Updated: Mar 17
Day 12/366 days Towards Self-Mastery. Status: mellow
It's easy to be joyful and independent when you have money. They say money doesn't bring happiness, but I'm thinking in our consumer world, it certainly helps.
The thing is we get so focussed on money or the lack of it, that we spend our entire lives consumed by anxiety over having enough.
Money worries drain our life force. So dependent are we on money that the underlying worry is a constant companion.
All manner of strategies to convince myself to shift my focus from money didn't make much difference. I'd still wake up with a clenched jaw and anxiety about how I was going to make ends meet today.
To be fair, money has come and gone from my life. Sometimes a lot, sometimes not very much at all.
Money comes and goes. We each have the ability to move from feelings of lack, to feeling fulfilled and abundant.
Live simply. As your life becomes more simple, your abundance increases. How can you simplify your life, reduce your expenses and become more self-sufficient?
When I did have a lot of money and the lifestyle that goes with it, I was miserable. Money didn't hold my fascination for very long, and it certainly didn't make me happy. It distracted me from time to time at best, but happy, never.
When you're miserable you're unable to be creative. It's a thing. Creativity requires an element of contentment and joy. Anxiety does not seem to make for a creative mind. That's because when our basic needs are not met, then creativity is on hold.
Beautiful homes with designer kitchens that I didn't feel creative in, that I didn't even feel that I was living in, didn't enhance my life one little bit.
Wealth without the very thing that it I thought it would offer me, stability and security, was undermined by poor relationship choices that kept me needy.
About age 35 years I moved away from wealth, and around 45 year of age, I make a conscious choice to live more simply. Having the advantage of being raised in a simple and healthy lifestyle, I had lots of points of reference.
After discarding all the trappings of wealth that no longer interested me, I became a single mum. Our first mission, my 5 year old and I, was to renovate and settled into a 2 bedroom home on a lush green rainforest site in Wellington, NZ. This is where I raised him and found my way back to me. We lived simply. It was a conscious choice to return to a simple lifestyle.
I didn't know how to be a city mum. I looked around and worked out what we could achieve in our garden and in our small and lively city that kept us in touch with nature and didn't cost the earth.
Our entertainment was tending the garden on the weekends, creating and watching our fishpond come to life, trekking the local bush walks, and beaches, and living simply. The other options were indoor children's playgrounds and all manner of gaming arcades to provide entertainment to city kids. I didn't want that.
My business served the local community and life was good.
When the funds were there to treat ourselves we did. It's always been a habit to treat myself with any windfall that comes along from time to time, to use some of that money as a reward or celebration. My son and I travelled to Europe for 6 weeks when he was about 11 years old. It was an incredibly insightful trip for a young mind.
On returning home to Australia about 7 years ago, I've recreated that lifestyle but this time I decided to return to a rural community, and leave my city life behind. Since about the age of 20, I've bee a city dweller. A fish out of water for about 4 decades.
My garden inspires me and challenges me to keep it simple, work with the raw materials I've got as I regenerate the soil post-dairy farming, and eliminate toxins of any kind. Eventually I'll be able to trust that my food is free from unwanted chemicals.
My living expenses are minimal. Having been raised frugally I'm able to live within my means. It's not always easy but it works. I'm happy and that means that I'm way more creative.
Creating a nutritious and interesting meal with very little is a challenge I meet with enthusiasm. Thank goodness for google and a wealth of recipes for any ingredient, however unusual. And there's always silver beet in the garden, and right now more pumpkins than I know what to do with.
Nature is my retreat when I want or need a change of scene. I spend very little on entertainment, and I rarely turn on the TV. I mean rarely. Maybe 6 times a year. There's little point in having one to be honest. That doesn't reduce my outgoings but it does reduce the amount of unwanted and inflated bad news that hinders my harmony and unbalances my psyche.
Magazines have also been given the boot. My love for the glossy magazines was unlimited at one time in my life. Now I wouldn't dream of spending money on drooling over a lifestyle that I was never able to afford.
And I think that is Sarah's point with this day's inspiration. We feel enormously under-privileged when we focus on what we don't have and what we can't afford when we compare our lives with the ultra-consumer lifestyle.
And I wonder if that feeling of misery reflects in the amount of self-medicating that we do to find relief; alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, all expensive and largely unaffordable if finances are tight, not to mention incredibly unhealthy.
When you work out what makes you really happy, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It's very simple. Getting your head to accept that and focusing your energy on creatively making living simply a challenge, it's incredibly rewarding.
Getting my own head around leaving wealth and settling for simple took some inner work. Exploring the driving factors that lead me away from my true happiness was a mission, and I would have welcomed some of the amazing therapy I receive and offer today.
Living simply. I'm here. I've arrived. There are few responsibilities, and fewer worries and nothing keeps me awake at night. All the nightly jaw gnashing and asthma, gone. All the anxiety about making ends meet, dissolved.
Arranging for all my bills to be paid in advance on a fortnightly schedule was a discipline I implemented early when I realised that starting over back here at home in Aus meant I'd be on a low income again for a while. When they come in, they are already paid, including rates and insurances. I'm always ahead of the game, and I love it.
Waking to the cheerful dawn chorus and greeting the new day with joy fills my heart.
There is no scarcity. "The simpler we make our lives, the more abundant they become (S. B. Breathnach, 1999)."
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart. As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.