As we leave the portion of this series focused on self-care, I would now like to spend the next few days talking about living with intentional and grace as it relates to personal growth.
This past spring, I became good friends with Jen at our local home improvement store. Maybe not so much friends as I kind of stalked her. You see, this year I was bound and determined to have an amazing vegetable garden and she had the knowledge that I needed.
I would march into the garden center armed with my composition notebook that I had titled The Medlin Family Almanac. I would follow her around and ask questions about soil pH levels, composting, and watering schedules. I had sketched a beautiful little square foot garden in my notebook, and spent countless hours researching each and every plant that I planned on growing, with notes scribbled on each page of how to plant, when to fertilize, how to prune, and when to harvest. I could tell you how many onions fit in one square foot and that it was important to plant your tomatoes far away from your strawberries. I was working hard to turn my brown thumb into a green one because I so badly wanted to be like all of the natural living/homesteading bloggers with beautiful gardens, my late summer days spent harvesting and canning.
By the end of August, I had harvested about 3 baby tomatoes, 5 strawberries, 20 peas and beans, and one squash from my 9×5 space. I spent a few weeks dejected and discouraged, but then I did something that felt really good.
I decided that I am not a gardener.
Now I may plant some containers and do a little herb garden next year, but my dreams of having a small suburban farm have been laid to rest.
Some of you with the ministry of encouragement might tell me to not give up, that it was a tough year in vegetable gardening for a lot of people. But you see, I know that down deep I don’t really enjoy gardening that much, and that there are things that I do enjoy much more and would rather invest my time and my energy in.
One of the steps to cultivating a life of intention and grace is understanding who you are and who you are not. I’m not talking about simply giving up on goals because you hit a rough patch. I’m talking about knowing yourself well enough to know which goals to set, and accepting the fact that there are just some things that you are not good at or simply do not enjoy, and that’s okay.
I recently made a list of who I am, and who I am not.
I am a writer. I am not a photographer. I am also not a scrapbooker.
I am classic. I am not vintage.
I am an eclectic homeschooler. I am not a Waldorf or Montessori purist, although I do glean from their ideas.
I am passionate about health and natural living, but I am not an extremist.
I am crafty and creative, but I am not going to open an etsy store in the near future. (Update: I did end up opening a small, seasonal shop. More info here.)
That’s a small glimpse of my list and it may seem silly to you, but it was very helpful for me to define a few of those areas of my life.
You see, by writing out a list of all of the things that I am not, I am eliminating a lot of potential time and energy wasters, so that I can then turn and invest that time and energy into the things that I truly do enjoy and feel passionate about.
- Take a piece of paper and on the top of one side write “I am…” and on the top of the other side write “I am not…” and draw a line down the middle. On the “I am” side, write some things that you are passionate about and that come naturally to you. On the “I am not” side, write down the things that you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do, but that you don’t necessarily enjoy or have passion for.
- Tuck this paper away into your journal or your dresser, and pull it out from time to time to add new things to each list as you continue to your journey of personal growth and discovery.
If you are stumbling under this self-imposed burden that you need to be able to “do it all”, I encourage you to stop believing the Supermom myth, and remember that you can’t do everything. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we must learn to embrace the uniqueness in which we were each created.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
I encourage you to stop trying to be someone that you’re not, and simply be the woman that God has called and created YOU to be.
This post is Day 11 of the 31 day series I am writing on cultivating a life of intention and grace. For a complete index of posts in this series, click here. To read more 31 Days series, please visit The Nester.
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