“Do whatever you do with Love.”
– Susan Foard
In 2017 Susan remembers sitting in an administrators’ meeting, in the State Department of Human Services, DHS, at which the Director asked her to attend a presentation called “Forgive for Good” by Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford University. She had no idea what she was in for. To her surprise, she encountered a pivotal life experience. She learned that forgiveness is a skill and a gift she can give to herself.
“Forgiveness is a choice. It’s like giving up smoking. If you choose forgiveness, your heart regenerates,” says Susan.
Susan continued to follow Dr. Luskin and learned more about his forgiveness practices. To this day she is still involved with organizing his presentations, and she now facilitates her own forgiveness trainings. Susan guides her trainees through six sessions where can learn the forgiveness skills. The first session deals with their grievance story, then the grief process/revenge fantasies, followed by stress reduction, unenforceable rules, and self-forgiveness.
The training closes with “my forgiveness story,” an essential piece in reshaping one’s response to grief and stress. Imagine having something that you can reach for any time you start to feel pain in your heart. In the “forgiveness story,” participants write out a plan to mobilize for those difficult moments.
“As humans we have so many negative feelings every day because of our primitive fight or flight minds. If you choose forgiveness, you can retrain your thoughts. Thinking positively is a skill.”
As Susan practiced the forgiveness skills in her personal and work life, she saw her abilities as an administrator grow, creating a more positive work environment. Then, upon retiring she was given another gift. The Director of DHS asked Susan to embed her forgiveness work into their department. She started with one-hour orientation meetings for DHS staff and later for their community partners. More and more people came to learn the skill of forgiveness from her.
Susan’s own healing journey began with movement.
One day, Susan’s doctor gently told her that she needed to lower her stress levels and lose weight. When she asked, “How?”. He gave no reply. So, she started by getting rid of her car and walking everywhere. She exercised and lost 60 pounds. But, she tells us, it was forgiveness work that restored her heart health.
Having never taken a dance class, at age 50 Susan was given a 20-class pack of movement classes by her daughter-in-law. They started with aerial yoga and continued their tradition of trying a new class every year. This was one of the many decisions that would bring Susan towards a life of joy, especially when she encountered Nia at the Still and Moving Center.
Now an enthusiastic Nia dancer, mindful mover, and marathon runner, She is currently taking her Nia Black Belt training from Nia’s co-founder, Debbie Rosas. Susan healed herself from living with critical stress, transforming her own life to one filled with joy, and is now sharing what she learned with others.
Susan’s life is one of perseverance and heartful determination to push through challenges, fears, and obstacles and breathe life in a new way. She has taken a deep dive into healing and forgiveness in her own life, and continues to share these insights with others. She has now facilitated over 25 group trainings, and continues to offer these six sessions once a week with groups over Zoom. With Susan, what could be challenging life topics transform into welcoming entry points to grace, compassion and understanding… through forgiveness.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)