I'm Susan Wilkinson.
Though I have other, more friendly-looking and quality photographs that I could have shared, I chose this one because you’re here to learn something about me and this picture communicates how I feel in my best self. Focused. Intense. Penetrating. In-the-know. Competent and useful. That's a lot to expect of a photo, I know. It's more a feeling than a look.
Some personal details about me—
I didn't want children when I was a young adult. How it turned out? I have 7 children. 2 adopted loves and 5 from my body. Life often takes us where we didn't know we wanted (and needed) to go.
My opinion on aging is that it's weird and a big challenge on the beauty front. At my age (54) it's hard to keep up with accepting the rapidly changing me I see in the mirror. Something is being gained—a freedom from not relying on looks as a form of power. A new kind of power is emerging that has to do with who I am and not just how I look. But something is being lost too. It's hard to grasp it all.
Because I'm 54 I've lived a little and that living hasn't been conventional or easy or simple. I’m living the surprise results of old plans. I've screwed up and lost. I've excelled and celebrated. I've survived. I have scars, but I know the power of healing. Mostly, I've shown up for my life in all of its complicated, ugly, beautiful weirdness.
In all of that living, I've learned. How to suffer with purpose. How to cut through the chaos and confusion quickly. How to come through victorious and find meaning in it all. And that's why I do what I do.
Because we’re all living the surprise results of old plans.
A lot of us are going where we didn't want to go in life, dealing with changes we can't quite grasp, and needing help cutting through the chaos and confusion to find meaning in our complicated, ugly, beautiful, weird lives.
Lives, that often feel like war.
Wars don't begin with shots fired. Those are the effect, not the cause. The same is true of relationships. Serious conflict doesn't just happen one day.
The beginning of the war is secret. Walls go up. Intimacy is lost. Honesty about what's really happening is denied. It's a cold war long before it heats up.
It's not always a malicious secret when there is unspoken conflict. We give the benefit of the doubt. We endure in patience. We hope it will all just resolve itself and go away. And if the matter is petty; it does. Our mistake is believing it's petty when it's not.
But this isn’t about wars between countries, or families, or friendships. This is about the war within you. The secret war that you're having with yourself about what you believe, what you feel, and what you really want.
We all do this dance with ourselves. We say the doubts we have aren't substantial, they're just a momentary lack of faith. We tell ourselves that we're loved when all evidence points to the contrary. We convince ourselves that we're in control of our addictions. And why do we lie to ourselves this way? To trivialize our pain, minimizing its importance. We want to make it petty so we can hope it will just go away. We’re trying to avoid the war within. The clanging dissonance. The puzzle of inner conflict that we’re scared we can’t solve. The dread of uncertainty.
We keep the beginning of the war a secret from ourselves because it's terrifying to think about.
I get it. I do it too. But I'm learning it doesn't pay in the end because war comes anyway, and at a much greater price than self-diplomacy would have cost. Or, if I do manage to avoid an internal war, it's at the cost of surrender... making myself smaller, or giving up pieces of myself in order to feel sure, confident, loved, and in control.
Suffering though is a good teacher. And it’s teaching me to look for the beginnings of war—the subtle signs that I'm out of sync with myself, that I've put up walls inside so I can't look at my doubts. It’s teaching me to look for the symptoms that I've lost my honest feelings, opinions, or beliefs.
And I created a short assessment to test myself. To check in to my own experience and see where I should focus my attention. You can get my method too. Right here.
Don't let your own inner war be a secret even to you.
Who I'm Not
I’m not a professional counselor or coach. I'm filling a need for those who want or need to counsel or coach themselves. The tools I create are to give order to your own thinking and give you a clear perspective to work with at your own pace.
I’m also not your judge—I’m definitely not qualified for that. I won’t tell you how you need to heal, or what methods for growth will work for you. I definitely won’t sit as a judge to condemn or to bless your lifestyle or choices.
My life is a work in progress too. I experience incredible losses and stunning failures. I certainly don't have all the answers (no one does). I just keep walking, seeking, hacking through the brush, creating a path behind me as I go. And like a reassuring big-sister, I beckon you to follow, showing you how to stay on the path of safety.
The tools I create will provoke you to rethink things, to be brutally honest, logical, and courageous, inside. The danger you'll be in for being misunderstood, and the risks you'll take for being harshly judged or underestimated, will be defined only by your degree of self-understanding and self-compassion.
I will offer you perspectives that you've never heard before, helping you consider new ways of thinking in light of your pain and your desires. I will tell you what works for me and why it works and I will be open about what I believe is true, valuable, and good.
I consider myself a thought-provoker, challenging what I consider bad thinking and pushing good thinking to greater clarity. My job isn't to fix you, but to guide, challenge, and provoke you to reconsider things in new ways.
If that’s something that interests you, I hope you find something here to help you improve your life story. Either way, thanks for stopping by.
P.S. There's more of my story here.