Posted by: Suzan | October 16, 2009

Navigating Graceful Transitions

Suzan Tusson on Mission Trails

Suzan Tusson on Mission Trails

With transitions becoming more rampant in our lives, I thought I’d share a former interview I had on Graceful Transitions with Holistic Business Magazine. ENJOY!


An Interview With Suzan Tusson-McNeil, Life & Business Coach –  On Graceful Transitions
by Rena Tucker

HBJ: Suzan, you are a life and business coach for mid-life women in transition. How would you describe your practice?

STM: I help women in mid-life (which I qualify as 30’s through 60’s) attain clarity and direction with their life purpose. This can include connecting with their ideal vocation, life partner, a health program, forming a supportive community and/or learning how to have fun again.

During times of transition, one can feel ungrounded and forget what truly matters. With this holistic, transformative process, my clients learn to live from their authentic core values. My clients experience a lot more happiness by regaining access to their inner-wisdom and innate creativity.

I consider myself to be a Sherpa (expert mountaineer who guides climbers to the mountain’s peak in the Tibetan region). I encourage mid-life women to pace themselves on their journey toward peak performance in life and business.

HBJ: What made you choose this special niche?

STM: I believe this special niche chose me. Years ago, I lost a position at a nonprofit I dearly loved due to their lack of funding. Having already experienced a few career transitions in my life, I didn’t want to face this again on my own. This time I hired a coach. With her expert guidance and support, I established my business within nine months. I also decided to become a coach to help women in mid-life have as smooth a transition as I experienced. Following the path of my coach, I later completed my certification process with Coaches Training Institute, an internationally accredited Behavioral Sciences program.

I also have a heart for helping women succeed. As a young girl I came from a domestic violence home. I vowed that I’d make a difference someday in the lives of women. I’m now so grateful to have this opportunity to serve and empower women.

HBJ: Who is your “perfect client,” and how did/do you determine that?

STM: My perfect client is a professional mid-life woman who is discontent with her current lifestyle. She wants to enjoy her work, have more satisfying relationships, to play more and get in touch with her creative passions. She longs to grow personally, professionally and spiritually.

My perfect client is committed to making any changes necessary for her life’s transformation. She realizes that any transition takes time and is willing to trust the process. This client values the philosophy of “moving forward one step at a time.”

Most of all, she wants to make effective choices for her life to experience more joy. She wants to quiet the voice of her inner-critic (gremlin) and instead, listen to her own inner-wisdom for her overall well-being.

I have a list posted by my desk that I review daily of all of the qualities of “My Ideal Client.” This helps remind me of who it is I want to attract to my business. I’m in my fourth year of business and I began my practice working almost exclusively with women. Over time, and thousands of coaching hours later, I’ve learned who
I enjoy working with and can make the most impact with. I’m still refining this because I believe it is important to continue narrowing my niche. The clearer I am about whom my perfect clients are — the easier it will be for them to find me.

HBJ: What do you think are the most critical things to keep in mind in order to “navigate” transition well?

STM: Navigate is a key word here. It is about creating “the map” and finding the “focus” to release distractions. The main distractions are often worry, fear, doubt and other negative energies that can clearly get in the way and take one off course. To transition well, I encourage my clients to surround themselves with positive people, uplifting experiences and “inspiring” self-talk.

To steer well, the most critical thing to keep in mind is to place self-care as the #1 priority. “Me time” is not selfish at all — it is life saving. It is very important during transition to have the proper rest, nutrition and exercise to keep one’s stress levels down. Having down time to reflect, journal, meditate, pray, be in nature, play, etc. establishes the foundation for a smooth transition.

I devote one hour daily to morning rituals of prayer, meditation and journaling which has anchored me through the sometimes turbulent waters of transition.

In October, 2003 I lost my home (including home office) to the wildfire storm in San Diego, California. I attribute my dedication to self-care, especially my rituals, to helping me maintain a positive perspective through this transition. I found the fortitude to trust that “the Phoenix rises” and to start anew. I learned that only relationships matter — not things. You may read an account of this on my website entitled, “Losing a Home and Gaining a Blessing.”

HBJ: How would a person know when it’s time to transition from one thing to another?

STM: There is one thing in life that is constant and that is change. One can choose to respond to change with grace and acceptance, or one can kick and scream in resistance. Transitions are part of life’s natural process — that of change.

Sometimes the time to transition is more obvious, e.g. a layoff at work, a close family member or friend dies, a mid-life woman enters menopause or one is getting married and beginning a new partnership. Times for transition can also show up
in subtler ways. One can feel stagnant and unhappy at work or in a significant relationship. This may show up bodily in the form of aches, pains or disease. It may look like sluggish energy, disinterest in self or others, and/or a desire to snap at anyone around.

When a person no longer feels a sense of contribution, connection, contentment and/or joy with work, a relationship or whatever circumstance one is involved in —
it is time to consider a transition. Again, change is constant. What is important is our willingness to go within to find our truth and then to live by it. For as Gandhi once stated, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

HBJ: On the other hand, are there signs that indicate making a change is not a good thing?

STM: Any change is difficult because it signifies “a beginning of the unknown and an end to what we have known.” This space of confusion can be disconcerting for most. Also transitions take time and effort — there is no “quick fix.” One must trust the transition process and have patience with it in order to move through it successfully.

In my experience, timing is everything. If, on the gut level, something doesn’t feel right — it may not be the time to act. Trust your instincts. Also, if it feels like all the doors are closed and one is pushing against a river — then it may be a sign to sit still for awhile longer.

A key question I’d recommend asking to determine if change is good or not is the following: “Is this situation/person taking my energy or giving me energy?” If one’s health and life force are in jeopardy — then change may be in order for restoration. If not, “status quo” may be the answer until the signs are clear.

HBJ: Are there any natural cycles that one can take advantage of to help ensure easy transitions?

STM: A natural cycle to embrace is to welcome change rather than to resist it. As my mentor DeAnna LoCoco states, “Life is a verb. It is always in motion.” Viewing change as a necessary forward moving process so that we can become all we are meant to be can ensure an easier transition.

Change occurs much like the natural cycle of life and death. We can see it as experiencing multiple rebirths and deaths during one lifetime. When we can accept change as a process leading to maturation, expansion and growth — we can flow toward it rather than wasting our precious energy attempting to halt it.

The natural rhythm of the seasons and nature also offer much wisdom for trans-itions. When we can accept change as the leaves do when they turn colors in the fall, and when we can let go like the leaves do in the winter — we will flow with life rather than against it.

HBJ: Can you give our readers some tips in regard to making the natural shifts that occur throughout the year such as the shift from summer to fall, end of year, and beginning of summer?

One thought is to learn to value each season (even if you live in an area that doesn’t have four distinct seasons).  Write a list of all of the activities that you enjoy and want to experience each season. Then along with friends/family or alone — schedule them as a way to celebrate and look forward to each season (e.g. plan a beach vacation in summer; visit a land where the leaves change color in fall; plan a ski trip in winter; organize an Easter camping trip with family and friends in spring or go to the local flower fields and indulge your senses).

I’ve also found making the time to change out my wardrobe each season, as well as being honest about which clothes I no longer wear to set aside for donation, helps me adjust to each new time of year.

A tip to honor the passage of one year into the next is to take time during this transition to reflect alone with pen and paper. Ideally find a tranquil spot in nature to delve in.

First, create a list of all of your accomplishments from the preceding year and acknowledge yourself for each one. Next, write a list of eight to ten key aspects
of your life (e.g.: Relationship with Significant Other, Vocation, Relationship with Friends, etc.). Then, write one intention for each area for the following year and why it is important to you. When you value your intentions — you are more apt to follow through.

Finally, if you have a significant other — share your intentions with one another.
My husband and I divulge our individual intentions, and also create “partner intentions.” We post our lists in our offices so we’re continually reminded and
so that we can encourage each other along the way!

HBJ: Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?

STM: Trust (capital T) the Process (capital P) of transitional change. Be gentle and loving with yourself during this process, especially by giving yourself permission to have the support of friends, family and/or professionals (such as
a coach) to help guide you through this. Reaching out for support is a sign of strength.

Use the philosophy of “One Step at a Time” to guide you forward. You may want to practice with smaller changes at first. Wear your watch on the opposing wrist, brush your teeth with your opposite hand, drive a new way to work and/or sign
up for a class that is entirely new this week (e.g. bellydancing, salsa lessons or making pottery).

Here’s a quote from Marilyn Ferguson that I like: “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways but it’s that place in between that we fear. It’s like being between trapezes. There’s nothing to hold on to.” 

My closing words of wisdom are for you to trust that place in between the trapezes as the place of possibility and the source for reinvention. Know that you are being led to grander life adventures and be willing to reach out. The trapeze will be there, along with a net to buffer you, if need be. If you believe it is so, it will be. Trust.


  1. Inspiring words Suzan!


  2. Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?


    • Yes you may. I appreciate your directing anyone to my blog for the full interview. Thank you so much for inquiring!



%d bloggers like this: