What Having No Money Has Taught Me About Abundance
As the year draws to a close and we move further into the festive season, abundance abounds from all directions.
The supermarkets are stocked up with all the usual Christmas delights and the shops are full of glitz and glam. The adverts on our screen show images of happy families with mountains of presents. Our shelves are stocked with Christmas goodies and we indulge in all things naughty but nice.
As we go about filling up the stockings for our nearest and dearest, we are all discreetly (or not so discreetly!) asking that all important question: “what do you want for Christmas?”.
A Different Kind of Christmas
As I wrote about in my previous post, this Christmas I once again find myself unable to go back to the UK, but this time due to financial reasons rather than governmental restrictions. Previously, it was the way the world was and I had to accept it. But now, this situation is of my own making…and I have to accept it!
(Who knew that quitting your job to follow your dream would mean that you had less money coming in? 😉 Ha!)
And so, rather than being able to splash out on new Christmas dresses or expensive presents, this year I am scaling back. Whilst feeling the pinch in my pocket is far from comfortable, it has forced me to be grateful for the things that I do have and value the simple things that can often get overlooked in today’s fast-paced consumer society.
Though, I have to admit it hasn’t been easy.
Not having the same level of funds coming recently has had me feeling somewhat insecure about my social status in the world. I have found myself thinking that I am in some way less than others, like I could no longer respect myself as a contributing cog in the societal wheel.
Not being able to do the things that I would like to do has started to affect my self-esteem and the way that I view myself. I have sometimes felt small and useless, like I provide no value without having a place in the 9-5 world.
Also, after seeing how the market for English teaching online is over the last year, I have started to feel like I am destined in work in a crap industry that allows me no feel real respect or value for what I do forever (when people are giving classes for 5 euros an hour, how can you possibly compete?).
All in all, I have been feeling trapped, dejected and destined for certain poor English teacher status forever.
This has been an interesting experience. It is curious that so much of how we see ourselves in the world is dependent on having a job and a fixed salary every month. This has been a new experience for me and it has been enlightening as it has been uncomfortable.
Dear reader, at this point I would like to point out that I am in no way living in poverty or with the possibility of not having enough food on the table. I am writing this from a city centre café, so clearly, I am not doing so badly!
Indeed, the insecurity that I have been experiencing is just the trap of scarcity mentality and the intense fear that goes along with it.
It is this fear that contracts you into a tense, scared and scrooge-like person, pinching at all of your pennies and living with a perpetual worried look on your face.
It is this fear that makes you look out onto the world with eyes that only see all that you cannot have and therefore cannot be part of.
It is this fear that pushes you into the trap of social comparison, tricking you into believing the messages that tell you ‘you are not enough because you can’t buy this shiny new thing’.
Funnily enough, it is only when I have taken the pressure off myself and allowed myself to do something that I knew would make me feel good, like go to a group mediation or dedicate some time to my blog, that new potential money-making opportunities have come my way.
Even more strangely, this happened almost immediately afterwards!
For example, after the group mediation when I was feeling much more expansive and content with just being, I saw that my ex-colleague had just messaged me. He offered me a class for two exam students who were willing to pay 25 euros each for a one hour class together. Score!
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Could the Universe be giving me a hint that we create our outer world from within?
This happened a second time, when, after I had decided to do something that I knew would lift my spirits, I received another message from a woman inquiring about classes in the new year.
Perhaps then, it would serve me better to relax into my current situation and trust that all will be ok, rather than be in fearful resistance the whole time…
And so, in effort to put this into practice, I have been making a concerted effort to be more grateful for the smaller things in life. This has led me to consider what true abundance really is and the many forms that abundance can take.
Usually we associate abundance with financial security and material wealth. This is what we have been taught and what is shown to us in society through the celebration of celebrities, glamour and consumerism.
Yet, as we all know but sometimes forget, true abundance comes from the appreciation of the simple things in life. It is taking the time to notice the small pleasures that truly nourish us and that are often freely available.
Except the modern world is such that we often are so trapped in our head with our neurosis and fears, that we forget to pay attention. Or else, we are stressed by work or distracted by the latest piece of doom and gloom on the news.
The world does not support us in maintaining an attitude of gratitude. The world only supports us in becoming more fearful, more rooted in the mentality of lack, more insecure.
It supports us in feeling that we are not enough as we are, that there is a constant threat around the corner and a new product/ service/ thing that can help us fend it off. All we have to do is part with our precious money to buy it and our life will be transformed:
Buy now before it is too late!
What’s more, it teaches us that we are only useful to society when we are working hard; 8, 9,10 hours a day or more. Those who don’t do so are lazy and any activity that does not help to expand your material wealth in some way is largely irrelevant.
Unless you have a large bank balance, a number of rental properties and a flash lifestyle to boot, then you are no one. No one will be impressed with you and you will be written off as someone who ‘isn’t doing so well for themselves’.
Yet, that isn’t what the Earth teaches us. The Earth teaches slowness, stillness, and beauty in the simple things. It teaches us about cycles of expansion and retraction; death and decay; birth and rebirth. It teaches us to flow with the rhythm of life and to glide gracefully around the boulders.
It shows us that before the new can be created, the old must die in its entirety. There is no tree or flower that can maintain their leaves or petals. Everything must go. The stark baldness of the bare branches empty of fruit must be seen, appreciated and respected.
Resistance is futile, for the darkest of hour of winter must come. It is neither better nor worse than the harvest of summer, only different. A necessary step in the birth of the new cycle.
And even in this darkness, the robin red breast gives us colour and song; the rain brings us full rivers and the cold gives us the beauty of crisp, frosty mornings. And through it all, the sun rises and falls and the moon continues to wax and wane.
…And here I am, feeling sorry for myself because I can’t buy a new sparkly Christmas dress! be a
What poverty are we all living in, when the material world is more highly valued over the majesty and magic of the natural world!
Following the Earth’s teaching then, maybe the fear and insecurity I have been feeling is just the acuteness of the death of all that was before. It is the emptiness of a chapter that has ended and the liminal space before the buds of the new chapter have really started to sprout.
Seen like this, perhaps I can relax in the knowledge that if I am open to the possibilities that come my way and empower myself to step up into the next chapter of my life, everything will be ok.
And so finally, to return to the question of the season: what do I want for Christmas this year?
I want to feel abundant, expansive and pregnant with possibility.
Regardless of how many presents are under the tree!
This then leads me to the question: what is true abundance? What does it mean to me?
Here’s what I have come up with:
Abundance is looking up and seeing the bright autumn leaves falling from the trees.
Abundance is walking through the old town in Madrid and marvelling at the beauty.
Abundance is a warm cup of tea or a mug of hot chocolate on a crisp, wintery day.
Abundance is putting on my warm, woollen slippers in the evening.
Abundance is lighting a candle or two when darkness begins to fall.
Abundance is getting a warm hug from my partner or phone call from a close friend.
Abundance is having the free time to write this blog post.
Abundance is watching the birds migrate overhead.
Abundance is riding my bike in nature and exploring off the beaten track places that only I know about.
Abundance is the song of birds as they dot from tree to tree.
Abundance is taking a walk along the river and watching the fish, the seagulls, the herons and the ducks go about their day.
Abundance is sitting on the sofa with a blanket and a soul nourishing book.
Abundance is a hot shower after being out in the rain.
Abundance is creamy, homemade potato and leek soup on a cold day with a crusty piece of bread
Abundance is receiving a loving message of an old friend.
Abundance is appreciating all the Christmas lights that adorn the streets.
Abundance is looking after my plants and pottering about my house.
Abundance is receiving a lovely comment or message from a reader showing their appreciation for my words.
Abundance is working together with others on joint projects.
Abundance is feeling the love and support of my family, even at a distance.
Abundance is collecting branches and pine cones to make my own Christmas decorations.
Abundance is the warm glow of the lamp as I read in bed beneath the covers.
Abundance is giving thanks for my health and my body that allows me to experience this world.
Abundance is having the time to cook homemade food and take time over meals.
Abundance is feeling love and joy in my heart.
Abundance is giving thanks for this experience, right now, warts and all.
Abundance is appreciating the gift of being alive at this time.
Abundance is knowing that I am enough, as I am, right now, just living, breathing, being.
Abundance is being able to step out of the 9-5 to consider the direction I want to take my life in.
Abundance is choosing to see beauty where others only see pain and suffering.
Abundance is choosing love over fear.
Abundance is aligning with possibility rather than lack and limitation.
Abundance is this moment right now, as I connect with you through space and time, across countries and oceans.
And now, dear reader, it’s your turn.
What do you want for Christmas?
What does abundance mean to you?
Let’s abundantly share and add to the ever growing tapestry of people dreaming a new world in being.
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If you enjoyed this post, you may also like ‘Re-Wilding Ourselves’ or ‘First Time Foraging and an Encounter with the Goddess’.
Other Christmas posts I have written include: Living in Alignment With Who I am Really Am’; Explorations of Rural life in Spain, and Hanging Out With the Locals in Rural Spain
I loved this article.. you are completely right that special things do not have to cost anything. I really like the idea of abundance mentality.. good luck with your new students and I’m looking forward to seeing you in 2023 whenever that may be x x x Emma Tonge 💖
Thanks em! Glad you enjoyed it. Really looking forward to seeing you at some point in the new year as well! lots of love xxxx