MY STORY

Photo of Susan Weiss Berry, Mindful Living Cocach in her studio.

I grew up in NYC, on a peninsula surrounded by water.
I fell asleep to the sound of waves, the smell of salty air. Often I felt like I was drowning.
Somewhere inside me, I knew, there was always a Creative Girl—
but she was buried under: Eating Disorder, fear, shame, rules, perfectionism.

When I was young, she called to me, yet we did not connect for a very long time.
I did not know how to let go and play. I was crouched in the corner in fear.
Already deeply attached to food to calm me, I could not follow her.

In college, I fell in love with men who were creative.
Musicians, artists—brilliant, passionate men.
I watched them carve clay, pluck guitars, compose symphonies.
My hands were always empty.
I was a "Shadow Artist.”

The truth—
I didn’t know myself.
I didn’t know how to take care of myself.
I didn’t trust myself: my voice, my hungers, my soul, my gut.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to Live.

My recovery from my ED began in graduate school, while studying for my MS in Nutrition.
I understood, for the first time, that food was a substance to nourish me. Not to punish me.
I began to think of food in atomic terms, chemical parts—not as good or bad.
My studies deeply engaged me, gave me a focus on something I loved.
I felt I'd entered an entirely new world.
Finally, I had a reason to wake up every morning that wasn’t about body hate or weight.
And—I realized I was smart! And strong! Who knew?!

My true Voice, my true Self was emerging.

And slowly, as I stopped relying on food to be my everything, I learned I had other “hungers” and needed new sources of nourishment.
I’d never been particularly athletic, but suddenly I wanted to feel every muscle and long bone.
Lifting weights, running, biking and dancing became my self-care/stress reduction tools. They made me feel strong, energized, free.
There was no thought of calories or weight loss. Only the clear message from my body, that this was the nourishment I needed.
I was slowly making the shift from self-improvement, to true, self-care.

Physical activity satisfied me for many years. But, I was changing on every level, and soon felt restless, hungry in my soul.
As I connected with my body, my intuition became stronger. I listened to my gut, mySelf (heart-mind), I responded to my body/soul’s needs.
The more I practiced self-care, the more free I became—not just of struggles with food, body, weight, but with worries in general.
Finally, I was living in and enjoying the present moment!

My desire to understand myself and the world around me, led me to Spiritual Studies. Native American spirituality, then Ancient Feminine spirituality, and finally, I found Mindfulness.
It changed my life, and gave me a portable tool useful in every moment, every situation, even the most challenging times of grief. It also became the center of the Evolved Eating process I practice and teach.

My business grew, I married and divorced. I continued to grow and evolve through the meaningful work of guiding my clients in their own transformations.

“Late Bloomer”

One year after my divorce, I fell in love with and married an amazing man—designer, artist, inventor, who nurtured my creative life.
With his encouragement, I moved toward a way to express my voice/emotions—I dabbled with clay, drawing, singing—until I found my way to writing.
How? It just sprouted up one day!

I woke up early, went to my computer, and just started writing.
I’d never been a writer, never taken a class, was never praised as talented by my 9th grade English teacher. It just arrived, sudden and sometimes scary, and I let myself be led.

In 3 months, I wrote 100 poems.

No longer a Shadow Artist, my hands were capable and creating.

I was fully present, engaged and ecstatic!
Connected to the world and my whole self for the first time! Like Helen Keller, I wanted to know the names of every flower, tree, every bird!
I took workshops, seminars, published fiction and non-fiction. Urged by my teachers to go for my MFA, I attended Mills College, in CA, where I completed my degree in 2003.

Such a joyous time…and then…one year later, without warning, life happened…

My beloved husband…suddenly…
Died.

It was the most shattering moment of my life.

"The antidote to despair: find something new to love.”

It was mindfulness, writing, the love and support of family and friends that helped me to move forward slowly, one moment at a time.
I kept writing after my husband's death, hoping to turn this sad story into a memoir, but it was too painful.
I wrote and wrote, but the words somehow felt inadequate.

Accidental Artist:

In the decade that followed, I experienced more life, more joy, more losses.
In 2014 my sweet dog passed away. In 2015, my best friend suddenly died.
I needed something new to deeply engage with.
Something more embodied than writing.
And it came, as a surprise gift—
in the form of…Painting.

 

I started, out of the clear blue, the same way I had started writing 20 years earlier.
I was following my inner drive, curiosity, my need.
One night, I picked up an old credit card, smeared paint across a piece of xerox paper.
I spread paint with my fingers. I made a mess. I played and risked. My body was shaking, releasing and speaking. As was my heart. My soul.
I fell in love again..with painting. It was medicine for my heart/soul. It strengthened me, restored my voice, took me deeper into to an enormous space of mystery and beauty.
I was discovering my own personal marks, my words, my language. My body remembered another way to tell my story.

The First Painting

I am so happy to share these creative tools with you!

“Paintings are layered, messy, multi-dimensional stories. Paintings are like life”

 

Each of these paths: love, writing, art, mindfulness, have taken me into the unknown,
Each has challenged me to trust mySelf, use my intuition, relax into the moment.
Each have let me practice patience, face the Critic, the doubt, the unknown, my fears.
Each has connected me more deeply with myself, with life.

What I've learned:

I spent 20 years struggling with eating! Twenty years!
We are not in this life to endlessly struggle.
To spend all of our time dividing food up into good and bad,
fearing food, depriving ourselves, fighting our desires, hating ourselves.

I learned:

When you focus your loving attention on your 5-senses and your body,
you have—perhaps without realizing it - let go of worries, fears and that snarky internal story.
You’ve entered another space, a parallel universe, where you’re allowed to drop the thinking and just see, hear, touch.
Where it’s ok to connect to yourself, and be in the world around you exactly as it is, and you are.
Where you can sit, breathe and fully show up to give yourself something nourishing, calming, silly, fun, like making art!

This parallel universe is called the present moment, and it’s an enormous, welcoming place.
A pretty darn cool place of creativity, play, art and healing.
Most importantly, it’s a place of Peace.

And if you’re anything like me, after years of struggling, you’ll realize that what you truly, truly crave,
more than anything—
is Peace.

 

What is an artist?
I learned, if you’re alive, you’re a creative person. If you’ve lived, if you feel, you can create.”

Every act of Self-care is a POWERFUL DECLARATION

With every act of self-care

Your Authentic Self gets

Stronger and the Critical

fearful mind gets weaker.

Every Act of Self-care is a

POWERFUL DECARATION:

I am on my side, I am on my side, each day

I am more and more on my own side.

Every Act of Self-care is a

POWERFUL DECARATION

With every act of self-care

Your Authentic Self gets

Stronger and the Critical

fearful mind gets weaker.

Every Act of Self-care is a

POWERFUL DECARATION:

I am on my side, I am on my side, each day

I am more and more on my own side.