Susan de Wardt, CAPF/CJF

Susan de Wardt

After a life altering cancer diagnosis, Susan de Wardt is on sabbatical from her career as a life coach specializing in the use of transformative language to inspire creativity and self-directed change. Currently, Susan is learning to say NO to stress and YES to creativity and inspiration. She is now working on a cookbook for her family, showcasing the family favorites along with recipes for tastes acquired during ten years of living abroad. The recipes are interspersed with anecdotes from her life and food-centric photos with family and friends.

An avid writer, Susan belongs to a select group of individuals recognized for their expertise in the area of reflective writing. She is a certified journal facilitator/certified applied poetry facilitator, past president of the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy and is now on faculty for the Therapeutic Writing Institute. She specializes in distance learning and online facilitation for biblio/poetry therapy and creative writing classes. Susan is a past facilitator of the weekly Steamboat Writers Group for the Steamboat Springs Council on Arts and Humanities and has been a member of the writers group since 1994. In addition she has moderated the Steamboat Writers Group Day for Writers Conference since 2004.

Through her business Mindworks Coaching, Susan presents frequent writing workshops both nationally and internationally as well as online. Her range of topics includes: techniques for personal and business success, writing for wellness, memoir, journal keeping for creative expression and self-discovery, poetry and nature writing. She is also available to design a customized blend of writing exercises and personal development experiences for your group around a special theme.

For more information, contact Susan at www.mindworkscoaching.com

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Please enjoy this anecdote from my cookbook:

The Foreign Cheese Incident

This story is from my journal of France, the book which begins with our new life in the suburbs of Paris. The idea for recording our experiences came to me one evening when John and I were sitting in the kitchen. During the week I had been buying various new and exotic foods at the local market, usually cheese and wine. After the children go to bed John and I sit tete-a-tete, talking over our day and sampling the cuisine of the countryside. Today I made a sortie into the world of French provincial cheese by purchasing a particularly odorous variety: a Couloumier named ‘Le Rustique’.

To select the cheese I used sound consumer research: I watched what other people in the store bought. The various French ladies I observed squeezed, sniffed, and otherwise handled the cheeses before placing them in the woven straw market baskets dangling from their arms. Several people chose “le Rustique”. I figured the local people knew what they were buying so I also plopped a red and white labeled round into my basket. For all I knew, those people could have been tourists just like me.

At any rate, this was our day to try the cheese. I was turning out the lights after tucking the children into bed when I heard ghastly retching noises and “oh Yuk’ sort of sounds emanating from the kitchen. I hurried down the hall to find my husband John vigorously rinsing his mouth at the kitchen sink.

What are you trying to do? Poison me?” he cried. I took his comments to mean that he didn’t like ‘le rustique’.

Earlier the kids had compared the smell of the cheese to goat tinkle (please don’t ask me how they arrived at this comparison), now John was swearing that the cheese smelled and tasted like a barnyard. I took a sniff. Whoo-ee! I had to agree with him; it was incredibly bad. I chucked the offending cheese into the garbage. John was furious.

You didn’t even taste it!” he fumed. I thought “Why on earth would I want to eat something that smelled this bad? He was absolutely livid. To hear him tell it he had nearly died martyring himself to the cause of foreign food exploration while I had callously tossed the cheese in the bin without so much as a taste! (No point in both of us being sick, I reasoned).

After he calmed down he suggested that in the future I avoid anything labeled ‘le rustique’ since it was obviously packaged barnyard stuff. In the end we laughed hilariously and I was forgiven.

Looking back on this episode I feel I must apologize to the manufacturers of the aforementioned cheese. After 18 more months of living in France, we acquired a taste for the most outrageously flavored things. The French are undoubtedly among the world leaders in the culinary arts and I confess it was probably our inexperience that nearly did us in – not the cheese maker.

From a recent blog on memoir. . .

The greatest gift people can give to each other is their memories. As a journal facilitator, I regularly teach people how to listen intently to their own story of life, to observe closely those details that reveal who they are and what they’ve seen and heard, then to write honestly and from the heart. This week I have been surprised by the number of people who don’t seem to value their experiences. You see, I joined the internet social networking scene.

Yes, I’m now on Facebook and LinkedIn; I have cruised through classmates.com to check on the people I knew in high school. I searched through dozens of personal biographies to find details and was surprised to see a number of entries like this: Life. That’s it – just Life. I guess some people just don’t consider it important to share details. I understand the need for privacy but I also believe in sharing news and celebration. “Life” is in the details!

Too often I have people in my memoir classes who consider that nothing about them is interesting. I suspect they think only Hollywood stars, royalty, and serial killers have a story to tell. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Raising children is rich with story. So is being single or being married, working at a steady job or switching careers. Whatever we choose to do in life becomes our story. Through the act of sharing story, we acknowledge our personal history, validate our experiences, successful or otherwise, and pass on wisdom and learning. Each life lived matters.

What’s the story you have to tell?

For more tips on memoir and legacy writing, follow Susan online at http://mindworkscoaching.com/coaching/newsblog/