Alignment, close to the heart.

Drawings, Writing
my one word for 2016, #suedle style.

my one word for 2016, #suedle style.


This past year was full of moments of joy, both the planned and the unexpected. When I look back on this year, I realize I had lots of big dreams. Dreaming is my way of finding joy.

When I reflected on my year of joy in search for a new word for 2016, I thought I would do something similar to other reflective posts – link back to a bunch of joyful moments of 2015. I have to admit I hesitated to do this & ultimately decided against it. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to share the ‘happy times.’ I very much do, particularly lately when it seems our world isn’t so joyful.

It’s just that…Well, more than I want to share these moments, I want to hold onto them. I want to keep them in a private space, somewhere close to my heart, near my soul. I want to be selfish.  I want them to be mine. Some moments are not meant to be shared with my whatever-something followers. I’d rather call the few people I would share it with if we were all standing in the same room. Somehow, its more meaningful that way.


This may sound weird. I guess it is a little weird, considering I’m sharing this on a blog. But, 2015 really taught me a ton about private moments of joy and how I am in so in love with them. I want more of that.

I think I realized this in April when Dan asked me to marry him. (See? If you just followed me here, you probably had no idea this even happened! Don’t worry, I had no idea it was happening either.) At first, it was pure torture for the both of us not to hop online, update ALL the statuses and tell the world that we would be going on foodventures together for the rest of our lives. However, something pretty cool happened by not sharing right away – I recognized I LOVED not posting about it. Those few days where nothing was online about our newfound relationship status were total bliss. It was like our (and our families & close friends) little secret. I held it close to my heart, just like I wanted.

There were a few other moments over 2015 where I had moments like this. And that brings us to today. My ‘one words’ over the past few years have focused on action & experience. Finish. Do. Joy. During those years, I had listed out some pretty specific goals to go along with each one. I think somewhere in my mind I thought, Oh easy, I’ll pick a word, I’ll do these few things and I’ll feel great! Piece of cake.

But I’ve discovered, for me, that doesn’t really work. (I cannot believe it took me three years to realize that.) My ‘one word’ has to be more like a theme for it to be effective. A mantra, of sorts. ‘Joy’ was great for that – in obvious moments of joy, but also in moments that were complete shit too. It brought me back around, shifted my focus to turn and look at the good.

Les Brown quote

This year, I want to purposefully find the things that are close to my heart. I want to align myself with ‘those’ people. I want to be a bit more selfish. Development, whether personal or professional, has always been something I value. I want to find & invest in things that make me better, in people that strengthen me. This year, I’m working to align the things I want to do with who I am and who I want to be. I have a few ideas of what this might look like (more reading, more drawing, more walking and a suedle rebrand!) and what it might not look like. I definitely know that for now, I’ll be taking a step away from some social media platforms to have time to do other things.

I think the best part about ‘align’ is that those things could change. I think one of my favorite podcasters, Jess Lively, puts it best. She consistently says, ‘this thing might not serve me in this space I am right now. But, it could serve me if things change in the future.’ I dig the flexible, self aware nature of that statement. It aligns with what I’m trying to do.

So, for now, bye bye Twitter & Facebook. And hello to new drawings on Instagram and pictures of my cat on Snapchat. If you want to say hello, you can comment here, find me there or my personal favorite – we can chat offline! Preferably over a caffeinated beverage.

Or you can head over here to hear more about suedles and the update taking place soon. 

Thanks for hearing me out and I hope to see a few of you along the journey.



Choosing Joy. (Sharing my #oneword2015)


2014 was the year of ‘do’ for me.


Take on the responsibility.

Start the book.

Create the eSeries.

Open the Etsy shop.

Go to the conference.

Make the appointment.

Go to the interview.

Act on a conference committee.

Commit to the year after.

Submit the proposal.

Go to the yoga class.


Read the book(s).

Pick up the phone.

Say goodbye.






I am a woman who hesitates. Sometimes, I like to think things through. Sometimes, it just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes, I just can’t find the time. And sometimes, I need a nap.


I learned a few things, both good and bad, by focusing on doing this year. My biggest takeaway? I can’t do it all. Sometimes when I do it all, I am a real cranky individual. I am not my best, I don’t produce great work, and I am a real bitch to the people I love the most.

But when I am careful about what I do choose to do? I freaking ROCK that shit. I go all in, all Sue, all the time. When I focus, I create and complete projects in all areas of my life. (Major testament to this: holiday sales on my Etsy shop! I was focused and pulled it off. I laid out a timeline for myself and didn’t over promise or extend. Win!)


This year, I’m switching it up with my #oneword2015. I’ve focused on finishing and doing in the past two years.


This year, it’s joy.


Being a woman who hesitates, I also tend to over think things. I can let my emotions get in the way of being in the moment, recognizing the good times and being grateful for them. I burrow, not giving myself the opportunities to feel joy.


This year, I’d like to focus on the joyful moments that we can overlook everyday. To help, I’m increasing my suedle-ing to at least one sketch a day, using my 365 Sketchbook. I’m also making a Joy Jar to capture joyful moments throughout the year. Last but not least, I’m going to use a daily practice I developed as a Healer’s Art faculty member this year – a mental journal. At the end of each day, I will quietly ask myself, “What brought you joy today?” This could be fulfilling a long term goal, dreaming up a new one or finishing a good book. Recognizing joy, in all shapes and sizes, is a skill I hope to hone in the new year.

Cheers to a joyful 2015!

suedles on stage.

Drawings, Multimedia, Writing

this Saturday marks many firsts for me.


it will be my first time traveling to Indianapolis.

ACPA will be my first national conference.

and (drumroll) it’s the first time #suedles will be on a national stage.


nervous excitement at its best!

nervous excitement at its best!


i’m excited to announce that  i will be sue-dlinglive

for the opening & closing sessions (and more!) at the ACPA National Convention


bringing visual language to our field can help ‘reinvent’ how we communicate with each other, process information and encourage this kind of expression in our home institutions. i’m pumped to be involved in such a unique way and grateful to those who helped make this happen.


if you are attending the conference be sure to say hi. oh, and keep your eyes peeled during the rest of the conference. you never know where you will find a suedle… 🙂


follow the backchannel using the #ACPA14 and #suedle from March 26th – April 2nd for conference fun and illustrations galore! 

hey, you. your drafts are showing.

Drawings, Writing

if you live in my house, a ‘draft’ references one of two things – football or a piece of art that’s halfway done.

both raise my blood pressure, but let’s go with the second example for this post.


the most common draft that i experience looks a little something like this:


the many by-products before a suedle.

however, they take many forms.

a policy that needs editing,
a run that wasn’t the best,
a presentation that contained stutters,
and a conversation that resulted in a mess.

drafts rear their ugly heads everywhere.


we all have our own version of a draft monster.

drafts also offer something else.

a chance to step outside the box,
the time to practice it once more,
the gift of reflection and revision
and the opportunity to make it better than the first time.

it can be very difficult to let your drafts show.

but hey, every once in a while, it might be worth the risk to get a little drafty.

no risk, no reward.

Drawings, Writing

what is a risk?

1. a situation involving exposure to danger.
synonyms: chance, uncertainty, unpredictability, precariousness, instability, insecurity, perilousness, riskiness
2. expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
“he risked his life to save his dog”
synonyms: endanger, imperil, jeopardize, hazard, gamble, gamble with, chance

risks make us vulnerable.
vulnerability makes us scared.
over the past week, i have been pretty scared…

and pretty pumped.

i have had the honor of illustrating for two blogs this week.

Chris Conzen’s blog post, “Who Decides What’s Authentic?



and Joe Ginese’s 150th post, “Its been a while…”.

im overwhelmed at the response these two drawings have received. this risk and the growth that it’s partnered with has already yielded a reward. intentionally designing and producing #suedles is a trend i hope to continue well into the future.

let it settle.

Drawings, Writing

i had a huge problem with the word ‘settling’ – or more specific the verb to ‘settle for’ – for a long time.

settle for, to be satisfied with: to settle for less.

that definition derives anything BUT a settling feeling. who would want to ‘give up’ and settle? aren’t we supposed to push and give 110% all the time?

contrary to this belief, i’ve recently come to think that the act of settling can have a greater value than i ever anticipated. a quote from my yoga teacher helped me reach this conclusion.


a suedle of the settling sorts.

the teacher repeats this several times throughout the 90 minute class during periods of savasana. these short rest periods are meant to provide a break to energize and heal the body from the taxing poses. they also serve as a mental break; they allow us to teach our minds how accept quiet and focus when we reach our tipping point. finding a sense of calm on the yoga mat matches a secondary definition of settle that i have come to appreciate:

to come to rest, as from flight: A bird settled on a bough.

not only do i appreciate the imagery that is associated with this definition, but it provides an important reminder… settling is an important part in the process of taking flight again. 

living colorfully: how to blend your I’s and E’s

Drawings, Writing

Special thanks to Lisa Endersby for guest thinking/writing with me on this post!

Check out her blog here.

One of the very first lessons you are tasked with learning in an art class is the concept of the Color Wheel.

Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are orange, green and purple. When two primary colors are mixed you can create a secondary color.

Red + Yellow = Orange

Yellow + Blue = Green

With the excitement of creating new shades and hues comes a warning from the teacher; “Don’t combine colors on opposite ends of the Color Wheel. They don’t mix well together.”

Purple and yellow? Brownish gray. Orange and blue? Grayish brown.

The Color Wheel was a tool I learned to trust in my early days as an artist. I relied on the guidelines, staying away from testing out combinations that had grayed out results.

Still, I wondered, what was so bad about this combination? Sure, it might be a little rough on the eyes at first, but I was never one to stay away from the boldness of color. I tested these theories out in some of my later works. I found drew inspiration from artists that seemed to feel the same.

One of Sue’s favorite artists, Elizabeth Murray, “Do The Dance”

Working with someone who is the opposite of your MBTI type can be similar to working with opposing colors on the Color Wheel. Each type brings a unique value to the whole picture. When opposing colors play off each other, they can bring vibrant movement, balance and provide symmetry within a piece. The piece uses the strengths of each hue to enhance the beauty of the work as a whole.

However, this balance is not easy to achieve. If one shade overpowers another, a brownish gray mess occurs. The result is weakness instead of strength, and the piece is stripped of what could have been a potential masterpiece. It is easy to choose a shade that you are comfortable with as an introvert or extrovert, and ignore the “colors of others” in your personal or professional life.

Passing the palette to Lisa!

Though perhaps far less artistically inclined, the metaphor of a colour (I’m Canadian if you couldn’t tell) wheel is a fantastic descriptor for working with Introverts. As someone with a very strong preference for Extroversion, our need to externally process and apparent comfort in socializing can liken us to the brighter, bolder colours in the wheel. Conventional wisdom argued we weren’t meant to mix with the ‘softer’ colours, as they would only dilute our strength and polluting our lightness. Those other colours, the pastels perhaps, were an unneeded and ugly weight. Even on their own, they were a toned down, less noticeable version of who we were and who we could be. If only they were a little bit brighter.

Conversely, our loud, over the top hues as Extroverts could be far more blinding than enticing. We can be like blinking neon lights, restlessly demanding attention and always on – always buzzing with ideas and opinions that everyone ends up knowing about. Like plugging into a perpetual power source, our neon sign is continually charged by interaction, creating a cycle of giving and receiving energy from anyone and everyone who walks by and takes notice. We love people, and want you to love us too.

These contrary, colourful descriptions ignore all of the shade gradients on the colour wheel – and for good reason. Too often, Extroversion and Introversion are seen as ‘black and white’ concepts, dull in definition yet uniquely vibrant in practice. You are either one or the other, and, depending on what leadership book you read or ‘how to’ manual for advancing in your profession you follow, probably the wrong one.

Working with colleagues and students identifying a strong preference for Introversion over the past year has added many new colours to my student support pallete. While perhaps a more subdued colour or a more subtle tone, Introversion offers meaningful opportunities for deeper, more careful introspection that patiently waits for the observer to notice the fine detail in their masterpiece, rather than rushing broad brush strokes on canvas. Introverts remind me to take time away and help remove the stigma of being alone. They tease apart ‘being alone’ from ‘loneliness’, often keeping me accountable in my own self care. They remind us, and myself more often since I need it, that the artist requires as much, if not more, care as their paint brushes, crayons or clay.

Continuing the metaphor, the canvas that we display our work, our hopes, our wishes and perhaps even ourselves on is perpetually unfinished. It requires both the bold strokes and the fine lines, the maddening chaos of colour and the subtle nuances of lightness to create a masterful, if not always a masterpiece, life. We don’t need to draw Introverts out of the shadows, nor must the Extroverts step out of the sun. The interplay of light and dark, bright and more subtle hues, draws the most beautiful picture.

What ways are you working to “blend” your I’s and E’s?