our age.  As we practice a new pattern, we start to create a new groove and the old one atrophies as we use it less and less until eventually the new one becomes automatic.

So while we can change our brain’s incessant search for something to feel badly about, a new perspective on regret came to me the other night.    Maybe if we never felt regret that would mean that we had not grown. Maybe part of where regret comes from is being a slightly different person now and having more clarity which time provides and being able to view a situation a whole new way.  When we are in the midst of something, we cannot see clearly.  This is why when people tell parents of young children to ‘enjoy it – it goes so fast’ it falls on deaf ears for the most part. Those parents are in the midst of the hectic-ness of child rearing and family life. They cannot have the same perspective as someone who is beyond that phase of life and can see now how very fast it does go.

 

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Savor that moment Mama 😉

That person can see clearly how she may wish she parented – but it is easy to see that when you are not ‘in’ it – feeling the stress, exhaustion and to do list that parents feel. This is why grand-parenting is so blissful (from what I hear anyway :)).  So possibly, if we look back thinking ‘I wish’, maybe it is because we are slightly different, slightly more aware, slightly more wise.  In that case, regret tells us something positive about ourselves- that we are progressing on this journey of life and  learning as we go.  Learning hopefully implies change as well.  We can apologize if the regret is something that hurt another person (there is no statute of limitations for apologies!) And if the opportunity presents itself again, we may choose differently that time given our new awareness.

As with any feeling, if we push regret away, it will keep knocking. It is painful to feel regret, but if it comes up, we can practice non- attachment and we can allow it to move through as a new perspective and an awareness that we have grown.  Attaching to  regret can cause shame, depression and sadness.  Self-compassion is  key to healing this – to look back and not just think about what we would do if we were to do it over again, but to see ourselves as we were at that time…to remember what we were feeling and thinking which led us to make those particular choices…and to have compassion for that younger self and know she was doing the best she could at that time.

 

And with that, we will feed the love ❤

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

 

Little Things Tuesday

Sometimes it is the littlest things that make us happy.  I thought it would be fun to celebrate these little moments, things or experiences and see if others can relate.

I am a very visual person so my surroundings really impact me. I was looking for something small for a blank space in my bathroom and came across this which just made me smile…and reminds me of the person I want to be more and more.

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Some things I am grateful for are a bit bigger….like having very close friends who just happen to be spending the year in Ireland at the same time that Brendan is there. They are his Irish family and he was able to visit them over the weekend for some hiking, Irish music, rugby watching, biking and eating!

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Having this connection has been such a gift for Bear…here he is with his Irish siblings, Molly and Aidan 🙂

 

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Incredible snow at Garnet Hill and a hubby and son that wax my skis for me!

 

And a pup that is small enough to bathe easily and looks like she had a perm on her back after I towel her dry 🙂

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Our other pups were never allowed on the furniture…but Tarra is so small and does not shed like our labs did. She is SO cuddly ❤

 

It is little things like this that make me smile and feed the love on a day to day.

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

What’s Ripe in January?

As January has come to a close, I have been reflecting on the month. Living in the great northeast, about the only thing growing around us is snow :). Of course that is much to my delight as I love snow, skiing, snowshoeing, snuggling under heavy blankets and the pure peace, beauty and coziness that comes with a good old fashioned snowstorm.

 

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Untouched trail about to be demolished by my snowshoes and Pup’s paws..I sank to my knees on snowshoes and I was still not hitting ground!

There is one thing that grows here in January however,  and grows most everywhere this time of year… and that is diet culture.  Talk of various diets, weight loss, exercise plans and Fit Bit trackers is ubiquitous at this time.  In the past I really thought it was ‘my issue’ that I felt stressed around that kind of conversation, and to be fair, it is. My stress is mine and if something triggers me, it is because I hold something in me that touches that particular topic.  It is a journey as I continue to work on listening to my body and respecting my needs – whether that be for kale and cucumbers or for brownies and ice cream.

I have come to a new place with this topic though and I just realized this yesterday.  We were in the lunchroom at work and talk began about a contest some are having involving weight loss and tracking steps.  I felt slightly stressed as I tend to around any diet talk, but I also felt very clear – this talk is toxic – not just to me but for our culture at large. It impacts people in ways we do not even realize because we are so accustomed to hearing it.  To the outsider it just sounded like friendly banter of coworkers in the midst of an effort to improve their health. But what we know about that is that it negatively more than positively impacts health.

What kinds of conversations

could we be having if we were not talking

about food and weight so much of the time?

 

How can that be? Don’t all Drs prescribe weight loss to their patients who are suffering from pretty much any ailment they present for?  What we know now is that prescribed weight loss is not sustainable.  Sure, anyone can go on ‘X’ plan and lose weight, but why do 95% of those people gain that weight (and often more) back? Would we take a birth control pill that was 95 % ineffective? So people lose weight, gain it back, and feel like they failed, creating yet another reason to say ‘what the H-ll’ and binge in response to their self -defeated feelings and their weeks/months of restriction. What they are unable to see is that they did not fail – the diets fail. They  feel more disempowered and disconnected from their bodies with each attempt.

January brings this renewed sense of  ‘this year will be different’ and because of our culture’s messages, a large part of that is focused on weight. Office lunchrooms, school cafeterias, dinner parties will all find multiple conversations leaning in this direction. This year I am choosing to just remove myself from the area when I hear this kind of talk though certainly at times, when appropriate, I will share my viewpoint. I recognize that everyone is not ready to let go of the thin ideal, that these messages are deep and fixed in so many of us and it is a process (one that I am still in the midst of) to shift to a new paradigm. This shift often results in a grieving process as people have dreamed that ‘once I am “x” weight….’ life will be perfect, I will have love, money, respect, health’….I have patients who are young 20 somethings to those who are retired, grandparents, widows…who struggle with these issues on a daily basis.  I feel so inspired when they are able to take in even a tiny bit of this new information….people are remarkable.

 

‘Good’ foods are any foods

that feel nourishing to my body and soul’ 

 

How amazing would it be if we could all be more respectful of our bodies? If we could give ourselves what we want and need and not apply moral judgement to food choices?  I have been slowly, shifting to this mindset with the awareness that our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for. If we take care of them, they find where they want to be regarding weight. We can go to various lengths to try to change that, but it is ultimately temporary because our bodies are designed to survive and fight efforts that work against them. 

My intention is to keep feeding the love by feeding my body ❤

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

New Year, New….

Garage door???

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New hardware replaced but will need much more than that in the long run:(

Well we are in a much better place than last year at this time….on January 1, 2018 we discovered we needed a new hot water heater, washer and dryer. Whoo hoo!  Here we are January 2019 and on Thursday Steve had a snow day (#4!) and while he was trying to clear the driveway (it was actually pouring rain and roads were very icy which was reason for school cancellation), the tractor caught the garage door string and it came slamming down on the Kubota and just missed really injuring/killing Steve.  We are beyond grateful that he did not break his back or worse but are also a bit bummed to have to replace the door. The Overhead Door man came and did a temporary fix so the door is operable for the moment which is great given the freezing temperatures.  We a just increased our homeowners insurance deductible in an effort to reduce monthly expenses. Lovely right?  We have never used the homeowners so thought it was silly to have such a low deductible. Ha! Timing is everything.

 

On to brighter new things however….in another effort to reduce expenses, I have decided to forgo my hair highlighting appointments and a friend of mine offered to do it for me.  She has very little experience but so much knowledge, interest and passion for this, that she is really quite good. She does her own hair, her daughters, sister-in-law and mother’s hair…and now mine :).

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This always makes me think of the Beauty School Dropout scene in Grease!

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Finished look….still very poofy hair though… great for the 80s but not so much for 2019!;)

She did this a couple weeks ago and then Friday night came over to cut my hair and try various makeup on me. She is very stylish and gifted with these things and always looks phenomenal herself. She knows I am not too into makeup so went with a natural look for me.

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Me and my makeover queen:)

It was fun to have a new look and I was ready for a change with my hair. As Brendan said ‘Mom, you have had the same haircut my whole life!” Plus I can still pull it up which was a requirement for me – just so easy!

So thanks Missy, for feeding the love with my new style 🙂

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne