Coffee, Talk, & a Walk: Suzanne Hanna

I forget exactly how I met Suzanne Hanna, but I'm so glad we connected less than a month ago.  She was such a great support when I lost my dog a couple weeks back. I'm so blessed!! Thanks Suzanne for sharing your story "The Importance of Grace" with us. 

I was drowning in a vat of emotional abuse and could not find my way to the surface for air. I knew that it was up to me to find the strength but I was still hoping that something or someone would save me. I wanted to run screaming from the relationship that I willingly put myself in three years prior. I had created a facade that from the outside looked like a pretty good life. I fooled everyone but my closest friends that I was happy and fulfilled. I even tried to fool myself. Of course, the more I lied to others and myself the more I sank deeper and deeper into the abyss.

I had bought my boyfriend a male yellow lab puppy the first year we dated. At the time I thought a dog would create a deeper connection between us; later I realized what I hoped was that he would soften his armored heart. Leaving both of them seemed insurmountable to me, and my fear was the cement blocks chained to my feet pulling me down further into the murky water. I prayed. I bargained with God. I wanted an easy answer. Any answer. What I got was an idea.

Image (c) Suzanne Hanna
Image (c) Suzanne Hanna

The idea that came to me was to get another dog from the same breeder as before so that leaving would feel less frightening. I would have this new puppy to love and care for as well as a wonderful distraction from my pain. I quickly called the breeder and ordered another male yellow lab. Problem solved.

I drove up to the kennel a month later and was told that there was a problem with the litter and that I was unable to get a puppy. Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of practical joke? I think the woman at the kennel took pity on me after watching me break down in a pool of tears. She asked if I was willing to look at another puppy whose intended owners had a sudden move to California. I looked up at her, confused yet desperate. She left and returned with a pile of caramel-colored fur with two pink and white gingham bows in her ears. My heart melted. She placed her in my arms and as I looked down, all I saw was two liquid chocolate eyes staring longingly into mine. At that moment I took the first breath in months.

On the car ride home, I realized that I had no idea what to name her as I was planning on getting a male yellow lab, not a female golden retriever. I knew at the core of my being that this experience was nothing short of Divine Grace. So Grace it was. She seemed to agree.

A short while later, I left the relationship and began my healing Journey with Grace. We hiked daily and she taught me how to live again. She taught me how to see the world through all of my senses. The dim grey filter turned into vibrant colors. Something like leaving Kansas and heading to Oz. We began to travel; over the course of three years we hiked in numerous National Parks and Forests, swam in all five of the Great Lakes and saw over 35 states. I journaled and audio-recorded our experience and knew someday that I would share it with others. She was the guide that lead me “home,” and there was one thing I knew for sure, Grace was the gift that was sent to save me.

Thank you Suzanne for sharing you story.  Social support is so important in one's life, especially in terms of persevering. You can find out more about her journey with Grace at ( I recommend you check it out!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!