Simplicity is a grace many of us have learned to appreciate during the challenges of 2020. Many of the complexities of modern life fell away as we were required to stay at home and forced to slow down. We stopped chasing bigger and better, and learned to be content with the simple pleasures of home and quality time with loved ones.
This concept is integral to the yogic lifestyle. It is called aparigraha – to take only what one needs and let go of the unnecessary. More peace and contentment are created by recognizing that all things change and that suffering results from holding on or coveting what another has.
Silver Kim, our first GloForward Woman of Grace, embodies this quality. With changing priorities at midlife, she chose to simplify her life by selling her thriving yoga studio in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, three years ago. When family needs required her to be in New York, she honored the call and let go of other time consuming commitments.
When she opened Kula Heart Yoga in 2008, she created a safe environment for women to come together, explore themselves and flourish in community. With a focus on therapeutic alignment to strengthen the mind/body/spirit, she offered classes and workshops that empowered women by giving them the unique space to share raw and real experiences.
Her impact was far reaching, for both her students and the yoga teachers she developed. During her time running the studio, she trained more than 100 teachers in the Lehigh Valley and created opportunities to launch them on their way with confidence.
Instrumental in Silver’s decision to let go of her studio was the transition she saw happening in the yoga world. More and more studios were opening with a focus on profitability versus philosophy, hyping a lifestyle based on fitting an image with accessories like jewelry, clothing and other yoga products. Competition was replacing relationships between studios. A cult of celebrity was forming around teachers. And emphasis was placed on achieving technical and difficult poses, pitched with “beautiful bodies in bikinis.”
When she found herself caught up in promoting a Handstand Challenge on social media, it made her pause. “Wait - is this what people think yoga is? Because it isn’t,” she said, realizing that for her yoga was more about the healing journey.
Her choice then was to let go, to simplify her life and focus on the things that truly mattered to her now: nurturing her own innate joy and creativity, enjoying her beloved husband, treasuring her adult children, and supporting her elderly parents through their health challenges.
“Grace is being open and receptive to what happens and to what comes into your life, and to move with it like a dance and not resist it,” says Silver Kim reflecting on the meaning of Grace in her own life.
Like many of us, Silver’s journey to midlife took several twists and turns before leading to her current place of contentment and exploration. She grew up in Queens, New York, steeped in the Korean culture of respect and honoring elders. Following her first career path in fashion, and a challenging first marriage that gifted her with two sons, she found great healing and purpose in the practice of yoga. Her journey as a single mother and yoga teacher led to two great passions: the love of her life (her husband, Jose) and the yoga community she nourished through the sacred space of her yoga studio.
Selling the studio gave her the time to recharge after years of nurturing others. Caring for herself was a whole new learning process – to allow herself to wake up a little later, to prepare a healthy meal only for herself with pretty plates and glassware, to finally treat herself as she deserved to be treated. And to believe in that worthiness.
When we are young, we work hard to establish who we are, our identity. At midlife, Silver found an answer that resonated deeply at a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. Without the noise of the outside world, she realized how much she loved herself for who she was. And that took her 50 years to discover.
Silver says, “I love my skin, I love my hair, I’m going grey – so what. I gained some weight – it’s because of menopause – and I’m okay with it. I’m not going to beat myself up anymore to be recognized by people who are really insignificant to me.”
An inspiring Woman of Grace in my life is my husband’s tiny grandmother, Avo, who lives life on her own terms - even at 91 in a small Portuguese village.
This quiet, graceful woman is loved and revered by everyone. Avo is very giving to those less fortunate in her community. She quietly makes her rounds to leave buckets of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and onions for those in need, never shaming or requiring acknowledgment for her actions. The empty buckets are simply returned to her front door the next day. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Avo is a graceful, beautiful woman inside and out. She lost a child, she lost her husband. She’s been living on her own for so many years but she likes her own company - she is literally having her own good time.
During one of our weekly calls, we were concerned because Avo was slurring her words. Panicking, thinking she was having a stroke, we called Jose’s mom and told her to go next door and check on her. Mom laughed and said, “No, no, she’s not having a stroke – she’s just making her famous schnapps. She tastes it as she makes it.” Avo was tipsy!
Finding joy in what she enjoys throughout her long life. That is a graceful woman!
The Next Act
Her practice of aparigraha, letting go, continues.
As a mother with adult children, she is trusting that she has raised them well and that they will make the right decisions for their lives. Her gift to them now is the freedom to live their lives as they see fit.
“I’m co-participating with the challenges of this time of life, especially with my aging parents, by letting go of the need to overpower or control in the way that I used to,” Silver says.
Like many in the yoga field, she is exploring how to move online to create a new kind of sacred space for women. One that resonates with who she is now, with the confidence and wisdom she has gained through experience.
As she curiously and courageously lives a life that goes beyond taking care of others, she encourages others to keep excavating to unearth their own creative passion, even if it takes until they are 80 years old. Her advice is to stay soft and open and allow grace to lead the way.
And to let go of all that is unnecessary.
Nominate a Woman of Grace in your life that you'd like to honor here.