Today I’m chatting with Sue Kearney of Petaluma, California. She’s a woman in the third third of her life who has found a way to redefine her wildness and to reclaim the woman she was born to be.
In her work, she stands with and mentors women who aren’t done yet, who are ready to reclaim their wild, wise and wonderful ageless selves.
Sue’s journey has always had at its core a search for meaningful community and expression, and despite her lack of knowing herself, she’s found it.
She’s always been a survivor, and she’s so glad she found out that surviving doesn’t have to be a grim affair. Although she graduated from college she paid more attention to sex, drugs, and rock n roll than she did to her classes, but managed to apprentice herself to artists and chefs thereby finding some passions of her own.
She stopped chasing oblivion 24/7 and got clean and sober at age 40, just as her early menopause was approaching, which cracked her open. She became willing to embrace other ideas and activities besides dark and self-destructive ones, even though the first ten years of this new chapter were marked with more resistance and resentment than anything else.
Slowly, slowly, slowly, she began to soften and keep following her heart.
Sue has since embraced women’s spirituality — the Goddess, the Wheel of the Year, the seasons. She initiated and was ordained as a Priestess. She’s a Jew-witch, and I know you’ll enjoy our ramble through the Jewish tale of Baal Shem Tov as well as Sue’s relationship with her body and creativity.
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Resources from this episode:
- The Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation
- Petaluma, California
- The Miwok and Pomo People of California
- The Baal Shem Tov stories of the Jewish People
- Headbones Art Gallery
- Headbones Artist Residency Program
Connecting with Sue:
Connecting with Janelle:
Things we chatted about in this episode:
- the Jewish Baal Shem Tov stories
- On the story of Baal Shem Tov teaching his students through the example of encountering a knife sharpener/peddler
- how the story speaks to our fluctuating levels of consciousness
- how we get to meet ourselves in our circumstances everyday
- on having pushed really hard to change her circumstances, and how she’s finally shifted how she meets what’s going on – is everything to her
- on how those stories help to meet the challenges of chronic pain and challenges – the lighter the grip of her thinking, worries and fears about her circumstances – creates such freedom to simply show up and be
- on having spiritual awakenings and how it creates a different understanding of how life works
- that you can be settled and at peace no matter what, rather than thinking that you can’t be ok until things are sorted
- how disappointments are like a bag of rocks being carried around
- feels so much more free of attachment to circumstances
- living from the inside out rather than the outside in
- boiling it down to ‘stop taking myself so damn seriously!’
- relationship with creativity
- on having a huge liberation – the idea that an ‘untrained’ person can make art
- makes art pretty damn fast – trying to outrun her inner critic
- loves making things – paints rocks, works small so they can be done really fast
- fiber artist – despite pain in hands – still knitting – just started her first completely written by herself pattern
- makes inner and outer healing and beauty products for women
- makes kombucha, food
- on working at home alone – rhythm and timing is often fluctuating
- how she’s interested in showing up intentionally in her life now – used to tumbleweed through life when younger
- relationship with body
- on not having liked her body – well programmed as a western woman to think there’s something wrong with what she sees in the mirror
- came by her dysfunctional relationship with her body very honestly – was told by her father that if she’d only been a body they’d have had a better relationship
- growing up with a sense of being ‘not quite right’
- learning to believe as as child/teen that she deserved bad things in her life because of assault, bullying, abuse
- found her kindred spirits in the outsiders, started making her mark in the world in her drug-using years by doing the most outrageous things
- thinking the body is something that has to ‘be fixed’ – always dieting, always wearing clothes that didn’t fit right – not allowing herself to dress for comfort
- On having chronic pain with breathtakingly painful cramping – and learning how to be with it and calm down
- dealing with hypertension and skyrocketing blood pressures
- on having just celebrated her 27th anniversary clean and sober – spent her 20s and 30s a ‘big fat drug addict’
- became so sick and tired of being sick and tired – got sober
- becoming sober was the gift of getting to redefine her relationship with life
- and then there’s aging and how that changes your relationship to your body – health, appearance, gravity…
- on feeling like after the age of 50 she became invisible in the world
- how feelings of inferiority come along with self-consciousness