Nov 19 Blog (Rockefeller Center) (2)When Paul and I were married 32 years ago, he promised me his time: “my only non-renewable resource.” True to his word, most recently, he sacrificed his own work to travel with me on my 9-city book tour. Paul’s devotion holds special meaning to me as I begin to prepare for Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas.

This is normally the busiest time of year for shopping. Questions get asked of loved ones; lists are scribbled, and large and small packages get squirreled away in a closet until the time comes to give the gifts.

We are encouraged daily to shop. The media tells us it’s good for the economy. But is it good for the soul? And does it really make us happy?

A friend told me last week that North America has 1% of the world’s children and 40% of the toys. This got me thinking as I was on vacation in Churchill, Manitoba, looking at polar bears. (I’ll write about that in a subsequent post.)

I visited the town “Complex,” a huge indoor community center built by the Canadian government for the town of 800 people. Many spend much of their free time there during polar bear season, so as not to get eaten. Literally! They know they are not on top of the food chain. The Complex houses the local hospital, an elder care facility, a pre-school, grade school, hockey and curling rinks, swimming pool, movie theatre and more. Paul, our friend Holly, and I entered through the indoor pre-school playground.

Little boyTwenty children played on “spring huskies” (instead of horses), and climbed on the jungle gym. One little boy, no older than five, stood over a flower-shaped stool and floated a piece of paper napkin in the middle while he spun it around. His little body was bent over in rapt attention, hands flat against his back, elbows behind him like angel wings. When the stool slowed, he stopped it, before twirling it the other way. I watched, enthralled, while he repeated this game for at least five minutes. His eyes widened every time. I wondered if he would become an engineer or an inventor.

When I was his age, my father took me to Rockefeller Center to see the “family tree” before enjoying the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Our own tree at home only had colored balls on it, so I thought the lights were spectacular, but the main event was spending time with my father. He traveled much of the rest of the year, opening branches of the Chase Manhattan Bank. Time with him was more precious than any material gift.

Now that I’m older, I see that real abundance is not about spending money on pretty packages. It’s about spending time with family and friends. Paul has given me the best gift imaginable by giving me his time; most recently by traveling with me on my book tour. He has lived up to his vows, and I’ve learned that abundance doesn’t need to cost a cent.

How do you find abundance in your life?

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12 Responses to Abundance

  1. Phyll says:

    Time with loved ones is indeed a GIFT. That’s why the true meaning, beauty and fulfillment of life is called, the “present”. For, it surely is. My happiest times are spent with my “furry family”. Doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing. As long as we’re together, we’re happy. It’s as simple as that.

    • I share you love of furry animals! And it is as important to have connections to animals as people. The main thing is to have a connection to someone or something beyond ourselves. It helps us find meaning.

      • Phyll says:

        Absolutely. Attachments to animals (and people) add meaning and purpose to our lives. They’re essential for well-being and happiness. Do you ever feel closer to your pets? I do. Sometimes, I wonder why but then I intuitively “know”: they share unconditional love, acceptance and companionship with us. Always loyal, always there. Who could ask for anything more? 🙂

      • Phyll says:


        Enjoy this adorable You Tube video!

  2. joaneee says:

    Eileen . . .

    Perhaps I stand alone, but WAITING for holidays for family get-togethers, a time where pressure and presents prevail, only works well when there is a suggestion that truly works — and that is suggesting that instead of gifts (but you don’t even say that) that you would like to suggest a few yummy journeys that offer a large variety of activities so that you are not always joined at the hip . .. but come back in the evening with “tales” of the day spent gloriously. Before your children have children of their own and are “confined” for a bit, it is perfect timing to open up your world, their worlds, see each other in another environment where pressures no longer exist.

    There are certain locations that I have found to be ideal to a variety of interests. They work! But going off as a couple — again on journeys that allow you to stretch your minds and bodies and “explore” — is not only wonderful but brings back the excitement of earlier times. But when time comes when you may have to live on memories a bit more, talk of what you two have done together that you cannot believe you did in travel becomes the cement in marriage.

    The idea is to foster feelings of love and togetherness — but not overly so on the latter. I call the journeys” moments in time” — and after a lifetime of travel, often far out, I have combed out locales near and far that bring back fun and excitement and beauty that, combined, become WONDERFUL!

    One warning of sorts: if you intend to go with another couple, be sure – really sure – you are comfortable together for a longer period. Most often, I have found, other choices have to be made that one or the other do not like too well, spoiling it all. But parents and children, when the days are open to going in different directions or trying out what seemed impossible together and finding you ARE capable than you all expected is the ultimate.

    There are some places in this world that settle in your hearts . . . and those should be considered before all others. This has been my life — and my family considers their lives grown close pretty wonderful!!


    • I share your love of togetherness through travel Joan. My favorite Christmas was in 1994 when my parents took all their children (with spouses) and grandchildren to the Galapagos Islands. We did this instead of presents and spent our days in the “Garden of Eden” of animals. It was a highlight of my life to have a seal come up and nuzzle my ankle, or a bird drink fresh water from the palm of my hand. I will never forget it.

  3. Susan G Cobb says:

    Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a Gift, Thats why its called the present ! My son thought me this quote from Kung Fu Panda but I love it so much.
    Love the tree this year it has always lifted my spirits, especially when my son just had a very bad accident to his left hand. Very thankful for LIFE !

  4. Eileen Rockefeller says:

    What a beautiful axiom. Thanks for sharing this Susan. And how nice it came to you through your son. It continues to amaze me how our children become our teachers. In gratitude, Eileen

  5. Cherie Weed says:

    Hello Eileen! How I miss seeing you and your family. I have just found your blog and am so very moved by your comments and you. I also find the world through my childrens eyes most amazing. Reinventing or rather finding my true self has been my own personal quest over the lat two years. Not easy but necessary.
    My son wrote me this little note one day when I was feeling particularly low and it lightened my heart.
    Mommy, I am like a cabbage. My leaves I give to others, my heart, I save for you.
    My children are my blessings and my world.

    • Dear Cheri, What a wonderful quote from your son! You must save that forever! It is just precious. And our own self-growth is like peeling the cabbage, isn’t it? Hard work but the most important thing we’ll ever do to becoming our authentic selves. I wish you all the best in your journey of discovery.
      Blessings, Eileen

  6. Dear Eileen, I’ve been reading your blogs and I love them.. this particular one reminded me about my dad always telling us: “we can never turn the time around, that’s why we should never waist it”.. Spending time with loved ones it is really precious thing, but giving it as a gift to someone you love , as Paul did, is even greater..
    I am very happy to know you and Paul..I even can hear now your words , we write to heal ourselves first and that will heal the others too… .I realize that’s why I’ve been writing first of all. Your card with beautiful words made my day beautiful. too…thank you very much

  7. Hi Maka, You are most welcome. I admire your courage in writing, as well as your talent in jewelry making. But most of all, I admire your ability to keep persevering for the sake of family. My fondest wishes to you for this holiday season and beyond.

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