Sunday, 28 May 2017


In my online photography community group we are doing a 12 month series on self portraits. The month of June's topic is courage. The idea is to post a picture of yourself facing something head on, finding courage to do it. Some physical attribute or other aspect of yourself that you need courage to face.  This is thought provoking so really got me wondering about what I was going to post. I realized quite early it wasn't going to be a physical attribute. I have worked very hard and long to make peace with my body. I have gone from: cringing and crying through massages to absolutely loving them (only took about 15 years); hating the way I looked; decades of bad bad haircuts; flat chested to my too big boobs; children scarring my belly; cellulite settling in my fat knees and other places. You name it I gave it all the dirty looks and disgusted sighs over the years. I got it out of my system. I learned bodies are only the exterior where our true essence is housed (imagine having to learn this) and that looks don't matter as much as they do when you are young and your true essence has not yet fully flourished. Youth is so wasted on the young. This old crone had a nice body once, slim and unscarred but little essence, no interior depth. I'll take essence of spirit and soul any day. And there is a lot of freedom in this, a lot. Amen to that sister.

So I knew my post was not going to be about physicality. I know where I need courage, where I have always needed it. It's in my voice. My inability to speak my truth. Even my gifted naturopath told me about all the blocked energy in the my throat chakra, (umm how the hell did she pick up on that I wonder?). Now I know where this tendency to default to silence comes from, and quite frankly I can happily say that doesn't matter anymore. Why I am like this is not of any value now, what the hell you are going to do about it and how you are going to find the courage to change it is where I must look to.  In many things I intuitively knew how I felt and kept silent. Out of fear of rejection mainly. But having lived through all of the most horrifying things a person can live through (except incarceration) seriously what do I have to lose?  Start speaking your truth old crone.  Now on the heels of this is in all matters be sensitive and loving and kind. Compassion first. Sometimes to speak the truth is better left for naught, that dress does looks nice, what a cute dog, etc etc. But speak when it matters. Do not sit on a fence with a issue that demands you take a stand, or worse don't look to others and go the way all the sheep are heading when you know in your heart it's right to head the other way.

In my life the worst thing I kept silent on was my husband dying, both before and during- and the damage this has caused me, for now, this has been left in a fallow field in the back 40 acres in my life to tend to and examine at a later time. I know it waits for me, and I will write and speak my way through that when I am ready, all in due time. Build your courage first and it will come. I have spoken and written much about the after his dying but the lesson in that is it was too late Sussey, you missed the mark - learn from this. So I will.

It does not matter if you are disliked, rejected, hated, shunned. Speak- just speak. Let those you love and cherish know it. Do not ignore your children who's hidden messages in their sentences are speaking to your heart and you know it but are just too busy to go that extra step and address it. Do not stay silent when a coworker asks for your opinion and help because you think you have nothing to offer. Do not be afraid to assert your opinion on heady issues even if they are different than the group you are sitting among.  Be yourself.  Speak it. You will thank you, even if others don't.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

It's all in a name

Remember that song,"I'm not Lisa", by Jessi Colter ? Well maybe you don't, but it was a hit back in the mid 70's I think. It was a country song about a girl who lamented the fact that her lover could not stop talking about being in love with another women. So she wanted to assert her name. It went, "I'm not Lisa, my name is Julie". For a very different reason I used to sing along to that song but I changed the words. I would sing, "I'm not Susan my name is Rachel".  Why? Because for as long as I can remember I do not relate to my name. I never considered myself a Susan, still don't. It is the oddest thing and I wonder does anyone else feel majorly (is that a word?) dissociated from their moniker?  When I think about a person named Susan I first and foremost think, "oh that name it's so old fashioned poor soul who has that", and immediately I follow up oh yeah oh shit- I am named that aren't I ?

Susan is a stepford wife type, she is tallish, ivory skinned blonde with coiffed hair in bouffant style. In my head she looks exactly like this:

Related image


How the hell am I supposed to embrace that as my own personal calling card for my personality and identity? Bad enough I struggle with identity issues as a identical twin but to also have to try and relate to a name that just isn't me..... arrgggh....! So beside the visual I have in my head of the person who goes with the name (I do often try to substitute Susan Sarandon whenever I can to soften the blow because hey she is everything and a looker but sorry Susan S. you are also not a "Susan" type, way way too beautiful for that) it's also the sound of the name- the detachment it immediately conjures up and the 54 years of cringing and ignoring it. Frankly all this has caused a major problem. I can't and will never relate to my name, I refuse to embrace it. It is not me. I can't figure out why at a deeper level and it may not matter,  it just is what it is. I wonder do others ever feel this? I have asked but I have not found anyone who feels this way yet. I wonder do I just change the damn name to Rachel, (a name I always loved and related to as a kid) or Siobhan/Erin/ or anything but Susan? Do I ask everyone I meet to make up a nickname for me?

Actually I have -or when I didn't out right ask for a nickname- I must have sent off that vibe because I have a few other names I go by. My best friend Cindy calls me snoozle or snooze. I love it and would much rather be called a name worthy of one of the seven dwarfs than S--an. Another old childhood friend calls me Swissey, love it too. Recently I have been called Red and I really love that. My twin sister calls me ? nothing-really? I guess we don't need names per say, our emails often are addressed "hey".  I had a friend who was french, she called me Suzanne, I loved that name as well (reminded me of Cohen's Suzanne). All my kids call me mom, thank god. I see a pattern here, I love every name except Susan. Both my parents call me Susan, I guess they have to they named me it after all. Once I asked who's idea it was, dad took the credit (blame). Sorry rents. I still feel like a lost little girl when they call me that name.  Most co-workers call me Susan and I swear when I overhear my name spoken at work, each and every time I wonder who they are referring to.  Really! I will overhear in the hall "umm I don't know where Susan is, down in the lab I think", and I wonder who is she? WEIRD!!!   A few close coworkers call me Sue as do all my old friends. It is a middle of the road compromise, when I admitted to those close to me how I didn't like to be called Susan and they and I settled on Sue. Then one day my husband who always just naturally called me Sue without me asking gave me the nickname Sussey. I thought he made it up, I loved it and instantly took to it. It wasn't until after he died I discover it meant "gift", I wonder if he knew that? I certainly was his gift, he told me that often enough.  That name is engraved on my body and it is good because I relate-it is me. I have contemplated changing my name to Sussey but it seems too personal - too me and Terry, I don't know, yet I love when others call me by that name. Wow when you stop to think about it it's complicated this name as an identity thing.

And sometimes it is very hard to have this conversation with new people. For years I skipped it altogether so when I introduced myself I said I'm Sue. They never knew I was Susan. Then that kinda switched maybe out of wanting to be more genuine or honest?? and now a whole new crew of people know me as Susan and that is hard to come back from and fix now. It's kinda like the dilemma of how many kids do I say I have, do I mention the one that died? Or leave it a five? Do I say hi I am Susan but I dissociate constantly from Susan and please call me -------------? Hell no! I'd be that-weird insane person people tell their friends about at cocktail parties as a "guess what this girl named omg- Susan- said the other day??? Haha  I probably already am, and I don't care.

Do I sing, " I'm not Susan, my name is Rachel/Sussey/Sue/Snooze/Swissey/Red/Suzanne"?

Have others felt this and solved it, what did you do, call me (anything but Susan) and tell me.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Could you ghost yourself?

Have you ever thought about running away? Not just for a day to maybe escape the city and drive to the countryside for a clear-your-head session. Not like the kind of running away when you were a kid and it was only to get your anger out of your system all the while hoping your parents would notice, miss you and care. Not that kind of running way. I am talking here of leaving your adult life as you know it and just going somewhere else. Anywhere but where you are. Forever.  The geographical cure as they call it. Leave your job, identity and belongings behind and make tracks. The Hindu and Buddhist concept of vairagya.

I never allowed myself to entertain this thought when my kids were little and I was the heart of the home, their everything, and they mine. In fact when life was at its most difficult and busy that thought would creep in like a sly slut and scare me to death, because it was so tempting so enticing. And my response to it was immediate and complete shut down. But as I have grown older I entertain this thought quite a bit. I can allow the fantasy because there is no reason to feel guilty with these thoughts anymore, no tiny prying eyes welling up with tears as they notice mom is not really present, no husband looking out of the corner of his eye at me asking "what's up hon"?  It is just me myself and I now.  I can ghost myself to another part of the world and immerse a whole new future there.

In my fantasy I imagine I could become more into the life I am destined to live if I choose to go elsewhere, rather than stay where I was born. By that I mean I could find out in a deeper way who I am  what I think and what I feel about the world. I could gel my personality and find answers to those questions that elude me when I have loved ones near me that I live for, with and about.  Leave my own personal society as I know it and all the ways it has indentured me. I could let the ego that has to sustain itself in that society go too. No one would know me except me. I could introduce myself as Sussey no one would ever know I had that other name I so don't relate to. I think about that and I realize how much would go on in my head when there is no one but me to bounce things off of. Where would I go? Oh that is easy, Italy. In the Tuscan valley somewhere to a working farm as a cook or a cleaner or olive picker or grape harvester. I would befriend some old women or man on a farm. As I see and experience all things new, a new place to stay, new friends, new job, weather, scenery, food, language, culture....  oh my!!!! How would I cope?  Am I brave and resilient enough? What would I tell myself about it all? It would reveal so much about my true self. No one around who knows me- who I can slide into that old me for- rather only those I want to know and who don't know the old me. Other humans there in my new life for the knowing, all that is needed is for me to make the first move toward them. To be that extrovert I truly am, to be that creative soul not hidden under the educator.

Although this fantasy is very enjoyable and I find I am partaking in it more and more, I realize that to do this takes a lot of courage. A lot.  To leave my comfy home, family and friends I love, my income and pension- ummmmm.  To step out into the unknown, away from all this safe knownness. Is it worth it- hell yes. You only live once, life is not a dress rehearsal no matter all the bullshit I was taught as a child about the afterlife, this is it baby- go for it. BUT  are you brave enough? the answer I fear is not yet.

Of course this then begs that other question doesn't it? Why can't you do all this here and now? You know - bloom where you're planted, get into the now kilometer as my husband used to say. Practice vairagya here before the curtain lifts for the real show. Detaching from all you know, think, feel and have and finding your present, new, true, future self does not need a move to another side of the world. Finding your courage can happen on a side street where you live. Being your true creative self starts now- not in a beautiful Tuscan countryside but in your own piece of real estate. Meeting new people and discovering a new piece of your personality as a result happens wherever you are when you reach out with a hi or a handshake.

When you are brave enough here, you build that courage for there. This is your new fantasy Sussey. chew on that, let your mind take you to that poppy filled Tuscan countryside, lay in the grass, feel the sun, smell the earth. Build your courage. Then leap, let the curtain rise on the show of your life.