Appreciating the Little Things

Reader Contribution by Laura Berlage and North Star Homestead Farms
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The long days of summer are here.  Incredibly blue skies, brilliant sun, the songs of birds busy catching breakfast for their little ones. Yes, it might be easy to complain that it’s been too wet or too dry or too hot or too cold or too buggy or too muggy… But, honestly, don’t let the internal complainer ruin the beauty in the day.  There are so many little things to be grateful for, all around us each day.  Pay attention to them, celebrate them.

In our last week’s Thursday afternoon creativity workshop (part of a series inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, so join us if you can from 3 to 6 pm), we explored the pervasiveness of scarcity mindset and how this creates a toxic misinterpretation of the creative process.  What is the antidote to scarcity mindset, to that gnawing feelings of not enough-ness?  Gratitude! 

As part of the workshop, we had a two-minute free-write on five topics pulled from the hat, each framed within the lens of gratitude. Here’s what I wrote that afternoon.


Insufferably hot day in the garden.  Gnats nipping at my face, smarting like their tiny bodies must be all teeth like a Parana. But then, Oh, the breeze, beloved breeze picks up, chasing them away. The breeze and the dragonflies are my best allies in the summer garden. They help me maintain my focus on the work at hand and not be completely driven out by the bugs.


Simple gift, a smile.  Takes fewer muscles than a frown, especially given how the act of smiling can serve to lighten the mood.  But how often the frown, the grimace, the look of pain. A genuine smile (like that given by your mother) is an oasis in the sea of suffering.  It’s like a gift, a bit of peace, when given truly.

Rose Petal

Gentle velvety cup, singing with your compatriots on a yellow puff of joy—a single rose, the Tudor rose. What joy to find you along the roadside, blooming in a sudden burst, unexpected. Wild rose. How long had you been growing there and I had not noticed?  Had you waited long for me to delight in your bloom?  I’ll not pick you but let you grow.


So nice when you have them—what a kerfuffle when you don’t!  They jingle in the bottom of my bag as I fumble about, talking to themselves. The first key I ever got was the one to my own studio door, in 2007. Now I have a collection—house, café, shed, gate…  Funny, though, that first key is still the most special to me.


Sometimes I resent the morning chores—sometimes big time—but really I’m also grateful for them.  hey get me going in the morning, even when I would much rather hole up and feel sorry for myself. They get me outside, no matter the weather.  They keep me connected with nature, noticing the little things, aware. The duty of chores grounds me in tending, in caring.  Animal lives depend on me to show up again and again and again. The duty of chores teaches me to be dependable, level-headed, big-picture and detail focused—honed skills I can always apply to my creative life. The duty of chores is the discipline of showing up, despite all manner of internal and external resistance.

Here’s another bit of writing from my morning journal pages, sharing a bit of gratitude for toads.

Saw another toad today.  They’re my favorite garden helpers. Whenever I find myself stepping towards a creative or healing endeavor, that evening will appear a toad during chores. I take it as an omen of universal goodwill towards my goal. Toads always make me smile, even if they’ve just made me jump while weeding, mistaking them for a clod of soil.  Toads have an earthy sort of charm—unassuming, going about their work. 

This one was sitting right in the middle of the lane, all fat and sassy.  Not wanting to leave the little fellow (or lady?) to get squished under a tire, I picked it up and carried it along with me for a while, depositing it safely in the grass. The toad squirmed in my hands, probably certain I was going to eat it, when I was only borrowing its time and thinking of its safety. 

Creativity does that too—sees us ready, picks us up. Our first reaction may be fear, until we realize no harm is intended—then we go along for the lift before being set back down. But in order to get the lift, the toad had to be out in the open where I could see it.  The cautious toads that stayed in the grass, they never had the chance for a ride.  Think of the stories my toad could tell them now!  Would the others believe him. Maybe, maybe not, but either way the toad had the adventure, and I had a good toad smile at the end of the long day.

What small or even simple things do you have to be grateful for this week? Count them, share them, take a moment to write about them. Keep appreciating the little things, and we’ll see you down on the farm sometime.

Beautiful summer morning doing chores with Finlee.  Photo by Kara Berlage

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453

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