Feeling inspired by Jen’s recent book post I wanted to share some of the books that are dear to me. I own a lot of books and all of them have impacted me in some way, but these are a few of the non-fiction ones that changed me for the better…
The Book of Love and Creation by Paul Selig
Okay, this is where I finally step out of the woo woo closet. As I mentioned in my own book, I’m not a religious person but I’m definitely bit of a spiritual magpie. I bought my first deck of tarot cards in my teens and have been interested in all thing new age ever since. Out of all the metaphysical books I’ve read over the years, this is the book that’s had the most profound effect on me. There is so much love and wisdom, such gentle humour, such deep understanding, so many a-has… If you’re at all interested in personal growth and consciousness, read this book.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
When I grow up I want to be Anne Lamott. Out of all the writers-writing-about-writing books I have, Bird by Bird has the most dog-earred pages. Her suggestion to “write a shitty first draft” helps me to get over myself every time I sit down to write something. It really is a wonderful book about writing… and life.
Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner
Out of all my journalling books (are you sensing a theme here?) this one speaks to the way I use my journal to connect to my own innate wisdom — and that which is outside of me. Also check out Life’s Companion by Christina Baldwin.
Selected Poems by Sharon Olds
When I started blogging back in 2006 I reconnected to my love of words in a way I hadn’t felt in all my years as a journalist. Finding my way back to poetry opened new doors in my brain, and it was Sharon Olds’ work that moved me the most. She writes about the guts of life. She just knows.
The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I loved The Invitation, but it was The Dance that pierced my heart. If you’ve read my book it won’t be a surprise to discover I love Oriah’s words — the way she weaves personal stories and realisations together was my guiding light as I did my best to create my own tapestry. We all have to start somewhere and she was a huge inspiration for me.
Companion Through the Darkness by Stephanie Ericsson
This is the book that kept me afloat in my first year of bereavement. Never has a book been more important to me than this one. These days I find I can’t pick it up as it connects me to my past loss so fast I have to sit down. Powerful and healing for those who need it.
Creating Money by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer
Another one to file in the woo woo category (my my, I’m really showing you all my knickers today!) but this book was another life-changer for me. When I moved to Bath in 2008 and was trying to rebuild my life, this was the book that helped me the most. It wasn’t even the ‘money’ part that drew me to it — it helped me figure out where I was going. It helped me get closer to my purpose. A few months later I created Unravelling and taught it as an evening class… and now I’m here. Magical book.
So there you have it. A few of my most treasured books.
What books have changed you for the better? Please do share!
We’re coming up to the nine year anniversary of the death of my love. While I still mention my bereavement occasionally here, rather than define me it has become the marker of when my real life — my truly conscious life — began. His death shattered everything I knew and everything I was, and created a hole so vast I didn’t know if it would ever be filled again. But as the years passed, and I healed myself inwardly and outwardly, I have learned so much about life I don’t know if I’d want to change anything that happened.
Through the unravelling and rebuilding there’s been one constant — I have been alone all this time. During the first years I was too messed up to even consider being with another soul. In the middle years I was earnestly rebuilding my life. And now, while I’m ready to venture into a relationship again, I’m trusting it will come when the time is right. For now I am still alone — and I’m content here.
Yet I still remember the discomfort of Saturday nights spent alone. The endless hours with only myself for company, and that wasn’t much company at all. I remember being deeply scared of the alone in my 20s. Even an afternoon on my own could send me into a whirlwind of fears. I didn’t want to be alone — alone meant I didn’t exist. That I didn’t matter to anyone. That I was nothing. So I did everything I could to make sure I was never alone.
One of the many gifts that came out of my bereavement was the opportunity to befriend the alone, once and for all. What started as excruciating has become something I deeply treasure. I actually crave being alone when I’m with others for too long. And yes I’m an introvert so this is how I recharge, but it goes so much deeper than that. Time alone is sacred to me, and something I’ll need to cultivate even when I find myself in the arms of another relationship. My alone time keeps me sane and healthy, and when I’m sane and healthy I have so much more light to share with the world.
So many times I’ve heard course peeps and friends mention how being alone is hard for them. That they feel lost when their significant other is out for the night. That they’re single again for the first time in years and a weekend on their own feels terrifying. That they fill their time so they don’t feel lonely. They’re not sure how to BE alone.
Then there’s the other side: my loved ones who rarely get a second to themselves. Who are demanded of and pulled in so many directions each day they fall into bed depleted to their core.
So whether you’re fearful of the alone, hungry for some pockets of time just for you, or are simply ready to cultivate a deeper connection to your internal world, I’d like to invite you to join me as we explore the Sacred Alone together.
In March I’ll be leading a gentle 14-day journey into the quiet knowing space in your heart that offers refuge, wisdom and calm. Each day you’ll receive an email from me containing a short essay on the day’s theme, a downloadable MP3 audio (alternating meditations, visualisations and mindfulness exercises) and a series of powerful journal prompts to work on. Each day will build on the last, so that by the end of our 14 days together you’ll have created your own Sacred Alone practice you can build on — and extend! — going forward.
You can read all the details and sign up over on this page. I really can’t wait to share this new journey with you guys!
“Aging is not ‘lost youth,’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength. It’s a different stage of life, and if you are going to pretend it’s youth, you are going to miss it. You are going to miss the surprises, the possibilities, and the evolution that we are just beginning to know about because there are no role models, no guideposts, and no signs.”~ Betty Friedan
Turning thirty felt like a big deal, and it was — it was my first big age milestone. My first real taste of getting older and all that brings with it. Of course, forty smashed all of that to pieces, and I have no doubt that 50 will do the same to 40. But this is where I am. I have been alive for 41 years as of today, and I wanted to share what it’s like to be here — the good stuff, because heaven knows I could share a week-long series of posts about the less good stuff.
The fact is, I love being older. I love this feeling of wholeness that’s deepening with every new year. I feel rooted in who I am, and while I still get tossed around on hormonal tidal waves, at my core I know myself. I know what I’m capable of. I know my worth.
After 30+ years of feeling like a girl, my forties see me stepping into being a woman. I feel decidedly womanly, and what a deliciously juicy feeling that is. The changes in my body and face are not particularly welcome (understatement) — would I like to erase 10 years off my face when I look in the mirror? Yes, some days I really would. But would I actually want to be 30 again? No way, no how, absolutely not. My forties are proving to be the making of me. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
I deeply appreciate knowing I can survive things. And it’s not just because I experienced such a life changing bereavement in the way I did. I simply have more years behind me — I have proof that time does carry on. That heartbreaks will be survived. That bad memories will fade. That forgiveness can be found.
I love the empowerment I feel in this season of my life. I care less about what other people think of me and will walk down the street like I own it. I’ll also hide in my bedroom on the days I need to, but the beauty of getting older is not having to ask anyone’s permission to do what you need. I don’t know who that permission giver was, mind you, but these days that spectre has all but evaporated. I’m my own biggest cheerleader because after 41 years it finally hits you that no one else is going to do it for you. By looking out for me I show myself love and kindness, and when I operate from that place I have so much more love and kindness for everyone else.
I’ve no doubt 41 might have looked and felt different had I had kids or a partner, but as I have neither I can only report back from the trenches as a single independent woman. I face the (un)certainty of being an older mother, and who knows what that adventure will bring. If it happens — and it’s one of my most heartfelt wishes — I do know that I’ll be a better mother now, at this point in my life, than I ever would have been in my twenties. Not that 20-somethings make bad mums, obviously — just that 20-something Susannah would have done.
So even though there are those rare days I’d give anything to have had my life turn out differently, 99.9% of the time I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m loving being a woman in my 40s, so glad to no longer be that sweet insecure girl I once was, so grateful to have my health and my family, so ready to keep evolving and growing in this life that’s all mine. And hell, if my 40s are this good, I think my 50s and beyond are going to fucking ROCK.
Lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with my Ageing Awesomely Pinterest board, and find I’m hungry to hear more stories of how getting older is a glorious thing (as opposed to the usual media portrayal of ageing as the biggest bummer ever.) So I reached out to some of my online sisters for their take on the (delicious) truth about getting older – I’ll be adding links to their posts below as they get published.
So make yourself a hot drink and go read these posts because there is some seriously extraordinary magic being shared today… holy wow!
Denise Andrade-Kroon | Marisa Anne | Sherold Barr | Flora Bowley | Randi Buckley | Pixie Campbell | Bella Cirovic | Tracey Clark | Julie Daley | Ronna Detrick | Danielle Dowling | Elizabeth Duvivier | Ali Edwards | Marianne Elliot | Tanya Geisler | Jo Hanlon-Moores | Andrea Jenkins | Liz Lamoreux | Liv Lane | Jennifer Louden | Hannah Marcotti | Justine Musk | Amy Oscar | Sas Petherick | Jamie Ridler | Andrea Scher | Susan Tuttle | Karen Walrond | Chris Zydel
Friends, I would love to know what you like about getting older. No matter what age you are, what’s deliciously true for you right now?
Updated to add: We gathered all the posts together and made an ebook! You can download it RIGHT HERE xo
I am ready to let go of the shoulds.
I should wake up earlier. I should go to bed earlier. I should drink more water. I should eat less chocolate. I should exercise more. I should socialise more. I should get out the house more. I should phone my family more. I should stop obsessing about X. I should let go of Y. I should be happier. I should be more grateful. I should chill the fuck out. I should be more extroverted. I should blog more. I should do more marketing. I should organise my accounts better. I should learn how to do X. I should stop doing Y. I should be more brave. I should be less scared. I should be more optimistic. I should smile more. I should be less serious. I should look on the bright side. I should be more supportive. I should be less judgemental. I should be more responsible. I should be married by now. I should have kids by now. I should be less selfish. I should have more patience. I should wait and see. I should trust. I should believe. I should stop thinking about it. I should stop shoulding myself all the time.
Oh yeah, I’m so ready to let go of the shoulds. Should is a spectacularly unhelpful word and every time it enters my head — which is most of the time — I feel myself sink lower and lower. Should is the strict headmistress telling me what to do. Telling me how useless I am. Telling me I’m no good.
Well, sod that, I’ve had enough. I am ready to let go of the shoulds.
What are you ready to let go of?
This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on the 30th of January. All the details for this free event are over here — join us!