The Blessings of Simple Gifts

Martha Dunlop New to This, Ready for More 1 Comment

Kate lives deep in the charmed realm of British Columbia, gathering inspiration in the woods. Her Celtic heritage inspires the poetic style found in both the Great Lands series and her second series, Fated. The second book in the Great Lands series releases at Christmas, 2016. Kate loves speaking at creative and transformative events, such as Project Gratitude, and will explore sharing tales via podcasts and YouTube in 2017. Get her latest blog and updates at

As 2016 comes to a close, I realize how challenging this year has been. For myself, for the world, for many of my friends.

And yet, in the midst of chaos, one of the greatest gifts I received was the clarity that the simplest accomplishments give me the most pleasure.

Lifting a friend’s spirits. Creating a delicious meal. Writing by the glow of a candle.

I am a person who typically overcomplicates life. My mind races ahead in the day to judge my progress before I take a single step. My ego believes I should be doing ten times what I have achieved. And my heart gets confused by the inordinate amount of pain and suffering in the world.

These little dialogues dominate my days. And now that I live in an even quieter town, far from the bustling city, I seem to be alone with them much more often. You know the kind. The judge-y, “you are doing it wrong, look what everyone else has accomplished” kind of thoughts.

These thoughts are fueled by the constant updating of status in our social media infused world. Reinforcing how much I should be doing at every moment. I love the connectivity, but the over-abundance of updates creates a pressure. A sense that I must always be climbing, achieving, going bigger.

And so, a tension is born. Between what my mind perceives — a world that celebrates only large-scale accomplishments; and what my heart feels —I am deeply satisfied by simple things. The beauty of a landscape. The peace of a stroll in the woods. The fulfillment of a night sharing stories with friends.

“I’ve been criticized for being too simplistic, and I have found that the simple things are usually the most profound.” — Louise Hay (The Power is Within You)

Why do we feel a need to go bigger? To live life on a grand scale? To impress a global arena of strangers, rather than connect with a table of friends? Or wow with thousands of Christmas lights rather than a tree with a few decorations?

I contemplated these questions with a lovely friend just the other night. I worked in the film industry for years, and the specter of fame and notoriety still haunts me. The cultural insistence (especially in North America) that a person has little significance unless her work, or face, is recognized by millions of people.

That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t reach for big goals. Just that our sense of worth has been skewed to a scale that does not resonate with our hearts. By a perception that numbers make something far more worthy. When, in truth, all our souls crave is a true connection.
I am curious whether our hearts can understand the concept of connecting with thousands of people at once. Is that truly possible? Or is it the one-on-one that shifts us? Looking in another’s eyes and feeling the recognition of understanding.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts.” — A.A. Milne

And so, at this time of year, when the snow drifts onto trees and the silence surrounds me, I find myself noticing the sweetness of the little moments. I wish to understand the shifts that have lead to this day. A perspective that allows me to see that fanfare, while wonderful, does not last beyond the brief sound of applause.

What will it take for my mind to understand that fame is a strange bargain struck between admirers and an artist? That “large scale” does not equate to importance? And that busy does not necessarily mean satisfied.

As we come to the end of 2016, I wish for all of us to feel content in our lives. To release the illusion that there is a much happier existence in someone else’s living room. To choose our life — this moment — for all it can give you.

What would happen if we all released the craving to achieve bigger? And, instead, reached deeper into our hearts for the truth that brings us joy? What would that look like? And would it free you to truly live for the first time?

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.” — Mary Oliver

This life, this precious time, that we have been given, is a blessing. An opportunity to discover our truest selves. Why have you come? What truth do you embody? What does your soul long to experience?

The approaching year, 2017, will call us to fiery authenticity. Burning up the old identities and expressions that no longer serve. Calling us to sing our true song.

I am spending these final weeks taking a reflective look at the old ways of being that I have carried too long. Releasing them to the heavens. And embracing the truth that comes forward in the clearing.

May we live every day of our lives in honour of our deepest desires and in amazement of our truest selves.

For that is the sweetest gift of all.

You can find all of Kate’s books on Amazon at: UK or US.

Book Giveaway

Win a Copy of Messenger (two available), Book One in Great Lands series. The giveaway is live from Friday 23 to Saturday 31 December.  It is open to everyone from the UK, Europe, North America and Canada.  Please do click on the links to enter, and for full terms and conditions.  Click here to find out more.

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