Life’s Next Chapter: The Allowance of Both Grief & Gratitude

Susan O’Connell, Visionary of Ensō Village

Acknowledging the Unease of Unfamiliarity

For the most part, we ignore our bodies, unless they scream for our attention. Awareness of bodily sensations is step one in Mindfulness practice. I recently moved from a city to Ensō Village, a senior living community in Northern California. As I was driving to the nearest town of Healdsburg to explore where things are, like dry cleaning, car repair, good coffee, etc., I suddenly felt lost. The foliage on the freeway included vineyards instead of billboards. It was a subtle feeling of not being grounded in familiar routes. I was a bit lightheaded. Noticing that subtle bodily sensation I was better able to pull off the road and settle myself.

Remote Wine Country Road

Moments: From Regret to Appreciation

Susan O'Connell in Enso Village Courtyard

And then, I was able to appreciate the feeling of being lost – recollecting the couple of times during my travels, like in the walled streets of Venice, Italy, when I was lost, and the experience was one of being free from the ordinary. If we listen to our body, we can also notice when we are NOT in pain or discomfort. As one ages, and various aches and pains arise more regularly, this respite from pain is worth acknowledging – changing our attitude for the moment from regret to appreciation. Making our day a little bit sweeter.

Unveiling Ourselves: Comfort in Familiarity

Getting together with others our same age has advantages – A shorthand can develop from knowing that the sands of time are shifting rapidly for us “elders”. It creates a tenderness. Together we are leaning towards the ends of our lives, and there isn’t a lot of time to put up a false front and lie to ourselves or others. How refreshing to be more fully awake to what is in front of us – how heartwarming to share a history with people our own age.

Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

Susan O'Connell Cheerfully Dining with Friends