Suzanne with wine glassIt’s time to wake up, fall in love with ourselves and make the difference we’re born and dying to make. If my book Bare Naked at the Reality Dance had a subtitle, that would be it. I also often say this: If I can do it, so by God can you. The implication is that I’m awake and self-loving enough to be doing what I’m here to do, and that if we hang together, you might gain ground in those departments too. Maybe so and maybe it’s time to take a look at what’s behind what I say.

Am I awake? Yes. If awake means aware—conscious of myself and what’s going on inside and around me—I am awake. It’s relative, of course. But I believe it’s important for us to take stock and acknowledge our progress as well as our supposed short-comings. So I will say as a matter of fact that I woke up 37 years ago sitting bed-side for the hideous cancer death of my best friend. And I’ve been committed to becoming aware of what’s real and fundamental ever since.

Do I sometimes hide from being awake? Sure I do. Although I like to think I’m moderate, I drink wine and eat foods that dull my senses. I occasionally read cheesy gossip, watch a stupid TV show or slick movie and…well, you get the idea. All I can say about that is this: I know I’m doing it and—thank God for fermented grapes, lamb chops and People Magazine at the hair salon! (Netflix, too.) Seems I’m not ready to be awake and aware 24/7 and I’m okay with that.

Which brings me neatly to my next question—about how I’m doing with the whole falling in love with ourselves thing. Hmmm. It occurs to me that thanking God for wine, meat and pulp weeklies, as I just did, is a sure sign that I love myself way more than I used to. There was a time when I’d have been ashamed to admit to anyone—let alone the entire virtual world—my affinity for anything in the imbibement or entertainment arenas that didn’t seem properly “spiritual.”

As a yoga teacher, wasn’t I supposed to eschew all things worldly, eat vegan (or at least vegetarian) and eminently prefer chanting and meditation to TV and magazines every time? I thought so. So off I went on a multi-year mini-guilt trip. Not very self-loving, that.

Happily, I seem to have learned little by little that being kind to and trusting of myself about my choices, which may still include chanting and meditation (on a good day) beats beating myself up. It also beats doing things I don’t yet—and may never—truly want to do. And hey, I’ve long since renounced the heavy smoking and nightly downing of Dewar’s White Label scotch I was into before Lucy died. (Like being awake, the concept of self-love is pretty darned relative, too.)

There’s plenty more to be said about how I’ve improved in the self-love department. But we’ll leave it for another time and get on to the meatier issue of whether I’m aware and self-loving enough to be doing what I am here to do. Well, am I? Trond and I had a recent chat about that, which should be good for an in-depth online exploration another time. But here’s the gist:

    Should the difference I’m here to make be primarily about service to others, in my roles as sister seeker, awakener and scribe? That’s what I call myself here on my website, where I enlist and share with blog readers and hope to interest visitors in my book. Is that what I’m most meant to do? Or is it my mission, and perhaps yours as a seeker as well, to become Self-realized within this lifetime, leaving the rest to chance and trust—and what we call God? (It’s that will vs. surrender, action vs. inaction question that keeps coming up for me, with no easy answer!)

Bapuji was a public speaker early in his great life and wrote books as well. But my “grandfather guru,” source of my inspiration, eventually made Self-realization his one-pointed focus. And it appears to me that by pointing himself exclusively toward his inner light, Bapuji offered the greatest possible service to humanity, me most definitely included. (How one man sitting alone in silent meditation can be useful to the world is another hot topic for a later time.)

But it may soon be time for me (and maybe you too) to stop trying to figure out and fretting about making an “impact” with the actions we take, and dive all the way into ourselves. Maybe that’s the only contribution we are born and dying to make, and maybe, just maybe, our self-realization would be way more than enough. I don’t know or, as a wise teacher of mine once said about statements like that, maybe I don’t want to know—in my case, because I don’t want to give up mucking about in the world, my ego (and possibly my heart) not ready to pack it in.

So jump in, pipe up and address this one for us: To make our significant difference, do you think the spotlight should be on ourselves, on others, or both? Your experience here could be hugely helpful to me and to all our readers. Thank you and I can’t wait to hear what you say!

PS   I’m excited to announce my first online interview, just up, at a new site for women called Her Social Network. I hope you’ll enjoy my answers to creator Nicole Moulton’s provocative questions:

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.


  1. August 1, 2012 at 11:29 am - Reply

    This was timely, as I get back into flow and purpose. The spotlight will shine wherever it should if we come from contribution to ourselves, our friends our family and the world.

    • Suzanne Grenager August 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Happy to hear you are “into flow and purpose.” dear Donna. What else is there to do anyway? I think I hear you saying contribution, i.e. service, is important, and I like your emphasis on “ourselves” first. As Alex similarly implied, when we come from our own dear hearts, the love we awaken naturally flows out to touch others, and our spotlight (as you suggest) then falls wherever it “should.” The trickiest part, I find, is ensuring I keep enough light alive in me! 

  2. Alex Blackwell August 1, 2012 at 11:38 am - Reply

    The spotlight is always on our actions and choices, which is both a gift and a responsibility to live wisely – and to live from our hearts! When we do this we can’t help but to inspire others to do the same!

    • Suzanne Grenager August 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      A beautiful summation, Alex, of the power of living from our hearts. It *is* our responsiblity to do that, isn’t it? Anything less and we cheat not only ourselves but those “others” whom people like you seem born to inspire. Thank you for being here and for doing what you do at The BridgeMaker.

  3. Sheila M. Kelly August 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Great post and, as always, a great question, dear Suzanne. I recall when I once facilitated a spiritual group being judged for drinking Coca Cola. I’m not sure if wine would have been more acceptable or not!

    For me, it is not an either/or thing. For me, it is an “and” thing; that is, it is about being attuned to my inner teacher, inner guidance, inner wisdom … whatever one calls it … so that I may best serve myself AND others. Having said that, it was important for me, in my journey, to get “right” with me … to learn to love all aspects of who I am. The physical and the non-physical, the ego and the Soul. It is my experience that beating myself up for doing ego things is akin to beating myself up for enjoying a nice dinner. It is the ego that needs to eat food, not the soul.

    I’ve found that accepting my ego-ness is very loving and liberating. A friend once said, “Love is acceptance with a capital A.” When we can accept all that we be, we embrace all of it. We love all of it. Not only those things that are deemed “spiritual.”

    As you know I am not particularly religious, but do recall that the Bible says something like, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Seems applicable and wise.

    Thank you, dear one, for continuing to stand before us so naked so that we may dare to do the same.

    Congrats, too, on the interview. I’m heading over there now …

    • Suzanne Grenager August 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Hey, Sheila! I like your clarity about the huge value of doing our inner work so we can hear that “still small voice within” over the din of everything else. I am truly glad you’ve come to what sounds like a place of rare deep self-acceptance, at peace with all of yourself, ego included. Thanks for sharing yourself so honestly with us. It’s my privilege to stand naked *with* you!

      • Sheila M. Kelly August 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm - Reply

         It is truly “work,” isn’t it? Not only seeing the value of taking the time, but actually taking the time to delve into the deepest recesses of who we be … the Light and the dark. Fortunately, I was brought to my knees in such a way that I could not tolerate the pain any more. Our tolerance for pain is high and I reached the point of … no more! The work has been worth it! Thanks for walking “with” me, dear sistah seeker!

        • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 8:16 pm - Reply

          I appreciate your sharing so clearly the tipping point we must sometimes reach before choosing to make the big changes our ego fears but our heart desires. In the book I write about exactly that: our need for the pain of holding on to the old way to overtake the pain of fearing a new way before most of us will dare rock the boat, let alone abandon ship Thanks for being so honest and real with it! 

          • Sheila M. Kelly August 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

            And you write so beautifully, Suzanne. I picked up your book … again … and am blown away by the beauty of your words, the clarity of your wisdom. You are quite simply an amazing wordsmith and a channel for Truth. Thank you for sharing ALL of you so eloquently.

          • Suzanne Grenager August 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm

            All love and blessings to you, Sheila, for your hugely encouraging affirmation of me, my book and my mission as a Sister Seeker, Awakener and Scribe. Thank you for being wide open to receiving and acknowledging the universal truth that is our common spiritual heritage. The wisdom you refer to as mine is OURS! And it’s my great privilege to help convey it. 

  4. Karen Latvala August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Suzanne, what a delicious question and discussion!  it’s one that I’ve delved into so much myself.  I’m with Babaji and other spiritual teachers who say that BEING the most loving, peaceful person I can be is the place to start.  from that place I can listen to inner wisdom and see if there’s an action that flows from that.

    Of course, my ego loves to jump in and say that I need to DO more!  Doing is fine, as long as I’m BEING the heart-centered loving peaceful person I mentioned above.  So as we awaken, we are able to live more often from that heart place, even while being aware that we not always doing it perfectly.  We are anchored there, at least.

    So, thanks for the big question, and for your bare naked comments that prove you are alive and awakening with all of us!  Cute photo of you with the wine!

    • Suzanne Grenager August 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Oh, Karen, what a beautiful, heartfelt affirmation of the importance of having our doing arise from our being, something I know you have been aware of and practicing with great diligence for a long time. Sometimes inaction is the best course, and I honor you for trusting that more than most. Glad you like to see me raising my glass, right here on our Nova Scotia deck. Though that was a few years ago, I am at it again tonight. It is Trond’s favorite photo of me, and pretty apt for this post, so thanks to Shannon for suggesting we use it.

  5. Ron August 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Here’s one to ponder, my good friend Suzanne. What if it is actually impossible to be of service? What if the illusion of service is the biggest distraction of all? What if it is always, and only, self-serving no matter out best efforts to frame it otherwise?

    Submitted respectfully and with great love for you and your husband,


    • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ron, for your wonderfully provocative comment and generous expression of your love for us! And, yes, I agree that for most (if not all) of us, what we do, by whatever name we call it, is self-serving. But I don’t see that as a conflict with the concept of service. Though we may be dealing  in semantics here, I’ll share my take: The more I remember that we are all one in the spirit — and in the end (and the beginning and middle, too 🙂 — the more I realize that what I do for you, I do for me, and vice versa. When we act from our best instincts at least, it’s self and other service BOTH. A pretty crytic response to the big door you opened, and I could say more. So please continue the conversation here if you like. It’s a good one!

      • Ron August 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm - Reply

        Ahh semantics. The dreaded semantics word. 😉 I have the belief that since we are languaging creatures there is nothing BUT semantics but that is another subject for another time….In my direct experiences of spirit, the now more than a few times that I have merged with what I think you would most likely call God, I have had a very different experience than that which I see reported most often in the popular literature. Rather than “knowing that we are all one” I have clearly and consistently known that the question of self and other is meaningless at that level of consciousness/reality/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. There’s that damn semantics thing, again. We are not one. We are one. We are not separate. We are separate. At the deepest levels those distinctions are not correct or incorrect but, rather, meaningless. Best I can explain it. Hope it was adequate.So a focus on our “one-ness” within the level of reality in which I normally exist is as false as a focus on our “separate-ness”. Both are true, both are untrue and neither is superior to the other in my understanding of how it all plays out.

        So I think that we can agree that doing for others is useful and happy making. I certainly feel that way about it. Yet I refuse to place myself in service to them, or god, or anything else, because the notion of service is meaningless to me too. I am one and all simultaneously. I am you and not you at the same time. At this level of reality, the normal world perhaps, it is our differences that are most noticeable. It requires deep knowledge to see the similarities. Yet those similarities in no way require me to place you superior to me and to serve you. I am simply unable to act in any way that is other than in my own interest no matter what I choose to do for you, or god or anyone.I’m not sure if that chain of thought is clear but that’s the best I can do this morning! Back to work! Thanks for playing along!

        • Suzanne Grenager August 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm - Reply

          Wow! I am taking the weekend — or the week — off to celebrate a most momentous birthday, as you know. I have read and re-read your thought-provoking words and will read them again, perhaps responding with more than a “Wow” before we’re through. But perhaps not, since you may have said it all (or *a lot* anyway). Meanwhile, I hope others are moved to jump in and converse with you at this elevated semantic level. 🙂

          • Ron August 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

            Oops. Just saw this, Suzanne. Hopefully you won’t read my reply until you are back from your blog break.

            I’m honored that you consider my words worthy of pondering. I have certainly spent enough time pondering these things myself over the years.

            The effort has been radically worth it for me. Much ease where there was discomfort in the past.

            Yet my beliefs are not really all that comforting in the larger sense in that I have no place to go but to myself if I don’t like what is happening in my life. Sometimes I’d just like to let someone else do the heavy lifting for a while. LOL Yet, the demands of this belief system have been well worth the benefits I have recieved from it. Transformation.

            The process continues! Back to work I go!

    • Dagmar August 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Ron  It’s so nice to have some “male” energy on this blog. Like Suzanne I’ve been pondering over your posts- your words and the energy behind them quite unsettling. Although I firmly believe that this 3D Reality is holographic and formed from both our individual and collective thoughts and beliefs and therefore entirely illusion and distorted illusion at that- I also believe in aspiring to a different reality. A Reality of Unity Conciousness where All Are One and the Illusion of Separateness doesn’t exist. My question is if as you say service is also an illusion- then why are we here?  What is our purpose for being?

      • Ron August 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm - Reply

        Nicely explained, Dagmar. Before we talk about why we are here I will respectfully suggest that your belief in the holographic nature of our reality may well be true. The concusion that you derive from that, however, “therefore entirely illusion” does not logically follow. Why can’t it be real? Why can’t the collective beliefs of all of us create a reality that is, well, as real as anything else? For every master who held the belief that this world is maya there is a master who held the opposite belief. Which belief is more useful. Better yet – which one is more fun?

        Why are we here? Good question. My answer coalesced when I was looking back over the twenty plus years that my children had been a part of my life about five years ago. (They are 31 now. Twins) I had heard the beliefs that we are to serve others. I had heard the beliefs that we are to play out the divinely perfect plan that was already in place. I did not connect.

        Yet what else could it be if not that? Then I remembered that the most interesting moments in my children’s lives were not when they walked lock-step through their day doing their chores and homework (very important!) but when they took a chance and stepped out and did something creative. Sometimes that creative act was within the rules by which they lived. Other times they chose to break them. Either way, it was those moments of fully owned inspiration and an acceptance of the consequences of their actions that I loved the most.

        So I asked myself this question. If I were god would I want to create a clockwork world? Would I want to be the trainmaster who just sat and watched the little people follow along on their tracks down below? Or would I want to create a world in which I might be surprised. That someone of my own creation might make me smile by doing something I hadn’t thought of. Answer number two came clear to me. In that moment I recognized that I might actually be here to be fully myself. To do something great. For me. To surprise God with something he hadn’t thought of. Not to be a slave to others or their plans. Including God’s.

        Then I felt guilty. What if I’m wrong? What if God really was the clockmaker and I was just fighting a losing, fictional battle?

        Then I realized that God would not have given me the kind of mind that could think those thoughts had it not been possible.Not an easy path, btw. No one else to blame your problems on! 

        • Dagmar August 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm - Reply

          I feel like I’m standing at the edge of the rabbit hole, not sure that I want to follow it down-it does tempt however… Perhaps I meant to say illusory nature of 3D, but let me go further- that the true reality where God plays is 4D and higher. The Earth itself also resides on this higher wave and we’re all playing catch up. I agree with you that creativity, spontaneity and openess (having fun) are absolutely what God wants for all of us and I would add openheartedness. Considering the current state of our collective 3D reality, I will continue to believe with all my heart that it isn’t truly real.

          • Ron August 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

            I understand even if I respectfully disagree. Your evenhandedness in this dialogue has been rare, Dagmar. I have had this discussion before and it tends to generate much screaming and yelling. 🙂

            Thank you for playing along with me. It was a pleasure!

  6. Anne Ulvestad August 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Interesting! And curious! While you were writing this I was asking myself the question: What do I really want in this life? The first thing to pop onto the page was ‘to be of service to others’. And my being reacted to that saying that is not the whole truth. The second thing I wrote was ‘to expand’. I wrote that expanding comes in relationship–to time, to space, to others, to self, to God . . . To be truly present is to be in relationship and that is the beginning of expansion. It’s in the air, this transformation/awakening process, and I love the connections we make. With love, Anne

    • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Yes, yes, Anne. I love the connections, too. Quite remarkable that you were pondering whether “service” was your heart’s desire just as we were pondering a similar question over here. I am glad  “expansion” bubbled up too. My two cents worth:

      Self-nourishment and care leads naturally to the expansion of our entire being. So whether or not we are moved to express our burgeoning self by doing traditional “serivce,” we are enriching the larger world with our expanded Self in all its love and light. Judging from the effects on me of my “grandfather guru,” Bapuji, that may be “service enough.” Or, many of us may be moved to *do* more. 

  7. Dagmar August 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Thankyou Suzanne- this post is soooooo relevant to the huge changes in my life recently-changes that have forced me to redefine who I am and how do I serve others now. I am letting go of a vocation (nursing) that has defined me for 40 years and has always been my financial safety net. Yet as I redefine self, taking on the mantle of health educator, I am too acutely aware of my caregiver fatigue and resistence to caretaking anyone other than myself. I have actually spent the past 5 months sitting in my version of Bapuji’s cave and feeling guilty,depressed and lifeless- as though I am wasting my life. Reading your post, as well as the other wonderful responses to it, helps me to feel that it’s all ok and that I need to stop judging myself for not doing more. Trust and Surrender 

    • Anne August 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Dagmar,
      Your post hit me in a deep way. Not sure if I have any response/words for you other than you touched my heart, and have my support. Sending love, Anne

      • Dagmar August 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm - Reply

        Dear Anne   This is my 3rd attempt at responding to your post- I appreciate it so much and also wanted you to know that your post touched me as well. Would love to hear more about what touched you in such a deep way and how you stay connected to the expanded self.  My Heart Touches Your Heart    Dagmar

        • Anne August 13, 2012 at 12:56 am - Reply

           Hmm. What touched me deeply? Well, I too am/was a nurse, letting go of my beliefs on what that means and how it is expressed in care-taking.
          I too have recently gone through a volcano of erupting shadows reshaping my life.
          I was responding to your honesty, to your grief, to your vulnerability–it all came through your post.
          And how do I stay connected? I’m learning to reach out and speak my truth, even when I have no words!

          • Suzanne Grenager August 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

            Thank you both, Anne and Dagmar, for reaching out with such raw honesty to share yourselves and to appreciate and take nourishment from each other. Blessings on your rich, related journeys!

          • Dagmar August 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

            Dear Anne  I thought that you might also be a nurse, are you retired or choosing to do something else? I am still struggling with letting go of nursing and feeling awkward with my nurse friends, who are trying to be supportive, but I fear that they don’t understand my choices. Thankyou for reaching out and validating my feelings- the truth will set us free!!

    • Suzanne Grenager August 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Yay for you, Dagmar, for really taking in the nourishment that is here for you and especially for your willingness to sit in the cave and let your feelings rip. I suspect that most of our readers — most spiritual seekers everywhere — relate to the dark challenges you’ve been facing. So far as I can tell, they are part & parcel of a seeker’s path.

      I remember my once-guru Amrit Desai telling us this long ago: that those periods where we felt most hopeless, useless and weak were the times when the greatest growth was underway — underground! He assured us that we would emerge from our dark nights of the soul stronger and clearer than we could imagine. I now understand from years of experience that he was right; we must let go of the old to make room for the new, especially if we don’t yet know what that is. And that place of not knowing is rarely a comfortable one. I can’t wait to learn how you emerge from your fertile void/cocoon. All love and support as you continue to inspire us with your surrender and trust!

  8. Jim Dreaver August 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Good, honest blog, Suzanne!
    That’s what you do best – write the bare naked truth
    about what’s going on with you.

    • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      I very much appreciate your sincere acknowledgment, dear Jim — you whose encouragement has helped bring me to this moment as a writer. But, okay, I am still a tad confused about exactly where that is. 🙂

  9. Maria Valverde August 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    I love, love, love your book! Brings much joy and smiles as I turn the page!

    • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm - Reply

      Welcome, Maria! I am thrilled you are reading and loving my book, and especially that it makes you smile. Yay! Blessings to you for letting me know — on Facebook and here in blog world. Hope to see you soon!

  10. Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Yay for you, Dagmar, for really taking in the nourishment that is here for you and especially for your willingness to sit in the cave and let your feelings rip. I suspect that most of our readers — most spiritual seekers everywhere — relate to the dark challenges you’ve been facing. So far as I can tell, they are part & parcel of a seeker’s path.
    I remember my once-guru Amrit Desai telling us this long ago: that those periods where we felt most hopeless, useless and weak were the times when the greatest growth was underway — underground! He assured us that we would emerge from our dark nights of the soul stronger and clearer than we could imagine. I now understand from years of experience that he was right; we must let go of the old to make room for the new, especially if we don’t yet know what that is. And that place of not knowing is rarely a comfortable one. I can’t wait to learn how you emerge from your fertile void/cocoon. All love and support as you continue to inspire us with your surrender and trust!

  11. Dagmar August 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    As always Suzanne thankyou for your insight and support. You inspired me to read again, my copy of When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron. In addition to all the changes I’ve previously mentioned in my life, I learned 2 days ago that I might also be losing my cave- my wave of change keeps getting bigger!! On an entirely different note I was thinking that it would be awesome if those of us writing comments would also respond to each other (when inspired), as much as I love hearing back from Suzanne, I would also love to hear from others.

    • Suzanne Grenager August 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      Yes! I totally agree. I think I wrote something to that effect in a recent post or comment. (Or maybe I’ve simply been wondering how to get that going.) Perhaps *you* could get the ball rolling by replying to any of the earlier comments you find interesting, and I could send the email containing your words to the person you “reply” to. Any other ideas for encouraging more back & forth much appreciated, from you and everyone! Or hey, people, simply DO it! Thanks, Dagmar, for continuing to ask for what you want here, which often seems to be what *I* want as well.

  12. Sheila M. Kelly August 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, dear Suzanne, happy birthday to you. This sounds much better than my actual singing! By the way, hubby and I got married on this day, too! 

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