I've pretty much avoided books about "relationships" until this one. Who can resist Succulent Wild Love?
When SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) met John Waddell, he was a widower whose wife Jeanie had died in 2011. John opened to loving again and saw that Susan was a woman who wanted to give and receive love.
John proposed in 2014, Susan said yes and they planned to marry when they finished the book. In the meantime, they "married" their principles and processes to offer a very positive outlook on personal relationships as well as the relationship you have with yourself. (Susan married herself in 1997 and wrote about it her book Succulent Wild Woman.)
She is very honest about her longing for a "great love" and her fears and anxieties about it.
As Succulent Wild Love can be read out of order, I opted to start with chapters 12 and 23 because I'm "basically happy" in my relationship.
In Chapter 12, "Joy-full Solution Creating," Susan and John recommend experimenting without asking for the other person's help. Susan and John call this a Joy-full Solution, that is, thinking about a decision by determining what you want and then imagining yourself in the other person's shoes. They suggest trying this first with something simple (like the choice of a movie) rather than a complex issue where the emotional stakes are high.
In Chapter 23, "Actively Loving," I appreciated the list of "Ways to Consciously Increase Your Feelings of Love." This one is among them: "We keep a positive vision of ourselves and of the relationship, and when we don't feel that way, we do our inner work and ask for support from each other, or someone else, as needed."
John wrote: "Susan and I consciously show our love for each other every day, through a look, a touch, hugs, words of appreciation, and many other ways small and big. We've seen that death scene in the movies and decided, 'Why wait? Why not show each other that kind of love every day rather than waiting for one of us to get hurt or die?' And it feels good."
John lost his wife Jeanie after only ten years together. And since reading the book, I learned that John was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer and died after the book was published. It makes his comments above both poignant and prescient.
John and Susan reviewed one another's writing and probably did so for this book. He learned from Susan to tell her first what he appreciated in her writing rather than going for what needed to be changed. Susan likes to make Daily Appreciation Lists to include other people as well. And sometimes, in the midst of it all, "We just lie down flattened and breathe."
We learn so much from previous relationships and I appreciate the way Susan and John brought others into their story. They've also included essays by guest contributors.
Susan wanted autonomy in what she expected to be a long-term love relationship. She was glad to feel "separate." She wrote: "[John] shared the importance of maintaining his own separateness and boundaries while in relationships too."
Early on in the book there's a chapter on "Soulfully Single and Open for Love" which is a description Susan used about herself before meeting John. Each chapter ends with an Awareness Practice and this particular chapter includes questions for those who are single as well as for those in a loving relationship with another person.
Succulent Wild Love is rich with wisdom, suggestions and "six habits" that include Joy-full Solutions where no one needs to compromise or sacrifice. There is lots to help readers be "soulfully single," with advice on ending a relationship, and designing a relationship that is unique to them.
SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) is a best-selling author and artist with sixteen titles in print. She lives in San Francisco. The late Dr. John Waddell helped individuals and couples lead happier lives for over thirty years through his clinical psychology practice and metaphysical teachings. Visit their website.
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