Category: Life online
[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.
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):
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.
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.
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
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 :)
There’s an elephant in the room that I have to address. I touched on it in last week’s post — that was my attempt to let a little steam out of the pressure cooker, but it’s still building and now I have to say something.
I have blogger’s block. More specifically, there’s stuff I can’t talk about on the blog and it’s blocking the way for any other posts to emerge.
As some of you have guessed already, it’s the dating. Not that there’s anything major to report in that area right now, but I’m so acutely aware that current and future dates will be able to read my blog (some have been clever enough to try Googling “Susannah” and oh, there I am, plastered all over the bloody internet for all to see). Being famous in my own virtual living room is proving to be as much of a hindrance as I feared it might be. I mean, there’s SEVEN FREAKING YEARS of archives to explore — it’s like handing someone my diary. And yet it’s not. This blog is the public face of the last seven years. It’s what i felt comfortable sharing with the world, and there is plenty I have not shared. But when you dive into the archives for the first time… it’s overwhelming. God, it overwhelms ME sometimes.
I mention this because I don’t want to leave you guys hanging, and even though blogs are more like online magazines these days, this space remains personal for me. I have no intention to fill the pages with guest posts and impersonal Tips for Fixing Your Life. I started blogging to chronicle my healing journey, and here we are, nearly eight years later, and things have changed. A lot. The healing journey has morphed into a life lived with intention and curiosity. I share my stories and experiences because that is what I know. And I do it in the hope that it might be useful to someone else, and frankly, because it’s helpful for me, too. There have been many moments over the years when I’ve wondered why I think anyone would give a toss about me and my journey. But then I only have to look at the majority of the books on my shelves to see that sharing stories and experiences is the language I understand best. Leading by example. Reporting back from the trenches. Yes and yes, I love all of that. The books that have had the greatest impact on my life are all personal tales from women sharing what they know. Writers like Julia Cameron and Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Dawna Markova and Ann Lamott. May Sarton. Joan Didion. Erica Jong and Natalie Goldberg. Diana Athill and Cheryl Strayed. Anais Nin and Sharon Olds. I’m not saying that my writing comes even close to the magic of this tribe of extraordinary women, but these are the writers who’ve inspired and supported me over the years.
I wrote the first part of this post yesterday. This morning I woke with a possible solution — perhaps it’s time to blank slate this space. To let go of the literal archives that weigh me down. I no longer need the ballast of my story to justify my presence here. As I wrote the book in 2011 I knew I was putting the past to rest; now it’s time for the blog to catch up. So as of right now I’ve started archiving the archives. 2006 has gone, 2007 is next. Then 2008. Maybe some of 2009. I won’t get rid of everything as there are still plenty of useful posts here, but I’m ready to let go of the heaviness of the story. It’s not me anymore and honestly, it hasn’t been for a long time. I honour the past — and yes, i still have my moments — but I am more interested in the future. And the awkward humbling reality of the present.
I wrote this poem last year after a morning of internet reading. Even after seven years of blogging I still get triggered. Social media in all its forms has the power to keep us connected, and it’s a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes knowing everybody’s business all the time can be draining. It’s hard to keep our eyes on our own page when “everybody else” seems to be rocking the shizzle out of their life/business/relationship (delete as appropriate).
Sometimes it’s inspiring to see what’s possible, to join the slipstream of positivity and HELL YEAHS! and be reminded that if she can do it, so can I! *shakes pom poms* But then there are the craptastic days when all it takes is a single Facebook update read in the wrong moment to make you wonder why you even bother.
Does this ever happen to you?
I’m self-aware enough to know that any time another person’s blog or bit of news or whatever triggers me, it’s because it’s probably something I aspire to myself. I also know that anyone I have a strong reaction to (read: don’t like) is likely just reflecting back the things in ME I struggle with. (When you really start to get a hold of that last point it’s amazing what you start to learn about yourself!)
I shared The Permission Slip in a Love Letter to my mailing list last week and was blown away by the amount of replies I got back. This is (still) a brave new world we are navigating. The hyper connectivity of life online brings extraordinary blessings and opportunities with it, yet more than ever we need to figure out how to exist in a space that also provokes strong emotion at times. I’ve blogged about all this before and am still trying to find my way to balance the inspiration with the energy sucking why-do-i-bothers. I love the internet, and I love that my work is internet-based. But sometimes I also need to retreat and remind myself to plug into my own wise counsel. The truth that I see with my eyes. That I feel in my heart. No Facebook updates required ;-)
As a little gift, Jo and I have created a downloadable PDF of The Permission Slip for you:
Permission Slip 1 (beige) | Permission Slip 2 (purple)
Read it. Print it out. Share it along. Remember it. I hope you find it comforting if you’re ever caught in the eye of the social media crazies (I’ve pasted mine into the front of my journal, just to be sure).
Ps. Roll on the August Break! I really cannot wait :)