Category: Life online

Lessons learned from nine years of blogging | SusannahConway.com

My blog turned nine on Sunday. Nine years of sharing my heart online — can you believe it?

Back then blogging felt like a friendly chat around a kitchen table. There was no concern about tweets and likes and shares, although we were still pretty keen on comments. In April 2006 Facebook was a two-year-old toddler and Twitter only a month old. While I’m sure there were plenty of business-driven blogs, our corner of the blogosphere consisted of personal bloggers sharing their stories and interests. We loved words and poetry, photography and craft. We commented on each others’ sites and our blog rolls spilled off our sidebars. The online world really did feel like a smaller place back then.

I remember when everyone was up in arms about adverts popping up on blogs — now no one bats an eyelid at blog monetisation. When I first offered my Unravelling course in January 2009 (and over 100 women signed up!) it never even occurred to me that it could be a sustainable business — you know, doing stuff online. Each time I offered the course I’d think “maybe this is the session that will bomb” and would quietly freak out whenever I saw someone else offering a course, fearing the marketplace would become saturated. The irony is the marketplace is now most definitely saturated, but that also means doing stuff online has become so normal.

I often wonder what my online life would be like if I’d have had access to the bells and whistles we have now. I imagine it must feel rather intimidating starting a blog, website or online biz with all the razzmatazz out there. Nine years ago I didn’t know I was stepping on to an entrepreneurial path… I just wanted to connect with others and exercise my writerly muscles again. I wonder if my 33-year-old self would have signed up for B-School and jumped in feet first? (Answer: highly unlikely.)

One of the loveliest parts of being online is the community that’s grown around me. So many of you have been here from the start, witnessing my journey and supporting me all these years — thank you so much for being here! It’s a blessing to have such kind-hearted peeps in my tribe. These days I may blog less but I hang out on social media every day and cherish the connections we share. I still get overwhelmed by all the noise (hello HSP) but as long as I filter mindfully I can usually keep my head ;-)

My online persona is pretty close to my off-line persona, though in the 3D world I’m far more sweary. I don’t share all my dirtiest laundry here but then I never have done. Even in the worst of the grief I was still a year out from the blast when I started blogging, so the white hot pain was kept to myself. I share what I would be happy to tell you to your face, and I really am truly HAPPY to share — it’s an honour to have this space and reach as many people as I do.

There were never any long-term plans when I started blogging because I had no idea what was possible — the possibilities hadn’t been imagined yet. But if I’d had a plan where I am right now is where I would’ve hoped to be…. still connecting with others and exercising my writerly muscles.

A few things I’ve learned through blogging:

1. People are amazing. The kindness of complete strangers has blown me away thousands of times over the last nine years.

2. Everything will change. Social media sites will come and go and domain names will be reimagined, but your voice will always be yours. Hone it, use it, appreciate it.

3. Never underestimate the power of story. Sharing our stories helps others feel less alone and teaches us how to live even better endings.

4. Nine times out of ten a post will be improved if you sleep on it and look again with fresh eyes in the morning. This can be applied to most situations, I find.

5. There will always be someone bigger, brighter, more successful. Someone with whiter teeth and shinier hair. Do your best to tune them out and keep your eyes on your own page.

6. DO YOUR OWN THING. Do your absolute very best to not be a watered-down version of someone else. There are a lot of people online and after a while they all start looking the same. Proudly stand out in your own way. Be YOU in all your messy fabulous glory.

In a completely unplanned turn of events, Blogging from the Heart is currently enrolling — we start Monday May 4th :)

Polaroids | SusannahConway.com
First, the year in stats:

Number of teeth removed: 1
Number of teeth straightened: all of them
Number of first dates: 1
Number of second dates: 0
Number of photographs shot: 20,000+
Number of books created: 1
Number of new courses created: 2
Number of hours getting inked: 11
Number of trips abroad: 0
Number of years on the planet: 41
Number of personal realisations: too many to count

2014 was a year in two halves. The first half was all about recovering from my dating escapades in the previous year. I didn’t consciously choose to not date this year but it’s turned out to be what I needed the most: time to get back to centre and ground into what makes me me. And I was doing really well — the Sacred Alone was born out of the delicious mindfulness of the first part of the year and I felt more connected to Source than I have done in a loooong time.

But then the book creation process took over.

The Breakfast Club | SusannahConway.com

Shooting Londontown was creatively challenging in the best possible way, and physically exhausting in the worst way. In order to stay focussed on the project and get everything done I let myself consciously numb out for a while — six months, in fact. Rather than deal with the big emotional stuff of life I did the work I needed to do — photographing the city, running my beloved courses, staying on top of admin and blogging when I could — then let myself watch a LOT of Netflix while resting my bones in the evenings.

Exploring the city with my cameras was an adventure in itself and while I felt stressed about the project more often than I’d have liked, there were many moments of pure joy as I rediscovered this beautiful (and maddening) city. It felt really good to sink into my photography for a while, though I learned it’s not possible to develop two big projects at the same time. My plans for the oracle deck had to be put on hold as there just wasn’t enough space in my head (or hours in the day).

I speak the new stories | SusannahConway.com

I hit my deadline early December and now, as predicted, I’ve been sick for three weeks. It makes me realise how effectively my stress levels suppress any potential illness! I’m used to this pattern of manic creation and then full-body shut down, so I don’t imagine it’ll be changing any time soon.

All in all it’s been one of the fastest years of my life. New friendships were made and others were deepened. My relationship with my nephew got sweeter with every day that passed. My love and appreciation of my family is never-ending and absolute. I adore living in London and don’t have any plans to leave just yet. My teeth are now straight after a year persevering with Invisalign, and my body is miraculously still in shape, thanks to working with Carrie at the gym.

Christmas fair | SusannahConway.com
I faced a few demons this year, and though I numbed out for much of it, as noted above, I’m heading into 2015 with a renewed sense of what I need and what I want. I’m also bursting with creative ideas I can finally start tackling — hallelujah! — but first I must prepare myself for an operation in January. I’m having my fibroids removed and need to get my head around that — both the op itself and the recovery afterwards — but once that’s done it’s GAME ON.

Fave books of the year: The Radiance Sutras | The Book of Love and Creation | The Dance of the Dissident Daughter | Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

Fave music of the year: Bombay Bicycle Club | Asgeir | Bat for Lashes | City and Colour

Fave moment of the year: the day I looked after Noah, just me and him, and he told me he loved me (unprompted) about 150 times

Second fave moment of the year: Noah figuring out how to call me on his mum’s mobile phone

Fave photo of the year:

In the field | SusannahConway.com

Fave posts of the year:  The (delicious) truth about getting older | How to access our inner wisdom | On aching and love | 25 things you don’t know about me (maybe) | Delaying the big reveal | The end of woo woo | Sometimes you need a creativity reboot | The humans of Londontown | Inhabiting the soft animal of my body | Things I want to remember no. 12 | On wholeness & loving ourselves realistically | My beauty essentials

Thank you for coming here and visiting me in this space. Next year I’ll be celebrating NINE years of blogging and it is still such a joy to be here I honestly can’t imagine ever stopping. Thank you for your kindness and your comments, both here and wherever else we connect on social media. The web has woven us all closer together and I’m so grateful for that, aren’t you? xo

Other years in review: 2013 :: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009

__________

Ps. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/December break and are feeling ready for 2015. Choosing my word for next year has been made extra special thanks to all the lovely connecting and sharing happening in the Find Your Word Facebook group — I think we may have supercharged all our words in the process! I’ll share mine here on Thursday next week!

from 2006
[my artsy period circa 2007]

I’ve been blogging for eight years as of yesterday. Eight YEARS! It was a couple of months after my 33rd birthday, one month after the first anniversary of his death. It felt like such a daring thing to do (still does sometimes) but I knew I wanted to join in with the few friends I’d made online. I wanted to write stuff on the internet, too! I didn’t know if I’d have anything to say. I didn’t know if I’d keep at it. I only had a film camera so didn’t know how I’d share photographs. I worried that people would find out who I was so I never revealed my surname. I didn’t tell my mum I had a blog for the first three years. If I’d been able to articulate what I was searching for back then it I probably would have said I wanted to be seen. Not in a showy me-me-me way — rather, I was very carefully shedding the layers of invisibility my grief had wrapped me in. Starting a blog, even if no one read it, was my way of stepping out of my cocoon. It was my first public declaration of healing.

And it completely changed my life.

I don’t know how or why the universe guided me to find that first blog in 2006. Or why I left that first comment. Or how it was I found the courage to write that first post of my own. But it did, and I did, and now I am here. And it hasn’t exactly been a straight line from there to here, but this blog, in all its various incarnations, has been my constant companion. So while it may only be some words and pictures floating around on the internet, this space has come to mean everything to me. A virtual through-line that’s brought community. Friendships. Purpose. Direction. I’ve found all of this and so much more.

CRAZY.

Thank you for being here. I’ve no doubt that I’d still be writing even if not a single soul passed by, but I gotta be honest — it’s more fun when we hang out together :)

The space that started it all (though, sadly, not the first post — this is probably the 10th):

My first blog home | SusannahConway.com

sea
First, the year in stats:

Number of teeth removed: 1
Number of moles removed: 1
Number of stitches: 3
Number of muscles built: a lot
Number of years on the planet: 40
Number of first dates: 6
Number of second dates: 1
Number of third dates: 0
Number of new tattoos: 2
Number of trips abroad: 1
Number of new courses launched: 1
Number of book contracts signed: 1
Number of years deleted from my blog: 3 (2006 – 2008)

I feel ready to say goodbye to 2013. After all the outward movement of last year, 2013 has been positively hermit-like in comparison. I started January wading through the depression my return to London had triggered, and for the rest of the year my goal has been to heal myself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Knowing I couldn’t do this on my own I reached out for help and found Wendy, my therapist, and Carrie, my personal trainer. I’ve been diligently working with these two wonderful women (who are both Americans living in the UK, interestingly) each week and the progress I’ve made in both my physical fitness — planks and push ups weren’t even on my radar last year — and emotional health has been enormous.

spin
Of course, committing to an inward journey like this has meant I’ve been less present online this year. I’ve been plugging away at this biz of mine since I created my first ecourse back in January 2009 — after four years of steady growth, and a LOT of time at the computer, it was time to pull back and devote energy to my offline life. This hasn’t been the most comfortable transition, but it was definitely necessary. As I gave myself space to figure stuff out, I also started online dating again, and though I haven’t had that many dates the few I have had let me see the gap between my online and offline life needed to be tackled. My solution was to blank slate the first three years of this blog, a decision that’s helped me let go of the grief story I’ve felt defined by for so long and stand firmly were I am now.

As I greet the new year as a single woman, it’s clear the dating hasn’t been the greatest success, and while there’s a part of me that wants to quit, the desire for love and companionship still burns strong. I’ve made big strides in the direction of my dreams, and opened my heart in ways I hadn’t expected, so while this year didn’t bring me what I wished for, it’s certainly moved me closer — I have to believe that.

In summary, it’s been a quietly challenging year and I’m leaving it physically stronger, mentally clearer and emotionally humbler. I feel raw and opened, but rather than close down, I’m staying this way so I’m ready for whatever 2014 has in store for me.

contactstrip
Fave books of the year: Shockingly, I haven’t read any fiction this year, but I’ve had non-fiction coming out my ears. Some of the most useful include The Highly Sensitive Person, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, True Refuge, Writing Down Your Soul

Fave music of the year: Gabrielle Aplin | London Grammar | Haim

Fave moment of the year: with Noah in the John Lewis loos

Fave week of the year: The week away with my family in May was wonderful, and my birthday trip to NYC in February was just what I needed, but it was our Redfox retreat in October that truly blew me away

Redfox retreat
Physical accomplishment of the year: maintaining a respectable level of physical fitness all year by going to the gym and working out with Carrie — her arrival in my life has been such a blessing.

Bonus physical accomplishment: giving up gluten has transformed my body, in a really good way. Decades of digestion issues have finally been resolved.

Fave posts of the year: Journaling & me: a love story | 40 lessons from 40 years | Eight years | This boy | Three | Notes on being a hermit | The exercise-hater’s guide to loving the gym | How I shoot with my iPhone | This is why therapy rocks

I’ll be finishing my workbook tomorrow with candles, incense and a heart full of intention. Thank you for sharing this space with me this year. I know I haven’t been here as much — in all honesty it’s been weird not to be able to blog about every aha as I had it! — but I’ve got plans for some ace new stuff in 2014, and I think you’re going to like it. xo

Other years in review: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009

__________

Wishing you all a peaceful end to 2013 — I’ll be back here on Wednesday with my word of the year (have you picked yours yet? The workbook helped me nail mine down, so give that a try if you’re still undecided. Then tell me what it is on Wednesday :)

...12345... last