Some weeks ago I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday where she interviewed Sarah Ban Breathnach, the bestselling author of Simple Abundance. She had already been her guest in the Oprah Show nine times and Oprah admits Sarah’s the reason she writes in her gratitude journal to this day. Ms. Ban Breathnach sold seven million books, becoming an instant sensation and multi-millionaire. Fifteen years later, however, Sarah tells Oprah that she has lost it all: her love, her home, and her way. She told Oprah that it took losing everything to help her find herself.
In one of my several trips to Spain in the nineties, I received Simple Abundance as a gift. I immediately fell in love with the book which became my cheerleader whenever I needed a pep talk. Sarah’s words were comforting. I always admired her ease to convey analogies and “feel-good” stories. She reminded me to enjoy simple things, live every moment to the fullest, and above all, to be grateful.
I had no idea Sarah had started as a freelance writer, living paycheck to paycheck before writing her bestselling book. She is one of the few (lucky) writers that made it big, so big, that she was able to buy Sir Isaac Newton’s chapel which became her private writing studio.
In the interview, she explained how she was on the New York’s Best Seller’s List for more than two years and went from making six-figure royalty checks to literally nothing.
As I continued to watch the interview, I learned that she started as a struggling writer, made it to the top, achieving what every single writer dreams of, and ended up where she had started. Ironically after all that success, she found herself living “a simple life” in a room out of her sister’s apartment. I was in disbelief.
Sarah confessed that at the pinnacle of her success, she didn’t want to ask for help (bother anyone). She felt she could manage her business and handle success. She added, “I’m a smart woman, I wrote Simple Abundance so I should be able to figure it out by myself.” Bad financial advice from her ex-husband also led her to a downward spiral into hell. Despite all this, she didn’t see it as a fall from grace, just a fall that helped her move on to her new sense of awareness. She stated that she’s at peace now and financially stable again.
In her new book Peace and Plenty, Sarah shares that the great spiritual lesson is to “guard your heart. Watch your treasures for what it’s your treasure will be your heaven on earth”.
Since the publishing of her new book, Sarah has moved out of her sister’s place. She is enjoying simple pleasures again (e.g., listening to the rain and writing in her gratitude journal). Towards the end of the interview she quoted T.S. Eliot, “We go back to where we began”.
In Oprah’s words of wisdom, I’ll leave you with, “True success is the feeling of reward and self respect.”
Do you agree with Oprah’s thought? What about T.S. Eliot quotation? Did Sarah’s story inspire you in some way?