Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hola! My name is a product of biological, survival and passionate consequences: Suzanne Kanso for my chosen birth name, Isabella my warrior name and La Pasionaria or The Passionate Flower for the poet within. I’m a cheater and survivor of death, manipulator of negative to positive consequences and raiser of frequencies and higher vibrations. A nonconformist influencer, motivational speaker, and transformational resilience coach, I want to empower women to take up space, speak up against injustice, regain confidence and discover their inner fierce goddess. Years ago, you made a promise to your inner child – are you doing and being what you promised yourself to be?
Together, I want to help break the pre-existing barriers, social conditionings and all traditional expectations prevalent in our day-to-day life and get you back on track – because SIS it’s time to reclaim what’s already yours!
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
From far it! I’m the person who sat in class wanting to do everything and admiring those around me who knew exactly what and who they wanted to be growing up. That same person changed her undergrad major 7 times jumping from one field to the other – from mathematics, science, psychology, social sciences, philosophy, and English to finally communications. That daunting sense and feeling of “fitting-in” felt foreign to me, constantly scanning the room and people around, I knew this was not where I was supposed to be – and I know some of you are reading this, nodding your head, snapping your fingers and possibly humming “YAS!!!”
So, what I did was everything society told me NOT to do. I left my prestigious job working for the government, Immigration Canada, packed my luggage and literally ended up on a plane with a one-way ticket to a small town in Mexico. I am where I am today, because I CHOSE to take the paths least taken, to be uncomfortable and go to the most dangerous war-torn and hunger-stricken parts of the world. I’m not saying here to go on a suicide mission, what I am saying is to challenge that comfort zone you have nestled into. You can’t complain about wanting a life you can’t have, because you haven’t changed the circumstances of your current situation. Does that make sense?
To pursue success, we have to identify and understand our Ikigai and Meraki. Ikigai is Japanese for “reason for being” and Meraki is Greek for doing something with soul, creativity, and/or love – to leave a piece of yourself in your work. One of my favorite quotes states, “Not all those who wander are lost,” it’s in getting lost and learning to journey through life courageously alone is where character is built – it’s where we identify and find our Ikigai and Meraki.
For me that meant leaving my high paying job, selling my car, switching from heels to flats (an outrageous thing a middle-eastern could ever do!) getting down and dirty to handwashing my clothes, sleeping with one eye-open and finding myself cuddling with mother nature’s creatures (screaming and crying was part of the process.) If you want to go far, you have to be willing to struggle and sacrifice everything for your dreams.
Were you scared to start the process?
Typically, most people would say YES! Not in my case. I always knew I didn’t belong here, that the world is vast, and I needed to find or create my space. I refused to abide by all the scientifically fact and logic driven folk and literally listened to my gut (whatever that means) by tuning out all that white noise. I just did things, because I had to, because I knew that was the right thing to do. Logically I couldn’t back it up to my father, relatives, friends, community – but as long as it made sense to me, I was okay with that. I felt the vibrations, read the signs, aligned myself with the universe, and slowly but surely after 10-12 years I started seeing the seeds of my plants blossom.
I acknowledge how scary this all sounds, even the times where I’ve felt I’ve reached my capacity, that I’m on a verge of a total mental breakdown, that I couldn’t endure anymore of these storm seasons, the universe would whisper back “Not today, it’s not your time to give up. Just hold on a little longer, you’re going to be okay, I promise.”
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I’ve seen death more times than I could count on two hands PLUS my invisible illness(es) – often times people are ready to appropriate well-polished looks to physical and mental health. As human, we are so quick to label, judge and categorize people, for the personal satisfaction of our own ego to rationalize and make sense of what “we” see fit. It was the categorical labeling of “Oh, but you’re so young,” “You’re not sick, stop faking it,” “We can’t find what’s wrong with you,” that led to countless frustrations over the years and fear of no longer wanting life.
The last three years I’ve spent my Christmas and New Years in the hospital and in the last 15 years, I’ve spent majority of my time battling medical conditions, our Canadian medical institutions, and enduring physical, mental and spiritual hindrances and struggles. Jennifer Bailey once said, “we live in a time of endemic loneliness and one of the things we forget, is that self-care doesn’t work in isolation.” We can’t expect to heal and practice self-care when we live in society that doesn’t acknowledge what invisible illness is and fails to implement best-practices in our communities and at medical, academic and professional institutions.
We as human being are fascinating creatures; we’re constantly evolving, growing, and asserting how resilient we are. Although we can never walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we can certainly learn to become more aware and mindful of others. We are all fighting our own demons and battles behind closed, let’s be more sensitive and mindful of our next thought before it becomes a word or action we regret.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m so thankful to have received so many great advices, nevertheless, I will share a recent favorite piece of advice that is appropriately relevant to my current journey in life:
“Blaming our circumstances is a lazy approach to justifying who and where we are today.” Perla
We go through life thinking we are entitled to it, that we have this infinite amount of time and wind up taking it for granted. We forget to enjoy the present moment, to laugh loudly, to take up space, to live and go boldly in life. We would rather fixate on our ego and self-victimization, because if we’re not consciously aware of it – we’re comfortable blaming and pointing fingers at others.
One of my favorite modern writers who has entirely transformed her life to live her own truth is Jen Sincero. She calls the ego “a false self, one that only exists to sabotage our happiness, and that is born out of our lack of self-worth.” It is easy to shift blame and not hold ourselves responsible and accountable for our life, but where has that gotten us? Absolutely no where!
Nonetheless, through the power of manifestation and laws of attraction, the Universe sends us signs, messages and even people as reminders to realign ourselves with our own authentic self and truth. The moment we seize to victimize ourselves by our circumstances, we garner a deeper level of actualization of the road that lays ahead and the necessary resources required to go there.
This piece of advice hit me like a wake-up tsunami call. The skies started to clear up, and it was then and there on a Sunday brunch during Reed Moon that I assimilated my medical circumstances to the resilient character I’ve been shaped into. Who’s to say that I’d be the person I am today in the absence of the very circumstances I’ve despised my entire life? Who’s to say I would have fought so hard to be here and present? Who’s to say I’d be anywhere close to where I am today in my journey?
Raised by a fierce queen, my mother said to me “God gave me to you and he will take you from me – God is more generous and loving than any mother can be for her child, so I know every time I bid you farewell, with my hand on my heart, I ask the Universe to take you with its care so you can create what you’re set out into this world to create, to be.”
The World is My Oyster!
What would you say to 16 year old you?
My 16-year-old self once made a promise on her bedroom window while gazing at the stars and admiring the moon, “Suzy, you’re not placed onto this earth to be mediocre. Promise me you’ll make something meaningful out of your treasured life.”
Now as I look back to my 16-year-old self, I want to say “Thank you! Thank you for pausing, thank you for learning lessons from people and situations around you, thank you for investing in yourself and constantly growing.” Change is an essential part of growth, and so is remaining true to ourselves every part of the way. What helped elevate me during my high school days, was my ability to fight back against the stormy seasons of bullying and racism. So, to my 16-year-old self, “Thank you for challenging me with this question each and every day in high school What do you want out of life? The more you question it, the closer you are to your truth. You’d be proud of who and were I am today!”
Life is not as easy as we are taught, it’s a wilderness. The thorns plunged in my skin are a reminder of how life has clawed itself into my soul, left me petal-less and naked with bleeding wounds. I’ve cried for hours, days and years and wanted to give up every step of the way. I picked up running, only to run away from myself, avoid facing my fears and gradually fade into a false self. When mental illness became my friend, I saw my 6-year-old self whispering, “Wake Up! Remember those less fortunate and war-torn kids? Remember the voiceless and powerless women continuously violated, broken and shattered to pieces by patriarchal systems? I need you to get up and stand on your feet – you haven’t come this far to give up now! You live in a privileged part of the world and in the land of the opportunities…” and silence would prevail. Life started to make more sense, storm seasons became easily identifiable and my awareness to them heightened – it was time to clap back!
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
All the time! Especially the closest people around me. To clarify doubt comes in many forms – emotional manipulation, shooting down of dreams, construction of roadblocks and lack of faith from colleagues, friends, our own partners and even family.
I would feel infuriated, upset and disappointed in these bitter power-struggles where my own integrity and capabilities would be called to question, like “Who do you think you are?” “You need to understand your place, you work for me,” in both the cast system corporate and academia world. In each and every one of those scenarios, I’ve learnt to utilize this anger as fuel to my passion projects and rise above.
I know there are many strong women out there who find themselves in similar situations – and I’m here to tell you that if people find you intimidating – think of it as a filtering mechanism to weed people out. You don’t need to be everyone’s cup of tea!
What message do you think every woman should hear?
Goddess, don’t allow anyone to DEFINE your sexy, LIMIT your dreams, SILENCE your voice. You were brought onto this world Free and you will exist it Free!
You are strong. You are smart. You are beautiful. The world is in the palm of your hands and let me tell you – you’re already born as the stronger and more resilient species for just being a woman, for having a womb, for bleeding every month and coping with raging and ranging emotions and feelings.
As women, we are often told to how to speak, how to eat, how to laugh, how to dress – and the list goes on. I say, Be You! Be Fierce! Be Resilient!
Don’t back down – You’re Unstoppable! And the only one who can ever hold you back is You! Remember that next time someone tries to tell you otherwise.
Suzanne Kanso is an award winning and internationally renowned global educator & storyteller, filmmaker, advocate for children and women’s rights and a Certified Resilience and Empowerment Transformational Coach for women all around the world. She is the co-author of a children’s storybook, co-founder of Echoed Foundation, and founder of the rapidly growing BachataFemmes global movement.