The journey you must take to reach for the stars must begin from within. – Anne B. Weil

A simple life.  Days filled with tasks.  Tasks, small powerful achievements.  The kitchen counter cleaned. The dishwasher unloaded.

Cross-stitch floss.

The colors for the cross-stitch I’m working on.

Two hundred x’s on a cross-stitch tree.

Black and white meaning carved into the bark of this world we call the Internet.

Cross-throughs that wave through words on pages I am savoring and slicing.

The bleat of goats and the romp of dogs glad you’ve arrived. Every single time.

The warmth of an egg “hot from the chicken.”

A conversation – slow, unguarded – with people whose questions echo those I’ve asked before or will soon.

Coffee rich with cream and sugar.

The soft curls of my favorite pen on paper, the lilt of language written with blood and bone.

Two dogs, asleep, the expanding silence of a 200-year-old farmhouse. My ears settle back against my head.

My friend Kelly reminded me last week that “Sometimes you just have to lean into the joy.” And I want to lean, to trust that this life we’re building – with all these happy mouths and a barn and my days spent at this computer alone – is good.  But in my mind I hear the voices – “should” “more” “potential.”  I read those voices and reinforce them in blogs about how to  . . . how to anything really.

I’m stopping that reading. I’m silencing those voices with my own joy in the simple life.

Yesterday, someone told me that she was jealous of these writers who command huge honorariums for speaking, and I heard her words echo inside myself. But as she continued speaking, her words became rich with joy as she talked about the value of cooking, of working on cars – of the skills that we often denigrate when we talk of art.

But her voice – the emulation of craft – reminded me – joy is not confined to big things.  In fact, I wonder if it can even abide there at all.  I wonder if joy is something that we must find in mustard-seed tinyness.

I keep seeing the colors from the cross-stitch I am making for my father-in-law.  Rich greens and blues and rusty oranges.  I imagine them and feel them rise in my throat like song.

There is no more to do than what is here today, tasks, gifts, small things.  Beyond that – beyond me – is not mine to carry.  So I let it go and lean into the small joy.

May your day be settled. May you find joy in what today carries – recovery, work, the laughter of children, the gait of a basset hound puppy.  May you silence the “should” and “more” and find here and now.