In my last blog post, http://hikeyourbestlife.com/back-to-blogging/ I committed to blogging through the alphabet. I declared that A would be for Addiction. I started that blog post more than once in the last month but found that I could not pinpoint what I wanted to say. The topic of addiction is as vast and varied as my own experience with the subject, and, while I am not afraid to share my stories of addiction, I experienced writer’s block trying to figure out how to tackle such a big topic in a single post.
I reluctantly let the Addictions blog go (for now). I opened up to the next A word that came into my mind. That word was Abundance, a topic I knew I could sink my teeth into.
What is Abundance?
Definitions: “An ample or copious quantity of something; overflowing fullness; an extremely plentiful or over-sufficient quantity or supply; wealth and prosperity; the good things in life.”
Synonyms: Affluence, bounty, plentitude, prosperity, cheerfulness, contentment, gratification, peacefulness, relaxation, warmth, well-being, capability, power, resourcefulness…those are just some of the words that are synonymous with Abundance.
Antonyms: Deficiency, inadequacy, lack, distress, exasperation, irritation, torment, helplessness, incompetence…that list also went on and I got depressed looking at it.
I had a big AHA as I read both lists. I realized that I had been focused on lack, not abundance, in my life as I struggled with recent challenges and doubts. It was time to consciously turn my thoughts to topics that called up contentment, gratitude, and capability in my life, not areas that kept me feeling inadequate, distressed and exasperated.
This simple strategy of refocusing my awareness yielded profound results. Multiple examples of abundance showed up in my life as I considered “Abundance” the last couple of weeks. As you read my list, consider your own life – what does abundance mean for you? How does it manifest for you? In what areas of life do you desire more? Do you ever have too much abundance?
Areas of Abundance in my life
Joy, Love, and Laughter
When I am down, I forget to laugh and sometimes even smile. I tend to withdraw into myself and I find it difficult to engage with others in a light and playful fashion. As I was thinking of images from the recent past that represented unbridled, unconditional love and laughter, I looked through my daughter’s wedding photos. A picture of dancing at the reception captures the abundant joy, fun, and bliss experienced by the bride, groom, and guests. Those thoughts of love turned me to my son’s recent proposal to his girlfriend, Lauren. That moment captures Lauren’s unqualified joy and surprise at the long-awaited proposal.
Next, I looked for photos in which abundant joy was evident on my own face. I have a thousand photos of me smiling in the mountains, and that is definitely my happy place. Something I long for in the year to come is more moments of true happiness, in the mountains and with friends and loved ones.
What are some images of abundance in love, joy, and laughter that come up for you?
Friends and supporters
In that conscious state of moving from lack to Abundance, I shifted my focus from feeling ALONE to a conscious awareness of the network of friends and support I have available. I have lived alone for three years now, and generally, I like the solitude. But during times of darkness (actual and metaphorical), I find it easy to feel lonely. While writing this post, I made a list of all the people I call true friends (not just Facebook friends). I also considered the work-related support network I have through my coaching training. These two groups made for a long list!
This is a good exercise to embark on when you are feeling the heaviness of life. Write down everyone who is willing to be a friend to you when you need it, and vice versa. I used the contacts list on my phone to remind me of people I have been out of touch with. As I did this I asked myself, when was the last time I offered love, support, or a simple hello to each person? As Deepak Chopra says, “In our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.”
As a health and life coach, I help clients focus on increasing the menu of choices available when their life circumstances contribute to feeling stuck. Replacing limiting beliefs and points of view with an abundance of choice opens up new opportunities and shifts how clients think about what is possible for themselves. I love this part of coaching, as achieving lasting habit change begins with the implementation of new choices.
Similarly, when I feel stuck, I have to take a hard look at how I may be limiting myself by remaining in circumstances that bring me down instead of expanding my choices whenever possible. What negative thoughts do I indulge, and what non-truths do I repeatedly tell myself that keep me stuck in fear and not living into my purpose? As a result of asking these questions, I have recently made big shifts in my career direction. I have also opened up to possibilities for relationships by removing limiting beliefs about what is possible for me in that domain. This process was not easy. At times I have to deliberately challenge old patterns of thinking, set them aside, look beyond what I tell myself, and inquire into what I really want. How do I most want to live my life? What does it look like to live in a zone where I entertain an abundance of options instead of going with what is known and familiar.
Does any of this ringing true for you, readers? Do you feel limited or stuck in your menu of choices? Would you like to be experiencing unlimited possibility for yourself and your life?
When it is time for me to go deeply inward and problem solve, I always turn to nature. There is nothing I love more than being outdoors, on local trails or in the mountains, walking, hiking, biking, exploring.
I also find immense joy in sharing my love of nature with others. That is what my business Hike Your Best Life is all about. I love working with like-minded folks who also believe in the healing power of nature and those seekers who want to explore nature’s potential power in their lives. I also thrive on coaching those who yearn for something more and hope that the “something more” may become available through being in a natural environment.
You may have a different place that brings you calm, feels restorative, and allows you to get real with your innermost self. What is your go-to place where you feel most at home and alive? Share in a comment below and let me know.
Food and Resources
I started writing this blog just before Thanksgiving, which seemed very appropriate given the holiday’s connotations of gratitude, family, and love…and also, the sheer abundance of FOOD that’s available in this country. Thanksgiving connotes a meal of abundance for so many of us. We are lucky. But is it too much? My daughter Shannon, bless her heart, is always on me about having too much. She is a conscious environmentalist who doesn’t like excess: of food, clothes, or stuff. She regularly purges her material life as well as mine! In multiple ways, she is my voice of conscience about when enough is too much.
As I was out and about the week before Thanksgiving, I noticed and thought about the abundance of food in our country. At Fred Meyer, the green beans sat in a huge, overflowing vat in the middle of the produce section. I considered the abundance of wild blackberries I meticulously picked last summer in order to make pies this winter. I picked 140 cups total! So many berries I had to put them in my friend’s freezer. They made lovely pies – two of the six I produced for the holiday. But would four pies for Thanksgiving have been enough instead of six?
This theme of too much abundance, of over-sufficiency, continued to be on my mind as I debated which of twenty coats to wear for an outdoor hike. I have a coat for everything – do I really need that many? I asked myself this embarrassing question within weeks of having donated half a dozen coats to a clothing drive for the homeless. I readily give things away, yet my own tendency for excess still remains.
I also thought about the abundance of natural resources we have here in the northwest. Streams flowed with abandon as I hiked during the rainy weeks leading up to this post. I took long hot showers and even baths to warm up after said hikes, letting the comforting warmth of the heat envelop me for lengthy periods. Water is a resource we take for granted, even while other parts of the world don’t have clean drinking water and suffer wildfires from draught (and climate change!).
Don’t get me wrong. I am all about self-care and being comfortable in one’s environment. I believe in cooking and sharing an abundance of food with family at the holidays.
Yet I was already aware of this tendency for excess when I shared my intentions for this blog post with an old high-school friend just before Thanksgiving. My friend has lived and worked for over 15 years in under-developed parts of Kenya, building a school and an arts museum and living fully immersed in the culture. HIS perspective on what abundance looks like to those folks radically challenged my own perspective.
In the next blog post, Beyond Abundance, I will explore this altered perspective on abundance.
I believe whole-heartedly in defining and pursuing whatever constitutes abundance for you. How we celebrate and seek abundance is up to each of us. Conscious awareness and intent both determine when enough is enough and when it may be too much.
Shall we summarize and say that abundance works best when an attitude of gratitude is also on board? I’ll leave you with one more quote from Deepak Chopra to consider for the day:
“My intent today is to expand the flow of abundance through the energy of gratitude.”
With gratitude and love,
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please share in the comments what abundance means to you. And keep on celebrating the areas in which it shows up that bring you genuine joy, peace, and love.