All posts by Susan Clarke

What I Know For Sure

This started as a ramble.  I have horrible cold.  I decided to write.  In the end,  I get to a valuable and important point…what I know for sure.  Hang in with me! 

I am feeling humbled by marketing.  In the past three weeks we’ve worked very intently to build our list and get the word out about our online program Get Unstuck, Build Your Mojo.

We’ve tried a variety of different approaches.  We ran a free  training and when our own efforts to market were not as successful as we wanted in terms of attracting new people.  We connected to a wonderful Facebook advertising person, who helped us create a new campaign.  Good news: we had an amazing response, our largest registration yet for our free training.  We actually had to upgrade our software because of the numbers. We were thrilled.

However, due to a crash of Customer Resource Management tool, the emails to ensure all could join the training, did not go out as scheduled.  Still, some people made it, but we realized we’d failed the folks who had taken that step and signed up.

We decided to provide an encore training, to make sure we provided those people an opportunity to connect with us live.  Long and short of it, not many people showed up for that training. We were disappointed because I believe the training was rich and worth the time. Again, our ROI was low.

In other words – if numbers and sign-ups are the success measure, we failed.

We also tried an Instagram photo contest.  Which got me a bit more up to speed and a few folks engaged.  But again, not what we had hoped in terms of numbers.

Now moving into the final days before Get Unstuck, I find myself a bit discouraged.

I really like the Get Unstuck program we’ve created, and I know each time we run it, the people engaged share the value they get from it.

However, as a pathway for pulling our tribe and finding our people, I am just not sure what we’re doing is working.  It is possible our tribe is finding us AND it is just small.  Well – small in numbers – not in heart!

During this time spent marketing, I have enjoyed building new relationships.  One with our new Assistant, Allison.  Another with Ana and her Facebook team.  In addition, all those folks who have signed up, showed up, and participated in the training and took a chance at the Instagram context.  I do value all of these connections.

Still,  today as I dealing with a bad cold, smokey wildfire weather (since when did this become a regular August event), and not having hit my goal for sign ups for the Get Unstuck – I am bit disheartened.

In the past few weeks,  we have also spent a lot of time with some of our corporate clients.  We’ve been engaged in few leadership development programs.  That too, has played a factor in my disheartened state.

In each situation, we had been bought in because of someone strongly endorsing the programs we designed and delivered to them over a decade ago.  In each situation, the impact those programs had on their careers was profound.  So when looking for a leadership design team to partner with their current companies they called us.

That’s the good news, which was both humbling and rewarding to hear.

However, even though we were hired because of our passion and commitment to build real relationship and ensure that relationships matter equal to results, we have had to wrestle and witness very high value pieces of our content get taken away or dismissed at the highest levels of these organizations.

For me, this too is incredibly discouraging.  I know we’ve done our best not to water down our content.  We’ve worked to partner and be honest and real when we did not agree.  I’m grateful for that.

But here’s the deal for me and where I am realizing I do have some things I KNOW to be TRUE!

When I was young and launching into my career – I fell.  I collapsed and was soon facing cancer instead of rising on my career path.  As a result of these health challenges,  I spent my early twenties trying to get back up on my feet.  My best entrepreneurial efforts were spent rallying my own efforts to turn around my health and creating a road ahead that had a better prediction then 3 to 6 months.

The path that generated the energy and motivation to walk that road was a clear and unwavering desire to be real, show up in relationships, face the differences, and find a way to be ME and build a WE.

That focus gave me the heartbeats and the will, day in and day out,  to breath and face the next mountain.

I wonder if I hadn’t had to take that cancer, medical journey then would I have realized that relationships are the foundation of health, wealth and community.

I fear that too many people in their twenties are looking up at super rich or super brilliant entrepreneurs and being motivated by that level of genius and success. I’m not saying that’s wrong, but it is missing something crucial.

I doubt many look at my life and say – wow – I wish I had learned that relationships matter as much or more than results, when I was young.

HERE’S WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE:

No amount of money, business success, or brilliance is as important over time as learning how to relate. Nothing.

Learning to be vulnerable in the face of what life throws at you is way more courageous than being brilliant!

Being curious even in the face of cancer or you version of hell – is much more life-enhancing over time than always winning and getting the numbers right!

This is what I know for sure.

CrisMarie often tells me I don’t say it enough that I do believe I have an answer for whatever ills you.    It is true I may not say it in a voice of hubris and over- confidence.

The problem for me is that the answer I offer isn’t easy or certain – it is a path riddled with uncertainty. However, it is a path of tremendous reward.

Get Unstuck as been built on that path.  If you are inclined to take a path towards relational health and have the courage to launch yourself into the unknown – may be only with a slither of a dream –  join us!

We start on AUGUST 21st!

 

 

Shifting My Focus

I am finding that between writing our Life Tidbits Blog and Business Blog, not to mention the writing deadline we are on to get our Couples book out in late October, that my personal blog is just not thriving!

However, I am not sure I want to give it up.  For any of you inclined to get regular tips, tools and reflections about our life and work, please go to the thrive website or links above to sign up for one or both of the above mentioned regular releases.

As for this space, I have various thoughts.  What I enjoy about this site is that I am often experimenting with ideas.  I don’t spend a great deal of time editing and I like that creative freedom.

I have long struggled with being dyslexic and spelling and grammer are a constant source of angst for me!  Here I usually attempt to do general edits but don’t dwell on words or correctness.

I want that to continue.  I’d even like to find more just writing and sharing.  I love to create more dialogue and hear more from folks following.

Like I just had a most awesome birthday week!  It started while at Haven and has carried on for a few days now.  I have felt blessed and very grateful that I have the friends and lifestyle I have!

There are a lot of things that are super crazy in the world right now.  Like having a President who wants to be like a North Korean dictator and have us stand at attention to him.

I read things like this and I weep.  How can this be our President? Yet apparently not only is he the President, he still has a strong following.

That is not even the worse of news.  It is so challenging to read about injustice, pain, suffering and places in the world where active warfare is a common happening.

I don’t know how to change the world.  I do believe my best effort comes through meeting the differences I face everyday with vulnerability and curiosity.

Maybe that’s why I am intrigued by the Jeep Wrangler.  My birthday has offered me a series of Wrangler rides and drives!

The Wrangler is a car that on the one hand is rugged and able to drive off-road – however, with the hardtop off and only the frame holding me in – the vulnerability is much more present.

Sometimes I feel like that.  I am relatively tough.  I can go off-road and into wild places. But really I am just riding through this life quite exposed, heart- opened, which does mean it’s a bit more easily broken.

I actually believe that’s a good thing.  That cracked heart let’s so much more light in!

So it is critical to have regular ways to play, find joy in the simple things like swing sets and rental jeeps!  Remembering my friends and being curious about those that are so different in their values and choices.

My current plan is to spend some more time just writing like this and posting.

I’d love to hear from you.  What do you think of the new plan?  Also, how do you stay sane?  Also feel free to share what’s on your mind and heart.

 

 

Sharing My Whirlwind Relational Journey!

I so want to get in some writing!  There is much processing, shifting and integrating through my being!  Life has been a bit of a whirl wind!

Living Alive Phase

Selfie with Carole from the Phase!

Last Friday around this time Carole Ames and I were having lunch, laughing and unwinding from our Living Alive Phase 1 experience.  The month is always a very special and transformational journey for me.  This past month was no exception.  Having said that, each is unique and offers me many different lessons.

This month I was amazed at the younger people in the circle.  I found myself reminded of my first Phase when I was in my early twenties, trying to find a reason and way to stay alive and on the planet!  The stories of these folks was different but underneath the differences there sure were threads of the same desire to connect, to find purpose and somehow know that in those dark and painful places there’s a way through.

It was inspiring to be a part of the range of ages, careers and life experiences!  So much richness and depth.

Yes, the 26 days is intense and this year due to some additional meetings I only had one day off.  So when I was heading home, I was aware of my fatigue.  But hey, I wasn’t about to let that stop me from jumping in to celebrate my Mom’s 90th birthday.

Mom’s Big 90 Celebration

Mom Waving to the crowd at Blake Island after a Happy Birthday sing-along!

Fortunately I was not the composer or coordinator of all the activities!  That was my sister, Penny and her family.  They were awesome.  Plus, Melissa, my other sister, and her husband Monte, made the Friday evening I missed quite the party at the Northgate Plaza!  I just got the joy of being on the cruise to Blake Island and having some great moments with family.

I know without The Haven and the many lessons I have learned about relating, loving and finding a way to hold multiple storylines, I would never have been there celebrating with my Mom.  I am very grateful!

Speaker Session

Coming home hasn’t really offered much time to unwind.  CrisMarie and I have been wanting step more fully into speaking and had been introduced to an amazing woman, Renee Rogen, who is a speaker and now focuses on mentoring others in the business of speaking.  Renee arrived for a two day intense strategy session just after I got back to Whitefish!

I was very grateful she came to our town and our home.  I also was humbled by all there is to know and learn about speaking!  The two days were great for us.  I believe we have a path and a clear way to engage and make more of our speaking going forward.  I am looking forward to that AND was also grateful that though Renee did encourage to get started, she also suggested not to try to do everything at once!

Taking The Next Speaker Step

Of course, a great opportunity presented itself less than 24 hours after Renee left for me to step up on the stage here in Whitefish as part of a local event S{peck}: The Business of Mountain Living  (this goes to the FB Live feed) I had agreed to be a speaker before I left for Phase and this was going to be one of the few times I was speaking alone.  CrisMarie was already booked for a NYC trip so I thought I’d give it a go.

I had done a little prep with the leadership team while at Haven.  However, I decided to be a bit more personal and vulnerable from the stage after our two day session with Renee.  I was nervous but I am super glad I did it!!!!

My topic:  Business is Personal: The Challenges of Living and Working Well Together in a Mountain Community.  I think I was really speaking to the challenges of living and working well together in any community.

In our world today there is so much suffering, disengagement and apathy from what I believe is compartmentalization and fear of fully bringing all of me to everything I do.  We are so busy trying to do it right, be good, stay positive or create some type of work/life balance – that we don’t show up.  We manage. We let our stories control us. Instead of checking things out and sitting down next to someone who’s different or challenging, we don’t!  We believe our stories.  We miss the chance to share ourselves and to relate!  That’s deadly.

I learned that long ago when I was in my twenties.  The Haven taught me a way to do things differently!  I have been walking that path ever since – not perfectly and not without some additional scars, heartbreaks and the odd two-by-four to get me back to the basics – breath, be real, risk being messy and stay curious about those around me!

So I was happy that last night  I decided to share a few moments from archives.

In so many ways, I believed I had the circle Phase folks with me, my family and my friends.  It was special.

Find Your Mojo in Montana – Up Next!

SkyDancer and Promise Saying Hello!

I have this crazy idea now that I will have a few days of rest and recovery – but really I imagine life is going to keep going at a rapid relational pace!  Find Your Mojo in Montana is kicking off next Thursday and I am getting excited and reconnected with Bobbi and the horses!

Life is good!

Hearing The Music With The Horses

When I was young I was a lot like our puppy, ZuZu, full of life, vibrating, sprinting towards friends, and jumping or bowing to invite play.  As I watch ZuZu interact with Rosie and they wrestle each other on the floor, I can feel my heart swell, and I touch a memory of that time in my life.

Sometimes I want to go back there.  I want to be that innocent, playful, and alive.  Sometimes I do touch that vibration, and I experience joy.

Just the other day I had one of those moments with a horse, Luke, a mustang at Stillwater Ranch.  Bobbi, my horse whisper partner in our Find Your Mojo in Montana workshop, was giving me a spring refresher riding lesson.

Though I have found my mojo and ease with creating relationships with the horses on the ground, I am still new to riding.  Plus, I had taken most of the winter off to play on the mountain skiing.

This day everything with the horses felt a touch awkward.  However, instead of being rattled by my nerves and fears, I took a breath, acknowledged my anxiousness and bowed to my four-legged friends.  They gathered around and pushed at me a bit, reminding I needed to be grounded in me, not focused on them.

That’s really all they wanted – me to show up.

I did.

I moved through the pasture greeting each of my friends.

I felt calmer and ready to make my way to Luke, to see if he wanted to ride.

Setting up to ride was the next huddle. I struggled because I didn’t remember all the steps to getting the soft saddle on and the side-pull harness set up right. In all worries about getting the buckles, straps, and blanket just right, I was totally disconnected from myself and Luke, and he let me know it.

Luke bobbed his big head and was mouthing at me.  Finally, I got the message, took a breath, and slowed down.

Once up on Luke, I struggled to find my balance.  I started to get overly focused on the techniques I had learned, trying to assume a certain command in my role as leader.  But Luke wasn’t interested.  For a while it seemed more of a power struggle than a dance.

I had to catch myself and remind myself what I love about working with horses.

 I may want to have a great relationship with them, but first I must get into a great relationship with me!

I’ve had to accept that I’m not naturally smooth and graceful.  No. I am a bit rougher on the edges. More made up of lines, scars, and rust – than silk, sweet, and smooth.

But I haven’t always been willing to accept my lines, scars, and rust.  I wanted to look good.

So yes, I started out innocent, and somewhere along the way I made a decision to protect that child by creating barriers, walls, and defenses.  My armor saved me from feeling pain, loss, and giving up entirely.

What I recognize now is I’ve became a bit over identified with the armor, and lost my connection to my little girl inside, Susie (as I was called through my earliest years).

I have done lots of work to breakdown those barriers between me and the world around me. What’s left are those lines, scars and rust.

When I accept myself – including lines, scars and rust – something special happens.  Maybe it’s cracks that let the light and music back in.  When I’m with the horses the music comes.

So, once I finally relaxed and settled into riding and dancing with Luke…

once I stopped trying to prove anything and just be me…

I heard my music playing and suddenly Luke’s joined in.

It was a magical moment.

This was the first time I’d heard the music while riding.

Yes, I regularly hear the music of the horses when I coach in the round pen or walk into the pasture with them. It’s what I love about working with the horses.

They call, and all they’re asking is for me to show up – not perfect, not powerful – just present!

What a lovely song.

Until we meet again,

Susan

P.S. Why not join us for Find Your Mojo in Montana  and see if you can hear the music of the horses?

Cell-shifting, Energetic Learning – Now That’s Mojo!

For holiday gifts I put together a 2018 Mojo Moments Calendar, filled with photos from the magical Mojo Moments of 2017.  My heart felt warm, remembering the many amazing times with friends, clients, colleagues, new faces and the horses.

So much learning and growing!  What most people don’t realize is this type of learning isn’t cognitive or intellectual, it’s energetic, body-based and cell-shifting. It can take your mind days, weeks, or even months to catch up. 

Just before the holidays Andrew, my first Mojo Intensive client, returned with friends for his third Mojo Intensive.  It was a remarkable couple of days for me.

I love all the shifts and changes I have noticed in Andrew.  I’ve known Andrew a long time and what I have witnessed during his mojo journey has been deep and sustaining.  He reports similar shifts though he can’t figure what it is he’s doing differently.

He shared how he has seen me grow, develop and shift over our journey.  I, too, can struggle to explain what it is I am doing differently!

That’s why I thought I’d write about our journey together.  Because as I mentioned I have noticed deep and sustainable changes in Andrew.  I imagine he is also a mirror for me!  

My mind doesn’t seem to have a cognitive or intellectual explanation for what seems like a deep, cellular shift that has been taking place as I have developed my Equus Coaching practice.

That shift isn’t just showing up with the horses.  Just as I have noticed Andrew as different, people have given me the same feedback. Apparently,  I am more open, lighter, easier to connect to and with.  That feedback is coming when no horses are present!

However, I do believe the horses and my Mojo moments have played a big part in the shift!

Mojo Intensives were the initial offering I put out into the world when I got my Equus Coaching certification.  Andrew was the first to sign up!  I loved creating that initial Mojo Experience.  I loved wrapping the time with the horses with coaching and other integrative types of experiences – like massage, tarot cards and simply walking and enjoying Whitefish, MT.

However, I think the moment that stood out to me at that first intensive was when Andrew spoke of connecting to his body when he touched his heart.  I, from the edge of the arena could feel the shift.  That shift stuck.

That moment made me  want more Mojo Intensives or Mojo Moments!!

In 2017, my offerings expanded!  We launched Find Your Mojo in Montana and ran the weekend program two different times.  Each rich with learning, connection and transformation. 

I believe for all involved and certainly for me!  I loved how my relationship with Bobbi grew and how CrisMarie, Bobbi, and I really started to weave our different styles of wisdom into the program!  I also loved that Becky joined us as our photographer and though she was taking pictures she also was so willing to open, learn and grow with us!

This past year we also had corporate leadership team members come down and spend a few days working on their team dynamics with us and the horses.  It was powerful to witness leaders discovering more about themselves while developing stronger relationships.  It was great to hear about, later back at the job site, how powerful and applicable the Equus coaching had been!

I also discovered ways for simply getting more people out to Stillwater HorseWhisper Ranch. We started a Saturday morning, Come Play With The Horses, which ran a number of times.  Each with new people joining and discovering what all this Mojo and Equus talk is about.

I think I am still working on my message.  Much like Andrew when he shares that he knows there’s a shift and yet he struggles to name what he’s doing differently.  I still haven’t quite found the right words to help people get that this Equus/Mojo work isn’t about horses. 

It’s about discovering yourself through developing a relationship with the horses that offers clarity, congruence and mirroring. 

I think of this as an energetic learning.  It’s not cognitive or intellectual, it’s body-based, heart felt and cell-shifting. 

There aren’t many words exchanged, at least not between you and the horses.  Yet, there is an amazing amount of communication and energy being transmitted. 

Sometimes it takes days, weeks and even months before your mind picks up the insights that your body discovered through your various engagements with the horses.

I imagine that is why both Andrew and I may not be able to share with ease what’s different. 

But I know my heart is more open, and I am more able to breathe and listen through my entire cellular system.

Not to mention I laugh and feel joy way more often – even in these wild and crazy times!

I highly recommend spending some time with horses. Heck, even better, come to Montana and spend a few days with us!!!  Our next Find Your Mojo in Montana happens in May.

Want something just for you?  Reach out and I’ll be happy to design a Mojo Intensive customized for you!!

My Safe Haven (s)

Most of you reading know I love The Haven!

Those of you who have been following me over the years also know writing is a very important part of my life integration process.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that there was also a Haven right here in Whitefish, MT and this Haven is for writers!

Chester and Andrew

When I discovered The Haven here it did not just show up because of writing!  I learned that Laura Munson, the NY Times best seller writer that runs Haven Writing Retreats was also the owner of one of my favorite horses at Stillwater Horse Whisper Ranch, Chester.

I knew we had to meet and I was working on my book, Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep.  So I took the Haven Writing Retreat.  It was awesome!

Still haven’t finished CCW&D but I have no doubt that retreat supported the completion of our book, The Beauty of Conflict, Harnessing Your Teams Competitive Advantage.

Both Havens rest fondly in my heart – so when the invitation came from Laura Munson to write a submission – What is Your Safe Haven – well I had to give it a go!!

This week my piece is being published!!!!

Yes – a formal publication of my more personal work!!!  How cool is that!  My Safe Haven

Of course I wanted to share through the many avenues I know.  To get out the word about The Haven – The Haven on Gabriola and for writers The Haven here in Montana!

Please read, please share and let me know about where your Safe Haven is?

What Makes You Click?

I am working on my Marketing mojo and I want to know – what makes you click?

I think I am suffering from a bit of marketing fatigue.  As a business owner marketing is my job!  Plus as newly published authors we are our marketing and outreach arm.  So I know it’s my job!  I also know I struggle.

I want to find a path that fits my values and is aligned with what might attract me.  However, I don’t generally click or download easy steps or simple solutions from Facebook.   I am guessing it is because I am not at all convinced that what comes easy is really what’s helpful!

Honestly I have tried various build-your- 6- Figure business programs. Most of these are offered by folks like myself, possibly more marketing types,  who have created solutions that when followed build your list or get more people clicking and signing up for programs.

Almost everyone of them speaks of the importance of identifying your clients pain points and being able to provide some direct simple solution for easing that pain.

However, when I have followed the steps:

Defining a niche.

Surveying to identifying my target audience’s pain points.

Following the latest FB ad guru’s template that offers a more personal story and reason for someone to sign up for our website.

Designing worksheets, webinars, videos, 3 Steps, 5 Steps – all offering value that I do believe works and is worth trying.

I haven’t found it particularly successful.  Yes, the list has growth – but not like the promise.  We get small, incremental growth.  I’ve also lost some people.  I have gained more then I have lost but still I am not getting those wild and amazing numbers talked about or apparently happening for some others.

I do believe we write material that adds value and is designed to support people finding their inner guidance and developing a strong mind-body relationship.

I know it’s not a quick fix.  It’s not going to be the formula that directly gets six figures into a  bank account or in 10 days shifts  your body so that you look thin, fit, muscular or lean.

Clearly though with all the noise and internet options that scroll through inboxes and across screens it takes something special to get someone to click.

Or may be just so much pain that someone saying – “I got just the answer for your ……… (fill in the blank).”  People click and sign up in ever increasing numbers.

People want that quick fix. (Obviously I want that quick fix when it comes to marketing!)

But do they really get it.

Am I that outside of the norm?  I generally do NOT get the quick fix.

Wait!   That is not quite true.

When I went to The Haven for a 5-day Come Alive back in the early eighties,  I had a miraculous shift in my health.  I believe due to my willingness to be vulnerable, breath, show up with my emotions, be curious and interested in other people and believe.  I actually wasn’t  aiming for a health turn around – but that’s what happened.

Now I will also say that miracle turnaround did demand a post-miracle commitment to keep living and breathing that way – AND that was not as easy as jumping into that five day program.

The post program integration was hard, slow, painful, engagaing, discouraging, amazing – it was work, disciple and a commitment to continue to be vulnerable, relational, breath and hang in through the rough spots.

I imagine I need to approach marketing like I do living and learning to be self-responsible and relational.

There are simple elements – just like Come Alive – breath, be honest, be curious and hang in.

In marketing it may be more like:

Keep putting myself and our message out there.

Ask for and listen to the feedback.

Don’t quit just because I don’t get the miracle numbers every time.

Don’t compare my numbers to someone else’s – we may not be playing the same game.

Breathe!  (This is always a good a good suggestion for any challenges!)

Because what I know for sure  is that whenn someone shares the impact our message has had on their life or how they have transformed their relationship, team or health trying on some of our ideas and making them their own.

Those moments are little marketing miracles – worth it and  better than just numbers or a bigger bank account. ( Though I’m happy to have some of that as well. )

So I am asking for your feedback.  Let me know what marketing works for you.

What Pain point are you trying to resolve?

Bottomline – What makes you click?  I really do want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

Writing My Way into 2018!!!

I can hardly believe it is now 2018!

I had great plans for reviewing, reflecting and sharing some of my highs and lows from 2017.  But snow fall (lots of snow fall), fun and the holiday spirit pulled me away from my computer and out into Whitefish with family, friends and complete strangers enjoying powder and chair lift lines on the mountain!!

My plan was to either skin up the mountain to ring in 2018, or cross country ski, to put in my first 2018 workout.

I went to the Glacier Nordic Ski Hut to rent my cross-country skis.  I stepped into the small hut with at least 10 others waiting to get geared up.  I heard, “Well, we’re out of most of the women’s boots.” Frustrated, I stepped back out of the hut.  It wasn’t going to be X-Country skiing for me this New Year’s Day!

I didn’t bring my downhill ski pass, nor had I put my skins (traction material you put on the bottom of your skis to climb UP the mountain) in the car.  My big first 2018 workout wasn’t happening! So I headed home.

I opened my computer and decided I was going to write my way into 2018.

In many ways it was perfect.

I always imagine myself as being the great outdoor Montana woman: fit, toned, and ready to ski through the trees, skin up the mountain, or go horseback riding through the snow.  But really, I’m not that Montana woman.

Yes. I ski, mostly the groomed trails and in the powder, when we get snow storms like we have this past week.

Yes. I can skin up the mountain, but I am much more of a ride the chairlift up gal these days.

Yes. I love my riding lessons but galloping through the snow isn’t happening anytime soon. I’m working on trotting in the arena right now.

So it was perfect that I wasn’t able to ski the trails or skin the mountain to kick-off the new year.

Instead, I sat down to write.  Though I dream of being that uberfit, physical Montana woman, at my core, I’m closer to myself and my heartbeats when I am writing than when I am working out.

Don’t get me wrong. I plan to ski, skin, and go horse back riding on Bella (or Floyd) out in the snow at some point.  But writing is truly the path where I get to know myself.

It’s not that easy to admit, but maybe this is the year when I don’t have to prove myself physically. Maybe this year I simply get to enjoy who I have become.

I like that I’ll go ski or skin the mountain to meet people and not be concerned about struggling to keep up.  I get to just enjoy the workout and not be afraid to be the last one up.

And about that horseback riding…

The truth is I have more fun with the horses when I’m in round pen on the ground working with someone on their relationship issues than I do riding horses.  I’ll continue to work on my riding because that too is relationship building.  But my real heartbeats come from introducing more people to the amazing mirrors and heart-openers horses can be when we aren’t so focused on them but letting them mirror us!

So yes, it’s perfect I am writing my way into 2018. I think my writing is what will be most vital for me this year.

I’m already published author, which has been on my bucket list for many, many years!  I’m so proud of our book, The Beauty of Conflict out into the world Oct 31st!

Now, that means it’s time to deliver my more personal story, Crazy, Cracked, Warm and Deep.  Not necessarily to be published (Oh, my that feels like too much pressure!) but simply to be completed. It’s all there just waiting for me to pull the pieces together.

It is time to stop running away from myself and settle into the wonderful woman I am; to let my inner light shine.

Indeed, there are no accidents that I couldn’t ski, skin, or ride into 2018. No. This year is about writing!

I believe it has been my writing that has helped me become self-responsible, relational and build connections and community over the years.  Not my athletics or my exercise.

I may have wished athletics was my way, but in truth it’s not my legs or my muscles that make be great. It’s my heart and vulnerability that provide and reveal the best of me and that usually comes through when I am writing or working with horses!

Take care,

Susan

P.S. My 2018 word for the year is COMMUNITY.  It does seem perfect that writing is the way to ring in the year!

 

Never Let The Truth Get In The Way of A Good Story

Growing up, we always had a saying in our house: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Now for most of my life, I simply believed that was a way that truth could be covered up and whatever evil was beneath the surface could be denied or kept unknown by a charismatic storyteller.

I admit to fury about this saying!

There were times in my life when I did seek to say what was going on and usually my version of the story was met with comments about my over- active imagination.  That was the good version.  The worse was when my anger after sharing a story was interpreted as ‘too much’ and I was given some type of medication to calm me down.

Maybe I did start to believe a good story was better than the truth – or at least created less pain and misunderstanding.

These days the saying is generally a good bridge in our family gatherings.  However, the new status has come after many years of working to try to understand each other’s vastly different versions of reality about the past.  The saying is no longer meant to shut anyone down. I do think it might be a signal to say we may be stepping into tricky territory and give each other a head’s up.

Our differences have never been reconciled.  But, now that we are adults and have been able to find ways to each feel heard and seen for whatever reality we were living growing up, we can have a relationship. 

I really appreciate that about my family.  We live the agree to disagree about some things and find ways to appreciate and value other aspects of who we each are now.

That may just be because of the saying – Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Only these days I prefer to retranslate.  I think the saying would be best expressed as;  Never let a truth get in the way of deeply listening to someone’s else’s story”

That really is the lesson.

Too often, our individual ‘truths’ are so fixed that we don’t really listen to a different truth.  Especially when that other storyline may make us look poorly, guilty, cruel or unkind.

However, I firmly believe that most of the time people really don’t need to be told their version of reality is ‘the truth’.  Instead, they are looking for someone to deeply listens and step into their reality, consider what that might be like and acknowledges their feelings. When this occurs healing happens.  Over and over, I see people get unstuck from their old stories and look at the choices they made and move forward in these scenarios.

Truth is I’ve seen people get their stories validated – by courtrooms and judges – only to see that person continue to struggle with the old story.  Unable to reframe, rewrite or redefine the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying some actions don’t warrant judgement. But I am saying that alone isn’t going to be what supports the ‘victim’ in moving forward.

What will? – never letting a or one truth get in the way of deeply listening to another person’s story!

Truth is relative.  Yes, we need to find our truth – but I just don’t think we need to let that get in the way of listening to someone else’s.

We can disagree.  We can not like it.  We may even decide that because of that person’s story we aren’t interested in a deeper relationship.

But I don’t think finding the one truth will work.

Listening and considering – that is a powerful path for contact and possibility and influence.

These days with all the stories coming out about men’s abuse of power and sexual harassment of women, I think we’d be better served if we did not get caught up in focusing on what did or did not happen.  Frankly I think the people speaking up need to be heard.

Our job is to listen. What is the impact of these stories? 

I am speaking to the men out there getting accused. Listen! Consider! Respond! From a place of understanding someone else‘s truth, instead of right versus wrong. Listen to the impact, the pain, the experience and a perspective other than your own. Don’t just deny or apologize and move on. Be influenced now.

I think that is how something different can happen.

When we simply go to right or wrong, the feeling and the impact can so easily get lost.  Listening and considering the impact of our actions, words or deeds on another – even if that wasn’t our intent or perceived outcome.  That is what will help heal and bridge our differences.

I know it did in my family and I have witnessed it over and over in couples, on teams and in families.  I think it can happen out in the world as well.

Now that is my truth – and I won’t let it get in the way of hearing your truth (story).

Just Breathe!

Recently I attended the Breathe weekend up at The Haven.

The program was perfectly timed to fit between meetings and the start of a Come Alive.  What better way to get prepared for leading a program than breathing!

I knew I would enjoy the weekend.  I love the wisdom of Linda Nicholls and though we get to spend time together in meetings – we rarely are together in programs.

The weekend more than met my expectations.  Thus the reason I am now writing about the program.

Breathing is so simple.  It’s free.  It’s healing.  Yet, when I ask people how often they take the time to consciously breathe deeply – the answer is usually – rarely or not at all.

Some share that they meditate or do some sort of mindfulness practice – but that isn’t quite the same in my view.  Sure it is something and valuable.  But does not always involve breathing deeply.

I know how valuable breathing deeply can be and though I would say I am a pretty committed to some type of regular practice – I often miss a day or more – when life gets busy.  I will often put my exercise routine before just breathing.  (Again exercise and consciously breathing are not the same!!!)

Why?

Though I say I want to be alive – aliveness is not always comfortable! often I consciously or unconsciously opt for comfort, control and certainty – over aliveness and uncertainty!

To drop my jaw and breathe deeply and fully (for those unfamiliar with Haven breathing – I mean taking a full deep breathe through an open mouth).  This does open me up for feeling more.  There is no guarantee  that means feeling good, happy or satisfied.  Often these days if can mean feeling my fear, my sorrow, my rage or my pain.

Sometimes I am not so willing.

There were many nuggets of wisdom offered during the weekend program.  Linda does have a way of integrating science, poetry and experiences that allow for the mind, the body and the breathe to mix and play well together!

Myself, I loved the breathing.  Being re-introduced to a variety of ways to deepen my own practice and having lots of time – I believe three blocks of 45 to 55 minutes of just breathing.

Breathing deeply demands a conscious choice – my will and my willingness to loosen my control and be vulnerable.

Pills and other measures are often more predictable in terms of eliminating symptoms or easing suffering.

However, aliveness isn’t really predictable.

I am not saying give up on prescriptions, exercise, meditating or whatever it is you or I do to find some comfort and ease in this human experience – I am though encouraging you to consider spending a little more time and attention on just breathing!

It’s free.  Drop that jaw and take a deep full breathe. (Highly recommend doing this more than just once!)

I came away with the intention to take twenty minutes each day and just breathe.  I am enjoying the practice!  Life is richer and more vibrant as a result!