FINDING ABUNDANCE THROUGH SIMPLICITY

“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”  Buddha

It seems like my whole life I have watched people build a life of material objects to fulfill their happiness.  They will obsess over material things and get what they want only to be bored and move on to something else.  It’s not that I don’t value the material things in my life – I do.  However, the obsession with having the right look, the right car, the perfect furniture and the shallowness of thinking I am superior because of what I have in a material way has never been me.  My husband and I are blessed to be able to afford the house that we live in and I enjoy the fact that I have a roof over my head,  but when I really look around, I see four walls, four walls everywhere.  I don’t think this house represents  who I am as a whole person,  nor am I going to find some bliss of happiness by spending a ton of money to fix up the house to make it appear as if I live in the pages of magazine where surely no one could live happily as magazines display a perfect order an order I don’t believe exists.

The older I get the more I am simplifying my life.  I am simplifying my life in every way.  I eat simple, cook simple, play simple and love simple.  I follow paths of simplicity by simply enjoying nature, enjoying simple laughs with my children and my husband, casual conversations that don’t necessarily lead anywhere other than simple enjoyment of another person.  I want to take the time to get to know people, not what they do for a living, how much money they make or what kind of car they drive.  I really don’t care for any of that and the truth be known I find it incredibly boring.  I want to know what a person likes, what makes them laugh and who inspires them.

Interesting because in this social media frenzied world everyone is talking about how perfect their lives are and living with abundance but their interpretation of abundance is full of material things to make their life rich and abundant.  The truth is we could live with less than half of the material things we have and live an incredibly rich life.  The more we have the more baggage we carry and the more baggage we carry the less our spirit soars.

If you are thinking I have a house with hardly any material things, check yourself because I have way more material things than I need.  I live with my  husband, two children and  a mother-in-law, all who carry emotional baggage that translates into material objects.  I want it all gone and if I had my way I would back up my truck and trash it all, but I have to respect other people’s personal property and honour their wishes.  As time moves on and I have started to live in a more simplistic state, I am finding that slowly but surely the pack is following.  In the last five months my husband has been on a roll to get rid of his clutter and material baggage and my youngest is almost ready to give up the rest of his childhood toys that he no longer uses.  Matt and I have gone through his toys and gotten rid of most things but he is having  a hard time letting go of his lego – several huge boxes of lego.  I keep telling him that another child would be so happy to own this lego and he might as well let it go and make someone else happy.

A natural order as the energy flows from an older child down to a smaller child bringing both to a happier place.  My son doesn’t quite see it like that yet, he sees it as letting go of a period in his life that is gone and he’s holding on to that period with everything he’s got.  Slowly he is coming around as we talk about letting go and moving on, plus he sees that if he gets rid of all that lego, his personal space would open up giving him more room  and freedom for his paints, more room to draw and be creative using a different medium to broaden his artistic ability.

The shift is happening, we are all on the path to abundance through a  more simple life.  I also have to learn patience because the life shift is not happening fast enough for me but I know that shifts in lifestyle and attitude take time and in order for me to truly find abundance in simplicity, I have to respect everyones personal space and property.  A lesson in humility for me as I continue on this journey we call life..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Apple Crumble

I’ve enjoyed having a few close friends over this Christmas – that is what Christmas is all about  – spending time with loved ones.  Between both boys there were three hockey tournaments over the Christmas holidays so most of my time has been spent driving across town, not leaving me a lot of time to prepare for  a dinner party.  Over the years I’ve learned a few short cuts and quick tips and I know my weakness.  I am no Martha Stewart when it comes to baking, decorating and presentation, so I rely on simplicity.  Simple place settings, simple drinks, simple desserts and lots of love!  Below is something I throw together and let it cook all afternoon in the slow cooker while I prepare the rest of dinner.  At the end of the day you have delicious apple  crumble and all you have to do is add ice cream.  Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and spending precious time with family.
Slow Cooker Apple Crumble.
courtesy of: scattered thoughts of a crafty mom
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into pieces
  • 4 to 6 large apples peeled cored and thickly sliced (you want about 6 cups)
  • 6 tbsp apple juice ( I didn’t have any apple juice, so  used 1 tbsp lemon juice and the rest water)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, stir the flour, oats, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and nuts together until combined. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender, fork or hands until pea sized lumps are formed.
  2. Place the apple slices in the base of the slow cooker and add the apple juice. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over them.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. (make sure your slow cooker actually cooks on low- many of the newer ones actually run higher.  If your’s cooks hot, you may want to shorten the cooking time.)
  4. Serve warm with a scoop (or 2) of vanilla ice cream
  5. Enjoy!

FULL MOON – FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR NOVEMBER 27, 2015

full moon

embracing the early morning sky,

sensing the energy from the fullness

of the moon,

awaking from a deep sleep,

to the mesmerizing glow,

lifting me from the darkness,

giving me hope and promise,

seeing the aura of the trees,

absorbing their living energy,

feeling at one with the earth

and sky.

Johanne Fraser

 

THE POWER OF SIBLINGS

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” – Maya Angelou

The other day I e-mailed my brother to share an article that I thought he would like.  The article was well written and funny and it reminded me of my older brother.  He emailed me back to acknowledge the article and inquire how we were all doing.  He then said something so simple and I’m sure he has no idea just how much this simple line touched me.  He said “I enjoy reading your blog, it’s good and you are a much nicer person than me – I feel humbled – lol!”  Kevin has been reading my blog since I started and he’s always been supportive of my writing.  Growing up, Kevin was my senior brother by seven years and I didn’t always feel that he was supportive of me or my ambitions.  To be quite honest when I was a young girl and a teenager I quite often thought he was an asshole and I’m sure he thought the same of me.  We didn’t get along, I always felt he pushed his weight around and he was in my face which made me push back and at times it could be explosive!  I drove him crazy, I knew it and knowing that I drove him crazy only encouraged me to get under his skin some more.  I can be like that,  if I feel negativity coming my way I tend to face it straight on with my head high and get in negativity’s face no matter what the consequence.

After reading that line in his e-mail, I realized how far we’ve come.  Acknowledging my writing and complimenting me erupted within me a feeling of satisfaction and made my day.  I realized at that moment as a young girl growing up under the weight of my big brother that I was looking for his support and craving his acceptance.  Looking back at our up-bringing I realized that Kevin and I were destined to be in an explosive sibling rivalry by the very nature of our family dynamics.  Our parents split up and divorced when I was eight and Kevin was 15.  The divorce was nasty and full of tension and anger leaving the children to fend for themselves on an emotional level.  I look at my 15-year-old son right now and what he is going through in terms of growing pains, hormones and emotions and then I think of my brother watching our father walk out the door and the emotional toll it took on our mother and I realize now why Kevin was such an asshole.  By nature most 15-year-old boys are assholes as they are trying to find their way and become young men.  Kevin was expected to be the man of the house and take care of his younger sister and brother.  My younger brother was pretty quiet about everything but I could be uncooperative at times and a sassy, quick-talking little bitch.  I’m sure that’s what my brother wanted at 15, to be responsible for two children who didn’t really want to be a part of the whole mess either.

Kevin was a good hockey player and he was a smart cookie in school.  My father coached hockey and coached Kevin up to that point.  My father gave up coaching, Kevin quit hockey and picked up a different group of friends which led him away from school and into endeavours that put him on a different path, a path that was the opposite direction of his former life.  It’s not for me to express my brother’s feelings, but I’m sure he was angry and I think that anger came out in so many different forms.  I’ve always  been able to channel people’s feelings and emotions and I know now that I was reacting to his anger.  Every single one of  my siblings reacted differently to the trials of our parents’ divorce and every single one of us have different feelings and versions of events.  Difficult really, places brother against brother, sister against sister and brother against sister.  Divorce doesn’t have to be that way but it was that way for our family.

As I sit here this morning writing this post, I am 3000 miles on the opposite coast of my siblings and I miss them.  I miss our bonds no matter how unpredictable and temperamental we all can be.  The truth of the matter is when I get together with my siblings I feel like I’ve come home, truly come home and I can be myself as I react to the constant banter and wise cracking comments between us.  I love the nature of our relationships and I wouldn’t trade our up-bringing or past experiences because I believe these experiences have shaped us into who we are.  A couple of years ago, Kevin and my sister-in-law, Sandra, flew to the west coast to spend some time with my family.  It was such a good visit, we had a lot of fun and Kevin and I talked about old times.  It was during this visit that a light came on for me as I realized all of our past trials and fights happened because Kevin and I are more alike rather than opposites as I believed growing up.  I guess you can say Kevin and I finally came home, home to a place of mutual respect and acceptance and realized we are both assholes!

TRADITIONS I CAN LIVE WITH

As we head into the new year and everyone starts reviewing the past year and making new year’s resolutions,  I tend to frown upon living in the past or making resolutions that don’t necessarily work in a new year that presents different challenges and circumstances.    Tradition is another behaviour that I find contradictory to logical thinking.  Why do we bake ten pounds of cookies, stress ourselves out with decorating and seeing everyone we’ve known our whole life in a few days over Christmas?  Tradition – that’s why!  I stopped many of those traditions a few years ago – I visit people all year, I only bake one dessert for Christmas, I don’t over decorate and I spend precious time with my family.  However, there is one tradition that the boys and I adopted last year – football.  That tradition was born out of  a string of bad luck last Christmas.  It started last Christmas Eve with my youngest falling and opening up the back of his head for a few stitches.  Christmas day I discovered no hot water and a trip to the basement revealed that our hot water tank packed it in and then a few hours later the toilet in our main floor bathroom flooded, not only the bathroom, but down the wall to the basement as well.  I grabbed big bath towels to clean up the water and then changed into my sweats, picked up a football, called the boys and headed to the park. My dinner wasn’t ready, my table wasn’t set and I didn’t care – I wanted out.  The boys and I played football until the light was gone and we felt refreshed.  This year on Christmas morning  we opened our presents, I phoned  all of my siblings in Toronto and then the boys and I headed to the park.  The boys love it – I consider it time to bond with the boys, the boys consider it time to beat the shit out of mom!  However the boys see it – this is one tradition I plan to keep.

football collage

IN GOD WE TRUST..FRIDAY’S PHLOG FOR OCTOBER 24, 2014

football freedom collageI struggled with this Friday’s phlog because of the events that unfolded yesterday in Ottawa and several days before Ottawa, the events in Quebec.  The attacks in Quebec and in Ottawa were devastating and tragic.  I read today that Rosie O’Donnell has been taking heat because of a comment she made on the View.  I don’t really care about Rosie’s opinion or any other celebrities’ opinion, but it’s interesting how desensitized we have become.  Her comment is in support of another inappropriate tweet – “I think she’s saying: I’m an American, I live here. I see two people shot this week in Canada and the entire country of Canada is in mourning. However, in America this happens on a daily day basis and we don’t even pay attention anymore.”  I get what she’s saying, American’s have been dealing with this on a larger scale than Canadians.  We have had our public shootings in schools, malls but not even close to the amount in the USA.  What Rosie doesn’t get is whether it’s two or ten soldiers dying in their own country, killed by their own countrymen who have been blessed to live in a free and democratic country that welcomes people from near and far with open arms, is a tragedy.  Any life lost is a tragedy.  The attack of a soldier standing on guard to protect the honour of our fallen heroes in our Nation’s capital by definition is against our core values, moral standards and freedoms.  The same holds true for the soldiers run over by a radical extremist person in Quebec.  Both soldiers were exercising their simple freedoms of walking in a public area.  How Rosie can be so insensitive toward her neighbour during a difficult time is beyond  me.  This is not a time to be a self-centred attention driven media diva, it is time to unite as one in the name of democracy.  Leaving Rosie’s comments aside I found it uplifting  to watch the dedications across America from Obama to hockey games to talk shows,  all expressing their grief in the attack against democracy.  As well, I found it hopeful for humanity to learn that private citizens ran towards the gun fire, in Ottawa yesterday, to help a fallen soldier even though there was every possibility they were in immediate danger.   I chose the pictures above because to me it represents our freedoms in a democratic country.   The simple game of high school football, something we take for granted.  The truth of the matter is our children have the freedom to play this game  no matter the colour of their skin or whom they call their God because of men like Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Officer Patrice Vincent.   The top picture of my youngest son holding his teammates’ hands showing solidarity and strength before their game represents all people who are standing in unity in this fight for democracy.