Is louder better?

Action speaks louder than words. Is louder better?

But words MATTER. 

I might be a bit biased as a former English major and English teacher. I am also a blogger, aspiring author and  the daughter of an English Teacher who taught me the power of language from the moment I could use it. 

I am an action gal too, don’t get me wrong. But just as Black Lives Matter does not imply that all lives don’t matter.  Action speaks LOUDER than words should not imply that words don’t speak at all. 

Why is lockdown impacting me so differently_ 

Don’t believe me? 

I can’t breathe. 

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Why is lockdown impacting me so differently?

I can bet a lot of money that you have asked yourself this question in the last two months… Everyone I talked to is either feeling guilty for feeling good or guilty for feeling so bad. How ironic is that? 

Why is lockdown impacting me so differently_ 

Lockdown for me has not been all rainbows and butterflies but as I stated in my previous blog about how to deal with the unknown of corona virus,  this sort of life changing upheaval is not new for me. It has proven to me time and time again that dramatic life changes, whether we choose the changes or not, will always open our eyes to things we weren’t paying attention to before. 

In my guided meditation today from the Calm app, she discussed creativity. One of the quotes she shared was “Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found”- Eckhart Tolle 

Lockdown for me has been that stillness but not in a physical sense. I have committed to one of the most challenging programs the company I partner with has to offer. My fiancé has taken up a new hobby of cycling and encouraged me to get involved which has been a blast. In the U.K. (where I currently live) under our lockdown laws, we are permitted one hour of outdoor exercise a day and because we live in a ground floor flat with no real outdoor space, and the weather has been uncharacteristically beautiful and sunny in England,  we have taken advantage of those daily walks or cycles every single day. Movement has been my medicine and my sanity. 

But that stillness has been present in my mind. I have felt more creative than ever with my online coaching business, my blog and my personal writing. During January and February of 2020, I had lost a bit of my sparkle (to put it nicely.) I know now that it was seasonal affective disorder permeating every area of my life but  I spent so much time in my head and going through the motions, I just didn’t feel like me and I couldn’t shake it. It’s like lockdown woke me up again. It brought me so deeply and forcefully back into the present moment, that at this moment I feel nothing but gratitude for this experience. 

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How to Deal with the Unknown of Corona Virus 

There is no right answer. But for me processing includes writing and although there is no right or wrong way to feel, act or process I thought I would compile this resource for those people like me who absolutely require looking on the bright side. 

This is not a medical blog. I’m not going to tell you to wash your hands. (ok, maybe I’ll sneak it in there) but seriously, as a 29 year old woman- I’m a bit concerned that washing your hands seems like a new concept. I’m not here to make light of the situation and act like it’s all butterflies and rainbows. 

How to Deal with the Unknown of Corona Virus 

I am sharing my truth, my personal experience because let’s face it I have a lot of experience with unexpected life changes. 

I have said to several clients, friends, and family members that I think this type of upheaval feels quite familiar to me. If you’re new here, I’ll give you some quick bullet points, my best friend died by suicide when I was 16 and my mom attempted a year later. I spent my teenage years in a mixture of grief, house parties and finding my love for writing.  I went to university eight hours away from my hometown in Upstate New York and moved abroad to Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and currently live abroad in England with my fiancé.

In my first stint living abroad I had to deal with dramatic heartbreak and the unraveling of a five year relationship due to infidelity. But I healed, deepened my love for travel and myself and my adventures brought me to Australia where I met the love of my life. We had to abruptly leave the life we were building in Australia in 28 days which you can read about here. Then we had to deal with the visa process and the endless struggle of being in an international relationship. Most recently, we went through the process of my partner donating his kidney to his younger brother in August 2019 and that’s the first time I wrote about this concept of Hurry up and Wait. How to Deal with the Unknown.

Ok, now you’re caught up. This isn’t a pity party or a sob story. Those are all facts and events in my life. There are so many beautiful bits woven between those years but there has been A LOT of unknown and upheaval.

The truth is we never know how we are going to react to something, until it happens. 

For some of you reading this, this global pandemic may be your worst case scenario. Maybe it’s your first upheaval or maybe you feel like you just can’t catch a break. Maybe you lost your job, your children are out of school and now you have to scramble to come up with a plan, maybe your business or livelihood is insecure or your wedding or a big trip got cancelled. (My parents had to cancel their first visit to England since I’ve lived here, wedding dress shopping, Harry’s 30th. Disappointed is a understatement) You could  even be diagnosed with Corona Virus, in self isolation or have a loved one in that situation. You are allowed to feel angry, sad, confused, scared, disappointed or whatever emotion comes up. 

But guess what, you are also in control of how you respond to the unknown when it comes to managing your mind and how you move forward. If you are not ready to control YOUR personal controllables, if you want to stay stuck in obsessing over the news, the statistics, the supplies, the future, then you probably should stop reading this. Seriously…

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A Review of Veganuary and Dry January

Copy of How to get the perfect body

“BOTH? That’s brave.” This January I decided that I would do  Dry January which I have done for four or five years. No big deal (for me personally.) It’s a nice reset after extra holiday season celebrations. If you are considering doing Dry January or just challenging yourself to try a sober month read this. 

Along with the typical Dry January,  my fiancé and I also decided to try something new and commit to Veganuary which is a huge trend in the U.K. It’s just like what it sounds like, eating a fully vegan diet for the month of January.  I even got the chance to do a t.v. interview with Bristol TV about my experience click here to watch the segment! 

Many people try one or the other, but doing both I got a lot of side eyes and eyebrow raises. But you know I’m always up for a challenge. I also am passionate about the mindset first approach. Any type of short term challenge you partake in you should go into it looking at it as an experiment and not restriction. 

NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM RESTRICTION.

Nothing exciting comes from deprivation.

But an experiment… now we’re talking. 

I wanted to wait a little while after January to see what it was like to transition away from the plant based lifestyle but something surprising has happened… I haven’t. 

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Everything I learned in my twenties

It’s a new decade! Did you think by mid-January you would escape people saying this? Sorry not sorry.

It just so happens that this decade 2010-2019 actually aligns perfectly with my twenties. Your twenties are a decade so many people look back with adoration, regret, nostalgia and various amounts of shame and laughter.

I am technically still in my twenties for another five months, but to celebrate the end of the decade and the start of a new one I thought I would dive back into my blog with some reflection of what I learned during this adventurous chapter.

 I don’t claim to have all the answers about being a twenty-something in fact at my first counseling appointment of 2020 my counselor said, “It seems like the more you know about yourself, the more you don’t know” and I couldn’t agree more. 

I don’t want to share with you all my wins, triumphs and trips although I think it is impossible to share my lessons without giving you some context. 

Everything I learned in my twenties

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Dear Grief: An open letter

Dear Grief, 

Today I woke up with a heavy heart. October 30th has been the hardest day of my life for the last 13 years. My chest is heavy. My stomach hurts. Today is the day the world lost the most beautiful soul, Corinne Marie Craig. One of my childhood best friends. 

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13 years is a long time but grief I never should underestimate your power.

How do you know to make my chest tight?

How do you bring tears to my eyes?

How do you coax me to my laptop because you know words are the only way for me to make sense of what I feel?

If you’re new to your relationship with my friend grief: let me help you out. Grief is a roller coaster. You never know what to expect. Grief can be the life of the party or the person who can’t get out of bed. Everyone experiences this friend differently, and let me tell you many would not consider you a friend, grief. But I do. 

I consider you a friend because you are an emotion and experience that has been with me for nearly half of my life. I’ve gotten to know you well. I don’t want to forget you because I will never forget her. 

My Corey. That silly laugh & kind heart. That sassy attitude & philosophical mind. How many times could we watch Now & Then and a Walk to Remember? A friend so loyal and willing to listen that she taught me to do the same. A rockstar cheerleader. A sensitive soul. A force to be reckoned with. 

It’s been 13 years since we’ve had the pleasure of having Corey earth side but I know without a shadow of a doubt she has been with me every step of my journey. The sassiest guardian angel out there. 

Over the years I have shared about a lot regarding Corey’s life, death & everything in between (you can click the links if you want to read more): Dealing with the anniversary abroad , my journey with grief  , Corey’s story  , The impact she has had , remembering 10 years without her , My own mental health struggles and What it’s like being left behind by suicide. 

Grief taught me to be patient with people having a bad day, whether they can express that or not because  we all have silent battles to fight.

Every single one of us.

 Grief taught me to reach out to loved ones (even the ones who seem really happy) reach out when someone is in your dream, or a memory comes rushing back to you. 

Reach out if you haven’t talked in years and you just want to say that they are on your mind. 

Grief taught me to express myself and to find my voice. 

Grief is what lead me to writing and I know that I am grateful for that. 

Grief has taught me to continue to use my voice & know that the impact spreads farther than you might imagine. 

Last year I wrote about my journey to understanding when grief actually ends

The answer is it doesn’t. 

A lot of people feel pressure from society, even loved ones or friends to “move on” but I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to. 

Grief is an incredible teacher if you let it be. 

Sadness and joy can coexist and for me that pain and sorrow of losing my best friend at 16 will never go away but it has changed the trajectory of my life because I let it. 

I let grief in. Even when it was paralyzing. Even when I need to scream and cry and punch pillows and throw water bottles. It didn’t happen overnight. And because of self-medicating I didn’t fully “grieve” right away. 

But that doesn’t mean I’m not committed to this process & relationship with grief. 

Because what’s your alternative? Denial? Numbing? Ruining you future because you’re running from feelings begging to be felt? 

I don’t claim to know it all. I never do. Grief has taught me that even when you “do” all of the right things, go to therapy, remember your loved one or friend in positive ways, cry, rest, pick up new hobbies, grief can still turn up and throw everything for a loop. It’s relentless. 

At times grief has made me angry, guilty, depressed, scared, frustrated, devastated, but it’s also made me kind, resilient, thoughtful, driven and vulnerable. 

My best advice when it comes to grief? 

Feel everything. 

Laugh when you want to laugh about silly memories or inside jokes, cry when you feel like things are unfair, talk it out when you just want someone to remember your loved one you lost, get angry, sad, whatever emotion comes up- let it come and realize that you can survive & thrive alongside those feelings. 

Time won’t heal your wounds. Your wound is the absence of a person who touched your life deeply. That doesn’t go away. But time does give you perspective. It allows you to find purpose and remember that they WANT you to be happy. 

They want you to live and I believe we owe it to them to do so. 

So, believe in yourself. 

Believe in the impact your experience of loss and your relationship with grief can have on others. 

Believe in the legacy you have left to built in keeping your loved one’s memory alive. 

If you feel the call to share your loved ones story or your story DO IT. 

Grief is different for everyone but I can tell you I wouldn’t have gotten through it without my words for self expression, without the support of our Bishop Ludden Community and without the courage to keep telling this story of life, death, loss, grief, mental illness and all the beautiful bits that happen in between. 

 I tell Corey’s story as frequently as possible because it matters and so many people in life have been there, are there or are trying to help someone who is. Mental health struggles and suicide add a whole entire layer to the grieving process and it’s a huge part of the reason I advocate for proactive mental health consistently. 

I’ve tried my best as time goes on to not resent you grief, to not get angry at stolen moments and get angry at growing older & growing further away from the chapter of life that Corey lived a long side me. I still have those moments of anger. 

Any time someone I love loses someone they love, grief floods through my bones and reminds me of it’s presence. My heart aches for you if you have to join this twisted relationship with grief. Not if, when. It’s inevitable. 

Grief is not something you can escape in your lifetime, but if you feel it fully, if you let it, it will change who you are and hopefully for the better. 

So grief, it’s been a long journey, one that I know that will never end but I am confident that neither will my relationship with Corey. “Death ends a life not a relationship” is a quote that got me through some of my darkest days.

 Grief is heavy, these words are heavy, but I am strong. My love for Corey is strong. If you are at any stage of you grieving process, I see you. I feel  you. I am here for you. We don’t have to have all the answers to offer our experiences, we just have to have courage and I’m confident Corey left me with some of hers. 

Corey, as always, I carry your heart. Thank you for the most recent messages. I am still trying my best to understand what they mean & take action. 

So grief, today you feel heavy.  You don’t feel like a friend. 

I miss my dear friend.

 I shouldn’t let you take me by surprise after all this time but in the same respect I am humbled. Humbled by the fact that pain can be deeply intertwined in our bodies calendar.

The pain reminds me just how much human connection can impact our hearts & souls despite loss, time, distance, and years gone by. This inspires me to be a better human while I’m here on earth and help others find that ever changing dance between sadness and joy. 

I’m not sure how much sense this makes but based on my truth of understanding grief, just getting something out helps. .

Remember, wherever you are reading this, whatever emotions it brings up,

feel everything

& know you are never alone. 

Love,

Susie

 

Hurry Up and Wait: How to deal with the unknown

Hurry up and wait

I was on a local coastal walk with my boyfriend recently and as the wind whipped and the sunshine warmed our skin I said to him, “You know how they say, The Universe keeps teaching you the same lesson until you learn it?”

He shook his head in agreement, probably just to humor my baby hippie heart.

“Well I think it’s clear we need this lesson of releasing control. Waiting just keeps popping back up in our lives. The four months waiting for the U.K. visa to process, the Australian visa drama, the U.K. move itself, and the months and months of waiting for the news on the kidney donation and operation… well, someone isn’t learning their lesson!!!”

He looked back at me with a very loving but cheeky grin and stare.

As the words came out of my mouth, I didn’t realize that I was talking about MYSELF. It wasn’t aimed as an insult or jab at him either. More thinking out loud. But in that moment, I fully realized I still needed to learn the lesson. My boyfriend is super chill, resilient, go with the flow, and rarely gets upset over anything. It’s honestly one of the things I admire most about him.

I have learned more patience and resilence in the last 5 years of living abroad, traveling for extended periods, starting my own online business on the side and now being fully self-employed and being in a relationship with the ultra relaxed human but clearly the Universe still wanted me to learn this lesson, AGAIN!

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What I really think about England

Copy of How to Survive the Visa Process

Dear England,

One year ago I stepped off the plane at 1 am and stumbled my way into the long customs line. I was leaving my family and friends & the drawn out, stress filled visa process behind and spider monkey jumping into the arms of my goofy English man. I thought it was my happy ending or maybe my happy beginning.

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This was not my first international move, but my fourth. My fourth time choosing to start over in a new country.

This time felt different.

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How to Survive the Visa Process

How to Survive the visa process

A year ago today was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. 1 year and 48 hours prior, I received an email that I was waiting for four months. Four long months of being seperated from my partner in crime and the love of my life. Not by choice but because we were simply born in different countries and had different passports. I have to start by thanking everyone who supported us during that extremely difficult time in our lives. You kept me sane and I’m forever grateful.

On this email from the U.K. immigration office, it simply said that the decision for my visa application had been made, not what the decision was. I was staying at my childhood home visiting my parents until I got the decision. I had tracking on the package that contained the decision and my passport so I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know what time so I refreshed the app about 386 times that day.

My mom and I waited by the door the entire day peering out the windows for the UPS truck. I made her stand guard while I did my workout and showered. We took turns using the bathroom. We tried to watch cheesey rom coms to drown out our anxious thoughts but nothing was helping. I have never had so many butterflies in my stomach.

It was such a surreal experience when I saw the brown UPS truck park outside my house. I shot up from the couch and my mom had to catch me in her arms because my legs nearly gave out. I wasn’t sure if I could open it in front of my parents or what I would want to do. As soon as we got the package in the house, I barely remember what happened, the emotions and anticipation flooded my body.

My Dad opened the package for me with a letter opener and handed it to me without looking. My hands were shaking as I read the first line “You have been successfully granted your visa to the U.K…”  and burst into violent tears of joy. Straight up SOBBING.

“I GOT IT!!!!” I screamed eventually because my parents weren’t sure if they were happy or sad sobs. I immediately Facetimed my partner who was waiting for my call in England. I was still sobbing. I won’t lie, I’m a crier but I didn’t expect that reaction. He answered the phone and I was sobbing and within seconds I froze. He had no idea what was happening and thought I didn’t get it. I hung up and tried again and thankfully got a better connection. He was so relieved they were tears of joy. The stress and the build up of almost 2 years of international visa drama were over (for now), just like that with one UPS delivery.

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This all sounds very dramatic, trust me, it was. That’s why looking back a year later I can’t hardly believe that was our reality. When I was going through the process of applying for a partner visa in the U.K. I had no idea where to go to for advice and all I wanted was some personal experience. I couldn’t really find any blogs and all I wanted was someone who understood. It was so stressful it’s taken me a year to even be able to write about it. Every website had conflicting information and you had to pay a lot of money even to get an appointment to see if you wanted to potentially work with an immigration lawyer.

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