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Episode summary:

In this episode, Susan talks with her friend and colleague, Robyn Posin, PhD. They discuss Robyn's book, Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go: Tales to Kindle Gentleness and Compassion for Our Exhausted Selves. They explore the importance of slowing down in today's fast-paced world, the need for rest as a sacred act, and the significance of mental and emotional well-being. Robyn shares practical tips and anecdotes to prioritize self-care and embrace a more mindful approach to life.

Through her work as a psychologist, author and artist, Dr. Robyn Posin's commitment is to creating safe space in which to help people (re)connect with and honor the wisdom of their own inner knowing: the wisdom that can guide us to living life more in harmony with who we truly are, even in this crazy-making, invalidating world.

A California Licensed Psychologist based in Ojai, Robyn has been working with clients since 1964. She is available for open-ended, one-time or ongoing individual consultations by phone or in person in Ojai, California.

Things you'll learn from this episode:


Why it's crucial to prioritize self-care and rest as essential components of well-being

The importance of a circle of support with like-minded individuals who can remind each other to prioritize self-care

Modeling healthy behaviors such rest, mindfulness, and self-compassion, especially for children who are observing and learning from adults

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Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. If you’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed or you’re just plain tired, you’re gonna enjoy today’s episode with Robyn Posin as we talk about the importance of honoring those parts of us that need rest and need time to recover in today’s fast paced world.

But first, Hi there. I’m Susan Stiffelman on your host on the outdoor of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence, an Eckhart Tolle edition. In this podcast I share some of the things I’ve learned in my 40 something years as a teacher, American, family, therapist, parent educator, and a mom we cover everything related to Parenting here with guest like Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Modell, Byron katie, Dr. Kristin Neff, John Kabat zinn, Dr. Lisa Damour,, Debbie Reber and Dr. Ned Hallowell and so many others. 

Just have a look around and you’ll see a wide ray of topics and guess before we get started though I hope you’ll visit there you’re gonna be able to sign up for my free newsletter with lots of practical tips and inspiration you’re going to also find information about my private coaching the one on one work that I do my Parenting Without Power Struggles membership and coparenting with a narcissist membership, and over 40 deep dive classes on everything from boundaries and routines to sleep and chores to managing children, aggression and helping sensitive and anxious kids throat. 

You can also be able to find out more about my recent classes with Dr. Dan Siegel on Generational Healing. That was such a wonderful session and with Dr. Gabor Mate on Cultivating Secure Attachment, a fantastic workshop.

You’ll also be able to hear and learn about my upcoming sessions on setting healthy expectations for complex kids. This is going to be a great session for anyone with a child who may be struggles to fit in and go with the Flow As well as classes little further down the road with Maggie Dent on boys in school and another follow up session part two with Dr. Danielle and May so head on over to to find out more.

Today’s session is one that I have wanted to do for a very long time you’re gonna hear me talking with Robyn Posin, one of my personal go to people for advice and wisdom. Robyn has been a psychologist since 1964. She’s an author and an artist and committed to helping people connect or reconnect with the wisdom of their own inner, knowing that wisdom that can guide us living more and harmony with who we truly are she’s a dear friend and as I said, someone I’ve grown to deeply trust over the years to help me stay aligned with my own wise self when I get off track.

Have a listen and will come back for the wrap up.

Susan: Well, hi, everyone. I am so happy to be here with my friend, Robyn Posin. 

Robyn: Hi. We've been talking about doing this for a long time. It's really a treat to finally get here. Yeah. 

Susan: So for those of you listening or watching, Robyn is a very dear and special friend. Our paths crossed kind of in a unique way. What happened? We were both at the same office. Yeah. Waiting for the same therapy.. 

Robyn: Massage. Yeah. Massage, lymphatic. Some, some myofascial. 

Susan: Yes. And we had the same shoes on. And we had the same shoes on and it was like, I don't know, it was sort of this immediate recognition and I, heard, I, that you had, you know, been referenced by Anne Lamott and that you had this book and work that you were out in the world doing. I just liked you. And so our friendship unfolded. and Robyn, one of the things and the reasons that I'm bringing, bringing her to all of you is She wrote a book. Will you share the title of your book? 

Robyn: I have to say one thing before I share it, which is that I wound up self publishing because it was clear to me that no publisher would let me have the title I wanted because it's too long, but I wanted a title so that the person didn't have to buy the book, but the message would be right there in their face just seeing the book and the name of the book where the title is, go only as fast as your slowest part. Feel safe to go. And it's the subtitle is Tales to Kindle, gentleness and Compassion for Our Exhausted Selves. Can We Hold It Up?

Susan: So I've bought several copies of this book and given them as gifts. I have the book you have a workbook that goes with it. Mostly, what I wanted people to, to hear from you, Robyn, is the, in, in the world that I work in and that most of us live in, whether we're parents or we're just trying to keep our heads above water, it's a very fast paced world.

Robyn: Faster and faster, and everything gets digitized, which makes it even faster, and wherever you go with this, service over a counter, people are. are so impatient and rude because they expect things immediately. Yeah. It makes me so crazy. I hate it. So there have been many times in my life in, the years since we've met where I have Well, I've spent time with you.

Susan: You’ve been so kind with me and talked, I'll come to visit or we'll have a long, long conversation on the phone. But everyone,I mean this when I say there are times I call Robyn, hoping she won't pick up the phone. So I can hear her outgoing phone message. Because, say it, will you? 

Robyn: So it says, for whatever reason you called, remember to be kind and gentle with yourself, to talk lovingly to yourself as much of the time as possible, remember to go only as fast as your slowest part feels safe to go, and maybe most of all, remember that rest is a sacred act. Thanks for calling. Talk to you soon. 

Susan: I finally just recorded it. I called you and I said, please don't pick up. I'm going to call you right back and I want to record your message. 

Robyn: Well, the funny thing, I think, and I've told you this, is every once in a while when I pick up messages, I get a message that says, Hello. That was the best wrong number they ever dialed. And I have one woman who I think lives somewhere in the south, like Arkansas maybe, who calls regularly just to listen to the message. 

Susan: So why is that you guys? Why is it that there is this hunger for a message that says Say rest is a sacred act. Go only as fast as your slowest part feels safe to go.

And, and I literally feel in my nervous system, a sense of letting go and calm when I hear that. And, , in fact, I was starting to tell you, I have a friend, a good friend who was hospitalized for a quite serious, , ailment. And I was there a few weeks ago. I had taken a big pot of soup and some stew and everything.

 And this is a person who was very active and really got a lot done and, and dedicated to their work and is now having to rest. And I said, well, you got to listen to this message. So we called and Robyn, of course, picked up. I said, I love you so much. Please hang up so that I can play your message for my friend.

And afterward my friend was just really, really absorbing that because for a lot of us there are phases of our life where we have to rest. We simply have to let go of getting things done and kind of move into a place of of, a more human pace, you think honoring what our bodies and not just our bodies, our souls, our spirits, our minds need, we can need mental rest.

And I'd love you to talk more about that.

Robyn: Well, it's a hard one because that's the speed of life is constantly upgrading. And so much of the time, We think that what makes us valuable, I remember in the [00:06:00] early days of my, my promoting this message, everybody had, those days were filofaxes. And then it became the, what was the next? Blackberry. The blackberry, blackberries.

And the deal was how many appointments you had was a measure of your worth as a human being. And because so many of us have had such injurious. childhoods, we, we looked at things to make us feel worthwhile and lovable. And somehow, over the years, it became what you do in the world. Yeah. How much you accomplish.

Susan: We want to be productive. We want to contribute in whatever way feels right to us, or we have kids and whether we want to or not, we have to get up every day and do about 8, 000 tasks just to kind of get. get things moving in the direction they need to go. But it, it is, seems like so hard for us to just listen to our bodies, our hearts, our minds when we're tired, when we need to slow down. Can you speak to that? 

Robyn: Oh boy. Well, one of the things that I always think about is that we need to create a circle of support, because we're trying to break away from this incredible velocity and force field that says more, more, more, more, more, more, and so It, it helps, and I've watched some people I've worked with, to gather two or three other people, where you work as like a, an AA group, you know?

Yeah. Like you sponsor each other so that you remind each other, you know, and you can set up things that you share with each other on a daily basis, you know, an email that just says, go slow, you know, slow is better. Wow, take care of you. You know that because it's so not what's in the culture and one of the things I always reflect on is the only place in our whole world where there's some instruction to a woman to go first is on the airplane when it says put your mask on first.

It's the only place where women are given permission to think of themselves first. And so how, you know, the conflict that creates the programming that says others, others, others, take care of others, get it done. One more thing. 

Susan: And there's almost kind of, it's almost a badge of honor. Oh my gosh. I, I was up, I slept two hours last night, but at least we got the science project done. It's madness making, making a support system. 

Robyn: Yeah. Because otherwise, it's, it's hopeless because everything around you is push, push, push, faster, faster, faster. And in fact, you know, with the friend I mentioned who's recuperating, there are texts exchanged just to sort of solidify the okay ness, not just the okay, the wisdom of this is this phase of life.

Susan: Sometimes we have different. Paces we move out we get a lot done and then sometimes there's this pulling back and recovering from all that output. 

You were just telling the story because you have all these bird feeders. Can you tell the story of the hummingbird? So I have There are 13 hummingbird feeders that are 32 ounces each because hummingbirds are notoriously aggressive about their feeding stations.

Robyn: So each of these feeders has 10 feeding slots and I was, it's a stand, I have a standing desk and I was looking over the top of the computer and there were two hummingbirds at one slot. And they were syncopating. One was drinking and standing up to swallow, and the other drank and, and I thought, isn't this a miracle?

I'm looking out right now over my computer at it. Isn't this a miracle that my life Is slow enough now that I could stop and see this, you know, this is a moment of magic that would pass us by if we were, if I were in my earlier days where everything, you know, I had one thing after another thing after another thing and no room to breathe.

Susan: And, and the thing that really, of the things that makes us feel extra important to me is that our children are watching us. They watch how we prioritize and how we move through the world. And I always made a point when my son was little, we would lay in the backyard and watch the clouds. And then it got to the point when, He would say, Mom, pull over.

We got to look at this, this sky right now. And one time we had friends and he said, let's go to the end of the street and look at the stars. And we all laid on our backs looking at the stars. Well, of course it's so much more stimulating to grab your phone or your iPad or your device or your video game.

And if you're a child, even more so because, you know, it just feels like fun. It doesn't feel like there's any downside to it. , but our nervous system pays. Absolutely. And so this is why, you know, I know you're a psychologist and you have all the training, but also you're living this in the way you even take on clients and do the work that you do.

Robyn: It's really important to walk the talk, you know, you can talk a good game, but unless you're actually doing it, you're not, you're not really modeling what you're trying to teach. And I think that's one of the things that the people who work with me get is that I live it. It's not, it's not a technique.

It's not a, you know, a paradigm. It's how I live my life. I was an inveterate list maker. And of course, when you have a list, by the time you get to the end of the list, you have generated a whole other one.

So if you're only allowed to rest when you finish your list, you never rest. So, there's a couple of pieces that I learned. One is that to divide things into smaller portions to get to a completion. So it's not, you have to clean the whole house before you can rest. You clean one room and then you rest. So that was the first one.

The second one was dessert first. So if you have a bunch of things on your list, you take a rest first. It doesn't have to be for long, but just that rest has a priority, that that rest goes on your list. And if you're going to have a list, you stick rest in, in several slots along the way. Did you hear that? I mean, this is such a great practical thing that you can do.

So this is one of the cards in my deck of cards says rest is as productive, meaningful and important as any other thing that we do.

Susan: And here's why I wanted to talk to Robyn and bring Robyn to you guys because it's not a message you frequently hear and if you follow my work or you've been listening to this podcast, you know that I sometimes often talk about technology. Both the amazingness of it because I love it and it's useful for exactly what we're doing now, but it is so insidious it Creeps into more and more aspects of our lives where now we can't drive anywhere without turning on a guidance thing We can't remember anything unless we log it in there.

We can't actually call people We have to just text them to see if we can call them and like I love that You don't have that kind of phone. 

Robyn: No, I I have resisted getting well, I don't have kids You Yeah. If you have kids, there's no way not to be able to have a smartphone. Irefuse to text, and some people in my life get very annoyed that they can't text me.

I refuse. No. If you can't call me or send me an email, forget it. Yeah. And, and the thing is, look, oh my gosh, she's still standing. 

Susan: I, I didn't tell you because I haven't seen you since I was back, but I went on a retreat where I turned my phone off for four days. I let everybody know the emergency number where I could be reached.

And I can't even describe, I haven't really even gotten enough distance to see how magnificent that was to be. I felt that when I turned it off, like I'd been let out of a cage. Wow. It was just off. So I walked, you know, it was a retreat. I meditated for many hours a day and I walked and I sat by a little beautiful lake and I sat on my little balcony and it was this depth of peace and peacefulness and rest.

It was not just physical, it was just mental rest, the fatigue [00:15:00] of being on all the time. So anything else you want to offer our wonderful parents who are all listening and wanting to grow and learn? Maybe this isn't going to resonate for you guys. Maybe you think this is just an impossibility. 

Robyn: You know, I think the thing that would be helpful is it is to just make a like maybe five minutes in an hour. Early days, what I did was, I had, on the hour, I took five minutes.

Oh, you'd see that it was hour or there'd be a chime or something. Right, and you know, if you have a smartphone, you can set the clock so that it dings you once an hour. And then you can stop for two minutes. I mean, even if you just stop for two minutes and take a few deep breaths, it just helps to interrupt the momentum that builds.

Susan: When you talk about the slowest part and you were speaking so sweetly about it, I had one more thing I wanted to throw in that I hadn't thought about, which is you go to a playground and you see children playing, especially little children, and they are fully present in the world. They're not looking at their watch and saying, well, mom said we need to leave at three so I can get home and start my homework or, you know, she has to start dinner.

No, they're just in the moment, enjoying it. I remember I would, when my son was really little and we'd take a walk, you know, let's say from here to 20 feet from here, how long it might take, because there'd be this interesting bug, and then there'd be this weird crack in the sidewalk, right? That's living organically. 

Robyn: One of my friends, I sat in a women's group for several years, said, you know, that she found herself always feeling, I have to do this, I have to, I don't have time, I don't have enough time. And she woke up one morning and she said, what would happen if when I feel the crunch, I said to myself, instead of, Oh my God, I don't have enough time.

What if I said, I have the time I need to calm that. And life changed, because when you get into, I have so much to do, you really are tightening everything. And when you say, there'll be enough time for me to do everything, you loosen and relax, and so you're much more efficient. Nice. Okay. Yes. Wise. Wise one. This is, was Sidonia. Ah. Was her name. Yeah. Sidonia. That's a cool name.

Susan: We’re in Robyn's living room. Can I say you have the, the beautiful grandmothers? Will you just share a little bit about the grandmothers? Oh, well years ago when I, when I first left the fast track, it was because I had voices.

Speaking to me that I didn't until later call the grandmother spirits, sort of a gaggle of zany drippy drapey clothes, elders of all kinds of ethnicities, and those were the, the voices that said if I, told me if I didn't get someplace green, I was going to die when I was on my fast track life. And over the years, they have repeatedly spoken in my head and I've learned to not argue with them, but to listen, even when I can't stand it.

And so they're part of how come the book came into the world. And when the book was finished and published, I was looking for something to celebrate. And one of my former clients, who's now a friend, had sent me a grandmother.

 And I went to the website and this woman was creating these resins sculptures that she then did in resin and painted. Yes, that's Nima, a West Indian grandma, and there were, I think, a dozen of them like that, you know, with sagging boobs and, and what we in my tribe call Hadassah arms, you know, the flaps, the wings.

And some of them missing teeth, and all of them sitting on cushions, and all of them laughing uproariously. And so that became, I had that one, and we did photograph my altar with her for the book, and then I went to the woman's website. and saw all of these other women. She also does men. She does, so you can get a couple.

And I thought, Oh my gosh. So I got, so there are four of them that sit on the coffee table in my living room. And another one that's a larger one that sits on another alter in my house. And they're all these totally full of themselves. 

What they do is they represent the ancient feminine, you know, the one that's connected with cycles and the way the earth moves and slownes s. 

Susan:Grounded…………… All right, Robyn. Thank you. Oh, thank you. This was a pleasure. everyone for tuning in. 

I hope you enjoyed that. You may have noticed there was a fairly sudden completion of that conversation because Robyn‘s cat was in desperate need of attention and care. It was such a joy for me to sit with her and to just share with you, some of the calming energy and wisdom that comes from having left a long time in this world, and figuring out how to prioritize the things that genuinely matter to us and feed our bodies, minds, heart, and spirits.

It’s so easyfor us to neglect those parts of ourselves, in favor of the shouting of our to do list or the demands of others but it is so important that we prioritize that as well so lots to think about and hopefully you’ll implement some of these ideas in the week ahead.

As we wrap up all just say another quick reminder to check out the support at Again we have a great class on setting healthy expectations for complex kids with Debbie Steinberg- Kuntz and Elaine Taylor-Klaus. If you have a child with ADHD or on the spectrum or Gifted 2e, you won’t want to miss that one.

We also have a class coming up with Maggie Dent on boys in school and a part two of my session with Dr. Dan Siegel so you can find all the information out there at

Now let’s take a moment, certainly apropos to the conversation we just heard and remember: no matter how busy life gets look for those moments of sweetness enjoy stay well take care and I’ll see you next time.