Meet Susan

That's me, Susan Michael Barret, photographing a young cormorant on Anna Maria Island, Florida 

Wakeful, curious wonder is the cat in my life-enthusiast hat.

I'm a beach-walker and bird-watcher with a remarkable job—I listen as people process personal difficulty using 8 open-ended questions. I call that work Wonder Anew. It's inspired by the teachings of Pema Chodron, Viktor Frankl, Thich Nhat Hanh, Tim Olmsted, Carl Rogers, and Virginia Satir. 

I've been a listener and teacher most of my life. I've taught most ages from preschool through adult as a Montessori (Institute for Advanced Montessori Studies), parent (Redirecting Children's Behavior), and art (The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art) educator. 

My teaching practice is best described as subordinating teaching to learning, something I learned from Caleb Gattegno while studying with master teacher and friend Janice Mattina at Center Montessori School. I embrace Gattegno's encouragement to focus on how people learn and use that to become more aware of myself and students.

I took what I learned to Jill Roshon's school, Dublin Montessori Academy, in Dublin, Ohio and spent seven years teaching preschool (3 to 6-year-olds), a period of life that I believe is the most important.

I sometimes volunteer in classrooms to be with kids. 

In 2000 I co-founded a neighborhood conservation group (Adena Brook Community) inspired by Margaret Wheatley’s caring conversation principles. With neighbors I worked regularly for eight years to transform a ravine ecosystem declared lost by a state conservationist to a thriving park and habitat. Together, we installed the first city/park teaching rain garden. The conservation work continues.

I am grateful for my social justice-mindedcommunity-collaborative museum education programs, gallery installations, and volunteer conservation work experiences.

An event that has been my greatest teacher is the unexpected death of my son. He died of an accidental drug overdose. I continue to grow my relationship with him.

When invited, I share what I've learned about addiction-disorder with teens

I used the power of grief to start a small business and establish a fund in my son's name. All earnings supported environment (water, organic gardens) projects or addiction-education programs. I gave over $50,000 away. (I'm not doing that work anymore.)

The love of my life is Terry Barrett, the best listener in the world. 

My heart melts when I'm part of interpretative conversations he fosters using contemporary art, especially ones where participants engage in personal meaning. I'm moved by what happens when people talk and listen from their hearts about what they see, think, and feel. 

I count being a mom and stepmom, and a grandma to nine startlingly smart, energetic, alert super beings as the best thing that's ever happened to me. I write whimsical books for them.

I'm a bookworm. I like to start book study groups. With friends, we read books out loud and have conversations about the parts that grab our mind and heart.

I choose to love, not fight, my incurable cancer. I believe I am cancer-free.

Halfway through cancer treatment, 2012

I keep harvesting and using adversity and its subsequent pain as a gateway to becoming a person who can keep my heart open in the experiences I wake to each day.