Simple Abundance tells us that the simpler we make our lives, the more abundant they become. Well, my life doesn’t seem to be simpler, but it certainly is abundant! Wednesday when I usually post in this space, I was preoccupied with other thoughts. I was totally immersed in having my daughter home for a long visit. We made plans to go shopping in the City after my check-up with my breast cancer surgeon. I’m sure my anxiety about that doctor visit also crowded out any thoughts about writing on Wednesday as well. I just wanted to get to that appointment, have her pronounce me “in absolute good health” and send us on our way to Nordstrom’s. I have not reached the magic milestone where recurrence of the cancer is not always lingering in the back of my mind. Perhaps it will always be on the periphery of my thoughts. And as long as I’m making doctor appointments every six months I have too much physical evidence not to have it on my mind. Happily, my doctor examined me and pronounced me healthy at my appointment. My daughter and I went on to lunch and an afternoon of shopping surrounded by that wonderful pink bubble of good will and relief. My life is not simple. I doubt that life is simple for anyone. It is messy, complicated and full of wonderful surprises. I am so grateful for everything (simple and otherwise) and everyone in my life: receiving a good report from the doctor, enjoying lunch and an afternoon of shopping with my daughter, sitting down to dinner with my daughter and husband, knowing that the rest of my family is healthy and I have the opportunity to tell them I love them and how grateful I am to have them in my life. I’m grateful for this amazing life I’ve been given and those I’m privileged to share it with. Thank you—
I’ve just completed leadership training with Simple Abundance author Sarah Ban Breathnach. During our incredibly moving and wonderful weekend we studied the Graces which are the basis for the book’s philosophy: Gratitude, Simplicity, Order, Harmony, Beauty and Joy. I’d like to share something I wrote about Gratitude this week…
A French proverb tells us that “Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”
I am grateful for the first person who ever honestly, inexplicably and amazingly believed in my talent/gift/ability to write. How did she know? I am convinced she knew because she saw inside my soul. “I can’t wait to read your book,” she had said to me. Her tone held encouragement, admiration and confidence. She spoke with such faith of my dreams as reality and a foregone conclusion.
It was the end of October 1983. My father had just passed away and I was on a personal retreat at a small convent. There was a communal kitchen with huge loaves of brown bread and enormous jars of peanut butter, a six-slice toaster and refrigerator with a few apples and the pint of Half & Half I’d brought for my tea. On the other side of the room opposite the Formica table and eight chairs was a saggy dark green couch with a stripped orange and brown afghan adorning the back cushions. The blanket, no doubt, was a donation from the Ladies Circle. The best part about the sofa was that is was positioned in front of a large brick fireplace with an ample supply of wood.
I sat on one end of the couch watching the flames dance up the chimney. She sat on the other end; her plump sausage fingers buried in a wootle of baby blue yarn while the long silver knitting needles fenced at her direction. Her Clairol enhanced hair was pulled into a loose bun on the top of her head. She had a yellow No. 2 pencil stuck in it, a habit she’d picked up from work. I can still see her bent down and digging in a brown grocery bag looking for a ball of bright blue yarn to introduce to the dance her fingers were choreographing.
I exchanged a pleasant hello, but turned to stare into the flames and hoped I wouldn’t have to start a conversation. She chatted without provocation about her life, only pausing once in a while to allow me to answer a cursory amount. I told her more than I’d realized when I left to go. She was a cook at Woolworth’s lunch counter she told me and this was her annual vacation from her husband and five children. Usually she was at work in her white shoes and apron with black polyester dress at 7 am Monday thru Friday and 5 am on Sat and Sunday. But it was her birthday and she was treating herself. She talked about baking apple pies because this was apple harvest time. I said my favorite and dad’s was the French Apple my mother made. But I didn’t know when she’d feel like making it since he was gone. I talked aoubt how I was going to school and would graduate next June. How we were on a waiting list for a baby. How I wanted to be a writer. How I longed to write something people would want to read. And she kept knitting and listening.
I got up to go to my room, my cell really; collect my PJ’s. Then go down the hall to the shared bathroom to take a long soak and have a good cry. She looked up from her half finished scarf and fixed her tender dark brown eyes on me and her words washed over me, “I’m looking forward to reading your book.” I have to honor that faith—
November has never held as much excitement for me as it does this year. I feel that I’m entering into a new season of my life. Although typically this time of year I should be going within and pondering my options, but I’m not content with sitting back and waiting. I feel my time is now and I’m ready to move, explore, inquire, accept, achieve, BE and DO what I’m meant to do. Last weekend I was part of a dynamic team of women who hosted an Author Showcase and Silent Auction on behalf of the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s National Book Assn. It was an awesome event and we did ourselves proud. I’m getting comfortable using a microphone and speaking extemporaneously in front of groups. Next, I’m going to work on getting comfortable delivering talks and organizing workshops focused on using Creativity as a Healing Tool. This weekend I’m going to LA to take part in the first ever Simple Abundance Certified Trainer Program. I feel I’ve already been working with Simple Abundance author Sarah Ban Breathnach as the book has been a treasured part of my morning writing routine of Moring Pages and Inspirational reading ever since I picked it up ten years ago. My copy of the “Pink Book” (as it is referred to) has underlining, highlighting, notes in the margins, and bits of sticky notes everywhere. This is a first for me. My first at marking up a book, even college texts were pristine for resale value. My first experience of having an interactive and on-going relationship with a book. I love all the quotes that introduce the 366 essays. I love the fact that my first writing teacher is quoted in the book. I love that although I’ve read the day’s essay before and it has touched me, something fresh catches my attention and I love it anew. Although she didn’t know it, Sarah has been my Creativity Mentor for quite a while; encouraging me to write, collage, play, seek out fun excursions and to take pleasure in my circumstances right now. I can’t wait to meet her and see what happens next—
Last week I had the pleasure of staying at the Diva Hotel in San Francisco, but it took some persistence to find a room available. Little did I know when I started looking for a hotel for that Sunday night stay how full up the City would be. Why weren’t these people checking out and going home I wondered? As it turned out there was a huge Nike Women’s Marathon on Sunday and all those women were too exhausted to check out of their hotel rooms, they had just run through the streets of San Francisco. I looked around the streets and even our lobby at all the smiling faces glowing with accomplishment; all wearing pink t-shirts like badges of honor. And I smiled at the thought of my girlfriend and me staying at the Diva Hotel when we are so not Divas. I want to reframe the term Diva and claim it for all of us who are smart, talented, and in-charge women. We are bright, creative and resourceful women who have taken on challenges and while we may not have found a way to eliminate those challenges (YET!), we’re coping while we search and living life to our fullest capacity. We are phenomenal women who wish to be indulged once in a while – it would be nice if it was by our family, but it is also OK if it is by the choices that we make for ourselves. Webster defines a Diva as a goddess. I’ll accept that–
I had the good fortune to spend the last few days with a dear friend in a very challenging workshop environment. Cindy and I met at a writing retreat held in the New Mexico desert which gave us physical as well as intellectual challenges. Our classes were held in a Yurt, our cabin had electricity but no running water, and the dining hall was only open during posted meal times. Our location didn’t allow us to run out for a quick bite, or call for a pizza delivery – so we craved things we all took for granted: unlimited pots of tea, ice cold cokes, chocolate chip cookies, or corn flakes with sliced bananas and milk. We thought if we could laugh about that experience this was not just a friendship, but kindred spirits finding each other. And since our birthdays are within days of each other, we decided to meet once a year to share new adventures. Our latest comprised of long days overflowing with valuable information, but not giving us the PLAY time we so look forward to when we get together. You see, we live on opposite coasts and don’t have the opportunity to have real face time with each other. Cindy and I tacked an overnight stay in San Francisco to the end of the workshop which gave us wonderful breathing space after all our sessions giving us step-by-step instructions from the Masters about how to be an inspirational speaker. It’s all about being authentic, knowing your message, knowing your audience and remembering to breathe. Writing, presenting talks, facilitating collage and writing workshops – I wonder what will be the next Creative opportunity for me –