Monday, January 5, 2015

LIFE OF A POET - SUZY QUE

Happy 2015, fellow poets! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday time, however you celebrate it, and that you enjoyed some nice family time through the season. The cool thing about our world-wide membership at Poets United, is that we get to visit wonderful poets in fabulous locations all over the planet. A big perk for an armchair traveler like me. This week we are flying to New Zealand to meet with Suzy Que, the sunny-natured poet who writes at Reflections of My Soul . She has shared some wonderful photos with us, too. Fasten your seat belt, as it is an express flight, designed to get us home by suppertime.



Sherry: Suzy, I am so happy to be interviewing you! Give us a snapshot of your life today – a Day In the Life of Suzy Que.






Suzy: Sherry, I am so honoured and humbled to be doing this. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. 


At present I live in New Zealand and I work in the Information Technology Industry as a Project Manager. I have two children, a daughter and a son. My daughter works and my son is studying. My mother also lives with me.


My mother on her 75th birthday,
with me and my kids

My morning ritual consists of a quick prayer, some yoga stretching, and breakfast of tea, toast and a glass of fresh homemade smoothie. If it’s not bucketing down, I also feed the birds with leftover bread or rice. 



Birds in my garden

On weekends I listen to devotional music while I sip my tea and watch the hills. They look so serene and beautiful. Anywhere you go in New Zealand, you see spectacular scenery.


The hills from my window

Some years ago when there was snow


Sherry: I can see that! What a glorious view you have!

Suzy: On weekdays I catch the bus to work.  I love that bus ride, as this is where I catch up on my reading, and the bus ride back home from work is pretty much the same.

On Saturday morning I visit the market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The market is so vibrant and always puts me in a happy mood, and it’s a great opportunity to catch up with my friend.


Saturday morning market


The evenings I set aside for some blogging (as in writing and reading) and some social media interaction or I watch TV or play scrabble or trivial pursuit with the family. Yep, we’re big on board games. And before I fall asleep I meditate.

My children playing board games with my mother 
and their cousins some years ago 


Sherry: It sounds like a peaceful and lovely existence! Where did you grow up, Suzy? 

Suzy: I grew up in India and consider it my spiritual home, as I am sure a part of my soul lives there. India is such a beautiful and spiritual country. 


Palm trees in Mumbai. I love palm trees. They look so elegant.

The Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India, 
one of Mumbai’s iconic landmarks

I was a quiet, timid, chubby, awkward child, but I was always happy. I guess I was surrounded by a lot of love.  I was the studious academic type in school and a complete clown at home.  

We lived with my grandparents, who were gentle, loving people, and our house was always filled with people – extended family and friends were always dropping by. I can’t recall a single day when a visitor did not arrive. There was always music, laughter, happiness and contentment. 

Though I have only one sibling, an older brother, I am also very close to my cousins.  Weekends and holidays were always spent together, and in fact our families also travelled a lot together. 

One of my cherished childhood memories is listening to my grandmother narrate the great historical epics of India, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata and the childhood stories of Lord Krishna, while we grandchildren sat riveted, eating our lunch or dinner.  To date, these stories remain my favourites, and I never tire of reading them.

When I was six years old, my dad bought me a puzzle book. I absolutely loved it and it started my love affair with puzzles.  Each night after dinner, my dad and I would sit together and solve one puzzle. It was my favourite time of day. This was dad's and my time together. He was so patient and he made it all sound so easy and so much fun. Then I would trot off to bed, a skip in my step, a smile on my face, and my little pillow tucked under my arm. This is such a happy memory. 


Dad taking a picture of my brother and me

My paternal grandmother and me

My mother and me
                            
Sherry: It sounds adorable! It seems your dad had a significant influence on your writing, and your life. 

Suzy: It’s really hard to pick one single person, as I am blessed to have had so many wonderful people in my life who have influenced me in many ways.  But I was very close to my dad, and he was one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known.


Dad in his younger days


Sometime ago I wrote a poem “Ode to my Dad” that sums him up nicely so here it is:

Quiet and gentle, great strength of character
Peaceful mantle, a true benefactor
Always a good word, seeing goodness in all
Faced life undeterred, through many a squall
Loving and kind, humble and unassuming
Beautiful mind, never complaining
A smile on his face, always encouraging
Filled with grace, ever forgiving
This was my dad, a man amazing and rare
I was truly blessed, to have been in his care.

Sherry: You were indeed blessed, Suzy. What a beautiful man!

Suzy: Puzzles, quotes, photography and tea were some of the things we shared a love for.  Each morning he would make me a cup of tea and some toast. And often we would recite together Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Where the mind is without fear”.  I miss those moments.


Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

He lived life simply but with great joy. His “religion” was compassion and he had a great love for all living things. There was an unexplainable goodness about him and he had a great generosity of spirit.

I was shattered when he passed away in 2010, but his death taught me the meaning of life – that life is too short to hold grudges, that when it’s time to go you take nothing with you except the spiritual knowledge you gained and the love you shared. Hence, appreciate all who cross your path, live in joy, trust the Universe, enjoy each moment, be humble and be kind. 


My dad playing chess with my son

Me with my mom and dad - the last birthday
I had with my dad, so this is a very cherished picture

Sherry: I'm so sorry for your loss, Suzy. You have a wonderful family. And a beautiful heart.  When did you begin writing poetry? You write on your blog  “These are the poems of my soul”, which is very beautiful. Tell us how poems come to you. 

Suzy: Though I wasn’t too fond of prose or Shakespeare at school, I loved the poetic side of Literature. I think it was the rhythm and the rhyme that were so appealing. I liked the idea of poetic license where one could twist the grammatical construction to make a rhyming pattern or drive home a point.  I also loved how you could convey so much in fewer words. With poetry I felt my imagination took wings. Reading a poem could take me to places that prose never could.

I guess I grew up surrounded by poetry. Though I was very young when my grandfather died, I have this recollection of him reciting “Oh young Lochinvar is come out of the west” and my brother reciting “Half a league, half a league, half a league onward”. I loved listening to poems.

I feel that poems have so much soul. Whenever I read poems, I try to feel that soul within. 

I never really thought I could write poems and certainly didn’t attempt writing them. I never had the confidence, because I never scored well in school and my poems were never chosen for school magazines.

Then around the year 2004 I remember waking up one morning with a poem in my head. I must have dreamt it because with the words I could also visualise the poem. I woke up feeling amazed and I felt like I had somehow glimpsed the other side and participated in a cosmic dance with someone. It was an amazing experience. Cosmic Dance was the first poem I wrote.


I see you in my dreams
In a cosmic dance that fuses my soul with yours eternally
In perfect symmetry and harmony
Spiralling through space and time, sometimes apart, 
Yet always together and never too far
There is no greater joy
For my dreams are truly my reality 
And loving you is my only destiny


Thereafter I woke up many times with my head full of poems and, unlike dreams that are forgotten soon after waking, these poems stayed with me for hours and I felt a compulsion to pen them down. 

A lot of my poems have been written on the bus on the way to work. And some have just arrived into my head while watching TV or walking or really just anywhere. Once I start, my fingers don’t stop until the last word is written. They are almost effortless, the words just flow. I feel like my poems are given to me from the other side or perhaps my soul dictates them to me, or perhaps Spirit does. I’m only the scribe.  Hence they are the poems of my soul.

Sherry: I love that explanation, and I, too, love the poems that seem to come through us, from a deeper place.

Suzy: Rumi’s words: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy” sums up poetry for me. I feel that river move in me and it just brings me so much joy.  It’s like a romance with Spirit.  Perhaps that’s why Rumi is one of my favourite poets – his poems always leave me having romanced with Spirit.

Sherry: I love him too. Do you have another poem or two that you would like to share with us here? Tell us a bit about each?


Views from my window (moon = perigee moon)


Suzy: One of my favourite poems is “The Mirror of My Soul”. There’s an interesting story behind this one I wrote this poem on one of my bus rides. I loved this poem from the moment I wrote the first line and I remember thinking to myself if only a “mirror” prompt would open up. And just a few days later Poet’s United posted the Midweek Motif prompt “Mirror”! 

The poem depicts my belief that our physical self and our soul are two separate entities and that our soul constantly tries to reach out to us. When it finally gets through to us and our physical self surrenders to our soul’s guidance, life begins to get harmonious. This poem was that awakening.  

The mirror of my soul my moments reflect
Not just of this life but of sojourns in time
Somehow I know but ever warily suspect
But like a nurturing mother she repeats the mime

If only I look and heed her care
For she is the essence of His love
And yet I rebel and ignore and dare
And close my eyes to her and above

Gently she coaxes and shows me the way
Patience epitomised love never wavering
Until at last in my life breaks that day
When I finally understand my soul's labouring

The mirror of my soul my moments reflect
Not just of this life but of sojourns in time
My soul I am blessed, for you I have met
Now the journey with you in this life is sublime

Sherry: How very beautiful! I resonate with what you say about aligning oneself with spirit, and life becoming more harmonious. 

Suzy: I believe that there are many ways to reach the Great Spirit. Some reach Him with reverence, some with service to humanity, some with rituals, some through following a religious teacher or Guru, some in connection with Nature, some through meditation, some through religious practice,  some through spiritual practice, etc.

There are of course no wrong ways, for all ways reach Him. For me, the way to reach Him is with prema bhakti (loving devotion) and my poems are my prema bhakti. The Spirit of Love” was written as a serenade to the Divine.

Lock the door of my heart so I can behold only you
Hold the key in your hands to the end of time
Let my love not waver nor question this bond
Let my soul shine through like a beacon of love

You and I have sailed the tumultuous seas
In millennium after millennium
Locked our hands that none could break apart
And sang together the songs of our souls

Let me hear again the melody that entices my spirit
And binds me ever closer to you
Let me rest awhile in your loving embrace
So my weary soul may dance again; renewed, refreshed, awakened.

Sherry: Sigh. This poem truly dances with love and joy. Beautiful, Suzy. You are also a photographer. When did you begin taking photos?


Sunset from my lounge


Suzy: My dad was an avid photographer so I was very little when I first held the camera. I can’t remember the exact age but I remember my dad trying to explain all the techniques of photography and I think I was about 11 when my maternal grandfather gave me my first camera.

I never quite grasped the techniques but I always remember my dad telling me that photography was all about composition and telling a story. I try to remember that whenever I take pictures. I experiment a lot with different angles and compose my pictures in different ways. Digital cameras are such a blessing for that.

Photography for me is not about taking the perfect picture, but about capturing a moment in time that you can remember forever.

Sherry: Yes! That is it exactly!

Suzy: Here are some of my favourite pictures.


Oriental Parade, Wellington

Rajabai Tower, Mumbai


Sea link, Mumbai


Sherry: You take wonderful photos, Suzy. Thank you for sharing. When did you begin blogging and what impact has blogging had on your work?

Suzy: I started blogging in 2010 when a workmate asked me to join in a "30 days of me" challenge. I had never blogged before so I made this a private blog and invited family and friends to join me in my 30 day journey. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep blogging, still private as I wasn't comfortable in a public space.

Then in May 2011 while I was in between jobs, I suddenly had the urge to share my words with the world. It was scary. But I went with the feeling and trusted that the Universe knew what I should do. And so I started and I write as I am guided by it.

Blogging is so therapeutic for me. I think the ability to creatively express myself provides the perfect medium to de-stress. And that helps me to stay focussed and think calmly in difficult situations.

Sherry: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that I dont know you well enough to ask?

Suzy: My real name is Ila, but I blog under the name of Suzy Que which was a nickname I had in school. It seemed perfect to use as my “pen” name.

Sherry: The name suits your bright spirit! What would you like to say to Poets United?




New York

Suzy: Thank you for showcasing so many wonderful poets, giving us all the opportunity to be featured. And thank you for your encouragement and support.

I’ve really enjoyed this interview, Sherry. You asked some very interesting questions.  Thank you so much for allowing me to present you all with a glimpse into my life today.

Sherry: Thank you, Suzy, for this lovely visit, and for sharing your life and family with us, as well as the beautiful views you have captured through your camera lens.


Wasn't this a heartwarming visit, my friends? So many beautiful places on this planet, and Suzy has one of the best views from her window that we have come across yet! Come back and see who we talk to next. It is a brand new year! I look forward to interviewing many more wonderful poets in 2015. 


57 comments:

  1. Sherry, I love your interviews. Getting to know poets better and seeing such lovely views of the world is wonderful.

    Suzy, thank you for sharing some of your life, your beautiful pictures and lovely poetry. I'd love to visit NZ someday, you've presented her in such a picturesque way. It was nice to meet your family. Thanks for taking the time to interview with Sherry.

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    1. Don't know where my reply went? But thank you Debi. NZ is definitely worth visiting. Just dropped by to read your delightful poems. Thanks for reading my interview.

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    2. I know I would love New Zealand - it is supposed to look very much like British Columbia, Canada, my home province.

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    3. I know you would. So much natural beauty. I feel so connected to nature here.

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  2. Sherry, thank you so much for this opportunity. I absolutely loved "chatting" with you.

    Wishing all of you a blessed 2015. Love and hugs.

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    1. It was my pleasure, Suzy. Thanks for being our first poet interview in 2015!!! Great way to start the year!

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  3. I always love these interviews.. what really resonated with me is combination of puzzle and your fascination with rhythm and rhymes.. this is a lot how i feel too.

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    1. Thanks Bjorn. Puzzles are just so much fun. I find that poems that have a rhythm or rhyme or both are easier to read and comprehend. Glad that this resonated with you. :D

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  4. I enjoyed reading this interview and the photo's are amazing. Nice to meet you Suzy as I have seen you around blogland and have read many of your beautiful poems.

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  5. Thanks Truedessa. Nice to meet you too. Glad you enjoyed this interview and my photos. And thank you for supporting my poems.

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  6. A wonderful interview, Sherry. Suzy, I really enjoyed learning more about you & enjoyed very much learning about your father's influence on you. I like the way you explained " Photography for me is not about taking the perfect picture, but about capturing a moment in time that you can remember forever." So true! I really liked your poem "Ode to My Dad" too. It really says a lot about your relationship!

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    1. Thanks Mary. I was very close to my dad. He was a wonderful person. the photographs I love most are those that evoke some memory or story. Happy 2015.

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  7. Thank you, Suzy, for sharing so much of yourself with us - including your spiritual life. You seem to have a beautiful family and I enjoyed reading everything you said about your father and what your learned from him and from his death. I also enjoyed your photos. I like taking photos too and most of the photos on my blog are mine.
    I agree with you about Sherry's questions. She always asks very interesting ones! So thank you to you too, Sherry!

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    1. Thanks Gabriella. Your pictures are beautiful. I truly enjoyed Sherry's questions and glad you enjoyed my answers. Happy 2015

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    2. You are most welcome. I find every story is so different and interesting. It is hard to come up with questions that are different each time - usually it is the responses that make each interview so different - because each life is so unique and interesting. I love doing interviews. I never get tired of hearing peoples' wonderful stories.

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  8. So glad to see you featured here Suzy! Such a beautiful, heartwarming interview! :)

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    1. Thanks Aditi. Glad you liked it. <3

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  9. I've just realised I've posted some replies via my ila account. It's a good thing I mentioned ila in my post otherwise you'll might have wondered who that was!

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  10. Such a beautiful interview Suzy and congratulations for being featured here. It's wonderful and calming to read your words and images.
    Thanks Sherry..

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    1. Thanks Inderpreet. Glad my words and pictures bring serenity. Thanks for always supporting all that I write. <3

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  11. Wonderful to get this window into your world, Suzy :) May love and happiness always light your way :)

    Thank you for featuring her and doing such a wonderful job of it, Sherry!

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    1. Thanks Shailaja for your very sweet words. And thank you for always supporting and motivating me. Your are an inspiration <3

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  12. You are such a beautiful lady in so many ways and you have a beautiful family as well. I understand your close relationship with your dad and how much he meant to you. Your poems, your photos, you are a very talented person and I am glad to call you friend. (How I wish I had seen this before your guest post -- I was trying to find things on your blog to say about you. )

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    1. Thank you Carol. I am glad to be your friend too and so happy our paths crossed. You are an inspiration to all. Love and hugs.

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  13. Loved reading this interview. And glad to know a few more things about you, Suzy. Especially about what moves you to pen down those beautiful reflections of the soul. Congratulations once again for being featured here. You are a beautiful and generous person indeed! And that reflects in your words.

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    1. Thanks Beloo for your very sweet and kind words. I'm so glad I got to meet you. Your posts resonate with me so much. Many blessings dear friend. Love and hugs.

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  14. You have such a beautiful family Suzy. It's so wonderful to know about your other hobbies as well. Such beautiful photographs :)
    Congratz on being featured.

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    1. Thanks Rajalakshmi. Glad you enjoyed my interview. Love your photography too - you take such stunning pics.

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  15. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview. So glad to be introduced to such a lovely and spiritual poet. I envy people who write from the soul, effortlessly.
    Suzy you are very talented in poetry and in photography. Thank you for sharing about your life and family.

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    1. Thanks Myrna for your lovely comment. Happy you enjoyed my interview. Sherry asked some great questions. Just dropped by your blog and look forward to reading your poems.

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  16. Thank you so much for sharing your world with us Suzy and thank you Sherry--both of you are an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks Audrey for your kind words.

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  17. Gosh, your view from your window is stunning.

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    1. Thanks SuperLux. The hills are fascinating as they change with the weather.

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    2. I know! That view takes my breath away. I would have a hard time getting any work done, with that out my window!

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  18. Yes, a lovely interview indeed! Suzy, I am wondering when you moved to NZ and if your parents moved with you? Your father's beauty of soul shines from his face, and your mother has a lovely, loving energy too. I still hop to get to NZ one day. It is almost next door to me, here in Australia, and I have a brother in Auckland, so perhaps, one day....

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    1. Thanks Rosemary. My parents came over 3 years after I moved. My dad was a beautiful soul and my mom has a very vibrant energy. I hope you will get to visit NZ. I have only been to Sydney and hope I can see some more of Aus. Blessings.

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  19. Such beautiful sentiments expressed about what really matters in a life. That's the thing about the universe, you read at thevery moment what you really need to hear. Thank you !

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    1. Thanks Rallentanda. Isn't it amazing about this extraordinary and intuitive Universe! Blessings.

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  20. Suzy....I LOVE your poem "Cosmic Dance"---it is so magical and passionate and just absolutely stunning. Your photographs and the view from your home are astoundingly beautiful as well. Thank you for opening yourself up to us to give us a better glimpse of who you are. Happy New Year to you.

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  21. Thanks CC. Glad you loved my interview. It's my pleasure to share. Wish you a fabulous 2015.

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  22. Happy New Year Suzy - i have learned a lot reading this interview. So true about photography, it's more about preserving the moment :-)

    Thanks too Sherry. Another great interview.

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    1. Thanks Totomai. Wish you a very happy 2015.

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  23. This is now my favorite interview of yours, Sherry, as it flows and draws Ila out from behind her poems and pictures. What a beautiful Soul! How happy I am to see "The Mirror of my Soul" again--and my favorite Tagore poem "Where the Mind is without Fear." I'm going to have to remember that when I read your love poems, Suzy Que, that they express the soul-link with God. I feel like I just had a long visit with you over a cup of tea, as if I'd looked out your windows and into your mirror. I feel that I met your Dad. I am very happy.

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    1. Thanks Susan. Your lovely comment warmed my heart and so glad you enjoyed my interview. Sherry's questions were awesome. Wishing you a blessed 2015.

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  24. You are indeed a beautiful spirit and I am so glad that you are sharing that sweet essence of you with the world through your inspirational writing of poems and photos. Great to become more familiar with you Suzy. :) <3

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    1. Aww thank you Elly for your lovely comment <3. It's such an honour to share with all of you. Thanks Sherry for inviting me to share xoxo

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  25. Once again Sherry a wonderful portrait of a fabulous poet, Suzy. Suzy I have always wanted to visit NZ and your pictures show its beauty. I love your gorgeous words about life and what a soul speak you have....flowing like a river for all of us to treasure. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Donna for your very kind words. I hope someday you will get to visit NZ.

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  26. "Let me hear again the melody that entices my spirit
    And binds me ever closer to you
    Let me rest awhile in your loving embrace
    So my weary soul may dance again; renewed, refreshed, awakened."
    Suzy, I feel in this one fabulous interview that I know you more intimately than ever I could imagine. Your heart and soul are so pure and connected, and you write for all the right reasons.
    Thank you for sharing yourself in this interview. I am truly blessed to know you!

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    1. Dear Martha, thank you for your very sweet words. Made me cry (in the nicest of ways). I am also blessed to know you. The Lord always brings like minded souls together because I believe we have a mission on Earth. Love and hugs.

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  27. It was wonderful knowing you more closely Suzy... loads of hugs to you and best wishes.

    You seem to be living in heaven :)

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    1. Thanks Privy. Glad you have got to know me a little better. Thanks for dropping by.

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  28. Hi Ila a.k.a. Suzy

    Enjoyed reading your blog and seeing pictures of your family. Keep up the good work and All the Best.

    Regards
    Frank DSilva

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  29. Thanks Frank. Happy 2015. Hope all is well with all of you. Thanks for taking the time to drop by.

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  30. Suzy,this is a wonderful interview. You have a sweet family. Your son resembles you a lot.Nice to know more about you.Stay blessed Suzy Dear.

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    1. Thanks Usha. Glad you enjoyed my interview. Happy to share some moments of my life. Thank you for always encouraging and supporting me.

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