Suzanne-Grenager-forestI sit this fall morning in deep silence in a beautiful little house in the California redwoods. I’m so very alone but not, I’d say, lonely. Instead of putting me off, the total stillness draws me in, forcing an unexpected focus on the aliveness in my old body and, suddenly, a desire to write.

What is there to say but *thank you*, for this last year with myself, which, because it stemmed first from Covid, then from Trond’s death and, more recently, from a relentless extreme fatigue, I haven’t always appreciated. Today I am grateful.

Here I am, all by myself, with not a single thing planned for the day. It’s true I am, as always of late, profoundly tired. And I’m a little confused, wondering why I’m here at all, let alone in relatively good spirits, given the horrific losses I’ve faced in the last three years. But I am here, thank God, and I want to take a moment to celebrate it!

Even my daughter, who knows me as well as anybody, seems surprised at how upbeat I manage to remain. How can I make jokes and laugh at myself—and life—after losing my husband, my homes, my entire East Coast life, and, most critically, my health, in a matter of months?

All that with Trond’s life-robbing dementia—and my intense year of seeing him through the end of it—thrown into the mix? I honestly don’t know. But for want of a better word, I will call it Grace.

I can’t attribute my relative well-being to a regular spiritual practice, because I haven’t maintained one for longer than I care to admit. In an act of the transparency I remain committed to, much of my otherwise empty hours are spent reading magazines, watching upsetting political commentary on MSNBC or lying in bed (or sitting up) as if to meditate.

I try to take the long deep yoga breaths and repeat the mantra I taught to others for years. I say “try” because I am easily distracted by the monkey mind yogis complain about. The difference is I seem to accept it with increased equanimity now.

Some of my former yoga students purport to continue to this day the postures and breathing I practiced and shared with them decades ago. While it’s true I’ve continued to sit quietly with eyes closed most days, to call my recent iterations a meditation practice would be an overstatement.

And my sporadic Pilates training exercises hardly compare to daily deep yoga asanas. So no, I can’t thank what we traditionally think of as a sustained yoga practice for my peace of mind. Then how is it I’ve survived?

It’s not easy to articulate. But I think it has to do with a growing self-awareness, and especially a profound body awareness gleaned from the years I did practice yoga assiduously. Down on the floor stretching, and sitting cross-legged for meditation, I learned to be with myself—body, mind and spirit.

That simple practice taught me to be comfortable in my skin, more and more at peace with all that I am and, ultimately, with all that I am not. It taught me patience with my dear self and with the exigencies of life in a limited and now aged human body. For that, dear ones, I am very grateful today.

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

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

8 Comments

  1. Shalom December 10, 2021 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, Suzanne! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with us. Slowing down, matching your activity level to your energy level, and practicing gratitude for the blessings of your life that are happening now – these are such beautiful, life-affirming practices.

    Reading your words, I feel inspired and curious about how I can do this in my life, today – now.

    • Suzanne Grenager December 10, 2021 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Shalom. Your generous words honor—and inspire—me. It’s such a privilege to write for readers like you!

  2. Dee Holland-Vogt December 10, 2021 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Bless you, Suzanne, for listening to the still small voice that urged you to write. Your words and the image they helped me to conjure of you at this time were just what my soul needed. Gratitude. Grace. Being comfortable in your own skin. I am with you. I, too, seem to be able to meet my profound fatigue and the changes in my life with an equanimity that’s nothing short of miraculous. I am holding you with love and light, dearest. <3 So glad to be with you as we walk each other home.

    • Suzanne Grenager December 11, 2021 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your beautiful, heart-opening comment, dear Dee. I am so sorry that you too are suffering profound fatigue and dramatic life changes but I’m thrilled to hear that, like me (at least sometimes), you are holding steady in the walk we make together home. Thank YOU for your soulful words.

  3. Karen December 13, 2021 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    Dear Suzanne, what a wonderful essay exploring your contentment in the midst of exhaustion and pain and loss! Self-awareness, gratitude, equanimity. All wonderful qualities that maybe you are just now allowing yourself to see and feel, as there aren’t a lot of other things distracting you, Wonderful place to be!
    Love, Karen Latvala

    • suzanne grenager December 16, 2021 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Dear Karen. I am struck by your brilliant observation that I might very well not have come to this place of relative equanimity–and I stress “relative”–if I hadn’t practically been forced to by my physical limitations. Your thoughtful words have brought me to a place of even greater equanimity and gratitude. Thanks to you, I am reframing my situation as a clear blessing!

  4. nrhine December 15, 2021 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Dear Suzanne,
    Thank you for that lovely and poignant description and musing. “That simple practice taught me to be comfortable in my skin, more and more at peace with all that I am and, ultimately, with all that I am not.” As someone growing older myself and someone who has passionately studied aging for years now – I love your deep awareness and acceptance and noticing of the full range of feelings, including gratitude. As someone said here before me, what an unexpected blessing that the slowing down of this season of our life allows simple richness to flower. Thank you again. Nancy

    • suzanne grenager December 16, 2021 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Thank YOU, dear Nancy for weighing in with *your* geriatric experience and heartfelt gratitude for my simple words. I am touched that they resonate with you and that you reinforce Karen’s observation about the richness that, at least for some of us, seems more possible as we age–and slow down.

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