One of the greatest gifts of moving out to the farmhouse 19 years ago has been our garden. It’s also been one of my greatest teachers – revealing to me more about abundance and scarcity than almost any book I’ve read or workshop I’ve attended.
I’m going to share the story of one such “abundance lesson” with you today. Perhaps, in sharing my story, our garden will become one of your greatest teachers as well.
When we first moved onto our four acres, we “inherited” a garden that was about 300 square feet. After years with a small plot in a community garden, we were thrilled it was so big AND that it was located right out our back door!
In fact, it was so much fun that we made it a little bigger our second year. And then a little bigger our third year – and so on. So much so that, six years after we moved here, our garden had grown to 5,500 square feet! (No – that is NOT a typo.)
It seemed so ABUNDANT to have such a big garden and to be able to grow LOTS of organic food to eat year-round. Think of the money we’d save on groceries during the winter!
We had 34 tomato plants, 20+ pepper plants, 12 basil plants, 10 squash/zucchini plants, 6 cucumber plants, 8-10 eggplants and 4 tomatillo plants. We also grew 1000 garlic plus I-don’t-remember-how many broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, watermelons, cantaloupe and celery plants. We also had green beans, sunflowers, strawberries, raspberries and grapes.
And, YES, the planting and mulching, watering and harvesting, cooking and storing took a LOT of time and energy. But it seemed SO worth it – especially when we ate homemade pesto on our pasta the following January. YUM!
The second year of our 5500 square foot garden was a different experience.
We had a REALLY rainy April – which meant the weeds got a jumpstart on us. By the time the ground was dry enough to weed, they were HUGE (as you can see in this photo). They had also spread everywhere.
Bottom line, we didn’t have the soil ready for planting until mid-June. And then, in July, we had a 10-day streak of 100+ temperatures and a month-long drought. Not only did we have to water every day, we couldn’t mulch with grass clippings because there wasn’t grass to mow!
We were so busy simply trying to keep the plants in our garden ALIVE that we couldn’t do much else. For example, we never got our tomatoes staked. So by late July, all of our tomatoes were sprawling on the ground – making them easy eating for mice, possums and coons. ☹️
And then there was our raspberry patch. One day that August, our friend, Erv, stopped by to pick some. In truth, he had been stopping by once or twice a week for most of the summer.
That’s when it really hit me. Here we were, growing all these raspberries, and WE hadn’t harvested any of them. They would have gone to waste had Erv not picked them.
I think you’re starting to get the picture.
We had fallen for the LIE that bigger is better – that having MORE is abundant. Only we didn’t know it was a lie.
Let’s face it, my friend.
We live in a world where having bigger houses, bathrooms, yards and closets is a sign of success. Where having more “stuff” – be it tools or toys, cars or clothes (or shoes!) – is a sign of wealth and abundance. Where having FULL calendars and being involved in LOTS of activities is considered the norm – if not the ideal.
But is it?
Could it be that, caught in this illusion, we fail to recognize the stress, strain and burden this emphasis on QUANTITY puts on us – and on our planet?
Could it be that sometimes, like us with our raspberries, we’re so busy trying to stay on top of all that we have and are doing that we aren’t able to truly enjoy any of it
Could it be that TRUE abundance has less to do with the QUANTITY and more to do with the QUALITY of life we create for ourselves AND for our world?
These are courageous questions to ask – even moreso to act on the answers.
It took us four years to finally admit that our 5500 square foot garden was actually creating scarcity – not abundance – in our lives. That’s when we began to scale back so as to have a garden we could both sustain AND enjoy.
I share this story with you as another example of why recognizing and honoring sufficiency is necessary for us to experience true well-being and abundance. It’s the Goldilocks principle. We need to find our own “not too much, not too little – JUST RIGHT!” point.
And so, my friend, I ask you now…
Where in your life might you have fallen prey to the lie that MORE, LOTS, BIGGER is automatically better – is automatically ABUNDANT?
Where might you need to “right-size” your possessions, activities, and life so as to find your “Just Right” point?
What does sufficiency look like in your life, my friend?
How might having or doing LESS actually give you MORE of what you really want in life – like energy, health, freedom, joy and satisfaction?
These are the questions our garden asked me so many years ago – when it was an “abundance coach” to THIS abundance coach! 🙂
And today I’m passing them on to you.
I’d love to hear your response – if you care to share!