YOGA & TALK with Suzanne Freyjadis

Share a little bit about yourself.

My name is Suzanne Freyjadis and I am the Founder & CEO of Soft Landing Society LLC. I live in Portland, Oregon and I absolutely love walking in the forests among the trees. I moved here from Austin to heal after recovering from cancer & being in a coma. I worked hard for three years to get stronger and when I learned how to walk for the second time, I left my abusive husband and moved here. That was two years ago. A year after I left, I realized that I wasn’t the only woman struggling with a lack of support for women, not only to help us leave, but we also need support after we have left. I interviewed hundreds of women and decided to use my video game development skills to support women, one game at a time. I don’t get to do my hobbies, which include cooking & crafts as much right now because starting a company is no easy feat, but I am determined to succeed because women who are trapped in abuse or have left abuse need all the support I can give them. They need new tools, because the ones we have don’t work really well.

What drew you to work with cancer survivors and/or caregivers?

I’m a survivor of oral cancer as well as a subsequent 6-week long, medically-induced coma. My husband became increasingly abusive when I was sick to the point where I knew that I had to leave. A lot of my understanding came with Kelly’s help. Women who are already in abusive relationships and get cancer are at an increased risk of escalating abuse from their husband, wife or partner and my goal is to support women so they realize that they are valuable and give them different tools so they can figure out how to leave and how to create a new life once they have left.

How do you help people with emotional recovery and what interventions do you use?

I am creating games to support women so that they can leave. I’m currently raising funds through a GoFundMe to create my first game. This game will help the players learn how to put themselves first, which is one of the first big steps in preparing to leave. I developed this game when I was working on healing from cancer & the coma as well as figuring out what I needed to do so that I could leave. Not only to protect myself, but also my children who ended up being my caretakers since my husband refused.

What self care practices do you recommend for recovery and healing?
I use yoga, as well as other methodologies I learned from Kelly. I’m still using the game I created to remember to put myself first, which is more difficult some days than others. Kelly is the such an amazing, inspirational & kind woman who not only supported me through realizing I was not only recovering from cancer & a coma, but also living in abuse. Her yoga classes, as well as the Yoga & Talk program were not only foundational to my ability to heal, but also led me to life long friends.

How has covid-19 affected you physically and emotionally?

It’s been really challenging since I’m an extreme extrovert. However, the focus on starting my company has big a lot of my focus so I haven’t missed things as much if I wasn’t so focused there.

How has being a cancer survivor prepared you to better deal with the pandemic or how is it making it harder to cope?

When I woke up from my coma after the cancer surgery I knew that I had big things to get done. No more waiting. Finding out that my husband was abusive, was just one more thing to tackle before my life could start. So if anything cancer has taught me that I can survive a lot and keep moving. I think that is one of the key lessons we can learn.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?

Just move forward. That’s all we need to do. I think we often try to do to much too quickly. I know I did. But Kelly would always remind me that we heal at our body’s pace.

WILD CARD: What is your favorite saying, quote or personal motto?
You are never alone! It is one of the mantras I tell myself and it is one of the tenets of my company. Women shouldn’t have to be alone. We have the internet and zoom calls. It isn’t the same, but we need a robust support system so that we can thrive.

If you wish to connect with Suzanne, you can check out her website,
follow her on social media or send her an email.Facebook: @SaoirseTech
LinkedIn: @soft-landing-society

Soft Landing Society Website


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YOGA & TALK with Laraine Herring

Share a little bit about yourself.

I’m a writer, tenured professor of psychology and creative writing, grief therapist and book coach. My most recent book is The Grief Forest: a book about what we don’t talk about, which I wrote and illustrated to help people of all ages navigate complicated grief. I have a trilogy of writing and yoga/movement books through Shambhala. The most popular one is Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice. I’m also a novelist, and my speculative memoir, A Constellation of Ghosts, will be out in October 2021. I love helping people navigate grief through writing and other creative practices. I have 5 amazing cats.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.

In early 2017, I was dx with stage 2A colon cancer. Within 2 weeks, I had surgery, which removed about a foot of my sigmoid colon. I was fortunate that it was caught before it had breached the colon wall and spread to the lymph or other organs. I chose an integrative approach to care after surgery.

How has it benefited you to be part of the JoyBoots community?

Kelly is pure light.

What is your meditation practice like?

My meditation practice is writing and drawing.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?

I came to yoga for the first time in 2002, and it fundamentally changed my life. So much so, that I went through yoga teacher certification. I had never learned to meet my body in the way that yoga allows. Yoga changed the way I write and teach, and it gave me a lot of tools I used after dx (breathwork, yin yoga).

What practices have benefited you the most?

Writing, drawing, yoga.

What are you still struggling to cope with?

Scan-xiety, trusting in how I feel in my body, the dance of moving forward from cancer while always having to stay in touch with it (scans, etc) for optimal outcomes.

What brings you moments of joy?

Watching my cats sleeping in a cat-ball together.

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?

I learned very quickly the power of self-advocacy and the need to listen to my body and stand up for her. It can be overwhelming in the medical arena. So many choices. So much urgency. So much fear. Like Kelly’s Joyboots concept–find that way that you can connect with your inner knowing, and listen to her and act on it, even if it goes against what other people say. You know your body and heart better than anyone else.

How has Covid-19 affected you physically and emotionally?

When we left work (I teach at a community college) for spring break, we never went back. I haven’t set foot on campus since then, and have been teaching entirely remotely. We will not be back in the spring either. I haven’t been able to see my mom (she lives in Phoenix and I live in Northern AZ) since then. I don’t go out, except to the grocery store. I miss the spontaneity of seeing people around town. I miss *trusting* people. Our town does not have a mask mandate, and I’m really troubled by how many people not only flaunt no masks, but actively intimidate those of us who wear them. I miss students in real life. I hate Zoom. I absolutely hate it. It is not good for my limbic system. I feel like there’s not much to look forward to, and that I can’t plan anything, and that is challenging. Also, because of my job, I’m providing support to 160 students, which is draining, especially since there are few ways that teachers are being supported right now. I’ve been doing Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube about five times a week since March, and that has helped a lot. I used to go to yoga classes and Zumba classes, and those have been shut down. I am sleeping too much. Fortunately, I am not sick (to my knowledge), but I feel despair and helplessness by all of the many challenges facing our country right now, and without being able to be in the physical presence of friends and a support network, that is intensified. I am grateful that I am also a therapist (which means I also **have** a therapist, lol) and have tons of tools for self-care, but it’s definitely hard. I’m an introvert, and I have introverted enough now.

How has being a cancer survivor prepared you to better deal with the pandemic or how is it making it harder to cope?

Being a cancer survivor means learning to live with uncertainty. It’s not something I’m great at, so I had to really dive into my own issues of control. I had to learn how to check in more immediately with how I’m feeling (psychologically & physically), and not leap too far ahead into the future. That’s COVID-19 in a nutshell. I don’t know that I’m better able to deal with it because of cancer or not, but there are similarities for sure.

What is something surprising you’ve learned about yourself as a result of the quarantine experience?

I can illustrate an entire book in 3 months. 🙂

WILD CARD: What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession are the letters my dad wrote to me on birthdays and Christmas. He died in 1987, and I’ve returned to those many times over the course of my life.

If you wish to connect with Laraine, you can check out her website at and follow her on social media.
Facebook: @laraine.herring
Instagram: @laraineherring
Twitter: @laraineherring

YOGA & TALK with Nanette Labastida

with Nanette Labastida

The Yoga & Talk series features Joybooter stories and words of encouragement to nurture, heal and inspire— and in doing so, helps us to get to know one another, stay connected and to remind us that we are never alone in our healing journeys.

Share a little bit about yourself.
I’m a single mom, I have a 22 year old daughter & an 18 year old son. I work as a realtor and have for 15 years. My passions are yoga, live music, road trips and vegan food

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.
I was diagnosed in 2010 with stage 2 breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy but the tumor was large and they could’t tell me 100% that there was or was not cancer in the surrounding tissue, so I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with silicone implants for reconstruction. I then also had 4 rounds of chemo. I had a lot of support from friends and family to help me through all this as a single mom but it was terribly hard. I still worked and sometimes my mom drove me to show houses or even my dear clients would pick me up. I never hid the experience, I was very open about it.

How has it benefited you to be part of the JoyBoots community?
I miss going to the classes, I love the camaraderie and I love Kelley’s wise gentle teachings!

What is your meditation practice like?
I meditate daily, usually a guided meditation or visualization, and sometimes some tapping/EFT.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?
I feel like they help me to be centered and calm in the midst of a storm. And they help me to find my breath too in crazy times.

What practices have benefited you the most?
Finding 15 minutes to do some kind of yoga almost every day and my meditation practice, the biggest thing especially during covid has been a gratitude journaling practice

What are you still struggling to cope with?
Trying not to future trip.

What brings you moments of joy?
Driving in my new car listening to good music. Having a face to face (mask on) hang with a friend .

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?
I really think finding the things that bring moments of joy, and taking in what that feels like, so you can recall that feeling in all or most of your moments. Sometimes I think I’m such a cliche but I really do feel happy 98% of the time.

How has Covid-19 affected you physically and emotionally?
In the beginning I was constantly on edge and scared and on the verge of tears, or actually crying. I feared my job would be wiped away for months, I was in shock and I was exhausted. It was like one event a day was my max. And by event I mean picking up curbside. That really was a short period for me though, I have since focused even more on joy and meaningful exchanges with people and I feel more determined and hopeful than ever. Physically I can feel stiffness and soreness from not practicing yoga regularly or going to a gym. I have been taking long walks and eating well though and have lots of energy.

How has being a cancer survivor prepared you to better deal with the pandemic or how is it making it harder to cope?
I feel like it has prepared me to better deal with it because I know I can do hard things and I just don’t let external things like news and fear affect my inner core.

What is something surprising you’ve learned about yourself as a result of the quarantine experience?
I’ve learned that I’m even more resilient than I thought. And resourceful and patient and driven to succeed and radiate joy.

WILD CARD: Would you rather be a mermaid or a unicorn? Why?
I kind of already am a unicorn – haha – I’ve always identified with the unicorn symbolism of uniqueness, rarity, delight and beauty. In my job it’s very easy to be like thousands of others and I’m just not and I love that. Also I’m kind of scared of the ocean so nope, never a mermaid.

If you wish to connect with Nanette, you may connect with her on Instagram at @rocknrealty.

Seek Your Sanctuary

What is sanctuary to you?

I think of a safe place, where I am welcome exactly as I am. No need for performance. I can set down my burdens and extend my legs and catch my breath. I notice what’s happening around me because for just a moment, I can let down my guard. No need to scan for danger.

I think of entering an ancient space, with cool walls and floor and with a cozy place to lie down. I think of a community sanctioned spot, a chapel, a temple, a park, or a safe house, a friend who is always home and has something cooking.

I know the people in the sanctuary are holding a space for me and devoted to a higher consciousness than we what I live in during much of life. I know the space is one that was created for safety and for aligning with a higher purpose that includes compassion for the human experience and reverence for the sacredness in each of us.

I have the image of grandmothers taking me in, washing my brow and comforting me, caring for my wounds. Protecting me. A place to go when no one else understands. Here, they hold space for me to love myself again. Here, I surrender the need to know what the future holds and the notion that I must be in control.

I hope you feel our Joyboots for Cancer Survivors group is a sanctuary, a place where friends surround you, where everyone understands and offers compassion, where everyone cares for you and is eager to be by your side. I hope you find sanctuary in my gifts to you, like this meditation. Rest in a space of openness- to learn, rest, heal, care and be.

An Invitation to Seek a Place of Rest

In The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, Frank Ostaseski, the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Center, shares what he has learned through his work with people facing grief and loss, s well as his own life experience and spiritual practice.

He distills a lot of wisdom into the Five Invitations. They are principles that show us how to wake up more fully to our lives and appreciate life’s preciousness.

I suspect many JoyBooters will relate and enjoy delving into his ideas and stories. In these days of societal stress and polarization, and for people facing the challenges of illness, recovery, or loss, one invitation stands out to me this week:

The invitation is to find a place of rest in the middle of things.

The place to rest might be physical or how you feel in the company of a love one. It may even be available to you in your own breath in which you let go with each exhale. If you don’t let go, you can’t fully take in your next breath or be fully present to the next moment.

Here are a few nuggets he teaches about the breath:

  • Breathing is a living process, constantly changing and moving in cycles- inhale, pause, exhale, pause. Each breath has a beginning, middle, and end. Every breath goes through a process of birth, growth, and death. Breathing is a microcosm of life itself.
  • While we might believe otherwise, there is nothing boring about being with the breath. When we open to the miracle of breath and sense directly the process of oxygenation, we appreciate how, through a creative collaboration with our blood, air reaches every cell of our bodies. 
  • The breath invites us to rest, restore, and be revitalized.

I invite you to practice letting your breath to breathe you. Click here to practice with me. Notice how the breath moves your body and the path it follows as it enters, nourishes, and leaves you. Each moment is totally new. Each breath is unique, purposeful, and essential to life….

From Anxious to Grounded

We’re living from one day to the next with additional layers of stress, worry and anxiety. Things may feel overwhelming, out of control and uncertain. Learning to be okay in the present moment, a witness to your life experience, is one of the benefits of practicing yoga and meditation.

When you bring your awareness to the present moment, you activate the part of your brain (the frontal lobe) that regulates and soothes emotions. You also increase the possibility of feeling compassion for yourself and others.

Cutting edge psychotherapy recognizes these 3 elements from yoga and meditation that help you come into the present moment, lower anxiety, and tolerate acute stress and post traumatic stress:

Feeling grounded
Feel connected to your body, your breath, and to the physical space around you including the floor and the earth.

Being the Observer
Be the witness to what you are thinking and feeling, instead of being captured by every thought or feeling, pulled into reliving the past, or worrying about the future.

Allowing Everything
Once you notice the thought, feeling or sensation, give it permission to be present.  Imagine it has the right be here. Don’t try to push it away. Allow everything to simply BE, just as it is, in this moment.

Healing occurs more readily when you are able to feel grounded, recognize the relative safety of the present moment, feel your feelings, and speak your truth. We can all benefit from taking time to be present and from giving ourselves the gift of time and space— to breathe, to feel, to be.

Join me in this yoga video to practice together:


Yoga & Talk with Jeannie Ramirez

I love Jeannie’s poetic way of expressing herself!  Let’s all tune in on September 15th to support the HAAM fundraiser.  HAAM supports the mental and physical health of musicians in Austin.  And Jeannie, I’m going to start working on that JoyBooter retreat in the Bahamas RIGHT NOW!  Thanks for the inspiration.


Share a little bit about yourself.
Hi everyone! I’m so many layers like all of us, and here it is: I was 8yrs old when my mother passed from Breast Cancer, not really understanding what cancer was and why she died. So I am a Daughter of an incredible woman I found out many years later about Herlinda Gutierrez-Ramirez, Mother to my Amazing daughter who will be 36yrs old this October, like WOW!, YAYA to my Grandson Reid Atlas Glaze I have been an Animal, Community, and Political Activist for over 20yrs, and I have been a working musician for 34yrs this 2020!!!!!! My band name is Singing Lady Banana bread and you can find me at my online band page.

Share a little bit about your cancer experience.
I was diagnosed in 2017 with Stage 3 Breast Cancer Her2 Positive, and I don’t own a car and I remember I was riding my bike going to a cleaning gig (that was my day job back then), I got the call, pulled over to grass on sidewalk and was told the news. I was by a train track and the noise of the train was silent, I know that makes no sense, because trains are so loud, but I looked up at the sky and everything looked different for a moment, the car noise was silent, but the birds were so loud to me and I felt like a ghost, like no one could see me. All the treatment I received for my journey was given by incredible medical workers, but physically it was painful and mentally it took me to such a dark hole, that 6 months into chemo, my daughter and her husband were living with me, said “Do you want to do something crazy”, I said “how crazy”?, she said “lets go to New York for 24hrs”. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she said I smiled and she had not seen me smile in 6months, if that tells you how depressed and unhappy I was. Yes I appreciated family, and all the little things we do in life on a daily basis for granted, but thinking about death constantly, trying to get my things in order in case I wouldn’t make it, really transformed me into that ghost I was talking about. I have such a long journey like everyone that endures the cancer journey, I love all of you, and I’m in a new chapter in my life that now includes getting back to music even in Covid. I will be performing a Livestream for HAAM Day, Sept.15th on Singing Lady Banana Bread Facebook page, to raise money for musicians who have no health care and for musicians who are in HAAM like myself to continue to receive health care. When I was diagnosed in 2017, I had no health insurance, it was devastating financially and mentally. I got over 200,00 in medical debt and HAAM helped me get health insurance and I was able to get Radiation and Diep Flap Breast Reconstruction, one more surgery to go!

How has it benefited you to be part of the Joyboots community?
Kelly‘s words resonate in your mind and body for hours and days for me and I feel safe and peaceful always in her presence.

What is your meditation practice like?
I talk to God, Universe, Pray, touch all my plants and trees and kiss them. I visualize smiles from the people I love so dearly and I listen to the birds and watch the trees dancing in the wind.

How has yoga and meditation benefited you?
Yoga has a air about it that immediately soothes you, makes you feel warm throughout your whole spirit so the benefit of yoga is Peace for me.

What practices have benefited you the most?
Hatha Yoga, is very soothing, wakes up every part of your body, but I love different yoga classes and forms.

What are you still struggling to cope with?
Worry for everyone single human living right now in this time. Worry in general

What brings you moments of joy?
Hearing my Grandson, Daughter, laugh out loud! Or hearing an old song from Arlo Guthrie called “Coming To Los Angeles”

What is something you’d like to share with the community to help them along their healing journey?
Scream, Cry, let it all out, I’m so blessed to have music and I can sing as loud as I want so find whatever makes you happy, I don’t care if it’s dancing to the music on a commercial, be Silly, be Vulnerable, it’s Powerful. You Are Special, we are Warriors in an army only we get each other. I remember taking off my wig for first time and rode the city bus to Wheatsville and walked in, I felt like I was floating on air, scary but I felt more free that day, then a friend yelled out “Jeannie”, I turned around, she said, “Your so brave to walk in your baldness, she also had cancer in past, said “I could never do that when I lost my hair”, then on way back from store, I’m waiting at the bus stop, and some young guy said “I love you Punk Rock look”, I said “Kid, I got cancer”, again I felt free!

How has covid-19 affected you physically and emotionally?
In March 2020 when Austin first got locked down, I was recovering from 1st Breast Reconstruction Revision Feb 2020, so for 3 months I think I Spaced Out if you will. I was worried, thought the world was ending for sure as we know it. In June when I saw the PA from Surgeons office follow-up, I had gained alot of weight because I wasn’t moving. I’m a very active person, I don’t own a car so I get around Austin though bike and bus. Meditation, Prayers raised a higher level, but so did eating food with no movement increased. I started moving, doing Yoga on my own, sitting outside in the sun in my bikini on my beach towel and dreamed I was in the Bahamas! I’ve never been there, when I was in chemo I decided to get a passport, so it has never been stamped and maybe next year, I want to go to the Bahamas. Kelly, please get a trip going with Breast Cancer patients and survivors! To hang out with you in Bahamas would be bucket list event!!!!!

How has being a cancer survivor prepared you to better deal with the pandemic or how is it making it harder to cope?
Everyone gets a Great Awakening when diagnosed with cancer I feel. I never thought about death, never talked about it, so when I started to get my things in order which entails so much, it gave me peace, I had the reconciliations that needed to happen, got my clothes etc etc in order and I’m so grateful for being alive and celebrating my 57 birthday this Nov 1st. I have all talked about Covid with my immediate family and what potentially could happen if any one of us get it and it takes us down. We are prepared for anything, hoping for best of course, Cancer gives you time in most cases to prepare for anything in life so my new moto is “Thank You Cancer For Awakening My Life”

What is something surprising you’ve learned about yourself as a result of the quarantine experience?
Boy do i love Documentaries! The quarantine has pushed my mental capacity to the highest of mountains and lowest ocean floors and I’m alive, I experience joy in this time, that is a miracle!

WILD CARD: Would you rather die in 20 years with no regrets or live another 50 years with many regrets? Why?
This might be controversial, I know many people live their life with no regrets, I have many regrets and I’m ashamed of things I did in past, but I continue to live, so for me, living is what I want to do in future and 50 more years seems like the biggest challenge imaginable. It won’t be all roses I know, it will be downright scary, I’ve had many adversities like most people, and I’m sure so many more to come in this life.

If you wish to connect with Jeannie, you may connect with her through email at

Interested in being a featured participant in my Yoga & Talk newsletter? Click here to apply!

Joyboots Survey Results

Thanks to everyone who took the time to share how COVID-19 continues to affect you and interfere with your life. According to the survey results, these are areas of your lives that remain most impacted:

  • Mood (feeling depressed or anxious)
  • Life Goals are changed or interrupted
  • Worried about Impact on others
  • Feeling anxiety about the impact of coronavirus on my life

Half of our community continues to feel the effects of these four areas in daily life. You’re not alone and we’re all in this together. 

For a mood boost, try this breathing exercise to combat your feelings of depression and anxiety. Or take 12 minutes to try this meditation I recorded with Therapist Uncensored

Remember to reach out for support and never minimize your needs.

How Are YOU Being Affected?

The COVID-19 pandemic takes us into new territory as individuals, families, cancer patients, survivors, mental health professionals, oncology professionals and human beings. We share vulnerabilities and strengths and by coming together we can help and uplift on another.

Please reach out and let people know what you need to stay afloat during this challenging time. If you have emotional or energetic reserves, share with others – I know you already are! For example, please feel free to pass this email along to someone you know so they can join the JoyBoots Community, receive my future newsletters and we can all stay in touch and connected.

If you have a moment, share about how YOU are being affected by COVID-19 so that we can share the impact on cancer survivors/caregivers/loved ones and oncology professionals.

Time is Precious

As we progress through the unknown duration and reach of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s obvious that things may not go back to a “normal” state anytime soon. And yet, time is so precious. Time with family, time with friends, time for doing things we love to do and time for travel and experiences—  it’s all meaningful and enriching to our lives. This article highlights how the virus continues to affect people in different walks of life, but all with a common thread of cancer. 

In summary, one of the interviewees says “If you look at the limited life expectancy that we are looking at already and you layer on top of that the COVID pandemic and the amount of things that have been canceled or eliminated — you’re taking away the opportunity to complete a bucket list. Life was already too short and now it must remain on hold.” 

I think many people are affected by this loss of time, thinking of those with elderly loved ones they can’t see whose days also feel numbered. Or those who can’t see babies being born into families who are missing out on memories they can’t re-do. 

For those of us who have had to more consciously face our mortality because of a cancer diagnosis, this loss of time is both very familiar and potentially gut-wrenching. 

As the economy has opened back up in many places, people are returning to physical workplaces, children are going back to school, businesses are operating as usual and masks can be purchased in any color or pattern you desire for easy integration into your wardrobe. The world is ever changing, yet never changing all at the same time as we sit in wait. 

I asked you to share your experience at the beginning of the pandemic and I’d like to hear from you again now about how you’re most impacted by the state of the world. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with me here.