Posts tagged mindfulness
Don't Wait Until You're Dead... Susan Spann and the One Hundred Summits

Do you have one of those life dreams that you never seem to get around to? You tell yourself you'll do it later. Someday. When you have more time, more money, more skill. After the kids are grown up. After you find a different job. After you retire. After...

Well, we all know what comes after. 

Which is why I'm launching a regular monthly series of interviews featuring people who are living their dreams now. I hope their stories will inspire more dreamers to take the first step toward doing the thing, whatever that might be.

 Today I'm thrilled to share a story with you about my friend Susan Spann, a woman who refused to let life--or death, for that matter--get in the way of her incredible dream. Instead of telling you the story from my perspective, I'm going to let Susan tell you herself in this little interview.

Me: Susan, thanks so much for sharing your story. Can you tell us a little bit about this amazing dream of yours? When did you start dreaming, and how long did it take for you to start doing the thing?

Susan: In autumn of 2016, I spent almost a month in Japan researching my Hiro Hattori mysteries. My research took me into the Japan Alps and up several mountains. Physically, I returned to the United States that November, but my heart remained in Japan.

After twenty years as a lawyer, I was tired of living “safe” and doing “the expected” instead of following my heart and my dreams. I’ve loved mountaineering books all my life, but always felt that those adventures were something that happened in other people’s lives. In 2017, after I returned from Japan, I made the decision to give my dreams a chance. My husband and I sold our house and prepared to move to Japan so I could attempt to climb the Nihon Hyakumeizan (100 Famous Mountains of Japan) in a single year.

Me: Okay, so this in itself is amazing. I watched you do these things in a state of awe, wondering how you found the courage to make such a huge change. But life decided to throw a little more at you. Tell us about the other obstacles that got in your way.

Susan: In November 2017, about two months after we decided to move to Japan—and the day after I signed a publishing contract to write a book about my hyakumeizan climbs (currently titled 100 SUMMITS, and due for publication by Prometheus Books in spring 2020) I was diagnosed with highly aggressive breast cancer. I had to delay my departure for Japan to undergo a double mastectomy and three months of intensive chemotherapy—but I continued my mountain training even in chemo, and five days after my final tests confirmed the cancer was gone, we flew to Japan.

My oncologist described the cancer as “summit number 101” - and getting through cancer treatment was a lot like climbing a difficult mountain, in many ways. You have to take it one step at a time, and endure the pain. Fortunately, we caught my cancer early enough that I could still pursue my dream.

Me: Most people have a dream, look at the obstacles, and never get past them. And yours were as big as - well - a mountain. What is your secret for moving past everything in your way to get to where you are now?

Susan: Climbing a hundred mountains seems impossible. Fortunately, I don’t have to climb them all at once—and one mountain, maybe, I can do. I try to see life's obstacles as problems to solve one step at a time. If the goal is long-term, I start from the end and work backward until I’ve broken the problem into reasonable steps—things I can achieve—and then I start with the first one. Some obstacles are outside my control, and those I have to leave to faith. But the things that lie within my control, I break down into little bits and tackle them in order.

Me: I love the small step thing. I always work on that with my coaching clients (and with my own creative projects when I start getting fearful or overwhelmed.) Sometimes that first step is tiny, as tiny as just sending an email or opening a document on your computer or buying a set of paints. Do you have any particular motto, mantra, or affirmation you adhere to that you would like to share?

Susan: Never give up, never surrender. (Thanks, Galaxy Quest!) Also: fear is a liar. Never let it keep you from your dreams.

You need to know Susan, as you've probably figured out. And you're in luck, because I have all of her social media links where you can follow her adventure. AND I have links to her books so you can buy them and read them (they are awesome.)


Facebook: and

Twitter: @susanspann


And here's a link to Susan's Amazon author page, although you can find her books at other bookstores if you prefer.



About that annoying voice in your head

Quick - without stopping to think - what is your inner critic saying to you RIGHT NOW?

CHALLENGE: Stop what you're doing, grab a pen and a piece of paper and try this. It will take you all of a minute and you might be surprised.

1. Set your timer for one minute, but don't start it yet.

2. At the top of your paper write: "Internal Critic: You have permission to speak freely."

3. Start the timer and let your pen write down everything the critic is saying to you. Keep the pen moving without stopping to think. 

Ready? GO.

(Did you do the thing? No? I understand. If you're at all like me, you're busy. You're saying, "yeah, yeah. Who has time for stupid exercises? I'll get the gist by just reading."

But you won't. You'll get information, but you won't get the information that's hiding in your subconscious, and that is really important shit. If you really can't do the thing now, promise yourself you'll do it later.)

After you've let the Critic have the floor, add something like this at the bottom of your page:

I hear you. Thank you for sharing. Now please go do some yoga and, for the love of all things holy, chill out.

I hear you..png

The hearts are important, because the Inner Critic is really part of YOU. War with your self defeats the purpose and wastes energy. If you can't feel love (the kind you might summon up for a fractious toddler) you can act as if. If you really listen, you may find that the Critic wants you to be safe and not get hurt, so it is eternally trying to shut you down and keep you small. So thank it for the feedback, pat it on the head, and send it off to the spa.

Even though it is usually well intentioned, the Inner Critic is seriously misinformed and often behind the times. You know what mine told me this week?

"You're lazy," it said. For a minute I bought in. 

"Yeah, I know. I'm lazy." Heavy, sad sigh.

And then the cognitive dissonance kicked in. Wait. What?

I work a day job, run a coaching business, write books, take classes, and do a reasonable share of the household chores. I'm not exactly sitting around twiddling my thumbs. And yet, harbored in my subconscious, even after years of work on this sort of thing, there was this random, completely inaccurate belief.

I actually laughed out loud, (a real one, not an online LOL). And then I said to my critic, "You're delusional, my friend. Not sure where that one came from, but I'm not buying it. Not any more. Maybe I could be more productive or focused or make better use of my time. Lazy? I don't think so."

The belief has tried to sneak back in a couple of times, but I'm watching for it now and just shoo it away. When it goes, it takes with a bunch of guilt boogey men that have been hanging around. 

Complete the Challenge

(I know. I told you this would only take one minute. But you can do this part of the challenge in your head while you drive or do dishes or shower or whatever, so it doesn't count on the clock.)

Pick one of the negative things your critic said to you and explore it a little. Try to look at it in a friendly, detached sort of way.. Is it true? What evidence supports the truth of it? Is there evidence against it? If you were presenting this negative statement to an impartial judge, would there be enough evidence for a conviction?

Can you put a spin on it? Think of it differently? Does it have a positive side?

Laziness, for example, could be spun as an ability to relax, to slow down, to enjoy the luxuries and pleasures of life instead of racing the clock. See how it becomes a virtue instead of a fault?

What purpose does this attribute serve in your life?  If it isn't working for you, can you change one small thing--just a little tweak--that would make it into a quality that helps you?

As always, I'd love to hear how any of this works for you! Comment below, or email me.