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Luke Interviews Susanne Navas

April 17, 2019

Luke interviews life coach Susanne Navas about her work as a life coach and recovery coach in Virginia.

Luke Mattey: Hi there, everybody. Luke Mattey here with Sandstone Care. I hope everybody is doing well. I have here with me Susanne Navas, life coach. She was able to come here to our office in Bethesda, and see some of our space here, and talk to some of our clinicians, but I’d like for her to introduce herself and tell us a little bit about what you do, Susanne.

Susanne Navas: Hi. Thanks for having me here.

Luke Mattey: Of course.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. I’ve really loved having the tour here and learning more about what Sandstone does.

Luke Mattey: Thank you.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. I am a life coach and a recovery coach. I work with basically people, adults and teenagers, who feel stuck in some way, feel overwhelmed, want to perhaps want to create some change in their life, but don’t really know where to start. So, maybe it’s examining habits. I guess that’s where the recovery coaching comes in, because sometimes people know that maybe they have an unhealthy behavior, an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, or other drug, or even food, or work, or whatever it is. So, I help them examine that, get started in the right direction.

Luke Mattey: That’s great. Thank you for sharing that. I believe you mentioned that you had recently relocated from Connecticut. Correct?

Susanne Navas: That’s right.

Luke Mattey: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve been in the Northern Virginia area for about a year and a half. You also work with a partner of ours, Sagebrush. Tell us a little bit about what you do there.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. Sagebrush, they have residential treatment, and then they also have outpatient. So, I basically work mostly in the residential teaching yoga, yoga for sobriety-

Luke Mattey: Awesome.

Susanne Navas: … and doing some coaching, helping the therapists run groups, and so on. I’d never been in a treatment facility before, never worked in the industry, so it’s definitely been extremely fulfilling. I absolutely love it. As much as I help the clients, but they also every day just remind me what the human spirit can … you know, how resilient we are and how much … because I’ve been immersed in brain health, learning about brain health, learning about trauma and so on. Every day I just am amazed at how much we can still survive, you know, traumatic circumstance, even just what … You know, when somebody comes to treatment, it’s not … I joke about it. I’m like, “Yeah. No one gets here on a winning streak.” You know?

Luke Mattey: Right.

Susanne Navas: Some of the stories that you here and the conditions that we witness, it really … sometimes it breaks my heart, but it always inspires me, so it’s really the most fulfilling work I believe.

Luke Mattey: Yeah. No. That’s great. Just talking about how important it is to connect the mind and the body through the yoga with recovery, specifically in our line of work here at Sandstone Care, but just in general. Thank you for sharing about Sagebrush and the work you do there. I’d like to just kind of jump back a little bit to your experience with life coaching and recovery coaching. Can you share a little bit about some of the tools that you use there, what maybe some of the folks are struggling with in that life coaching role that you deal with?

Susanne Navas: Sure. Yeah. I work with teens, as well as with adults. Very often with the teens it’s very stressful to live today. You know, we have so much information bombarding us and so many expectations from everywhere. If we’re a teenager, it’s coming from our parents. It’s coming from our peers, from our schools, and so on. So, it can feel really overwhelming, and at the same time I believe because naturally as a child I’m taking in the adults, and very usually well intentioned adults, but … I’m a parent, so I recognize this. I have a 15 and an 18 year old, and so I know how hard it is as a parent to know what your child is capable of, at the same time know what pitfalls might, pitfalls, what pitfalls might happen, the kind of mistakes.

We’ve all made mistakes, so we want to maybe prevent our kids from experiencing that. It’s a very competitive world right now. So, I think that sometimes … I always say that the children are the canaries in the coal mine. You know, when something isn’t working right with a child or collectively with our children, which we’re seeing now with more children dying by suicide than even in automobile accidents, for example … The median age of onset of anxiety’s 11.

Luke Mattey: Wow.

Susanne Navas: I believe that it’s our children telling us that culturally something is out of whack. I don’t think this is news to anyone. You know, we all recognize this. So, I work with teens to help them learn. A lot of what I do is with mindfulness. Of course working with teens we also have to address the caregivers, the parents. I work with a lot of adults to also … whether or not it has to do with their kids, but parents, a lot of us are under a lot of stress too. I think that a lot of it has to do with this perception of everybody else has it figured out. You know? If I’m just gonna go by my peers’ and friends’ Fake … I call It Fake Book.

Luke Mattey: I love it.

Susanne Navas: … Fake Book posts, then it’s very easy for me to think, “Oh my gosh. Everyone else has everything figured out, and their life is perfect. Here I am. I don’t know even know what I’m making for dinner tonight,” and whatever else is stresses. We’re all worried about our kids. Is this a normal life, a stressful thing, or is this something where we need to get professional help? I think a lot of parents struggle with that. That’s some of what I do. Then I also help people who are just feeling … to boil it down to the fact that they have prioritized everyone and everything else and let go of their self-care, so maybe now they’re relying a little bit too much on alcohol, or on they’re not working out, maybe they’ve let go of their spiritual practice and they’re feeling more stressed, you know, maybe their relationships are not where they would have hoped to be. In general, they’re just feeling like they’re in a rut, and so I help them with that.

Luke Mattey: No. That’s great. Thanks for sharing all that. Just two things I wanna comment on briefly. You know, I know that social media’s rough. It is for me, being 40 years old, but I’m sure it’s even-

Susanne Navas: You’re 40?

Luke Mattey: Yes, ma’am.

Susanne Navas: Oh my gosh.

Luke Mattey: Just with me being a little bit older, but definitely with the younger generation now, for me it’s always seeing others on whether it be Facebook or whatever, but that’s just a snapshot in time of their life. It’s tough. I’m learning to kind of know that that’s just one instant in their life, and they’re got other things going on. I’m trying to compare my insides to what I see on their outsides, which is very difficult. Thanks for talking about that.

Then secondly, you talked about how important the family unit is. We talked about this off camera, about how important that is here at Sandstone and how much we involve the families in recovery, because it’s a family unit that is trying to recover, with substance use and with mental health as well, not that we can package those together. But learning about those diseases and those afflictions and how to grow, and to heal, and to support one another in a healthy way is very important it sounds like to you, as well as it is to Sandstone Care as well.

So, thank you so much for sharing all that. That’s awesome to hear. It sounds like you’re doing some amazing work with individuals on a one-on-one basis, but then also working with more of a group setting at Sagebrush, which is great. I love the facility there. I’ve been down several times, and they’ve been very welcoming, and I love what’s going on there. Anything else you wanna add or anything we didn’t hit on?

Susanne Navas: Well, since I have a platform here-

Luke Mattey: Yeah. Absolutely.

Susanne Navas: So, one thing I would like to mention is something that I think needs to be talked about more in recovery is I think there’s this myth that you don’t need to get sober, or clean, or whatever until you hit the proverbial rock bottom. I think that that is an antiquated approach. I think it’s extremely harmful, and so what I like to invite people to do is consider that … Well, we know that the World Health Organization recently announced that no amount of alcohol is healthy.

Luke Mattey: Yeah. I did see that.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. So, when we look at it from a physical standpoint, as far as health goes, and then certainly mental health or brain, what any amount of this does to us, we don’t need to get to the point where we’re getting DUIs, or losing our jobs, or getting pancreatitis, or anything like that to basically really examine has alcohol become a crux for me? Has it become a way to unwind? Am I using it at every single opportunity to celebrate or socialize? So, I think it’s important to look at that, because I know certainly we have a huge problem with opiate use and overdose in our country, and we have a huge problem with alcohol. Alcohol is related to 88,000 deaths per year, at least last year, and I believe opiates was 70,000.

I have a 15 and an 18 year old. We have this conversation very often, how few people that we know … my husband and I quit drinking, but how few other people that we know who don’t drink and even they with their peers. I think it’s us as adults to role model, and to be honest starting with ourselves, and to recognize that, you know what, sometimes it is … often it’s better to quit while we’re ahead, because then, as I point out to people in treatment and even just in conversation, that if I quit while I’m ahead, then I’m still in control. I’m the one making the decisions. It’s not being imposed on me by a diagnosis, or by a judge, or by a family member doing an intervention, or by all the money that we lose, you know, through that kind of stuff. That’s basically what I wanted to add to the conversation. Thank you.

Luke Mattey: I love that. Thanks for sharing that with everybody. It reminded me of a conversation I had last night at dinner with a small group. Somebody was mentioning the fact that, you know, they were sober for a while, but they went out to a bar, and the question is always, “Why don’t you drink?” He wants to change that conversation to, “Why do you drink?”, but it’s so prevalent in our society, it’s almost like the folks that don’t drink, especially in those social settings, are the outliers. To your point earlier, no real benefits from drinking, so why are people who don’t drink not the norm, if that makes any sense. I think I just used a double negative there.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. Well, you know, I heard somebody from the CDC said, he was quoted in a book I read last year, that where we are with alcohol was where we were with cigarettes 40 years ago. So, that is my dream that maybe with more and more people questioning the things, the assumptions that we have about alcohol, which are basically fed by … It’s billions of dollars are made in alcohol, and then it’s a cultural thing. Even doctors, doctors … Yesterday or a couple days ago I was talking to a new client, and she said, “I have a special needs child, and my doctor recognized how stressful this was for me, so he advised me to have a glass of wine at the end of the day every day.”

Luke Mattey: Oh. Wow.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. There’s a lot of just ignorance around it. I know it’s hard, because a lot of people who don’t drink are anonymous about it, and so there’s that whole other level of I think perhaps disservice to the public done by the anonymity, but that’s a whole other subject. But I think that those of us who are comfortable talking about it, but more than anything just being the change I think is the best thing, because we don’t wanna be all preachy and annoying either.

Luke Mattey: Right. Agreed. Thank you so much for your time today.

Susanne Navas: Thank you.

Luke Mattey: It was great to get to know you a little bit better and for our viewers to know you a little bit better. So, kind of as we wrap up, if you just wanna share a little bit about where people can find you, any contact information you wanna share with folks out there.

Susanne Navas: Sure. Thanks. So, I have a website, TheRebootCoach.net, TheRebootCoach.net. There I have a blog, and I have some resources. Yeah. That’s probably the best place. I’m on Facebook and Instagram, but TheRebootCoach.net is probably easiest.

Luke Mattey: Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing all that. We actually had a co-host, but unfortunately, he’s taking a nap.

Susanne Navas: He’s asleep.

Luke Mattey: The eight and a half week old Bruno, the chocolate lab. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to join us, but maybe next time.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. Yeah.

Luke Mattey: Thank you so much again for coming in.

Susanne Navas: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Luke Mattey: I hope you have a wonderful afternoon.

Susanne Navas: You too, Luke.

Luke Mattey: Thanks.

Susanne Navas: All right.

Luke Mattey: Thanks.

Susanne Navas: Thanks.

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