Summer Status Update

We have about 1 month left of summer so I want to do a short check in to help us finish the season strong as we intend to. It does not have to be strong. This is not Coach Sue yelling, “Sprint through the finish line!!”

I want to encourage you to check in with what you intended this summer season to be and see if it is Sustainably Productive.

1 – Is it productive? Are you getting the result you want?

2 – Is it sustainable? Can you continue lifelong if you want?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then it is time to consider mall adjustments you can make to improve the outcome. Here is my summer status update broken down by each dimension on Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) to encourage you to do a check in on your season.

Health and Fitness

I set a goal to eat 5 fruits and vegetables each day. I am definitely hitting this average. More days than not I start the day with a smoothie that has all 5 servings in it. Adding in a couple more fruit servings as a snack puts me over the top and boosts that average for days I skip the smoothie. There is really not a recipe, but here is what I put in the blender this morning:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen peach, quartered
  • 2 fist fulls of baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 T flax seed
  • 1/2 cup OJ

One adjustment I would like to make is related to exercise. I swim laps at our neighborhood pool in the summer. I would like to increase my lap swimming since the pool will only be open for about 6 more weeks.

Mental Well-being

Hobbies have been on fire this summer. Knitting, sewing, quilting, reading, and gardening have all served me well. Relationships component doing well as I got to spend a week with my sister and nieces, quality time with my daughter as she is home for the summer from college, had a great dinner with my in laws and have a date planned with my mother in law next week. I started a new volunteer gig this summer as well.

Career wise I am loving the new opportunity to podcast as cohost of the Conscious Contact Podcast. It is helping to churn lots of creative ideas for the future of Sustainable Sue as well.

The adjustment I would like to start now in the summer and continue to work on in the fall is with my day job. I am not sure how to monitor progress here, but I need to untie my self-worth from the job’s outcome.

Environmental Surroundings

Ironically here is where I have shoved unsuccessful attempts in the proverbial closet to hide. I was targeting to clear a certain amount of digital clutter each week. I am carrying a big fat 10% success rate in this area. I am not really mad about it – there just have been more interesting things to do and the clutter is not on fire. I imagine that in the fall and winter when I am not outside as much this will improve.

I do want to make an intentional effort in the last few weeks of the summer season to do some cleaning. A little late for spring cleaning, but …. here we are. Seems reasonable that in the next 4 weeks I can purge and deep clean 2 freezers, the pantry, and the coat closet. I will check back in to let you know how it goes.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What about your summer is SusPro – working for you and sustainable?
  2. As the summer is winding down, what adjustments do you want to make?
By |2022-08-09T08:51:46-04:00August 9th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Procrastination, part 1

This is part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done. 

It is no coincidence that writing about procrastination is harder than talking about it. 

Writing feels so much more permanent so I want it to be perfect. 

If you have not heard my issues with perfectionism, you can listen by clicking here or on the podcast logo below. It is a wild ride into Susan’s Brain. Take some popcorn, friends. 

Season 2, Episode 12 is all about Perfectionism

As I was drafting this column, I wanted to have a magic turn of phrase that will help you break out of procrastination, and when I could not find it I just didn’t write about it at all. But it kept nagging at me and rolling around in the back of my mind at inconvenient times – like 3:00 am.

How many of us are walking around in the world like this? Putting off taking action because we are frozen in time. Or fighting the wrong fight. Or fleeing from taking action by burying ourselves in busy.

I love this list from Emily Sanders (no relation) about why people may tell you they are ok – and I believe it also applies to procrastination. 

At least for me, it is a list of what I tell myself about whatever it is I am procrastinating on. Let me give you a few examples.

Why Example One

One of the goals I have for my 48th year of life is to draft a book proposal. It may be a big fat SFD that sits in a drawer. Or it might be acceptable but not submitted anywhere. Or it might be submitted and rejected by every publishing house in North America.

But these 365 days will pass (AGAIN) so why not draft the proposal during those days and see what a year brings. 

This was decided approximately 39 days ago and I have done exactly nothing to push this peanut forward. When I look at Emily’s list what jumps out to me is this:

THEY MAY BE SKEPTICAL THAT ANYONE ACTUALLY CARES.

I am not really sure what to do with these feelings besides sit with them. Which feels SUUUUUPER weird. It’s sort of like sharing a bench in silence with a stranger while you wait. Just awkward.

Why Example Two

I am sure I am not the first writer to feel like no one cares about what I write. Perhaps I could reach out to other authors to find out how they dealt with this. 

Seems like sound advice. Enter Emily’s list:

THEY DON’T BELIEVE THEIR PROBLEM SHOULD TAKE UP ANYONE’S TIME.

or 

CONCERN THAT IT’S NOT THAT BAD OR THEY WILL LOOK WEAK.

or

THEY DON’T THINK ANYONE CAN HELP THEM.

What Next

This is the part of the post where I tell you how to fix it. Or give an uplifting, humorous anecdote about resolving this quagmire. 

But this is not TV where we get resolution in 30 minutes minus the Applebees commercials. I am wrestling this 800 pound gorilla called procrastination right along side you. 

I do think that being aware of the gorilla at the dinner table is part of the battle though. By being aware of what could be causing the procrastination, we can truly excavate the infection instead of just slapping a bandage of time management over it and letting the actual wound fester. 

I am mixing my metaphors here, but I think you get it. There are reasons for procrastination, and none of them are because you are a worthless person.

Let’s digest this piece first before we dive into other side of the issue. This is just part 1 of 2 exploring the why and the what next of not getting things done. 

Sustainable You Questions 

Avoiding what is really going on is not going to get you the result you want and it is hardly sustainable. Ignoring these types of signals is what drives us to numb out and want to escape our lives. Here are a few questions you can use to dig a little deeper to get to the root cause of procrastination.

1 – What would happen if you set aside judgement and tried to work with that 800 pound gorilla instead of ignoring her. 

2 – What is keeping you from taking a good look at that wound, cutting out the infection and really working on keeping it clean? 

3 – What would happen if you were afraid and did it anyway?

By |2022-08-01T09:14:44-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About That Coping Skills Episode…

I have gotten quite a bit of feedback from the Coping Skills podcast episode that dropped earlier in July. It was definitely an episode that I was nervous to put out in the world because I am such a people pleaser. I was afraid that I would hurt the feelings of those who have known me for a long time and might not know some of this stuff.

Click on the picture to go to the episode or download anywhere you get your podcasts (Season 2, Episode 9).

I was also afraid of “telling secrets” to those who don’t know me as well. But remember the question to ask a people pleaser:

Where are all the pleased people?

Now I like to say I am a recovering people pleaser. I lived as a people pleaser for as long as it was working for me. It was a coping skill and honestly, it worked.

Oh, Tiny Buddha. You know me so well.

Until it did not work. When your coping skills cause more pain that they prevent, it is time to do something different. I love this quote from Peggy Cahn, “It’s quite uncomfortable to be an adolescent at the age of 32.”

Samesies, Peggy. Samesies.

This is not to say its all beer and Skittles, as the saying goes. As I have improved my coping skills, shed some unhealthy responses, and generally stopped (ok, cut down) on my dancing monkey personality, not everyone loves it.

But those are not my people. And that is ok. I am not for everyone, truly. Most days I acknowledge that and don’t mind. Because by not being for everyone, I can make space for those who I am enough for.

Dr Caroline Leaf sure can drop some truth.

I wonder if this might ring true to you? Is there someone in your life that you keep trying and trying to connect with because it seems like you “should?” Are friendships changing as you or your kids get older? Do you miss a relationship that got away from you during a period of your life that was survival mode?

By |2022-07-25T09:19:44-04:00July 26th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Moment Has Arrived

The moment I have been waiting for has arrived.

After almost a decade of wondering if it would really happen.

It did.

My teenager wanted to spend time with me!

I guess it helps that she is now 20. But I will take what I can get.

In June we went to Sunshine Lavender Farm for their festival and it was such a good time. One of the activities we all participated in was glassblowing. My uncle was a glassblower that traveled around to different shows and such so it has always interested me. When I had a chance to do it myself, I jumped at the chance. Then it got even better when Daughter and Bixby wanted to join too!

I knew that it would not be easy nor turn out as beautiful as Uncle Bill’s creations. I read somewhere recently that the foundation of curiosity is humility. I knew I might just come back with a lump of glass, but I also knew that just learning more from the glass blower and doing this activity with my people would be well worth it. This message may sound familiar as it was the foundation of the recent podcast episode on hobbies.

On the day of the event, we each got to choose our colors and the artist worked with us to create our globes. The master glassblower is George-ann Greth – she is just fantastic. She was no nonsense, which I appreciated because I was nervous with heat of the fire. Once she found out Daughter was an artist too, she ignored the rest of us and chatted up Daughter on all things art. It was neat to sit back and just watch Daughter be Adult Person.

After the event, George-ann took the projects back to her studio for them to cool. They cool in a kiln – isn’t that crazy!? The same kiln that heats up to cure pottery cools glass-blown crafts. Then she finished them into hummingbird feeders for us. Sunshine Lavender Farm shipped them to us about a week later.

We hung each of the feeders in different places in the front and back garden so that we can all see them from where we are in the house. The one below is Daughter’s and she can see it from her bedroom window. While the experience itself was the reward, I love that we created the souvenir that will remind us of the time we spent together.

By |2022-07-19T09:07:57-04:00July 19th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Everyone Else Is Doing It….

We just passed the midway point to the year, and you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a “Best Books of the Year (so far)” article. Or is that just a bookwork problem?

I regularly send out my 5-star reads via the Sustainable Sue Bookmobile so the cat is already sort of out of the bag there. Not the aforementioned dead cat being swung. This is a different, literary secret keeping very much alive cat.

But I want to share some of my 2022 reading adventures thus far.

Book Sale

I have started volunteering for a local book sale and it is GLORIOUS. Talking books, shelving books, cleaning books, pricing and selling books – DOES IT GET ANY BETTER?!

YES! I got to shop too! Here is my haul.

“It’s always better to have too much to read than not enough.” Ann Patchett

A few of these were actually on my To Be Read list! Toughness by Jay Bilas was the first book I put on Goodreads when I first started my account. And listen, I don’t need anyone naysayers. Don’t come at me with that nonsense about all the books already piled on my nightstand, in Bixby’s nightstand (shhhhh, don’t tell him), on hold at the library, etc.

I could be collecting weirder, unhealthier things. Just watch Hoarders to find that out.

Book Stats

My goal for 2022 was to read 100 books. I have started 89 books and completed 75 so far. Yes, I have quit 14 books – almost 20%. Life is too short to read books that you don’t connect with. I have no shame in my DNF game.

Here are the books I am currently reading:

  • Audiobook: Hidden One by Linda Castillo
  • Physical book: Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (I already watched both TV adaptations, but its great for the pool)
  • Non-fiction: The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love & Compassion by Sharon Salzberg
  • Kindle: Out of the Ashes by Samantha Grosser

I am not linking to any of these yet since I have not finished I am not sure I can recommend them.

Book Fashion

In related news, I want to be able to read no matter WHAT and my aging eyeballs were not cooperating. I was losing easy readers all over the house, forgetting which easy readers were the right prescription for laptop, work computer, car, crafting, and physical books, and generally hating having to put contacts in to see distance only to need to put glasses back on to read.

So I bit the bullet and shelled out mad cash for some bifocals. Or progressives as is said now. I am not sad about it.

What are you reading these days? Come find me on social media or wherever you got this post and let me know!

Until then… Read on!

By |2022-07-12T09:55:36-04:00July 12th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

It’s My Birthday!!!

I am posting this a day early because today is my birthday!! I am 48 years old!!

Genay and I talked all things celebratory this week on the podcast, and I hope you will take a listen.

Lordy Lordy, Susan’s Forty (eight).

But I also want to build on that discussion with you here.

Stop relying on other people to celebrate you. See if any of these scenarios resonate with you:

  1. You are mad no one got you the gift you wanted. The gift you hinted at for weeks!
  2. You feel alone because you get balloons for your kids every year on their birthday, but those assholes don’t even wish you happy birthday as you drive them around to activities all day.
  3. Your friend offered to buy lunch for you and did not insist after you turned her down.

Stop being a martyr and celebrate your damn self.

If that feels like a bridge too far, consider this – let others celebrate you. Using our above examples, let’s explore what this could look like.

  1. Buy the gift for yourself or send the link to your Special Someone and ask them to buy this for you.
  2. Tell your kids it is your birthday on the day it is your birthday. I use something like this, “Today is my birthday, I am accepting all well wishes. Wanna tell me happy birthday now or in 10 minutes?” In 10 minutes return to them expectantly.
  3. Let her buy you lunch!!!

Does this all seem desperate and needy? Let me offer a flip of a script for you – if you want to be celebrated, let people celebrate. Don’t make them read your mind. Especially your kids – can you imagine if they REALLY knew what you thought?

I can understand if you still want them to do all of this without the prompting. How is that working for you? This does not seem like the reality that you are living. You cannot get blood from a turnip. This does not mean they don’t love you. This does not mean you are unworthy of celebrating. This means they are not you. You can help them with expectations.

Or you can let go of those expectations. I do a little of both.

Celebrate your damn self. 

For my birthday, I bought myself a new sewing machine, took myself on a birthday bike ride (you can see more about that on Facebook or Instagram), and asked for a specific meal to be made for me. I pretended the meal the kids came over for was for me, not for Bixby’s Father’s Day celebration. I appreciate those who do reach out to celebrate with me, not focus on those that don’t. I acknowledge I’m sad about those missing from the celebration, but that is not a reflection on me. This is a Sustainably Productive birthday strategy that works for me.

What would make it oh so extra special is if you would share this episode of the podcast or this newsletter with a friend who you think might be interested.

Until next time, friends… Find the connection that helps create a life that you don’t need to escape.

By |2022-06-20T10:20:32-04:00June 20th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Podcast: Planning that does not suck your soul

A couple weeks ago I was planning for the June – July – August quarter. As usual I identified one thing in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity to focus on. That means one thing for Health and Fitness, one thing for Mental Well-being, and  one thing for Environmental Surroundings.

I broke it down into an action that I could do daily and wrote the goal to be able to say yes or no that it was done (all the better to check that box in the habit tracker. This was fine for the Mental Well-being and Environmental Surroundings dimensions.

Then I got to the Health and Fitness dimension.

I literally had 5 hours per day. FIVE.

Sure, it sounded fun today, but after a couple weeks it would certainly suck my soul.

I had to coach myself up a bit and return to the two Sustainable Productivity questions:

  1. Is this productive – am I getting the result I want?
  2. Is this sustainable – can I continue lifelong if I want?

The clear answer to both of these questions was no – a laughable no. Not a shaming laugh, but a, “Wow, do I slide back into old, bad habits quick?!” laugh.

In the podcast this week Genay and I talk about getting realistic about planning, which is of course the root of Sustainable Productivity. You can listen here or anywhere you get your podcasts.

As I wrap up this post, I want to ask if you would share the podcast or these posts with someone you think would relate. I often get people telling me to let them know how they can help me grow as a writer, speaker, and podcaster. Share, share, share. The most common way podcasts of our size grow is word of mouth. Recommending Sustainable Sue or Conscious Contact to someone would mean the world to me. Thank you!!

By |2022-06-07T09:48:48-04:00June 14th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Podcast: Is it Time for Recovery?

Hot take alert!

We all have the opportunity to be in recovery from something.

Recovery does not only mean abstinence from substances. You could be recovering from shopping addiction, perfectionism, need to be busy, social media, sex / porn or more. In our society we tend to pigeon hole recovery as something for people who cannot handle their liquor (or heroine or whatever substance).

Another hot take coming… It is not about the substance (or shopping, or feeling of importance at being so busy, or the porn). I think it is about feeling disconnected. The opposite of addition is not sobriety, it is connection.

On the podcast we talk about how recovery applies to each of our lives – both the woo woo and the practical, including resources that you might find practical.

One of my favorite “tools” as I am deciding whether something is part of recovery of part of disconnection is to ask myself this:

Will this move me towards or away from health?

Take a quiet moment to connect with yourself or have an honest conversation with an authentic trusted friend. Float the idea that something is not working for you. Peel off the layer to ask yourself / wonder out loud why you continue to do that or what it might be helping you disconnect from.

You may be surprised at what you find.

You can find the episode here. I would love to hear your thoughts on this theory of recovery. If you had a visceral aversion to these ideas, I would be interested to know that too. You can comment below or at susan@sustainablesue.com.

If these messages or the podcast is connecting with you, please share it with someone you think may be ready to hear it as well.

By |2022-05-31T15:52:47-04:00June 6th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Boredom

This week Genay and I go toe to toe on whether boredom is good or bad. Debate between us is always interesting because both of us suck at the grey area. We have a tendency to see things as black and white, bimodal, with me or against me, etc.

We talked about being “bored” as kids and how that looks today. We also spend a bit of time breaking down the different components of the definition of boredom.

Boredom: state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.

Weary

Sometimes what I call boredom is actually a signal that it is time to move on. This might be weary in a relationship – trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I have had friendly and romantic relationships where I felt more lonely with that person than by myself. I grew weary of trying to make it be different.  I did not identify this as boredom at the time, but looking at it from a distance I can see how it can be stale boredom to do the same thing over and over when all you want is something else.

Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

Lack of interest

The book I can only read a few pages of at a time. The craft project that I rush through just to be done. Skipping the last set of nerve glide exercises because I am sick to death of them.

All examples of how boredom shows up as lack of interest.

Restless

This is where I start to turn the corner on boredom – this restlessness can actually be considered a positive if it creates space to allow creativity in. Here are a couple ways this presents in my life these days:

  • Puttering through chores.

Some days I am just bored with the daily mundane work of being an adult. One trick Bixby and I use is to set a timer for 15 – 60 minutes, put on our favorite playlist to play throughout speakers all over the house, and divide and conquer on tasks. At the end of the timer, sometimes we quit on the spot, sometimes we wrap up the task, sometimes we continue to clean, etc.

But the opposite is also true – instead of jamming through a finite time slot, puttering around can be successful. I fill out a form and take it to the mailbox. While I am out there I see flowers to deadhead and get the scissors from inside. Dropping the deadheads in the compost bin, I decide to turn the compost. Then throw the ball for Lucille.

I go inside and take a stack of books upstairs and see a load of laundry needs to be put in. Sweeping the stairs leads to folding napkins. Turning over the laundry leads to matching odd socks.

It all leaves space to naturally lead to whatever the universe brings to my attention.

  • Sitting and not meditating. Not every second needs to be accounted for. Truly. Louder for the people in the back

NOT EVERY SECOND NEEDS TO BE ACCOUNTED FOR. 

Ok, if you need to account for it, call this “restless mind syndrome” and assign it a 5-minute time block. Literally sitting down with no agenda, no book, no TV or phone, and NOT trying to clear the mind. I keep a notebook and pencil for anything that flows in. I find that it takes a few minutes to start to trickle in. Then WHOOSH – floodgates.

Genay and I talk ourselves in circles and as usual the answer to if something good or bad, we came to the conclusion: yes.

You can listen to the whole episode here or wherever you get your podcasts. But I just need to summarize that this topic has lead back to something that I have been working a lot on – Making space.

Space to learn something new.

Meet new people.

Do something new.

React differently – or not at all.

Maybe listening to our thoughts on boredom will shake something loose for you. I would love to hear about it in the comments or email me at Susan@sustainablesue.com.

By |2022-05-22T15:37:39-04:00May 31st, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Conscious Contact at Work

I have spent quite a few years pretending I knew what I was doing. Approximately 40-some years.

It is exhausting.

In this week’s podcast, Genay and I talk about Conscious Contact in the workplace and for me, this is where imposter syndrome really showed itself.

And man, I sure took it out on a lot of my direct reports. I required perfection at all times and was scared shitless that someone would find out I was clueless on how to get there. I ruined a lot of relationships and drove off a lot of good people – just because they were different from me or needed something I was not able to give them.

Although I stopped managing people in 2010, it took about 7 more years for me to start to loosen the death grip on perfection. Here are a couple tent poles that I keep returning to:

  1. Wearing life like a loose garment.
  2. Learning about the Buddhist concepts of beginner mind.
  3. Having a sense of humor.
  4. Trying new things.

“In the beginners mind, there are many possibilities, but in the experts there are few.” Shunryu Surjuki

Listen to the whole episode at this link or wherever you get your podcasts.

By |2022-05-22T15:06:09-04:00May 24th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

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