More more more. It’s funny how when you write that word over and over again, it starts to make no sense. Try it. More more more more more more more. What is MORE? And why is this our FAVORITE word? Make MORE. Be MORE. Love MORE. Care MORE. Give MORE. More. More. More. If we only had MORE. MORE LOVE. MORE PATIENCE. MORE MONEY!!!! Media tells us we can BE MORE if we HAVE MORE and SPEND MORE. Religion tells us we will be MORE HAPPY and MORE SAVED and MORE OK WITH THE MYSTERY OF DEATH if we PRAY MORE, and BE A BETTER PERSON MORE, love god MORE. Work tells us we will EARN MORE if we WORK MORE. Our culture tells us if we DO MORE we’ll keep up with each other MORE. If we give MORE away, we will GET MORE. If we practice MORE YOGA we will get MORE PEACE. If we exercise MORE we will get MORE in shape. Once we DO MORE in all these ways, we might feel MORE worthy and then we can start living as if we have ENOUGH.
ENOUGH of that shit. ENOUGH. enough enough enough enough. I am so tired of trying to BE MORE. BE BETTER. I am ready to BE ENOUGH today. I am LOVING ENOUGH to my children and husband, that even if and when I lose my shit — which might happen daily, I know in the depths of my being that the love I have given every day is MORE THAN ENOUGH to overshadow my small outbursts of HUMAN-NESS. FRUSTRATION. ANGER. EVEN RAGE. Yep, I said it. I’m a yoga teacher whose platform is all kinds of groovy self-love and compassion and healing, who also GETS REALLY PISSED and FREAKS OUT sometimes. And I used to feel SO ASHAMED. Like a FRAUD. Because what kind of yoga teacher goes out into the world preaching peace and healing and comes home and acts like a total asshole to the people they love most? My kind. The human kind. But when we submit to the shame game, and try to separate the parts of ourselves that aren’t “GOOD ENOUGH, PATIENT ENOUGH, CALM ENOUGH” we just get MORE ANGRY. MORE CONFUSED. MORE ASHAMED. MORE AFRAID. So hello, let me introduce myself, my name is Heather Courtney Ritenour-Sampson, and I am an asshole sometimes, and I am ENOUGH even then.
My husband and I just completed a 5-week Money Class for Couples by Ruth Hayden. Holy crap was it awesome. Yes, we learned about budgeting. But from a completely different angle. In Ruth’s opinion, pretty much everyone can “do math,” but the reason why we have such a hard time actually knowing how to spend and save, is because of our emotional relationship with money, which usually comes from our childhood and what we learned about money from the people that had (or had not) money. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you might notice a common thread for me regarding money, or abundance, whatever you want to call it. I grew up in a family that struggled with money. I experienced in tangible ways what “not enough” feels like, even if, in reality it was “close enough” to keep us “warm enough,” “fed enough,” and truly “loved enough.” It feels like a lifetime assignment of learning that is finally gelling (like the 3rd time I took math in college), and I have Ruth to thank (in addition to a bunch of other wise guides and healers). Here’s what I learned. The fears about not having ENOUGH or being ENOUGH, lead to taking on MORE, working MORE, worrying MORE, doing MORE, accumulating MORE, hoarding MORE. Which leads to an unbalanced budget, and ironically the experience of LESS. Not just literally, but also emotionally, energetically, physically, somatically, spiritually.
What’s the take-away from that? 1. We MUST get REALLY CLEAR about what we REALLY WANT. Learn to listen to ourselves. Learn to speak it. Learn to ask for it from each other. Learn not to feel guilty or ashamed or UNWORTHY to WANT IT and speak it. 2. We must be willing to release what we HAVE that we don’t NEED. 3. We must be willing to BELIEVE we will get what we want. 4. We must be willing to RECEIVE what we REALLY WANT. 5. We must be willing to GIVE UP what we DON’T REALLY WANT to get what we DO REALLY WANT. 6. We need to be willing to be HONEST about where things are at, how they got there, and what the plan it for change without FEAR, SELF-PITY, BLAME, SHAME, or APATHY. 7. We need to do an honest assessment of what DO HAVE that we WANT and feel THANKFUL for it. 8. We need to be committed to taking REALLY GOOD CARE of what we ALREADY HAVE. 9. If we are in a partnership/committed relationship that is managing a shared financial reality, we have to be committed to STAYING EMOTIONALLY CONNECTED and WORKING AS A TEAM even when things feel uncomfortable, frustrating, overwhelming, or IMPOSSIBLE. 10. We have to remember that we are incredibly RESILIENT, CREATIVE, ADAPTIVE, RESOURCEFUL, EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT creatures that have an array of solutions and ideas at our disposal.
A couple weeks ago, a fantastic festival was celebrated in India, and across the world, called Diwali. Diwali is a festival of light, a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil. This festival is also a time to honor the Goddess Lakshmi, who is the bestower of wealth, fortune and prosperity, both on the physical and spiritual plane. She is also the embodiment of Shri, which is the cosmic abundance and auspiciousness of the universe, manifest through grace, light, luster, beauty, splendor, and holiness. It is common during this time for those who celebrate Diwali to clean and organize their homes to “make room” for Lakshmi’s abundance. Once the house is cleaned, footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermillion powder all over the floors to show Lakshmi the way in.
It was no accident, that with the junction of the money class, and the celebration of this festival, along with preparations for hosting a 40th birthday party for my husband-lover-BFF, I dove headfirst into cleaning and purging. One night after teaching yoga, at like 9:00 at night, Brandon and I just spontaneously re-organized our whole living room. We packed up piles of stuff to give away — old furniture, books, knicky-knacks, moved furniture, dusted, washed, cleaned. Our living room felt like a NEW HOUSE. Like a photo from a magazine. Wow. Who knew we didn’t need MORE of anything to make our house FEEL beautiful, spacious, artful, warm, welcoming and cozy. That process is continuing to move through the house; the game cupboard, the art supply cupboard, the bathroom cupboards and drawers; throwing away broken stuff, giving away stuff we don’t need, organizing and fixing the stuff we want to keep. BINS of kid’s clothes given away — things I was holding on to for sentimental reasons — as if a sweater could hold the memory of a christmas better than my heart could. I went through all my drawers and closets — and piled clothes I had bought and rarely worn — things I accumulated to “feel better,” even though I didn’t love it, things I bought on sale that were “almost” what I really wanted, or that I just bought because they were such a great deal, but didn’t love. Things I used to love that I didn’t love anymore. Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye things.
Somehow, along the way the kids started to notice. My 10 year old — of his own volition — decided to organize his “treasure” drawer in his dresser last weekend. He sorted seashells, and Pokemon cards, and soccer tournament medals, throwing things away, and organizing his treasures in little boxes and jars. He put all his marbles in a jar and placed it on the mantle in our living room. My ten year old. Granted, the 2 1/2 year old continues to “help” by cutting her own hair and coloring on things that didn’t need to be colored on, but you know, that’s where ENOUGH patience comes in. Or a little losing-your-shit mixed in with a lot of hugs and kisses and breathing.
So the financial house is on track to being in order. The physical house is incrementally nearing a state of order and loveliness it has never known before. And then my insides start to ask for attention. I start looking at my love of learning, and my love of reading, and the books and the online courses in meditation and mindfulness and yoga and MORE and MORE and MORE. And something inside me pauses and says “you know ENOUGH already, you don’t need to KNOW MORE or LEARN MORE in order to do your work in this world.” Woah. I didn’t see that one coming. I was in the middle of an online-mentoring-session for a Mindfulness Meditation course that I am doing, and it just hit me. “I (already) KNOW WHAT I AM DOING!!!!” I am ENOUGH. I don’t need MORE. And not only that, but gosh, I have a lot to share. Hell, I’m gonna say it, I’m an expert in my field!
Since that realization, I’ve been asking myself this question: “Am I ACCUMULATING or ABSORBING?” When I eat. When I practice yoga. When I am listening to someone else share something they feel, or think, or know. When I am reading. When I am listening to music. When I am snuggling with my husband. When I am talking to my kids.
Ok. Let’s take this rant full circle.
The result of all this, is that I am learning how to face my fears of NOT ENOUGH and the compulsive MORE MORE MORE behaviors that result. In my meditation practice, I have been able to acknowledge my resistance to feelings like contentment, joy, ease — because those lead to stillness, and stillness feels uncomfortable, because there is such a compulsive habit of DOING to prove my WORTHINESS in this world. So, I am challenging myself to soften those edges, and to allow ABUNDANCE to come EASY from now on. I AM DONE BELIEVING THAT THE ONLY WAY TO GET WHAT I REALLY WANT IS TO HAVE TO WORK REALLY HARD FOR IT. Joy, contentment, ease, I am ready for you. Stillness, you are invited to this party. Because in this stillness, I feel so stinking RICH. RIDICULOUSLY DRIPPING IN WEALTH. GOLDEN. LUMINOUS. INFUSED. RADIANT. And up until now, I didn’t think I deserved it. I hadn’t earned it. I hadn’t worked hard enough for it yet. I wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t real. And how about this? All the abundance I didn’t think I had yet? Um hello! Hi Heather, it’s me, you’re totally awesome blessed life! So nice to meet you!
The ottoman in our living room still has a hole in it patched with electrical tape. My refrigerator still freezes the carrots in the produce drawer. There’s a pair of black jeans with super cool zippers on my christmas list, along with a crock pot and a new muffin tin. I’m not sure how we are going to pull off what we LIKE to give for Christmas this year. My husband is driving a car that is over 20 years old that likely won’t take him safely through the winter. We’ve still got piles of medical bills from a funny eye and a broken arm and a baby girl we had talked about but hadn’t quite switched our health insurance to plan for. We’ve got big dreams of where we want to go and what we want to do, and the “in” column and the “out” column aren’t quite dance partners yet.
And not yet, not still, not even despite those realities, I am so rich. So. very. rich. I don’t need MORE. Not today. Maybe not ever. Did you know we breathe over 20,000 breaths a day? Imagine someone on their deathbed. How much would they pay for ONE MORE BREATH. 100 MORE. 1000 MORE. 1,000,000 MORE. And so, I will not squander this day. This breath. And this one! And again another! I’m still here! Still alive! Still breathing! Here is more time Heather! And MORE. And MORE!
So here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving. A time where we are SUPPOSED to feel THANKFUL. And we say we are, and we can write lists of the reasons why we are thankful. But in order to truly FEEL thankful, we have to hop off the MORE train. Because MORE doesn’t allow us to FEEL. So here’s my challenge for you, take 5 or 10 minutes today or tomorrow or whenever, and just stop the doing. Sit in dignified stillness, or lay down and rest. Feel your breath. Soften the edges. And allow, allow, allow. Allow this moment, and YOU to be ENOUGH.
Om. Amen. Hallelujah! And Happy thanksgiving!