enough

It’s been a rocky five weeks, but compared to a rocky year, I’m grateful. I feel like I’ve entered an intense learning period in my life. Diana once said, "Stop creating who you think you are supposed to be and start discovering who you are." I feel deep in discovery.
 
I recently had a huge courage infusion that I attribute to my new love for photography and Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money. I know it sounds like a weird combination, but hang with me for a minute.
 
In May of 2007, the Nobel Women’s Initiative held its first international conference in Galway, Ireland.  The conference was in late May, which was about six solid months into the 2007 breakdown spiritual awakening. So many strange and amazing things happened during the days leading up to that trip and during my five days on the Conamara Coast. If 2007 was an awakening, this trip was that strange, terrifying moment when your eyes finally open and, without moving a muscle, you try to regain focus and remember where you are. It was the 2007 version of moving from the "ouch" to  the “ooh.”

During the trip, I met Nancy Ingram and we became friends. Good, close, heart-connected friends. During one of our many long talks, I told her about wanting to let go of “scarcity” so I could experience more gratitude. I told her about my fears of “not doing enough” and “not selling enough books to make the publishers happy” and “not being enough.” When we started talking about success and money, Nancy said, “You have to read The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist!”

In April, my book club decided to read The Soul of Money  and I offered to host the discussion dinner at my house.

Normally, if I’m going to host an evening like book club, it’s a big, hard thing. I start walking through my house noticing all of the things that I need to fix before I can have people over. I make lists of everything I need to buy and clean and redo. And, I don’t mean small things. I make lists like:

1. Paint house
2. Replace furniture in living room
3. Tear down wall between kitchen and living room
4. Landscape front yard

I also start planning elaborate menus. Menus that cost too much to make and take way too much time.

This time, I decided to stay very mindful about my scarcity issues. In her book, Lynne says this about scarcity:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.

We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever.

Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack.

What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”

A few weeks before our book club dinner, I walked through my house and focused on all of the "not enough" things that I hate and worry about other people seeing and judging. I called my scarcity demons out into the open so I could see them and befriend them. I made myself focus on them, stare at them and take pictures. As I walked through my house, I quickly realized that focusing on these imperfections was a choice that stripped my life and my home of the context of sufficiency.

mosaic2252092.jpg
 
There are too many bikes and toys, too much pollen, too many dump trucks and excavators, too many windows painted shut, a bathtub that always looks really dirty because of the previous owner’s unsuccessful refinishing efforts, chipped paint, stained AC vents and crooked paint lines.
 
 Here’s how Lynne defines sufficiency:

“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.

Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances. In our relationships with money, it is using money in a way that expresses our integrity; using it in a way that expresses value rather than determines value. Sufficiency is not a message about simplicity or about cutting back and lowering expectations. Sufficiency doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive or aspire . . . sufficiency is a context we bring forth from within that reminds us that if we look around us and within ourselves, we will find what we need. There is always enough.”

I spent some time thinking about my lovely home. I thought about my kids and Steve. I thought about all of the great times in my house. I thought about all of the really hard, sad times and how my house held me and comforted me. Then, I called on sufficiency. With camera in hand, I walked through my house and took pictures of everything I love. The little things that make me smile. Same house, same problems, same imperfections, but this time I was giggling and reminiscing and grateful. My home felt full. It is enough. I am enough.  

 
mosaic1497246.jpg
My twinkle lights, Charlie and Ellen’s art gallery, fresh flowers, rations, the family calendar, my hopeful angel, the women of the TV, the mother with child.  
 
Book club was great. I decided to make it an international potluck to honor the book’s message of community and sharing. It was a great night and I’m going to keep working on being enough. For me, that means watching out for fear, shame and scarcity and practicing more courage, compassion and connection!
 
 
 lynne.jpg
And, would you believe . . . I got to meet Lynne in April. When Nancy recommended her book, I had no idea that Lynne was working with the Nobel Women’s Initiative. A very small group of us spent a few days together in Virginia. She has an incredibly authentic and loving spirit. I love this picture. I’m the one with the big star-struck smile! I’m going to interview her for the Inspiration Series later this year.
 
If you have any thoughts or ideas on scarcity, sufficiency or the journey to "being enough" – please share! It’s so much nicer to travel with friends!     

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  7. Jamie

    Alanis Morissette
    That I Would Be Good

    that I would be good even if I did nothing
    that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
    that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
    that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds

    that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
    that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
    that I would be great if I was no longer queen
    that I would be grand if I was not all knowing

    that I would be loved even when I numb myself
    that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
    that I would be loved even when I was fuming
    that I would be good even if I was clingy

    that I would be good even if I lost sanity
    that I would be good
    whether with or without you

  8. What a wonderful post that has inspired so much thought inside my head and has challenged me right where I am to think about things in a whole new way. Thank you.

    And I just have to say: you radiate.

  9. Sandy

    Thank you. I needed this today. I am in the midst of reviewing reports to give my students a chance to revise, and I am feeling guilty that I don’t have them back yet and frustrated with my students for not fully recognizing the energy I put into giving them feedback.

    Maybe I need to start listening to the moments when I do get a thank I learned so much and not dwell on the negative. Focusing on my teaching, rather than worrying what the teacher evaluations will say.

    I needed this post today!

  10. This is a lovely reminder for the beginning of my day. I hadn’t realized how I wake up in those thoughts of "not enough" until right now. Wow. I’ll look for this book. It sounds like something I need to read.

    A lesson I learned a long time ago – because my girlfriends made me learn it – is that I don’t really need to worry about the house when I invite them over. They don’t come to see the house or examples of my housekeeping skills; they come to visit with me. Of course, there are things that need doing anyway: a quick run through with the vacuum, wiping down the bathroom, emptying the sink. Good enough. Enough.

  11. Stacey D

    AWESOME! I always look forward to reading your new posts.

    I love the inspiration series you are starting. Please know, what an inspiration you are to others. Your book has been life altering!!

    .

  12. deb

    I’ve been struggling with this for a long time as well, not that I don’t have what I need financially but emotionally and spiritually. I think I need to change my perspective and look within at what I do have. Thank you.

  13. Roja

    Thank you Brene. I just bought this book online:)

  14. Malin

    What a great blog! You made my day!
    /Malin, Sweden

  15. Debbie O

    I can’t wait to read this book. I’m going to order it right now. My friend, D’Jomme, came over this weekend and I had similar thoughts – my place smells like my dog, I don’t have any "nice" furniture…then I was able to stop myself and think about how excited I was to see my friend. And when she arrived, she complimented me on some photos I had taken and framed. I know she doesn’t care about dog hair, she cares about me. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful friends. And I have so much more to offer her than "nice" furniture. We had a great time!

  16. Renae C

    Wow! You don’t know how much I needed this tonight.

  17. I love the word BALANCE over the calendars!! What a great idea!

    I use parties as the motivation to clean. My husband dreads them.
    I am hoping to paint the outside of the house before the September MD Book Club. 🙂

    Thanks for the insight re. scarcity. It is so true for me – I wake with the thought of not enough sleep, not enough time and not enough energy or mental acuity to get everything done. Luckily, I don’t care that much and I have stopped creating drama about it. (that just makes me even more tired!).
    Cutting the drama has really helped me. When I feel myself going there, I can usually catch myself and stop it just by being conscience of it.

    Hey – break a leg tomorrow night. Hope to be there!

    xoxo

  18. what a lovely post…an amazing personal exercise…

  19. Monica

    So, so, so, so, so amazingly great. Mirrors my experience.

    For me, it was last June, June 2007, at the bottom of my depression that I looked out my bedroom window and saw a robin, building it’s nest right outside my window, that I felt the healing of gratitude. I have no idea why I associate the robin with this period in my life, other than that she was my constant. She was always on her nest tending to her eggs or her babies. Now, after reading your quote, I wonder whether it wasn’t the robin’s sufficiency that endeared her to me. Whenever my stomach would knot up and I’d start to panic, I’d lie on the floor in my room, look up out my window at my robin and recite all the goodness of the day. Sometime, in the darkest part of depression, I’d go on for 30 minutes, without stopping … things I was grateful for, or goodness, or kindness of the day would just wrap themselves around me and pull me up out of the darkness. I did this everyday, multiple times. And I really believe it’s what started me down the road of healing, of spiritual awakening.

    Brene .. I LOVE your posts.

  20. Kate I

    Oh, this post spoke to me! Thank you so much for giving voice to the whole subject of lack and scarcity as a mindset of our society…when ironically, we have more than most in the world.

  21. Karlie

    I look forward to each and every post. I am about to start reading your book and now I want to read this one as well. Every post brings tears to my eyes because I feel all the things you talk about and I see them in my friends and I just want to live in the great moments of my day but, damn, that is tough! Thank you for inspiring me.

  22. I’m stunned, actually. Your post gave voice to many things I have felt but never really examined. Thanks for your insight and book recommendation.

  23. Danielle

    Once again, you describe my thoughts perfectly. I don’t have people over, because my house is too dirty/messy/not perfect. I too think all day about how I don’t do enough and how much still needs to be done. I *know* I have a very full life, a blessed life, but I don’t *believe* it. I am constantly on the look out for that next thing that will make me a better person. It is never a state of mind, but a thing. Something that I don’t have but I really need. And when I get it, it sits there, not making my life better, but worse. And I have a whole garage full of these things. But their magic is lost, I am already on to the next thing that will help me, cure me, make me whatever. I’m tired of it, but I don’t know how to break the cycle. Sometimes I can’t even recognize that I am doing it again until I have this magical thing in my hand, in my life, and it’s not working. And I always think the same thing. Great, now what am I going to do with this thing?!?!

  24. What a beautiful and thought-provoking entry. Years ago, Carolyn See wrote about this issue in her book about writing; she attributed it to which coast we live on! On the west coast, she said, there is a mentality of abundance, and on the east coast, a mentality of scarcity. Point well taken (I love the writings of Carolyn and her daughter Lisa) but I think your blog post is more accurate — that it has nothing to do with where we live, because, well, wherever you go, there you are. This is a heart issue. And a healing one, too. If you come from a childhood where love and caring were scarce, for instance, how can anything ever be enough to fill that hole? It comes down to living in the present and remembering that the right now is your life and the right now is pretty beautiful because we choose to make it and see it that way. And a camera is such a wonderful way to "see" your life anew, isn’t it? When I take photos of our house, I am astounded by the beauty and color with which we have surrounded ourselves, but seeing it every day, we begin to not see it. A slightly new perspective once in a while can reveal whole new worlds!

  25. Carmen

    What a great message… and one so many of us need to hear.