How do you start your day?
Working from home means I wake without an alarm, something I’m still grateful for even though I haven’t been traditionally employed in over 12 years! Most mornings start with lemon juice in hot water and some tarot cards and journaling. Some mornings also include a bit of yoga and meditation though I’m starting to prefer doing that mid-morning to break up the intensity of working on my laptop. Occasionally my morning starts with email and stressing over my to-do list. I’d love to tell you that I always start each day in a grounded, centered place and take everything in my stride but often that’s not the case. What I can tell you is I am very good at being kind to myself—see next question.
What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?
I ask myself “What’s the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?” It might be splashing out on a taxi because I know I’m going to be late. It might be closing my laptop and lying on my bed for an hour. It might be saying no to something so I can make space to say yes to myself. Deadlines overwhelm me but they are necessary so I try to make enough time around them so I don’t lose my mind. Emotional overwhelm can strike at any time but I’m very good at checking in with myself—my journal is never far from my side!
What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?
Spending time with my nephew—he is my heartlight. Walking down a new street with my camera in hand, getting caught up in colour and texture and shape. Writing when it comes effortlessly. The heady scent of coffee, incense and my vetiver perfume oil in the morning. That moment when I open my eyes at the end of meditation.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just started Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin and I’ve been dipping in and out of Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen as I research a new course I’m creating.
What are you listening to right now?
My heart. I’ve stepped back into the world of dating and it’s in turns thrilling and exasperating. I’m impatient and yearn to find my man, but I’ve been a tribe of one for so long I’m also weary of losing my independence, so I listen to my heart with every step I take, practicing staying open to new possibilities and paths I could not have imagined.
What is your go-to simple recipe?
A frittata served with panzanella.
Frittata: Saute white onion in butter till soft. Add cooked potatoes (chopped) and peas (defrosted if frozen) and stir around for a while. Add beaten egg, grated parmesan and S+P and cook till it startsto set, finishing off under the grill.
Panzanella: my take on the classic Italian salad, made with the plumpest heritage tomatoes you can find, capers (rinsed), chopped spring onions, grilled red peppers (skins peeled off), green olives (halved and rinsed), huge handfuls of fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar plus toasted ciabatta cubes for the gluten-eaters but not for me, alas.
What are some simple things you do for self-care?
Long baths followed by lashings of Diptyque’s Lait Frais. Journaling in cafes… in bed… anywhere. Saying no more than I say yes. Photo safaris in new-to-me parts of London. Trips to the coast. Early nights. Netflix for when I need a time out from all the incessant thinking.
What does nourishment look like to you?
Litres of spring water. Poetry by Sharon Olds. Green vegetables. Conversations with my nephew. Cooking dinner with my sister. Practising yoga. The luxury of meditation in the morning. Black moonstone tucked in my bra on hard days. The memory of kissing him. Emails from readers thanking me for writing my book. Listening to the ocean. Putting the world to rights with a girlfriend. Clean white sheets.
How do you make space for play?
I’m still learning this one. I love what I do so much it often feels like play but I have to remind myself I also need time away from my business. I guess I make space for play by closing my laptop and leaving my house. I need to do this more often!
What are some favorite mantras you cling to?
Go gently. This is what my paternal grandmother would say to me when we said goodbye at the end of our weekly phone calls. My gran led a very quiet life with my grandfather, and up until he died she had never really been on her own. After 60+ years of marriage, she faced her final years alone and I know it was desperately hard for her. She died a few years before I faced my own bereavement, and I so often wished I could have phoned to tell her I now understood what she'd been going through. "Go gently" has become the piece of advice I've tattooed on my heart. To me it means take your time, keep your head, and above all else, be kind to yourself. I try to remember this when my stress levels are spiking.
Please share some words of wisdom you’ve learned as a direct result of soulful and embodied living.
I’ve done my fair share of future tripping and dwelling on the past, but it’s when I simply exist in the NOW that I feel my best. I’m loving that the older I get the more present I feel. Also, there’s something so amazing about knowing those dark nights of the soul that used to plague me as a younger woman don’t last forever. I know I can survive pretty much anything now. Getting older definitely suits me :)
About Susannah Conway
Susannah Conway is the author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart and forthcoming LONDONTOWN: A Photographic Tour of the City’s Delights (Chronicle Books, 2016). A photographer, writer and teacher, her classes have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 50 countries around the world. Co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids, Susannah helps others remember their true selves, using creativity as the key to open the door. Visit her at SusannahConway.com and say hi on Instagram.