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  • Writer's pictureJamie Leat

People I Met Along the Way



In July 2022, a dear friend gave me the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy and introduced me to the author, Sarah Ban Breathnach (pronounced "Bon Brannock"). Had I come across this book in a bookstore, I likely would not have bought it. The cover was ordinary, plain – nothing flashy to catch the eye. The yellowed pages of the book felt thick, rough, and utilitarian. The textbook-style font was large and easy to read. Everything about this book seemed written to a woman from another generation, certainly not mine. But, little did I know that Sarah and I were on similar journeys, and we would become faithful companions in our search to live more authentically.


Sarah's writing career began with publishing two books about Victorian domestic life. She researched Victorian women's household rituals and became enamored with the eloquent ways they tended their homes. She realized that in the Victorian era, the house often reflected the woman's soul, prompting her to wonder how her home reflected her soul.


While preparing to write her third book about Victorian domesticity, Sarah noticed an unfamiliar dread deep within her heart. The book she really wanted to write was a book that might show how to reconcile her deepest longings with her felt experience. Sarah needed a tangible framework that pointed her toward a life of greater authenticity, happiness, and contentment. But she wasn't sure what that would be. It was Sarah's response to the pangs of her unexpected dread that Simple Abundance was written.

 

Simple Abundance was published in 1995 when women felt pressured to "do it all." In the 90s, women were expected to have a career, maintain a happy marriage, raise healthy children, manage a household, pay the bills, and care for aging parents – literally an endless list of responsibilities. Has anything really changed? No! I look at my two thirty-something daughters and see the same unhealthy expectations hounding them. Which is why this book is so consequential. The timeless wisdom within Simple Abundance speaks to women of any age concerning their personal searches for happiness, authenticity, and contentment.


I began reading Simple Abundance in July. For sixteen months, Sarah and I met every morning on the pages of this book. I learned about her life and struggle to live with more authenticity. She introduced me to other people through compelling quotes, expertly chosen for the daily topic. On each page, I encountered the Spirit's wisdom that I, too, longed for. This wisdom was hiding in plain sight within the lives of Sarah, her contemporaries, and those who came before her.


The heart of Simple Abundance is arranged around a collection of six principles: gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. These principles were the mirrors Sarah needed to honestly take inventory of her current life and then make the required internal and external adjustments to live a life of grace. She masterfully collected quotes and stories and then weaved them together to reveal a different path. This uncharted route uncovered what the soul cries out for and then challenges one to surrender to transformational wisdom.



The structure of Simple Abundance is that of a daily devotion. Sarah needed the consistency of reading and reflection, like a daily itinerary for a long journey. Transformation (or finding one's true self) is not a sprint but a pilgrimage through the landscape of one's life. Each step, every unnoticed moment, can open the door to the significance buried in the experiences of one's life. The daily habit of meeting on the pages of this book proved to be the reinforcement that Sarah and I needed to keep progressing on our transformational journeys.


Sarah wrote Simple Abundance for two long years, during which her awareness of the mystical and sacred unexpectedly increased. She encountered epiphanies every day through the mundane and ordinary. Sarah evolved from just managing her life to fully living in grace. I experienced the same dynamics while journeying through this book. My awareness of the state of my own soul grew and sprouted into unexpected freedom.


Simple Abundance is not just a book; it's a pilgrimage toward finding the real-life one was meant to live. I hope you'll meet Sarah soon on the pages of this powerful book. Until then, I'll leave you with one of the weighty quotes Sarah leaves as a bread crumb on this well-worn path.


“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first BE who you really are, then DO what you need to do, in order to HAVE what you want.” – Margaret Young


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