If You Want to Grow Your Life, Don’t be Self-Sufficient

To grow your life, don't be self-sufficient
January on Good Heart Farmstead

We’re 3 days in, and every time I write 2018 I feel enlivened and reminded of the endless possibilities there always are.  

What a gift: beginnings.  

And also a gift: the familiar framework of starting over.  The lattices of love that support our growth after a hard year.  For all I said about not doing resolutions, I do love the energy of beginnings.  

The sneaky thing about beginnings, though, is they’re never completely new.  We grow in last year’s compost, informed by all we threw away and all we kept.  Even if we feel alone in the beginning, we’re supported by the land, by the transformation of carbon dioxide into oxygen, of manure into living soil.

Now we’re here at the beginning of a new year, and we can start again growing a good heart life.

So what does it mean to grow a good heart life?  

It means planting a seed, tending to it, and taking consistent action to grow.  

Sometimes that action means rest: even the garden rests on spring and summer nights, and all through the winter.  Sometimes that action means dreaming, then planning.  And sometimes it means getting your hands dirty, doing the hard work of digging, weeding, and transplanting.  

This is as true for growing a garden as it is true for growing your life.  

Before you get to the harvest, you have to do the work.  There’s no way to skip over it, and if you try to, you’ll find the weeds stubbornly keep you right where you are.  

Weeds, of course, can exist in our heads, too.

Do you have old beliefs that are holding you back?  Dig their roots out.  Toss them in the compost pile.  Transplant a nurturing belief in its place.

At the risk of sounding exactly like everyone else, one of my limiting beliefs was “I have to do this all by myself.”  Sometimes it showed up as “I’m the only one who can do this well.”


I have to tell you, with the exception of taking responsibility for my life, there’s actually very little that I have to do all by myself.  And when it comes to running a farm or a homestead, I’ve realized it’s way more fun and much more doable alongside others.

There’s a myth in our culture that self-sufficiency is possible.  

I don’t believe it.

Spend enough time in a garden, and you’ll realize that no life on earth is self-sufficient.  We’re all connected, from soil to roots to leaves and fruit.  We need each other just as much as we need the trees if we’re to breathe.  

Instead of self-sufficient, become community-sufficient.  This is where true sustainability lives.

In practical terms for my family, this means getting milk from a friends’ farm instead of getting a milking cow ourselves.  It means recognizing the things we grow well and doing more of that, while buying what we don’t grow from other local farms.  

It means continuing to grow our relationships with our neighbors, who support us in many ways, from offering tractor advice to telling us the history of this hillside, all of which create a deeper connection with our immediate community.

And when I get overwhelmed or caught back in the loop of thinking I can’t do it all, it means remembering this:

Every bountiful harvest started with one seed at a time.

bee pollinating organic echinacea flowers

Tell me: what seeds (literal or metaphorical) do you want to plant, nourish, and grow this year?

14 thoughts on “If You Want to Grow Your Life, Don’t be Self-Sufficient”

    1. I love this. Edge and I have been on the same journey of understanding what being a farmer means to us. Every year we ask, “Why are we doing this?” and the answer continues to evolve and become clearer. Wishing you growth and clarity this year~

  1. Dear Kate,

    Even though I’m not a farmer I resonate with your article. I have always been refreshed and inspired by gatherings such as la leche league, play groups, study groups, homeschooling groups and now a gathering of like minded women who enjoy herbs, gardening, fermenting, making body care products, etc. We meet once a month to share information, share our lives and share wholesome food. There is so much value in face to face relationships – this is community! Come on folks lets keep on enjoying each other – its s-o-u-l nourishing!

    1. Hi Deb,
      Thank you so much for your note! I love face to face relationships and getting together to learn and grow, too. You said it perfectly – it’s soul nourishing 🙂 .

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