Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou
If you had told me 20 years ago, when I was wearing my plaid, flannel Chucks to my first days of college, that I would be here, with 30 animals on a farm in the mountains, I would have said you were ridiculous. I was going to be a literature professor, teach on a campus with brick buildings and a lawn that golf courses envy. I was going to have a side-slung satchel and walk home from school to make dinner with my husband – also a professor – and read or listen to music all evening.
That was the dream then, and it was that vision that fueled me through 3 degrees, that carried me across the country, that showed me how much power words have. It was this dream that led me to the one I live. There is no question of that.
If I had not started my adult life with the goal of being a professor, I would not have been able to walk away from that profession when I got it. I know that seems contradictory, but it’s the truth. It was ability to go after something and to know when that something doesn’t work for me that I learned from all that education and academic work. (Oh, and I have a really good reading list. :) )
Last evening, as the sun sank behind the mountains and the gloaming shimmered in on the pastured, I mowed the grass and listened to Tana French’s beatifully-written thrilled Likeness. As I spun the mower around our pear tree, I heard one of the characters say:
Our entire society is based on discontent. People wanting more and more and more. Being constantly dissatisfied with their homes, their bodies, their décor, their clothes, everything – taking it for granted that that’s the whole point of life. Never to be satisfied. If you are perfectly happy with what you got, especially if what you got isn’t even all the spectacular then you’re dangerous. You’re breaking all the rules. You’re undermining the sacred economy. You’re challenging every assumption that society is built on.
The bare-skinned truth of that resonated so powerfully with me that tears came to my eyes. So much, we push for more. So much, we strive. So much, we drive so hard toward a goal that we can miss the fact that sometimes we just don’t even want that goal anymore.
I am so full-up on this small-circumscribed life we live here. I’m brimming over with joy, and I have more to “do” if doing is necessary for happiness than I could ever complete in this lifetime. I no longer dream of walking those campus lawns or getting a side-satchel. A garden bed and a harvest basket are plenty for me. I’m so glad that somehow along the way, I learned it’s okay to put aside one dream and take up another. I’m so glad that I took life slow enough to see when my dream spun into another beautiful direction.
My hope for you today is that you put aside anything that does not fill you up. That you seek contentment in the things that bring you the most joy and peace. That you shrug off the fear of being called “wrong” or “foolish” because if waking up every morning excited to be alive for those coming hours is foolish, then fools we should all be.
This morning, we’re sitting in a perfect rainy shadow, and I love it. As soon as the animals were fed, I loaded up the bread machine (a true blessing in a tiny kitchen, but I do miss kneading dough) with honey whole-wheat bread. Here’s the recipe:
Honey Whole-Wheat Bread for the Bread Machine
(adapted from 100 Days of Whole Food)
3 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1/4 c. honey (local if possible)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
Following your bread machine’s directions, mix the ingredients. Then, turn on the machine. :)
If you don’t have a bread machine, then mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately. Then, knead well. Set aside in a warm space to rise until double. Then punch down and knead again. Let rise again – this time in greased bread pans (2) – until doubled again. Then, bake, ~40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.