36f-Staycation 2016: Simple Abundance in Brooklyn, Part 1



From top going clockwise:  Simple Abundance workbook, Gratitude Journal, a small Peter Pauper Press Notebook used for the Conversation Journal, and the Simple Abundance Day Book.

Summer of 2016 was too hot and too humid for me to want to go anywhere.  Rather than fight the way in which the weather slows everything down, I just went with the flow.  Work was very busy throughout this time which was very good for all of us.  Since I had to keep my energy and focus on work I found different ways of coping with the heat.

One was to get up very early in the morning and resume my work on the Simple Abundance program.  Writer Sarah Ban Breathnach worte the Simple Abunance Daybook in the early-mid 1990s when the world economy was in a recession.  Her message of finding happiness in a life aligned with joy, harmony, order and simplicity still resonates for many harried women today.  My late Mom used the Daybook on and off until the time she had to go live in a residence because of the advance symptoms of Parkinsonism.  The focus she brought to our daily  lives bore her own interpretation of Simple Abundance and created a chapter in the last years of our household that were creative, productive and life enriching despite sickness, unemployment and financial difficulties.  Together we realized these things can be problems that overwhelm us or they can be looked at as challenges we would overcome.  A great deal of the enjoyment we got each day  came from such such simple activities as walks, planning a tea time, selecting a muffin mix, feeding the squirrels and birds in the park.  Seeing programs on PBS such as “As Time Goes By” and “Keeping up appearances” was another way we slowed down and enjoyed ourselves at home.  Following soap operas like “All My Children” or renting DVDs of Hollywood Classic films was another activity we enjoyed at home.  We also shared and supported each other’s creative projects such as latchwork, sewing and journaling.  These are just some of the ways we were able to focus on the present.  The rush to the next thing we felt compelled to do was controlled and we regained our ability to slow down.

During the Summer of 2016, I worked through the program using the Gratitude Journal every night.  Having to write down five things to be grateful for every evening was not as difficult as I thought.  I found that the Daily Conversation Journal, used each morning, complemented the Gratitude Journal at night.  At first I started to complain in my journal about the weather each day.  At night the Gratitude Journal contained negative entries with comments like “Another hot day over at last!”  After a few days like this I was bored with myself and wanted to find something happy and spontaneous to enter to the journal.  What happened was that my mind recollected many happy memories.

Concentrating on simple enjoyments like a juicy orange or piece of watermelon, a smooth and frosty ice coffee, along with memories of childhood visits to my Grandmothers made the staycation days a journey to other times and places long gone but not forgotten.  These memories helped me create collages for another book I’m using in the Simple Abundance program:  the creation of a visual autobiography through the creation of collages.  The workbook offers guidelines for the creation of each collage but the focus and results spring up from a place deep within.  I was amazed at how the pieces came together using clip art, printouts of vintage illustrations, stickers and text.  Each collage flowed out a little at a time and during certain sessions when I created them I was so delightfully involved that the heat, humidity and noise outside were forgotten.


One theme for a collage centers around what activities kept one amused and happy as a child.  I created two collages over the summer.  One each focusing on visits for my paternal and maternal Grandmothers.  Visiting Grandma Josie Serrapede was always a very relaxing and happy time for me.  I loved to take naps after Sunday afternoon supper  at her house.  Another favorite nap time was early on a Saturday morning at home.  After starting  first grade my naptime took place only on weekends.  Sometimes I retreated to my room at home and made a sort of ritual out of the time I spent before going to sleep.  I loved to look through my Mom’s childhood story books with beautiful illustrations.  Having all my toys around me also felt very good.  Playing with paper dolls in my room or using the little chain stitch sewing machine Grandpa Sam and Grandma Josie gave me also helped me relax.  When I finally went to sleep I had happy dreams and awoke ready to play with Tressy, Tammy or Barbie.

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22f-Winter Break 2016 Brooklyn, NY


View of the church across the street from my apartment on January 23, 2016, 12:15 p.m.

The Northeast Coast of the U.S. is blanketed in snow as a storm works its way through our area.  Where I live the wind speeds are low.  The snow is dancing in the air before settling on the ground.  It is very quiet outside.  Time seems to have stood still since the sky is filled with cloud cover and a consistently soft light fills the day.  There is no way I can tell by looking at the sky what time of day it is at this point.


View of the street towards the avenue.

Uncle Sammy was in New Jersey this week for business and got back home to Arizona on Friday before the storm here started.  We’ll be having our Family History review tomorrow and preparing new postings.  There is an amazing amount of newspaper ads, articles and advice columns for our use in creating a snapshot of the community our family lived in during the Great Depression.  There is so much available we have to carefully consider what to include and what not to include.  It’s going to be a tough call because too much will overwhelm the readers.  Would you be interested in links that lead to the other articles not used in the posting?  This would make it easy if you’re interested in exploring the topics on your own.

How is everyone coping with the winter so far?  How are things where you live?  The laptop I use in conjunction with my digital camera is in repair.  Since the snowstorm is affecting travel it’s going to take the tech another week or two to get back to me.  It’s ok since I can’t get to his location that easily right now.  I’m very grateful I have another laptop and an Android camera phone.


  Reproduction Tiffany lamp in my little reading corner. 

We had adequate notice via Weather.gov and local radio stations to prepare for this snowstorm earlier in the week.  I ran all around stocking up so that today and tomorrow I do not have to leave the house.  As I sat down to do my morning journal entry based on the daily topic in “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach I took pause to be thankful for the wealth that fills my life right here, right now.  The lamp and the vintage doily especially struck me as beautiful in the light and the quiet of the moment.


Close-up of the vintage crocheted doily.

The doily was a gift from my previous landlord, a 92 year old gentleman who served our country in WWII.  He is the son of immigrants from Southern Italy.  He told me this was one of his mother’s lace doilies.  She crocheted and bought similar doilies.  There were many surfaces covered by such doilies.  She felt it made the furniture look brand new.  My Grandma Josie used many doilies like this on her Depression Era furniture.  I see them whenever I take out the family photos from that period.  It is a good day for me to continue getting reacquainted with crocheting.  I cannot get into spending time to make something for the house.  My own crochet has taken quite a different turn.

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