Video updates: Feb 27th, March 3rd, and March 12th (today!), 2021  

Livestreamed VIP concert, 7pm!!! So excited!!

Hey friends - Here is my latest video blog post: today, March 12th, 2021: 

From March 3rd, 2021:

From Feb. 27th, 2021:

Looks like this is the way I'll be doing these, rather than embed them on the page. Each video blog update will open in a separate window so you don't have to leave the website to check them out! I'm learning as I go...

Some Thoughts on Love for Valentine's Day 

Feb. 13th, 2021

We’re born to be lovers: lovers of life, lovers of all people, lovers of this magnificent and holy creation entrusted to our care, lovers of wisdom and truth, lovers of joy and imagination. As beings of spirit born into the physical plane, it is our true and divine nature, our essence and birthright, to know love in this way, to experience it, to BE it. In “new thought” (aka re-packaged ancient wisdom combined with the amazing discoveries of metaphysical science), this is what it means to be in our “right mind”. 

Valentine’s Day is a chance to share the experience true love – not just with that special someone, or with those closest to us, but with ALL, because true love knows no bounds. It is an energy, a consciousness, and it doesn’t stop at any man-made border, or at the surface of the physical bodies that create the illusion of difference and separation between ourselves and others, or between ourselves and the natural world of which we are a part. It is both within and all around us, always and in ALL ways. 

It is our gift, and also our great responsibility, to learn to see in this way. I believe this is the power of prayer; the intuitive knowledge of that divine essence, powered by our thoughts, our intentions and our actions, that can bring healing, forgiveness, wholeness, joy and re-unification into being in this world. When we are in alignment with our God-self or higher self, as a part of the loving and co-creative nature of life itself, all things are truly possible. We know ourselves and all other beings as worthy, brilliant and beautiful expressions of a loving Creator. To my understanding, this is not ego, but true humility; to see ourselves as neither above or below anyone or anything, yet essential to the whole, interwoven fabric of creation. I believe this is what Jesus and many great prophets throughout the ages came to teach us and are still trying to teach us. 

But when we as individuals use this power to perpetuate fear, or to cause harm, or ill, or self-gratification or ego-centered grandiosity at the expense of any other, based on false judgements or notions of separation, superiority, entitlement, or dominance, we ALL lose, and the experiences of suffering and lack will continue. Such is the nature of connection (vs. the perception of “duality”, as my friend David Arnholter spoke of so beautifully in his reading of the science of Mind text from Ernest Holmes last Sunday), and such is the law of cause and effect in our world. What we see with our hearts and minds is what we create and experience, be it unity or division. 

We can learn to use our thoughts wisely and well, to create a life worthy of who we truly are as children of the most high. We can allow illusions of fear and separation to fall away, and feel the presence and power of love which is always there. To truly do this on a collective level would immediately bring peace, love, understanding, and a desire to heal all suffering, both within and around us. We could know ourselves and all people, all beings as the living, breathing expression and manifestation of God (or whatever name we choose to call that magnificent author of creation), even despite our continued belief in separation. We could create a world in which true justice and equality were not just far off, fanciful notions belonging to one political party or a bunch of unrealistic, “pie-in-the-sky” dreamers, but the dominant consciousness of our world, THIS world…   

Why else speak the words of any religion? Why say, in the Lord’s prayer of Christianity, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…” if we don’t believe and know this to be possible with all our hearts and minds? These are words of faith, but only if we have faith that this is, in fact, God’s will and intention for us. 

While in one sense, these ideas are quite simple, I do not suggest or presume in any way that they are easy. I struggle with my fears, my own judgements of those I label “other”, my own ideas of separation and duality, of lack or limitation. But on this Valentine’s Day, my prayer for all of us is to awaken to these ideas a little more each day, to know our own worth and the worth of others, to feel a deep love and reverence for this gift of life and to learn to use it wisely and well, finding our wealth and our treasure from within, and sharing it without limit. 

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, with much love, from the bottom of my heart!!

The Tech Companies and "The Social Dilemma" 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED VIEWING: “The Social Dilemma”, a Netflix documentary. 

Some months ago, Theron and I decided to splurge and get Netflix. We still limit our viewing, by necessity. But our greatest discovery, when we DO watch, has been the documentaries. “The Thirteenth” is a fantastic example: a documentary exploring issues of race in our country, historically and politically, and how some elements of the corrosive systemic racism that continues to pervade our culture, our laws and our perceptions stand in stark contrast to the provisions of the Thirteenth Amendment, that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” One major example of this (there are many) is the “for-profit” private prison system, and the way it preys upon people of color, in conjunction with alleged “law and order” policies designed as a smokescreen for their real intention of targeting minorities, perpetuating oppression and providing profit for prison shareholders and cheap labor for corporate entities). Very well done and an absolute MUST SEE. 

Last night, I watched another MUST SEE: “The Social Dilemma”, about how the giant tech companies – Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. - are continuously collecting data on all of us who use the internet, related to virtually everything we do, say, search, buy, listen to, where we go, etc. etc., and using their profit / ad-driven algorhythms and prediction models to calculate ways of getting us to spend more time onscreen (so they can sell more ads, of course). Some of you will say, “Well, YEAH – no kidding, Susan. We know that already.” I suppose most of us have a pretty clear sense that this is happening, and we certainly know there is a UNIVERSE of false information out there, feeding the division and polarization we see happening – not just here, but around the world. But how many of us really understand, with absolute clarity, just how dangerous and destabilizing this has really become for our democracy, and democracies around the world, as well as our ability to respond to climate change, Covid-19 and other major crises? 

Our entire worldview as individuals is subtly being “shaped” (aka manipulated) by the information we see - or don’t see – based on these massive computer models that don’t care about accountability, or ethics, or some common, fundamental truth, but rather treat ALL information – true or false – as fodder for your inclinations, as indicated by the data collected about you, to lure you onto their platforms for longer and longer time periods. How often do many of us – myself included - look at our “like-minded” friends with bewilderment about the “other (political) side”, and observe that it seems “THOSE people are living in an alternate universe”? Well, guess, what? They really, truly are - thanks to these algorhythms, and the information they are receiving, shaped to their data set. Chilling. 

This applies to ALL of us, to the extent that we are vulnerable to suggestion, or willing to go down those time-draining rabbit holes, to scroll and chat endlessly, chase some “conspiracy theory” or buy into whatever we’re being “sold” without fact-checking or engaging in some measure of critical thinking about it - or in many cases, even recognizing that it’s happening. “Pizzagate” was one such example that made national news, when a man showed up at a pizzeria with an assault rifle to “free the children” from the basement of a pizzeria where, according to some false source, there was a pedophile ring run by Democrats, engaging in unspeakable acts. Pure fiction, but this man nearly created another mass shooting because he believed it. Thankfully, he was arrested before the damage was done. Of course , the BLM protests are another critical area where social media exacerbates our divisions and our understanding of what’s real vs. what is agenda-driven propaganda. 

“The Social Dilemma” explores our deepening addiction to social media, the horrifying concurrent increase in pre-teen and teen depression and suicide rates as well as the distortions in our social systems and ability to communicate, the huge threat posed to all of us as we no longer are able to find common ground on which to even have a dialogue about the biggest challenges facing our species. 

Even having some idea that this is happening, I was alarmed by the extent of it, and by the growing number of people within that tech industry who are sounding the alarms and PLEADING for greater accountability and regulation on these industries before they destroy the very fabric of our society and our ability to survive. We think we’re so smart, but smart people fall for stupid lies and misperceptions all the time. Now it has literally become a matter of life and death.

Full Transparency 

I think it's time for me to be completely honest here I've avoided it long enough. 

I am grieving. I can no longer pretend otherwise. I've started this writing at least a dozen times, attempting to address some of the heavy stuff we're dealing with here in this country, and around the world, while trying desperately to stay really positive, upbeat, solution-oriented. I've tried to be funny, or clever, or even to keep it totally impersonal, like a sports commentator. I've tried to come from a deep faith that I've always had that we would surely navigate our way through troubled waters, that some universal truth rooted in the divine essence of our true nature, our God-selves, would take hold of our collective consciousness and lead us to paths of love, forgiveness, understanding, reconciliation and healing, both for our common humanity and for our relationship with Gaia, our magnificent earth mother whom we have so wounded, exploited and taken for granted. Lately, that faith has been eluding me. 

I find it in moments, sometimes even days. Despite my anguish about the challenges we face and  the suffering of so many, or the uncertainty about what the future holds, I am reminded of that seed of potential within each of us to lean into our higher selves, our greater possibilities, to scale the seemingly impenetrable walls of division and misperception that have arisen between us, to transcend limited thinking about who we are and what kind of world we might create. I think of the quote from Dr. King that, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward Justice."  Surely this must be true, even when despairing the continued existence of so much injustice. 

I know I am very far from alone in this thinking. I'm surrounded by countless good and beautiful souls, desiring and seeking a deeper connection to life, a sense of the sacredness of it, a shared vision of a world that works for all. I'm inspired and humbled by the ongoing efforts of so many to build that world, even in the midst of overwhelming need or discord. I'm emboldened by the courage, wisdom and compassion I see demonstrated daily by those actively teaching or re-imagining ways in which we might learn to live more equitably, sustainably and harmoniously with one another, and with the natural world upon which we all depend. 

By finding strength in the good work of others, in nature, in art and music, in the writing of my own songs, I can stem the tide of the grief for a while. But it's there, nonetheless. It's there in the recognition that our ability to pull through this time of multiple converging crises, environmental degradation, social and political upheaval and failed leadership intact is not a given.  We must WANT to do this, to come together and find real solutions to these very real problems more than we want to simply maintain the status quo, to hide behind masks of complacency, passivity, distraction or denial, or behind identities steeped in fear or hatred for what we don't know or understand. I'm no longer convinced we want it badly enough. 

If it isn't our own house that's on fire, our own skin color that causes another to react with unwarranted fear or hostility, our own battle with addiction, our own bankruptcy or worse for getting sick without affordable healthcare, our own homelessness or food insecurity for lack of a job with a living wage... If it isn't our own life that's been turned upside down in some way, too many of us still manage to convince ourselves it's somehow not our problem. We deny the fundamental truth that we really are all in this together. We have to want the same peace, safety, and well-being for ALL people that we want for ourselves. 

So I've made a pledge to work just a little harder, to give a little more, to require a little less, to show up and speak up when it counts, to give to organizations whose work supports values of equity, inclusion, and protection for the environment. I've reduced my consumption in many areas, and am moving toward becoming a vegetarian. My husband and I are working on maintaining a small Spring and Fall food garden. We recycle everything we can, turn off lights and appliances when not in use, limit our use of water, try to buy certain items in bulk or limit packaging, look for organically produced products, "fair trade" or other options that support workers and the earth. There is always more to do or learn on the path toward a more just and sustainable way of life. These are just baby steps, but hopefully they will take us in the right direction. 


Moving Forward With No Excuses  


I awoke today with a sense of new possibilities, and a renewed recognition that I need to take complete responsibility for creating the life I want. Sometimes that balance can be difficult, with so many commitments placing demands on our time. But, at the end of each day (and every moment during it), we are still at choice for how our time is spent. I have often allowed myself to feel a bit overwhelmed by all that’s going on in the world, and within my own life, and used that as a (perfectly valid) excuse to simply let go of trying to pursue any goals beyond the fulfillment of day-to-day requirements. Go to work, shop, do laundry, make dinner, pay bills, go to a board meeting, practice, write, maintain healthy relationships, maintain personal health and fitness, read and stay informed, have some kind of social life, take the time to just be... If I added nothing else to this list, it would still qualify as a pretty “full plate.” So why try to do more? 

Each of us has to answer that question in our own way, based on our own desires, goals, talents or skills, and unique set of circumstances. There is no “one-size fits all” formula for happiness, just as here is no one definition for “success” or what that means to each of us. If I were to simply use a sense of over-all peace, gratitude and well-being as my measure, then it is safe to say I’m already quite successful. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I never experience frustration, sadness, anger, disappointment, unexpected challenges, and so on. But I don’t let these emotions or situations throw me off balance. I use the gifts of reason, compassion, patience, faith, openness, creativity, good will, love and forgiveness to respond to them in ways that will restore my true sense of self, my God-self. And maybe that’s enough, indeed. 

But then there is...  our PURPOSE, our true reason for being here in the first place. For me, that has always been music, above all else. And while I’ve had many wonderful and fun opportunities throughout the years to perform for many, many people, to support causes I believe in, to make four full-length albums and share countless songs written from the heart with the intention of inspiring or empowering others... there is still so much more I want to do, so many stories still needing to be told. As an activist, I believe music can be one of the highest forms of activism, of communicating messages that matter, of reaching and connecting with people at an emotional - even spiritual - level. Thus the journey must continue and expand. 

Now it’s time for me to embrace the challenge of actually MASTERING the “business” side of things. I have studiously avoided going beyond the level of “dabbling” in this area for much too long, mainly for the reasons already cited. It feels like overwhelm, like I’m already at my tipping point just finding time to write any practice with any degree of consistency, so how on earth will I find time for THAT?! The answer is... I don’t know. But if we want that which we love and are called to do in life to ever be more than just a really cool hobby, we must step up to the plate and treat it like a business. There’s just no getting around it, no matter how busy we might already be. And that requires time, effort, learning, stepping outside our comfort zone...

For me – and really for any musician / artist / performer in today’s DIY market - that means doing things like developing a consistent presence on social media, using at least some of the many tools, websites and platforms available (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, and so on) to promote and share (my) music with a much wider audience than I’ve done previously. Hence this blog post. Rather than just think these thoughts, I decided I needed to MAKE TIME to write them out and SHARE them with whoever might read this, since these ideas apply in one form or another to anyone seeking a fuller expression of their own talents and passions, their own purpose.

 I’ll keep you posted on my progress. And please share yours with me, if these ideas apply to you also.

I thought “What Are You Waiting For?”, a song from my 2009 album “Illumination”, was the best fit for this theme lyrically. Hope you enjoy! Now off to work. Make it a great day!

The Importance of Living from the "Inside Out"  

I originally posted this story on FB, but wanted to share it here too. The song at the bottom is a recent one I wrote, one of the many that look at the power of personal and spiritual transformation. Hope you enjoy!

1/26/19  Sat. night  11:51pm 

What an interesting day! It began with Theron and I attending an “Intro to Non-Violent Communication” workshop (en-route to which at least one driver caused me to use language that probably would disqualify me immediately). At one point we were asked to share, taking turns in small groups, what we felt were the keys to a happy life. While I can think of many answers to that question, what came up for me was self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance, because I think my ability to have true peace, gratitude, empathy and appreciation for others was more fully realized when I could give those gifts to myself and heal old wounds, let go of old anger and feelings of unworthiness, guilt, shame that I’d carried for a long time. 

A short while later, I got a text from a friend that she and her husband were performing at a cool Antique Shop in the Opry Mills vicinity, in a strip mall off Music Drive., from 12-2pm. It was already approaching 1, but I decided to go and support them for the last part of their show. When I found the mall, the lot was almost full and there was a long line of people, 3 or 4 deep and stretching nearly from one end of the “L”-shaped strip mall to the other. I later learned, or heard, that the “Dukes of Hazzard” cast was signing autographs, in what I think was a theater of some sort, at the other end from my destination. Talk about a blast from the past – and still drawing that many loyal fans!! 

But that’s NOT the weird part (well, maybe a little, but...). The weird part is that, as I parked my car, I saw someone with whom I’d experienced a very painful break-up (painful for ME, at least) some years past come right toward my car, look directly at me with a moment of recognition, and walk past (apparently on his way to join the line of fans). It was weird because I hadn’t seen this person at all in eight years, and because in many ways, more than anyone with whom I’d had a relationship (outside my family), he symbolized the very epitome of what became a journey toward recognizing and ultimately “healing” or releasing those feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness within myself that allowed the cruel things he’d said, his treatment of me and the manner in which he’d ended our relationship to go way down deep, to cut me to the core. 

In that respect, I am incredibly grateful to that person, for forcing me to look at the pain and see that it was coming from inside myself, from the fearful belief that, somehow, he was right, that those things he called me were true. He forced me to begin to see, slowly and quite painfully, that I wasn’t aching over “lost love”, but over a feeling that I truly was unlovable. 

Today, what I experienced in the brief, odd (serendipitous?) moment of seeing him was not pain, but pure peace and JOY!! Joy at how far I’ve come on that journey (which I know will continue as long as I have breath in my lungs), joy and gratitude at having found a real and lasting love, built on genuine respect, caring, honesty and communication. I felt joy that, somehow, both Theron and I have grown through our individual, sometimes very painful experiences of the past to become more whole, and to find one another from that place of wholeness. 

This afternoon, as I walked the trails at Bells Bend Park, enjoying the beautiful sunlight, the green fields and blue sky, the sparkling of the Cumberland, thinking of all the good and wonderful people in my life, my heart was so full. Despite it’s challenges – and sometimes BECAUSE of them, I am more deeply in love with this life than ever before. Thanks for letting me share that.

Reflections on Rohingya and the Burden of Connection  

Feb. 5th, 2018

Right now, at this very moment, as I sip tea at my desk, having eaten a healthy dinner and spent time working on music in a comfortable home, in a safe neighborhood, in what is still - at least theoretically - a free country, an extremely poor Muslim minority people known as the Rohingya are being systematically and brutally targeted and killed or driven out by military forces in the predominantly Buddhist country of Myanmar, halfway around the world. It is being described as ethnic cleansing; another of the seemingly endless examples within our species of hate and violence being inflicted, primarily as a result of differences in race and religion. So much for my pleasant stereotypes about Buddhists. 

At least 6700 men, women and children were killed in the initial attacks that began in August of 2017, with another 650,000 being forced to leave and travel by foot to neighboring Bangladesh when their villages were burned. At this point nearly a million people are refugees in makeshift camps along the border of Bangladesh, as well as in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, in what is considered a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. These people, who already had nothing, are struggling to survive in over-crowded camps, with extremely limited access to clean water, food, or sanitation - let alone shelter, clothing, medicine, etc. – things most of us take for granted. 

I would not have even known about the Rohingya people and the crisis they are facing, were it not for an ad from one of the major aid organizations that popped up in my Facebook news feed, causing me to dig deeper.  This comes on the heels of news of 20 million people facing starvation in in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria in 2017 due to regional conflicts and civil war, the loss of livestock and disappearing water and food resources. And let us not forget the ongoing misery in Syria, thanks to Bashar Al-Assad and his forces. These events are only a fraction of the extreme suffering that takes place throughout our world on an ongoing basis. It is no wonder so many close their hearts and minds to this reality, in order to continue to function. If we open ourselves to what our fellow human beings are facing, by the millions, the feeling we experience is one of helplessness and despair for the sheer magnitude of it all. Close your eyes, right now, and imagine holding a young child in your arms as he or she is dying, never having had a chance to live. 

Yet if we are to ever move toward a true Christ-consciousness, a consciousness of not only being our brother’s keeper, but of recognizing that our own lives are inextricably bound to the lives of all, we must somehow develop the capacity to keep our hearts and minds truly open, not just to the abundant beauty and good in the world, but to the rampant suffering, both seen and unseen. And we must learn to look beyond race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics of the individual that separate us or allow us to falsely believe that someone else’s suffering is not our concern. How else can we evolve to that next level of existence, in which we finally create a just, peaceful, and sustainable way of being in the world? And if that isn’t the goal, then truly – what is? 

Of course no one of us can solve all the world’s problems, or attend to the needs of all who suffer, whether we think of those in our own communities or geographically a “world away”. And just as we acknowledge the existence of this suffering, we must also acknowledge and celebrate the amazing number of people, all around us and in every corner of the world, who reach out, giving of themselves so generously - even heroically - in order to help others. But until each one of us who is able is also willing to create our own form of healing ministry and spend some time walking through the darkness alongside those who so desperately need our help, whether we do that through prayer or financial giving or volunteer work or non-violent activism, or arts that heal or enlighten, or some combination of these, we deprive ourselves and others of the chance to know our true identity as the living expression of that divine creative energy and intelligence, that love which dwells within and connects us all. In the search for life's meaning, maybe this is the ultimate destination. Just a thought.

This is a song I wrote for a progressive event some years back, but it still encompasses some of these ideas, as well as a remembrance of the foundation of our own country's democracy, established of, by and FOR THE PEOPLE.

NYC's bold action is a victory for us all  

Sunday, Jan. 14th, 2018

Some of you may have heard by now that on Jan. 10th, 2018, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that the city is divesting all of its pension funds from the oil and gas industry. This is a huge victory in the fight against climate change, and against the ongoing devastation throughout this country and around the world caused by a warming planet. 

Mayor DeBlasio also announced a plan to sue five of the major oil and gas companies; Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, for knowing the scientific facts of climate change and it’s increasing risks to people, property and planet, and willfully denying and obfuscating those facts for decades so that they could continue to reap major profits at the expense of us all. 

Someone who’s been prominent for years among that pack of industry polluters and deniers is Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and current Secretary of State. And while he now acknowledges the truth about climate change, he is also working within an administration that is continuing the trend of denial by removing all mention of climate change from government websites, gutting funding for science, the EPA, clean energy initiatives, emergency response agencies and infrastructure, and common-sense regulations intended to protect our communities. These actions put all of us, our children, and our future at risk so that a few can continue to squeeze profit from the misery. I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay with that. It’s time to fight back. Thank you, Mayor DeBlasio, for doing the right thing. I pray many more will follow in your tracks.

Rex Tillerson, this song is for you - and for all those within the fossil fuel industry who deny or ignore the facts, putting corporate profit above people and planet.

*One lyrical correction: I referenced a "billionaire businessman" in the 2nd verse, but apparently Mr. Tillerson's net financial worth is only $325 million. My bad! But it did flow a whole lot better than "multimillionaire"...

Confessions of an Earth Mama, Volume 1  

Sat., Jan 6th, 2018

Hmmm... where to begin? First, let me introduce myself. My name is Susan Shann. I’m a performing songwriter, a spiritual seeker, a progressive thinker. I believe, as both modern or so-called “new thought” spiritual teachings and the metaphysical sciences seem to affirm, that we truly are all one, connected energetically with each other and with the magnificent creation entrusted to our care. I call myself an Earth Mama because I am a child of nature, a child of the most high, a descendant of ALL who’ve gone before me, offspring of the Sacred Mother herself, that divine feminine and creative force of the world in which we live. 

Although raised “loosely” Presbyterian, I do not adhere to any one set of religious beliefs. Yet my faith in a divine intelligence that passes all understanding, and in the power of love, is absolute. While this love may often seem to exist in our world as unexpressed potential, I have witnessed how it also, in an instant, can break through the seemingly mundane and ordinary aspects of each day with all it’s glorious brilliance intact, as if the wonder and mystery of the ages was right there before me, within me, surrounding me. I’ve experienced how love can change a person’s life, bring healing and hope, restore balance, offer peace where before there was only unrest. I’ve written many a song about these phenomena, and will no doubt write many more. 

I begin this journal, to share with my brothers and sisters of all cultures and religions, wherever you may be, because I believe our world needs us now like never before to stand together, to lift each other up, to speak out about what needs to change within our individual and collective societies, to resist oppression and discrimination in every form, to be a voice for change and for the healing we so desperately need. To my Earth Mama sisters, may we each find new ways to bring forth the strength, caring and nurturing that is unique to our identities as women. I’m honored to share this journey with you all.