I read somewhere that there is enough land in Australia for the entire population of the world to live, have a piece of land, and grow enough food to feed them.
I don’t know how true this is, but it does point to the obvious abundance that surrounds us all the time. The world has enough for everyone, even though the population keeps growing. We’re not running short.
There is enough sky for each of us to see; enough joy for anyone who wants more. My having more love doesn’t take it from anyone else. In fact, more love, kindness, and happiness increases it for everyone.
There is enough stuff. One day I was shopping in a mall near where I live and thought about how many stores there are in that mall, all filled with goods. It’s not a large mall but there are thousands of articles available to buy there.
In the next town there are more malls filled with things. Extrapolate that image to thousands of cities around the world and try to imagine how much stuff there is available to own.
My point isn’t that we should try to own a lot of it, rather that our choices and the available products are unlimited. If I buy a pair of shoes, it doesn’t mean that someone else goes without shoes. It means that the shoemakers manufacture more shoes. The more people who get shoes, the more shoes there are.
Think about the abundance of fruit that falls from trees every year. Down the street from my house there is a big old apple tree growing on an empty lot. It blossoms every year and brings forth masses of fruit, much of which falls to the ground and rots.
There is enough opportunity in the world for everyone. After all, you can create your own! Imagination is limitless; you just have to learn how to use it.
There is no shortage of goodness in the world, and plenty to go around. God is good and he is in the world with us. Goodness can never run out.
Our expectations colour how we see the world and our experiences in it. If you look for misery, you’re bound to find it because it does exist and is there for the taking.
However, joy, happiness, contentment, and ease are there for our enjoyment.
When you open yourself up to receive these good things, you will.
After all, you are loved.
March is my birthday month and I’ve taken to using my birthday as a reason to celebrate for the entire month. (I use other reasons in other months.)
On my actual birthday, I went to Vancouver to visit my daughters and my little granddaughter. Last weekend, as a birthday treat, my husband and I went to Washington state for a day trip.
We like to explore and take back roads, especially when it doesn’t matter if we get lost. I was blessed with a good sense of direction, perhaps from growing up on the prairies where it’s important, so I almost always know the direction we need to travel.
“Just keep heading in that direction,” I say. It generally gets us there even if we have to take detours.
We didn't let the rain and grey skies stop us from having a great day.
Our destination was the little historical town of La Conner, which is pretty, has lovely shops and a few restaurants, and is on a channel that leads out to the Pacific.
This winter has been a hard one for me. As you know, I’m not a winter fan and this year it never seemed to quit, and we've had lots of dark days. On top of that, my mom died. That’s not something you just get over quickly.
So, I’ve been feeling like I really need a break. I work at home, so to leave work, I have to leave home. If I don’t, invariably work sneaks into my “off” time.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the creative and inspiring work that I do. But in order to stay healthy, I know it’s important to take breaks. Going away is good for the soul.
Speaking of detours, it’s not unusual in life to set out in one direction then get diverted, often through no fault of our own, onto another path. Stuff happens, and we have to respond.
But just like my driving excursions, if you keep heading in the direction you want to go, sooner or later you’ll get there. Just keep going.
When I was a teenager, my dad decided that it would be a good idea for the family to take up downhill skiing. The fact that we lived on the flat Saskatchewan prairie hundreds of miles from even a hill did not deter him.
We were duly outfitted with skis, boots, snowsuits, goggles, and special ski gloves, and off we went to the nearest ski hill. It was just a hill, situated in the Cypress Hills of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, several hours drive from home. The Saskatchewan side had one slope with a rope tow for getting back to the top of the hill—a good place to start for a bunch of novices.
Once we felt we’d mastered the single slope, which took mere minutes to descend, for our next excursion we moved on to the Alberta side where a ski resort of perhaps three runs stood in a park at Elkwater Lake.
By our second or third season as skiers, we branched out to the big time and drove over six hours to the Rocky Mountains at Banff to ski. Eye-popping, mogul-bashing slopes covered half a mountainside. And there were real chairlifts and a ski lodge complete with overpriced cafeteria food.
Somewhere along the line, it dawned on me that these ski excursions were a lot of work. Getting up in the cold, dark, wee hours of the morning, piling on loads of bulky gear, and dragging skis and heavy boots to the bottom of the hill wasn’t my idea of a really great time. (I'm the indoorsy type.)
Sure, the skiing had its fun moments, and for some members of the family, those moments far outweighed the exertion of getting there, and reversing the procedures, tired and hungry, when the winter sun sank below the nearest peaks.
After I left home as a young adult, I skied only a few more times. Usually, it was with friends from university, or when my family came to town for another skiing expedition. I even skied in the Swiss Alps, on the Matterhorn once. It was spectacular and I am forever grateful for having the experience.
We do things, sometimes for the sole reason that we do those things. It’s what our crowd does, or the family does, and we continue without questioning the value it conveys to our lives.
After I skied at the Matterhorn, quitting halfway through the afternoon to sit in the sun at the lodge, I realized that the cost of skiing, in terms of energy, effort, discomfort, and money, was simply too high compared to the pleasure and joy that I derived from the activity. I made the decision not to be a person who skis. I’ve never skied since that day more than thirty years ago.
Am I saying you shouldn’t ski? Of course not. If you love it and it’s worth it for you, by all means, have at it and enjoy yourself.
My point is whether the cost versus the return on your investment in terms of emotional commitment, time, energy, and money—if that even applies—is worth what you receive in return.
We are fortunate to have choices about how we want to spend our lives. In order simplify life, and therefore have more ease, we all need to look at what is costing more than it’s providing.
Wishing for more time, energy, or money for what you truly value is a great place to start, but without paring away those pursuits where the expenditure is greater than the payback, we’re destined to remain in that place I call hopeless hoping. We want things to be different, we wish they were, but we don’t know where to begin to change them.
(If you’re not clear on what you truly value, my program, The Wish Plan, can help you find that out.)
Instead of carrying on doing the same stuff you’ve always done, just because you’ve always done it, why not measure the out-go against the in-come? It might surprise you to discover that a lot of your daily joy is draining out of you because your simplicity balance sheet is out of whack.
By stepping back and viewing habits and activities in light of the impact they have on our lives, positive and negative, we can ascertain whether on not to continue to pursue them, or would dropping them make your life more meaningful.
I was talking with a friend from my little town last night while standing in line (for the ladies’ room) and she asked me, “Are you writing any new books? Are you doing more art? What are you doing these days?”
“Too many questions,” I answered. I gave her a brief overview as I headed for my turn in a cublicle. “Right now, I’m writing short fiction, doing more artwork, creating gorgeous letters…” or something along that line.
It might surprise you that my focus for this month is: Simplify. It’s not a concept I spend much time on. There are always far too many new things I want to try. It's just that recently I've had a reminder.
When I was working on cleaning my parent’s home a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but recall the number of times my mom had said, “Oh, yes, I’m going to get to that.”
“That” was sorting through storage and clearing out clutter. Too often, as we discovered, she never did get to it. All those closets and storage cupboards filled with projects and items that had long since lost their usefulness to her remained in the house, helping no one.
Looking through all these things she left behind when she moved on to heaven made me think more about simplifying my own surroundings. I’m not talking about simplicity per se, or minimalism. I like my stuff and enjoy visual activity. As a visual artist, I really like to be able to see the things I own. Minimalism usually comes across to me as bare and cold.
The same applies to activities. I had a short conversation with a friend this week about gardening. She had the impression that I’ve never set foot in a garden, which is completely false. When my children were younger, we had a big garden and grew vegetables, fruit, flowers, and shrubs.
However, there came a point in my business where extra-curricular activities had to be curtailed because I wanted to spend more time writing and painting. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy gardening; it is simply that I value my time spent in arts far more. For that to happen, something has to go. (I still have flower beds and containers, though.)
It’s all about the value you place on things in your life. If the value is high, keep it. If the value is low, consider eliminating it and simplify your life. This will leave you with more time and more space for what you really care about.
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