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Archive for April, 2009

Peanut Butter & Jelly and Abundance

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Quick — think of the first three things that come to mind when you hear the words peanut butter and jelly. For some, peanut butter and jelly reminded you of school lunch, or scooping it out of the jar or maybe even a Reese peanut butter cup. Whatever our associations, we have learned in neuroscience that no two brains are alike and we have memories that are hardwired. It’s not about erasing the hardwiring; it’s about creating new wiring.

My memories of peanut butter and jelly are very strong. As a child, I was a very picky eater (especially if it involved a green vegetable). I would only eat two types of sandwiches and one of them was a jelly sandwich every Friday. No peanut butter. The smell of it would make me do a fake gag sound. So, my parents didn’t resist and gave me the jelly sandwich. I would move my seat if someone near me ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I just couldn’t see myself ever eating it.

In 1992, I moved to New York City. I got a job as an “Activity Specialist” with youth in the South Bronx. My annual salary at the time was 16K. Needless to say, I had to quickly learn how to budget. The take home pay was low and expenses were high. Living on this salary became very difficult. I went to the food store to see what I could afford and realized an inexpensive food was peanut butter. I decided I would give in and taste it. Much to my surprise, it tasted pretty good. I learned to live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for over a year, probably close to three years. Eventually, I would be promoted and my salary would increase. I turned in my peanut butter and jelly for turkey sandwiches.

My last strong memory of eating peanut butter and jelly is from 2001 when I traveled to Banff National Park in Canada. A group of us went on a hiking vacation. We were a little out of shape, but loved walking new trails and wanted to experience the beauty of all the alpine flowers. We decided to take a 5 mile hike on the Plain of the Six Glaciers. The description in the trail guide book said it is an easy day hike. We started walking the trail at a slow pace enjoying the scenery. About 2 miles in, the trail terrain changed and we had to climb some difficult switchbacks. When we arrived at the top, we found that the trail led to a Tea House. We were so hot and hungry; we were almost delirious. At the top of the mountain was a Tea House selling huge peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for $6. I had never paid that much for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before, but they were gigantic. I don’t think I was even able to finish the sandwich. Afterwards, the only thing I remember is telling everyone, “That was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I ever had in my life.”

Looking back now, I realize I had three very different memories of peanut butter and jelly. One memory was an unwillingness to even try it out. Another was eating it out of desperation and scarcity and lastly a memory of gratitude and abundance. With just a simple phrase like peanut butter and jelly, there is such an array of looking at choices and approaches. My old wiring said peanut butter and jelly was not worth trying or if it is that is because it is cheap and affordable. I was able to create new wiring that allowed me to experience peanut butter as not only delicious, but abundant.

I began to ponder where else in my life is old wiring holding me back from having new experiences. Recently, I have been contemplating how I can expand my healing arts company. I am envisioning what that would look like and what I would need to do to fully bring myself to my growing edge. What would I need to let go of to spend more time on building my company? What would it take to do what I love full-time, even if it meant giving up some comforts I enjoy now? My first response was, “Listen. I lived on peanut butter and jelly for almost three years and I am not going back now.” Is that response coming from not trying, scarcity, or abundance? That response is really just fear talking. I can choose to give into the voice of fear or I can take a risk and see this as way of “tasting” a new food. I can step into doing what I love, what brings me joy, and what feeds my soul and still enjoy eating the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world.

What are you choosing? Are there things you are not willing to try out of fear? Do you see simplicity as scarcity? Or are you able to look at an area of your life that you are willing to grow and think abundance?

Today, I am choosing to enjoy an abundant peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Would you like to share it with me?

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