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What does abundance look like to you?  Does it look different this year? 

In years past, our family has gathered on Thanksgiving Day.  We started out in a home, but as these young kids grew up and created families of their own creating exponential growth, we moved to a church.  The serving table featured not only the traditional turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes but also our favorite salads and sushi, Sister Lew’s wontons, and Auntie Susanna’s tofu and shrimp.

This year, we were encouraged to limit our gatherings or forego them.  But did that change our attitude of abundance?  And what will December and the Christmas season look like this year?  Will we have an attitude of abundance or scarcity?

Some people, regardless of their circumstance, see that they have plenty and enough to share with others.  This is an abundance mindset.  These people take inventory of their blessings, and when they realize a blessing they can share, they share it.  It brings them joy and a feeling of connectedness with their Higher Power. 

I have been blessed to have such a role model in my life.  My grandmother Kume Uchida Murakami was only 4’8” tall, barely as tall as their automobile!  Her husband was in this car when it stalled on the railroad track.  He couldn’t get it started and was tragically killed when the oncoming train collided into him. 

Kume worked hard to take over their family farm, and with the help of her children and a cousin who came from Japan to help out, she had a successful harvest that year and in future years.  This tragedy happened just as the Great Depression hit the United States.  Unemployment went from 1.6 million in 1929 to 12.8 million by 1933.  Kume, not knowing her own future, gave work and dignity to men who had heard that they could get work on her farm.   She never turned them down, and paid them a fair wage.

She went through other hard times.  When the United States entered into WWII in 1942, her farm was taken from her, and she and her family were forced into an internment camp in Heart Mountain Wyoming.  For three years she lived there, but she made the most of her circumstance.  She thought of what she could do, not what she couldn’t do.  She got a job in the mess hall and then used that money to buy materials for the classes that she enrolled in there at camp.  She and my aunt took a tailoring class and made these suits.  

A beautifully crocheted tablecloth sits on my dining room table.  She and my aunt and mother made it at camp while standing in lines.  They would get the empty Quaker Oats containers from the mess hall kitchen.  With a wire for a handle, these containers would hang from their arms and carry their crochet thread.  Can you just see her crocheting away and visiting with the other women while waiting to eat or see a movie or even wait to use the latrine?   She didn’t wallow in self-pity but made the most of her situation.   That’s an abundance mindset.

I feel especially close to my grandmother because she became my main caregiver from my birth until I was six months old.  My mother was busy caring for my sister Charlotte who was six years old and dying of cancer.   In the picture below I’m sitting on my grandmother’s lap. She has a big smile on her face.  I remember her always smiling like that.  In this picture my sister Charlotte is very skinny and weak but sitting there next to me in a beautiful dress that my aunt made for her.  This is the only picture I have of me with my sister. 

Kume fought hard to live to celebrate her 88th birthday.  She looked forward to this birthday which has special significance for Japanese people.  In her mind reaching her 88th birthday was a great victory of life.  She passed away a few days after this very special birthday dinner.  

Kume was a deeply religious person.  Her Buddhist faith had a lot to do with her attitude of abundance.  Not only did she feel empowered and blessed by the teachings of Buddha, but she felt connected in a very real way to her family members who had passed to the other side.  Every day without fail she would burn incense to produces a thin line of smoke that traveled to heaven.  She would also tap the special brass bowl with a hard stick so that the clear ring would travel upwards to her loved ones. 

By connecting to an infinite source of goodness, we never feel that we have nothing to give.   Big Ocean Women believe that “that true power stems from within. This internal power, rooted in faith, allows other virtues to take root.  Virtues such as generosity, kindness, and respect will have a contagious effect, and can create the powerful external changes we seek.” 

So let’s end this year with an abundance mindset.  Let’s count our blessings and realize what we have to give and to share.   Let’s be faithful and find true power in that faith.  Let’s be generous in the way we see each other and treat each other.  Let’s be grateful and generous and happy.