on July 25, 2000
Looked at one way, this is a collection of cheerful essays with homespun spiritual wisdom and housekeeping advice that satisfies our appetite for the nostalgic. Looked at another way, it's a terrifying reflection of a society of souls so sterile that we take comfort in being told it's okay to use scented bath products and buy flowers. Still, thousands of women have found meaning in the book, and they can't be all wrong.
This book is more about abundance than simplicity. In places Ms. Breathnach does extol the virtues of simplicity and has you clearing clutter; in others she has you buying and hoarding and collecting everything, from fabric remnants, just in case some day you get the urge to staple lace to the pantry shelves, to autumn leaves for exuberant Victorian tableaus, (aka dust-collectors). These things are much more fun to read about than to actually do. I don't want to tie little circles of fabric to the tops of jam jars; even when they're bought that way, I'm the one who gets to cut them off and throw them in the garbage. Nor do I want to replace the buttons on all my clothes with cute ones, I curse enough if I have to replace one where the manufacturer did a shoddy job. I don't want to know what decoupage is; and most especially, I really, really, don't want to buy a hat to cheer myself up. Having hot mulled cider after raking leaves sounds charming (and I loathe cider), but the reality is that after raking leaves my back hurts, I'm exhausted and can barely crawl to the shower to wash the sweat and dead bugs off, and if I had to search for a hot mulled cider recipe I'd whack the nearest bystander with a poker.
Since books are for reading and pondering, the pleasure in this one is in doing exactly that, and it does provide a lot of it. The problem I had with it was its overall frenetic busyness, which is in sharp contrast to its meditative advice. If you haven't already read it, go ahead, you know you want to, and somewhere in all its generosity and abundance you'll find ideas that appeal to you and that you can realistically use. But remember, if you can't keep up with the suggestions and images given for creating a perfect home, don't feel guilty. If you can, you're either a Stepford Wife or have a serious amphetamine problem.
on January 17, 2000
It is interesting in scanning the reviews of this book, over ninety percent are five star... but the ones who disagree seem to give it, for the most part, one star. It is a book which brings out strong opinions. Reactionaries and fundementalists will have a hard time with this book because it does not reinforce their dogma. It instead addresses the broad spectrum of beliefs, encourages tolerance,openness, and exploration of self and of all aspects of life, including religion and spirit. That would drive the reactionaries over the edge. There are so few books which can actually add something to your life, day after day, month after month, year after year. This is one of them. It is a book for women on the search to find more meaning in their daily ritual as caretakers, more joy in the everyday. It gives me something to think about each day of the year. I feel a bit sorry for those who give it the knee jerk New Age blasting. But, it takes all kinds to make the world go around.
on September 8, 2004
In our stressful lives, Sarah Breathnach's calm voice outlines a path to sanity. She advocates nurturing our spirits, our relationships and creating serene spaces in our lives.
I want to play this over and over, so it soaks into my consciousness. I want to share this message with all the frazzled women I know. She blends literature and a variety of religions without being preachy. Quotes from Star Wars, Bhudda, Irish proverbs and Shaker writings are sprinkled throughout serving to launch her essays.
Over all, it is about tuning into ourselves and paying attention to our basic needs (no, not material possessions, though she does not advocate a spartan lifestyle).
For women who feel there is no time to tend to their inner needs and who find the daily demands at times overwhelming, I wholeheartedly recommend this.
on April 12, 1999
I am in the process of reading this book. It caught my attention on the Oprah Show, several months ago, so I waited to buy it, to make sure that I wasn't buying on impulse.
This is a great book. As someone who is going through a job change, moving, and breaking free from a shame-based, hateful family, I am reading this book, and experiencing a serenity, through doing things, everyday, simple things, that don't cost much, that add value to my spirit.
I am so excited, everyday to get up and read the day's lessonns, and to discover new joys in my heart.
Others around me are catching on to my authentic self shining through.
I am looking at this book, from this point as something that is helping me to bring out things in me, habits that enhance who I am, that I had given up on, prior to this book.
Thank you so much, Sarah Ban Breathnach.
I look forward to my journey.
on January 11, 2000
This book is a must! It has and is helping me through my soul searching. Ms. Breathnach talks about the common sense in a women's life. It's so simple that you yourself are sometimes blind to the simple pleasures. It's straightforward and enjoyable to read. I sometimes find myself reading a day ahead. I feel it's a big step towards being a better woman/human. She helps you find peace within you. I consider myself a good Christian & this book does not dismiss Christianity. The mix of Christianity and this book have made me more spiritual. I've given this book many times as a gift. I strongly recommend this book to any woman that feels she's missing something in her life.
on April 19, 2011
While this book's claim-to-fame is simplicity, the advice it contains is anything but simplicity. Instead of embracing simplicity, minimalism, or non-consumerism, it's all about finding just the right cabinet paper that feeds your soul, or spending copious amounts of time creating a materialistic journal of all the money-wasting trinkets you'd like to fill your house. I got as far as the page where the author chastises that if you haven't been doing the work of cutting out magazine pictures and pasting them in a journal, you need to stop and not read any further until you've done this important activity. I stopped and didn't read any further. I don't have the time, money, or materialstic bent needed for this journey.
on May 28, 2000
The essays in this book remind me that thoughts of what might be missing from my life blind me to what is present in it. "There is no scarcity" (the essay for January 12) says: "But worries about money mock you...Without thinking, you throw away every precious twenty-four hours that come your way. You cease to live, and merely exist".
How much more rewarding to examine my life and sort out what I need to live a healthy, satisfying life from the "wants" projected on us daily from ads, TV, movies.
This book's format as a set of daily essays also reminds me to periodically review and see that what I have placed around myself (my possessions) still accurately reflect and nourish who I am today.
I also recently read another book, "Working on Yourself Doesn't Work, a Book About Instantaneous Transformation", by Ariel and Shya Kane, that describes what the authors have discovered about living a deeply satisfying life, full of love and abundance. It has led me many steps further in the discovery of what works and doesn't work in how I have authored my own life.
My experience demonstrates a central theme of the book, that merely observing the mechanics of how I think and behave can have a profound effect on the quality and, yes, the physical abundance (money, home improvements, activities) in my life, without the need to "work on" myself in the hope of someday having a better life. A magical life is indeed available right now!
I recommend both of these books heartily!
on January 14, 2001
I'm guessing the length as the book is unpaged but it's about 2 inches thick.
Here is a sample sentence :"Learning the soul craft of seasonal healing can bring new depth to our journey toward wholeness".
Here is typical advice, given over and over and over again: "clean out your closet, clean out your spice rack, put together some new outfits, switch to wedge suede sandals, buy yourself flowers, browse in a boutique, take in a movie, be grateful for what you have, skip work and get a European body wrap or a cosmetic makeover, light scented candles, treat yourself to an ice cream cone, light a pretty candle" and so on, ad nauseum. The book is full of contradictions and is incredibly shallow. I can't begin to fathom how this treacle could have "changed my life" for so many readers. I found it a complete waste of money and especially time as it is so long and so repetitive. Obviously I'm in the minority which is why I took the time to send in my review - to balance the scales a bit.
If you like this type of thing, try Alexandra Stoddard - she gives better advice and is a much better writer.
on January 10, 2000
I've found the recent negative comments about this book quite interesting. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE is a New Age-type of book. It doesn't pretend to be otherwise. And it speaks to the belief, held by more than a few, that there is within each of us a HIGHER POWER that we can draw upon in our daily efforts to live our lives to the fullest. If you are among those who don't believe that we each draw from some kind of Higher Power -- God, Buddah, or whoever you might call Him (or Her)-- and that some part of that Higher Power is within each of us, then this book is probably NOT for you. Breathnach's references -- and there are numerous references from many, many different sources, including in a few instances, the Bible-- are meant to offer people some guidance on how they can live their lives in spiritual abundance and happiness. It is a book, I believe, that virtually anyone -- regardless of religious beliefs or background -- can come away from reading with something of value to add to their lives. Take whatever part works for you and forget the rest.
on November 8, 2000
I was given this book as a gift and looked at it as a nice addition to my book collection...but as Career Planning and Development Host for BellaOnline, and as someone who had managed to "lose herself" in caring for others, as I read this I realized that I had been given an indispensable tool in helping rediscover myself!
So many of us spend time as caregivers for others, always taking care of the family, the house, work... we often have a tendency to lose ourselves in the process. This wonderful daybook, designed to be read and worked through one day at a time instead of digested in one sitting, gives you the tools, and yes, the permission, to take the time to search inside yourself.
As a college instructor for employability and lifeskills, I would also add that many of these activities are used both in classes and in coaching to help students and clients discover their true passions.
Well worth reading - even more worthwhile if you are willing to actually do some of the exercises. Take a little time each day for you - you are worth it!