“Let gratitude be the pillow on which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” ~ Maya Angelou
I write this week in memory of my friend, Nancy Smith-Watson’s mother, the lovely, cheerful, kind, and luminous, Dorothy Smith. She died on March 19. She was in her nineties. My gratitude for the impact that she had on my life as a young person is immense. She gave me rides everywhere and made much of the fun of high school possible for me, especially the Drama Club. She and her son, Ted, also were the first people on the planet to encourage my work as a poet. I owe her such a great debt of gratitude.
This past week I’ve been thinking about abundance and manifestation, and the connection between a grateful heart and our ability to see what we want and need come into our lives.
I realized that I am definitely my parents’ daughter when it comes to my concepts about abundance (and how it shows up for me). So, I am unpacking that history and making cause to choose differently moving forward. I am going to stop saying things like, “I can’t afford _____________________.” Because you know what, when I say that, the universe hears me. And suddenly, all avenues of plenty close, and true to my word, I can’t afford it.
Now that doesn’t mean, I can (like many of us) instead rack up a bunch of credit card debt to purchase things simply because I want or need them. I live a cash existence. I have for the past three years because my relationship with credit cards is an unhealthy one. I lose control when I carry plastic. So, I no longer carry it. I use a Debit card. I buy gift cards if I need something that is safer than cash when I travel. But I don’t buy things today that I cannot pay for. Period. (It’s called delayed gratification and more of us should try it.)
In January I set up a Gratitude Jar in the home office where I write and work. As the days and weeks pass, I add slips of paper to the jar every time someone does something nice for me, or every time something unexpectedly good (or just good) shows up. What I’ve noticed is, the more I note my reasons to be thankful, the more I have to be thankful for. For instance, I needed some travel money for my recent out of town trips (one business, one pleasure). About three weeks prior to both trips (they fell back to back) I was stone cold broke, despite needing money to eat, grab a coffee, pay for cabs, wireless service, etc., for the trip. I was praying that morning and simply said, “Universe. I need some money for these trips.” I finished my morning prayers and went to work.
When I got home that afternoon, I found an email from the coordinator at the publishing company setting up my trip to Austin. She told me that once I arrived at the hotel, I’d be given $200 to help cover incidentals for the trip. Cha-ching! I got another email the next day from a different publisher confirming my attendance at a local conference. It provided me with a $300 stipend to help with expenses for attendance. Then, the first publisher wrote and asked if I would like to participate in a focus group while in Texas. I said sure. I would receive $100 for participation in the one hour meeting.
Abundance is everywhere.
And, this continued. Within days of simply putting out my request, money appeared to cover everything. The day before I left my friend, J, gave me a Starbucks gift card for $25 to use for traveling. When I got to Maui, my mom gave me more money. What was different? I wasn’t worrying or blocking my access to abundance by trying to figure out how things would show up. (And I was conscious about acknowledging my gratitude as each wonderful surprise appeared.)
“We think we have to do something to be grateful, or something has to be done in order for us to be grateful, when gratitude is a state of being.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant
I told you last week that when I got home, J had purchased and put away a number of brand new items I needed, as well as re-stocked me with pet food, toner, and laundry soap.
My friend, Lisa and I were talking about this, this past week, and she said, “In the past, you would have been embarrassed to accept those gifts.” Her point was, I’ve changed much of my negative tendency regarding abundance. I am just grateful now. I let the powers that be (whatever you conceive them to be: God, Universe, guardian angels, guides) know what I need, and I let the universe figure it out.
Remaining Stumbling Blocks.
However, there are two areas of my life where I still have a strong tendency to starve myself. In my personal relationships — with negative self-talk about lack and hopelessness — and in my ability to freely get around in life by having access to a car. I’ve never believed — until now — that I deserve the freedom and comfort of a car.
I learned to drive when I was sixteen — like every other American teen — but my parents’ separated that year (and later divorced) and my dad left with the family car, so I never got a license. I tried to learn when I was nineteen, but found no one wanted to teach me. J took me driving a few years ago and was surprised that I remembered how to drive despite the thirty year break in my training.
My mom never learned to drive and relied on public transportation. I learned on my recent trip to see her that she’d tried to get my father to teach her to drive early in their marriage, but he wouldn’t do it. (He also blocked her efforts to go to college, mostly out of irrational fear that if she got her education she’d leave him. Turns out, even without that incentive, she did just that.) As a result, I grew up in a household where the women simply didn’t drive. My Nana didn’t learn until her late forties. My aunt also learned in her forties. And my mom never learned. For reasons that truly escape me, I followed suit. I simply didn’t believe that I could “afford” to own and maintain a car.
“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful things humans can do for each other.” ~ Randy Pausch
Change My Thoughts, Change My Life
Well, all these recent experiences with abundance/gratitude have reminded me that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. Truly, anything is possible. (That has always been true, but we didn’t know it.)
Of course, I can learn to drive. Of course, I can manifest a car and the means to take care of running and maintaining it. Of course, I can allow a truly wonderful man (with a wicked sense of humor and a love for books, music, animals, and me) into my life.
I have the fortune (as Buddhists say) to do so.
I’ve always had the fortune, if I would just stop limiting my own abundance through negativity and disbelief.
So, I am opening the door even more widely, to usher in all that I want and need. I can no longer afford not to.
© 2013 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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