Remembering we are ALL the same

Remembering we are ALL the same |


I wanted to repost a Love Letter here to give anyone who’s curious a taste of the sort of content I share in my fortnightly emails. They’ve taken over from blogging for me and it’s feeling really good to share in this more intimate way. This week’s email seemed to strike a chord with many so I’m sharing it here in its entirety. You can sign up for the Love Letters over on this page xo


“When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides.”



Hello loves!

If you subscribe to a few newsletters like mine you’ve probably been getting emails lately about how to navigate this world when it feels so upside down. There is bad stuff happening everywhere and with so many different forms of media available we are learning about it faster and more viscerally than ever before. It’s impossible not to see it, not to feel the grief and fear and anger that is warranted when faced with the brutal reality of what humans are capable of doing to other humans. I’m not qualified or even remotely intelligent enough to be able to tell you how we can make any of this better in the macro world but I wanted to share something that happened on Monday that put everything back into perspective for me.

I’d spent the weekend with family at my mum’s house on the coast. It’s the place I grew up and was the first time my tiny nephew, Sam, had visited our childhood home (and dipped his feet in the sea!) so it was a special few days. After saying big mushy goodbyes I got on the train and prepared myself for a noisy two-hour journey back to London. As usual, the train was packed, but I managed to get a seat by a grey-haired lady who was wearing a very proper pink suit. After half an hour of minding our own business we got chatting over our shared dislike of the crappy coffee they were selling on the train and from there a beautiful conversation blossomed. Margaret had been staying with her daughter in Dorset after arranging and attending her sister’s funeral the Friday before. Iris had died suddenly and out of the blue and as Margaret told me the story I had tears streaming down my face. They’d been best friends and spent every day together, going to bingo and arranging little trips away. Iris had never had children but she’d loved Margaret’s daughter like her own, and as I listened I couldn’t help drawing parallels between her life and my own. Margaret told me stories of their childhood (they were two out of six children!) and how she’d “borrow” Iris’s silk scarves and curlers only to get into trouble with her big sis :-) She told me Iris had been crazy about butterflies, so much that she always gave her something butterfly-themed for her birthday — this year it has been butterfly earrings. While walking in the woods the day after the funeral Margaret and her daughter saw the most beautiful butterfly flying past. They’d both looked at each other and burst into tears.

“That was definitely your sister,” I told her and shared all the strange things that had happened in the months after I’d lost my love. “They find ways to let us know they’re still around us.”

“But it’s not the same as them being here,” Margaret replied.

“No, it’s not,” I agreed and we were quiet for a moment.

“I wonder what will come out of this?” Margaret said and when she looked at me she looked just like my grandmother. “Maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams!” That made us both laugh.

“Maybe you will!”

After an hour of talking and sharing and crying (me mostly) we arrived at Margaret’s station. I took her bags down from the rack and we had the biggest hug ever. Margaret asked my name and wished me all the best and I told her I would be thinking about that butterfly for the rest of the day. She waved to me from the platform as the train pulled away and as I settled back into my seat I immediately texted my sister.

In the cab on the way home I thought about how easy it is to fear others and how quickly that “otherness” disappears when we bravely take a moment to connect. I’m always very aware of how other people might perceive me because I have very visible tattoos on my arms. I’m probably the least threatening person you’ll ever meet, but my beloved ink is considered unpalatable by some and I fully expected Margaret (who’s in her 80s) to be wary of me. But she wasn’t. In fact, I think we were supposed to have a conversation that day. It’s not the first time I’ve been able to talk to someone about loss and grief as it was happening for them. ALL of us feel pain. ALL of us feel loss. We all want to be understood and appreciated and loved for who we are. Being human is actually really bloody hard and I truly believe we are all doing the best we can. When you consider where we are on the evolutionary scale, collectively we’re still toddlers. We’re still putting our fingers in sockets and burning our hands on the stove. We still lash out when we’re scared. We still hurt others when we’re hurt. Maybe it will take thousands of years for us to evolve past this stage, but I do believe it starts now. If we can stop and see that the “other” is simply us reflected back, maybe things will begin to change.


Desktop contemplation

Desktop wallpaper for July 2016 |


Click on the image above to download the wallpaper

(There are lots of other wallpapers + ebooks and meditation audios in the Inspiration Library which you’ll be able to access when you sign up for the Letters)


The August Break, 2016 |


It’s that time of year again! Back in August 2010 I realised I needed a break from blogging so decided to only post photos on my blog that month. I don’t remember if I kept this up, but I invited my readers to join in and just like that, the yearly August Break was born.

This is a community project that has no real rules – the idea is to simply take a photograph every day for the whole of August. That’s it. Pause, look around you and shoot what you see. Live inside each moment. Pay attention to what’s there. If it’s the summer where you are it’s a lovely way to be present to the moments that will be gone before you know it. If it’s the winter, what better way to liven up your day than with a creative project to play with? :-)

You can use any camera. You could shoot every day or every other day or just on weekends. You can share your photos or just enjoy taking them without sharing. You can start and not finish. You can join in at the end. Anything goes!

As always I’ve put together a list of photo prompts (can’t wait to see what everyone does with day 15!) and we have a Facebook group, Flickr group, blog roll and an Instagram hashtag so there are plenty of ways to gather as a community and discover the world through other people’s eyes.

We start on Monday!

Monthly reading for July 2016 |


This month’s cards are from the Mary-el Tarot

The first card I’ve drawn, The Magician, tells us we have everything we need inside us — all the potential, all the magic, all the inspiration needed to make change happen in our lives and in the world. If everyone remembered how powerful they were we could change this world overnight. This month I feel we’re being asked to remember this light inside us and to work towards integrating the light AND the dark we hold within. It would be so easy to let fear overtake our thoughts but that won’t solve anything. The second card, the three of Disks, reminds us that when we work together we can birth new life. It says to me: we are all in this together.

Questions to ponder:

What fears am I holding in my heart?
How can I begin to release these fears?
How does the light flow through me?

When you next leave the house look for opportunities to connect with someone you don’t know — chatting in a shop, in the line at lunchtime, on the bus, saying hello to a new colleague. When you get home journal about how it made you feel. Where you able to see any of your own experience of life reflected back in this person? Could you see how two humans can be the same even if they seem to be different? That the differences are really just an illusion?

I’m still thinking about Margaret’s butterfly <3

Sending you all my love,

Susannah xo





The Inside Story |


The Love Letters also include info about any courses that are currently enrolling plus discount codes. This week it was a £30 discount for The Inside Story — it’ll be sent out in the next Love Letter, too, I promise :-)


For the love of paper

Bella Grace magazine |
The very first time my name was mentioned in a newspaper was 1988. I was 15 and had won first place in a local painting competition. Seeing my name — and photo! — in the local paper was thrilling, and also a little embarrassing. But mostly thrilling.

The next time my name appeared was as a byline attached to an article in a national Sunday newspaper. I was 26-year-old mature student in the final year of a journalism degree, working as an intern for no money but a lot of experience. That first piece spun out into a regular weekly column and heralded the beginning of my short-lived but much appreciated career as a journalist.

Between then and now there have been many published articles in newspapers, magazines and websites. The loveliest thing is seeing my name in print never gets old — it’s always as thrilling as it was that first time. Obviously these days I mostly write here and I truly love the freedom to share whatever’s in my head or heart — I am the ruler of my own virtual queendom here and I like it! But there’s also a beautiful new magazine on the block and I’m thrilled — there’s that word again — to be a part of it.

Bella Grace is Stampington’s newest baby, a gorgeously tactile cross between a magazine and a journal. Imagine your favourites bits of the creative blogosphere mixed together with dreamy photography and inspiring words. As the internet takes over the world I’m glad there are still publishers creating magazines I can hold in my hand. I love my Kindle but I prefer paper books, and I adore Pinterest but I’d still rather collage images cut out of magazines. Bella Grace is now sitting in my pile of favourites, alongside Cereal, Kinfolk, Frankie and Flow. She’s a beauty :)


To celebrate the magazine’s launch I have a copy of the premiere issue to giveaway PLUS I’m adding THREE places in the September session of Journal Your Life which starts on Monday. So that’s 4 winners in total!

To throw your name in the hat, leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question: what’s your favourite way to get creatively inspired?

I’ll update this post with the winners’ names on Sunday and will be in touch by email to get your deets — good luck! xo

* And the winners are! Heather, Michelle, Francine and Danielle — emails coming shortly x

On my bookshelf

On my bookshelf |
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 journaling 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.

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.

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.

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.

Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest by Christina Baldwin

It will come as no surprise that I love this book — frankly, it’s like journaling porn. A pleasure — pun unintended — to read and work through, with Baldwin’s help you will grow as a journaler and writer, guaranteed.

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.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

This list would not be complete without mentioning this one. It was the Artist’s Way that helped me reconnect to my creative side as I worked through my bereavement. Cameron’s genius Artist’s Dates got me out of the house and back in love with my cameras. Affirming and nourishing.

So there you have it. A few of my most treasured books.

What books have changed you for the better? Please do share!

There are lots more over on my Pinterest Book friends board.


The elephant in the room

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.