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Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group

Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group

 

Hello, my friends 🙂

As many of you have heard, our studio is once again in transition. This time, we are closing our doors at Sierra Sunrise Yoga as of July 15th.  It has been a difficult decision to make, but it was not made in haste and it is with an abundance of peace and love that I have come to understand that I cannot continue studio operations.

All auto-pays have been cancelled, so when your auto-pay membership runs out for the month, it will not be automatically renewed. We will pro-rate certain accounts, such as annual memberships, or special class pack deals that absolutely cannot be used by someone in the upcoming weeks before July 15th. We will treat this on a case by case basis, but I promise that we will be as equitable and fair to everyone involved as possible since it is in no way our intention or desire to part on bad terms with our community members.

We will also be providing a list of our teachers, past and present, to let our students know where they can follow those whom they have made a connection with. There are many excellent studios in our area, and I feel sure that we will each find our right next chapter in our yoga journeys.  If you have questions or concerns regarding your account, please contact us at 775-843-7977 or by email: studio@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org

I recognize that many, many people love our studio space, and it is not for a lack of interest that we are closing doors.  The space itself is incredible and holds a tremendous amount of potential for the right individual. Unfortunately, that someone is not me, and this has been a heart wrenching, gut wrenching realization to come to, but it also allows someone else the opportunity to awaken within themselves a dream. I am looking for that special someone who has been waiting for just the moment, just the right alignment of the stars, to be able to pursue their own greatest potential, and I’m sure many among you would be glad to come back to the space as it is reborn!  If you know someone out there who might like to take over the space, I would gladly work something out with that individual. Have them contact me personally to inquire about taking over the lease (serious offers only, please).

There are many reasons for my decision, and I will gladly share a few here with all of you, because it has truly been a dream come true to be in our studio space with each and every single person who came through our doors during my time as both co-owner and sole owner.

In addition to my duties as the business owner and yoga instructor at Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center, I am also a Marriage and Family Therapist-Intern with a private practice, a CASA volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate for children), and a Speech and Debate Coach at Hug High School. I often work ten-twelve hour days with very little downtime in which to take care of myself. I have recognized this as an issue previously, so I tried to consolidate my workload, set boundaries around my schedule, and have purposefully scheduled in fun activities and time with my family and friends in the hopes to create a much needed balance to my workload. However, as I have continued to work toward my full licensure as an MFT, I have begun to recognize that both my Private Practice and the Yoga Studio are competing for my attention, and both have been suffering as a consequence. My energy has been spread in a very thin blanket covering my responsibilities meaning that somehow, some way, something clearly has to give. Up until this point, that something has been me – my health, my happiness, and my personal well-being.  Rather than seeing everything come crashing down before my eyes, I realized I had to choose. I am choosing to step back from the studio with an immense amount of love and gratitude, and I am taking steps towards my heart’s greatest dreams and desires.

I often encourage my clients to create a Bucket List, which allows for us to see what we would like to do, see, and be, while we still have the opportunity to live this beautiful life to the absolute fullest. The number one on my own list is to become a wife and mother. I greatly desire to get married and start a family in the next couple of years prior to furthering my academic studies. I am not too far off from that dream coming true, which means that my priorities need to shift in order to create space for new dreams to come into being, literally.

My academic pursuits are not yet complete, and after passing my licensing exam and completing my 3000 hours towards becoming a fully licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I will be pursuing my Ph.D. in Clinical or Counseling Psychology.

As the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center goes forward, we will maintain our contact with our established community through recurring blog posts and updates. We are looking forward to all that is yet to come.  Again, we would like to wish each person a tremendous amount of appreciation for all that you have given to us in mind, body, and soul. We are deeply grateful for having had this chapter in our lives. I am hopeful that we will all embrace this opportunity to reach to greater depths within ourselves to find what makes us truly and purely happy, and to recognize what makes us less so.

If you would like to process around the changes and transitions regarding the studio or your own life, please feel free to schedule an appointment with me, which you may do by emailing me at: sierrasunrisewellness@gmail.com, or calling me at 775-224-0703. You may also speak with my office manager, Paris Almond, by emailing palmond@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org or by calling 775-750-4661.

Thank you for your understanding, your love, your light, and your amazing support during this time. I have grown in leaps and bounds from this experience, and I will carry it with me with an abundance of love for the entirety of my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With all that is love, light, peace, and grace within me, I honor all that is love, light, peace, and grace within you.

 

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Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT 855 S. Center St., Suite 101 Reno, NV, 89509 775.224.0703 sierrasunrisewellness@gmail.com

 

Best Wishes,

 

Nora Ann

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Our Sunrise Has Come – A New Beginning!

Hello, beautiful friends!

I have been quiet for quite some time, because there was so much that I felt I could not say. I have kept my head down, concentrated on my work, and did my utmost to keep my spirits high. It hasn’t been easy, but I knew that the time would come when I would be able to sing from the mountaintops what I have been working on! So, it is with an immense amount of gratitude and love that I am now able to publically announce that:

The Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group, LLC President and CEO, Nora Ann Shannon,

is now the sole owner of Pure Yoga!!

My now former business partner, Alicia “Cia” Greene, has a truly beautiful life laid out before her in San Diego, and the entire staff of the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group and Pure Yoga wish her the absolute best of love and light in her journey going forward. Many of the teachers at Pure Yoga, including myself, learned from Cia how to become the teaching squad that we are now. To say that she will have forever impacted us is a drastic understatement. I personally feel a huge amount of gratitude for what she has imparted me with. She took a chance on me, someone who was not yet a yoga instructor, but she *KNEW* what I am capable of and what I have within me to give. She believed in me, and despite our ups and downs of being business partners, I will always love her and appreciate what she taught me, on and off the mat.

I am reminded of the classes I used to take with Alicia, when she was my yoga teacher at The Studio. I regularly went to her 7:30 am Tuesday and Thursday sculpt classes, i.e. yoga with weights. She played fun music, and she had an amazing energy that I resonated with. I loved how hard her classes were, and I loved the results that transformed me. We became friends through those workouts, and she challenged me to reach levels within myself that I was entirely capable of achieving and did so with her powerful and moving encouragement.

It means everything to be given the opportunity to step up to who I AM. It means everything to me that I now have the responsibility to make this business work, it is all squarely on my shoulders. I am strong, I am capable, and I am smart as a whip. I am ready for our new chapter to begin, and I am thrilled beyond belief to not be alone in that journey. I have an absolutely amazing team standing behind me. I will introduce each and every member of that team in the months to come as I give each person their own individual spotlight, here on my blog. I am so very much looking forward to all that is still yet to come, and I love what I get to savor in THIS moment… this moment of becoming.

What does this mean for Pure Yoga:

 

Pure Yoga will become Sierra Sunrise Yoga, a part of the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center.

 

This might bring about some fear of change, and there might be some bumps throughout the process, but we will do our utmost to minimize any and all disruption that may arise during our business transition process.  We will be creating something TOGETHER, as a community, as a tribe, as a collective whole. It is my dream to bring to this community the opportunity to experience ALL that is within us, especially our light, our greatest and purest divinity of the soul seated within each and every one of us.

It is with this in mind that we will be re-creating the Pure Yoga space in order for it to become the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center. Please think of it a bit like a spring cleaning! Examples of the changes we will be making include re-painting and also creating a beverage and snack area. We will offer some refreshments for purchase such as protein shakes, Kombucha, water, almonds, snack bars, and fruit.

However, please know that much of the studio space will remain the same, with our same teachers, and for all of our current students, we will honor your memberships, packages, and questions, concerns, suggestions, and ideas! We want to know how you are, who you are, and what you need. We are looking to uplift not only ourselves, but also those around us. We would like for our students to feel nourished in mind, body, and soul, so please let us know how we can best facilitate this experience for you within our sacred space! Please send your emails with questions about studio matters to studio@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org.

 My intentions for the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center:

 

  1. Self- Love and Self-Care… The more we love ourselves, the more that we will choose to care for ourselves: going for runs or walks, getting our workouts in to strengthen and support our bodies, going to yoga for the healing of mind, body, and soul, eating in a nurturing and loving manner, and taking the time to allow ourselves to heal, if we need it.

 

  1. Releasing karmic baggage that is no longer serving us, letting go with love and gratitude, and breathing in that which the Divine knows we need. We all have baggage, every single one of us. Sometimes, that baggage weighs heavier on us than we realize, and in that, we must allow ourselves to begin to recognize what we are punishing ourselves with, beating ourselves over the head for, or dragging along, day in, day out. Once the gift of these situations is realized, we can let that baggage go. It is a process, not something that can or should happen all at once. Everyone’s process is a bit different, so it is also important to allow ourselves compassion as we trudge through, leaning on one another for support and love when we feel alone in the journey. There comes grief with letting go, and I promise, we will support you in finding forgiveness towards yourself, or towards others. We are all in this together.

 

  1. Creation of balance, especially with pleasure and discipline – To better understand how our bodies are indeed beautiful temples, also letting go of unhealthy addictions to food, stress, money, substances, sugar, and accomplishment that comes at the cost of ourselves.

 

  1. Cultivation of WILL POWER, finding our inner beliefs of who we are, what we value, and finding the motivation to follow through on everything we desire for ourselves.

 

  1. Gaining perspective of our lives on a grander scale, finding clarity of heart, and coming from a place of love in all things, including paying bills, opening ourselves to more fulfilling relationships with others, and deepening our relationship to ourselves.

 

  1. Creation a safe space for the full -expression of our most authentic and raw selves in order to show up in the “real” world as such. By becoming our most authentic selves, we allow others to witness and express this, too. When we all come from this place within ourselves, we will be able to help one another to manifest our beautiful golden light, creating a hugely positive impact on this world.

 

  1. Allowing for ego to loosen its tight grip on how we choose to show up for ourselves and others. I often *think* I am going to fail, even if I *know* otherwise. It is our mission at Sierra Sunrise to teach ourselves and our students how to gently love on the ego enough that we can still use it when we need it, but that we can also step outside of it, too.

 

  1. The Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center will be a place for profound exploration of spirituality and questions of an existential nature. I want to all the more fully and deeply embrace each person as a being of love and light, each one of us radiating our inner glow in all of our many, many outlets of how we show up in this world. We all have a tremendous amount to give and show up as love in this world. THAT is the core truth of our journeys. I hope to strengthen the connection people can feel to the angels and spirit guides that are all around us at any given moment.

My will and my intentions come from a deep debt of gratitude that I have for my father, Michael Dan Shannon, who passed away at 43 years old from a pulmonary embolism, and for a very dear friend, Bryan Krosch, who committed suicide when we were 22 years old. Both of these men created tsunami sized waves that rocked me awake, that shocked me into living, and gave me the knowledge that my life IS worthwhile. My life has implications beyond this current moment and any mistake or single achievement that I will make during the course of my days of being alive. I might not be able to see all the details of the big picture at this moment in time, but I KNOW that something beyond myself and any one of us as individuals is being created. I know that lives will be changed, and generations of families will perhaps be profoundly impacted by the healing work that we can do for ourselves and others whom we love. Lives can and will literally be altered, and perhaps even saved. Often, people say that they would like another moment, another conversation, another hug, another day with someone whom they loved… well, that day is NOW. We have the here and now to take advantage of acknowledging those who we care about, to say thank you to those who have helped us to grow, and to stretch the limits of our mind’s imagination as we begin to create a bucket list with items to checkmark off along the way.

A great fear of mine is to be asked on my death bed, “The ride is over, did you enjoy yourself?” only to be able to sadly shake my head “No.” No, indeed. I want to LIVE, love, giggle, find joy in the simplest of things, such as a sunrise, and to give, and give, and give, because nothing lasts forever, and what I have to give is better to be enjoyed by all. The more I build myself and others, the more that I both myself and others can give, too. Giving isn’t only a form of monetary exchange. Giving can be giving of time, dedication to our highest self, and giving of our dedication to others by finding those who need a smile, a hug, and opportunity to be seen or heard or felt.  This is the time, this is the moment, and the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Center will support you in YOUR growth and development as each one of us comes to the awareness of our own inner divinity, love, light, peace, and grace.

This is the photo that inspired the logo, and also inspired the dream, which is now manifesting. It all began in a moment of beautiful bliss and possibility.

This is the photo that inspired the logo, and also inspired the dream, which is now manifesting. It all began in a moment of beautiful bliss and possibility.

The Sunrise of My Soul

By Nora Ann Shannon

August 4th, 2011

The day begins and I am in awe.

How could I be any luckier than to simply watch as the world comes alive?

I sit in total appreciation, witness to the peaceful quiet that is replaced with

The cacophony of life.

Birds, cars, distant alarms, the hum of being, the chorus of life, all music to my ears.

It is all beautiful, each in its own right.

The tumultuousness stands to say that

There is a new day, a new beginning,

Of course, it will be punctuated by an end…

Tonight, I will watch the sun as it sets, but

For now, the beauty of the world awaits.

For now, the Goddess Sun has bid her warm welcome,

And with her, she brings the invariable, veritable, ups and downs:

The fluctuations of the day, the awakening to new trials and tribulations,

The brightening of possibility, potential, all that awaits to be discovered.

Today brings with it another opportunity to live my life,

To be a part of this world, this time, with these people.

I make sense in this time, this way of being,

this suspended droplet of a moment in which everything I know and feel

is happening, right… now.

The new light of day is here, and with its beautiful unveiling,

I have been given the chance to collect myself,

To appreciate the sheer splendor of simply being alive,

Before I am once more knocked off kilter, desperately attempting to regain my footing.

 I must squint, as the sun shines bright and the world has shaken off its sleep.

The day has stumbled in to get breakfast, rubbing the sleepies from its eyes.

Now it is time for a run, to throw on my kicks and pop in my ear buds,

Followed by my sun salutations, stretching out the kinks, the nooks, and the crannies.

This day is mine, mine to navigate and explore.

Today, I have the privilege to be alive when others have died before their natural time.

Today, I can live and love.

Today, I can be.

To be or not to be is the wrong question… 

To be AND not be is more apt, more spot on.

The beginning will end, and the end will begin again.

Life gives life, life will give death, death will give true death, and my death will give life once more.

And so it is, and so it shall be.

So, what shall you do with this day, this miracle of being?

What will lift your heart from the trenches of your throat?

What will allow you to find peace, to find solace, to find… you?

                   Finally, I would like to say thank you to all those who have so greatly supported me! I am truly in awe of the amazing outpouring of love and well wishes in going forward with this endeavor, and I am thrilled to know the support that makes it possible to BELIEVE! I do indeed, in myself, and in my community. I am eternally grateful for this moment in time! Thank you, thank you, thank you to ALL of you who have helped me to bring this dream into the realm of the real.

With love, 

Nora Ann 🙂 

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Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group owner, Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – Ready…Set… [Let] Go!!

            I would like for you to ask yourself the following questions about your life currently, and take a moment to perhaps use your journal to jot down some thoughts, lists, or feelings that come up: 

1. What is holding you hostage? 

2. What is heavy on your heart, or causing your shoulders to creep into your ears?

3. What makes it difficult to breathe, and what makes it difficult to let go? 

4. What will give you rest, a calmed sense of mind, peace of heart, and an awakening of your soul’s greatest desires?

5. To what do you need to surrender to? 

                Carl Jung coined and defined the term synchronicity as being, “meaningful coincidence.”  As a psychotherapist who was profoundly spiritual, he believed in there being something “more,” something that connects us all, something greater than just THIS. I have admired quite a number of his theories, including using mandalas as a method of meditation, the shadow and the golden shadow, and the idea of there being a collective unconscious.

The idea of the shadow is that it holds clues to aspects of ourselves that we do not like. For example, think of someone who irritates you, and take a moment to describe why that person bothers you so much. What does he or she do that really gets under your skin? As the saying goes, as we point the finger at another, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves, or as Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” The golden shadow is said to hold the many aspects of our greatest potential, the aspects of ourselves that hold our highest aspirations, capabilities, and perceived best qualities… if only we could live up to the challenge and pressure of achieving this within ourselves. Once again, if you were to think of someone you greatly admire and the reasons why, this will clue you into the parts of yourself that are yearning to be acknowledged and lived up to. 

In order to address the idea of the collective unconscious, I would like to begin to touch on the idea of spirituality. For years upon years, I searched for a sense of “real” spirituality, a sense of something that I felt within every fiber of my being, something that brought the satisfaction and sense of peace that I yearned for, but struggled greatly to find. I must admit that I am not a particularly religious person, which I intend to mean as being someone who regularly goes to church or follows a particular religious doctrine. I certainly tried that route at different points in my life, but it didn’t quite bring me that sense of connection that I hoped for. That is not to say that I disagree with those who do, because I don’t; I just simply don’t feel connected to “God,” in that manner. Each person is different, and for many, church is a means of finding community and support from those who also believe the same as oneself. That is completely understandable, because quite frankly, it feels good to be amongst one’s tribe, a group of like-minded individuals that care deeply for the same values and principles. It is grounding, and gives one a sense of being rooted and also safe. For many years, I tried to fill my internal void with things that I thought would make me feel good, but they didn’t, or if so it was only temporarily and I was still hungry for something that money could not buy. What I have found is that for me, church can be in nature, in my own mind when I meditate, in my garden, or in the arms of my loved ones.

I recognize that I might offend some by putting God in quotations, but the reason I do so is because I also don’t feel fully connected to the word in how it is commonly used. I have heard God be used as an excuse to treat others in a deplorable manner, an example being, “God hates fags/niggers/jews/towel heads” etc. My stomach curls in on itself to even read the words, let alone type them here. I have an incredibly difficult time hearing such words of hate connected to something that is said to be so divine and wondrous. I do believe that there is something truly inexplicably beautiful and serene that connects each and everyone of us, and “God,” “Source,” “the Universe,” “Allah,”and “Love” can all be used to describe that. I believe Love goes beyond this moment, and it leaves reverberations behind when someone passes away. I consider myself to be a deeply spiritual individual, and I do pray, I do respect ceremony and ritual, and I do appreciate that each religious faction around the world has different rules and understandings, but 

ultimately, we are all ONE. 

Thus, the collective unconscious, as defined by Carl Jung is: 

. . . No matter how beautiful and perfect [we] may believe [our] reason to be, [we] can always be certain that it is only one of the possible mental functions, and covers only that one side of the phenomenal world which corresponds to it. But the irrational, that which is not agreeable to reason, rings it about on all sides. And the irrational is likewise a psychological function — in a word, it is the collective unconscious.

-C.G. Jung, CW 7, par. 110, from On Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

There are many things in this world that do not seem entirely rational, reasonable, or sensical. However, there are specific archetypes and metaphors of being that somehow link all of us to one another. As an existentialist, I often consider what it is for each one of us to be equalized. Regardless of how rich or poor one might be, he or she still has a date with destiny. We each have a moment in which it does not matter what we own, or what unfinished business we still have… When the moment comes, it is our time to let go. We are all equalized in the end by this simple and entirely unavoidable truth. People construct their lives with the hope that they could in fact be invincible. As children, we are able to believe that we will live forever, and it is a blistering disturbance to our sweet naivety to come to find out that from death, we are not special exceptions. However, death provides the opportunity to LIVE. Death is a catalyst to find purpose and meaning within our lives that will provide the reason for our being. 

In order to cope with this inevitability, religion and deeper spiritual purpose give one hope that there is in fact something more. There is a great deal of debate as to whether or not there is something that comes after, whether it be heaven or hell, or no[thingness]. However, there is not a heated debate about what we have right here, right now, because we HAVE it. Our lives are tangible realities. When one discovers the value of his or her presence in this world, what we have to give, and that what we yearn for to fill our emptiness is in fact already a part of of our fabric of being, we become whole, and we become happy.

If you are struggling to find spirituality in your own life, look for those moments of synchronicity, those moments of meaningful coincidence in which the world aligns perfectly in order for you to experience something special with someone or something. I have had several moments of synchronicity that defy explanation, including a moment of having found a letter from my dad on the fourth anniversary of his death. It was entirely a coincidence that I found it on that particular day, and yet…. there was something inexplicably comforting in the fact that it felt like it was HIM, it was my dad, who was there with me, comforting me, and giving the solace that he was not in fact, gone. I believe whole heartedly that my dad has come back to me in incredibly important junctures in my life, and it has been on me to open my heart and my over-rationalizing mind to SEE that there is far more in this world than meets the eye. 

Homework: If you would like to begin meditating as Jung did, you can begin to create Mandalas. A mandala is a drawing that is often a geometric composition creating a circle. It is said in Hinduism and Buddhism to be a representation of the Universe.  You can either create your own, or download images that you can color in. As you would do for your regular meditation practice, set up the environment to be free from distractions, possibly put some gentle music on in the background, perhaps light a candle (or several), and allow yourself to focus in on an intention that you are intending to cultivate in your life currently. As you breathe this intention in, begin your work of coloring, drawing, and creating. 

Eckart Tolle said, “Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life, and see how life starts suddenly working for you rather than against you.” 

 

All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within me, 

acknowledges, honors, and appreciates, 

All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within each of you. 

 

Namaste. 

 

<3 Nora Ann 

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – Imagine Having Nothing to Hide

 

Kindness is Beautiful

Societies and cultures from around the world have changed the standards of beauty with every century that has passed. In the 1600s, heavier set women were admired due to the likelihood that such a woman was wealthy enough to eat well. In the 19th century, it was a woman’s facial features that were emphasized, a slender waist (enhanced by corsets), and ankles were also highly sexualized. In the 1920s, women began to be much more involved in sports, dancing, and “the pictures,” which led to change from emphasis on the face to the ideal slender body silhouette in a chemise.  In the 1950s, the blond bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, a curvy beauty had a great deal of speculation around her for what her actual weight and dress size were. In this era, corsets were replaced by girdles and pointy bra cups, and bathrooms began to have electric lights and mirrors that brought attention to acne and other areas that were previously disregarded as being important. In the 1960s, the icon that changed the fashion industry was British model, Twiggy, who highlighted diet and exercise as a means in which to change the body internally rather than through external means such as corsets, girdles, and the like. As the decades continue, what is considered to be beautiful and fashionable is always in flux. Clear skin, just “the right amount” of curve in “all the right places,” and if this is not possible, then photoshopped images will make it so. What I have come to find from our day and age is that HEALTHY is the true goal, and for each man and woman to be what his or her body type IS.

For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with my body image. I grew very rapidly as a child, towering over the rest of my peers, until middle school, in which I abruptly stopped, and the rest of my classmates both caught up and surpassed me. I also have a naturally higher bone and muscle density, which has been an amazing asset in terms of a lack of broken bones throughout my life, but translates to a higher number on the scale. In short, I am a bit of a brickhouse, solid and stout. I got made fun of for my weight on the scale when I was younger, and in turn, I thought of myself as being ugly, fat, and grotesque. A bit dramatic perhaps, but for anyone who has been through middle school/adolescence, it was an incredibly awkward time that laid quite a foundation for the years to come. At my heaviest, I was close to 200 pounds, and at my smallest, I was 137 pounds. Despite the fact that the BMI puts me in the “overweight” category in the 140’s, that is by far my favorite place to be as far as weight is concerned. It is a happy, healthy, and well proportioned place for MY body. I do not need fit any mold, but I do need to feel good in who I am and how I show up in this world.

My Mother at 19 years young.

My Mother at 19 years young.

My weight has yo-yo’ed up and down over the last many years, with my first diet being the Atkins diet when I was in 6th grade. My mom was trying it out, and I hopped onto the opportunity to get thinner as well. I always greatly admired my beautiful mother who had been a model when she was 19. I wanted to have her thin hands, perfectly filed beautiful nails, and long thick hair, just like her, when I grew up. What I understand now was that she also had a certain flair of confidence about her, a very strong presence that conveyed that she was not to be messed with. For that reason, she very well might have attracted those who wanted to bring her down, like moths attracted to a flame. I have watched her time and time again battle against the criticisms of others, and eventually, with the crippling doubts of herself, but she has remained as beautiful as ever, both inside and out. Betty Friedan once said, “Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” As my mother ages, she becomes all the more the epitome of grace, strength, and beauty. She is no longer the model she was when she was 19, but she is all the more the role-model that I am grateful to have as I watch her grow and expand in other areas of importance, apart from her looks.

Unfortunately, my mother and I are not alone in our troubled body image. I would like to share some disturbing statistics about eating disorders in our country. Please note that the following comes directly from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders website.

Eating Disorders Statistics

General:

• Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.1
• Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.2
• Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.3
• Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.4

Students:

• 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”5
• 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.6
• Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.7
• 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8
• 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.3
• The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.4
• Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.17
• In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.16

Men:

• An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.9
• Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”10
• Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.11

Media, Perception, Dieting:

• 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.3
• 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.5
• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.3
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.12
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.13
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).

Collins, M.E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.
Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G.B., Crawford, P., & Obarzanek, E. (1991). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 23-37.

For Women:

• Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.14
• An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.14 Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.15
• An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.14
• An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.14
• About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.15
• 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.18

Mortality Rates:

Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder,  the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that  compromised a person’s health.

According to a study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009), crude mortality rates were:

• 4% for anorexia nervosa

• 3.9%  for bulimia nervosa

• 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified

Crow, S.J., Peterson, C.B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., Mitchell, J.E. (2009) Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 1661342-1346.

Athletes:

• Risk Factors: In judged sports – sports that score participants – prevalence of eating disorders is 13% (compared with 3% in refereed sports).19
• Significantly higher rates of eating disorders found in elite athletes (20%), than in a female control group (9%).20
• Female athletes in aesthetic sports (e.g. gynmastics, ballet, figure skating) found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders.20
• A comparison of the psychological profiles of athletes and those with anorexia found these factors in common: perfectionism, high self-expectations, competitiveness, hyperactivity, repetitive exercise routines, compulsiveness, drive, tendency toward depression, body image distortion, pre-occupation with dieting and weight.21

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

1. Mortality in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995; 152 (7): 1073-4.
2. Characteristics and Treatment of Patients with Chronic Eating Disorders, by Dr. Greta Noordenbox, International Journal of Eating Disorders, Volume 10: 15-29, 2002.
3. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” 2003.
4. American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 152 (7), July 1995, p. 1073-1074, Sullivan, Patrick F.
5. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The Spectrum of Eating Disturbances. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3): 209-219.
6. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 10-year study, 2000
7. Public Health Service’s Office in Women’s Health, Eating Disorders Information Sheet, 2000.
8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
9. Carlat, D.J., Camargo. Review of Bulimia Nervosa in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1997.
10. American Psychological Association, 2001.
11. International Journal of Eating Disorders 2002; 31: 300-308.
12. Prevention of Eating Problems with Elementary Children, Michael Levine, USA Today, July 1998.
13. Ibid.
14. The National Institute of Mental Health: “Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions.” Pub No. 01-4901. Accessed Feb. 2002. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/nedspdisorder.cfm.
15. Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. website. Accessed Feb. 2002. http://www.anred.com/
16. Nutrition Journal. March 31, 2006.
17. Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!. New York: The Guilford Press. pp. 5.
18. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” published September 2002, revised October 2003, http://www.renfrew.org
19. Zucker NL, Womble LG, Williamson DA, et al. Protective factors for eating disorders in female college athletes. Eat Disorders 1999; 7: 207-218.
20. Sungot-Borgen, J. Torstveit, M.K. (2004) Prevalence of ED in Elite Athletes is Higher than in the General Population. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 14(1), 25-32.
21. Bachner-Melman, R., Zohar, A, Ebstein, R, et.al. 2006. How Anorexic-like are the Symptom and Personality Profiles of Aesthetic Athletes? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 38 No 4. 628-636.

 I now believe that my body is a beautiful piece of ART, which bares the story of my existence up until now: my age, my gender, my ethnicity, my socio-economic background, my level of “formal” education, my breadth and depth of life experiences, and slightly more subjectively, my personal opinion about my own self-worth. I have a story to tell, because

I am a human being.

Those whom I have the opportunity to directly cross paths with during my lifetime will also have a story to tell of their own lives, their own experiences, their own set of personal circumstances, and it is a story that I will not be able to understand simply by looking at their outward appearance. Rather, I look forward to hearing the stories of those who I have the great honor of listening to as they recount their tales of joys, hopes, and sorrows.  There will be those who do not show the mental and emotional scars on their skin, but inwardly, they are much like an amputee, missing a very important limb that still feels as if it should be there.

Thus, I encourage you to take notice of these statistics, and to know that WE can DO something about it. While there are many problems in this world that we cannot solve, what we CAN do is listen, love, and appreciate that each person is in fact so much more than what you see on the outside. Each persons’ body will greatly alter and transform over the course of his or her lifetime. Women might gain their tiger stripes from child birth, a reflection of another beautiful life being brought into this world. Both men and women might gain and lose their muscle mass due to cancer, stroke, or numerous other physical ailments. Soldiers might come home with all of their limbs in tact, but with the memories of the moments of their dear friends and fellow soldiers who lost theirs. We ALL have a story to tell, and it cannot be airbrushed or made to be prettier than what it actually is. Our stories and our moments of being are BEAUTIFUL, because they are real, powerful, and expressions of our existence.

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT 855 S. Center St.,  Suite 101 Reno, NV 89501  For an appointment, please call: 1.775.384.3111

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT
855 S. Center St.,
Suite 101
Reno, NV 89501
For an appointment, please call: 1.775.384.3111

 

All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within me, 

honors, acknowledges, and appreciates,

 All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within each of you. 

Namaste. 

<3 Nora Ann 

 

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – Ahimsa ~ Pure Love

                  “Ahimsa” is a Sanskrit word meaning “Do no harm,” “Do not injure,” and more colloquially, it means Universal Love, Pure Love, the supreme duty of man, true sacrifice, forgiveness, and true strength.

By contrast, “Himsa” is violence and injury. All harsh and rude speech to others and ourselves is Himsa. The egoic mind turns our negativity into harm against oneself through the use of our self-doubts, our shakey self-image, or perhaps the sharp tongue-lashing we received by someone else unexpectedly, which we then take to heart. Negative thoughts become negative actions. Himsa is a weapon built on repetition serving to maintain a lower well-being status quo. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual himsa leads one to the brink, to the very edge, to that moment of choice between this world and falling through the veil to the next. Himsa at its worst is self-harm, because by harming ourselves, we harm the world around us, too.

At it’s best, Ahimsa is the greatest love of all. It is pure and utter self-love and love for all that is, has ever been, and will ever be. It is the practice of self-care and maintaining one’s greatest well-being through the reaffirmation of believing one is deserving and worthy of that love just as much as anyone else. Ahimsa is the knowledge that one’s body, mind, and soul are truly a tripod temple.

Physically, by acknowledging the messages that are given to us from our bodies, we are appreciating the absolutely amazing opportunity to communicate with ourselves. Messages of the body that are painful might be signaling to us a way in which we are practicing himsa, or self-harm. It is my belief that trapped emotions are stored throughout the body. When we practice yoga, dance, running, spinning, swimming, chasing after children, walking the dog, climbing a tree to rescue the cat, blowing bubbles, or laughing so hard we begin to cry, or any other forms of physical activities we do on a daily basis, we are gaining Ahimsa, self-love, self-appreciation.

Mentally, Himsa occurs when those loving actions are perceived as not good enough, which at the core becomes the idea that WE are not good enough and that we never will be. When one is feeling trapped mentally, confined within his or her body, the purest form of love is not to try to escape, but rather to simply be with what is in the current moment of one’s existence. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, it is not himsa that should be reflected back, but rather, ahimsa and compassion for who you are now, where you have been, and where it is that you hope to be at some future time. So often, himsa is indeed exactly what we see.  Sometimes, to acknowledge oneself, to truly look oneself in the eyes, our true nature should shine through despite all of the flaws that we could focus in on instead. At our very core, we are love, and to know this, is to know or true nature, love, pure love.

Another way to practice Ahimsa in our daily lives is to engage in good self-care. For example, be mindful of what one is consuming. Food that comes from harm introduces harm to one’s body. Foods that are nutrient rich and full of good energy provide our souls with the nourishment that is needed in order to complete our journeys in this lifetime. Be gentle with your body, the machine that is transporting you, because it is indeed fragile, but not often in the ways that your ego scares you into believing. You are not weak, pathetic, despicable, horrendous, ugly… those are the fightin’ words of himsa that your ego is attempting to use to convince you to believe that you are less than ALL that you actually ARE.

Spiritually, I recommend beginning or starting to engage in the practice of meditation. By focusing on one’s breath, and taking a moment to acknowledge what is just below the surface, slowly, but surely, one begins to take the problems of the here and now and transform those concerns into what they really mean in the bigger picture. Personally, I have a high level of anxiety that sometimes holds me back from accomplishing what I have set out to do. When I take a moment to not do, and instead meditate on what is really bothering me, what I am anxious about, or just come back to the breath, deeply inhaling in, and deeply letting it all go out, I come back to my sacred center. From this place, when I come back to what I “need” to do in the here and now, I can do so from a place of calm acceptance intermixed with the determined intent to give all of the love I can possibly give to this world for as many days as I will have upon this Earth.

Albert Einstein said, “A human being is part of a whole called by us ‘the universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Although it is impossible to live (and so do good) without doing harm, we seek to minimize any suffering we may cause. In recognizing the preciousness of our own lives, we recognize that the intricate dance of life around us is also precious. When we step away from our own pain and step into our divinity, pure and utter joy becomes possible.

May an abundance of AHIMSA bless your day as you go forward with the mission of love, light, and well-being for yourself and all others.

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT 855 S. Center St.,  Suite 101 Reno, NV, 89509 For an appointment, please call 775.384.3111

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT
855 S. Center St.,
Suite 101
Reno, NV, 89509
For an appointment, please call 775.384.3111

Namaste.

<3 Nora Ann 

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – “It’s Not About the Nail”

First, I invite you to watch this hysterical video: It’s Not About the Nail 🙂

I have to admit that as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have become somewhat jaded about marriage. Let me explain.

The sooner a couple comes in seeking help in facilitating their difficult but necessary conversations, the better it often is for their relationship. When a couple is in love and feeling on top of the world, little things tend to slip through the cracks as being unimportant or unnecessary to address at that time. When the fairytale honeymoon phase of a relationship lessens and “real life” tends to weigh in and on each of the partners, little arguments begin to erupt to the surface, and this becomes the bread and butter for how the couple will fare the stormy weather of the ups and downs of simply being human, together. Some couples might communicate incredibly well, and furthermore, will have a strong enough foundation to fall back on when one another’s less than perfect qualities begin to pop out here, there, and everywhere. However, some couples might come to find out that there are other aspects of a relationship apart from love that are also important, such as sharing similar values, hopes, desires, and dreams. When a couple begins to contemplate marriage and raising children together, questions of family compatibility, financial arrangements, and the ability to support one another through “thick and thin” become important issues to address.

Unfortunately, what often tends to be the case, is that a couple will come into therapy with a great deal of damage already done, and at least one person checked out or checking out of the relationship. This happens perhaps because one partner has cheated, or has hidden some other  massive secret about themselves that heavily rocks the relationship, hopefully temporarily. In my opinion, cheating is a symptom of a greater feeling of unhappiness. If one’s relationship was solid, it would be far less likely that someone would choose to cheat.  The number one most difficult event for a couple to overcome is the loss of a child, which carries a tremendous amount of grief, and often blame, shame, or guilt. It is not my job to judge the behaviors or the people, but rather to help the couple understand where and why these behaviors and feelings developed, what was the root of it taking place to begin with. Moreover, it also becomes my job to assess the willingness of each partner to continue trying, which greatly determines whether the couple will be able to make the relationship work. I watch the body language of a couple, as well as look for what the leading researcher in couples therapy, John Gottman, termed as, “The Four Horsemen” that signal the likelihood of longevity of a relationship.


 

John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of a Relationship

1. Criticism:

When pointing out something that someone has done, criticism can come across as attacking someone’s personality or character, rather than the action or mistake that one perceives another as having made. These attacks are generally done with the intent of creating a one up and one down position, ie “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

Take a moment to examine the language you use when describing how someone has “wronged” you. Do you use generalizations such as “you always…,” “you never…,” “you’re the type of person who …,” “I’m not surprised that…,” “Why don’t you,” “Why do you…,” or  “I always knew  that you would disappoint me, because you are…” [fill in the blanks]

2. Contempt:

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines contempt as, “a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval,” which can translate to some incredibly nasty and cruel name calling, insults, and psychological attacks to a partner’s sense of self. When one has little to no respect for another, the relationship can get incredibly ugly.

Contempt can be shown in a multitude of ways, such as through eye rolling when one’s partner speaks, mocking one’s partner, name calling and insult dropping, or using “humor,” which isn’t funny to the person who is feeling the seething rage and hostility thinly veiled underneath the words and actions.

3. Defensiveness:

If one is expecting to be attacked, then he or she might become overly defensive, or perhaps see one’s self as the victim, despite whether or not an attack is intentionally being made.

Ways in which one might exhibit these tendencies include not listening to one’s partner in what they are attempting to communicate, such as coming up with a response while one’s partner is still speaking; making excuses for one’s self rather than taking responsibility for how one might have contributed to a situation; “yes-butting,” which means agreeing, conditionally… “Yes, but…”; talking over someone else; disagreeing without listening to the argument being made; and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. Essentially, there is always a come-back, always a reason as to why someone might have done this or done that, and that it is unfair that he or she should take any heat for what did or did not happen.

4. Stonewalling:

According to Bob & Marlene Neufeld and Mary Ann Carmichael, at the point that one’s partner or one’s self shuts down, he or she is “withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict.” However, by a partner stonewalling, he or she is conveying “disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness” (2005.)

Ways in in which one might stonewall include the silent treatment, shortened speech (using as few words as possible,) moving onto a different subject and dismissing the current conversation, or  leaving the situation abruptly or before it has come to a resolution. Another concept by Gottman is called becoming “flooded,” which means that one has heightened cortisol levels, ie the person becomes too stressed, to be able to process information as they might normally. In order to be able to talk about the situation in a more level headed manner, it might be necessary to take a breather, and come back to it when one has calmed down. Excusing oneself and citing that he or she might need to take a moment is entirely ok, as long as he or she intends to finish what has been started.


 

The truth is, every couple will and should have arguments, and not every couple needs to go to therapy. There are some important changes that you can make right at home, simply by changing how you consciously communicate with one another. Begin to truly listen to one another in whatever it is that you each need to say, and rather than preparing your reply, wait, and validate what your partner has said with what you understand from them that they are feeling and experiencing. Rather than focusing on the negative, begin to practice appreciation for what you have noticed your partner has done well. When feeling oneself becoming defensive, stop and take a moment to acknowledge where that is coming from. What part of you feels attacked, or feels the need to be protective, and of what? Re-write the the thought patterns that might include “righteous indignation” or “victimization” with thoughts in which you claim responsibility for the part that you play in any negative interaction. Maybe you were in fact just a bystander to someone else’s bad day, but what is it that you can learn from that situation and what can you do about it? Preferably don’t go home and kick the dog or yell at your spouse and children. Instead, find a healthy outlet for those feelings, such as talking to your spouse or talking to another friend or family member.   Don’t bottle up your rage and let it explode at a later date, potentially ruining your relationship, and ultimately hurting yourself. Allow for the healthy release of what is no longer serving you in your life, and prepare yourself for introducing that which feels in line with who you want to be and where you want to see yourself headed toward.


Marriage

It’s not about the wedding. It’s not about the ring.

It’s not about the shoes, or the dress,

or all of those people whom you hope to impress.

It’s not about the Facebook profile picture

or your new relationship status change.

It’s not about showing off how skinny you got

or hiding how much you somehow gained.

It’s not about who could make more money

or who’s truck or breasts have a better lift.

It’s not about the prestige or the glory,

or the perception of such gifts.

It’s not about who has children

or how many countries they all came from.

It’s not about the mountain of plastic you can buy at the mall.

It’s not about how many chocolates  you said you would save until lo and behold, you ate them all.

It’s not about how fast you can run a mile, how high you can jump, or how easily you can climb a wall.

Quite frankly, it’s probably not even really about YOU at all.

It’s about the relationship to the person with whom you are committing to dream and savor your life alongside,

It’s about about the plans you hope will come to be, even if they somehow fall through unexpectedly.

It’s about holding and supporting one another in times that are less than favorable, and in times that are. 

It’s about opening yourself up to the vulnerability of being, loving, and doing for another all that one can.

It’s about coming home at the end of the day to find those who have been waiting for you to come through that door allll day!

It’s about knowing that THIS moment and THESE people are important, and in that knowledge, you become strong.

It’s about the tender embrace of the little loving arms around your neck that you will have created with your partner,

and it is the fuzzy, furry snuggles of the four-legged children you share together.

At the end of the day,

It is about Love.

The love you hold in your heart and in your soul,

in good times and bad, for richer or poorer, for better or worse,

and beyond death in which you shall you never truly part.

Love, Faith, Trust, Positivity, Courageousness, Honesty, Joy, Laughter, and Pure Magnificence of Being,

Hold your partner dear, and hold yourself dear, too.

You are worthy, deserving, and truly, more than good enough, through and through.

Enjoy your life together, treasure every moment,

 even when one wants to strangle the other for how very annoying he or she can be.

When there are no more days to be had, the moments that were become all the more important,

Do not take for granted all that you have, letting these moments slip away

Because in your partnership, comes the truth of happiness and solidarity with the world around us.

It’s about  reading between the lines to know what it’s not about,

and caring deeply enough for one’s partner to have the patience to discover what it IS really all about.


Nora Ann Shannon, M.A. MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT For an appointment, please call: 1 (775) 384-3111 or email: nshannon@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A. MFT-Intern, RYT-200, RMT
For an appointment, please call: 1 (775) 384-3111
or email: nshannon@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org

Be kind to one another, and be kind to yourselves <3

All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within me, 

honors, acknowledges, and appreciates, 

all that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within each of you. 

Namaste,

<3  Nora Ann 

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Sierra Sunrise Wednesdays – Gratitude

Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group

Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group

Pure Yoga

Pure Yoga

The Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group is ecstatic to officially announce our partnership with Pure Yoga Boutique Studio!!

Mother’s Day has already passed this year, but I am still celebrating my dear mama, and on Sunday, I dedicated my very first yoga class to her, the final exam before I graduated and became a certified 200-hour trained yoga instructor!! The cherry on top of that beautiful Sunday, was that I  taught [will now regularly be on the schedule!!) at Pure Yoga, a studio that I became co-owner of in January, and that is located in the same building as my beautiful new private practice office and the location for the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group!! I have worked so hard for this moment to become a reality, and yet, the moment itself is completely surreal. I feel really, really proud of myself, and that, wow… that is a feeling that I especially feel immense gratitude for.

Today, I am filled to the brim with pure and utter gratitude for my life, this moment in time, and for there being such a thing as “being,” because I thank goodness that I, in fact, “am.”

In every moment, I am doing the best that I can, and that is the very best that I can do in any given moment. I love who I am in this moment, and the juncture at which I have arrived in my life as the gift of the “present,” my right here and right now. What is, IS, and it is deliciously congruent with my every sense of being. The “should be’s,” “could be’s,” and “could have been differents” are a part of my contrast of the present moment’s circumstances, but are they what is? Who am I? Where am I? Why am I?… I only know that at this present moment, I amI am the flower; I exist.

As a requirement for graduation, I had to complete several writing assignments, including an essay on the book If the Buddha Got Stuck by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D., and a letter to myself at 16 years old. I was faced with a moment of raw honesty about who I was then and who I have become in my here and now. I was aided in my conceptualization of myself by the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, the Eightfold Path, and the Yamas and Niyamas.

The 4 Noble Truths state:

  1. “The Truth of Dukkha: Life inevitably includes suffering or difficulty.”

    Thank you to Dana at PhotoZen for your fantastic collaboration!

    Thank you to Dana at PhotoZen for your fantastic collaboration!

2. “Life is Painful or difficult because of our attachments”

“The concept of attachment also relates to your emotional experience. To push away natural expressions of grief, sorrow, anger, and hurt is to shut down against one’s humanness, or you could say it becomes an attachment to not feeling. As a result, you become habituated to holding back, avoiding, or disowning parts of yourself, which creates holding patterns in the body. These manifest as repetitive responses to life situations – automatically becoming afraid, defensive, resisting change, or tightening up throughout the body. These patterns are conveyed through your body language, movement, and voice – there is an incongruence or sense of being off center. This leads to what Buddhism refers to as samsara – the wheel of suffering – having unconscious, repetitive emotional responses to life’s situations… a.k.a. being stuck” (20.)
  1. “Ease and peace of mind are possible”
  1. “The path toward greater ease and peace is found on the eightfold path”  (Kasl, If the Buddha Got Stuck, 18-20.)

 

The 8 Fold Path: 

1. Right Understanding

2. Right Intention

3. Right Speech

4. Right Action

5. Right Livelihood

6. Right Effort

7. Right Mindfulness

8. Right Concentration

The Yamas include:                                                                                                                        And the Niyamas include:

 

Ahimsa ~ Non-violence                                                                                                                              Saucha ~ Purity

Satya ~ Truthfulness                                                                                                                          Santosha ~ Contentment

Asteya ~ Non-stealing                                                                                                                           Tapas ~ Self-discipline

Brahmacharya ~ Non-excess                                                                                                                Svadhyaya ~ Self-study

Aparigraha ~ Non-possessiveness                                                                                                Ishvara Pranidhana ~ Surrender

At sixteen years old, I was experiencing one of the most traumatic moments during the entirety of my existence, so far. I watched as people, pets, and objects quickly slid out of the realm of this existence, and into seeming oblivion somewhere beyond the veil of my reality. I was intimately acquainted with sadness and grief, which left me in a perpetual state of wonderment for “what the meaning of it all” was. Despite [or perhaps because of] the pain, I pushed through to find the deeper purpose, because there had to be a greater meaning to it all, there just had to be… because if there wasn’t… then… what was the point?

You have THIS moment to begin the rest of your awakened life <3

You have THIS moment to begin the rest of your awakened life <3 

It was in my adolescence that I began the journey towards honing in on how my awesome ability to cope is an asset that at times has been more valuable than money. In fact, at sixteen, I felt sure that one day, I could have it all. Many days, I feel entirely overwhelmed and terrified, but then, I adapt accordingly. I am most always of the habit of pulling myself back up, finding the energy to get through what I perceive myself as needing to overcome. I am hard on myself, but I get a LOT done.

So, what’s the point? Well, more concisely, we have THIS moment, right now, to accomplish our goals. It might not all come into being right this very moment, but we can build towards the moments in which we have done it, we accomplish what we set out to do.

I can lift myself up, and I can look people in the eyes, because other people are my equals. We might hold different jobs, genders, races, values, beliefs, cognitive abilities, physical abilities, and a plethora of other differences, and yet, at the end of the day, all of our days will be done; perhaps not at the end of THIS day, but at the end of one day, some day, soon. The details might be a bit tedious, a bit too mundane and ordinary, but those are the clues of information that guide us towards what we need to do in the here and now with the hope that we will make the most of today, so that we can make the most of tomorrow, and more grandly, what I can do to make the most of my life.

I am determined to believe that there IS a deeper meaning to all that we collectively experience.

At sixteen, I would have traded all the money in the world for just another moment, another lifetime preferably, with Dad, and that is still true, to an extent. The truth is though, although it felt like it then and even sometimes now, I didn’t fully lose him. I was imbued with his deeper wisdom and insight, which now augments my own.

I couldn’t have this beautiful life I have now had it not been for the beautiful hopes, dreams, and desires of my sixteen year old self. To tell the truth, the honest, honest truth…At 16 years old, I wanted to die, but I also so desperately wanted to live. It was so hard holding onto what felt like false hope that anything would improve, and yet, it did… buuuut it took time, it’s bittersweet damn time. A decade later, and I have become exactly the person that I want to be. I love that tomorrow, I will have another sunrise full of potential to live the life I so greatly love. I have an enormous amount of gratitude to my 16 year old self for the contribution of not killing myself, in one way or another. I could have, but I chose not to. I chose to keep trying, and for that, I am so, so, so immensely grateful and PROUD. <3

Nora Ann Shannon in Anuvittasana

Nora Ann Shannon in Anuvittasana

This moment has been a bit of a surprise, because never did I think that yoga would become something that now feels so integral to my soul and my sense of being, living, breathing. The world is not stagnant, and although we might have a tendency to think that THIS moment is the only moment, there truly is SO much more to do and to experience. However, in THIS moment, I feel content. For my own standards of good enough, I have done more than enough. I can finally relax, close my eyes, feel the sun shining, nurturing my sweet soul, safe and sound, and… accomplished. I AM what I had always hoped I could be, and so much more, too. THAT is a moment of being worth striving toward, worth living for.

You have THIS moment to begin the rest of your awakened life <3

Thus, my message to you, my friends, is this: Despite the inner critic that often negates your brilliant ideas, you have managed to overcome and prove to yourself, first and foremost, that you CAN endure, because you have made it this far. Now, follow through on your dreams. If one cannot fulfill his or her own dreams, then the pressure falls to someone else to do it; but not this time. The jealousy of others is illusion, because what does anyone else have that you don’t? Perhaps the perceived difference is funding, because if you had money, then maybe your dreams would be easier to build into being. Yes, there are those with amazing houses, gorgeous cars, or whatever else, but never have I ever seen a hurse followed by a u-haul. There is only our souls that we bring back to source, so what we accomplish internally means a great deal more in TRUTH, which has to have greater tangible value than the dis-illusionment of paper, coins, and plastic.

“Of all the losses rupturing the human soul today, this alienation may be the most alarming because it separates us from the very roots of our existence” (Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind, 54.)

The level of dismissal that we may place on our personal growth and level of priority is a cultural epidemic. I am materialistic. I am attached and dependent on objects, including money and what money can buy. I am also aware of my attachment to people, and the fact that I am always preparing to say goodbye. Objects act as my solace, representing the antithesis of death. If my material items, things that I own, are not sentient, then they cannot die. Material objects do not have a given death date

Death is a part of life. It is everywhere, and yet, much of the time, I am able to step around the realness of it because of the habituation effect of the under-appreciated mundane. We are all ghosts; echoes of the past the reverberate throughout the entirety of eternity as the paradoxical future looms before us, just up ahead. If I were to die tomorrow, I could be at peace, because I have loved this life, this journey, this amazing trip. It has taken a great deal for me to go with the flow of life, and to have faith that there is indeed some sort of Divine place, some rhyme or reason that gives sense for everything having turned out exactly as it needs to in every stop along the way.

 I wish you all good luck, good health, good faith, good well-being, good intention, good family, good friends, good food, good yoga, good love, good scholastic endeavors, good travels, and oh such a good and beautiful life.

 

Thank you to beautiful mom for protecting me and teaching me that I am beautiful, capable and strong. I would also like to say thank you to my yoga teacher trainers and trainees. The last six months have been absolutely incredible, and I am so proud of all of you who are both my mentors and friends. I am eternally grateful for our moment in time together, and I am especially looking forward to all of the places across the world we will practice our asana together. Love, love, love you all. <3

Also, thank you to Michael. You are my enduring, burning flame, and I love you [more.]

 

All that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within me, honors and acknowledges all that is light, and love, and peace, and grace within each one of you.

 

<3 Nora Ann 

Nora Ann Shannon (Co-Owner of Pure Yoga and Owner of Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group), Kelly (Manager of Pure Yoga and Executive Administrative Assistant of SSWG), and Cia (Co-Owner and Founder of Pure Yoga)

Pictured: (L) Nora Ann Shannon (Co-Owner of Pure Yoga and Owner of Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group), (C) Kelly Aguilera (Manager of Pure Yoga and Executive Administrative Assistant of SSWG), and (R) Cia Greene (Co-Owner and Founder of Pure Yoga)

 

 

THIS is indeed your moment. Savor it, my love <3

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – How to Cope

My Top Ten Favorite Coping Mechanisms: 

1. Stop and breathe. It is ok to take a moment to collect yourself when stress and chaos around you threaten to break you. The “One Minute Meditation” is a very easy way to take literally a single minute to re-focus your mind and energy before continuing forward doing whatever it is you need to do. Have someone watch the clock for you as you close your eyes and count your breaths. When the minute is up, you will know how many breaths you should take when you need just a minute to yourself. Of course, there is nothin’ wrong with taking more than that, too!

Doing something as simple as thumbing through a magazine and cutting out something that you like is a powerful indicator of personal aesthetic and idealized life values. The accumulation of cut-outs slowly begin to show personal preferences, which means that one begins to become more aware of one's "self." If nothing else,  a vision board isa visualization of all that you idealize if you could have things the way you want them.

Doing something as simple as thumbing through a magazine and cutting out something that you like is a powerful indicator of personal aesthetic and idealized life values. The accumulation of cut-outs slowly begin to show personal preferences, which means that one begins to become more aware of one’s “self.” If nothing else, a vision board isa visualization of all that you idealize if you could have things the way you want them.

2. Vision Boards! I am amazed that so many of the things I have put on my vision board have come to be in different ways. Every morning, I see my vision board when I wake up, and I am reminded of “the point of all of this.” An excellent virtual option is utilizing Pinterest. Seriously. Doing something as simple as “pinning” something that you like is a powerful indicator of personal aesthetic and idealized life values. The accumulation of pins slowly begins to show personal preferences, which means that one begins to become more aware of one’s “self.” If nothing else, Pinterest is a virtual experiment of all you dream of if you could have things the way you want them.

3. Stagnate. I know, this is very paradoxical, right? Well that’s just it. We might feel as if we are already at this stuck point and we are spinning our wheels to get out, and yet, we can’t seem to get ourselves outta the ditch we’ve landed in. Sometimes, trying to stagnate will illuminate some of the blocks that are in our path because we stop spinning our wheels long enough to see what it is that we are stuck on. Where does your mind wander that you admonish yourself for? How could things be different? Do you even want for things to be different? What are you waiting for? When will it be the right time? Has it ever been? Instead of doing something different, try to intentionally do that which you are trying to no longer do (unless it’s meth, or suicide.. don’t do that.)

4. Being in the Moment. Whatever moment that is for you, past, present, or future, be with your experiences in the here and now. By accepting the moment as it is now, and assessing that which one misses or looks forward to, one is able to recognize his or her very existence. The only moment that we truly have is right now, right this very second, nothing more, nothing less. We carry with us the memories of yesterday and the hopes for tomorrow, but all that we truly know we have is this present gift of life. Savor the moments that feel just right, stop and smell the roses, give your best friend a call, or kiss your mother, father, brother, sister, child, significant other, or even give a stranger a hug… They, too, only have a moment. Enjoy this moment, while it lasts, and know that the bad moments are only momentary as well.

5. Looking at Old Pictures/Reading Old Journal Entries… I like to compare the different parts of my life to date to know when it was that I felt certain ways akin to how I am feeling presently. I had to have gotten through those dark moments in order to get to where I am now, and if I look happy in those past pictures, or if I sound ecstatic/enthralled/euphoric in past journal entries… I know that it is possible to feel that way and that I can again. What is the difference between the old me and the “me” now? Who do I want to become? This can also be depressing, too. In fact, that is why it is a great coping mechanism, because I absolutely ball my eyes out! Crying is an incredibly cathartic release, a moment of letting go, and a moment in which one is reminded of his or her humanity. In going forward, what would like for your journal entries to say about how your life becomes? What are moments that you want pictures of? What are the aspects of your life that have remained the same? How have those aspects that are the same contributed to your happiness or depression?

6. Set Some Short-Term and Long-Term Goals… First, allow yourself to dream! Of course it might be a little ridiculous to think that someday I might win an Oscar while stationed on Mars doing field studies into the habits and psychology of the Martian species… buuuut maybe it isn’t! Still though, I can set goals for myself to set me up for being able to accomplish achievable goals that might seem out of reach in this current moment, but with time and persistence, I can accomplish them some day by laying this foundation now! As I mentioned in a previous post about Transformation, there are four stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, and action. Remember that huge goals do not often happen over night. Rather, identifying steps that will help you to prepare for making your bigger goals happen can be the short term goals you need to set. Eventually, those bigger long-term goals will manifest, but it will be through the work of the short-term goals that one will see the changes on the way.

7. Exercise and Nutritious Food… I know, I know, this one is hard for many, if not most, including myself. I have struggled a tremendous amount in trying to do the stuff that I have been told will essentially turn me into a size 2 supermodel in 2 weeks… it doesn’t work. What does work though is eating foods that aren’t packed full of sugar, sodium, and a buncha crap that isn’t going to do a lick of good for your actual hunger. I eat for comfort, and I have weighed close to 200 pounds. Now, I run and train for marathons, “enjoy” sculpt yoga, and go to spin class several times a week. I have to fuel my body in order to do any of the physical endurance activities I partake in. More than that though, I have had to learn how to listen to my body and create a mind-body communication circuit. I am verrrry much still working on this one, because I have not achieved the goals I have set for myself, including having six pack abs. I can be too harsh on myself with this sometimes, so I have to listen to when my body is asking me to be more gentle sometimes, too. It is important to find the right balance, and if you are scared to do it alone, find the courage to ask for help.

8. Self-Care Activities such as journaling, dancing, singing in the shower, having a cuppa tea, going for a walk along the river, enjoying time with your pets, watching children laugh and discover the world, making a choice to do something positive for yourself versus making a choice to do something you know you will feel lame and guilty about later… There are all sorts of ways to care of your needs! It starts with making the decision that you deserve to be treated well. 

9. Reach Out – If you do not have a strong support system, create one. To be able to trust that others will be there for you, or that you can trust those people to not double cross you is quite the challenge…especially when there is a past history with a family member or friend. It is for you to decide who you want to have in your life, and it is also for you to decide who you should forgive versus who you will not be able to ever trust again. There are six billion people in this world, and there are resources available for those who have trouble connecting with those around them. I promise you, the help is out there if you choose to reach out. Sometimes, it might seem hopeless, but maybe there is also someone who feels the same way… and by maybe, I intend to say, you are not alone, my dear one.

10. Reach In – At points in which we feel completely and utterly deserted, abandoned, despondent, or unable to reach out, reach inward toward the part of you that is aching. No one can make another person happy. It is our individual responsibility to find our own way toward happiness, and sometimes that can be as simple as connecting to yourself again, or perhaps for the very first time. You are a soul seated within your body. You are the only one who will ever see the entirety of journey from beginning to end. Make it interesting, and more than that, make it a life you WANT to be living. “The journey is the reward”…Savor it, my loves.

 

Nora Ann Shannon, MFT-Intern

Nora Ann Shannon, MFT-Intern

<3 Nora Ann

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – Transformation

A Blue Morpho butterfly in Costa Rica

A Blue Morpho butterfly in Costa Rica.

I have an affinity for butterflies. When I was in Costa Rica in April of this year, I saw so many incredible blue-winged little creatures dancing in the glinting light along the jungle canals of Tortuguero while I was kayaking. When they closed their wings, they became nearly impossible to see due to their brown camouflage that looks a bit like the eye of an owl.  They would catch my attention out of the corner of my eye, and I became rather enamored with their easy grace and elegance. I also took it as a sign of good luck when a butterfly would sit upon my shoulder for a quick rest before moving along on their way.

The Blue Morpho butterfly has an excellent brown camouflage, making it very difficult to spot when it so chooses.

The Blue Morpho butterfly has an excellent brown camouflage, making it very difficult to spot when it so chooses.

 

I am also fascinated by the butterfly’s transformation process. The butterfly goes through four stages of metamorphosis that are markedly different from one another. First, the butterfly is laid as an egg on top of leaves that will serve as it’s first meal when it ready to enter the larva or caterpillar stage. As a caterpillar, the main goal is to continuously eat and grow in preparation for adulthood. The pupa stage occurs several weeks later when the caterpillar is ready to spin a silken cocoon around it’s body in order to protect itself as it transitions into becoming a beautiful adult butterfly. As an adult, the butterfly can no longer grow, and instead, it’s energy goes toward the mating process and taking flight.

One of my favorite mentors, Dr. Christian Conte, taught me the four stages of change, which I believe relate well to the transformation process of the butterfly. The first is pre-contemplation, in which one is not yet aware of any problems that require change. A person enters into the stage of contemplation once he or she becomes aware of a choice to be made, but he or she is not yet ready to commit one way or another. In this stage, one is often stuck in terms of not yet knowing what the best path is for him or herself. At the point that a decision has been made, many people make the mistake of skipping the third and immensely important stage of preparation. In order to be successful in making the changes that one wants in his or her life, it is necessary to prepare oneself mentally, emotionally, and physically for the fourth stage of taking action. Much like the butterfly’s stages of change, we must prepare ourselves for the transformation we seek to enact in our lives, and when we are ready, it will be our time to fly, too.

This past year, I visited five countries (Costa Rica, Peru, Scotland, Germany, and Holland); I started my own business; I created the Nora Ann Shannon Endowment Fund in support of The Downing Clinic at UNR; I adopted a doggy I named Rollo May, after one of my favorite Existentialist psychotherapists; my weight yo-yo’ed up, down, and all around; I became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children; I bought an amazing house; I met many new and wonderful friends, deepened my friendships with those I have known for years upon years, and I let go of some friends with bittersweet parting of ways. As I went through my year, there were moments that felt more like trudging through mud rather than floating like a butterfly, but as I look back, I am filled to the brim with complete and utter gratitude for the good, the bad, and the ugly moments, which have all culminated to bring me to THIS moment, in the here and now.

               As I move forward into 2014, I believe I am about to leave the pupa stage and emerge back into the world as a butterfly, ready to spread my wings and soar. I have set the foundation for the next steps in my process of becoming, and now, it is a matter of putting the plans into action! I have had three locations chosen to potentially bring my private practice into life, but it is the fourth location that is finally going to come together! 

              The first location I had picked out was too expensive and made my CPA cringe as he looked at my financial portfolio trying to sustain such a massive hit. The second location was too run down, and despite my hope of being able to save money, my investment would not have had the return I was hoping for. The third location was the house that I decided to buy in August. The house itself is an incredible investment, but try as I might, the plans to turn it into my private practice just wouldn’t come together. A major issue that I couldn’t seem to resolve was how to put two additional parking spots onto my very small lot, which was a necessary step in transforming my residential property into a commercial venture. After having made the investment and commitment to the property, I felt as if I had everything on the line in attempting to make it work as I had hoped it could, but as the months have gone by, my hopes had begun to flag.

"One's destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things."           - Henry Miller

“One’s destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
– Henry Miller

           However, I have been presented with a new fork in the road that will allow for my private practice to come to life without the complications that felt like insurmountable obstacles in my path. I have struck a business deal with a dear friend of mine that will be a symbiotically wonderful partnership for both of us. I cannot yet share the details of this plan, but as soon as we have our t’s crossed and have dotted our i’s, we will be very excited to announce the changes that are in store! I apologize that I cannot currently be any more specific than this, but I CAN promise that it is beyond my wildest dreams to co-create what is to come! I am ecstatic to accept the job I have just taken on, and I do believe the community of Reno will greatly benefit in the bigger picture! 

                 In addition to the physical foundation of my business changing, one of my closest friends allowed me the opportunity to develop what we have come to fondly call,“The Shannon Method,”a 30 day challenge aimed at becoming healthy and happy.

In the upcoming weeks, stay posted for learning about our transformation process as we went through it week by week, which will hopefully give way to inspiring each and every one of you to guide yourselves toward feeling better in the new year, too.  As you make your resolutions for change, keep in mind what stage of change you believe you might be in, and alter your resolutions accordingly.

Perhaps it is time to simply acknowledge the choices that are in front of you, but be mindful of the obstacles that you would need to prepare yourself to overcome prior to taking action in one direction or another.

             When you are ready, you will not be alone in your struggle. That is part of the preparation work in ensuring you have a strong social circle to help you stay accountable to yourself and your hopes and dreams. Moreover, the Sierra Sunrise Wellness Group will be teaming with our new business partner in being able to provide Wellness Workshops to the community at an affordable rate in order to make the journey to health a bit less scary and whole lot more likely to lead to success! Good luck, and HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🙂 🙂

"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."                    - Carl Jung

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
– Carl Jung

 

Nora Ann Shannon, M.A., MFT-Intern

For an appointment, please call: 1 (775) 224-0703

or email: nshannon@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org

 

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Sierra Sunrise Sundays – Now Accepting Clients

I have fantastic news!

I am now accepting clients for Marriage and Family Therapy services!!!

I have received official approval from the Nevada State Board of Examiners to begin my internship hours, which I expect to take around 2-3 years to complete. I currently have around 600 hours completed toward the 3000 hours that are required for full licensure. I will be working with several different supervisors that I have chosen due to their speciality areas and expertise in the field. I have spent a great deal of time preparing myself to begin, and lo and behold, the moment has come! 

You may contact me to make an appointment via my website, email nshannon@sierrasunrisewellnessgroup.org, or by phone 1-775-224-0703 (cell), or 1-775-384-3111 (landline). I look forward to watching as others’ dreams begin to come to life as well, and I would be honored to hear the stories that created the foundation for those dreams.

 

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Quick Contact

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Chi Sigma Iota

Chi Sigma Iota Foundation

Nora Ann Shannon is a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Foundation, which recognizes excellence in performance and honors in academic achievement amongst those who graduate in the counseling profession.


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American Psychological Association

Nora Ann Shannon is also accredited by the American Psychological Association, which affirms her professional integrity and intentions towards maintaining the highest standards of ethical mandates as set by the profession of Marriage and Family Therapists.

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American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Nora Ann Shannon is accredited and associated with AAMFT- The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, which is only possible through the continued registration and accreditation of her professional accrual of hours and ethical upstanding in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.

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