Campus & Community

Author says meaningful life begins with passion

Architect and author Sarah Susanka shared her life story to demonstrate how others can pursue a happier and more meaningful life at her Bridges to the Future speech in Gates Concert Hall Jan. 15.

Susanka explained to a capacity crowd of nearly 1,000 that through her natural ability and training as an architect she learned to be an observer of her own life.

“When you watch your own life, you notice patterns,” Susanka said. “If you live your life like a student, everything can teach you, and I mean everything.” 

She said her big lesson came after years of running a large residential architecture firm. Her days were constantly busy and she wasn’t able to exercise her passion for writing.

“I decided to make a shift in my life,” she said. “I made myself my new client and scheduled a meeting with myself every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. When I made that commitment, everything shifted to support me.”

In her speech “Not So Big: The First Step in True Sustainable Living,” Susanka stressed that the first step is the only step because when you follow your heart’s passion, everything else will fall in place.

“The only place we change the world is by showing up in our own life and by listening to what your intuition is telling you to do.”

Barb Fenstermacher said she read Susanka’s latest book, The Not So Big Life: Making Room for what Really Matters, and thought her message was timely.

“In an era of McMansions and McLife, everyone is wondering what they’re doing,” Fenstermacher said. “Now we have a new way to keep up with the Joneses, by being ‘not so big.’”

“There is real value in the concept of living a not so big life and how we should focus on the meaningful things, and not get so caught up in the clutter of life,” Merrie Reardon added.

DU offered live video streaming of the speech on the Bridges Web site, which also features a blog about Susanka’s remarks and a video of her speech.

DU created the Bridges to the Future series in 2002 as a way to engage Coloradans in an exploration of American history, values and expectations in a post-9/11 world. 

The series will continue April 22 with speaker Jose Casanova, a sociology professor at the New School for Social Research. The event will be at Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall, so seating will be limited. 

Events are free and open to the public.

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