I'm delighted to be joined by the inspiring American Author Susan Burrell. Susan is also a podcast host ‘Empowering Lives’, a presenter and guest speaker and is really helping people who are at a crossroads in life through her own intuitive healing.
After digging a bit deeper and reading more about Susan’s story, her journey really resonated with me and I'm sure lots of women will be able to gain some inspiration and relate to this one.
How do you describe yourself when you wear so many different hats?
I see myself as one of those carnival people of the last century with the poles and they're spinning plates and they're juggling. It's about creative freedom for me now in my later years. In my earlier years, I didn't think I was good enough or believe in myself. I was taught very carefully to not believe in myself in a very subterfuge clandestine way. As I got older, especially in the third chapter of my life, I really want to get out of that measurement of feeling less than and devalued and I did some very deep inner work.
Rachel I'm in the divine flow of life for the first time in my life and I had to work really hard to get into that flow of life. There’s days where I get sidetracked or I feel less than again, I mean, even though you do the work, it's an ongoing thing, right?
People think that once you get to this state of finding your way, of really finding the true self, that it's a done deal and you don't have to do any more work, but it's an ongoing journey.
Isn't it? Ongoing journey in this lifetime and probably many lifetimes, it's just an ongoing journey.
Life After Divorce
You’ve turned some really negative situations, emotions , feelings and gone through a similar experience to me with your divorce that really is life changing. How difficult did it get and how did you find your way out of it?
I've been on a spiritual quest since I was 17, 18 so I already had accumulated tons of skill sets. Working as a counsellor for 20 years with skill sets that I would use with my clients, I just used all of them on me.
I thought I had almost escaped the divorce debacle, you know, Oh, we've made 28 years and aren't we great. No!
All of a sudden, these women who had been divorced, came flooding into my life, you know, because if I'm not married, where's my tribe?
My girlfriends who were still married couldn't understand what I was going through. I started hanging out with other divorced women and I noticed after a bottle and a half of wine later, they were still embittered after having been divorced 15 years ago. I'm like, I don't I want to be like that because I knew I had a second path in life.
I knew I wanted to live fully since it felt like my first half, I wasn't living my life as me. I was living my life in conjunction with someone, in partnership with someone. It was time to give Susan her turn and I think that happens a lot with women.
We give ourselves permission all of a sudden to really think about ourselves and what we want to achieve in life.
Divorce kind of kicks you out of the nest, right? It throws you out of that comfort zone, so for me I didn't realize it was happening until I actually chose to file.
What I mean by that is I kept trying to make it right and it wasn't ever going to be right. It probably wasn't right from the beginning of the marriage and I stayed 28 years, I was shattered. My understanding of who I was, was completely shattered, like shattered glass.
Different colours all over the floor. I felt like during the divorce, it was so contentious. I felt like I was crawling on my belly through that glass almost every day. After a while of feeling sorry for myself and running my story to friends and crying and sobbing and going through several box of Kleenex, I thought how do I want to come out of this?
I want to come out better than I've ever been in my life.
I am so surprised I'm saying this, Rachel, but the gift for me was to really dig deep into my spiritual practice again. Opening up that toolbox that I had and then applying it to myself. The gift really was the divorce because I came out loving and respecting myself more than I ever had. I came out respecting the work that I do, which I had always just kind of fluffed off. I gained the insight.
That’s the heart of what self-love is about, about accepting and loving yourself.
So many people don't know how to do that. We haven't been taught that at university or kindergarten, or we haven't necessarily even been taught that in our family of origin. I know I wasn't taught that. The good news is you get to make your life up however you want and if you want it to be a good, healthy, empowered, fun, creative life, you get to have that.
How did you stop the fear from eating away at you and step into your new life? I think so many women that I talk to have dreams and aspirations and they want to try and take those next steps forward but then the fear blocks and stops them from doing that.
That's a really good question. I think that was the gift of my divorce. I had been affirmed over and over that this is the work I'm supposed to do, not go be a sales clerk somewhere, or a waitress again. The fear showed up , Oh my gosh, where's my income, you know, but I began to learn that in order to come out whole loving myself more, I had to face the fear.
I attempt to do that now, when it comes up, I have to face it. Often times when you face that fear you can see that it's really just a small part of you that's trying to keep you safe. It's not a big bugaboo guy. It's a small little thing within you that's saying I'm scared. When you can recognize that, or when I do, then I can comfort it or say, well we're still going to do this anyway, but you're going to be okay. I do a lot of that kind of work in meditation or journaling.
I've just started doing that. I started writing a gratitude journal at the end of every day and I think it’s really made a difference. It has kept me grounded with in reality and given me a better understanding of what’s truly important to me in life.
A good journaling prompt you might ask yourself in the morning is what do I need to know today? I just do stream of consciousness writing. What do I need to know about my day to day and see what happens?
Live Your Empowered Life
You’ve now used all your experiences, your spiritual practice and your intuitive gift that brought you into the forefront to be able to help other people that are at the same crossroads in life. How has your work evolved into an inspiring book?
I had several clients and colleagues say, Oh, 'I can't wait to get your book. I'm going to read it'. I'm like, Oh, it's not a self-help read, you might get a gem but it's a let's go on this journey together and hunker down and do the inner work.
There's lots of affirmations in the book to work, I crafted it so you're going to begin on a gentle ride and then you're going to dive deep and then you're going to come up for air and then you're going to dive deep again.
Until you can get to a place where towards the end of the book, you get to rewrite your purpose in life and come out of the book with a real conscious purpose, which is a spiritual purpose.
I mostly work with women who have gone through divorce or are going through divorce and they really want to heal.
Most of my clients re reflect what I went through, they don't know themselves. I have a stellar client who said, I never knew that I had a choice about loving myself.
Feeling Lost in Midlife and Finding your Way Back
Why do you think we do lose ourselves in society? It does seem to be a common theme that women get to the forties and fifties and come to this point where they need to find themselves.
I'm praying and knowing that the current generation of women will not go through that, that they're going to know themselves sooner. I think what we're witnessing now in our generation is a closure of an old story, an old paradigm. The patriarchal that women should be seen and not heard, women stand behind their man, women stay at home, Or if you go out in the workplace, you come back and you do the laundry and cook the meals and clean up and put the kids to bed.
Inspiring women are the ones that are going to lead us into the light in and are the ones that are going to lead us into how the new way of living. I'm not saying men aren't going to be a part of it, but it's going to be awakened men, not men that continue to do the good old boy club thing, because it's dead and they're still beating it with a stick.
Women would hit midlife with society's description of how women are supposed to be in the world was complete. Get married. raise kids, maybe go to university, find a job, but now halfway through it's like, NO! and that's why women wake up and go holy moly, who am I? I'm tired of doing what everybody else tells me to do.
I had a yearning; I had a divine urge within me to be more than I was. I got battered mentally, emotionally, and energetically to wake up and stop with the old. I think a lot of women go through that.
That really resonates with me and that yearning for knowing that actually deep down inside you, there's something that was trying to get out, someone to be who you could be. It’s about finding your way through that.
Finding your way through is different for everyone, but I believe a consistent focus if you allow it. That focus is what we were talking about earlier, focusing on that divine urge, not what your head's telling you, but what your heart's telling you.
Allowing that to begin to inform you your wisdom within, because all the answers we are asking for reside right within us.
If you align with your higher self, if you align with the infinite then all your answers are right inside you. That's why journaling and meditating, silent meditation is so important because that's how you can hear.
Finding Inner Peace Through Meditation
Let’s talk about meditation. I know how good it could be for me, but I do struggle to switch my brain off. What tips can you recommend helping beginners learn to let go and meditate.
Meditation insight is a great ap. If you've never meditated, you can set it for five minutes. You don't have to worry about what else is happening and build up the amount of time you feel comfortable. What I encourage people is to start a meditation practice and start a journaling practice.
The journaling practice can happen right after your meditation, because then you're more open and you can write down insights. But what you also said, Rachel, starting a gratitude journal. That works a lot for people, especially if you're feeling a little down and out. Writing down the things you're grateful for is a very simple process to move you from despair or fear into love and light.
I have a guided meditation that I'd love to give them. It's called out of the box thinking and they can download it @susanburrell.com/free-gift-meditation
My last question is if you could give yourself a compliment, what would it be? Women are notoriously bad at accepting compliments we always try to pass it off and push it aside or make a joke of it.
Wow, that's going to make me cry. I think I would. I, Oh, I can't even get the words out.
I would tell myself that I'm very proud of who I am now proud of the courage and the strength that I am and proud of the love and the value I bring. I'm very proud.
I'm sure you will agree Susan Burrell has really been inspiring and giving us all a lot to think about.
If you'd like to find out more, please go visit www.susanburrell.com.
You can listen to full audio interview here
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