Contentment, Ambition, and Daily Life

My Mother’s Day Bouquet from Philip

On my desk, Philip set a beautiful bouquet of flowers from our farmyard.  Irises, buttercups, red clover we seeded in the fall garden, even a peony almost ready to bud.  He placed them all in an old steel pitcher we found in the wagon shed, laid a note against it, and set it in the center of my desk so I would find it on Mother’s Day.

I look at this clutch of beauty and hear the gentle swish of my full soul.


This morning, as I prayed and read and let the first rays of pink sun wash over this new day, I found myself thinking about ambition, about how I don’t really have any, about how that feels really good.  To let striving go. To live in each day. To have goals, dreams, desires but to trust that they will come when I live the daily steps.

But almost as soon as I formed that thought, I doubted. I began to think I SHOULD do more, try to blog for more places, push harder to get my YA novel out in the world.  Almost immediately, I was raging against contentment.

I had to talk myself down off the ledge of MORE.  I had to recognize and remind myself that agitation is not a sign of goodness, that stress is not a healthy indicator – no matter what our culture might say in its double-speak of do more that gives you stress and then do even more to reduce that stress.

I have a lot of unlearning to do.


In yesterday’s newsletter, I wrote about how witness “new mercies,” as my friend Preetamdas reminded me today, helps me silence worry.  Today, I am sitting with the possibility that witnessing the joy that can well up in my spirit might silence unhealthy ambition, too.

I have books that speak to me and dreams for this farm. I’m not content to go dormant.  But I am content – or I’m trying to let myself be content – to revel here today in irises and the cool breeze of a May morning.  I’m allowing myself to believe that today really does have enough trouble – and beautiful, bouncing joy – of its own, and I’m letting tomorrow and the next thing be tended elsewhere.

Today, I have flowers to smell.

What about you? What big or small gifts in your daily hours are giving you joy? 

In July, I will be hosting our second annual Writer’s Retreat on the Farm.  Writers of all genres and experiences levels are invited to join us here for a relaxing time of writing, wandering, gathering, and thinking.  We’ll share meals and stories, and we’ll seek rest and words.  We have 9 spaces left, and I’d love you to have one of them.  You can get more information and register here –  Please also tell your friends who may be interested.  Thanks.