My word of the year notebook

MIracles on the beach
I must admit, choosing such a super trendy de rigeur word for the year was a pretty smart move as I can’t seem to turn a page or click on a link without seeing it yet again. I’m experiencing daily miracles! But as lovely as that is the miracles I’m searching for this year will be happening in my flesh and blood world. To help me pay attention I’m keeping a notebook devoted to recording my miracles as they happen. Usually everything goes into my Moleskine journal, but I liked the idea of collecting my notes in one place with the hope that I’ll reach the end of 2014 with a notebook (or two — let’s be optimistic!) full of miraculous occurrences. I simply date each entry and outline what happened. Simple.

book of miracles
Going forward I might adopt this as a yearly practice — writing stuff down is always my first impulse, and this way I’m fusing attention and intention with a splash of mindfulness, too. When I’m away from home I jot down anything I want to remember in a text file on my phone (I use the Write for iPhone app which I highly recommend) — if you’re not a stationery addict like me you could easily keep a word of the year file on your smart phone or computer. The point is to pay attention to the opportunities you have to be/experience/practice your word each day.

I have four entries in the notebook so far, and already I’m feeling more open to the coincidences and surprises that usually go unappreciated. If it makes my heart jump, it’s a miracle; if it’s a wink from the universe, it’s definitely a miracle. It’s like I’m viewing my daily experience of the world through a refreshed lens and I really like it. This is the first time my word of the year has been more about receiving than doing. Accepting rather than changing (even if the change is good). Kind souls have been sending me links to miracle-related quotes all over socialmedialand — we’re nine days into the new year and my ship is pointing in the right direction.

My second miracle of 2014 happened last Saturday during a weekend by the sea with my family. Despite the blustery weather we took ourselves off to the beach to chase the waves and have hot chocolate and cake. All afternoon had been rainy and grey, but as we prepared to leave the cafe the most amazing sunset burst across the sky. We ran outside and stood in absolute wonder. It was the most incredible sunset I have ever seen – no joke. We just couldn’t get over it. The iPhone photos I snapped don’t even come close to the majesty we witnessed, but here’s a little taste:

sunset | SusannahConway.comsunset | SusannahConway.comsunset | SusannahConway.com

The year in review

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

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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 :)

Something for the weekend

letters

Hello loves, how was your Christmas break? I’m back home and missing my little blondie bear something fierce. It was the first time he’s really understood the ramifications of wish lists and Father Christmas, so it was heart-melting to see him excitedly opening the presents the big FC left by the fireplace. These are the moments we live for, eh?

Only a few links this week…

Shakshouka | 8 kale salad recipes | miso tahini soup

Sit on a small wooden bench with yourself

How to write

Don’t make smalltalk about my daughter’s appearance

‘Be all your selves’ — Joss Whedon’s commencement address

Sensitivity is beautiful

Something small, every day

And now I want to be an action figure too :)

Space Christmas. from Susannah Conway on 8tracks Radio.

Circles, cakes and magic

guardianThe truth is, I had no idea how the retreat would go. Meg, Sas and I had created a program we felt was juicy and inspiring, but there was no way of knowing whether the participants would get anything out of it. I swung between worrying it was all too simple to fretting that maybe it was too much. There were so many unknowns running alongside the reassurances that the food would be good (it so was!) and the venue was lovely.

As an introvert, albeit a confident non-shy one, I was also worried I’d find the retreat exhausting. I’m so used to being on my own I didn’t know if I could handle the energy of 19 women basically living together for five days. Sharing my world from behind a screen, book page or photograph is extremely comfortable for me — doing that out in public is something else altogether.

But as it turned out, it was one of the most illuminating, connected, nourishing and humbling experiences of my life.

visioning | susannahconway.comfriendship | SusannahConway.comFrom the moment we welcomed the first arrivals to the final farewell on the last day, we were carried along by something much greater than us. The pace of the days was perfectly in line with what everyone needed. The workshops and exercises stretched us all in ways we couldn’t have imagined (we were working right alongside our vixens). We stayed open to the witchiness that circles of women tend to bring, and we honoured our energy levels by retreating when we needed to. When I fell into bed each night I was tired, yes, but not depleted. Personally this was one of the greatest gifts of the week, discovering I can do this work and not be destroyed by it.

Every evening Meg, Sas and I would gather to prep for the next day, lying on each other’s beds, marvelling at how well it was going. It was such a joy to witness my two friends truly blossom into their roles as retreat leaders — you would have thought they’d been doing it for years (SO PROUD OF YOU GUYS!)

Esmeworking it outEach of us had a role to play – every woman in our circle brought something of herself to the group. We were a yurt full of equals, and that was exactly how I’d hoped it would be. There is something so powerful about being a witness to each other’s transformation. I’d seen it happen in my classes and have read about it in testimonials and emails, but to be there in person, looking into a person’s eyes as they tell me their story… I don’t really have words for it, actually.

Each woman went home with a map to her future and a tribe of women walking beside her. I returned home exhausted to my bones, yet also oddly filled up. I have a better idea of what I need to do going forward with my own goals and am ready to take that first step into the next chapter of my future. And part of that includes another Redfox retreat next year. This is just the beginning, in so many ways…

crows | SusannahConway.comyurt magic | SusannahConway.comThank you Amy, Amy Gretchen, Anne, Elizabeth, Esme, Fiona, Gerri, Jenny, Katherine, Kelly, Nicola, Rachel, Sarah, Susanne, Wendy and Yvonne for trusting us to be your guides for the week and letting yourselves be seen so beautifully. I’ll never forget it xo

everyonemess making | SusannahConway.comskystairwaywitchy nightGlastonbury Tor | SusannahConway.com
If you’d like to learn more about next year’s Unravel Your Story retreat you can sign up for the mailing list over here. We’ll be updating the page over the next few weeks, but I can already tell you the dates: November 4th – 10th, 2014