Simple abundance? Comfort and joy? I do need some of that kind of mindfulness right now. Reminders to appreciate what I have already, the tangibles and intangibles...
August 2013: Thoughts on the Authentic Self
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson
I hadn't realized how very popular the book has been since it was published in 1995. It was a frequent Oprah Winfrey feature and a New York Times bestseller for months. I looked more into Sarah Ban Breathnach herself last week, and I admit I'm sorry I did. She didn't handle her sudden riches well. She didn't practice the life she suggested with such charm, empathy, and vibrance in Simple Abundance. I'm trying not to let that knowledge tinge the second half of the book for me -- I'm sure it offers as many fun, inexpensive, fulfilling lifestyle and awareness tips as the first half. Tips that maintain their intrinsic worth no matter what the author did when she became a multimillionaire.
I've already enjoyed the daily essays on finding your authentic self and her style; cultivating contentment; making a sacred space for meditation; starting a discovery scrapbook and a gratitude journal; clearing the closet; the delights of thrift shopping; baby steps towards gardening even if you don't have your own bit of earth; and scenting the home.
Ban Breathnach weaves these ideas for adding comfort and joy to the physical world with ideas for introspection that bring comfort and joy to one's outlook. Her essays are seasoned with the wisdom of women from days past: she's an expert on the writings of Victorian and early 20th century women, famous and obscure.
"Joanna Field discovered that she delighted in red shoes, good food, sudden bursts of laughter, reading in French, answering letters, loitering in a crowd at a fair and 'a new idea when first it is grasped.'" -- Sarah Ban Breathnach on Joanna Field's happiness journal, A Life of One's Own, 1934.
I'll be honest. Ban Breathnach's own writing sometimes takes the flavor of 1990s psychospiritual self help. 'Rediscovering the sacred soulcraft of homecaring?' What? Ohhhh! You mean trying to find some peace and self-respect in doing housework.
But also honestly, I've found many, many tips to try. The book is richly plastered with Post-It flags. After the June 28 essay, I'm about to go and repot a small tree whose soil is stale and whose roots are choking. I'll consider whether I, too, am feeling pot-bound: afraid to try new soil and poke some roots into the unknown.
August 2013: A Date with the White Rabbit
Photo by Sarah Cloud Peterson
Last week I pursued a suggestion in the June 16 essay, "The Fragrant Home": "Gently rub environmental fragrance oils into unfinished or unpainted wood, such as the undersides of tables and chairs, doorjambs and windows, the interiors of wooden drawers, closet rods, and shelves."
I wouldn't have thought of this myself, but it seemed a perfect way to use some of my remaining Black Phoenix Alchemical Laboratory perfume oil blends. I was enthralled by BPAL's variety and dark, literate themes in the mid-2000s, but perfume oils don't work well on my skin and hair. They stay too intense, sharp, and thick. Too headachey. I prefer the diffusion of an eau de parfum. But oils settling into wood and wafting subtly into a room..? Maybe. Perhaps.
I rubbed BPAL's White Rabbit beneath my desk. As I type this several days later, there is a perfect wafting of clean ironed linen, milky black tea, and clover honey. BPAL's 2004 Limited Edition Queen of Spades went beneath my side of the bed. I worried that it would stay too pungent, but after several hours -- by bedtime, fortunately -- it had settled into a subtle cinnamon, sandalwood, and dark plum aroma. Warm, exotic, sensual. Just how I like to feel in bed. Sometimes.
Anyway yes, a caveat: choose your fragrance oils carefully for this project. The scent will be in the wood for...who knows how long?