“This is my letter to the world.” ~Emily Dickinson
I have recently started reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach and am overwhelmed by the amount of insight and inspiration this woman provides in her book. I can see why it was such a breakthrough hit when it came out, endorsed by Oprah herself, and continues to sell incredibly well. It is laid out like a diary, with entries corresponding to every single day of the year. It starts on January 1st and goes straight through December 31st providing short, inspirational anecdotes for every date. I decided to start with December 9th, the day I found the book in a pile of old books in my house, and I found it beautifully poignant and appropriate.
The Christmas Letter
The advice that followed was so appropriate at this time of year. The entry began by focusing on a woman who writes a Christmas letter in which she documents the perfection of her family and the beauty of her life, essentially making everyone feel miserable and powerlessness within the confines of their own less than stellar lives. Simple Abundance came out in 1995, long before the days of Facebook and Instagram where people can now document the perfection of their lives on a daily basis. They don’t even have to write anything, they can simply post edited images of perfection. So how can we turn this frustration into action? How can we begin to feel good about our lives? By recognizing everything we have done, the obstacles and the joys, and find gratitude in those moments. I love the idea of writing down our own private letters where we explore the “exciting safari of the self and Spirit,” that we have experienced this year as well as looking forward with hope and optimism for the year to come.
This year, we’ll write a letter of our own. We’ll write about our exciting safari of the self and Spirit. …We’ll write about the tiny changes that have made a great difference in how we approach our daily round. Then we’ll write another letter, dated this time next year, in which we’ll describe how our dreams came true. In it, we’ll outline our glorious ideal lives in detail — exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, who’s doing it with us. But we’ll write these two letters in our discovery journals only; they’re for our eyes alone. Because this is not merely our letter to the world, this will be our letter to the Universe. What we’re really doing is setting down our New Year’s aspirations in concrete form.
This is the perfect time to start writing these letters, filling up our “discovery journals” with dreams and aspirations, hopes and plans. Life is not perfect. Life is full of obstacles, moments that knock us off our feet or leave us gasping for air. No one is immune to these unfortunate twists, even the “perfect” woman with the “perfect” Christmas letter.
Remember that your family and friends don’t live edited lives. You needn’t either.
I will be writing these letters in my discovery journal and seeing how they play out over the following year. I look forward to hearing from anyone who has similar plans. I hope you will join me on my own “safari of the self and Spirit.”