Susanne is a slight diversion from the usual method of meeting someone for this project. A mutual friend of ours, David Lutz, reached out to me and her and highly recommended that we connect. Shortly thereafter, she called me on the phone to suss out my ideas and goals with the project and then agreed to meet me at her home. I was struck by her enthusiasm and found it all too easy to smile with her as she so passionately spoke about things that matter to her. We had a very lovely and very warm visit and made plans to engage further about potential future partnerships. She definitely lives her role as connector.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
I guess I've been known as the connector. I have a wellness Meetup, so it's always my goal to try to connect people to what supports them in their efforts. It's usually in the health and wellness arena. And that could be anything; spiritually, emotionally, physically, nutritionally. So, what I typically do is bring in someone who speaks on a certain topic so that people are learning about maybe something they've never heard about before or something that they've never thought about. You know, you hear different things, but it's like, Oh, I heard it a different way. Now I've learned something new that I can actually apply in my life. But anyway, my hope is that it's gonna support that person in whatever it is that they do. If they're a chiropractor, they're an acupuncturist, they're an energy worker, yoga instructor - whatever it is that they do - my hope is that they get some sort of benefit from it. Not only the people that are listening, but that this person now will get a client from it. You know, that kind of thing. Yeah, I guess that's one of my things; I like to connect people.
What matters to you? What motivates you?
Again, I go back to that does really speak to my heart if I can help someone in some way that two people benefit. You know, it's not just one person benefitting. It's a mutually satisfying and gratifying relationship - that really does float my boat, if you will. It just makes me feel good. I've seen that commercial where someone does something good for somebody else and someone witnesses it and then that person says, Oh, I gotta pass that on. So then they do a good deed for somebody. It's kinda that type of effect where, like I said, if I see something like that happen like, Wow, that really fed my soul! Good came of that relationship, that connection.
Where does that come from for you? Have you always been that way?
Yeah, I would have to say it was childhood, because I remember my teacher saying, Susie wants to be a mommy. Susie always wants to help that person. And I guess I was always for the underdog. Like, if I saw someone being picked on, you know, kind of that bullying situation - that's something that's also kinda near and dear to my heart. So I would always kinda step forward. I'd be scared to death to stand up to that person, but I would do it because I felt that this person couldn't. So I think it did start from early on. And then later, as it's developed, I actually had a dating service in California. I would literally be at different networking meetings and if someone just stood out to me, let's say a man, in particular, 'cause I had my girlfriends that were single, I would say, Are you single? So it was just kind of in my heart to try to get these two people together. I didn't know if it was gonna work, but I just thought, I just see some qualities in this person that I think might be great qualities for my friend who is single and I think she's got amazing qualities. So I was making love connections, business connections. It was called Face To Face Connections. And I just kinda continued that, now kinda leaning towards the whole health and wellness arena - making those types of connections. But, believe me, I still do that kind of stuff, too, because I still have single friends that if I met someone that I thought, You know what, I think this person would be really great for that person. You never know, you know, that's up to the universe, but if I can be that little conduit, again, floats my boat - makes me feel really good (laughs).
What do you think we mean to each other, individual to individual?
(Sighs) Yeah, that's a tough one. I think people inherently want to connect, whatever that is. Whether it is emotionally connect, physically connect, help support each other's causes, support each other in whatever their endeavor is. I think people want connection. I guess that's my big word; it always resonates very much with me.
What does community mean to you?
Right. 'Cause I guess that's what I am doing, I am trying to create this community of people that again... to create these mutually beneficial relationships, as I said before. These groups that I'm bringing together, to find common interests... common ground. Hence that's why my Meetup is called Bend Wellness Community. You know, I want to bring like-minded people together and that everyone will benefit in some way from being together in these settings.
It's the diversity and difference of opinion that enriches our lives and also pushes us away from these comfortable habits and helps us to think differently. So, where does all that fall into your definition of community and how do you perceive individual differences?
Yeah, I see where you're... yeah. Believe me, not everyone buys in, if you will, to everyone's idea. Like, Well, what is this thing? Especially in the world of let's say energy work. Hence that's why I want to bring it to people - for them to say, Wow, I never thought of that. And they might see it as woo-woo. So I kind of want to open people's minds. I'll give you an example: like people that have a very religious or Christian belief, oh, they're not even supposed to look at energy work. That's the devil, you know - that kind of thing. So if I can maybe work it in such a way, again, to open their minds, for them to be open to taking a look at it, they can still say, No, that's not for me. But it might open the door. And I've heard some amazing stories of people just that way. Oooh, I was not supposed to look at that, but for whatever reason... it switched their whole way of thinking and being. So, I guess that's my hope - that people aren't so close-minded and that I can open their minds, their hearts to just taking a look at this. And also as far as the differences of opinion, what I've found - and this is on a little bit of a different track - so far I've found people to be at least pretty respectful in their differences. 'Cause I know not a lot of that is going on in the world. It's almost like people are shut down. If your opinion differs from my opinion, it's shut down. I personally haven't experienced that here in Bend. That's your opinion on it, this is my opinion - we can agree to disagree. That's a person I'd like to be. And I hope that I get the same respect if people don't agree with my opinion on something. So, yeah, that is important to me. 'Cause what I am seeing out there in people being shut down for their opinions, that just does not set well with me.
Kind of on the other side of the coin of what matters to you, what concerns you?
Yeah, a few things that are also near and dear to my heart other than the health and wellness, is probably the opioid addiction, which is kinda tied to suicide. My sister committed suicide and she was in that world, unfortunately. And so that is something that's near and dear to my heart, too. I haven't really looked into that yet or how can I support that or get involved. 'Cause sometimes I get this feeling, again, I'm just one little person, like, what can I do? But I know that there are organizations out there. They have the Walk Out of Darkness once a year here in Bend and I think it's held in many cities all over the United States - I don't know about the world - to bring awareness to suicide. That's something that has always come up for me. How do I get involved with something like that? How can I make a difference in something like that?
And then I had also mentioned about bullying. I would love to maybe help kids - young kids - with their self-esteem, their self-confidence. 'Cause, to me, that is the root of it or one of the root causes... if they don't have confidence, they can't stick up for themselves if they are being bullied. And on the other side, the bully, what's going on in their lives? Are they being beaten themselves? Have they been bullied in their lives? So, again, what is their home environment looking like? I would like to work with both; not just the [bullied person] but the bully. Again, I think something in their lives maybe has made them act out in that way. So that's another thing that's kinda near and dear to my heart. But again, I go, Oh my gosh, how do I get started in that? And because I do have so many passions, I go, What do I need to focus on? And so I'm continually saying to god and the universe, Where am I truly called? How can I best use my gifts and talents to make a difference?
Do you have a sense of purpose?
Yes, I do, but I'm not exactly sure what that is and what it looks like. Hence, like I said, praying to god, How do I best use my gifts and talents for the benefit of others? Whether that's people or a cause or whatever. 'Cause I've said that to myself, I feel like I'm meant for greater things. And not coming from an ego perspective, but just I really want to make a difference. But exactly what that looks like, I don't know. And because, again, I do have such varied passions for kids or the wellness community or suicide prevention or whatever, it's almost like I feel sometimes I'm pulled in so many different directions. And if that happens, I don't think you can be good to any thing. So, I have to see what that looks like for me. But, I'd like to be a conduit, at least, to help bring awareness to that. So maybe I can't dive in fully into each one of those things, but maybe I could at least support it in some way. Like maybe I go on that Walk Out of Darkness and help spread the word on that event. And then maybe bring those people to another organization I deal with, Good Grief Guidance, 'cause those two are a good match for one another 'cause those people are grieving the loss of their loved one because of suicide. If I can bring them to Good Grief Guidance - again, a nice connection for them. Maybe they didn't know that that resource existed. So, going back to my purpose that I know is my common thread, if you will, is how can I connect people? So maybe I personally can't get involved with that, but, Oh I bet you this person or this organization would be a good fit for you, that you could collaborate together. That's my other big word, collaborate.
Do you attribute your care for others and passion for making connections to something?
No, I don't think any one thing. I guess it seems like it's part of my being. I don't know why I feel, I don't know if I should use the word need to do that. I guess I could say need that, because again, it is fulfilling to me. I guess it was from a little girl. I think it's just who I am. It's just in my make up, if you will. It's just part of me. It's like I feel like I have to do it. But have to do it, It's more like I want to do it. You know?
What's behind social injustice? Why do you think we have this tendency to be against each other or to put each other down or create all this disparity?
I know. I was gonna say good question, but it's a bad question (laughs). And do we say social justice or social injustice? That's a really hard one for me to really answer because... there's ways to go about doing it and, right now, I don't think many people are going about it the right way. It just seems so angry. What's the saying about bees? You get more bees with honey? Or flies... whatever the saying is. I think if people would be more respectful... 'cause I believe everyone has a right to their opinion. And if they see something that's unjust happening, they do have a right to stand up for it, but they could do it in a very respectful manner. If they're speaking out of anger, a lot of times people just shut down. If they haven't shut you down already, the person listening to that message shuts down. Like, I'm not even gonna listen to what you have to say because you just sound so angry and so... but if people just spoke more from their heart and come from a place of maybe love and kindness to that, I think people are more open to listening to it. And that's what I'd like to see. Be at least more open to hear their point of view and why they feel the way they feel about that situation, circumstance, injustice, but they need to then show that person - the one that listened to them - they need to pay them the same respect. Especially if it isn't something that they believe in or they still don't feel the same way about that. Everyone has a right to their opinion.
What do you want more of in your life?
I guess balance. It's so funny, my husband, he's always saying, So what time are you escaping today? He knows I'm gonna leave because I'm making connections; I'm going out there meeting people, just doing things. Pretty much Monday through Friday, that's what I'm doing; I'm out and about meeting people, making connections. But I do realize that I need down time for me to kind of regroup and to relax and reenergize so that I can go out there and do it all again. I just have to be mindful that... I always say, Family, friends, and then whatever I am working on. But sometimes I find that I don't live up to that and I'm always, Oh, what else can I do? What else can I do? And I have to be mindful that the most important things in our lives are our family, our friends. Throw health in there, but your own health because if you're not well, you can't be there for your family or friends. And I've seen that too often with friends that have developed cancer or things like that. Even though it's very exciting what I'm doing with all these different things, it can be stressful and stress is not good on the body. So that's why I go back to balance. I need to find that balance for going out and making a difference and living my purpose and just chill time. Just down time to take a walk because sometimes I find that my own health, like I said, I'm not looking at that because I've got all these other things. It's like, Oh my gosh, I didn't get my walk in today. Oh my gosh, I'm not eating properly. So, we do need to take care of ourselves so that we can be there for others. That analogy if a plane is going down, you're supposed to put your mask on yourself before you can help others. Because if you pass out, you're not gonna be good for any of the other people there. So, balance. Balance in my life is what comes up for me.
Do you have anything else that you'd like to put out there?
I think I pretty much covered it. It makes my heart happy to connect people with whatever that is that they need. And, again, collaborate. 'Cause it goes back to what you're saying about there's so many different groups that believe in their projects - whatever their project is or their cause or whatever - how do we bring those people together? And how do we collaborate so that we can serve the greater good - the larger community? If I can play a small role in that and bring people together in a very, again, respectful way, then I feel I'm serving my purpose.