Jul

No °16

Friday Femmes – The One Who started it All

It’s been FIVE years since I took my very first e-course from this fab femme.  I was going through my first miscarriage in 2010, and I was desperate with anguish and was in such immense pain so I was scouring the whole world wide web for something to fill my the void within me. I stumbled upon a site called Ink on My Fingers. The author wrote beautifully, almost poetic, about grief and pain in such a way that was raw, real and very relatable to the state I was in at the time.  From there, I pored over her writings, finding solace and company in my/her misery.

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I followed her to her new home, called SusannahConway.com. I learned that she had been teaching an e-course called Unravelling, which was quite serendipitous as I had then found myself unravelling at the seams – falling apart if you will. The course did exactly the opposite.  It helped me unravel the layers of hurt and loss and hopelessness, so I could put myself back together, a bit wiser and stronger; learning that I am able to come through the grieving stupor, even as I’ve almost drowned, trying to stay afloat in the vast ocean of desolation. As she did… as she was doing, with the unexpected death of her then partner from a heart attack.

The course saved me in so many ways. It filled my heart with a roster of new friends who were going through some desperate unravelling of their own. These were women from all over the world; some who I’ve met in person, and others whom I still keep in touch with to this day. It filled my soul with the creative inspiration I thought I couldn’t reignite, through photography and journal writing, and prose and drawn images. It was a class on its own, one seemingly meant for me to take.  I wrote about it here on this very blog and told everyone who would listen what saving grace it had been for me. I had taken many of her other courses since, but Unravelling will always have a special place in my heart.  When she came to Toronto a few years ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t miss meeting her for anything. And thank you to the both equally beautiful, talented and generous, Tanya Geisler and Jamie Ridler, Susannah made it on this side of the pond.  I think I may have pulled a Lenny of Mice and Men when I saw her whilst she came out of the washroom and promptly hugged her for what may have seemed to her a tad awkward, too long and too hard.  But I just needed to let her feel the gratitude and love that I felt for her that very instant. I had a moment alone with her after the reading of her book, but it didn’t seem enough.

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You see, most people have Oprah… I have Susannah. She even has her own category on this blog. That’s how much she’s influenced me in this journey.  She’s helped me see that I needed to pursue my passion for photography and writing.  She’s made me see the value in promoting my blog in my own voice, and learn to quiet down extraneous noises. She’s had a hand in going my own way even though it hasn’t been the most secure or the least frightful of options, while also learning to be gentle with myself when something doesn’t go as I wished it to.

I owe her a magnanimous amount, more than I can ever list or verbalize. And here she is, doing me the greatest  honour of giving me an interview for my little blog. When you have finished reading this, do check her out with the newest incarnation of her virtual home and journal. And while you’re at it, do join us in the annual August Break; a community project encouraging each other to pause, look and shoot whatever is around – with no real rules; just enjoying the last leg of the summer with images, inspiration and anything goes.

But without further ado…

Friday Femmes: Susannah Conway

Name: Susannah Conway

Profession/Vocation: Author, photographer, teacher

Online Presence if any:

Website: www.susannahconway.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/susannahconway

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/susannahconway/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusannahConway

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susannahconway

1. Where are you from/where do you live?

I live in London, UK, and am thoroughly English on all sides of my family 🙂

2. How long have you been doing your profession/vocation?

I have been working in this present incarnation since the beginning of 2009

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3. What are your challenges in your line of work?

Staying one step ahead of overwhelm. I have a wonderful VA who helps me with a lot of the admin-y bits of running my business, but at its heart I am a one woman-band. Only I can write the posts, create the courses, take the photographs and birth the books. I love what I do and I especially love that I can work from home, but it’s so very easy to become overwhelmed by my creative plans. I am constantly trying to find a bit of balance but after six years I haven’t really found the answer. I tend to work like a maniac when I’m close to a deadline, then procrastinate and ruminate the rest of the time. It’s not ideal.

4. What do you love most about what you do?

Getting to express myself creatively and build community in a way that doesn’t feel draining. I’m a confident introvert who draws her energy from being alone and I now understand why working in a traditional office environment was so difficult for me. These days I get to do the work I love — writing, photographing, inspiring others, sharing stories — in a way that doesn’t drain all the life out of me. The internet has revolutionised my life!

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5. Can you tell me about your ideal reader/subject/student/patron?

I know my peeps well because I have been lucky enough to meet so many of them over the years (including you, love!) My people are intelligent soulful women who, like me, are passionate about figuring themselves out and living a life filled with meaning.

She included one of her original polaroids in her little package for me xoxo

6. What surprised you most about being a { teacher }?

I’ve been writing and taking photos all my life so nothing about that surprises me — it’s just how I exist in this world — but what surprises me about being a teacher is how I’m actually not bad at it. It’s not a vocation I could have ever predicted myself doing let alone enjoying, but I absolutely adore sharing what I know and helping others discover it within themselves.

7. Where/Whom do you find your inspiration from?

Books. Books. Books. The internet — blogs, sites, links to follow, ideas to absorb. Being far far away from the computer and living my actual flesh-n-blood life.

This I Know - Notes on Unraveling the Heart by Susannah Conway
This I Know – Notes on Unraveling the Heart by Susannah Conway

8. How do you foster your inspiration and creativity/productivity/talent?

I’ve been keeping a journal for over 30 years and that’s where all my ideas hatch. The fastest way to kill me would be to never let me write anything down — I am umbilically attached to my Moleskine. I take photos pretty much every day, though I don’t share all of them, of course. The arrival of the iPhone has been a wondrous thing because it means I really do always have a camera with me. I adore Instagram and like to check in whenever I have a spare minute. There is so much beauty and creativity in this world, it dazzles me.

9. Who/what helps you fuel the fire during your least inspired days?

I don’t try to, actually. My least inspired days are a signal to power down and retreat for a while. To refill the well by doing something unrelated to work. Unless I have a big deadline I prefer to give myself the day off and putter about: I’ll go for a wander in the park, get on the tube and go somewhere new-to-me in Londontown, I’ll read, I’ll paint my toenails, I’ll lie on my bed and breathe. Sometimes, if I’m being really good, I’ll remember to meditate 🙂

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10. What would you tell your 21 year old self today?

There is so much I could tell her. I attempted some of it over here:

Traversing Twenties with Susannah Conway

Bonus – last thoughts, anecdotes, tips you are willing to share:

Creating something — and it doesn’t matter what it is — is infinitely more satisfying than doing nothing. Poems, art, photography, cooking, knitting, gardening… making something out of nothing. Creating for the sheer pleasure of making something beautiful or practical or nourishing makes life so much more meaningful. Reading’s pretty awesome too 🙂

 

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Susannah Conway is the author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. A photographer, writer and teacher, her classes have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 50 countries around the world. Co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids, Susannah helps others remember their true selves, using creativity as the key to open the door. Visit her at SusannahConway.com and stay hi on Instagram.

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Meet Aggie

Hello! I’m Aggie; I make photographs.I loved the idea of capturing a snippet in time and elevating it into more than just an instant.