Growing My Own Food and Learning to Let Go (a little bit, sometimes)

This is an excerpt from a longer post originally published on LinkedIn.

Last year, my husband and I purchased a home and 3 acres of land 90 minutes south of Chicago in a tiny community called Stelle, surrounded by corn fields and wind turbines. Stelle is a community of about 45 houses, many with sustainable features, such as solar and wind power, water cisterns or wood burning stoves.

To prepare for my newfound lifestyle, I performed a work trade to attend a Permaculture Design Course led by my new neighbors: Bill and Becky Wilson, owners of Midwest Permaculture.

Building on my newfound permaculture design knowledge, I decided to start a vegetable garden.

This was a HUGE learning experience for me, and not only in the ways you’d imagine (when to plant, pruning, how to get rid of rabbits).

For example, I learned how much I love to do mindless physical labor. It is exhausting and time consuming and yet it leaves you feel refreshed and accomplished and empty (in the best way possible).

I also learned that I know very little about life and that I cannot control everything.

This was — is — an especially tough pill to swallow for a control freak like me.

You see, gardening is a constant war and daily struggle.

About the time you figure out how to win one battle, the battlefield itself moves.

You should water the plants, but not too much. Some plants need full sun; others prefer shade and cooler temperatures. Rabbits can fit through 2 inch holes in your fence, and they will f*** up your lettuce. Sometimes weeds are invasive and sometimes they’re edible! Bugs. Don’t get me started on the bugs. The bugs have bugs and they never stop coming. The soil needs amendments to supply plants with the proper nutrients to flourish. Certain plants aren’t friends with other plants, and some plants are best friends. Bees are good, so are butterflies, but moths not so much.

I started my garden in the spring thinking I had planned everything perfectly. In winding down my garden for the winter, I realized I was naïve to think I could wield control over this living ecosystem.

This realization allowed me to see my role in the world with a bit more clarity.

My role is not to be in control or force change on plants or people or businesses — it’s to be a steward.

I can help look after things. To make sure they don’t become unmanageable. To right the ship, should it veer off course.

To fight back the invasive weeds and harsh elements that threaten the health and productivity of my land.

And I’m thrilled to help leaders step into the same role as stewards for their company cultures, so their people can be successful, productive and thrive.

Veggies from my garden

Veggies from my garden

You see, this is what I get to do every day in my role at Habits at Work.

I’m calling 2018 the “year of the workshop” and I am thrilled to facilitate workshops with leaders to help them realize they don’t need to control their culture, their customers or their people.

Instead, they need to step into their role as stewards.

My challenge to you:

If you haven’t already, I’d like to challenge you to look back on your year and find one big learning experience that has allowed you to see the world (and perhaps your role in it) in a different light.

What is your biggest mindset shift in the past year?

Contact me if you’d like to discuss gardening, permaculture, rural life or that giant cabbage:

Breean MillerComment