Fullest Expression or Sustainably Productive Expression?

“Fullest expression” is a phrase that they use a lot in my yoga classes. “Should” is not a word permitted in the studio. Instead of blahblah-asana being a pose where you should have your arms wrapped around your legs while balancing on your head, the instructor coaches us that pretzel is the fullest expression and we can also just do arms or incorporate the head stand part if it feels right today. 

Which is a relief because there is one thing this old bod is not doing these days and it is fullest expression of anything upside down. 

Full expression and well, my expression. If this doesn’t clarify the difference, I am not sure what else to do.

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of fullest expression lately as things are getting shuffled around in my life. Nothing major just projects that require a some small adjustments to logistics. 

Fullest Expression Off the Mat

A few balls have gotten dropped, and I am definitely out of my routines. Which often leads me to less than Sustainably Productive thinking. Here is what that might sound like:

  • What is wrong with me – normally I have my writing done by now.
  • I should be able to do all three things. 
  • Other people manage a lot more than this, why can’t I?

I feel my attention being fractured as I spend several hours each day continually bouncing around. The context shifting is exhausting. By the end of the day my fullest expression is the fetal position under a blanket clutching the remote. I know my habits and routines bring relief to this pinging around, but I feel like there is not enough time or I should be doing something else. If I can’t do the whole routine, I do nothing. 

For example, I recently got up later than usual and skipped morning reading and journaling before going to exercise. I felt like I had been shot out of a cannon all day. It was like I was living on 1.5 speed instead of the normal pace of life. Everything felt out of synch. 

I wonder if you might have days like this too? 

Real Life Look In

What if we do a small part of each bits of our routine? If we cannot do the whole enchilada, maybe we can have small bites of it. Here is what it might look like as it relates to my morning on ramp:

Fullest Expression

Journaling: 15 minutes

Personal Development, Daily Devotional Reading: 20 minutes

Meditation: 20 minutes

Stretch: 6 minutes

Sustainable Productivity Expression

Journaling: 5 minutes

Reading: 5 minutes

Meditation: 1 minute

Doing a truncated version of the routine is better than chucking the whole thing and shoulding on myself all day. This is different than a routine not working. This is for a day the alarm didn’t go off. Or you have to catch a flight. Or a kid woke up sick. 

Showing up for yourself consistently – even if it is not the fullest expression – can continue to keep that fly wheel of habit change turning.  

Sustainable You Questions

  1. Do you have a day in the next week where you know you need an abbreviated version of your routine?
  2. How can you plan now for what that shortened window can be used in a Sustainably Productive way?

It can be hard to reframe fullest expression to Sustainable Productivity Expression. If you need help find me on social media or send me a message to Susan@SustainableSue.com. I would be glad to help you work on it!

Until next time –

By |2023-02-03T19:38:24-05:00February 7th, 2023|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

My Mom Was Right

There is nothing an adult woman hates to admit more than this – my mom was right. 

Perhaps I can only admit this now that she died, which was almost three years to the day that this weekly essay is going out. Needless to say she has been on my mind a lot in the last few weeks. 

One of the things my mom always told us was, “When in doubt… Don’t.”

  • Iffy about that skirt I was trying on during back to school shopping?
    • When in doubt… Don’t.
  • Unsure about accepting the invitation to the party?
    • When in doubt… Don’t.
  • Afraid of crossing that empty parking lot in the dark?
    • When in doubt… Don’t.

What makes so much sense now drove me bat shit crazy when I was a teenager. No one wanted clothes to fit her more than 6 foot tall 15-year old Sue. Pants were too short, all sleeves were jersey length, shoes for my boat-sized feet might as well have come from Dorothy Zbornak‘s closet. 

I knew I was not comfortable in these clothes, but I wanted to fit in so badly. Then came The Phrase: When in doubt… don’t. 

I knew those Guess jeans were going back on the rack for a shorter girl to buy later. 

But Today Sue has been in my mom’s shoes (proverbially, I could not fit in her stylish shoes either). I know what regret can do. I know my mom was right when she encouraged a moment of pause before making a bad decision. 

The Pause

There is so much power in that pause. 

The pause can be a moment. For example, the moment in an argument when it goes off the rails. You know, when “you did not put your plate in the dishwasher” becomes “I do everything around here!”

The pause can be silence after no thank you. As in a response to that weird feeling when a stranger at a bar hands you a drink you didn’t ask for. Or something that seems more benign like an invitation to join a committee or volunteer program.

Stop talking. Pause. Because see, no is a complete sentence. That pause is where you used to fill in nonsense syllables because you felt like you had to fill the air. 

The pause can be more final than that – a decision of no when it is not a HELL YES. 

I know it will feel weird. But weird is just another feeling.

The Weird

Whenever you start to do something different, it will feel weird.

  • Learning to shoot with my left hand felt weird when I was 10. 
  • Lessons behind the manual transmission car felt weird when I was 16.
  • Becoming a step mother at 34 was a step beyond weird (I still often look for the parent in the room before realizing it is me).
  • Learning to live without alcohol when I was 43 – definitely weird. 
  • Saying no thank you <<PAUSE FOR SILENCE>> now that I am 48 is weird. 

If you can get through the weird, you will find that it fades pretty quickly. Science tells us that emotions that go uninterrupted by thoughts will fade after about 90 seconds. 

Ninety seconds. Maybe we could amend what my mom said to this:

When in doubt don’t. Then count to 90. 

You might just be amazed at what comes your way when you stop chasing what you give a doubtful yes. 

Sustainable You Questions

  1. Reflect on last week or notice this week if you give doubtful yes answer. 
  2. Where did the doubt come from? 
  3. Why did you feel you could not say no?

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. 

Until next time –

By |2023-01-31T07:14:26-05:00January 31st, 2023|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Ask the Right Questions

It is not enough to just ask questions, we need to ask the right questions. The questions that might need a pause before answering or that you might still be thinking about later. The questions that might make you change your mind. 

Let’s break down why it is important to ask the right questions. 

Example One

Here is a recent scene in our house. Bixby and I were trying to figure out when we would go for our lunch break walk. This is a common mid day reprieve that can happen anywhere between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm, depending on when we have meetings and such. This particular day it was raining on and off so we were planning around Mother Nature instead of Captain Calendars. 

Sue: Alexa, what is the weather?

Alexa: blah blah blah 60 degrees blah blah blah

It was super unhelpful and did not answer the question.

Bixby is freakishly good at the “ask the right question” concept.

Bixby: Alexa, when will it stop raining?

Alexa: The rain should stop in Greensboro at 11:45 am. 

Out the door we went. Boom, ask the right question. 

Example Two

One of my Sustainable Sue goals for this year is to write for an editor. Sure, I edit before hitting publish on the weekly essay, but I am not an editor. One of the best ways to improve writing is to write for an editor. So I have been searching for calls for submissions for various publications. 

My initial Google search, “Calls for submissions” resulted in 250 MILLION results. This was a smidge time prohibitive to sift through. I decided to try again with a better search question, “Calls for submissions burnout 2023”. 

Result: 488,000. This was much more manageable. 

It is important to ask the right question, but maybe you are seeking clarity on why to ask at all. I would like to gently suggest that if you think you are too busy to stop and ask questions – right or otherwise – you might be the prime candidate to do specifically that: pause and ask. 

Why Ask At All?

Curiosity is one of my core values and this often results in the question WHY (or its often more cutting cousin WHY NOT). I want to help you understand why it is important to ask questions at all and especially to try to get to ask the right questions. Engaging in your life means that you are not numbly plodding along doing what you have always done. Sure, routine is important – but even routines get refreshed now and again (if they are Sustainably Productive routines). 

If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.

My favorite question at this point is this: How is that working for you?

If it gives you the lift you need, ask why this is working for you or how you can get more of it. 

If it is working like dragging an anchor through the desert, ask yourself:

  • Is this me being busy and feeling important or me being busy and getting the important things done?
  • Am I tired from getting things done or context shifting between tasks?
  • Do I resent others not showing up for myself because I am not showing up for me? 
  • Are my hateful feelings because they are taking care of themselves when I don’t seem to be able to get to do that?
  • What is keeping me from showing up for myself and taking care of me?
  • Is what I am telling myself true?

Is this me being busy and feeling important or me being busy and getting the important things done?

  1. Am I tired from getting things done or context shifting between tasks?
  2. Do I resent others not showing up for myself because I am not showing up for me? 

Sustainable You Questions

I want to acknowledge that these questions can feel like a roundhouse kick in the gut. Maybe you are reading this message in the car pool lane or while waiting for take out – inopportune times to reflect to say the least. I have put these questions into a freebie that you can download here for you to take to your journal, your therapist, your personal Board of Directors, your partner, your best friend or your Higher Power. Just because something feels unanswerable does not make it wrong. And just because you are skimming along ok on the surface does not make it right. 

It might just be the fact you have not asked the right questions yet. 

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. 

Until next time –

By |2023-01-17T18:55:50-05:00January 24th, 2023|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Holiday Decorating the SusPro Way

Holiday decorating is a great example of how all three dimensions of Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) intersect. First of all decorating is not my strength. If it were up to me I would dress myself and my house in Garanimals type combinations that are easy to figure out. I don’t feel much joy in the process of decorating and I am not good at it – which actually is a pretty good combination. 

Well, it is a good combination if I accept this. When I am not spiritually fit and I try to keep up with shoulds and Real Simple magazine ads, this is where I fall into unsustainable and non productive. I need to clarify here, I like to have holiday decorating done, but I don’t like to do it or make decisions about it.

In our house we put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Since it is on my mind right now I thought I would give you a sneak peek into how I keep holiday decorating Sustainably Productive in all three SusPro dimensions.

Watching the movie “Elf” after putting up the tree is one of my favorite traditions.

Health and Fitness Dimension

SusPro Question: What can I physically manage?

I have zero interest in spending my energy hauling bin after bin down rickety attic pull down stairs and then another flight of stairs dodging Lucille. I accept I only have a finite amount of energy. I want to spend it doing things that light me up, not holiday decorating. 

Mental Well-being Dimension

SusPro Question: What do I have time for?

See above – it is not bin hauling. What I know about myself is that I have about a 2-hour tolerance for holiday decorating. I love having our adult kids home putting their janky macramé ornaments on the tree. I love Lucille looking so hopeful that we finally agree to follow her lead and bring trees inside. I love holiday music playing with the fireplace on (even if it is 65 in North Carolina). 

I love all of that until I don’t. Then I want to be done. I don’t want to let it linger for days. 

Lucille also does not want the bins to linger.

Environmental Surroundings

SusPro Question: What brings the mood, vibe I am going for?

Do you want cheery? Peaceful? Welcoming? Cozy? While the environment can be each of these things independently and there might be some overlap, trying to meet cheery and peaceful in the same settings on the playlist could be a challenge. Same with amount and color of lights on the tree. Ditto for how many trees you put up. 

On the Conscious Contact Podcast episode 42, Genay talked about her vision for the house they are building – she wants multiple trees in her house. My sister does the same thing. The idea of cleaning up pine needles from more than one location in our home is not SusPro for me. 

Did you catch that part? For me. Sure you probably share your space with someone else at least part of the holiday season. But starting with where you are, identifying what is and is not working, then making adjustments will get you the SusPro holiday decorating experience you deserve. 

This time of year is hectic enough without adding to it yourself. Make holiday decorating work for you instead of it driving you to want to escape the whole season.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What can I physically manage?
  2. What do I have time for?
  3. What sights, sounds, smells, etc. bring the mood I am going for?

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

By |2022-11-29T07:27:08-05:00November 29th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

I quit.

As an early Thanksgiving gift to all loyal Sustainable Sue followings, I offer this message of thanks and gratitude.

Source: Giphy

This is a message about quitting.

The Yesterday Sue that drafted that Fall Fun List is not the same Today Sue that sits here writing this. Isn’t this always how it happens with goals and plans? Recently on the Conscious Contact podcast we talked about Motivation vs. Determination (spoiler: one gets you started and one keeps you going). Then we talked about Quitting (spoiler: I am in favor of it).

Prepping for and recording both of these episodes brought to mind several things that apply to this Fall Fun List. But first I want to recap where we are with this whimsical exercise.

Fall Fun Recap

The original plan poked up its head in September, and I asked you for your suggestions. After considering my time, energy, preferences, and budget I landed on five things that seemed simple at the time.

I posted updates about progress here and here. Then I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for work for 7 days for a somewhat last minute trip. When I planned the Fall Fun List, I thought for sure that the trip was going to be cancelled.

Source: Giphy

When we returned from the trip, most of the leaves had turned. Then hurricane remnants came through and leaf peeping season was over.

I still want to get more time around the fire pit, but the weather took that weird North Carolina turn and went from 75 to 29 in one day. I need to get brave enough to sit out there.

SusPro Adjustment

Let’s swing these results around to view from a Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) lens. Rarely do plans work out the way we want. Why do we continue to have the unreal expectation that they will if we just apply our iron will?

Plans are worthless. Planning is everything.

dwight d. Eisenhower

So my SusPro adjustment is to quit. I am putting a stopper on the Fall Fun List. Not a pause, a stop. I am finished with that. I quit. And it feels final and complete, not like a failure. Maybe I will try again next year. Maybe there will be other fun things I want to try instead.

The point is that hanging onto tasks, goals, and plans just to be stubborn is not productive – it is not getting me the joy of doing these things. Sure there is value in perseverance, but I will save that for important things like writing my book proposal and getting my last 3 work projects across the finish line before the end of the year. Not forcing myself to try to control Mother Nature to stop raining so I can have a fire pit to cross something off the list.

Sustainable Productivity Questions

  1. What is something on your to do list that you are stubbornly hanging onto?
  2. What is keeping that item on your list and what would it be like to cross it off or just let it go?

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

By |2022-11-15T09:43:22-05:00November 22nd, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

A Good List

I love a good list, I am the daughter of two educators, and these phenomena are colliding this week. The result is a list of 7 good things in my life right now (A Good List, if you will), highlighting where they fit into the concepts around Sustainable Productivity. 

I am trying to practice what I preach by whittling out the things that are not working for me and I could not continue lifelong. 

The Good List

1 – Paul, Lucille | Relationships component of Mental Well-being dimension

These two are my ride or die, as the kids say. Loneliness has a greater impact on health than even heart disease which highlights the importance of relationships in our lives. These two bring me lots of joy.

This is the view from the desk in my office. I am not sure how I get work done with all this cuteness around.
Speaking of cuteness! This is a coffee shop close to our house. We stopped after a Sunday morning hike recently.

2 – Books | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

I had a streak in October where I had 8 books going at once. Most of these were non-fiction and it got to be a little too much. I did a bit of “deck clearing” where I waited until I finished everything to start new books, which is unusual for me. But this change of pace was just what I needed.

3 – Hot yoga | Exercise component of Health and Fitness dimension

Hot yoga at Dancing Dog Yoga in Greensboro is helping me hold off another cortisone shot in my knee. As the weather cools off the heat in the room (95-105 degrees) really helps me stretch safely and the power flow has really increased my strength. Part of my seasonal adjustments to exercise will be to add another day of hot yoga since I am less likely to ride my bike.

4 – Fiber crafts | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

Makoto Fujimura is an artist who embraces the art as a “slow act of making as sacred work.” This really resonates with me related to fiber crafts that I have been working on lately. It takes a long time to knit a pair of socks – especially to get them right. I made 5 pair of socks over the course of a year, and they gradually improved. There really is not a way to rush it. I can only knit as fast as I am able. And that is enough. And enough is sacred these days. 

5 – Learning | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

Between trying to grow the Sustainable Sue business and the Conscious Contact podcast, I have spent a lot of time learning new things in recent months. I can almost feel wrinkles forming in my brain – and I love it! There is nothing better than tinkering with ideas and seeing them come to life (see previous comment: I am the daughter of 2 educators). Here are a few highlights:

  • Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) – this will help me lead more effective online courses and video content
  • Video podcasting – Genay and I launched our video podcast last month
  • Building out the Sustainable Sue YouTube channel – This has been a really interesting combination of creativity, marketing and technical skills. 

6 – Travel | Hobbies component of Mental Well-being dimension

Last week I had to travel for work to the Pacific Northwest. Bixby, my emotional support animal, came with me. We traveled to three cities in 7 days – Portland, Yakima, and Seattle. We ate incredible food, tucked into more than our fair share of coffee and desserts, and saw inspiring views. 

Yakima Canyon
Redmon Memorial Bridge – Yakima, WA
Washington Arboretum – Seattle, WA
Last coffee at our favorite shop – Caffe Vita in Queen Anne area of Seattle

7 – Coming home | Rest component of Environmental Surroundings dimension

While I do love to travel, MAN DO I LOVE TO COME HOME. I love my bed, my office, the Soda Stream machine, and my routines. 

You will see that the list is heavy on the Mental Well-being dimension. This has always been the hardest part of wellness for me. This is usually where I turn first when I am feeling wonky and try to make adjustments. That might not be your first choice, but what is important is that you know where to focus first.

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What is saving your life right now?
  2. How could you share that with others?
  3. List three ways you could get more of that in your life in the coming months.

I would love to hear what is on your Good List. Reply to this message or come find me on Instagram or Facebook.

By |2022-10-31T09:05:39-04:00November 1st, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Values and Routines

This time of year everyone jumps on the routines bandwagon. Newspapers, magazines, social media, TV, school pick up lines – everyone is talking about creating fall routines to fix our lives. 

Fixing our lives is an inside job and applying someone else’s routine is not the Sustainably Productive way forward. You don’t fix internal bleeding with a bandaid. You fix it by getting inside to the root of the issue and stopping the bleeding. This is how Desmond Tutu describes it:

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

Around here we go back to the core of who we are – our values. 

Values are defined as, “judgement of what is important in life.” I would like to build on what Webster has to say here: important in each of our lives today.

Let’s talk more about each part.

…Each of our lives…

What is important to me may not be important to you. On the podcast (Episode 19: Routines and Values, which you can listen to here), Genay made a statement that had me sitting straight up in my chair: I do not want to live out of fear.

This is a stake in the ground that she can bounce all ideas off of. A few of my core values are integrity, curiosity, sustainability. These are the benchmarks that I make decisions from. We covered several examples of this on the podcast.

I want to elaborate here the importance of letting your values lead your systems. Let’s say for example that you and I were both invited to a party on Friday. For the sake of the discussion, consider that sustainability is a value for me, and a value of yours is friendship. 

Knowing that I will be completely drained on Friday evening after a full week of work and life, it does not feel sustainable to me to get myself out the door to interact with a room full of strangers. Now consider that you might be an introvert as well and have had a long, intense week just like me. But your value is friendship so you go to the party to support your friend knowing that supporting her will be fulfilling.

Both scenarios are ok. Neither is good or bad or better than another. This is why values should be considered for each person. 

Let’s look at the other addition to the definition. 


What is important to you today may change. 

It may change once your kids are out of the house. Or when you retire. Or when you go from being single to being married (or vice versa). Or just because you having life experiences and change your mind about your values. 

All of that is ok. Again – neither is good or bad or better than another. 

Now that we have a better definition of values, let’s look at a couple other constructs around routines and values.

Schedules vs Routines

There is a difference between schedules and routines. A schedule indicates that you have committed to do a certain thing at a certain time. But a routine is a group of activities that can serve as a transition to or from a certain part of your day. Here is an example.

My morning routine serves as an on ramp from being in bed to being at my day job. I have several activities like dog walk, breakfast, play Jeopardy via Alexa with Bixby, specific readings, meditation, and my stretches. 

This is a routine because none of it is time bound. It just happens between when I put my feet on the floor and when I log into my day job. Of course it needs to be reasonable so I don’t get fired, but if I walk the dog at 5:45 am or 6:30 am, it doesn’t matter. It is not a schedule. 

This provides me with freedom on days I want to do yoga. Class is at 6:00 am. If I had a morning schedule that the dog had to be walked at 6:00 am, I would never be able to do yoga. That is not productive nor sustainable. Instead I just rearrange the activities in my routine into a different order on mornings I want to get to yoga. 

Think of time as bumpers, not electrified rails. You have a window of time to get activities done vs. electrocution if you divert any small amount.

The third rail is not a fun and inviting place to be. Source: Photo by Rémi Bertogliati on Unsplash

Returning to my morning routine example, I know I have between 5:30 am – 9:00 am to complete my routine. Some days I can knock it all out by 7:00 am. Some days I may or may not be stretching while my work computer fires up because it took longer to get my feet on the floor or spent longer on the dog walk. But if I viewed this as a schedule, and 5:40 am – 6:15 am was dog walk window and I did not get started until 5:45 am…

ZAP. Into the electric third rail. These are the things that lead us to ditch habits, feel like a failure, and want to escape our lives. 

One more thought on setting yourself up to pair your values and routines. 

Ideal Me or Real Me

Honor the Real You that you are today, not the Ideal You of shoulds and dreams. When building routines start where you are, not where the ideal version of you is. 

And please, I beg of you – if you only get this one thing as a takeaway from this weekly essay – do not do this with shame. There is no shame in what is the Real You today. Shame and judgement will derail every attempt to link your routines and values. 

Maybe the Ideal You has her digital files sorted and organized, photos up to date and backed up, only a few things on her laptop main screen. That is all well and good, but Real You is in the weeds with school aged kids and a full time job where there is management transition. Look at how you can combine values and routines to suit Real You.

  • That might be deleting 5 old files per week. 
  • Maybe it is spending 15 minutes of each kids’ practice time (while you are waiting anyway) deleting old photos you know you don’t want to back up. 
  • Real You might be able to just hire someone to handle it for you. 

Nowhere in this bulleted list does it say to shame yourself for not being able to keep up with digital clutter. That is not productive, nor sustainable. 

Sustainable You Questions

1) What couple activities could you reframe as routine instead of schedule?

2) Are there certain times of day that you feel a transition would help – morning, bed time for kids, bed time for you – these are popular places people address first.

3) Is what you consider “Ideal You” matching up to your values or is that what someone else told you the standard was?

By |2022-09-23T12:45:11-04:00October 4th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Eating Sustainably

On the surface eating sustainably could be viewed as for the environment only, but what about your personal environment – your health, home and happiness? 

On the podcast we talked about eating sustainably in a traditional sense – supporting local agencies and those with humane practices. I encourage you to listen to that episode here. I have had additional thoughts since we recorded about what sustainable eating means for each dimension of Sustainable Productivity (SusPro). That is what I want to explore more with you today. 

Click on the photo to go to the podcast episode page.

Health and Fitness: Nutrition

Nutrition is a component of the Health and Fitness SusPro dimension. The quality of nutrition has a direct impact on your health. It is probably the most intuitive connection to eating sustainably. 

Maybe you choose to eat meat – or not. Maybe you are gluten intolerant – or not. Regardless of what healthy eating means to you, the common theme is to make changes that are sustainable. As you make small adjustments to your nutrition, ask yourself the SusPro questions:

1. Am I getting the outcome I want?

2. Can I continue to do this lifelong if I want to?

If you eliminate a food group because you are trying to be healthy, but don’t have enough energy to be physically active are you really getting the outcome you want?

If you restrict calories thinking it is healthy, but you are hungry and irritated all the time is this something you can continue to do lifelong?

Eating sustainably is as much about habits as the food itself.

Mental Well-being: Relationships

Relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being SusPro dimension. Since food tends to be a natural gathering point, eating sustainably can have a direct impact here. What if you incorporate the idea of eating sustainably into your relationships?

Case Study 1.

Eating sustainably means making adjustments for the season of life you are in. Maybe fall means an especially busy couple months for your family. In order to eat healthy in a way that sustains your sanity, this fall means brown bags in the van or picnics at the ball field with your people. Instead of eating in shifts around games and practices, what if you gathered for 15 minutes in a park in between everyone’s destination to eat a cooler dinner. Young kids especially might be delighted by an al fresco dinner party.

Case study 2.

It is not too early to think about eating sustainably over the holidays. My husband’s family has a few football coaches in it. In order to give them (and their families) some breathing room these holidays, we are moving our gathering to January or February. What is important is gathering in a low stress time to eat together. One of the things I cherish most about these folks is that they are flexible and know what is important to them. I know so many families who implode if Christmas is not celebrated on December 25. Not my in laws. Sustainable relationships are gathering at a time when we can be focused on each other, not on the clock and having to rush off to the next thing.

Case study 3.

What if eating sustainably encompassed experiences with those you are in relationship with? My teenage niece had a slumber part this summer where they made pasta from scratch for their dinner. The idea of pulling these teens away from phones to interact with each other in the kitchen is what eating sustainably means to me. Then bonus when my niece went to visit my dad and she discovered Papa had a Kitchen Aid mixer too! I cried when my sister sent pictures of Sydney cooking for her grandpa. I am sure it is a core memory for him too.

Source: Disney Tumblr

Environmental Surroundings: Physical Clutter

Physical clutter is a component of the Environmental Surroundings SusPro dimension and certainly impacts eating sustainably. Although this has changed over the years, for us it has to do with how we meal plan – we are working on doing a better job at eating what we have. Setting up our physical space to support this is important. Here are a few ways we reduce our physical clutter to support eating sustainably.

1. Clear expired pantry food a couple times each year. I am always stunned to find out spices and hot sauce expire, but they do. Before I met Bixby I thought I was a bad cook. Turns out my spices expired in the 1990s. 

2. Pare down appliances. My husband does the cooking and is the gatekeeper to what tools come into his kitchen. He has a rule to not clutter the kitchen with one trick ponies. Garlic press can only press garlic. He has wicked knife skills so it takes less time for him to dice garlic than it does for me to clean the garlic press so out it went. 

3. Make things easier to find. We moved seldom used tools to a separate space. There is no need to move the cake decorating tools out of the way every time we need the pasta pot or immersion blender. The once or twice a year we need to decorate a cake, we can pull that box down from the higher shelf. 

Sustainable You Questions

1. Can you identify what eating sustainably means to you today, in this season of life?

2. How can you get more of that or reduce the barrier to getting more?

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-13T13:42:51-04:00September 20th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Inconvenience as Sustainable Productivity

People often think that as a productivity coach I offer hacks, tips, and tricks to get more done. 

Nope. I truly cannot stand the term, “hack.” 

I would rather help you find out how to do more of what matters and delegate the rest to the floor.  The message that I want you to hear is about SUSTAINABLE productivity, not just productivity. Sometimes sustainability is not convenient. Sometimes sustainability is not pleasing to other people. But this is your life. To paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, “What will you do with your wild and precious life?”


I would like to suggest you consider being / doing / consuming less convenience. Recently on the Conscious Contact Podcast, Genay and I talk about fast food – the convenience of it and how it encourages this “hurry up” type of life. Please hear this – convenience encouraging a “hurry up” life extends beyond fast food that does not satiate.

Here are a few non-food examples:

1 – One night stands don’t satiate the need for connection with others. 

2 – Over exercising doesn’t satiate the need for connection with our bodies. 

This lack of feeling satiated or satisfied leads to disconnection. That disconnection leads to feelings of needing to numb out or escape your life. You deserve to have more than this with your one wild, precious life. 

“Joy is a state of appreciation that allows us to fully participate in life.” Pema Chodron


One way to inch toward creating more connection is to make small adjustments over time. This can be done in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity – health, happiness, and habitat. 

Health – Nutrition

In the podcast we go into depth about ways to move away from convenience food. But maybe smaller steps are needed to make the sustainable forward progress. Today maybe you eat fast food biscuits twice a week. What if one week you made the tube biscuits that pop on one day and had fast food biscuits one day. Try that for a few weeks, then you might have poppable biscuits at home both days. 

If that feels Sustainably Productive for you, experiment with biscuit recipes and move away from the tube biscuits. Connect with the process of cooking. Bank the money you save for a special reward – clothes, a movie, books are my favorite, of course. Include your people in the process to make the connection even more special.

Bixby and my niece making homemade ravioli over the summer.
The time Bixby taught my niece how to use a kitchen torch. It went deliciously well!

Happiness – Career

If you are feeling disconnected from your career, instead of quitting, consider what is not working for you. One of the most life changing things I learned about burnout came from Jim Loehr in the book The Power of Full Engagement, “If you never fully disconnect, you can never really connect.”

Do you sneak looks at your work email after dinner on your phone while watching TV with your kids? Do you work on that one report “real quick” on Sunday morning instead of going to church with your spouse because you are golfing later? How often do you lose sleep because you are replaying work conversations in your head?

Not productive. Not sustainable. 

What are small ways you can work on disconnecting in order to make connection that much more special? Here are a few things that worked for me when I was at a particularly burned out point in my career:

I took lunch away from my desk with no coworkers. Even if it was just 15 minutes to eat my brown bag lunch on a bench or in my car, the break was impactful.

Put limits on weekend work. I had to ween myself off weekend work. Only Sundays for awhile, then only Sunday afternoon, then only what I could bring home, then only an hour. Until I stopped weekend work completely. Cold turkey is hard – use a step down approach when needed.

Double the time you think it will take to do ANYTHING. If you block 30 minutes to work on that performance review, expand it to an hour. We have a tendency to overestimate ourselves and underestimate the task. 

Habitat – Physical clutter

If your home is feeling cluttered, instead of doing a trash bag shovel out disconnecting with ALL the stuff, consider what specifically is not working. 

Do you have a cabinet that has stuff fall out every time you open it? Is your sock drawer so stuffed you cannot open it? If you need to start smaller, take 10 minutes to wander around your home with a piece of paper and pen. Open cabinets and drawers, look at the memorabilia on shelves and photos on walls. Does your environment give you the vibe you are going for? If not, what is 1 area that you know you cannot accept lifelong – start there. 

Sustainable You Questions

1 – Do you seek out convenience so that you can jam more activities into less time? Why do you think that is?

2 – How is that working for you? How does that feel in your body at the moment you are jamming things into less time? 

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-05T14:30:42-04:00September 6th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|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


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