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Women on the Move: Sue Wiygul Martin

Remorse and Reconciliation

Sue W. Martin With Her Guide Dog Companion
Sue W. Martin

A book about suicidal depression and new blindness? Sounds, well, depressing. But it’s quite the opposite. At the age of twenty-six, Sue Wiygul Martin was deeply depressed. When the pain reached the point where she couldn’t stand it any longer, she did the only thing that seemed big enough, important enough, to end the pain. She tried to end her life. Her suicide attempt failed but resulted in Martin becoming blind.

When her rehab teacher, now called a vision rehab therapist, came to see her for the first time, she asked Martin to tell her a little bit about herself in an effort to decide where to begin teaching. “In the past,” Martin says, “I’d reach out and grab a few happy experiences and use them to tell somebody something about myself. I’d describe the thrill of arriving at the top of a mountain after a long and challenging hike. I’d describe the feel of mastery as I kayaked the toughest whitewater rivers in the Southeast. I’d share the thrill of speed as I galloped across a field mounted on a huge thoroughbred.

But how could I do that this time?”

Martin explains that she felt as though her entire way of life had been lost.

After thirty years, all of those activities, and then some, are, again, part of Martin’s life. And now she’s a woman on a mission.

“I’m passionate about suicide prevention,” Martin says. “I’m on a mission to de-stigmatize depression and suicidal thinking.” “Only when it’s okay to talk about depression will it also be okay to ask for help.”

Out of the Whirlpool Book Cover
Out of the Whirlpool

Sue W. Martin is a graduate of the University of the South and holds a master’s in blind rehab from Western Michigan University. Following a twenty year career as a blind rehab professional she now works for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in the office of Information and Technology. Martin has recently published her first book, Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation.

Martin lives and writes in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau where she lives with her husband, Jim.

The above entry written by Sue Martin for today’s post was so poignant to me I wanted to present it in its original format. Having dealt with depression for most of my life I was immediately drawn to Sue’s book Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation and purchased the Kindle version.

If you haven’t suffered depression first-hand you are most fortunate. Speaking from experience I have wanted nothing more than to be “normal.” The problem is I don’t really know what normal is but as Sue so eloquently puts it in her news station interview “even if you have to stay alive minute to minute and hour to hour – stay alive and ask for help. And life can just be so wonderful.” I’ve learned to live within the moment especially if I’m in the grips of depression.

…I awakened to the familiar feeling of paralysis. What was wrong with me? I should want to do this. I should be excited. I should be leaping out of bed in anticipation of a thrilling challenge. But I was none of those things. I was a failure. I had failed at marriage. I had failed in my career attempts. Now, I was failing to even get out of bed. ~Sue Martin

It’s difficult for me to find the appropriate words to describe the joy I derive from writing these Fierce Friday articles and Sue Martin’s is no exception. When I received an email last week about Sue being featured on CBS42 WIAT news station in Alabama and Maria Schriver’s blog concerning suicide prevention I instantaneously knew I had to reach out to her. To view the news interview you can click HERE. To read Maria Shriver’s blog How To Save a Life: Talk About Suicide you can click HERE.

Depression is so insidious and with the staggering numbers of over 8 million attempted suicides throughout the US on a yearly basis we have to get beyond the stigma associated with this disease. I’m so thankful that Sue had the courage to write about her struggle and is now speaking out on this serious issue. I’m also extremely grateful that she responded to me and granted me the opportunity to share her inspirational story with you. Like all of the women that I’ve profiled on Friday’s Sue is one fierce lady and I’m honored to present her to you.

Following are social media links to Sue’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Sue W. Martin, Author, Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation
Twitter: @swmartin
Facebook: Out of the Whirlpool



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Workable Wintery Weather

Steph McCoy Caricature
Steph McCoy Caricature

I had a wonderful time with Marcel at my photo shoot this afternoon. We originally planned to take pictures outside but when I woke up this morning to see fresh snow on the ground I knew that plan was scratched. I’m just happy that plan “B” was using Marcel’s art/photography studio since we didn’t make it past the freezing mark today.

It’s always great to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in a while to catch up with life’s events and have some stimulating conversation. One of the things I like most about Marcel aside from him being a superb artist is his free-spirited personality. He’s an all-around nice guy with scads of charisma and people just like being around him. When we worked together a couple of years ago I asked him to create caricatures of our coordinator team for a project I led. Included in this post is the one he did of me.

Today is a day off my regular exercise program and instead I’ll do one of the Leslie Sansone’s Walk At Home routines provided my grandson will permit me. He’s coming back this evening so that I can watch him throughout the day tomorrow.

My brother, Robert (who happens to be a fitness buff and toughest critic), said to me the other day that he thinks I’m going overboard with exercise. I told him I saw a video on AARP’s website of a seasoned woman (in very good shape, I might add) demonstrating the correct method of modified push ups. She went on to say that she does 20 regular push ups in the morning and 20 in the evening. So I’m thinking “hmmm I should be able to do that” I mean she made it look easy. It WASN’T!!

I was able to do one day’s worth of modified push ups and the muscles in my upper body hurt so bad it felt like they were on fire. It was then I realized I broke my number one & two tips to set realistic goals and take it slow. So it’s back to the drawing board where I’m going to attempt 20 per day every other day for two weeks. Then if things go well I will increase the number to 25 every other day the third week.

Modified push ups like classic push ups strengthen the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Following are bullet points from on how to do modified push ups:

  • Get down on your hands and knees.
  • Position your hands just outside shoulder width and slightly forward of your shoulders.
  • Make sure your knees are directly aligned with your hips.
  • Keep your abdomen tight and your spine in a neutral position.
  • Inhale: Bend your elbows and lower chest to 90 degrees at the elbows.
  • Exhale: Push up so that your arms are straight, making sure your elbows aren’t completely locked. Try doing 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.

Special Instructions – If you can’t go to 90 degrees at the elbow, just go to a comfortable position until you can work up to 90 degrees.

As I’ve said before it’s important to go at a pace that’s comfortable for you and as your body becomes accustomed to the exercise it’s then you’ll want to gradually increase the repetitions or incorporate additional exercises. Provided you have no health issues barring you from exercise, believe it or not the body is built to withstand the strain (just don’t overdo).

Until tomorrow.


“I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.” ~Marsha Doble

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Wardrobe Triage

Trauma to Tranquility

Hydrangea Pinterest via
Pinterest via

If you saw my post on Saturday you know that my son, Arian, was rushed to the emergency room with a back sprain. After convalescing at my place he is still on the mend and comfortably back at his home.

I wanted to thank everyone who reached out to inquire and extend well-wishes to Arian I greatly appreciate your kindness. Needless to say, having to babysit my grandson and son over the past couple days, I’m still a little frazzled but looking forward to tomorrow.

My friend Marcel, artist extraordinaire, is also a gifted photographer, writer, speaker and now that I think about it I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do he’s so awesome. Out of the blue I messaged him through Facebook last week we scheduled a call, and set up the photo shoot for tomorrow afternoon.

In preparation and anxious anticipation I go to my closet to choose several outfits, it’s then I discover my issues. I can’t fit most of my clothes as I still have a way to go to reach my goal weight, and I’m a little disgusted to find I have fewer colors than what I originally thought. Not one to give up easily I think to myself “I need help” so I call my cousin Chae (pronounced Shay).

Tangled Web Weaving

Chae is one of the funniest people I know. Every time I’m around her she always has the zaniest stories to tell and we just laugh till our sides hurt. Chae has always been an unapologetic foodie and was so committed to her love affair with food she almost choked to death eating a meatball sandwich.

Before Chae begins her emphatic account she tells me she needs me to understand that these sandwiches are categorically unsurpassed. She came home late from work with her elite take-out sandwich in tow. She sneaks into her garage and begins to wolf down her meal but in the midst of eating she starts to choke. Since her husband and kids don’t know she’s home yet they aren’t aware of her distress. She eventually dislodged the obstruction but the crazy thing is once she did she felt honor bound to finish every last bite because she didn’t want to share it with the hubby and kids. So I knew if nothing else got accomplished yesterday I would at the very least have my own comedic entertainment.

After trying on several combinations of clothes I now have 3 outfits and accessories for the photo shoot. While I wish I could wear some of my spring-like attire, looking like a stuffed cabbage is not the look I’m going for. If all goes well, I’ll have some good pictures to post within the next couple weeks.

Since I am unable to wear some of my favorite springtime colors I have uploaded a beautiful Hydrangea that reminds me of the breathtaking Nairobi blue Prada gown Lupita Nyong’o wore to the Oscars.

Have a great day!!

“When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.” ~Cecil Selig

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Noteworthy Necklaces & Necklines

Oh Son, Where Art Thou?

Light blue statement necklace FRIRELLA from AldoShoes
FRIRELLA from AldoShoes

March 22, 2014 Text from my youngest son (Arian):

Arian: (10:30 A.M.) I’m at the hospital mom

Me: (10:32 A.M.) What’s wrong?

Me: (10:35 A.M.) What happened?

Me: (10:39 A.M.) Why are you at the hospital?

Arian: (10:40 A.M.) I can’t walk or get up

Me: (Trying valiantly to push aside my fear) Are you in pain? How did you get to the hospital?

Arian: Ambulance

Back and forth this dialog went throughout the day yesterday. The long spans of time where I heard nothing were excruciating because my mind would gravitate to the worst case scenarios. Calling my son was futile due to the hospital’s firewalls so I call the emergency department, BIG mistake. Instead of having my fears assuaged I don’t know what to think. Being told “oh yes, the doctor has been in to see him, she put him on medication to manage his pain but he’s still having issues” only served to put my imagination into hyper overdrive.

Between the hospital; then receipt of a text from one of Arian’s co-workers telling me that “he was found lying on the floor so they called the ambulance”…I’m just beside myself. Unable to get to the hospital since I was babysitting my grandson, led to further feelings of frustration and helplessness.

R.I.P. Communication and Common Sense

In the age of text messages, Facebook, Twitter, internet slang and endless acronyms it seems communication and common sense have gone by the wayside. Communication used to mean the give and take of information but unless both parties have a common understanding of said information then communication becomes a mute-point. Common sense on the other hand, the natural ability to make sound judgment has been rendered rare. I could ramble on about these two topics and how this particular situation could have been handled differently from my son (I give him a break for being, shall we say, loopy) to the emergency department (and I know about the privacy laws this is another topic for later discussion) to the text from the coworker but this would require a total revamp of society as we know it today.

After spending the day worrying about Arian my oldest son Tristan brought him to my place. The diagnosis was a severe back sprain having my own history of back issues I’m no stranger to the pain so I completely empathized with him. He’s on muscle relaxers, ibuprofen, heavy-duty pain meds and he cannot go to work for a couple of days but he’ll make a full recovery (at least I earnestly hope he does). Today I have him and my grandson (both of whom stayed the night) and are demanding of my time. Me, well, I’m wiped out!!

Necklace with Mini Crystal Leaves from Zara
Necklace with Mini Crystal Leaves from Zara

Necklines and Necklaces

I have this necklace tree on my chest of drawers that greets me each day and it is the source of inspiration for today’s post. My short necklaces hang on the tree and the small tray at the base holds a few rings and smaller bracelets. I use a belt hanger to hang my long necklaces in my closet with my earring organizers.

Light blue statement necklace KOARTAC from AldoShoes
KOARTAC from AldoShoes

The most straightforward method of choosing which necklace for what neckline is for the jewelry to mirror the neckline. To give you an idea of how to do this following are some tips:

  • Crew Neck – A bib necklace looks real nice with this neckline as it hugs the circumference. You can also opt for a long pendant for elongation. Shorter necklaces draw attention to the face.
  • V-Neck – For the V-neck a chunky V-shaped statement necklace or a short pendant that hangs between the collar bones works. The necklace length should be a little above the neckline for a polished look.
  • Sweetheart – You’ll want to a necklace that follows the shape of the sweetheart neckline.
  • Turtleneck – Long chains or pendants add balance to the high neckline and elongate the body.
  • Boat-neck – Long beads or layered chains.
  • Scoop – Try a shorter necklace with volume remember this will bring attention to your face.
  • Button-down – When wearing a button-down completely buttoned a chunky statement necklace brings attention to the face and softens the buttoned-up look. A long necklace (doubled or tripled depending on the length) also looks nice. I like to wear my long pearls doubled with the shorter loop directly against my neck with the longer loop hanging the outside of the blouse. Shorter necklaces also work provided the length is within the constraints of the open buttons.
  • Strapless – Chokers or dainty necklaces function quite well with this neckline.

You can mix or match necklaces. I like to wear some of my short statement necklaces with a long chunky chain or a mixture of several thinner chains. I’ve even used some of my longer ones as belts or even bracelets. Trust me, you won’t be breaking any laws (at least I hope not) if you use your imagination with your jewelry.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

“My basics are black, white, or neutral, and I’ll wear a ton of jewelry or carry a brightly colored bag.” ~Rachel Zoe