Susan


Tell me about the most beautiful woman you know.
It's a beautiful question. The most beautiful woman I know...I've  got to be perfectly honest– I don’t think anything rote feels right, like my mom or this or that doesn't feel quite right. One of the first people that comes to mind is my cousin's wife, Tony, and I happen to love her, of course, but she has this way about her. She's really easy. When you're easy, that's really beautiful. It's not even about the texture of her skin or the color of her eyes. It's just she seems really comfortable in her own skin. She's one of the first people I would think about.

So then what does it mean to be beautiful?
I think I just answered that question. When you're really comfortable in your skin, you have that ease about you. It really even harkens back to the photographs that we were taking, like, when you just catch a moment in time. Needless to say, or needed to say, until recently beauty was strictly image. I bought into that– beautiful to me meant a face. That was engrained in me, that’s society, and I hadn't questioned it until somewhat recently. I mean, I've known that for a long time that there was more, but I never associated it with beauty.
 
Is there anything that you can think of specifically that shaped your idea of what beauty is?
For me, it goes hand in hand with yoga and God– those are my things. And I think when you're on that path, when you're doing that kind of work, if you're lucky, shit opens up. And it did. So even though the messages are still bombarding me, luckily, there are whole conversations now around how much more it means so that there's a shift for sure. Thank God. But for me, I think the shift, the exploration in my own mind might have come sooner.

It's not just a person's face, though it but it can be that, too. I think we have this propensity to swing too far. When I was coming here, I was thinking about pictures of beautiful, thin women, and so many women would say, “show a real woman.” And I'm like, wait a minute, that's a real woman, too. Let's be careful not to swing too far and say “no, it can't look like that.” Can we be well rounded?

Now we're talking about inner beauty, but let's not discount this fabulous shell we get to roll through the world with.
 
If someone were struggling with this idea of beauty, would you have any advice for them? Do you have any tips or tricks to reconcile all of these different messages? How do you remind yourself of who you are?
It's really easy to feel beautiful when you're happy. So the work for me is can I just ever so sweetly, gently remind myself of my worth. In yoga we call it Anahata. There is this place inside you, and when your heart is broken a million times over and everything is so hard, there's this untouchable, spiritual place at your center. At the very least, can you even just remember it's there, even when it feels like it's a million miles away? That's what I would offer. Shit’s going to hit the fan pretty much daily. There's still that sweet spot inside you that soldiers on. 
 
When do you feel the most beautiful? 
Again, it's really easy when everything is aligned. But that’s not really the work. You know, like they say to it's easy to love the people you love, but can you love your enemies?I think that applies to ourselves as our own worst enemies. It's easy to feel beautiful when I'm happy and everything is aligned. But I'd really like to explore the other side.

I've luckily had the experience where things aren't quite aligned, yet I still feel pretty connected, but I don’t necessarily know what to call that. If I have to put a name on it, because sometimes we have to do that, I will call it a divineness, where everything just feels really good. Sometimes I'll try to figure it out, but I think I can really do myself a favor by not trying to figure everything out all the time.
 
The short answer to that potentially would be if I get a good night's sleep or if I eat well, the stars align. I don’t even know if beautiful is the right word. There's an unnameable, unknowable, feeling. And I think it's in that precious moment where you're swept up in the dance. 
 
As we get older, our definition, our conceptualization of things evolves
over time. On a good day, I’d love to call it wisdom.
 
Although I have to say, and I don't know what it says about me, I've heard some conversations about beauty and aging, and now I'm 53, so I am aging, but I've never associated beauty with youth. I know a lot of people associate it with that, and I'm glad I didn’t because I think that can be really wearing. It just never resonated with me. What a happy accident. 
 
If you could be remembered or recognized or thought of for one thing, what would that thing be?
It would have to be helping people. People struggle so much; I have struggled so much. If you could ease someone’s suffering... You can't help but think about it in terms of yourself, too– like when I think about being at my lowest. When you can think about alleviating that in just the slightest way or even a more profound way, I feel pretty sure that's the meaning of life.
 
…It's all happened in spite of me: I never planned on teaching yoga, the notion terrified me, so if I was never planned on teaching yoga, certainly I wasn't planning on opening a studio where I would have an audience. The prayer that I offered that I didn't even know I was offering was just let me help people. It was never verbalized that way: it was never “show me a path.” It was never anything like that. I didn't even know what to ask for, and then this thing just came to be. And when you see somebody in class having an experience, or somebody credits you with helping them– that’s it. Your soul lifted another soul. We are talking about energy, infinity.
 
Right before I went in for open heart surgery, not knowing whether or not this could be the end of my life, I was naturally reflective. And I thought “I'm good.” I've come to see things and know things I never dreamed in a million years. And I I mean, for as low as I've been, I felt like I've levitated at times too.  It's been a good run. And, and the reason I launched into all of that is because it keeps getting better, and I'm still so shocked by it. If today was my last day, I'm overjoyed at what has transpired so far. And then the next day leads me into something even more than I ever dreamed up. I hope God gets the biggest kick out of me.
 
How do you find  joy or gratitude when life feels just difficult?
Not to sound too yogic about, but I think your breath can play a role there. I mean, when you have nothing else, you have this simple, powerful tool that has carried you. Just breathe. Don't think or don't even try to quell your thoughts, let them come and go and just breathe. In even just a few moments, you might feel just better enough that you could get in a hot shower. There's phase two.
 
I hope when and if the time comes, I can put my money where my mouth is. I talk about finding joy in the darkest places, and that's easy to say if you're joyful, so I want to practice what I preach. Just to kind of demonstrate the point, I think about should the day come where I lose Hunter– How will I feel? How will I process that? There's no script for that, and I certainly don't want to do myself the disservice of pretending to feel any way, but with all that I've come to know, I know there's more than sadness. And so I hope I'll be able to access that starting with my breath. And then a hot shower. And then a smile. And then keep going from there.
 
We're so stuck with this either/or: you're either happy or sad. I call bullshit. You're fucking both: you're so both all the time. You get so caught up in this black and white thing that you forget about the nuances. Christ. It's all nuance.
 
What's the most beautiful thing about you?
I don't think I would have named it until today, but I guess it's my resiliency.
It has to be that. It's sure seen me through some pretty rough stuff. 

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published