Although these days I live a simple life out of choice, there have been times when I lived it out of necessity. My husband and I have both created businesses that encompass only what we love to do, and, over the years, we have discovered that this type of lifestyle can, at times, make you poor.

It was during one of those times that we discovered our needs are small – tiny, even. When Ty and I were first married, we rented a teeny tiny run-down house in a teeny tiny run-down town, thirty or so miles from the town where we worked.

On Friday nights, we would walk down a gravel road to the video rental store, and we would pick out our movie of the week, which didn't quite play right on our hand-me-down VCR. The picture would scroll endlessly, but the dialogue came through so it kept our attention, somehow, until the end. After listening to our movie, we would lie in the teeny tiny loft of our teeny tiny cabin, just inches from the ceiling and from each other, and listen to the pinging sound of the rain on our leaky metal roof.

My memories of those days and of that house are as fond as those that I reflect on from yesterday and from last week.

More than a decade later, we look back on all the phases of our lives – those when we lived simply and those when we were too busy, too ambitious – and we strive to strike the best balance so that we can model it to our kids.

In the meantime, we have worked to redefine abundance for ourselves, and, since then, it has become clear to me that we do ourselves a disservice when we think of prosperity and abundance only in monetary terms.

Not long ago, I read a piece of advice that asked me to identify what abundance looked like, smelled like, felt like, and tasted like. It's a journaling exercise that can bring a lot of insight. I decided that, though no one will ever make a home décor spray from it, abundance smells like my Labrador after he's been lying in the sun all day. He knows where to sprawl his limbs to extract the most enjoyment from an afternoon, so the sun can strike him just so. He doesn't hurry off anywhere unless he's chasing something just for the thrill of it. And he revels in the joy of work, whether it's chasing sticks or breaking trail for our Nordic skis.

The times when I have felt the most abundance are those times in the early morning when I enjoy a quiet time to work in a silent home as my family sleeps; when I make the time to venture deep into the forest with my kids in the summertime, simply to sit cross-legged and eat raspberries; when my son grasps my finger with his whole entire hand and takes me for a walk, anywhere at all.

I think we're best served when abundance is defined as that feeling of abundant goodwill, abundant love, and abundant peace. No rushing but a simple, peaceful procession from one moment of life to another.

No matter what your income, it's infinitely inspiring to slow down and see if you can recognize true abundance and prosperity, not in six and seven figure incomes, but in the physical, mental, and spiritual experience of having plenty: plenty of time and plenty of peace of mind.

I pray that my kids will take pleasure in the simple life for the rest of their days. I pray that they will continue to appreciate tent camping vacations, home cooked meals with fresh vegetables from a local farm and all of the other small and simple splurges that punctuate our days. I pray that they will understand and enjoy the pleasure of lying in the sun for an afternoon as well as the feeling that comes only with hard work, well done.

Author's Bio: 

Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder and publisher of, a website devoted to helping parents celebrate life with children. To be notified by email when Susie publishes a new essay, visit her blog