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“Susan Hough’s Walking with Sobonfu naturally reveals the best part of all of our open hearts and wisdom through her very rare authentic voice and life. No matter what stage of development you find yourself in this book will help open you to your humanitarian spirit at a time when our troubled world so badly needs it.

  • Robert Strock, Co-Founder of The Global Bridge Foundation Founder of ongoing podcasts The Missing Conversation and Awareness that Heals

We are so excited to share this incredible interview with Michelle and Susan Hough, the author behind the fantastic book Walking with Sobonfu: A Guide to Claiming Your Authenticity and Deepening Your Sense of Community. This very special interview opens up with a prayer from Susan and then launches into incredible conversations about rituals, Susan’s deep friendship with Sobonfu Somé, and the organizations Susan works with because of her connection with Sobonfu, Wisdom Spring and Walking for Water (Please see below for full links to Walking with Sobonfu and these incredible organizations).

Susan Hough experienced a profound shift in her life when she first encountered the works of Sobonfu Somé. What she didn’t realize, at the time, was that those books would lead her to a profound lifelong connection with the author. Through her friendship with Sobonfu, Hough’s life expanded in deeper, more meaningful, and more spiritual ways. Walking with Sobonfu chronicles Hough’s friendship with Sobonfu as they share experiences in North America as well as in Africa. The book is filled with the wisdom of both women and invites the reader to dive deeply into the richness of their own lives through rituals and ceremonies that bring about stronger connections to themselves, the earth, and their communities.

Susan Hough has been living her gift for over 35 years. A born healer, she began her journey on the East Coast working with teens and families. The rites of passage of losing her mother, being diagnosed with breast cancer, and suffering through a divorce caused Susan’s entire life to shift. Experiencing so many deeply challenging experiences she rededicated herself to turn them into rites of passage which deepened her journey to heal herself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Find Susan’s book and connect with organizations at the links below:

Walking with Sobonfu on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dUrGTb

Wisdom Spring home page: https://www.wisdomspring.org/

Walking for Water 2022: https://www.wisdomspring.org/virtual/

Walking for Water West Coast home page: https://lbhswalkingforwater.org/

Walking for Water East Coast home page: https://huskieswalkingforwater.org/

Keep writing. Keep creating. Your words matter.

Find out how to begin your own book publishing journey at www.gracepointpublishing.com

 Produced by Number Three Productions, www.numberthreeproductions.com

 

Full Transcript

Intro 

Welcome to the GracePoint Publishing authors podcast. Join us as we discuss the challenges, triumphs, inspirations and unique aspects of our authors journey. As you listen, you will learn about how we publish our books, the ways we pivot and adjust to our ever changing industry and how you can begin your own book publishing journey. And now, here’s your host, co-founder and publisher of Gracepoint Publishing, Michelle Vandepas.

Susan 

Grandmothers and grandfathers, all of our ancestors have the highest and best good know what needs to be ignited, spoken, awakened, aligned, heard. It’s in the highest and best good for all, who will be listening or who are thinking of listening. And that need the wisdom that comes through? Both Michelle and me may move through us may we dive deep into the messages that need to be moved through and awakened and aligned for others. May we speak from our hearts and be grounded in our bodies? May the wisdom be woken up in our bones and may deep transformation and change occur through this connection? is a blessing.

Michelle 

So beautiful, I see a little book of prayers for you next. Hello and welcome. I am Michelle Vandepas, your host for the GracePoint Publishing podcast. And today I’m thrilled because I have Walking With Sobonfu. The author, Susan Hough, who wrote this book and I can’t wait to share it with you is a guide to claiming your authenticity and deepening your sense of community. You’re going to find out a lot about Susan in the next few minutes. Welcome to the show.

Susan 

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.

Michelle 

When you read this book right at the beginning, it talks about your commitment to ritual. And that’s not something that at least in the United States of America, we’re very connected to talk to me why ritual is so important, especially right now and it feels like the whole world’s in chaos.

Susan 

Such an interesting question, because I think I live my life in ritual. And I think we probably all do. And we’re not conscious of being in ritual as we should be. My teacher and mentor Simone Fusco may her name met, they keep her the rituals. But as I’ve walked this walk with her and now without her being passed on the other side, I realize every moment when I breathe in is a ritual. And as I breathe out, I let go, it’s a ritual. So how often can I breathe in and out and really align with me so that I can be more in alignment with what I’m here to be of service doing, how I’m to listen more clearly how to speak from a place of non judgment, how to awaken to the deeper parts of myself so that I can support others and awakening to the deeper part of themselves.

Michelle 

You’re talking about something that comes up a lot right now. But other people frame it around mindfulness, or slowing down. And you’re framing this around ritual. But I think you’re saying the same thing. Like having a ritual makes you be more mindful.

Susan 

It’s a more tangible thing. I like the tangible. So for me, my morning ritual is I hug myself and I think Oh, hmm. I’m waking up from the dream row, how can I be more present in the physical world? And then I think about Hmm, what’s my day gonna look like? Knowing that it could shift obviously, at any moment, but be more conscious. And for me, the physical of just wrapping my arms around myself, you know, so Bumble would say you wake up and you wake yourself up and you greet yourself from the dream world.

Michelle 

Beautiful, so beautiful. We’re gonna talk about some rituals in your book. Some of them are a little more complicated. And I never thought of it before. But I actually get up and have a cup of coffee and sort of sit in silence for a few minutes and just be in the moment. That’s probably a ritual.

Susan 

I mean, when I drink my coffee, I think “may this coffee move through me and release whatever gets in my way, so I can be more productive in my day.”

Michelle 

So both of these rituals that you just talked about, and I’m going off script here because I have prepared questions, but this is more interesting to me. Both of these have intention behind them.

Susan 

Yes, intention to me is more important than anything. If you set the intention, you can keep coming back to it right? What’s my intention? Huh? What is my intention, my intention is to awaken. I have a seed ritual in there, which is one of my more complicated rituals, which actually is even more complicated if you were to work with me one on one alone. But maybe your intention is to grow a deeper connection to your heart, the next part of the seed ritual will be a deeper connection to the wisdom that resides and that can be spoken through your heart. Another layer could be let me grow a deeper connection to spirit so I can be in more alignment to how I’m to serve. How do I want to deepen my connection within myself so I can deepen my connection outside of myself.

Michelle 

So you’ve already given me a sort of a big aha here, which is, in my morning coffee, I could start an intention that is as I drink in, I don’t know if nourishing is the right word for coffee, I like you’re releasing better the fact that I’m alive, how am I going to be with the world and I’m using this for some time of peace, like to actually just bring in my intention to a ritual that I never really considered a spiritual ritual, that maybe I could turn into one.

Susan 

Or it could also they may I drink this and release whatever is getting in my way of being more in alignment with how I am to be today, my own inner be.

Michelle 

There, you took a big risk, because you didn’t know Sobonfu and you read her book and said, I have to meet this woman. That’s pretty courageous. Right?

Susan 

At the time, I didn’t think it was courageous. At the time, I thought this is just what I got to do. Because I’m being shoved almost like just do it. Stop being a wimp, just go find this woman. It didn’t feel courageous.

Michelle 

When you can slow down and maybe be in the ritual, have intention. And listen, your are guided to your next step. Right. So tell me just a little bit about how you found or was it a long journey that you went down with her?

Susan 

I did one of my first mentors, he was passing. And before he passed, he said, you know, if this feeling you ought to read this book. It’s written by Saddam was a man, I was like, Okay, I’ll read it. And when I read it, it actually felt like a vibration in my body, like a knowing. But specifically, it was when I read about a hearing ritual where women gather around a pregnant mom. And the mother will go into a trance and speak through the mother, what the gift is the child is bringing to the village. And the child will be named to remember the gift, the child will also speak what it needs to nourish the gift, so that the village knows what it needs. And I read that and I thought, oh my golly, like, I love young people. And I thought number one, Boy, I sure do wish I’d had a frickin naming ritual. Maybe I wouldn’t have screwed up so much. And the other part was, like, wow, I believe everybody does have a gift, and how do you ignite their gift, and help them to know that they have a gift that only they can bring in to the world in only their own unique way, and that we need each other to really support ourselves in nourishing that gift, and collaborating with others to bring it forward. I read that and honestly, I gave that book to all my friends and I probably drove them absolutely freaking crazy. bugging them about did you read the book yet? And, oh, here’s this book. Oh, you have to read this book, best book I’ve ever read. And finally about, I would say three months later, I was like, I gotta quit freakin talking about this book. And I have to find her. This was 21 years ago, I got on the internet, searched her, found a place she was teaching in South Carolina called them. They gave me a phone number. I started calling the phone number every once in a while someone would say she’s not here. And I’d be thinking you don’t have a frickin answering machine. What is wrong with this? You’ve got two great books that are out. And she hadn’t had her third book out yet. And I was like, why didn’t you advance rushing? And I didn’t give up because I was driven. And one day she answers the phone. And she says yes. I say, “Yes, what?” Yes, I will do what you want. And I said, I don’t know what I want. And she said call my assistant tomorrow. I’ve been calling her home phone. And so that’s how it started and she became my best For 17 years, and she trained me in ritual, and I got to walk with her, and I run her nonprofit now. And I do work with teenagers as close as I can to what I would think the village would do. And I put water wells in Africa and India because of her, and it changed my trajectory of my life, you know, had already been a counselor, it made me realize there was so much more I could do in the world.

Michelle 

So I want to talk about your nonprofit, because I know just a tiny bit about it. You actually work with teenagers, high school students to build wells, right? I do. So that’s an amazing project. How many wells Do you think you

Susan 

Probably are around 38 or 39. And we just had a wonderful woman, give us 30,000. So I can get at least two more wells, if not three more wells, and it’s a teenage run project. I mean, obviously, I oversee it, it’s on the east and the west coast. And what I help these young people do is truly find their gift in the project. Like they would find their gift in the village. And what it is to collaborate and communicate and know that each person’s part in this project couldn’t be done without the other people doing their part in the project.

Michelle 

Because they do the whole thing, right? They research they do the marketing, they fundraise,

Susan 

they write, they do art. I mean, they speak they sing. We have a radio show now called walking in for water in our local Laguna Beach, walking for water teen activism. So they speak about not just what is life, but homelessness and what it is to be a teen who knows that their next and add a step into their humanitarian heart, and how can they make a difference in the way that they’re called forth to make a difference?

Michelle 

Yeah, I love that. Because that feels like it’s just an extension of the work, right? finding your purpose, being in purpose, doing what you’re here to do, being who you’re here to be At and community and not be me, but be a we,

Michelle 

Which is getting kind of harder and harder, right?

Susan 

It’s a greed culture, if we can teach our children to be a wee, and see, I mean, they did something on homelessness last week, and it just moved me in such a deep way. Robert strock, who’s a great teacher, he asked them, How do you feel about it? And one of the kids said, You know what, I realized it could be me. And that I just happened to be born someplace where I am able to have a home and a roof over my head. So the nonprofit is called wisdom spring and the project that teenagers do is called walking for water

Michelle 

walking for water, right? So you can Google it. I’ve Googled it, and it’s a worthwhile project. The book is walking with Sivan, foo, it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous cover with picture of a ritual. I just want to ask you for someone that has thought about ritual. Well, number one, they should buy the book available everywhere. But number two, what’s one simple ritual that they could start to help give more meaning to their lives? Let’s say you don’t want to start with the seed one.

Susan 

I mean, I think the simple one is the water ritual. Because what are really does help us align with peace. Water is about going with flow water is about clearing out, getting more clarity. So as you drink water all day, as you should, because water is life. You take your glass of water in as you sip it, you say, May this align me to peace? May I feel more peaceful within myself as this water moves through me? May I connect with my flow? May I dive deep into those places that need to be opened and released so that I may bring more clarity into my life? So it could be any of those broken down? May I think in peace, may I agree in clarity, so

Michelle 

beautiful. This took a while to birth this book. I remember you had so many gorgeous photos and we just had to really handpick the ones that were going to work in the book. It’s a gorgeous book. It’s a full color book with gorgeous photos and rituals in there. How was the process of finally getting it published? Because it just feels like that was a whole birthing process. I

Susan 

Mean, it was a process of where I started the book right after she died, and then it completely changed. Well, I’d actually started the book before she died. You know, she’s like, you gotta write a book and I’m like, I don’t want to write a book. I could care less about writing a book, but she made me promise I’d write Your book, I think she’d be proud of this book. I think she’d be really proud. She probably is already proud of it. I can feel her sometimes I think she thinks like, finally. And then it changed when she died. And then I couldn’t do it. I was in my grief I was working through, what is my life like to run a nonprofit without her what is my life like to do rituals. Without her, I had kind of had to really move through my own grief and really do my own water rituals to really clear the way so I could write again, so I could wake up to my wisdom. And as I wrote it, actually, the last chapter, the story part, because there’s a workbook. I didn’t even know I was going to write what I wrote. Isn’t that interesting? Yeah, I didn’t get the full circle until I wrote the book. And so it was really like, Oh, my God, like, Wow, thank you for giving me another layer of teaching. You know, thank you for always helping me remember, there’s always something we can learn. And we never stopped growing and learning was really a walk. And it’s still a walk, I still think how can I move forward and bring this ancient beautiful wisdom that I was given from a wonderful black woman from us to Africa and be a white woman and do it in a way that honors both the ancient and the modern? And I’m never going to be able to do it like she does it. She wouldn’t want me to. I’m constantly learning and constantly growing and constantly asking the questions, how can I serve? How can I serve? How can I serve till I die? I remember saying, I’m going to do whatever I can to make a difference in the world until the day I die. And you know what? I’m gonna do the same. So beautiful.

Michelle 

Again, the book is walking with Sivan foo, sob o n. F. You beautiful book, please pick it up wherever you normally buy books. Susan, it’s been an honor. And I’m going to take us out of water, meat. Breathe in some peace. Thank you again.

Susan 

Thank you, Michelle, I always love seeing you. I always appreciate you.

Outro 

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Gracepoint publishing authors podcast. We can’t wait to talk more next time as we introduce you to another one of our amazing authors. Make sure you hit subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, so you never miss a single episode of The Gracepoint publishing authors podcast. To find out more about our authors and to see how we can help you publish your book, head to Gracepoint publishing.com. Keep writing. Keep creating your word matter.

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