I recently started reading Modern Mrs. Darcy by Anne Bogel and listening to her podcast, What Should I Read Next? They were recommended by my friend, and I am hooked! In the last week I’ve been listening non-stop. Anne’s recent post, “The little things I do that feel like abundant living,” prompted my own thinking about abundance. I’m finding this idea all around me lately. My yoga teacher has been talking about the idea of non-attachment, of letting go of the things we can’t control. For me it’s all wrapped up with the idea of gratefulness.
Whenever I think of abundance, I remember Brene Brown’s writing in Daring Greatly about scarcity. It’s so common to think and speak with an attitude of scarcity: “I didn’t get enough sleep last night,” or “I’m starving… what’s for lunch?” or “I don’t have enough time.” Or, in my case lately: “I miss my husband.” Josh is currently on deployment, and it’s easy for me to look with resentment at other couples on Instagram, or to make long, long, looong lists of all the amazing things I can’t wait to do with him when he gets home. Then I look at that list and I sigh (or cry…) and I think, “I can’t do any of these without him.” It’s a peculiar type of loneliness.
Brown writes that the opposite of scarcity actually isn’t abundance; it’s enough. What I have is enough right now. I have everything I need.
It’s challenging to adopt this attitude of “enough” when, truly, I’m lacking something – or rather someone – very important in my life. But recently I’ve been thinking of all of the things we have to be grateful for during this time. Deployment is lonely, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about and love your spouse in a new way. We’ve started doing small fun things together, like playing chess and Battleship via email. We listen to the same audiobooks. I take pictures and videos of our dog, Enyo, and send them to him on a flash drive. I email him the main news headlines everyday, and we chat about what’s going on in the world. We Googled a list of random things to ask your significant other, and recorded ourselves answering all the questions. I send him care packages, and I try to be creative and surprise him with what I send. I actually got to spend Christmas with him in Dubai! How cool is that??
When I start thinking about everything we do have… it starts to feel like we have quite a lot indeed. And it makes it easier to appreciate the times when I’m alone.
When I’m grateful for what we have, my mindset shifts from “I can’t do the things I want to without him,” to “I have an opportunity to do some things just for myself!” These are the things I’ve been doing that have felt indulgent—things that show me that I not only have everything I need, but I am living in abundance right now.
I don’t get as much reading done when my husband is home, because we’re so active together. We work out or go out or do something almost every night, and we love it! And usually I hit the hay happily tuckered out. I’m almost always snoring as soon as I pick up a book.
But right now I can get in bed at 7pm and just read if I want to! And I can stay in bed on the weekends, too.
I grew up playing piano and although I could still play when I went home to visit my parents, I hadn’t lived in the same house as a piano for over 10 years. Getting my own piano has always been one of my now-you’re-an-adult goals, like buying my own car or paying my own rent. I realized I could fulfill that goal and simultaneously solve another dilemma! I had been torn on what to do with my wedding dress—I hated the idea of it sitting in a box and never getting worn. And I had no delusions that a future daughter would want to wear it. But I couldn’t quite summon the motivation to sell it… until I realized I could use the money to buy a piano. So I did!
My piano brings me SO much joy. I’ve been reacquainting myself with old recital pieces and buying tons of sheet music. Playing piano is one way I can express emotions—so when I’m feeling sad, I can really sink in those feelings. Or I can distract myself with a challenge, sight reading my way through something new or re-learning an old favorite.
Josh and I often go climbing together, which involves a lot of hiking. Although I can’t climb as much without him, hiking itself has become a rewarding pastime. I take Enyo and our roommate’s dog, Zelda, and we set off with the Hiking Project as our guide. I’ve already explored new places that I can’t wait to show Josh when he gets home. If you’re interested in reading more about my hiking adventures, I started a new blog where I’m documenting that journey!
Go to the dog park
There is nothing quite like some good old-fashioned puppy therapy! Going to the dog park has become one of my favorite times of the day. First of all, because it allows Enyo and Zelda to run wild and work off some of their energy. But more because I learn so much from being there. I’ve learned a lot about Enyo and Zelda—how they interact with other dogs, what makes them nervous, how they play, when they want water. I love it when I see them running around obviously looking for me, and then I call them and they come running, tails wagging and tongues hanging out in joy. If you need to feel loved, that is sure to do the trick!
I started doing yoga seriously three years ago, and it has been one of the healthiest choices I ever made. With Josh gone, I’ve fallen back on the mat, both physically and emotionally. I love it because I can see myself growing here, again physically, mentally, spiritually. I have better balance. Better focus. I’m willing to push myself hard and try to new things, without judging myself for when I can’t do them right away. I love yoga because it is all about enough: Come as you are. You will not be judged. We’re all growing at our own rate and in our own time. We’re all practicing. Yoga is the place where it’s easiest for me to practice self-compassion. When I’m on the mat, I can accept whatever emotion I’m feeling, whether I’m sad or feeling strong or lonely or overwhelmed with gratitude. Whatever I’m feeling is ok—it’s enough.
These daily acts are special indulgences. There will probably be times when I only do one or a couple or none of these things, but I think knowing what I do that helps me find a place of “enough”—or even of abundance—will help me maintain gratitude throughout my life.