About fifteen or sixteen years ago, I was having a difficult time. My husband's business had failed two weeks before Thanksgiving. And when I say failed, I mean it in the most drastic terms I can. There were no other job prospects at the time for Ed, and I was forced to go back to work full time after being a stay at home mom for 20 years, except for the occasional part time jobs I had dallied with over that time. We had depleted what little savings we had and had taken out a home equity line that we owed thousands in trying to save the business. I went to a food bank for food for Thanksgiving dinner. Ed quickly secured a job working part time at a department store for the holidays but our income had been significantly reduced. Luckily, I found a job within a couple of months, but it was a long time before we would financially recover. It was a long-lasting pity party and I felt deprived and discouraged. But, as in most cases, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it was about that time that I became aware of Simple Abundance, a book by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
The premise of Ms. Breathnach's book is this: we can live abundantly if we have these things in our lives - gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy. The book is written to follow for one year, each day there is an entry to read. At the time, I did not have the money to buy the book. A co-worker heard me talking about this book and the next day she presented me with her copy that she had never used. And thus began my journey for living abundantly. As it turned out, I was already doing many of the things Ms. Breathnach prescribed. It was up to me to ramp it up. So I dedicated myself to reading and putting in action these principles. I wrote in the margins of my book. When that year was over, I did the book all over again! And several years after that, I worked the book again when we once again hit rough times. I have been known to pull the book out when I am depressed or having a hard time, just to read my margin notes and to remind myself of what is really important in life and what my thoughts and desires were at the time.
So what is the definition of abundance? Abundance is a noun meaning 1) a copious supply; a great amount or 2) fullness or benevolence or 3) affluence.
Believe me when I say, I was not living abundantly.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie
I started a gratitude journal and wrote down 5 things daily that I was thankful for. I looked for simple things - a cup of hot cocoa, my bed, my children, my car, a hug, a kind word from a friend. I began to think my life wasn't so awful after all. Even though I thought I had been living a simple life, I sought simplicity. So what if the neighbors went on their 3rd vacation this year, or had two new cars in their driveway? I began to think differently - a pot of beef stew and some cornbread can be a feast, a day trip can be just as fun as a vacation.......I began to learn how to say "no" to things I didn't want to do, events I didn't want to participate in, to concentrate on what I had, not what I was missing. There is a mantra that Ms. Breathnach teaches in Simple Abundance: "All I need is all I have." If I never bought another thing, I would be fine. It dawned on me that most of what I bought was what I wanted, not just needs.
Now, fifteen years later, I am still on the path to Simple Abundance. I do have all the principles that I started out seeking. Gratitude - there isn't a day that passes that I don't find something to savor, to enjoy, to express my thankfulness over. Simplicity - Don't sweat the small stuff. Revel in it. Enjoy all those things that seem so trite and insignificant. Order - I'm not a perfect housekeeper. Housework is way over rated in my book, but I strive to have less chaos in my house and in my life. This does not mean there isn't serendipity. In fact, there is more of that than I have ever had. Harmony - most days my life rocks along pretty steadily. There is a cadence to my life. Beauty - I am surrounded by the beauty of my home, the nature outdoors. I write, I scrapbook, I paint, I listen to music. Joy - I find great joy in life, in my family and friends, simple things, fun activities, small mundane things. Does that mean my life is perfect? Absolutely not. Do I get down and engage in pity parties? Absolutely, yes. Humans are like that and I am hopelessly flawed.
To end this, I have the perfect example of abundance! Remember when I told above about a co-worker from years ago giving me her unused copy of Simple Abundance? Well, I have a friend who has been going through a particularly trying and depressing time recently. She, too did not have the extra cash to buy the book when I told her about Simple Abundance, and I did not want to lend her mine since I had written all my personal notes and observations in it. Within a matter of just a few days, laying on a table at a yard sale was an unused copy of none other than Simple Abundance which I obtained for a whopping 25 cents! It's funny how that works! Talk about abundance!
There you have it - September's word of the month - Abundance. And remember that the last part of that word is "dance". So this is my challenge to you all:
"....dance like there's nobody watching, love like you'll never be hurt, sing like there's nobody listening, and live like it's heaven on earth. -William W. Purkey