MD and Chef Team - The Show!

Self Care from Suzanne Falter

March 04, 2022 Dr. Isabel MD & Culinary Nutrition Expert Chef Michael Season 3 Episode 5
MD and Chef Team - The Show!
Self Care from Suzanne Falter
Show Notes Transcript

In 2012 Suzanne was a driven workaholic when her business closed due to burnout, then her 22 year old daughter Teal dropped dead from a medically unexplainable cardiac arrest. She didn't work for two years as she grieved -- and along the way she discovered the real self-care of asking for help, setting boundaries, and listening to her needs.

This is an ongoing work/journey she shares through writing, podcasting, etc. Because real self-care isn't actually about managing your time better ... though it can be.

🔷 Suzanne Falter is a writer, podcaster and speaker whose work has appeared in SELF, O, More, Fitness, New Woman and The New York Times. She is the author of multiple self-help titles including The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care (Sourcebooks).

She also hosts the ever popular Self-Care for Extremely Busy Women podcast, and regularly speaks to a global audience on the healing power of crisis as a catalyst and the importance of self-care.

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Speaker 0 (0s): Coming up on this episode of the MD and chef team show, 

Speaker 1 (9s): You know, I mean, she, she also recognized that we're always a choice with everything we do. We can, we can make things negative. We can make things positive. We can be a victim, or we can actually heal from something it's completely up to the interpretation. And on nearly every page, she had written B and you know, or just B, just B. And she used to say that I'd be like, oh yeah, just be easy for you to say I was so follow my drama, my struggle, my messages, you know, my, you know, ongoing drama of my life. 

Speaker 0 (49s): Welcome to the show from the MDs team. I'm Dr. Isabel medical doctor here at the MD and chef team. 

Speaker 2 (58s): I'm chef Michael and nutrition experts. I'm the chef part, the kid. 

Speaker 0 (1m 2s): And what are we going to talk about bed? Now? I can see that cause he's my husband. 

Speaker 2 (1m 8s): We'll be talking about marriage, relationship, parenting intimacy. Talk about mindsets of success. Overcoming depression, anxiety. I'll be getting into functional nutrition, recipes and tips from the kitchen. And we're going to both get into how to live a long, healthy, vibrant life. 

Speaker 0 (1m 25s): Yes. I love it. Our mission is to help you prevent and reverse disease and give you both in the process. Oh yeah. We like to have fun. So let's get on with the show. Hi Suzanne. How are you doing? 

Speaker 1 (1m 45s): I am very well. Isabelle. Delighted to be here with you. 

Speaker 0 (1m 49s): Thank you for joining us. Hey, how's it going in a year in America? 

Speaker 1 (1m 54s): I am in the states. I'm in Oakland, California. And we're just living the life here, trying to stay out of trouble and be disease free this moment or virus free or whatever. Yeah. 

Speaker 0 (2m 6s): Like how long is this going to go on for, huh? 

Speaker 1 (2m 9s): I don't know. We're all a little tired of it. I can tell you that. Oh, 

Speaker 0 (2m 13s): I am so over this. Let's just move on. 

Speaker 1 (2m 17s): Yeah. What's happening down there in 

Speaker 0 (2m 19s): New Zealand. Well, you know, we've got that. The big O is here. So everybody's getting nervous. 

Speaker 1 (2m 26s): Used to be something fun. It's really not that big. 

Speaker 0 (2m 29s): I just don't. I don't even like you saying the word because it doesn't, Claire's that there's an issue and I'm just, we're just dealing with things, you know, we're in the red, red light, which just, it changes every month. So I can't keep up. I just, we just keep living. I love your background. What is that? What kind of a tree is that? 

Speaker 1 (2m 51s): Well, that's a big, huge Jasmine vine with a sweet olive in California. We get to a lot of stuff nobody's ever seen before. It's just this weird climate. I'm in the only zone in America where you can throw in a, stir some seeds in the ground and they'll take over and grow an acre. You know, they're naturalized here. It's really fun to garden here. You can grow any kind of rose you want. I mean, it's, it's pretty awesome, but I think New Zealand the same. 


Speaker 0 (3m 23s): Yeah, I've I've just, as a matter of fact, I was having a breakfast outside in front of my head of sunflowers that are about, that are about seven feet tall, which is about two meters, two plus meters. So anyway, Hey Suzanne, how about if I introduce you to our listeners because they are listening. 

Speaker 1 (3m 44s): Hi everybody. Hi. 

Speaker 0 (3m 47s): Hi everyone. I'm Dr. Isabel and welcome to the MD and chef team. I want to introduce to you my new person that I met, that we're having here at the podcast, Suzanne faltered. I'm just going to share a little bit about her story and then we'll take it from there. So pretend like we're in a jet and you're in first class. So buckle in and enjoy. We're taken off with Suzanne falter. We don't fly very much around here in New Zealand because we're afraid we can't get back into the country. 


Speaker 1 (4m 18s): I get it. I was just going to say, thank God somebody is doing some flying here. Any way, shape or form, right? 

Speaker 0 (4m 25s): All here, imaginary right after losing her daughter teal in 2012, Suzanne falter discovered the healing power of self care. She now hosts the self care for extremely busy women podcast and is the author of multiple self-help titles, including the extremely busy women's guide to self care. Her essays have appeared in self more fitness. 

Congratulations, Suzanne new world and the New York times as well as oh, but the goodo. The good, 

Speaker 1 (5m 5s): Good, good, 

Speaker 0 (5m 9s): Welcome. Thank you so much for being here. And before we begin, I just want to say, I'm so sorry for, for your loss. I mother, that that would do me in. 

Speaker 1 (5m 21s): So you think, so you think, but what you learn when you lose a child is about your strength and you learn about the opportunity that's always present in crisis, which is what happened to me. I mean, there's a saying among people, who've lost children that you either get better or you get bitter. And that is really true because you cannot just go on as you were before. I mean, you can try, but you know, you'll be haunted unless you really confront the reality of the situation and your 

Speaker 0 (5m 55s): Life, your life changed 

Speaker 1 (5m 57s): Dramatically in 2012. Can you tell us about that? Yeah. So that's when teal died. It was a strange year because it began by me losing a relationship I'd been in for a year and a half. I had come out as a lesbian and moved from upstate New York to San Francisco and it was going to totally redo my life. And my kids were kind of grown and moved, moved out more or less. And I got to California loss and you went through this relationship, the relationship ended. 

And I had just given up my apartment and moved into a new place. So that place went. So I suddenly had no place to live and business. I had come to California to run, had been very, very successful to the point of burning out. And it was a coaching business and I got burned out and my partner and I decided to dissolve the business, my business partner. So I had no relationship, no home, no business. And then two months later, my daughter died from a medically unexplainable cardiac arrest, two hours after we had dinner in a restaurant. 

And it was a really interesting kind of crazy thing because she wanted to be a healer. She had epilepsy, she was convinced that, you know, she should take classes at the San Francisco city college, a free university in the city. And she was starting to take the next day after she collapsed, she was going to take all these classes like, you know, native American rituals and such. And instead she, she collapsed and there is a phenomenon. Maybe you've heard of it in epilepsy called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, which it's very rare affects one and several thousand people. 

And basically you, you die or your heart stops, whatever, whatever comes out of that, your heart stops. You're usually alone. This is what I think is so incredible. And, and really also interestingly, her neurologist or in Devinsky is one of the world's leading experts on this particular phenomenon. And here she was one of the rare people who died from it. Wow. So that was all very, very incredible. 

And you know, she, she was in her heart was revived and her heart was stabilized to the point where she could donate her organs and her heart saved another young woman's life about her age. Beautiful. Yeah. And so, you know, she did become a healer on many levels in the afterlife. And I felt she healed me because the night that I came to the hospital to, you know, like the night this all happened and I went rushing over to the ER and I walked into this room and the neurotrauma unit or the cardiac trauma unit actually at the time. 

And there she was, and she was all hooked up to all these machines and she was totally unconscious. I knew she was going to die. I just knew it. And I also knew that that would be this moment when I was going to really redo my life. I was going to really have the opportunity to live a much more purposeful life that reflected my true values because Isabelle, at the time I was a very driven workaholic. 

I was so obsessed with, you know, making the big money and being super successful. And by the time she died, I was kind of broken and that model didn't work. And I was really checked out and no, you know, just had forgotten completely who I was or what I cared about or what was important to me or what it, my purpose in life even was. Right. Those were all the things that I focused on after her death. So I aggrieved and I didn't work for two whole years. 

I tried to work. I tried to start another business, but it just kept failing. It just kept Cola. Everything collapsed around me again and again and again, and since then, I've probably tried five or six times to restart different types of businesses related to what I was doing before. And it's never worked. And instead, why do you think that happened? Because it was not my true work. It wasn't, this is my true work. You know, being here to share a message about self care is my true work. 

And also interestingly, a relative came out of nowhere. About two years after tales collapsed and said, I would like to invest in your fiction writing. And I had published a novel years earlier. Nobody bought it, but it was a funny, pretty good book. And it just happened to come out at a bad time for that type of fiction, which was sort of waning interest in it was waning. So I said, sure. So I, I got a job which I still have writing fiction and I've written nine. 

Now I've written eight novels. I'm on the ninth one congratulate. They also thank you. They also really convey these core messages that I really believe in that I think tell a kind of allegorical stories. And I feel all of this comes back to who Tia was in her life. She was a very grounded, very pure soul who didn't care about money, didn't care about, you know, being a success. 

She had an incredible singing voice. She went to Berkeley college music and was trained to sing. The blues sounded amazing, but didn't have any particular ambition to be successful with it. And instead, or ambition was to back pack up her little backpack and her travel guitar and go around the world and sing on the streets of the world. And that's what she did. Wow. 

Speaker 0 (12m 1s): How old was she when she passed 

Speaker 1 (12m 3s): 22? Oh yeah. She was 22. And just to love and you know, she kept these notebooks. She did a lot of meditating 

Speaker 0 (12m 13s): And told me about the notebooks. Tell me 

Speaker 1 (12m 15s): That. So, so she had these notebooks where she would meditate and write down the little messages she got in her meditations. And they were always just things that helped her really learn how to live a more grounded life. And there were things that I ended up using, you know, at the time I, she said to me, mom, I keep hearing these little phrases when I meditate, what should I do with them? And I said, oh, write them down in a notebook. 

You know, I didn't really think about it much. And here we are here, we are 

Speaker 0 (12m 50s): Our nine books later because you've used them in the, in the night. 

Speaker 1 (12m 54s): I've used them in. I've used the, particularly in myself care about the extremely busy woman's guide to self-care because they taught me a lot about self care 

Speaker 0 (13m 5s): And we'll have the link, we'll have the link in the show notes. So everybody don't worry. It's all going to be in the show notes. 

Speaker 1 (13m 13s): Essential, essential wisdom of TEALS was so much about becoming present and being, being present in the moment and really feeling your feelings and really understanding what is happening to you and not pretending that something else is happening and not denying it. And, you know, just being real about your life, which was something I had to return to, you know, I mean, she, she also recognized that we're always a choice with everything we do. 

We can, we can make things negative. We can make things positive. We can be a victim, or we can actually heal from something it's completely up to the interpretation. And on nearly every page, she had written B and you know, or just B, just B. And she used to say that I'd be like, oh yeah, just be easy for you to say. And I was so full of my drama, my struggle, my messages, you know, my, you know, ongoing drama of my life, but I didn't, I wasn't just being, I was avoiding, I was being a victim. 

I was making things up. I was being bullied. I mean, you know, I was not just being, if I had just bead, I would have learned a great deal more and suffered less. 

Speaker 0 (14m 38s): Yeah. And suffered less. You would have learned it faster. Right. Only if only we, we would have that 2020 vision go, gosh, if only I would've known this, this, you know, that far away. So let me, I wanted to ask you, how did you go from being a workaholic to a more balanced person after Till's death? 

Speaker 1 (15m 2s): Well, I let myself grieve. First of all, how long I gave myself two years. And it took about that long. And I really didn't work. Like I said earlier. And for me not to work, it was the first time in my entire life. Except interestingly, when I was pregnant with tail that I didn't work and I always had worked and I'd always used work to nullify my feelings. I'd used work to validate myself when I was being bullied by, by toxic people around me. 

I used my work to escape to when I felt unsafe, I used my work to lose myself in, when I felt anxious or depressed. It was my escape hatch. And the problem with having an escape patches, you never deal with the real trouble in your life. No. By allowing myself to really get real and start to seek some help and start to really give myself the internal support I needed. 

You know, I needed to learn how to set boundaries. I needed to learn how to ask for help and stop trying to do everything by myself. I needed to admit, I didn't know how to solve some of my problems. I needed to open up to people who cared about me, but never could, you know, have a grounded conversation with me. Cause I was always running and rushing and hurrying and not being available. My sisters and I got very much closer after tale died, you know, which is ironic because one of the things she really wanted to do was bring our whole family together. 

So we were closer because we'd grown up in a dysfunctional family. Oh yeah. And that happened after her death. Oh, beautiful. 

Speaker 0 (16m 54s): So cosh, am I correct in saying that her passing actually help heal you? 

Speaker 1 (17m 1s): I believe it is. I believe that's exactly what happened. Wow. And that is the opportunity of crisis because when terrible things happen, you're always in opportunity to push the reset button and start things over again. I mean the S you know, there's so many stories of widows being, you know, being widowed and then reassessing, where are they going to live? Are they going to move closer to their children? Are they going to start, start a new life in some way, shape or form? You know, there, there are so many stories about people who have terminal illnesses who suddenly decide, this is what I really wanted to do. 

And they get a little glimpse of the life that they would have lived. You know, crisis is a fantastic catalyst for change. If we allow it, like I said, you gotta want it. You gotta be in it to win it. You know, you've got to want it. You've got to want it. 

Speaker 0 (17m 58s): You know, sometimes you're in it and you didn't really want it, but you're like, okay, I got a choice. Which way am I going to go? And I applaud you for making the choice that heals you, you know, because you're, you're what you were running from is what so many women run from. You know, we're so busy with family work relationship. We that we don't know how to self care. So I I'm so glad you learned that and please share how do we self care? 

Speaker 1 (18m 29s): Well, there's some basics. All right. I mean, the way you self care is you begin by listening to yourself and understanding what you need. And this begins with a simple question, which is what do I need right now? And I want to tell you when, when all of this went down, I was asked that question and I couldn't answer it. I mean, I was in shock and my mind was scrambled with grief, but I really didn't know what I needed. And the truth is I needed a lot. 

I needed to rest. I needed to slow down. I needed to stop. I needed to, to sob and cry and I needed to not be alone. I needed people around me. I needed grief support. I mean, I needed a lot, but I, you know, I was coming up blank. And I think that coming up blank is what happens when we get so busy. And I had been overly busy, I think for 32 years. 

Speaker 0 (19m 26s): Ah, I get you. I get, 

Speaker 1 (19m 30s): And I'm not busy anymore. I have my podcast and I write my novels and I have a little of this, a little of that. But yeah, I'm a, I'm working at a very modest pace and everything is just fine. Like nobody's, there's no drama. That's, what's so great. Because once you calm down and you allow life to support you and you allow in the supporters that you need, everything becomes easier. 

I mean, we whip up enormous amounts of drama by being overly busy. And that is one of the messages in the, the extremely busy woman's guide, because it's written for people who are raising kids. And they've said yes to the in-laws and they're, you know, the ones who have to make the brownies or stay late at work. And, you know, it's just like people with too much going on. And sometimes you have to be willing to let it go. And it's a struggle. It isn't obvious. It isn't easy. 

And that's why I wrote the book because I know it is possible, but people have to believe it. So number two, in my little basics list is setting boundaries. Oh yeah. 

Speaker 0 (20m 42s): You've got so, so right now, just so everybody knows you're giving you're actually, you're doing exactly what I was about to ask you is the three action steps. Can you just give us three or if you've got more, but at least three action steps so that women can start winning now. 

Speaker 1 (20m 58s): Yes. Well, the number two, then the first one is ask yourself regularly, at least once a day, what are we doing right now? And get yourself a little notebook and write it down. It might be you text yourself or, you know, you actually write it in paper and pen. The number two is to set some boundaries. So you look at where you're giving away your energy and you'll know because you have reluctance around it. You know, there's a place in your life where you're saying yes to something that you probably could say no to. 

And if that is true for you, it will come right up. As I say, you know, what do you really feel not great about what do you feel like avoiding? What makes you angry? What are you fed up with? What are you tired of? And there might be a long list and God bless you, write it down. I'm not kidding you. That's the power of journaling is huge with this kind of thing. And then the most important one is to ask for help and help can come in many, many, many forms. You know, one of my favorite ways to ask for help is to go into a support group. 

And I joined 12 step recovery groups. I joined grief groups. I joined a hospice group for people who had lost children. I had joined all these different groups during that two year period. And I'm still in some of them. And there are lots of people in those groups. Who've been through what you've been through and they understand you and they listen to you and they ballad date. You. I have a group for extremely busy women on Facebook that has 55,000 women. And they show up and they really help each other, figure things out. 

And people will be on there saying, I don't know if I should quit my job. I feel like I'm being sexually harassed, but everybody tells me I'm not. What do you think? You know? And, and there, you know, inevitably there's like a lawyer in the group or there's, you know, people have had experiences. Let me just put it that way. We want to be near like-minded others who can help us. And sometimes we just feel so alone with our problems and our difficulties 

Speaker 0 (23m 2s): And life is too hard to do alone. We can't do it. We go nuts. 

Speaker 1 (23m 10s): That's right, Isabelle. It's, it's essential that we give ourselves this support because we deserve it. We deserve to have what we need. And I know if I hadn't joined all those groups and surrounded myself with caring people and friends, and really created structures of support, I would never have gotten through that period of grief Come out of the woodwork to, you know, 

Speaker 0 (23m 36s): About woodwork. I'd like to talk to you about redwoods. So my husband, I have this beautiful place that we go hiking in New Zealand, and it's called Tomata peak. And then you go high kick. And then when you go down, you'd go into this forest of, of redwoods. And I love hugging redwoods comment, but I just, to me hugging a Redwood and looking up, I feel like I'm hugging God. That's just me. Okay. 


Speaker 1 (24m 6s): Is really interesting. You should say, 

Speaker 0 (24m 9s): But let me finish. Let me finish. But when you look, when you come into the Redwood, you'll never see a Redwood all by itself. It's ginormous, but redwoods have to live close to each other because their roots work by connecting with each other. That's how they, and so that's when you said coming out of the woodwork, I'm like, yeah, the Redwood, 

Speaker 1 (24m 33s): That's a great story. You know, there's this thing called fairy rings and fairy rings, you know, in California, we have lots of redwoods around us. And a fairy ring is a deposit of little redwoods around a really huge one. And you can get right in the center of it and feel all that energy because some of those trees are very old and I, I'm a big proponent of standing barefoot on the ground and hugging that tree and feeling that earth, energy. And it's very grounding. That's actually a great grounding to do so. 

Perfect. That you brought that up. 

Speaker 0 (25m 6s): I think the Japanese call it forest showers. 

Speaker 1 (25m 10s): Yes. For 

Speaker 0 (25m 11s): Setups. Yeah. Yeah. And so people want tree showers. Yeah. People walk by me, but I just don't care because I need, you know, I need the hug that tree, but anyway. Yeah. So go hug the tree. My mom and sister laugh at us that we hug trees, but I don't care who cares. Right. It's self. 

Speaker 1 (25m 30s): Well, anything is self care that suits your soul. 

Speaker 0 (25m 34s): Yeah. And about self care for our listeners know that you matter, you matter and you deserve to learn how to take good care of yourself. Where did we learn that we had to be so hard on ourselves? Huh? Where Suzanne? 

Speaker 1 (25m 55s): Well, I've got a whole chapter in the book about why we resist self care because there's a stoic belief. There's two things going on. There's a culturally drummed in thing here in the states, which really says, unless you have suffered, it's not valid. You know, it's the old Puritan work ethic come down many generations, but also as women and you know, my work is targeted more towards women as women. We feel guilty when we aren't in there helping everybody. 

And lots of women in my Facebook group has said the biggest thing, stopping them from self care is guilt and feeling like they should be helping people all the time. That that is, that is their contract with God or whatever. And it isn't, it's not the contract with God is be your best self. Do what it takes to become happy, become a whole person, not just a martyr for a cause. This is where we've come to. We've evolved from, you know, my mother's generation, the generation of martyrs, big time, you know, women born in the, you know, 1910 to maybe 1940. 

And, and they really inherited this mantle. If you've got two or maybe even the fifties you've really got to do for everybody else in order to do your job as a woman. And that is just not true anymore. 

Speaker 0 (27m 23s): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'll definitely. So just in landing this chat, where can we find you? Because I got to get your book. 

Speaker 1 (27m 35s): Oh, good. Cause 

Speaker 0 (27m 36s): It's going to help me help my lady. 

Speaker 1 (27m 38s): Yes. It's called the extremely busy woman's guide to self care. It's on Amazon. And if you come on over to my website, Suzanne falter, S U Z a N N E F a L T E You'll see a link to my Facebook group. You'll see my books. You can see, you can even listen to a wonderful recording of teal singing. And there's my podcast. My podcast is called self care for extremely busy women. And we've gotten 170 episodes almost and thousands and thousands of women all over the world are listening and tuning in for lots of good self care. 

Speaker 0 (28m 17s): Oh Suzanne, thank you so much for your time and your heart and your hard work for getting to this place. You're welcome. Thank you so much. Hi everybody. That was me and Suzanne. Please check out the link in the show notes, the show notes down below, after remember the lingo in podcast and until next time, go out there and remain unstoppable. Whatever you're chasing down, know that you are worth it and you matter. 

Okay. I love you guys. Take care of 

Speaker 2 (28m 58s): Hello, chef Michael here. If you enjoy today's episode, we would love it. If you subscribe to the podcast and left us a review.