Time Away

Time away is so crucial to our mental health. We need time away from our routine, our comfort zone, our day to day and our people. I have been fortunate to have had several phenomenal ‘get aways’ over the years but it has been a few years since I have done this.

I started my time with a stop in Albany to meet a new friend, and fellow USNA mom, Lisa. We went to Starbucks to catch up a bit- she is a beautiful soul with a calm and authentic presence. We  then to an aerial yoga class which was so awesome! And our teacher Jennie Lee was a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. The class started with a lecture piece on anatomy and how the class would help with various injuries and pain.

 

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I left there and went on to Stockbridge to an ‘Embodied Practitioner’ training.  We have been going to nearby Lenox for years as Steve’s parents have a time share there, and I have always wanted to try Kripalu and had never been. It was a truly wonderful experience – great facility (it is older so I thought it might be cold inside but it was toasty warm!!!), friendly staff, delicious food and solid yoga classes.

The training was phenomenal – led by two experts in the field of Body Positivity and Intuitive Eating.  We had a group of 21  and it was a perfect combination of personal work with professional training. I left feeling more empowered and embodied to carry this work to my patients.

One of the best parts of the training was the schedule – we had a few hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon, with a long lunch break. It left room for plenty of time for yoga, walks, journaling, sauna….self-care indulgence:).  I went to a Yoga Dance class which was so awesome! The instructor led us through some movements that helped to release old stories we hold in our bodies as well as free flow dance. Very freeing.

I also ‘spoiled ‘myself with a facial. Since work paid for the training, I thought I would use the excuse that I am in this lovely space, to do something I actually need more often but have only had a few times in my life.  Sad that I feel I need to have an excuse to do something like this but it is part of life with 3 kids in college.  When I was getting massaged and completely relaxing, my mind suddenly grabbed onto a fear thought about the boyz and all the things that could happen with them in school.  I was so aware of this shift. In my normal routine at home, I have these fears more often than I would like to admit, and I sometimes am not aware of them until I am down the road of some ‘fear story’ I am telling myself.  But in this setting, where I was so removed from daily worry and to dos, the contrast of a fear thought was drastic and noticeable. It enhanced my awareness of how these thoughts contract my energy and hold me hostage without even knowing it. Being away, in a different place and experience, allowed me to get this perspective and to see things in my ‘normal life’ in a slightly new way.  I was able to take some deep breaths, reminding myself to be present with the facial – to allow the calm and peace of the moment to flow through and heal the contraction of the worry thoughts.

 

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Before leaving I took a short walk down to the lake to soak in more calm, more presence, more beauty.  Thank you to Kripalu, to my fellow embodied practitioners and to my phenomenal facilitators for feeding the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

As we are 2 weeks from Thanksgiving (actually as I publish this, we are exactly 2 weeks from Black Friday…how interesting that the day we spend on gratitude is followed by a day of buying stuff – – but that is for another post).We started the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ritual in 2010 when we were living in India.  Steve was away for a conference with his fellow Fulbright colleagues and we were particularly worried about feeling homesick and sad on this holiday which is traditionally filled with family and was not celebrated in India (obviously) and Steve would not even be with us.

In order to make the holiday festive and different, I decided to surprise the boyz with a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  They were 10, vegetarian, and in no way missing the traditional Thanksgiving meal, and of course – who wouldn’t love snacks for dinner? Well….Peppermint Patty I guess 😉 So we commenced watching the special on our little computer and eating pretzels, popcorn, toast, jelly beans and ice cream for dinner.

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Happy boyz 🙂

 

Watching a classic….and we cannot forget the ice cream!

So every year since then we have had a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving night on the weekend prior to the actual holiday.  We add some things to the meal, since it is hard for me not to add a fruit or veggie (I know – we could say the jelly beans are fruit and the popcorn is a veggie :)….but the staples are all there.

Our last CB Thanksgiving …Notice Charlie fooled by Lucy once again!

Since Brendan will not be home for Thanksgiving at all this year, and Seamus and Casey come home right before the holiday, I decided to send them each a CB Thanksgiving package.

 

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The essentials 🙂

Hopefully it will add a little cheer to their day and they can share the tradition with their new friends.

And as we all know….Charlie Brown and his gang always feed the love 🙂

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Let’s Be Curious

Here we are on election day, which got me thinking about judgement….I have never seen people so disturbed by the state of this country. I have elderly patients who come to see me purely as a result of the anxiety they feel due to listening to the news and struggling so with what is happening.  It can be so hard  to understand where the other side is coming from and we polarize based on our beliefs.  Yet I also know that underneath it all, we are all the same. We are all human, looking for love, happiness, health and relative ease in our lives.  For the most part, we all believe in kindness, honesty and compassion.  Of course, we do not all practice those things but I have yet to meet anyone who does not believe in the virtue of these traits.

From the time I was very young I recognized that we all have reasons that we do the things we do.  I was able to see that behind what might seem like irrational behavior or beliefs, was someone who had a clear reason for what they were doing or believing- whether right or wrong.

I believe there is a reason for everything. We all carry judgement to some extent – even if unconsciously.  Yet when we hear the story and reasoning behind someone’s decisions, actions or beliefs, we can much better understand and sometimes even accept where they are at.  We may not agree, but just having a full picture helps us to bridge the gap. I experience this daily when I talk with my patients and hear their back story.

 

Be Curious, Not Judgmental…

                                                                        Walt Whitman

Curiosity is the antedote to judgement. If we become curious about other’s beliefs… their thoughts… their experience…their ‘story’ if you will, it can suspend judgement and maybe even hold it off altogether.  We can come to understand each other on a personal level which calms the toxic energy that we can otherwise feel between two opposing parties.

Think of how small children are before they have become ‘tainted’ by adult opinions.  If they see someone who is different from them, they are curious. They wonder why that person is different but they do not judge them until they learn from us to do so.

So let’s stay curious and let that feed the love this election day.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

Yin and Yang

Opposites attract….We have all heard of yin and yang – how it takes opposite energies to make a whole. It is rooted in Taoism, the yin, or dark piece represents shadows and femininity, while the yang, or white side, represents masculinity and light.

 

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When Steve and I got together SO many people said how opposite we were …and our astrological signs emphasizes that message. He is Gemini, a wanderer, an adventurer…he is spontaneous, very social and always in the moment. I on the other hand, am a Cancer, a homebody who tends to be quieter and crave structure and schedules.  Rev Ned Coughlin,  one of the Jesuits from college who knew us both well, described these complimentary differences in his homily at our wedding.  Of course, I felt like Steve seemed like a great, fun guy and I sounded like I was just an organized, boring girl, but there was much truth to it all.  We have always said what many people in our situation say ‘we balance each other out’.  With Steve, I tend to do things I never  would do on my own – travel cross country in a van, move to India for 6 months, and build 2 houses. In turn , he says I ground him, give him a sense of place and calm.  So it has worked well for us despite our differences. Our deepest values are shared and that is ultimately most important.

At times though, this coming from different places feels stressful. I will come back from a  walk after listening to a podcast which emphasizes body positivity or spiritual growth and will find him listening to a guy talking about ‘training harder’ and ‘pushing through’.  I hear these guys deep, intense voices and feel stressed. However, when we talk about the things we are listening to, we are actually not speaking as different of a language as it may seem.

So it was one day I went into the garage where he has his ‘man gym’.  He and the boyz used to work out in there and now 2 of his friends from school work out with him. It consists of a weight bench, a boxing bag and such for strength training.  It has been great for Steve and he is loving the lifting and the comraderie with the guys.

But the top sign is what I saw on the wall…

 

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So I just added the bottom sign to ‘balance things out’ a bit! 😉  He really put the top one up as a joke but it has stayed and every time I see it, I cringe. It makes me contract, feel stressed and it just goes against my grain. At the same time, I know the message – sometimes we do need to push through when things get tough. That is how we grow, change, and gain confidence in our abilities. And I am not just talking about physical abilities, I am talking about emotional, intellectual, spiritual. All of these areas can become overwhelming in their own ways – causing us to want to run the other way. But when we push through, we can find a part of ourselves that we never knew existed.

Yet – we do need to know when it is time to push and when is it time to listen to that need to stop. This is where aligning ourselves, tuning out external messages and going deep to our inner voice can help. Is it easy? No. Do we sometimes make a choice we regret in the end? Yes (ie -thinking we need a night in but then ultimately finding ourselves with more energy than anticipated and wishing we took our friends up on that offer to go out….or thinking we need to get up and run and finding ourselves depleted and realizing the ‘stay in bed’ voice was not just our ‘I too comfy under the covers to get up’ voice, but our inner voice knowing our body needed rest).

 

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I remember right after the boyz were born when Steve and I were going through a truly transformational time in our relationship.  Becoming parents brings up parts of ourselves that have yet to be examined and as this happened, my view of us as opposites began to shift as our sameness was revealed to us.   I began to see how ultimately similar we really are underneath it all. We may look different on the surface –  but opposite sides of the spectrum are the really the same.

So now I can look at those signs with calm, knowing it reflects the duality and ultimately, unity of life…and that, too, feeds the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne