Staying sane in this connected world


I took an in-person meditation course recently and there was quite a bit of talk about how addicted we are to our phones. I definitely pick up my phone far too often during the day but after chatting with some of my fellow students I realised I’ve developed some pretty healthy phone habits. One woman told me she allows notifications from news apps so that when she wakes up the first thing she sees is the news — unless you’re an actual journalist or working in politics, why would you do that? I honestly couldn’t get my little head around it. In my late 20s I worked as a journalist at several national newspapers and was in the newsroom of one of the biggest here in the UK when the twin towers went down. I’ve had my fill of news to last me a lifetime and gave up reading newspapers and watching TV a few years back — the amount of emotional energy and empathing I gave to it all took away from my ability to create my own work. The news still filters down to me, of course — I’m online all day and don’t have my head in the sand, but this way I also don’t go searching for direct hits of worry, stress and disappointment. My ability to take care of my own emotional health and effectively do my work in this world has increased tenfold.

As someone who’s prone to depression I try to start (and live) my day as mindfully as I can. For what it’s worth, here’s how I manage my tech:

1. I’ve turned off ALL notifications from ALL non-essential apps. No news, no Facebook, no Instagram, no OKCupid, no nothing. The only notifications I see on my home screen are text messages from friends and family who have my actual phone number. Lately I also allow messages from Bumble (but they’re from men I’m chatting with so they’re welcome) and Uber. Everything else is OFF.

2. I have my phone on silent at all times. This means it makes no sound — no dings, pings or chimes. If someone calls me my phone vibrates. I often miss calls but I don’t mind that — I’m happy to call back at a better time. The only exception to this is when I’m with family and we might need to contact each other when we’re out of the house or if I’m meeting up with friends and I anticipate a “where are you?!” call. But during my regular working day the sound is off. Of course, this means other people’s bells and chimes drive me nuts — I’m not used to the sound so the constant dings just sound obnoxious to me, especially on a train journey ;-) #sensitivesunflower

3. In the same vein, my computer does not notify me of anything or make any noises. If I receive an email I will only know this when I open my email program. The only sounds I hear are from Spotify playlists. Oh, and I’m getting better about only checking email until 7pm. Being self-employed means my boundaries are pretty lax when it comes to my email availability, but I’m working on it.

4. I charge my phone in the kitchen. In my 14 months of living in this house it has never been taken into the bedroom (quite proud of that!). If I ever need to use an alarm I have a little clock I can use.

4. I switch my phone to airplane mode at 9pm every night (and I loved learning that Tim Ferriss aka Mr Productivity does this too). It all began when I got serious about my morning meditation practice. I use the Insight Timer app, which is obviously on my phone, and I soon realised how easy it was to fall into reading text messages (and let’s face it, hoping for Bumble replies) when I unlocked my phone to use the timer. Solution? Airplane mode. That way I’m not tempted to use my phone in the evening (better for the pre-sleep wind down) AND I don’t see any messages when I pick up my phone in the morning. It’s heaven, I tell you! I can meditate and do all the morning rituals I love, have breakfast and then turn off airplane mode when I’m ready to begin my day. I should add that I DO have a landline but only family members have that number.

So there you have it. Obviously this is just what works for me. I don’t have kids and I’ve no doubt my way of relating to my phone would be very different if I had schools and tweens and even bosses who might need to get hold of me urgently. But I still believe that no matter what you do and who’s dependent on you, nobody needs to get world news notifications on their phone. Save your attention for messages from the people you love. Start your day from that place. <3

Related reading: How to unhijack your mind from your phone

You can be woke without waking up to the news


The August Break returns!

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, loves!


Daily prompts for the August Break 2016 |


Once again I’ve created a list of photo prompts you can follow – or not, anything goes, remember? —  you could even use them as daily writing prompts with or without photos.

This year we can share our photos and gather as a community in several places: Instagram with the hashtag #augustbreak2016, Facebook and Flickr. Plus we have a blog roll so we can find new blogs to visit — head over to the main August Break page to add your blog.

Here’s to a delicious month of slowing down! xo

Is blogging dead?

Is blogging dead? No, is the short answer to that, and here's why... |


No, I don’t think it is, is the short answer to that question. My 10-year blogiversary is fast approaching and I’ve been noticing posts asking whether blogging has had its day. And while it’s true that blogging — as a platform and the way we use it — is evolving, I don’t think it’s about to suddenly disappear. We simply have more options for sharing our words, images and opinions online and where once the blog was the be-all and end-all now it’s just one of many.

When I started back in 2006 my blog was my only home on the internet. These days I’m sharing more consistently on Instagram and Facebook and the community-feel in both places reminds me of the halcyon days of that first year, back when I was doing it as much to connect with others as I was to (re)connect to my self. My online life has always been about creative expression in one form or another and when I launched my first course in January 2009 that creative expression ran parallel with the organic growth of my business. It was definitely “easier” to maintain my blog when I only had one course on offer. Now I have six running throughout the year and I always prioritise my course peeps and our groups over anything else. When I’m in the creative cave making something new I have very few brain cells left over for blog posts, so I truly admire those prolific online mavens who seem to have an endless supply of succinct sentences. Seriously — how do they do it?

I don’t believe in dialling it in, so if I have nothing to say I don’t try to force myself to get something on the blog just because it’s been silent for a few weeks. There’s enough noise online without me adding to the clamour. In theory I do want to be in this space more — I miss it! — but I also really like that my bean-spilling is being saved for my monthly Love Letters. It’s a transition that’s gradually happened over the last year or so, and even though I’m sharing with 20,000+ people each time, it really does feel more intimate. I’m not broadcasting it for general public consumption and I’ve been moved to tears by some of the tender replies I’ve received. In theory I could keep my personal sharing for the Letters and write more generally for the blog, but that’s not really how I write (all my writing is personal sharing, let’s face it ;-) Besides, I’m not a huge fan of the sort of sermonising blog posts that create a distance between the writer and reader. They make sense in a newspaper article or book but feel odd on a blog. I’m old school, I guess — I like my blogging to be personal.

There are hundreds of blog genres, which is why we can’t make any definitive statements about the future of blogging. There are so many different reasons why someone starts a blog in the first place. If I was to start all over again right now, would I set up a blog? Yes, absolutely. If you’re sharing your work with the world I truly believe you need a home on the internet and a static website just isn’t enough. While all those other social media outlets are “easier” to use — sharing a photo on Instagram takes a lot less effort than writing an 800 word blog post — having a blog as part your website gives you the space to express yourself on your terms.

Many of the posts discussing the possible end of blogging are only viewing it through an entrepreneurial lens — blogging as a hobby is not going anywhere. It’s where I started and in many ways it’s where I’d like to return. Creative expression is its own reward — even if I never ran another course I would continue to share online because I love it. Imagery, words, thoughts, inspirations. It’s the stuff that gets me up in the morning, quite frankly. If I hadn’t started a blog when I did my life after bereavement could have taken a very different path. Starting a blog brought me back to myself. It brought me community when I needed it and possibility when I thought I had none. Blogging will change and social media will evolve, but the community at the heart of it will continue to be the most important part for me.

So if you need me, I’ll be hanging out on Instagram and Facebook. I’ll be sharing my heart in my Love Letters. And every so often, when the muse strikes, I’ll be here, too. Blogging is far from dead for this blogger.

* * * * *

Now over to you — if there is anyone still reading my blog I’d love to know if your online reading habits have been changing. Do you still read blogs? Or are you hanging out on other social media platforms more? Maybe a mix of both? And to my fellow bloggers — are you still feeling the urge to blog? If not, what’s changed that for you? x

2015: The year in review

2015: The year in review |


First, the year in stats:

Number of websites created: 1
Number of first dates: 10
Number of second dates: 2
Number of surgeries endured: 1
Number of fibroids removed: 14
Number of weeks spent recuperating: 6+
Number of new courses created: 1
Number of trips abroad: 2
Number of years on the planet: 42
Number of personal realisations: ALL OF THEM

2015 has been a year in three acts: first came the surgery in January and the subsequent months of recovery. Next came my summertime flurry of yoga, dating and website building. And finally the licking of wounds before holing up in the Creation Cave for these final three months. While it’s been far from a fallow year, I feel I’ve been preparing the way for more to come in 2016 and beyond. The new website holds the space for more courses and books, the surgery and yoga cleared out a LOT of stuck energy, and the dating got me back on the horse, a wildly uncontrollable horse I may never tame but at least I’m trying.

I’ve barely blogged this year, preferring to share my heart in my monthly Love Letters, a space that’s felt so much more intimate. I’ll be celebrating ten years of blogging in April and in that time I’ve seen the social media landscape change so much. There are so many more places to stay connected to my peeps — I love Facebook and Instagram particularly — but the honest truth is I’ve missed my blogging mojo. I miss writing and I want to do more of it in 2016. I have an idea for my next book I plan to start fleshing out, and I have things on my heart that I feel ready to share.

I usually pen a more thorough assessment of the year but I’m not feeling the need to do it this year — I want to focus on what’s coming. I honour 2015 for all the lessons it brought me. It’s been a good year, all things considered, a year of preparation.

I am so ready for you, 2016.


2015: The year in review | SusannahConway.com2015: The year in review | SusannahConway.com2015: The year in review |


Favourite books of the year: The Rivers of London | Big Magic | Yes Please

Favourite music of the year: Flor | Lucy Rose | Dustin Tebbutt | Rae Morris | Fickle Friends | Vaults | Kina Grannis

Favourite tech (re)discoveries of the year: Spotify | Audible | Basecamp

Fave moment of the year: finding a certain unicorn card on my doorstep

Fave posts of the year: The myth of perfection | My house of belonging | The real inner circle | How I learned to live in my body | Lessons learned from nine years of blogging | The power of kindness | On opening to love (again) | One hundred words of now

Other years in review: 2014 :: 2013 :: 2012 :: 2011 :: 2010 :: 2009