Susannah Conway describes her life in two parts: the ‘disconnected’ years, which saw her working as a freelance journalist and fashion editor in London, and the ‘unravelling’ years from 2005 onwards when Susannah was to use her creativity to heal and reconnect with herself after a huge life-shock. In chronicling her grieving process through blogging and photography, and sharing her journey with the world, Susannah built a loyal tribe of followers who wanted to know more. Fast-forward eight years and Susannah is now a two-time author, blogger and teacher of a series of e-courses. Today, Susannah shares the secrets of her success…
What is your title/position:
Photographer, author and aunt.
What has been the ‘defining moment’ that set you on the path you’re on today? How did you get to where you are now?
The path I am on now began in 2005 when the man I loved died very suddenly — everything I thought I knew about life changed in that instant. Now I look back and see that my life has unfolded in two acts: in the first 32 years I was lost and disconnected from myself. In the last eight years I’ve healed and become the person I am today.
I found my way back to myself through my cameras and journals. In the second year of my bereavement I discovered blogging and it opened up this whole new creative world to me. Being able to share my thoughts and feelings online was incredibly empowering — it was my way of ‘getting back out there’ from the safety of my living room. I started re-exploring self portraiture, which helped me to see myself again — literally, but also as the woman I was becoming, a woman working her way through loss and finding herself. There were so many layers to unravel and the healing went far deeper than the bereavement alone.
My Unravelling course began as a local evening class in 2008 and drew inspiration from my healing journey. I brought my photography and journalling ideas together and shared them with a room full of women. To my surprise the class was a great success! As blogging was such an important part of my life it seemed natural to find a way to share the class online somehow. So in 2009 I did, and I now have four creative e-courses I run throughout the year. I’ve also had two books published and teach in-person workshops and retreats.
Tell me about your vision/goals for your future.
I have two new books I’m working on, so I hope to get them finished and out into the world in the next few years. I’m also currently brainstorming a new course I want to launch in 2014. Anything beyond that will be a surprise!
What has been most effective for you in your achievements so far, in turning your goals/visions into reality? Where do you start?
Everything starts as a seed of an idea in my journal. I’ve kept a journal for the last 29 years and I can trace everything back to some words written down on a page. It’s the one place I can be completely honest with my dreams and desires — once you have something on paper you have something tangible you can work with. My journal was a key part of my voyage through bereavement, it’s helped me manifest house moves, and it’s the place I plotted out all my courses and books.
How do you stay motivated and inspired?
Motivation comes from a combination of wanting to do something useful in the world and also be able to support myself as a single, independent woman. Inspiration is all around me — there’s plenty of eye and brain candy online, but I most often turn to books and the world outside my flat. Living back in London is proving to be wildly inspiring.
What has been your biggest lesson learned?
One of the most important things we can ever do is heal our hurts so we don’t pass them on to anybody else.
What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?
Like any business owner I always worry that there won’t be enough money each month to cover my rent and living expenses, and I do spend a lot of time pondering the future of my business. Working online in the way I do is such a new world and I do wonder if it could all disappear tomorrow. I feel I’ve built a strong foundation for my buiness in the last four years and I’m always looking for ways to improve and innovate the work I do. I don’t think I’ve really overcome my fears — I just acknowledge them and work alongside them.
What do you believe is the secret of your success?
Transparency — I’m happy to share my life with my readers and let them see we all worry about the same stuff. I really look after my course participants and so many of them have been with me since the beginning. I write from the heart, and the most important and essential ingredient in everything I do is integrity. Always.
What 3 tips would you offer ambitious women reading this?
1. Be ready to work harder than you’ve ever worked before. It’s worth it.
2. Invest in yourself — training, books, courses, coaches… whatever you need to grow.
3. Learn how to market your business gracefully and with integrity.
What book has most inspired you?
Just one? That’s almost impossible to answer! But if I must… The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron was a really important read for me when I was grieving. It helped me find my way back to my creativity.
Susannah Conway is the author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. A photographer, writer and e-course creator, her classes have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 40 countries around the world. Co-author of Instant Love: How to Make Magic and Memories with Polaroids, Susannah helps others reconnect to their true selves, using creativity as the key to open the door. You can read more about her shenanigans on her blog or connect on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram