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Sarah Ban Breathnach

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First You Cry

Posted: 06/09/2012 9:00 pm

On an all-new Super Soul Sunday, best-selling author Sarah Ban Breathnach talks exclusively to Oprah Winfrey about how she had to start over after losing her fortune. "Oprah and Sarah Ban Breathnach: Losing Everything, Finding Yourself" will premiere on Super Soul Sunday June 10 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Breathnach will open up for the first time on television about her experience after becoming a multi-millionaire with the success of her best-selling book, Simple Abundance. After appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and introducing the concept of the gratitude journal, Breathnach's book Simple Abundance sold 7 million copies worldwide. Women across the globe related to Breathnach's trademark sense of practical wisdom and her writings about the joy found in life's simple pleasures.

Simple Abundance continued to chart the New York Times bestseller list, but a little over a decade later, Breathnach's fortunes had reversed. By losing everything, Breathnach reveals she found her authentic self. Her latest book Peace and Plenty details her rapid rise and fall, as well as the truths she discovered and her journey back to health and happiness. In this insightful and personal interview, Breathnach reveals it all. To preview the episode and share online, please go here and here. Below is an excerpt from Breathnach's Peace and Plenty

~ Oprah Winfrey Network


First You Cry

Even when the gates of Heaven are closed to prayers, they are open to tears. --THE TALMUD

I used to be a woman who cried at Hallmark commercials. Maybe you are as well. But for the last couple of years, as the economic ground beneath all I've accomplished  and cherished has shifted so profoundly in a life-shattering  reversal  of  fortune,  I've  trained   myself to stay alert when the roar and the rumbling of what could be catastrophic change begins. As anyone who lives on a geographic fault line where earthquakes are frequent  will  tell  you,  it's  the  aftershocks  you need to worry  about.  Just  when  you  think you're  safe  again,  you  can  get  buried  alive. Tears  are  too  much  of  a  distraction  at  times   like  this,  so  I've  learned  to  adapt  to  a  behavior  that is completely contrary to my natural inclinations: no crying. I simply cannot allow myself the luxury of falling apart if the world does.

Not just yet.

Other times, the shock of whatever heartbreak has just befallen you is so great, and so unexpected, your visceral reaction is a hand to cover a stifled scream as your knees buckle. This is what happens to other people, but not you. You pay your bills on time, have a deeply personal relationship with God, do good works, are the best mother in the world, the most devoted wife, loyal friend. A moment ago you had dreams, vacation plans, routines, the car pool run, vet appointments, budget meetings, retirement pension, conference calls, soccer games, health insurance, dinner reservations, a home. Then the doctor calls. The Dow plunges. A drunk runs a red light. The  bank  forecloses.  There's  a  menacing  knock  on  the  door.  The  court  summons   arrives, or a police car slows down then turns into your driveway. Photographs slipped through the mail slot reveal that your husband has not been working late at the office. In an instant you lose your job, your home, your health, your marriage, or the unthinkable, your child. We vanish in plain sight along with our good name, our identity, our honor, our sense of right and wrong. Our security. Our future. The day after tomorrow.

All the money's gone? How can that be? No, you don't understand. I didn't do anything wrong. There must be some mistake.

But no, there is no mistake. Only beautiful lives gone awry, promises that can no longer be  kept,  and  hearts  rent  asunder.  In  this  "ordinary  instant,"  as  Joan Didion so exquisitely calls the moment when each of our lives changes utterly and forever, we are catapulted into the realm of the unspeakable.

There are simply no words to express or console. No explanation, no reasoning, no self- help mantra, no belief big enough to surmount this anguish at this moment. No secret on earth to help you come to grips with the unfathomable. All we know is that we are stunned, shocked, hurt, grieving, and groping with too many unknowns to consider and too many contingencies to handle as we attempt, in wrenching pain and agonizing vain, the harrowing undoing of what cannot be undone. And now, sweetheart, now you cry.


Misery Has Her Moments

Sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness. -- PEARL S. BUCK

Misery is, by her own nature, a passing phase of sorrow, one that does not linger uninvited.  Her  sojourns  seem  to  be  part  of  life's  required  curriculum,  perhaps  because Misery endows us with compassion and empathy. A time will come when--because we know how much it hurts--we will be able to help another.

Artists will confess, after a few drinks, that the pain of Misery can sometimes be bittersweet. Down  through  the  ages  she's  been  the  most  inspiring  of  muses.  Poets  write tributes to her, musicians sing her song, playwrights dramatize, and filmmakers embody her cinema verité  with  every  take.  What  they  all  are  trying  to  do  is  work  with  Misery's   mystical  power  to  transform,  because  after  she's  come  to  call,  we  are  never  quite  the   same. There is a composite echo, a deeper vibration to the adagio of our days and our response to life. I remember having a conversation with Rabbi Harold Kushner about life's  tragedies;;  he  told  me  something  that  I've  never  forgotten  and  so  pass  on  to  you.   Be  very  sorry  and  pray  for  the  "lucky"  people,  the  people  you  might  envy,  those  who   have not known the vestige of sorrow, or grief, or misery before they are forty, because their ledgers of loss will be incalculable. Life is the ultimate forensic accountant.

So how do you deal with Misery? Some of us dance around her, playing out her many moods and wearing the mask of ennui as if nothing matters, when the truth is that everything matters. Others of us ignore her in a pointless pretense of dissociation and denial. Yet there is really only one way to deal with Misery. Accept her presence. Like most experiences in life, we must acknowledge the passage gracefully and let her move through our lives because she brings with her a hidden gift.

But we must be patient enough for her to reveal it. And so we find ourselves reciting the narrative of our grief again to  family,  then  friends  who  will  listen,  and  then,  when  they  won't,  strangers  on  a train,  our  pets,  or  the  peeling  wallpaper  in  the  kitchen,  as  Misery's  morning  cups  of  tea   become tumblers of wine or whiskey mixed with our tears at twilight.

Finally,miraculously,  one  night  we  stumble  into  bed  and  for  the  first  time  in  a  while  don't  toss   and turn but sleep deep and morning comes. Oh yes, my darling Reader, Miss Misery does have her moments of healing.

"It is in the middle of misery that so much becomes clear,"  the  poet and Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés reassures us. "The one who says nothing good comes of this is not yet listening."

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The Emmy Nominated series Super Soul Sunday (Sundays, 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN) delivers a thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring program designed to help viewers awaken to their best selves and discover a deeper connection to the world around them. All-new conversations between Oprah Winfrey and top thinkers, authors, and spiritual leaders take place everywhere from an oak grove at her California home, to on location in Hawaii, India, New York, Chicago, and around the world. Exploring themes and issues including happiness, personal fulfillment, wellness, spirituality and conscious living, "Super Soul Sunday" presents an array of perspectives on what it means to be alive in today's world.

For more information, see: www.oprah.com/supersoulsunday

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