Suzanne Jones. Expert Author, Mentor and Life Coach

Suzanne Jones

Suzanne Jones is the author of the famous books From the Flood, A Memoir and There Is Nothing to Fix. We recently interviewed her and got to know about her incredible work to catalyze women to become positive change-makers in the world through SueJonesEmpowerment. During the interview, she talked about how she started writing in 2009 when she published blogs and articles related to her trauma work. It is fascinating to hear how after her trauma program (TIMBo: Trauma Informed Mind Body) was developed in 2012 people started to tell her that they wished to have access to the program because it changed lives. She mentioned that she was inspired to write a book after an interview with Dr. Rick Hanson.

According to Suzanne, her book “There is Nothing to Fix” had been immersed in ten years of research, that encompasses TIMBo. Her second book, a memoir entitled “From the Flood” is based on her experience of losing everything to a natural disaster as a kid. She found it quite easy to write as she talked to her parents before writing the book.

Suzanne said during the interview how she went through a major life trauma and how she came up with TIMBo which was created especially for women. She finds it rewarding to witness amazing changes in women in her group as they start to follow the self-guide of healing. She further explained how important her workshops were when the COVID-19 pandemic started as she hadn’t been offering anything online before the pandemic but once all of life shifted online in March of 2020, so many people needed support.

In the last part of our conversation, she said that she currently has a few ideas for a novel, but she is also collaborating with a colleague in writing a book for parents. It was surprising to hear that she had designed, created, and ran a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine called 2 Cats. At the end of the discussion, she shared   a typical day in her life and her desire to eliminate the hatred and vitriol that we are experiencing in the world today.

Suzanne, can you start off by telling us how you became an author and got involved with writing?

My love of writing started in 2009, when I began publishing blogs and articles related to my trauma work. Then after my trauma program (TIMBo:Trauma Informed Mind Body) was developed in 2012 people started telling me that they wished that everyone had access to the program, because it changed lives. So, I always dreamed of writing a book for that purpose, but I just didn’t know how to do it, or where to start. Finally in the summer of 2018 I was interviewed by Dr. Rick Hanson, a psychologist, author (Buddha’s Brain) and specialist in resilience, for his online program. After our interview he strongly encouraged me to write a book and helped me navigate through developing an outline for the book. After that, the actual writing of the book came very naturally to me, and I loved the entire process.

Your books From the Flood: A Memoir and There Is Nothing to Fix: Becoming Whole Through Radical Self-Acceptance have received rave reviews. What inspired you to write these books?

By the time I decided to write There is Nothing to Fix I had been immersed in ten years of research, development and refinement of the theory, method and program that encompasses TIMBo. The inspiration was to put all that I could in book form so that the program and information could be accessible to as many people as possible. It has come to be a book that is recommended by mental health clinicians to their patients and clients, and is passed from person to person. It’s one of those books that people tell other people about because it helped them, even though it can be difficult to read some of the stories of women that I’ve met that are throughout the book.

The theme of From the Flood is still about trauma, recovery and resilience but it is a joyful, fun and tender book. The first spark of inspiration for the memoir was way back in 2012 after the earthquake in Haiti. I had met Steve Gross, a colleague in the field that works across the globe training community leaders how to help children recover from the devastation of natural disasters using play. That was when I reflected on my own personal experience of losing everything to a natural disaster as a kid. I realized that my siblings and I naturally used play after the flood to help us. Of course, we weren’t aware of it at the time, but every game of house or make believe involved some sort of natural disaster, whether it was a flood or a tornado (our two favorites!). Finally, a few years after that my Dad asked my sister, brother and I what were our best childhood memories. When we unanimously told him it was the years we had to live in a government issued trailer after the flood destroyed everything we had his jaw practically dropped to the flood. Those were the absolute worst years of his life. That’s when I knew there was a story to tell.

How difficult was it to sit down and write a memoir?

It was actually quite easy. I did have to talk with my parents for hours and hours so that I could get an accurate timeline and gain a clear understanding of their experience through the flood so that I could weave that into the story. But once I had all the information I needed about their experience, the writing just flowed. It was like I was relieving those 1970s childhood years in real time, even feeling like I had brought some family members who have since passed away back to life. It was a wonderful experience.

TIMBo was created specifically for women. How did you come up with TIMBo and how does it work?

They say that necessity is the mother of invention and this was certainly the case of TIMBo.  In spring of 2008 I had experienced a major life trauma and was not able to navigate through all of the emotions that were happening all at once. I also was introducing female trauma survivors to yoga and was hearing that they wanted more than just a teacher/student situation. They wanted to talk. They wanted to feel like I understood their experience, and they understood mine. After years of research and development, the program was developed and refined and instantly I could see that it was more effective than I imagined. TIMBo works by helping women become aware of the sensations in their bodies, because traumatic memories are stored in the body and when activated, past traumatic experiences are brought to the present moment and experienced as distressing sensations in the body. Women learn tools to navigate through these experiences, as opposed to using unhealthy coping mechanisms to escape or numb the experiences. It puts the power of healing in their own hands.

What are the benefits of TIMBo for women? Who is the ideal person to study TIMBo?

In addition to learning how trauma and emotions “show up” in the body and using tools to navigate through these experiences, TIMBo builds a community that feels mutual and compassionate. One of the things that happens when women experience interpersonal trauma is they convince themselves that they are permanently damaged and pull away from people. The process of TIMBo helps them realize that they are not broken and they are not alone. That is why the title of my first book is There is Nothing to Fix, because no one is broken.

Along with writing and TIMBo, you run workshops, mentor others, and life coach. How do you find the time to do these activities? What motivates you these days?

What motivates me is the women I work with. There is something powerfully rewarding to see a woman start to guide her own healing, and I get to witness amazing changes in all of my group members and clients, knowing that what they are learning will be a life practice that empowers them to continue healing even when they are not my clients anymore. I love my work.

Why should women seek out a mentor or life coach?

There are times in everyone’s life when they feel hopeless, overwhelmed or stuck. When women come to me this is almost always the case. A good mentor can be very helpful during these times by helping clients uncouple what thing or things are happening in their present day life and what responses to those things are rooted in past traumas. Life is definitely very difficult at times, but if we can recognize what fears, thoughts and action/inaction are rooted in our past experiences we can better navigate through those difficult times and come out on the other side feeling empowered.

Suzanne Jones

Did the COVID-19 pandemic force more people to look at themselves from the inside out? Did the pandemic increase the number of people seeking out your workshops and online classes?

Without a doubt. I hadn’t been offering anything online prior to the pandemic but once all of life shifted to online in March of 2020 it was clear that so many people needed support. Another thing that people desperately needed was the community and connection with others that the program creates. The isolation that was thrust upon so many people during the pandemic definitely contributed to a deterioration of our sense of well-being so even though the program was online, the ability to share virtual space with others was so important.

What can students expect from an online or in-person workshop with yourself?

I’ll start with what not to expect: An instruction manual. It’s in our nature to want the step-by-step instructions on how to heal, but it is such a self-guided and internal process. What program participants can expect is a space and a process where they can gain a self-compassionate understanding of their fears and limiting beliefs, and an opportunity to use tools and practices to change their lives by changing their relationship with their bodies, themselves and their life situations and circumstances. I wrote my first book There is Nothing to Fix: Becoming Whole Through Radical Self-Acceptance to help more people walk through this process, and there are many stories of the women I’ve worked with in the book because there is so much learning that happens just by listening to other women.

Suzanne, are you writing another book currently and what subjects are you focusing your next work on?

As a writer I’m always working on at least one book or book idea! I currently have a few ideas for a novel, but I’m also collaborating with a colleague in writing a book for parents. I’ve started to write some of these ideas, and some are just swimming around in my head at the moment.

How is a day in your life?

Well, I guess that depends on the day! I almost always start my day with a cup of coffee and a book. The rest of the day depends on how many clients I have scheduled, what groups I have running and what life tasks I need to take care of. I try to make time every day for some sort of mindfulness activity whether that is exercise and yoga, taking a walk with my dog, cooking a meal or working in my garden. I believe it’s crucial to practice quieting the mind by being in the present moment. It’s the most important thing for a peaceful body, mind and soul

What is something most people don’t know about you?

In my “old life” I designed, created and ran a restaurant in Bar Harbor, Maine called 2 Cats. Most people are surprised when they hear that.

Choose two of your favorite quotes and write them here

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anaïs Nin

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.”—C.S. Lewis

If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?

That’s easy. I would eliminate the hatred and vitriol that we are experiencing in the world today.

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