Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 15, 2015

OscarWildeQuoteLots of good stuff in this week’s wrap-up. Four of the picks came to me by way of Your Turn Challenge mates, either directly (their own blog posts) or indirectly (links they shared). I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

  • In Motorcade Window Shopping, Corey Bennett helped me imagine the isolation of being president of the United States.
  • Jim Borden hit the nail on the head (or should I say struck the One Pin?) yet brought back a painful memory for me when he talked about an awkward first date in high school: “He Likes to Talk About Bowling.” (He even shares a high school ID photo.) I think Jim and I are beginning to be friends simply because we’re both nerds. (You’ll have to read the comments on Jim’s post to see how his story relates to me.)
  • I found this rant by Kristen Lamb via Mona Karel of YTC. In many ways it sums up the profound sadness I feel about the phenomenon that is a certain book and movie that even some of my Christian sisters see nothing wrong with consuming. (I’m not stating the title here, because I don’t wish to give this piece of doodoo any more search-engine hits than it already must have. If you are breathing, you know the thing I’m talking about, anyway.) If you plan to view the movie or the book, read what Kristen has to say first. Maybe it will strike a nerve.
  • Some photographers who live near LAX get together monthly to Shoot the Moon. Don’t miss it.
  • I don’t love everything about Anne Lamott, as some do, but I do love her brutal honesty. (Reading her makes me want to be braver in my writing.) And because Elissa Joy Watts reminded me of Annie’s book on writing by linking to this post from Brain Pickings, her book Bird by Bird is up next on my list. (Right after I finish Stephen King’s On Writing.)
  • GOTR-logo-w-circles-298x300And you knew I had to slip something about running into the mix, didn’t you? This one came to me via the Charity Miles newsletter in my inbox. (I use the Charity Miles app, which earns dollars for your favorite charity when you walk, run or bike.) Read this story about a crazy running chick who set out to run seven half-marathons on seven continents in seven days (that’s 91.7 miles on her feet and thousands of miles in the air). As of this writing, Casey had raised nearly $10,000 for Girls on the Run, but weather had thrown a wrench into the team’s plans for race #7 (Antarctica). I’m not sure how it turned out, but I’m staying tuned for the next update. (In case you wonder what charity I support through Charity Miles, it’s the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.)
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What’s your sign?

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my “big thing.”

The past year, I’ve tried to focus on my purpose – how God wants me to spend the rest of the days He has ordained for me to be on this earth.

I’ve always been one to post quotes, scripture passages and photos that inspire me. I’m not talking about posting them online, although I do that on occasion. I mean in my physical surroundings. I have them on my bathroom mirror, on the walls of my cubicle at work, everywhere I can put something to remind me of important ideas, to inspire me to take action – to avoid being just another bloated sac of protoplasm that takes up space on planet earth and never contributes.

This morning’s blog post by Seth Godin got me to thinking that maybe it’s time to put all my “little things” together – all those signs, quotes, pics – into one “big thing.”

It was just a simple thought, stated near the end of the post, that got me:

“ … it’s worth taking a minute to look at the big sign hanging over your desk (you do have a big sign, right?) that says what you’re actually seeking to do, the change you’re working to make.”

I worked on writing a mission statement for a few months, and I still have the idea in my mind, but I’m not sure it’s quite right. I’ve let it alone lately. Too much pressure to make it sound right to everyone else. I know what I’m trying to do (my mission), but sometimes articulating it to myself is enough – at least for now.

MissionStatementCoveyQuoteWhat is the Big Thing for me? How do I put it into words, share it?

I’m working on it.

Stay tuned.




Have you thought about your Big Thing, your purpose? Let’s start talking about it.

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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 7, 2015

Words that came to mind as I read through this week’s posts.

I continue to be inspired by folks I’ve met online via the Your Turn Challenge.

A few of us (two dozen, maybe?) are regulars on the Facebook page that was set up during the challenge, and many of them continue to “ship” every day. Every single day. They have caught the bug!

I’ve been a member of another blogger group for a while, but most of those writers are Southern chicks (whom I love), and, while each one offers a fresh perspective not only on what it means to be a woman living in the South (or a Southern woman living elsewhere) but on what it means to be a part of the human race, I wasn’t expecting this new perspective. For these Southern women and their blogs I’m grateful; they bring me joy and inspiration.

But this new group – this “tribe” from the YT Challenge – was an unexpected source of joy and inspiration, too. These writers inspire me from all over the world, all sorts of backgrounds (writers, musicians, martial artists, glassblowers, teachers, scientists, marketing gurus, attorneys, Renaissance men, feminists, home-schoolers … and some of those even come in the same package!), every age and level of life experience. Just … gosh!

So, for the past couple of weeks, those guys are the ones I’ve been reading online. And until some of them get tired of posting every day (not all of us can keep it up indefinitely), I’ll be reading them and sharing some of their posts with you, along with other discoveries that make me laugh, smile, think or do.

Here’s the Weekly Wrap-up for Feb. 7, 2015.

At my monthly reading group this week, I learned three things of note:

  • LyonCollegeSpringEvents2015.JPGI wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get into the February book, Swimming by Nicola Keegan. In fact, only one of us read the entire book before Tuesday’s meeting. (I do plan to read it all. Eventually.)
  • Our March meeting will be a field trip! Southern novelist and Heasley Prize winner Tom Franklin will be in town on our usual meeting night (March 3), so we’re going to hear him at Lyon College. I might even take a super-early lunch break that day and attend the “public interview” with Franklin. And I definitely plan to try out his books (two are available at our county library), as I’d never heard of him until Tuesday. Here’s his Amazon page.

Bonus points if you can tell me where the phrase Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (the title of Franklin’s 2010 novel) came from. (If your mama is from the South, as mine is, you learned this as a child.)

  • Harper Lee’s first novel, “Go Set A Watchman” (the story that she rewrote that became the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my top 3 favorites), will be released July 14. How in the heck did I miss that? Preorders have already reached No. 1 on Amazon, and Mockingbird orders had reached No. 1 as of Friday. According to The Wall Street Journal article, the news of this long-forgotten manuscript’s release “has captivated and shocked the literary world.” Well, yeah.

EricRovnerGraphicSpeaking of reading, I was happy to see YTC tribe member Eric’s admonition, Never Stop Reading. In the past year, through my book group and the great suggestions of an author friend, I’ve rediscovered the joys of fiction, although nonfiction continues to maintain its tight grasp on me. But whatever reading you do, keep doing it – and if you’re a parent, teach your kids the importance of reading (teach them to love it by reading to them when they’re young). Eric even offers a suggestion that takes away the excuse, “I don’t have time to read.”

ElissaJoyWattsGraphicI linked to Elissa’s blog last week, and after reading just a few posts, I can already tell I’ll be sharing her with you again. Not only does she express herself beautifully, she writes about things I like to read about (even things I didn’t know I was interested in!). Win-win! This time she asked me (and you, too, by proxy) if I want to get vulnerable, take a risk and join her in a new adventure. Read what she means by Who Wants to Get Naked? I said yes.

RandallHartmanGraphicRandy wants to inspire the over-50 crowd that it’s not too late to make a difference. As a 52-year-old (who still feels like a 26-year-old, except for those days when my body creaks like it’s 104), I applaud him for dedicating himself to proving that we’re still vital members of the human race and have wisdom, insights and the ability to act on our convictions. From Randy’s About page:

“My goal is to provide a place where we assemble a tribe that invades and conquers life after 50. This is more than surviving. This is about exploring, thriving and conquering.” YES!

LivingTheWhatIfLifeGraphicThe Incognito Blogger finds stories that inspire her (and us) to “Prepare, Go Hard and Don’t Quit.” In this post she asks, What are you willing to go through in order to reach your goals? The words in the graphic at the top of my post are largely the words that popped into my head when I read these stories, and especially when I viewed the short video of James Robertson. Be sure to watch that; it really is short. (And I have a feeling it would inspire Randy Hartman.)

I wish I could share every single good thing I’ve read this week, because there is much, much more (I said that last week, didn’t I?). There are just so many good things out there, if you know where to find them. The Weekly Wrap-up is my way of helping you find them. I hope you enjoy the list.




What have you been reading?

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Weekly Wrap-up, the inaugural edition

I’m starting a new feature at Suzy & Spice. I read a lot, and I usually find an abundance of things I’m eager to share. I hope you find something you like each week. This week’s offering includes books, tech tips, writing lessons, Olympians and more.

Enjoy the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up, and please join in the fun by sharing your comments below.

I realized yesterday that I’m reading books concurrently in three formats:

  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Audible.com version, narrated by the wonderful [and recently departed] Edward Hermann). It’s about the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic rowing team. Fascinating, engrossing, inspiring. This book was recommended by an author friend of mine, Conrad Wesselhoeft, who might be just a little biased – he grew up in Seattle. He recommended it after I told him I was reading Unbroken, also about a 1936 Olympian (another excellent read).
  • Swimming by Nicola Keegan (Kindle version on my iPad). This is the February pick for my local book group. Ironic – it’s a novel about an Olympic swimmer (but I didn’t pick it). We meet Tuesday, and I’m way behind (I should be reading instead of writing, eh?). So far this book hasn’t grabbed me, although it begins with narration by an infant, so at least it’s not boring.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (hard copy checked out from the county library). Yes, the horror novelist is teaching me how to write good. Conrad recommended the audio version of this book, too, but my 30-day trial of Audible allows only one free book and since this one was in the library, I took it. This book is humorous, insightful and honest. (I used to devour Stephen King books, after being totally creeped out by my first one, The Shining, in 11th grade. I haven’t read one since Misery.)
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (Kindle for iPad, $2.99). I have a battered old paperback copy of this, somewhere, but seem to have misplaced it or loaned it out. I’m involved in a weekly reading group that’s discussing the book, so I decided to buy the Kindle version. So very worth it, although I would say the same about all of Lewis’ books, as he’s my favorite author.
  • I’m not counting the books I’m reading for: small group and a class at church. Those books are just one chapter every week or two. (But they’re hard copies, and they’re both good. I’ll tell you about them someday.)

As regular readers here know, I recently completed a seven-day blogfest, the Your Turn Challenge (here are my 7 posts). Now there’s a Facebook page, lots of the 600 bloggers have continued “shipping” every day, and I’ve made some neat new friends. They inspire, encourage and inform me, including:

  • This podcast from Andy Stitt on SEO, Google Analytics and Google webmaster tools. (If you blog or have a website, you know.)
  • Tara Sophia Mohr eloquently expresses some things I knew deep inside but haven’t been able to express. Here, she tells us to Give It Words.
  • And, hey, look at this! Someone else has been inspired by an Olympic rower. (This one is still alive.) Read about Robin Thomas’ brush with greatness.
  • James Schmeling gives me a glimpse into a world I wasn’t aware of. In his world of “academic intrapreneurship,” his institution helps teach and train veterans and their families. This idea is intriguing, and something I want to know more about.
  • I have much more. Much more. But this is a lot already, so I’ll leave you to ponder the lesson in this delightful piece by Elissa Joy Watts on waiting until it’s right. (And, wouldn’t you know, she has written about a book that I’m now dying to read. But I’ll save that for later.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up. Please tell me what parts of it you liked, or maybe didn’t like. Let’s swap stories.

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All is well

This is my final post (Day 7) for the Your Turn Challenge Blog. The challenge was to publish a blog post every day for a week. Here’s a link to all seven of my posts.


When the question came up on the Your Turn Challenge Facebook page, “What have you learned about yourself during this challenge?” I didn’t think I had learned much.

Then I realized I had learned at least one big thing.

I’ve been blogging for more than seven years, and it’s no secret that my faith is a huge part of who I am. I’m not afraid to throw out a scripture reference, talk about my blessings or say “Thank you, Jesus,” when the spirit moves. God has given me much, and I’m so grateful for who I am, how far I’ve come and who He continues to mold me into. It’s all because of His grace, mercy and sacrifice for me (and you).

My blog audience is small; I know every single one of my subscribers.

But as I prepare to launch a small business (wellness coaching) next week, I’ve pondered this: Should I cut out the “Jesus references” so that no one will feel excluded? I’m not so worried about offending people with my faith – I don’t pound people over the head with it, and if someone is offended by my rather tame references, I can’t help that. I don’t go out of my way to be offensive, but the Bible says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18, New International Version). As long as I’m being loving and respectful, working to keep others’ best interests at heart, I can’t help when they’re offended.

It’s just that I don’t want to drive people away with my faith talk – to make them feel as though they could never fit in here. Jesus was into including folks, not excluding.

One aspect of my coaching business will be evident through my blog. I’ll post educational and motivational materials in the hopes that others will be inspired. In fact, I’ve already been doing that for a few years, only informally. I’ve written several “if I can do it, you can” posts in the hopes that I might inspire people to take a chance on themselves, to do the hard work it takes to change.

As I decided on the name for the business, To Well With You (my husband came up with it), I first thought the name was too “out there” – too irreverent. It might offend certain people. Then I decided that I like it – no, I love it! – because it says I don’t take myself too seriously; you don’t have to be afraid to approach me. (Even Jesus freaks can have a sense of humor!)

I realize that picking a name can be a large part of a business’ success (or failure), and I certainly don’t want to offend. But as a small-business owner, I’ll have to get used to uncertainties, weigh the pros and cons and be OK with the decisions I make.

And one of those pro/con balancing acts involves the way I communicate.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is what makes me Suzy Taylor Oakley. Without Him, who knows what my life would be like? (I think I would be more self-centered and not the least bit interested in helping people find “wellness.” And I certainly wouldn’t want to take the journey “to well” with them.)

Part of what will make me a good coach is remembering how far I’ve come in my own journey to wellness – to wholeness. One of my strengths (which I used to consider a weakness) is that I’m flawed, imperfect and in daily need of grace, and that I’m ever aware of my smallness, my need for Him.

My foibles and failures are what make me relatable, and I hope I can be transparent and vulnerable enough to remain human while assuring folks I have at least a little bit of valuable life experience and wisdom to help them move in a positive direction. (Another balancing act, no?)

Figuring out what each individual needs – that’s the challenge.

We’re all different, and not everyone will agree with me about God’s role in the world and in our individual lives.

But here’s what I’ve learned this week: I can’t seem to talk about things that are important to me – about things that make me who I am and that will make me a good coach – without talking about God.

I hope you agree, but it’s OK if you don’t.

To well with you.

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The Your Turn Challenge: Days 1 and 2

This is a big week for my psyche.

I accepted a challenge to blog every day for a week. Marketing guru Seth Godin (whose daily blog I subscribe to) issued the challenge in conjunction with his book What To Do When It’s Your Turn. (I’ll write a review of the book, but not during this week’s challenge. That would be too easy.)

Seth put a special-projects coordinator in charge of rounding up folks for the blogging challenge:

“She’s running a mutual support sprint to help people get on track (or back on track) with their habit of shipping [producing]. Here’s how it works: Participants commit to posting 1 blog post every day for 7 days. The goal is to practice shipping with a like-minded community and to push yourself to simply start.”

My intention with this wasn’t so much to push myself to start, as this is an extremely busy month for me and I already blog fairly regularly (although not as often as I’d like). My true motive was to get my writing “out there” – in front of people who don’t know me. Folks who might not like me.

I want to improve my writing by risking critique.

My first topic? Nothing much controversial – just racism.

Read my Day 1 post here:

On Day 2, one full of meetings and work and fatigue and a near-copout, I was desperate for a topic. It was already past my bedtime (and I should have submitted a post that morning or the night before), but I had committed to this thing, and how could I wimp out on the second day?

Throughout the day, I had pondered a dozen ideas, including poetry. (The only real “rule” of the challenge is that you have to “share a perspective.” In other words, no “What I Had for Lunch Today” drivel. Unless you can make your lunch mean something.)

This writing challenge, this likemindedness with other bloggers, if only for 7 days, has so engaged my mind and my heart that I wrote – partly out of Day 2 desperation and partly out of a need to risk looking stupid – my first poem since 1980 (senior year of high school). I won’t even make you click for it:

taking the leap

By Suzy Taylor Oakley @oakleysuzyt

so many world changers in this space
are they trying to change everyone’s world,
or just their own?

we are of all stripes
all colors, all tongues.

we want to know and be known

there’s security in being a tribe member,
safety in numbers.

but many shun the illusion of safety –
after all, this exercise, this challenge
was meant to jolt us, shake us loose,
force us to take our turn.

for some, this may be the last turn they take –
too scary, this shaking loose
from our cocoons of obscurity.

for others, the last hope,
a lifeline beyond their imagining
until they opened their eyes,
their hearts, their minds

to what’s possible

when you jump.

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