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The Quill Blog

Our schedule is subject to change on a whim because we're writers and sometimes lose track of the days. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Disciplines for a Contented Life


Samantha here. I've been very homesick since relocating from a sunny part of the country to this cold, wet climate. Despite copious amounts of ingested Vitamin D, I was unhappy. It’s been a slow process to find contentment again. The effect of that depression and the long process to recover gave birth to my recently completed novel set in the San Juan Archipelago of Washington state. It has romantic elements but it is not a western. Rest assured. It has a happy ending.

That fictional story carries many themes, one of which is learning, starting with learning to breath again after tragedy. Both of the central protagonists are holding onto unmet needs that imprison them, preventing them from moving on with their lives. Their solution comes by developing disciplines that will ultimately lift them out of their self-centered worlds. But such disciplines aren’t natural for many of us; like any skill they take practice.

Lesson One: Look for wonder


Lesson one can be transforming. If we want to see it, wonder is everywhere. Did you find it in the image at the top of the page? If not, look again near the bottom, nestled in the tall grasses. This is the place in which I'm privileged to live. A week ago, I was watering a patch of dry grass with a garden hose. A loud humming, yes humming, caught my attention. Hovering inside the sparkling droplets of spray, a few feet from my nozzle, was a humming bird. Its red throat shimmered in the sunlight, its wings were a blur of gossamer threads while its head remained perfectly still. The bird’s eyes seemed to study me as he slipped in and out of the spray. I was speechless but knew I was smiling. How lovely and unexpected and wonderful!

Lesson Two: Look for what is good and true and lovely.

Lesson two can be more difficult. Each of us lives with a negative voice intent to defeat us. More often than not, the voice spews lies into our heads. Learning to ask ourselves what is true can stop the damage done by that voice. There is something about closing one’s eyes in the midst of the fear and the self-condemnation and asking what is true, that can give us time to rationally think through our situation.

Lesson Three: Practice gratitude

Lesson three requires practice. Gratitude isn’t something natural to humans, especially if we aren't struggling to put food on our tables as in many parts of the world. And we are forgetful people. I don’t have to give examples of that forgetfulness, do I? For some, to develop the habit of gratitude is to journal. But whatever method we choose, gratitude has the ability to open our eyes to greater truths. When we feel most afflicted by life’s injustices is when we most need to be grateful.

Am I delighted to live in my new environment? Content? More now than a year ago. I’d still rather live in a sunny climate. I still need to take that Vitamin D. (Did you know mushrooms have them? That’s something I can be grateful for.) I am in process. The experience of finding a fawn sleeping at the back of the barn gave me a similar physical and emotional response as does standing in a brilliant ray of sunlight.

I like happy endings. That’s why my books finish with them. That’s what I wish for you.

It’s often said that practice makes perfect.

How do you learn to live a contented life?

Meet the Author

Book Spotlight

Whitcomb Springs: Find your next series to love.

After the death of Nora Hewitt's husband, the citizens of Whitcomb Springs don't see odds favoring the young widow for holding onto the ranch with only her ten-year-old son to assist. That changes when a gentle giant of a man offers a helping hand. Motivated by compassion and his own need to heal a grieving heart, the blacksmith becomes a mentor for the troubled boy and befriends the attractive widow, scandalizing the town gossips. Propriety is wielded like a weapon to separate them, but Providence makes its own plans through fire, loss and redemption.

Healing Fire by Samantha St. Claire

Genre: Western Fiction/Clean Romance

Type: Short Story

Heat Level: 1

Language Level: 1

Violence Level: 1

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