How Much Is Enough?

Growing up I never got the concept of enough. As a toddler I’d stay up until the wee hours of the morning, out lasting many of the grown ups because I didn’t want to miss a thing.

As a young adult I said YES to everything, was constantly over-booked, running from one project to the next, pushing myself in workouts, going hours and hours without eating only to finally realize I was starving and then eat tons to keep me fueled, sleeping very little and always feeling there was more to do.

The root of my pushing and striving and over-booking was that I didn’t feel I was enough. No matter how good a job I did, I saw ways I could have done better. I believed I could have worked harder, loved more, and been more. Though my life’s work was committed to sustainability, my life was anything but that, all because I didn’t know in my bones that I am enough.

It took a debilitating illness, when I could no longer do all the things I thought made my life worthwhile. When I could no longer give and serve and be there for others, when I was stripped of my ability to do, and caused to finally be, I discovered the feeling of enough.  Not as a concept or theory, but a sensation in my body. I started to notice, ever so slightly at first, a sense of peace and wholeness in my cells, even when my body was wracked in pain. I realized contentment and joy even in deep exhaustion. I discovered life’s abundance as my finances dwindled while I was unable to work. I knew finally that I am enough, that this life with illness, as limited as it seemed compared to my old life, was enough.

As my health improved I had no desire to return to my old ways. The pattern was pretty deeply engrained in my neuropathways so I would (and still can) slip into it from time to time, but there’s no real desire for it. The moment I catch it I can get back on a healthier track quickly.

I’ve learned that 4 hours is not enough sleep for me. That some days I need 5 or 6 meals to feel satisfied and other days I barely eat at all. That I am comfortable living in far fewer square feet than most people I know, but I need more time outdoors and  alone.

I’ve learned that enough feels like a gentle fullness, with lots of space to breathe. Enough feels like energy pulsing through my body like a jewel-toned jelly fish. Enough feels complete. I can give from a well that won’t run dry, while being completely comfortable saying No.

My relationship with Enough is a moment to moment practice of paying attention to how I feel, and for me that requires slowing down enough to notice.

One of my favourite artists is Daniel Peacock. Some of his paintings are wildly chaotic, like the one above – full of so many images and messages you find something new every time you look at them. Others are simple solitary figures – like this one here.

Whether complex or sparse, each on is an expression of love. With such a vast range, how does he know when he’s painted enough?

He told me he’s sure a piece is finished when he gets the urge to pull out his guitar and play it a love song. And he does just that. When it comes to his art, Daniel knows how much is enough. He feels it.

This is my offering to you:

Explore how much is enough.

  • What does enough feel like in your body?
  • What sensations do you experience?
  • What does not enough feel like?
  • How do you feel with too much?

You don’t have to do anything with what you discover. You don’t have to judge yourself or compare. Your enough and my enough will be different. Your enough today will be different from your enough tomorrow.

For now, just noticing … is enough.

*All of these paintings are by Daniel Peacock. To see them live is a real treat. I’ll let you know when his next show will be.




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