Self Care for Extremely Busy Women with Guest, Suzanne Falter

Ep: 157

How often do you think you’re not doing enough, in spite of feeling completely depleted? 

If you’re always wanting more time for the things that matter to you, then you might have a self-care deficit.

Our tendency to overproduce in an attempt to prove our worthiness is getting us nowhere.

Today, Blake welcomes writer, podcaster, speaker, and self-care expert Suzanne Falter. After the sudden loss of her daughter, she happened upon a blueprint that changed the course of her life. Through the toughest times, she learned the greatest lessons about aligning with our values and the phenomenal healing power of self-care.

You’ll hear how Suzanne went from a life of busyness and over-producing to the sudden loss of everything around her, from her vibrant daughter to the roof over her head. She shares the lessons she learned through that profound period of growth and how she’s inspiring other women to shift their own perspectives about what’s important. Her 5 keys to self-care for busy women will help you lead a fuller life that focuses on better alignment so you can prioritize the things that are truly valuable in your life.

When you take the time to understand your specific needs, only then can you honor them and align your way of living with what’s uniquely important to you. 

What You’ll Learn:

  • The loss that launched Suzanne onto a new path of self-care (4:30)
  • How to shift your focus from work to quality of life (9:07)
  • Why alignment is such an important part of self-care (13:17)
  • The 5 basics of self-care (15:00)
  • Why women are conditioned to over-produce (21:15)

Favorite Quotes:

  1. You don’t have to struggle, you don’t have to suffer, you don’t have to overwork. There is a great deal of self-care to the idea that we’re living our values and we’re working in balance. —Suzanne
  2. We are born lined up with a set of desires and a set of needs and a set of things in life that just make us smile and feel great. And we forget to honor them, we forget to listen to them… Because we’re so busy doing what we think we should do. —Suzanne
  3. Overproduction is this idea that you have to keep doing in order to be valid, in order to be adequate, in order to be enough. And we are enough intrinsically as we are, without doing anything. —Suzanne

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Blake Schofield  0:05  All right, Suzanne, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast. Today, we are talking about a topic that I think is honestly critical for almost every single woman I know. Right? Which is really how do you balance a busy life and take care of yourself and be able to have that be able to do the things you want to do without feeling like you’re constantly behind. I feel like that’s what I hear.

Suzanne Falter  0:32  I have no magic wand to wave, Blake, I just have hard won experience with this, and some ideas about self care, which really do seem to resonate with a lot of women. So I’m eager to share my thoughts.

Blake Schofield  0:48  Wonderful, I love it, you know, I find that I have learned the most from those ahead of me. I think we have something to learn from every single person that we meet. But what I find is people that really find an expertise and dive deep on things. That’s where you really get the gold. This is clearly an area that you are very passionate and spend a lot of time in. So with that said that women listening, you’re probably wondering who the heck is Suzanne? So can you share a little bit with us about your background? What’s the work you do today? And how did you end up in this path?

Suzanne Falter  1:21  I’m happy to. I’m have been a professional writer for 40 years. And I’m a blogger and podcaster. And my work has become a lot about self care. it prompted a book that I wrote in that I published in 2019, called The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care, and how that came the self care for extremely busy women podcast and a Facebook group, and so forth and so on. And, you know, prior to that, I was really writing about happiness a lot. I did several books about joy, and, you know, with traditional and independent publishers. And really, you know, the thing that changed my life, because I thought I was pretty happy and had it all, in 2012 I was working I was at the end of a pretty, super intense career in internet marketing, which I had stumbled into as a way to get the word out about my podcast and my my self help books that I had published in the early 2000s. And I was totally burned out on that work. I had had a background in marketing from the 80s. So I knew how to do it. But I wasn’t loving it. And I didn’t want to be there. And my business had just imploded because I was too busy. I was literally coaching around the clock practically. And I couldn’t sustain it.

And simultaneous with that, my relationship ended and I lost the home that came with it. And then my daughter, Teal, who I had moved to San Francisco a few years prior, she came out on the east coast to to live with me and to find her own little special place in San Francisco. And around that time, she dropped dead from a medically unexplainable cardiac arrest, and everything ground to a huge crashing halt. And I didn’t work again for two years, as I processed the fact that my beautiful, joyful, wonderful daughter was dead. And the crazy thing about it was there really was no explanation for this cardiac arrest. And the day after she collapsed, she was going to start studies to become a healer. And then the next thing I knew, I no longer had a daughter and I felt a huge obligation to pick up this concept of being a healer and move forward with it. Which is not to say that I’m a healer, but I healed myself with self-care and by reading Teal’s journals, and by really remembering who she was, and learning from her because she was the exact opposite of me. She loved to go around the world with her little backpack on money she made us a waitress. And she would take her cash to the airport in her pocket and pick a destination and plunk her money down and go. And she had her backpack and her travel guitar. She was a gifted, trained blues singer. And she played music all over the world on the street. And this was how she got along. And she lived in little hostels or with friends that she made everywhere she went. And she was kind of a couch surfer, and had a very, very different life with this extraordinarily joyful, present, relaxed, unambitious, undriven way of living. That taught me so much after her death.

Blake Schofield  6:04  So you mentioned that she left her notebook behind and sounds like in many ways, it was almost as if she left you a blueprint. Can you share with me, you know, why did the notebook become so important? And as you started doing that, How do you reconcile that the privacy of something that your daughter did and deciding to utilize that to share it?

Suzanne Falter  6:30  Yeah, I know. You know, it’s such a great question. Because I, well, first of all, I felt like these get these notebooks, she told me about the notebooks before she died. And she said, ‘Mom, every time I meditate, I get these incredible sentences that I hear in my meditations. And they’re really wise and full of full of wisdom, what should I do with them?’ And I said, ‘Why don’t you write them down in your notebook?’ So she wrote them down. And then I felt like, well, okay, I better read them. And, and I connected, I really felt like I was connecting with her in the afterlife. And basically, I asked permission, and I got it, which is pretty unscientific when you get down to it. But I think we have a gut feeling. And I think we know. And I even used, I woke up one morning in the middle of working on the final draft of The Extremely Busy Woman’s Guide to Self-Care. And I woke up knowing that we should include some of Teal’s journal entries, which are so much about self-care. And I talked to my publisher, and she agreed; she thought that was a great idea. And then I went back, I’m like, Teal these are good to go with a book. You’re sure you’re good with this? And I just got this warm, kind of glowing, positive feeling that just felt like a real affirmation. So unscientific, imperfect, perhaps, but good enough for me.

Blake Schofield  7:54  Awesome. So it sounds like Teal was leading a very different life than you were. And obviously, you’re helping extremely busy women. So it sounds like previous to this. You were workaholic, you were you would say so great. I would say the same was true of me for certainly the first 18 years of my career and where I was in corporate I grew up with parents that were workaholics. That was what I knew to be the case. Somebody asked you because I think a lot of us that are workaholics don’t necessarily want to be like you know, it’s that push pull of the this is what it takes. But I really wish that I could be more free. So how did you go from being a workaholic to being more balanced, you had gone through, you know, probably the depths of the worst time of your life. And you use that obviously, to change where you went in the future. So how did you go about that?

Suzanne Falter  8:48  What it takes for driven women like us, is a massive perspective shift. And, you know, I didn’t work for two years, which was really helpful. And I lived on my savings. I lived for free in a friend’s house or guestroom in exchange for dog care and making some meals. And you know, something? It was actually wonderful. It was really wonderful, really dear friend and I wasn’t alone. I had support. I was also just, you know, I just had this peaceful place to be a very nice little house in the country. It was just right. And I kind of divested myself of all these things I thought I needed. I no longer had the expensive membership to the fancy gym and I, you know, had a really simple little car and I was buying clothing at the secondhand store that was kind of fun and exotic to me and, I mean, everything that I had previously done was over, just over and I felt it had to be that way for me to really heal the way I knew I needed to heal. Because when Teal was in the hospital, she was in a medically induced coma because they had restarted or tried to see if somehow she would come out of it for a few days prior to her being taken off of life support. And during that time, I knew intrinsically that this was about me, coming back to myself, that I was going to have to become a better person, I was going to have to do the hard work of becoming a better person. And that became my work. So when the question came up of what to do to make a living again, because I really had to get going making a living, I began to look around at what was authentic for me what was really the right word, because I knew it wasn’t going to be all about internet marketing. And, What happened was that a wealthy relative who I wasn’t super in touch with, but had been following what I was going through, approached me and said, I would like to hire you to write fiction. Now, I had published a novel, a pretty good novel, actually back in 1990, with a major publisher. And he had loved that book. I never even knew it, read it. But he loved it. And he offered to hire me to write a series of novels with a character that he kind of had the back of his mind. And I just, I hadn’t written fiction for 15 years. So I wasn’t sure I could do this. But finally, I agreed, I knew I had to get going doing something. And it was internet marketing. So well, I’m still working. Today on that project. I’ve written eight novels, I’m on the ninth one. And it’s been a great joy. And I’ve, I’ve put out some books that I’m immensely proud of. So what this is, is the universe meeting me and saying, ‘You don’t have to struggle, you don’t have to suffer, you don’t have to overwork.’ Because what I’m doing is working in balance, you know, there is there is a great deal of self care, to the idea that we’re living our values, and we’re working in balance. And we’re not doing something we dislike.

Blake Schofield  13:58  I could not agree with that more. The work that I really do is about helping women understand when you are unfulfilled in your career, then you are experiencing, right, the ups and downs, and the stress and the lack of sleep and all of that it’s because something is misaligned in your life. And if you don’t do that, right, if you don’t fix that root cause why are you unfulfilled, what is not there, you’ll continue to go down, I call it the road to break down when you either get severe burnout or performance plan,or layoff. And I watched it all of the time, and these women end up there but then you get you go back on the cycle again until you finally solve the problem. So I love hearing you say that because it’s always fun to me when I meet people who have learned the lesson that I learned just maybe in a slightly different way. Right that alignment is super, super important.

Suzanne Falter  14:50  And I would say I’m glad you mentioned alignment because I would say that alignment starts when we’re born. We are born lined up with A set of desires, and a set of needs, and a set of things in life that just make us smile and feel great. And we forget to honor them, we forget to listen to them. Because we’re so busy doing what we think we should do. And Teal was a model of somebody who always followed that inner voice to the thing that made her happiest. It was just such a simple, simple pull, but she really got it.

Blake Schofield  15:27  I love that. That also, I think, really aligns with a lot of what I share, which is yes, we we are all born with unique, gifts, skills, experiences to create an impact in a way that nobody else can. One of my mentors always says there’s only one of you in all of creation. And I really love that. Isn’t that beautiful? That’s Dr. Jeff Spencer, such a beautiful sentiment. But I think we get so busy, that we crowd out all the things that really matter. Because we’re so focused on the money, or the next thing that we think will actually make us happy. So we’re talking a little bit about self care, but I think self care many times gets a bad rap. Or there’s a lot of different perspectives about what self care means. So I’d love to hear what’s your perspective about about that, Suzanne?

Suzanne Falter  16:21  I’m glad you asked. And by now, I think most of us knows it’s not just the mani-pedi in the movies, although those can be part of self care. The most fundamental aspects of self care are about your internal beliefs, the things you do to create order and balance in your life. And, you know, I always like to say that there are five basics. Five basic things that really have to be there for good self care. And the first one is, you need to know what you need. And if we’re busy, busy women, we don’t know what we need, we’re busy avoiding what we need. But we’ve got to understand our needs, and listen to them. And sometimes we ask ourselves, what do we need? We don’t know. I mean, that was my deal. Somebody said to me, what do you need? And I couldn’t answer the question. And then number two, we need to set some boundaries. And this was also very difficult for me, I believed, as do many busy women, that I am invincible, a superstar a hero and rock solid. And if you need something, I’ll deliver it. And I never stopped to think about whether that worked for me or not. And so you got a sense of boundaries, you know, I mean, we come home exhausted from work, and we might have a partner that expects us to produce a meal and do a whole lot of childcare, you know, laundry, or whatever the hell it is. And we’re just like, on autopilot. And we do it because we figured nobody else will do it. Or we do it because we think we can do it better, or because we’re angry. So we’re just going to grumpily do it, whatever it is, we pick up that role, and we run with it.

But there are boundaries that are designed to suit our needs. And then the third basic is my favorite, which is to ask for help when you need it. That was the biggest thing I learned during my two years of not working was that I needed help. I didn’t know how to grieve a death like this. I didn’t know how to wait through this. And I ended up calling a local hospice. And they gave me free therapist and a free support group for parents who’ve lost children, which I highly recommend to anybody going through a grief crisis. Often hospices are available to people, even though their their loved one may not have died in a hospice. That kind of thing. You know, I also joined support groups. For people with compulsive behaviors, I definitely had some stuff around money, and spending and shopping. I spent a lot of time really learning how to do those things correctly from people like me, you know, fellow compulsive spenders and debtors who really understood how this worked a lot better than I did, and were willing to spend time and show me what to do. And then I was reaching out to my family, my sisters, and I really reconnected and one of my sisters would call me every week and talk about, you know, they wanted to help me on this quest to become a better person, unlike what happened to us when we were kids. It made me so angry and, you know, dysfunctional and, and, you know, they told me what they remembered. And I told them what I remembered and, you know, on and on and on the list goes of people who were there to help me that the fourth piece of this is then you have to actually take some action. The fact that I got on the phone with my sister that I went to the recovery meetings or you know that I took the job the paying job that was offered to Even though I was unsure if I could do it, if you don’t actually take the steps that require you get out of your comfort zone, and take on the serious task of self care of living in this beautiful alignment we were talking about earlier. So what, nothing happens, nothing happens at all. And finally, the fifth way to do that is to put it in your schedule, which is just so simple, but so true. Just book time with yourself, whether you’re exercising, or it’s time with a friend that you need to go and have dinner with or take a walk with. Or if it’s, you know, booking time to go take yourself out for a museum date, or whatever it is, you know, or yes, a massage. I mean, we have to put these things in our calendar because we’re busy. And we don’t ever want to give ourselves enough time. And I would even go so far break up like to say that we could book time alone with ourselves doing nothing for every head around that busy women.

Blake Schofield  21:15  Yes, interesting. I think as women, there’s such a feeling of selfishness of taking time for ourselves, or all of the to do list running through your head. Right, so you’re not doing it. And I think what we often don’t realize is that rest is necessary for us to actually be successful. So we feel selfish about taking risks, we’re just burning ourselves out because our bodies need rest. Think about it, we sleep and we’re allowing our body to recover. You look at so many cycles that are in just the nature of rest and recovery in a time of growth. But we often don’t think about that as women. So I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s important to allow space. Think about how often creativity comes when we’re doing nothing, driving to work, we’re in the shower, those are the moments when the gold comes, maybe even like first thing in the morning when you wake up. But again, I think as a society, we’ve been so conditioned to believe we just need to be busy all of the time. We need to be productive all of the time.

Suzanne Falter  22:19  Well, I’d say I’d also say that doing nothing for nothing sake is even more powerful than doing nothing as a hopeful state in which a good idea might happen. Yeah, as much as I do agree that that is when things happen. To go into nothing, a place of doing nothing with no agenda, is really important. Because first of all, that little insight you’re hoping for will not happen because you’ll be looking for it. And they only come unbidden. You know, you can’t tell a gift when to come, as they say, but also because you deserve to have time just to sit there and do nothing. It’s a human right. And we all share it. All of us.

Blake Schofield  23:05  Love that. One of the things you said that really hit home for me is most of us do far more than we need to. Can you share a little bit more about that?

Suzanne Falter  23:15  That’s my concept about overproduction. And one of the things that happens to busy women is they believe, like I said earlier, we’re the only ones who can do it, or nobody will do it as well as us or if we don’t go way past to the mat. We will never get the you know, partnership or promotion, whatever it is we desire. I want to tell you, there are a lot of men out there who are not doing that. And they’re feeling like okay, I’ve done enough. This is cool. Let’s go Let’s go home now. And there are a lot of women going I better work harder. It’s not enough. My colleague and friend, Dr. Valerie Young came up with something called the imposter syndrome, which is about believing you will never stop trying to prove how great you are. Because basically you’re not that great. So I’m here to say what you’re doing that’s adequate, is enough. Overproduction is this idea that you have to keep doing in order to be valid, in order to be adequate, in order to be enough, and we are enough intrinsically as we are without doing anything. That’s what I learned in my two years of not working was that I was enough just like that. And that was a gift.

Blake Schofield  24:44  I love that so much. Well Suzanne, it’s been such a pleasure chatting with you. Is there anything that I have not asked you that you wish I did? Or anything that you just really feel compelled that you want to make sure that you share today that you haven’t already.

Suzanne Falter  24:58  I’m glad you asked. I really invite anybody who feels like their self care is suffering or their self cares is uninspired or they don’t know kind of where to start. Come on over to my podcast Self-Care for Extremely Busy Women because that’s the place where I have a lot of different input and ideas and you know, all sorts of ideas about the inner game of self care and, and it is a game. It’s a fun game. And I hope that anybody listening will start to play with what’s possible as a grand experiment in the better you.

Blake Schofield  25:35  Thank you again for sharing your your journey, your story. I think it’s incredibly inspiring to see how you can move from the depths of the most difficult thing in your life and it become the thing that opens up the possibility for everything. Not only did I experience that personally, but I’ve seen it time and time again, sometimes the hardest moments in our lives are the greatest gift when we look at them and say, what can I learn from it? And you certainly have done that and what a wonderful legacy you are creating for Teal and her memory. And what a wonderful thing to have learned from your daughter and take that and help others learn from her as well. So thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you.