Posted by: Suzan | October 6, 2019

Aging Well

photography of woman surrounded by sunflowers

Do you dread walking up to someone you know at the gym, a social event, or maybe even at work? You can’t recall his/her name so you look for the closest place to hide. Ever found yourself wondering why you entered a room? You know there was a distinct purpose, now it’s not clear why you’re in there. What about when you’re in the thick of a conversation with someone and your “train derails.” You cannot recall what you just said. Maybe you find yourself playing charades in conversations–searching for common words that now escape you. Any of these scenarios sound familiar?

These periods of forgetfulness can be disturbing. The good news is they are not indicative of memory loss conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, according to the National Institute on Aging. “More serious issues would involve: asking the same question over and over, getting lost in a familiar area like one’s neighborhood, not being able to follow instructions, and getting confused about time, people, and places. Also, memory loss is not the only symptom when someone has dementia. This individual would also show difficulty with language skills, visual perception, or paying attention. Dementia clearly interferes with one’s daily life and activities.”

The below chart is from The National Institute on Aging’s site to help people better distinguish between what is normal and what is not:graph agingHaving had a concussion earlier this year after a fall down a flight of stairs, brain health has become foremost in my life. Recently I discovered an important resource which you may find helpful. Their research recommends that anyone 50 and over get a brain health assessment annually. Dementia can show up 20 years beforehand and if people find out earlier, there are health and wellness practices and drug treatments which may delay the onset. There is a non-profit, Cogniciti, whose mission is to offer a brain health assessment to as many people over 50 as they can for a base-line assessment. Then they encourage each person to repeat it every 6 months to 1 year and will send out reminder emails with the link. These assessments are free. The test is also offered in-person at places like your local YMCA and they provide the computers.

If you’re interested you can go directly to their website: and take the brain health assessment or look online to see when their in-person events are scheduled. They also have numerous resources on how to care for the aging brain.

It is never too early or too late to do what we can to reverse cognitive decline. Our brains need exercise as much as the rest of our bodies. Our brains need our love and attention as much as our hearts. Our brains help us to navigate our way through the world so they deserve our utmost attention.


quote choprah on memory and brain health



Posted by: Suzan | September 24, 2019

Healthy Ways to Express Anger and Feel More at Peace

anger quote 2 9-24-19

I gaze out of the large picture window in my living room to witness a bunny and community of quail nibbling on the grass and cacti. Circling above Mission Trails Park is a Red-Tailed Hawk, now swooping down for its prey.  Life seems good, that is, until I later get into my car, turn on NPR, and listen to the news.

Commentaries range from potential threats of nuclear war to discrimination against immigrants, blatant racism, senseless murders, a divisive political system, and more. Underneath this raging torrent of negativity I believe lies deep, unresolved anger within those responsible for the atrocities and wrongdoings. Perhaps people not feeling seen or heard by others lash out. It’s so complicated. I find myself pulled in by my need to “know” and repelled by a stronger need to feel at peace.

Approaching a yellow light close to turning red at a large intersection, I stop. The car behind me swerves around screeching. The car stops and the driver stares at me while wagging his middle finger shouting “F— You.”

I point at the red light and yell “F— You. Red light!” We both are in need of centering yet I’m left with, “What has happened to our world when the norm now seems to run the yellow/red lights?” Where is our civility?” This driver also became a mirror reflecting the deep anguish I already feel.

In a world gone awry, how do we express our anger in a more positive way? It’s critical for our health to get our anger outside of us rather than allow it to fester inside. Otherwise it’s like a volcanic inferno which may one day explode. In the book, Childhood Disrupted, How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal, it mentions when someone does not express anger and instead turns it inward – depression and/or other physical illnesses can result. The book recommends writing about stressful experiences for healing. Research studies showed when people did this they went to the doctor less and showed positive changes in immune function. Writing, or journaling, is a way to release pent up emotional pain, which when repressed can create ill health–and perhaps also lead to acting out in ways which can harm others.

Here are 7 healthy ways to express anger adapted from Psychology Today:

  • Play sports like soccer, pickle ball, volleyball or whatever your preference. You can also buy a punching bag to hang in your home or lift some weights.
  • Write out your anger (again as mentioned before – get it out and onto the paper for more relief)!
  • Sing your anger. Select some songs which reflect best how you’re feeling and sing along. You can also write your own lyrics.
  • Dance out your anger. Choose music which helps you get more in touch with how you’re feeling and then move your body in whatever way it would like to move. Be mindful of any physical limitations you may have so you don’t get injured.
  • Draw or paint your anger. Use colors, colored pencils, or paints (finger paints work really well for this), use a sketch pad, butcher paper or whatever you like to express yourself. This is not about creating fine art – it’s about allowing whatever shows up.
  • Verbalize your anger with a gestalt technique. You can pound some pillows on your bed or a sofa imagining them to be the person or situation you’re frustrated with. You can also put a chair across from you. Talk to the chair about what you’re angry about. Talk to it and scream at it.
  • Calmly talk with the person you’re angry with. Once you have used one of the above techniques and feel more grounded, you can then talk with the person you’re angry with. Make sure you can speak with a calm demeanor before you initiate this. Let the person know why you’re angry and explore ways to resolve the situation and to not allow it to happen again.

Finally, remember this famous quote by Buddha:

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.



Memory-RetentionDo your conversations sometimes resemble Charade games with friends tossing out words to help fill in your blanks? Have you ever walked into a room only to question why you are there? Do you hide from someone because you’ve forgotten his/her name?

Not to worry. It is most likely not early dementia. Living in a society which thrives on cell phones, I pads, computers, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites, along with endless television channels, it is a wonder we can remember our own names. The Department of Labor mentioned that we are now getting more information in one week of the New York Times than people received in the entire 100 years of the 18th Century. This bombardment of information seems to be taking over our memories and holding them hostage.

So what can you do to release your memory from this stronghold of too much information? One thing I do is carry a small notebook with me to write anything down which I must remember (things to research and/or take action on and promises I’ve made to others). I also place sticky notes near the door with items listed that I need to take with me. Occasionally I do a “mind dump.” I write out everything I can think of which I want to do now or later (3 months – many years later). Then I look through the items and decide what matters most. By getting all of this onto paper, I allow my recall a rest.

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following to sharpen your memory:

  • Exercise your mind like you would your body. Do crossword puzzles, or read something challenging (even if a couple of pages). Take a new class, volunteer, or put your watch on the other wrist. Mental stimulation can jump start your memory.
  • Be Social. Active engagement with others helps stave off depression and alleviates stress which can contribute to memory loss.
  • Organize your surroundings so it is easier to find things. Hire a professional organizer if this would help inspire you to do so.
  • Focus your attention. Contrary to popular opinion multi-tasking is not helpful for your mind’s retention. Try doing one task at a time.
  • Nourish yourself with a healthy diet. If you don’t drink enough water or you imbibe in too much alcohol, this can affect your recollection. Eat brain food to sharpen your recall, e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources.
  • Exercise regularly as physical movement increases blood flow to your entire body, including your brain. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends about 20-30 minutes of brisk activity per day, or about 150 minutes throughout the week.
  • Follow the health treatment plan your doctor and/or holistic professional recommends. Discuss your supplements and medications as some can impact memory. Do whatever you can to sleep well. Self-care is paramount to memory retention.

Posted by: Suzan | May 7, 2019

3 Easy Ways to Reconnect with Your Playful Self

Otter - playful

When you slow down and life becomes simpler, it is as if you’re “Atlas” and you get to set the world down. Instead of holding it up, you now lean into it for support. Without all the strain and drain, you have renewed energy to reconnect with your playful side.

Here are three easy ways to reconnect with your playful self:

1) Think back to an activity you used to love to do. It brought you so much pleasure. You have not done this in a long time though (possibly months, maybe even years). You would love to do this yet don’t know how to begin again. For example, maybe you used to love to play tennis yet for whatever reason you haven’t played in years. You could sign up for a tennis lesson, buy or borrow a racket and some balls, and get out to play! Start today. What is it for YOU?

2) Reflect on something you are doing now. You love doing this yet you do not do it enough. You would like to do this MORE. Maybe you love to write yet you don’t write often. When you do time vanishes into thin air—it’s pure escapism and utter joy. You could sign up for a writing class (in person or online) and/or join a writing group which meets regularly. This may jumpstart your practice and then you can  jump for pure joy. What is it for YOU?

3) There is something you would love to do which you have never done. This may have been on your mind for months, years, or your lifetime. In my case it was acting. I wanted to act since childhood and didn’t take my first acting class until age 50. In that class they gave us homework to go to a theater audition. I did my homework and ended up with a part in the community theater play. The rest is history. I discovered my passion and haven’t stopped since. The most important thing is to start right where you are and commit to your dreams. It is never too late. What is it for YOU?

Here’s an Exercise to help you reconnect with your playful self:

Where Does Passion and Playfulness Spring Forth in Your Life?

Write down up to five activities that you enjoy most (whatever feels joyful when you do them or have done them in the past) in no special order. Then fill in the dates (approximate) of the last time you experienced these playful activities. You may also write down something new you are interested in trying.

Top Five Playful Passions                      Approx. Dates (last time you did activity)

  1. ______________________________________________ __________________
  2. ______________________________________________ __________________
  3. ______________________________________________ __________________
  4. ______________________________________________ __________________
  5. ______________________________________________ __________________

**This article and worksheet is adapted from my book, Women at P.L.A.Y! ©2019

Posted by: Suzan | May 1, 2019

The Answer to Life is in Slowing Down

Slowing Down

I’m sharing a poem I wrote as a reminder for us all to slow down as a way of life…otherwise life may find a way to do it for us. Enjoy!

The answer to life is in slowing down.

It isn’t continuing the pace

Of a marathon race.

The joy of living is in the smile –not the frown.

And if we ever forget –

Gaze at the next sunset.

Life exists between each musical note

And the inhale and exhale of each breathe.

It is ever close to us –not distant and remote.

It is the slowing down which leads us to the now,

And allowing which helps us release the clutches of how.

Slow down to know who you truly are.

Discern what matters –

For each moment is rare.

Focus on what brings your mouth ajar,

And trust life will lead you to the where.

Life is meant to be savored

Like a delicious meal.

Rest your utensils in between the bites.

Allow your taste buds to feel

Every ounce of aroma, every drop of the flavor.

Slowing down allows you to see

All things in clear vision

Like a cloudless blue sky your life will be

you’ll feel connected as “one”.

Slowing down will set you free

As you hear the whisper of who you are meant to be

Like a drop of water joining the sea

You’ll find your place as “me” amidst “we.”

The answer to life is in slowing down

Not in looking all around

Because you’ve already found

What you’re looking for –

It is your own reflection in the mirror

Life need not be so obscure

Because now you know – you are so much more.

Posted by: Suzan | February 22, 2019

Play is Serious Business

Play is serious business for children and adults−synonymous with breathing to keeping us alive, although our society tends to downplay it. Since it’s “unproductive” with no tangible results, adults may neglect it. According to the Author of Play and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, play is on par with oxygen, “it’s all around us, yet mostly goes unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.”

What’s the big deal about play? For children it’s vital for brain development and healthy connection. For adults play helps to build community, keep our minds sharp and also, maintain healthy relationships, especially with our significant others. According to Dr. Brown, when adults are play deprived they are no longer much fun to be around. Play is fundamental to experiencing joy. Without it we risk becoming dull. This is a considerable consequence.

What does it mean to play? It’s difficult to define because it’s a process, not an end result. Brown calls it a state of being of timelessness and purposeless fun and pleasure. It’s all consuming and vital to our well-being, as important to our health as sleep or nutrition. Brown also believes that the opposite of play is not work, he suggests it’s depression. His book argues that play is also a critical element for the workplace because it encourages creativity, innovation, and mastery. Creative teambuilding exercises are an example of how organizations can enhance productivity and innovation through the play state.

What are some ideas for play? Brown emphasizes it isn’t so much the activity as the spirit of fun you bring to it. It’s more about getting lost in what you’re doing out of sheer joy. Play can be gathering around a board game (e.g. Scrabble) where winning or losing is secondary to having fun; or making snow angels or snow men or women; sledding; bike riding; going to a comedy show, theater or a concert; playing a sport with a team (e.g. soccer) or going to sport’s event; dabbling with colored pencils and a coloring book; and it is often spontaneous. It can happen when you’re not expecting it–a playful outburst leading you to laugh yourself silly with a group of friends and/or family members. What matters most is to surrender to this nurturing play state. Engage in some form of play day-to-day.

So how can you play with more abandon? Psych Central’s Margarita Tartakovsky, Associate Editor, recommends the following:

  1. Change how you think about Play (as in give it the importance it deserves). It’s crucial for our well-being that we find some time to play every day. Give ourselves permission to play for the sake of our creativity and our relationships!
  2. Write a play history (or timeline) of your past relationship with play. What did you love to do as a child? Is there a way you can reignite that joy today? For example, as a child I loved to line up my dolls as if they were my audience and perform for them. I’d act out the television shows I watched; and sometimes I’d even teach them what I learned in school. I think they preferred the entertainment. As an adult when I’m performing and connecting with an audience (acting, leading workshops, speaking, etc.) I feel the greatest joy. It’s total play for me.
  3. Surround yourself with Playful People. Seek out friendships with people who make you laugh and have a playful nature. Then you can bring this fun way of being to your other key relationships. If you don’t know any playful people, enroll in an improv or acting class. You will find them there.
  4. Spend time with children. If you have kids or grandkids, hang out with them. They are the best teachers on play! They are so curious and all about indulging full on with play – they don’t hold back. If you don’t have grandkids then schedule a play date with your friend’s (or family member’s) kids or grandkids.  

What if you could add a little spice to your relationship−no matter how long you’ve been together? How would it be to celebrate Valentine’s all year long?

Having been with my husband, Jim, for 21 years, I get how challenging it can be to keep things “interesting.” We’ve learned when we find ourselves falling into a rut of “what we’ve always done before” (e.g. going to the same restaurants) then our relationship needs a new spice, a little variation, just like a meal does, to bring out the flavor.

What helps us to celebrate Valentine’s all year long is having a strong community of friends. We don’t just rely on one another. My partner has his poker buddies, Padres season ticket holder friends, and the guys he goes on camping trips with. I go to dinner and the movies along with other fun events with my girlfriends. As a couple we often invite other friends over to join us for dinner. Being with friends is the spice of life.

Here are some ways to add some spice to your relationship and celebrate Valentines’ day all year long:

  • Bored with the same meals – Create a romantic meal together: Select a new recipe to try for a savory meal. We just bought a One Pot and are enjoying learning how to make soups, lentils, and a lot more (it is a fast and slow cooker all in one). Make your meal together while sharing a bottle of wine, beer, or some other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. Serve it in front of your fireplace if you have one. You can set up a temporary folding table next to it with a table cloth, flowers, and candles. Otherwise, go to a new part of your home, outside on the deck or lawn, or the formal dining table if you rarely visit it. Try something new!
  • Do not spend all of your time with one another. Make time to be with your friends. When you come back together it is fun to share your experiences. Also, have friends over for dinner, brunch, or even a themed party evening (e.g. game or movie night). Being around others can spice up your conversations.
  • Be more playful: Choose fun activities to do together. Expand your repertoire from what you normally do. Go on a picnic at the beach, a lake, or a park. Make sandcastles, toss a Frisbee, rent a rowboat, or go on a nature walk. Play cards and/or games (the loser buys the winner a treat – come up with some fun ideas). Take out some art supplies and paint or draw together. Spend the day at the zoo and feed the giraffes. Go to a nearby comedy club and have some good laughs. Get on your bikes and explore the area you live together. If you have snow then build snowmen, make snow angels, and take out your sleds.
  • Finally, write a list of 10 or more activities that bring you Joy. Have your partner do the same and then compare notes. Highlight what you have in common on your lists and use this to choose fun activities to do together.

Couples who play together, stay together.

Posted by: Suzan | February 9, 2019

A Love Poem for Life

Love Life!

Life is…
… a symphony. We each have a part to play.
… a forest, often thick with uncertainty.
… bright sunlight, shining its brilliance to light our way.
… a jungle, dense with rich diversity.
… a garden. We are all intended to grow.
… a stream of rushing water which can carry us along.
… a mountain range, there is much to get over and so much to know.
… the space between the notes of every song.
… a banquet, a sumptuous feast for our senses to enjoy.
… a puzzle–to be continually sorted and put back together.
… a traffic jam, a child’s shrill cry, a dog’s loud bark—sometimes it can annoy.
… an integrated ecosystem–we owe our lives to her.
… a coastline – an endless sea of expansion.
… an infant with outstretched arms seeking love and embrace.
. . .a playground beckoning us to jump aboard and have fun.
… a toddler exploring every inch of space.
Life asks us…
…  to be patient as we traverse along our journey.
… to discover the vast, inexplicable ME of who we are to BE.
… to honor each precious moment of our time here.
… to not dismiss her with boredom, abandon her with annihilation, nor reject
     her with fear.
… to savor her as we would surprises, to rejoice in new beginnings, to relish every moment of the time we’ve been given here.  
… to honor her because our last breathe may be near.
Posted by: Suzan | December 20, 2018

How to Resist Resistance


child embraces creativity

Summary: According to U.S. News and World Report (December, 2015), we abandon 80% of our New Year’s Resolutions by February. What has so many of us discard our goals/intentions so early on? I believe one of the primary reasons this occurs is due to our resistance, a feeling of fear/paralysis which we cave into and allow to win. I wrote the following article to help you move gracefully through any resistance with your creative endeavors. May you learn to resist resistance and rediscover creative play!



 Do you long to write? Paint? Start a new business? What is it for you?

 What’s stopping you?

According to Steven Pressfield, Author of The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles the big red sign is resistance. It often distracts us from our creative work. Social media or television show obsessions; over-indulging in food or drink; or compulsive shopping are some ways we may avoid creative endeavors. What is it for you?

Resistance is natural. We all share this. Some of us feel our fear and do the creative activity anyway, determined to fight back. Others allow resistance to win, at an enormous cost−our aliveness and joy. Pressfield underscores that we need to pay attention to our resistance and allow it to be our North Star. When it feels as strong as a rip tide current, be mindful. In the midst of this fury is what we’re being called to do for our soul’s evolution. “So if you’re paralyzed with fear, that’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.”

Many of us get stuck waiting for the perfect idea(s). We expect inspiration to find us before we sit at our desk or in front of an easel. The truth is the muse, the higher part of ourselves, simply needs us to get started. She asks us only to show up, trust the process, and allow it to unfold.

Resistance feeds on fear. We may believe our creative project won’t be good enough; our families/friends may desert us if we become successful; and/or we’ll be embarrassed when the critics blast their horns. It’s this fear we conjure up that stops us. It may become justification for not beginning our creative project – or not finishing it.

Years ago while writing a novel I joined a weekly writing critique group. Although I knew this group wasn’t right for me; I persevered. Many people in the group were much farther along and I didn’t want to leave these “mentors.”

The critiques were harsh. Over time my sensitive soul barricaded itself with walls of thick resistance. Eventually I walked away from the group and to my own detriment-my writing. It took me years to finally write again. Joining a writing support group where the writers encourage one another to resist resistance helped me reclaim this essential part of my being.

Want to resist your resistance and rediscover creative play? Pressfield suggests the following:

  • Show up for the page, the canvas, your business plan or whatever your project is. Listen for whatever is calling the loudest (in the form of the most resistance). Arrive without expectations–simply begin. Be bold enough to engage in what clearly wants your attention.
  • Sit through the resistance and know it will reappear. Be prepared. It’s like climbing a steep hill at times. One foot after the other is all you need to remember when the going seems rough.
  • Keep a healthy distance from your creative work. Don’t over identify with your success or failure as you’re likely to experience both.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Do not take yourself and your creative endeavor too seriously.
  • Earn money for your work (or not if it sings to your soul and that’s enough) yet let your motivation be love. May your artistry (whatever this is for you) be your gift to the world.

May the words of Wolfgang von Goethe inspire you to show up for your creative muse!

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by: Suzan | December 18, 2018

No + No = Yes to Your Success

Saying No

With a blur of holiday activities and often little time for ourselves, it’s even more important to set healthy boundaries. During this festive time of year over commitment seems to be the norm so saying no becomes a real challenge. Yet if we overdo it, we often pay a price. Perhaps with our health, well-being, and/or our relationships. Can you relate?

I’m honored to be a recent co-contributor on my Shaman and Colleagues Compass North Blog.  This feature entails how to successfully say no and create healthy boundaries. I share both my personal story and recommendations I provide with my coaching clients, including specific tips and tools you can apply to your most successful precious life!

Enjoy the blog!

Access here:

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