Recently, some time before my 50th birthday in late September, I became motivated—a couple sources inspired me. Perhaps feeling a deep spiritual involvement in everything that surrounds me helps. An example, is that the nature where I live is inspiring. My village is remote, but not cut-off from the every day hubbub of the neighboring “city” Ooty. I look up into the craggy mountains that tower 500 meters over my village, the accumulating fog and its dissemination in the eucalyptus trees, feel the mist on my face as I stand in my little kitchen garden, and I feel contented. My life is simple. To some, I have a lot of “things,” while to others I don't have much. When I return to the US, I see people's homes stuffed with “stuff.” No judgment. I once wanted a lot of nice “things.” But realized that as soon as I walked out of the store, the same “problems” were still there. What Westerners call “retail therapy,” a simple shopping spree to squelch loud thoughts, is a temporary aid. Compulsive shopping doesn't work. The contrast between India and the West is huge, and it takes time to adjust to the culture, the people, the “stuffed” environments again. In my practice, every “little thing” contains energy. Most of my life has been about simplifying on so many levels, not just the physical.

Right now there's a soft pitter-patter of rain outside of my window. My cat Curunji is neatly curled by my side as I recline in bed writing this. I'm playing my favorite mix of classical music. And inside, my heart feels warmth with gratitude for this life. Almost a relief.

What is important is that we feel happy for the people in our lives and tor the contributions that they make. I have a husband who has made great stride and effort in recent times to be a very good husband. We live a different existence than our neighbors, than our friends, than many people. We focus on good health—do health treatments, garden, eat organic foods whenever possible, practice art, and lead a spiritually centered life. We focus only on the good, use good humor and language, and enjoy ourselves and our friends. We don't attach dogma to this practice. Sometimes we miss the mark, and have learning experiences.

Some people may only see certain things about this life and may wish that they have the same. Really, what we have, happiness, that is, came with hard work and climbing up difficult spiritual paths with huge trials. Our life wasn't always like this, and with gratitude and humility we can look back and say that we're glad that those times—the way we used to live—are “over with.”

The other day I was reading an artist's blog about watercolor painting, and she said that when we want to enjoy our lives more, we must simplify. I had never thought of it that way, but when I look at it, that's what my husband and I have done. Everything is basic. We eat simply (one curry and rice at lunch time) or a salad for night time. I own three salwar outfits, blue pink and green. I have six tops, although some of them have been shredded by my cat, so I'm down to three semi-presentable tops... I don't know why I'm giving these things as examples, but I think it's understandable.

Recently I read a book called The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan. It may not agree with some Christians, but it did with me, as I've had similar experiences. The book is about "death" and afterlife. Something from this book, be it in between the lines, the meaning, gave me inspiration to live life more fully. That doesn't mean to go out and do more stuff, or get more stuff. God knows that many probably have full schedules—full houses already. It means more of going inside and observing. I think that Christ speaks about this as well.

My husband and I have come to terms with a “childless” existence. People who are blessed with children are truly blessed. I don't envy or wish that my life be different. The typical question in India is, “Do you have children?” followed by a look of sympathy when they hear our answer. No. I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm happy and grateful that my step-sister Jen is able to give my Father the “Grandfather” experience. God just has something different in mind for us.

I remember how I once envied someone for her accomplishments. But in this mistake, I also might be in some way wishing for something that she has that I wouldn't want. For example, a Pandora's box full of the unknown. Who knows, maybe I spiritually “took on” something of her's that I shouldn't have. An acquaintance once said to me, “I want what you've got.” Naive, I told her about a woman that had helped me through problems with a specific kinesiology healing system. Who knows what it was that I had—in those days over a decade ago—that she wanted. Later I heard that she had had a bout with a big “disease.” As the saying goes, “Be careful for what you wish for,” especially if one is covetous of someone else's life. We never really know what life is like for people. Behind closed doors, the truest living goes unnoticed and unacknowledged, only witnessed by God and a few people. I won't even begin with what our bodies carry around...

All in all, as we make baby steps toward our heart's wishes, there's something satisfying in knowing that contentment is a state of mind. When we calm our minds, our hearts find complacency within the confines of the situation. I know this to be true as an Indian resident—for I have lived with many restrictions (cultural and self-imposed) in these past ten years. And this is the happiest I've ever been in my life. I'm sure that you—dear reader—will receive everything that you need for your life. And I wish that you are guided and protected in the right way. All good things come with good thoughts and a step-by-step process. Best wishes!