Do you have certain comfort reads that you return to year after year? For me, one of those is Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. So, when I saw her new book Peace and Plenty at the local discount bookshop I didn't hesitate to pick it up. I must admit that as I started to read I did wonder if I should have taken a slightly closer look.
In Peace and Plenty Sarah takes her readers on a journey for dealing with their own fiscal crisis resulting from today's economic woes. As in all her books she weaves her advice with stories from her life and excerpts from magazines (particularly Depression era) and books. Don't get me wrong, there is great advice here for someone whose financial security is gone - it just wasn't that relevant to my personal financial situation.
In her own gentle way Sarah introduces basic money management tools like budgeting and the envelope system - always a good refresher to read about those. For me though, the book came into its own in the final two chapters. Here was something I could get my teeth into. What follows are some of my favourite points.
She uses Jan Struther's Mrs Miniver (one of my favourite books) to show that zest for life makes everyone feel better. She recounts:
Kay Miniver was the woman I needed in my life. Many of you already know her from Greer Garson's stunning performance; or maybe you haven't yet made the lady's acquaintance. Do so as soon as possible. You are in for such a treat. But remember that you want to go as far back as you can when retracing steps, whether it it's a money choice or a movie's origins. The heart of the matter is always the original source.
And on hoarding:
What is hoarding all about?
Fear. False evidence appearing real. Fear that there won't be enough. But enough of what? Bedsheets? Gucci bags? Jimmy Choo shoes? Wedgewood? Dove Beauty Moisture Bath? Campbell's Chunky Chicken soup?
....if we realise these hoarding urges are speaking to something very important, even crucial to us - financial security - then we will respect our desires to be safe, but channel them differently. We can explore what it feels like to feel safe, such as holding on to our cash instead of stocking Noah's Ark.
....I know this sounds elementary, but I've taught myself to say "yellow...red" before making a purchase.
On the need to create:
I think the great secret that needleworkers know is that when other people see that our hands are busy, they often give us a few moments' grace from their requests. We are granted the pause that refreshes and restores. What the rest of the world doesn't realise (and we shall never tell) that when our hands are busy, our minds can rest.
I have a theory about feeling protected and prepared. We assign money that job, and obviously it does it well. When money isn't what we've got to exchange, however, we need the currency of ingenuity and planning. Every day we need to be prepared in small ways as well as large, and every day we find new wants and needs that can be satisfied through our creativity and organisation.
Finally, on 'spring cleaning' - which Sarah asserts does not have to wait for spring. She suggests plenty of pre-planning:
When I approach a homemaking project this way, it feels like play; I have so much fun to look forward to, and planning becomes a well-spent interlude - a contentment pursuit of the highest order.
Peace and Plenty is a great New Year read. Just the sort of book I like to read when my calender is on its first new page and I have the promise of a whole new year ahead with, as Anne Shirley would say "no mistakes in it".