Self-Care Questionnaire: Susan Piver

I’m so happy—honored, really—to have Susan Piver on, answering the Self-Care Questionnaire. For those of you who don’t know her, Susan is the author of many fabulous books, including How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life and The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say, “I Do”.

I am totally in awe of her most recent book, The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, which is out this month in paperback. In the book, Susan guides readers through devastating heartbreak, using Buddhist teachings (she’s taken the bodhisattva vow, which means she’s pledged to help all beings achieve enlightenment, bless her heart) and her own personal (and often, hilarious) experiences with being colossally devastated by a break-up.

She’s your wisest, funniest, most hopeful friend who helps you find the grace, humor and wisdom in a seemingly sucky situation and use it as a means to wake up, evolve, and come back ready for more. Reading it almost made me wish I were still in the midst of recovering my capital-B Breakup. Almost.

How do you take care of yourself?
I mainly take care of myself by allowing myself to operate in this world in my own unique way. I’m good at some stuff and bad at others. I try to focus on the former.

What made you realize that you needed to learn how to take better care of yourself?
I spent most of my early years in a kind of depression. I realized at a young age that I was going to have to take care of my emotional/spiritual life on my own. I couldn’t find anyone to relate to, so I took it on myself. This turned out to be a good thing.

What was your first exposure to the world of mindfulness?
Probably my very first yoga class, in 1989.

How do you integrate your wellness endeavors into a typical day (or week)?
The things I do to stay well (creative expression, good diet, exercise, meditation, connecting with people I love), ARE my day.

How do you invest in your own, personal well-being?
I try to go on several long meditation retreats per year. If I can spend at least four weeks a year on retreat, I’m happy. Eight is better. Also, I have arthritis in my neck and it is really painful — but only when I sit!! (Meditation, writing…) So I go to a Rolfer and an acupuncturist with some regularity.

What do you do to take care of yourself on days you don’t feel like doing anything at all?
I don’t really have a plan as such. I spend a fair amount of time in a bit of a collapse. My friends are kind enough to call this “creative gestation” and I guess I’m gonna have to take their word for it.

What do you do on insanely busy days?
If I’m insanely busy with stuff I like (teaching, speaking, writing), I just enjoy the rush.
If I’m doing stuff I don’t like, I try to enjoy that too.

How has your wellness practice changed since you first started?
My practice has remained the same: meditation, diet, exercise, creative expression. I have changed quite a bit.

What have your forays into the world of wellness taught you about yourself?
That I have my own style and my own way of being in the world, and that it’s OK.

Have you had any major breakthroughs? What were they?
See above.

What books have helped you learn how to take better care of yourself?
Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa
Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham
Ruling Your World by Sakyong Mipham
On Becoming an Alchemist by Catherine MacCoun

Who have been your role models or teachers?
Chogyam Trungpa
Sakyong Mipham
Pema Chodron
Bob Dylan
Julia Cameron
Marpa the Translator

What are you working on in your practice these days?
Showing up.

What’s your favorite vice?
Bombay Sapphire martinis with 2 olives.

Congrats to Joselle!
She left a great comment on MsMindbody’s Holiday Gift Guide that I’ve selected to publish here. Her homemade vegan treats sound so delicious; they simply screamed for a set of Bring Your Own T to complement them. Here’s her comment:

“I am making and giving homemade vegan cookies, my traditional holiday gift. This year, I plan on making cranberry white chocolate biscotti, hazelnut fudge, sugar cookies, chocolate chip chai shortbread, and rugelach. Most of the recipes come from two of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Most of the recipients are not vegan and they are always a hit!

I’m also going to make some homemade limoncello for a few especially good (or naughty!) people on my list. This recipe comes from The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage.

I love to give homemade edible gifts. Most people in my life are fortunate enough to not need more stuff. Also, as an unemployed, soon-to-be nurse-midwife student, it’s all I can afford to give. And no one is ever disappointed when they get cookies and booze!”

Take care and keep breathing,


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