Tag Archives: self-care

Discover the Joys of Movement

This feels like a good time to share an excerpt from my
Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit book (2nd ed. 2011).
If you would appreciate inspiration and encouragement about choosing a joyful way to move, then you’ll enjoy this!

Chapter 15

Discover the Joys of Movement

Years ago I noticed how certain words with similar meanings prompted different reactions. I stopped saying “exercise” when I discovered that my next thought was “No pain, no gain.” That didn’t sound like much fun for me, so I began substituting the word “movement” for “exercise.” My clients smiled and their bodies relaxed when I would suggest they find a form of movement that would be just right for them.

While in my mid-forties, I could not always find a tennis or racquetball partner and sometimes felt bored lifting weights or riding a cycle that went nowhere. I had taken jazz dance classes for years but my work schedule often conflicted with the class schedule. During this time I discovered a holistic form of movement called Nia. Nia is a transformational fusion fitness and lifestyle practice that blends selected movements from the martial arts, the dance arts, and the healing arts. Nia uses The Body’s Way to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being. Anyone can enjoy Nia because it encourages all participants to listen to the wisdom of their bodies. It brings out the inner dancer in everyone—especially in people who were told in their childhood (or adulthood) that they couldn’t dance or were too clumsy. All sizes, shapes, and ages can joyfully participate. If you are in a wheelchair or have a limited range of motion, you can enjoy the arm movements, music, sensations, sounds, and images created through Nia routines.

I discovered a passion for Nia that continues to inspire me to want to care for and nourish all aspects of my being. I am a certified black belt Nia instructor and have been teaching since 1999. I delight in being a dancing grandmother! And I must share this—I got a kick out of turning 60 in 2009 and love being able to get down and get back up again with ease! Nia has opened the doorway to profound joy, healing, passion, and wholeness in my life and in the lives of Nia students across the globe.

You can learn more by taking a Nia class or by reading The Nia Technique—The High-Powered Energizing Workout That Gives You a New Body and a New Life by Nia co-creators Debbie Rosas and Carlos AyaRosas. If you visit the Web site www.nianow.com you will find listings for classes all over the world.

Dance and martial arts don’t excite you? Simply walking each day can bring a sense of calm and provide cardiovascular benefits. If you move through your day via wheelchair or a Segway, taking time to get outside and connect your wheels to the earth can heighten your awareness as you take in all that surrounds you. If you like cycling or in-line skating, you can do that with attention to what’s flying by you. Whether you are walking, rolling, or jogging you can feel the wind on your face and through your hair. Delight in your senses. Smell the moment, see what you are traveling in and around, touch a flower or a rock or tree. Twenty to 30 minutes of movement each day freshens the mind and gently massages the heart in many ways. If you walk or roll everywhere you go, make time to do a part of it with a real intention of being fully in your body; an intention and recognition of “being here now” rather than on your way someplace else.

If health concerns seriously limit your ability to move, I offer a pearl of wisdom that my mother’s hospice counselor, Randi, suggested to her. Just a few days before my mother passed away, she confided in Randi that she realized she would never dance again. This wise and compassionate counselor took my mother’s hand and said, “Helen, close your eyes, and let’s dance together right now.” The mind is magnificent, and my mother smiled as she enjoyed visions of dancing one last time. Let your imagination guide you to enjoyable places now. Don’t wait.

It’s important to note that some people don’t have the problem of finding a movement form that suits them—they have found something and over-do it to the detriment of their body/mind. And in this arena of health concerns, if you or someone you love deals with disordered eating and over-exercising, Peach Friedman’s captivating book, Diary of an Exercise Addict, provides inspiration and support for healing.

And so, I advocate closing your eyes for a moment and thinking of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. This joyful activity is the one to start with if you’re seeking a way to add more movement to your life. After selecting your first option, you might want to see if this movement involves strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit. (Nia provides all of these, by the way.) If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements. Let this form of movement stir your passion and your pleasure.

 

Suggestions for Implementing the Ideas in This Chapter

  1. Think of a form of movement that creates joyful feelings and suits your wellness path. Nia, yoga, tennis, jogging, hiking, Pilates, golf, dancing, biking, aerobics, tai chi, softball, skiing, rock climbing, swimming, walking, skating—these are just some of the choices you have.
  2. Does this movement involve strength, flexibility, and a cardiovascular benefit? If not, the next step would be to consider adding another type of movement that includes these elements.
  3. Consider working out with a buddy. This is a great way to motivate and support both of you in creating time to discover the many joys of movement.
  4. Walking is a wonderful way to provide cardio-vascular benefits. Have fun stretching before and after you walk and you’ve added flexibility into your plan. If you have a gym membership, add weights and “play” with how it feels to strengthen your body. An alternative is to buy weights (second-hand stores always seem to have this type of equipment around) and check with a personal trainer or find a good book from the library to guide you. Less is more in this arena, as you never want to strain your muscles. It’s important to skip a day to allow your muscle fibers to rebuild properly. So if you do an upper body workout one day, focus on lower body the next.
  5. Set the intention to participate in healthy movement activities every two days. Seek pleasure in your choices, be playful, and don’t overdo.

Excerpt from chapter 15 of Wellness Wisdom, 2nd ed., 2011, by Susan Tate

LEARN MORE about FREE Nia classes with Susan at the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center at the University of Virginia.

©2000 – 2017 Susan Tate

Copyright 2011 by Susan Tate

13 Tips for Transformational Wellness

13 TIPS FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL

“All transformation begins with an intense burning desire to be transformed.”
~Wayne Dyer

Do you have this intense burning desire to transform a part of you life that isn’t serving you? Are you looking for a little less stress in your life? Are you desiring to feel more love? Do you want to feel really, really well?

These 13 Tips for Transformational Wellness will take only 13 seconds to read. Then you can choose one to practice–and of course practicing them will take MORE than 13 seconds–but they are all capable of adding to your well-being. And all of them are filled with love.

We get to take one step at at time on our wellness path. Which one will you choose for your next step?

  1. Intend to be well
  2. Listen to your body
  3. Nourish the body/mind temple
  4. Live in the present moment
  5. Pray and/or meditate
  6. Seek balance and pleasure
  7. Speak your truth with kindness
  8. Reframe worrying
  9. Cultivate forgiveness
  10. Practice peace
  11. Love radically
  12. Don’t complain
  13. Magnify gratitude

If you would like suggestions for implementing each of these tips, you will enjoy learning more in my book, Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit.

Buy Into the Mouths of Babes on Amazon

Please let me know which one you picked to play with today! Please leave a comment here or come on over to my SusanTateCommunity Facebook page and share your thoughts.

©2016 Susan Tate

Letting Go

Dalai Quote

It had once been my nature to cling ferociously to the belief that I was powerful enough to change the thinking of family members, friends, and even entire university committees. I am mighty powerful—but not in that way. I know that my true power comes from honestly and compassionately speaking my truth with integrity, kindness, and compassion and then letting go of the outcome. And it’s especially important to let go of the outcome. Pain has always resulted when I got in there and tried to force that oversized round peg into a very small square hole.

Trusting (rather than hoping) that things will unfold with ease in a way that is best for all involved will help as you prepare to truly let go. You may want to consider replacing the word hope with the word trust. Hope often implies something we wish might happen in the future. Trust can be a more optimistic and affirming way toward creating a specific result. And sometimes, it’s appropriate to really, really hope.

A real lesson in trusting and letting go came when my father was living his last few years of life with Alzheimer’s disease. My dear, rational, calm, clear thinking dad would tell me stories of flying boxcars that took him to work (and back) and he would tell me that wherever he landed, his bed would be right there too! The first time he told me this, I felt like my heart was bleeding tears. I felt desperate to bring him back into my reality. “Dad,” I softly pleaded, “You know that part of your brain that isn’t always connecting quite right? Well, that’s what’s happening now and that story isn’t really true.” I thought I was controlling the situation quite nicely. What an illusion!

When I let go and realized that his reality was his reality and totally different from mine, I began to find peace. I let go—and met him where he was, not where I wanted him to be. On one of our last walks together, I said, “Dad, tell me more about the boxcar with wings.” His face lit up as he described how this unique train took off and landed so smoothly and how much fun it was to ride it. Dad had been a railroad engineer so the added speed created by the airplane wings must have been quite a delight for him! And my delight came when I was able to let go and be with him right where he was. For a while after his death, I spent time wishing I had met him there sooner. Now I know I did the best I could at the time. I know he knows it too.

Anthropologist Ralph Blum said, “Relinquishing control is the ultimate challenge for the spiritual warrior.” We have a choice to cling to thoughts and beliefs that keep us stuck, in pain or in the illusion of control—or, we can let go, and let God handle the details. It’s your choice.

–Excerpt from chapter 18 “Letting Go” in my book: Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit

How about you? Are you ready to let go of a thought, belief, or situation that no longer serves you? I’d love to hear from you. And may you feel the peace that comes from letting go . . .

 

A Letter to My Grandchildren

to my grandchildrenMy son’s son is turning 18 this month and he lives 3,000 miles away in Pennsylvania. My daughter’s daughter will be celebrating her first birthday next month—farther away in Fiji. So this grandmother is feeling rather emotional and overflowing with love at the moment. This letter is for all my grandchildren, my future great grandchildren, and for the children you love, and for all the children of the world.

Prompted by my dear friend, Fran, I originally wrote this “Letter to my grandchildren and great grandchildren” in 2009. I placed the hand-written version in my notebook that contains my Last Will and Testament, along with my notes and wishes for when they will be needed. But this week, after seeing all the pictures on Facebook of the sweet faces of all the children heading off to school, I was compelled to send this yesterday to my grandchildren. I mean really, why wait till I’m dead? And then I thought I’d share it here with you.

Please enjoy and share this letter. Feel free to adapt and change words and send this to a child you love.

Dear Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren,

First of all, I want you to know that you are a precious being, inside and out. You are infinitely loved—loved and treasured beyond words. You have been loved long before you were born to your incredible parents. You picked them, and they picked you! You have special things to teach each other.

You are so deserving of all good. You are enough. Never, ever doubt that, no matter what the world around you might say.

Whenever you encounter a tough choice or decision, get quiet and ask God or Spirit or whatever you call the Divine, to light up the way to the answer. You will probably find the answer delivered to your heart, not your head.

When you grow into adulthood, don’t feel compelled to fall into the stress of “earning” a living. Create your days doing what you love. You don’t need to earn or strive, but be who you are and use your gifts and talents to share with the world.

Be of service. Be a force for love. Offering your gifts to the world can unfold in many ways.

Let generosity flow. And notice how important is to both give AND receive graciously.

Oh yes, when you choose your life’s path, it gets to be your path, not your parents. Be all that you are and don’t copy anyone else. You are an original!

Love deeply and love passionately. Be sure to not give up any part of yourself to please others. Take care of yourself first, not in a selfish way, but in a self-FULL way.

Never let anyone silence you. Your respectful and honest voice deserves to be spoken.

Practice forgiveness. (Oh, it does take practice!) When you forgive someone, it doesn’t make their actions right but you will find yourself released from the pain. And sometimes it’s important to feel the anger first, (righteous anger, I’ve heard it called) before you can get to the forgiving part.

Don’t worry about the future but make healthy decisions today so your future will be grand and the planet will be better than it ever was when you arrived. Leave it better for your children and grandchildren.

Know that peace begins in your heart. And know that having peace in your heart is where world peace can blossom.

When things are overwhelming and challenging and you are not sure what to do, offer all of it over to the Divine. You can do this in your head, or you can write it down, or you can throw your hands up and say, “Here! This is Yours!” Then listen for the next best step to take—and take it.

Be grateful. Every night before you go to sleep, think of at least ten things to be grateful for so you are smiling as you drift off to dreamland.

And know, that as you read or re-read this at any age in your life, I am either loving you from this earth or from beyond.

There is only love.

Love never dies.

I love you!

Originally written by your grandmother, Susan Tate, in 2009. Expanded for you on September 3, 2015.

 

32x32-Circle-84-FBFeel free to share your comments on my
Susan Tate Community Facebook page.

 

My Prayer for You

My Prayer for You

 

The spiritual component of wellness is highly individual, as each of us can choose to know God (or whatever you call the Divine) and create our spiritual practice through the lens of our own religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs.  May this prayer bring you peace and gentleness today.

 


My Prayer for You

May you see the infinite possibilities that exist with each sunrise.

May you make wise choices that nourish your mind, body, and spirit.

May you allow your soul the freedom to express who you really are.

May you allow yourself to love greatly and be greatly loved.

May you know that good self-care ultimately supports all those around you.

May you discover peace-filled solutions in the opportunities of conflict.

May you allow yourself time to grieve.

May you use your gifts and talents to create a better world.

May you listen to others with ears of compassion.

May you forgive yourself and others for any behaviors or beliefs that have caused pain.

May you feel God’s presence in every cell of your body.

May you be filled with gratitude for your daily blessings.

And so it is.

Please visit my
Susan Tate Community Facebook Page
32x32-Circle-84-FBI thought I’d add a short excerpt from the last section of the “Know God”
chapter of my Wellness Wisdom book.

Steps to Take If You Want to Get to Know God Better

1.  Create quiet time each day. You can start by taking just one minute before you get out of bed. Then gradually add to this precious ritual or practice as you begin your day. Some people like to light a candle, read from a holy text, play spiritual music, or just quietly breathe. Pick something that works for you. Treasure and protect that time. Quiet time for some may come, if only briefly, after you fall into bed after a long day. Breathe. Open your heart. Listen. God’s there.

2.  Explore places where you feel closest to God and hang out there when you can. Examples include but are not limited to: churches, synagogues, mosques, chapels, temples, beaches, forests, mountains, with your family, or in your garden.

3.  Take time to talk with God. And then, take time to listen to God. You’ll love the results. Praying doesn’t change God—it changes us.

4.  Remember that what you focus on expands. So, focusing on God can provide a greater awareness of the Divine in your daily life. This doesn’t mean you need to become a monk or priestess! It just means that the more you look for good and God, the more you’ll discover both.

5.  What, if any, rituals or prayers from your childhood hold special meaning for you? Add or create a new practice if you like. Enjoy reading the next chapter (“Pray and Meditate”) for more ideas.

Wellness Wisdom by Susan TateBuy Into the Mouths of Babes on Amazon

 

 

Making the Four Agreements Your Energy Allies

the.four_.agreements.ruiz_

I was introduced to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, in 1999 at my very first Nia intensive training. In Nia, we are encouraged to use these agreements as “Energy Allies,” not only our practice–but in our daily lives.* They have worked so well for me over the years so I thought I would share them here for you! And, oh yes, I actually think there are FIVE agreements — you’ll find I’ve added one.

*The day I posted this (6/29/15) I received a lovely email response to this piece from Nia co-creator, Debbie Rosas. She reminded me that these agreements spring from the ancient wisdom of shamans. She wrote, “The origin of these came to Carlos and I before the book was written. They are ancient made modern.” Thank you, Debbie, for wrapping Nia in the sacred cloak of these principles! They have added so much peace to my life.

The Four Agreements (+1!)

1.  Be Impeccable with Your Word

Your word is powerful and sacred. Impeccable is defined as “in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.” I think of this concept as being honest, kind, and succinct way to speak. Choosing to be impeccable with your word is a mindful choice.

Think and speak loving words. I understand this agreement includes our self-talk and how we keep the agreements we make with ourselves. My self-talk no longer includes things like, “Oh, Susan, you are so stupid!” My body/mind would hear that and respond accordingly!

What part of your professional or personal life would be energized if you decided to shine more light on the power and impeccability of your words? See the resource section below for Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word.

2.  Don’t Take Anything Personally

Release any sense of self-pity or self-importance. Somewhere I heard that an unexpected “NO” to a request might result in NO = New Opportunity. Ruiz says, “Nothing other people do is because of YOU. It is because of themselves.”  Oh, how I have found this to be true! Clearly, sometimes it’s quite a challenge to not take something personally. In the times I have found myself starting to feel hurt or offended by someone’s words or actions,  I have been able to shift the painful energy immediately into peace if I am aware enough to remember this agreement. It’s such a choice, but we have to remember to make it!

3. Make No Assumptions

Making assumptions, especially if you assume the worst, can sometimes dim your light and deplete your energy. If you can note and then minimize your inner dialogue you will probably feel better.

Honoring this agreement helped me to stop making up unsettling stories about what people might be thinking about me or something I did. Years ago, after I shared a concern about “what will people think?” to one of my dear friends, her pragmatic and loving reply stopped me in my tracks.  “Susan, people don’t really think about you that much!”  I laughed so hard and felt such relief!

Can you recall the last time you made an assumption and spent all that time in your head and it wasn’t fun at all? Next time you can make up a better story!   

4. Always Do Your Best

Do the best you can at the time with what you have to work with.  A year from now, your best will look different than today, and that’s okay! Lovingly observe yourself to assess whether you are doing your best. In Nia we call this the “Loving Witness.” My friend calls it being an “Observette!”

Trust yourself and take action.

Changes that are forced into being
are always temporary.
But changes that are loved into being are permanent.

~Louise Hay

5.  Be the Place Where Love Shows Up

This is the agreement I added to Ruiz’s list and I must admit, it’s my favorite. This energy ally is the connective tissue that holds a sacred container for all the others.

When your actions are motivated by love,
your energy multiplies and accumulates.
~Deepak Chopra

Amen to that, Deepak! Now doesn’t that make you want to be the place where love shows up?

In your work life, love what you do as you provide any kind of service. I have met people who cleaned the floors where I worked who offered a loving light and kindness while they pushed the mop. They might appear to be from the maintenance department, but to me, they were sparks of love making our work place look and feel more beautiful.

One of the best quotes I’ve ever read about love (I have shared this at the wedding ceremonies I have been honored to officiate) sums up this fifth agreement:

LOVE
You are not meant to search for it,
You are not meant to wait for it,
You are meant to generate it.
~Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith

Whatever task is ours to do at the time, we can choose to do it with loving kindness and service. When in doubt, ask: What would love do now?

Thank you for creating time to read this post. I’d love to hear how these energy allies light up your life!

 

RESOURCE LINKS

Tate’s 10 Tips for Being Impeccable With the Word

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

The book I didn’t write in 1985

As many of you know, my first book, Into the Mouths of Babes, was published in 1984. But it seems a year later I had another book in mind.

IMG_0908My daughter recently came across this piece of yellow construction paper with a list I wrote in 1985 of 14 things I could do every day to find good health and keep it. (We still can’t figure out how it ended up in her treasure box of memorabilia.) As you can see, the first line reads: The – I Want to get Healthy Book by Susan Firkaly, (my former name). I chuckled when I read the list since so many of the things I wrote then have become part of the wellness work I have been sharing for the past 45 years!

For those of you who didn’t know me in the 80s—I was a 30-something mother of two children, teaching high school full time, and generally knocking myself out attempting to take care of my family. Although we were vegetarians, I could have metaphorically been described as one of those women who could “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man!” (A jingle from an old perfume commercial showing a super competent take-charge woman who represented the feminist “superwoman” of the time.)

In my picture of myself as a modern mother of my generation, I was probably wearing a Wonder Woman cape. Well, underneath the cape was a woman with a constant flow of stress-related illnesses. I had colds, sinus infections, the flu every year, a stomach ulcer, IBS, anemia, and had tubal ligation surgery in 1983 that almost killed me when the doctor hit an artery.

On top of all of that, I had a series of whacky accidents. I totaled my car a half-mile from our house on December 24. No, it wasn’t icy; I just went off the one part of the beautiful country road–actually actually attempting to avoid an accident–and hit a cement culvert rather than just dirt. It caused my car to flip over, smashing it as it landed sideways across the two lane Virginia road. I had a serious neck injury and minor bruises. Angels were with me, truly, and I shall take this opportunity to remind everyone “seat belts save lives!” And, oh yes, you might want to know I was on my way to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed.

Then there was the time I slipped on some soda that someone spilled on aisle 12 of the supermarket and I ended up with torn ligaments in my right knee and had to have knee surgery to repair the damage. (I sometimes told people it was a skiing accident since sliding down the aisle in the grocery store wasn’t nearly as fun to say.)

In the early 90s I began working at the University of Virginia. But the Wonder Woman cape offered no protection from several years of uterine problems. I ended up having a hysterectomy—the surgery complicated by a blood clot in my lung.

That was the old me.

So you can see, I was not the vibrantly healthy and happy dancing woman you know today! Why am I sharing this now? Because I don’t want any of you to attempt to take care of everyone else but yourself—the way I did then. The only way I felt I could get taken care of was through illnesses and accidents. It was TOTALLY subconscious.

Feeling in a rather reflective mood lately, I just wanted to let you know my wellness path had quite a few twists and turns (think knee twisting and a car turning over) and your path may have had–or be having–some bumps too.

The list I made in 1985 was a pretty wise one! In fact, I just realized that although I didn’t write that book back then, much of it was poured into my fourth book, Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit (2007, 2009).

So, here’s the list of the 14 things I wrote on the yellow construction paper on January 26, 1985 along with my comments from today in italics.

1. Think positive ~ I still do this but would add a note of how important it is to also honor the painful feelings first and then letting them go and THEN thinking positive. I used to skip that other part—and the pain had to go somewhere–for me, it got stuck in my uterus . . .)

2. Meditate and pray ~ Today I would move this to number 1.

3. Eat well ~ But of course.

4. Take iron

5. B-complex

6. C

7. Multi-vit    ~  4 – 7 cracked me up, as I am the vitamin taking (and selling) queen! Nine years ago I wisely partnered with a top-rated global nutrition company, USANA Health Sciences, and now I share these supplements with those who are a good match for them. I am a good match—as my last 9 years have been my healthiest years ever!

8. Sit ups  ~ I haven’t done sit ups in years! But I “play” with my abdominal and core muscles all the time through my Nia practice. It’s much more fun than sit ups.

9. Aerobic dance ~ Now, Nia friends, doesn’t this just make you smile?  In 1997 I discovered the joyful, somatic, and yes, aerobic, dance/fitness practice of The Nia Technique. Nia has been a vital part of my vibrant health and in-shape-not-sore-anywhere-strong-65-year old body!

10. Drink juice instead of Coke ~ Yes, I was a Coke (Coca-Cola!) addict for 2 decades! Yikes! It was my drink of choice. I loved the caffeine, I loved the sugar, I drank more than you could every imagine me drinking. Then, one day, on my way back from Portland after attending my Nia Blue Belt Intensive Training, I just stopped. And today, I advocate water instead of juice—there’s just too much sugar in the juice. I enjoy eating the whole fruit (with the fiber still in tact and no added sugars) instead.

11. Do Kegals ~ Oh, yes, and so many other pelvic floor strengthening exercises too!

12.  Read ~ I know I put that on that list because I was only reading non-fiction, professional research-based books and articles at the time. Now I also, finally, read purely for pleasure.

13.  Write ~ Doing that, loving writing, will stop only when I’m dead.

14.  Think healthy  ~ Oh, the research on this one is another book in itself! (I recommend any books or YouTube videos by Bruce Lipton or Mario Martinez on this topic.) Our beliefs control our health way more than our genes do!

BACK TO YOU: What’s on your list? Is there anything you’d like to put on your list to add to your self-care and expanded wellness? I’d love to hear from you–you can leave a reply below.

I’d also love to support your wellness path through coaching or through answering your questions about what vitamins you might want to take.

Email me to schedule a telephone coaching session: susan@susantate.org

Possible topics:

nourishment/nutrition*
stress reduction
relationships
life transitions
sexuality
business/career planning

* I offer a 15-minute FREE phone consult
if you want guidance on selecting vitamins.

 Here are just a few of the possible side effects you can expect:

More inner peace
Overwhelming episodes of gratitude
Expanded reverence for yourself and others
An overall sense of joyful well-being

Email me to schedule: susan@susantate.org