Surviving or Thriving?


Friends of ours here in Tucson belong to a community garden, and they have been eating produce predominantly sourced from their garden for a while now.  During  a recent visit to their home we sampled some of these goodies and took a walk to their garden.  We seized the opportunity to get some pointers as we had begun gardening ourselves.  They shared many tips but often with the caveat “although there can be a lot of variability”.  I think I’m starting to know what they mean.

This morning’s visit to the garden started me thinking about the variability in our garden-why some plants were thriving and others merely seemed to be surviving.  And that led to thoughts about my own journey from surviving to thriving.  But first the plants.

The most obvious variability in our garden has to do with the two very different growing environments we have.  With temps in the 80’s and 90’s the raised bed is a dry, hot desert environment;  the greenhouse is moist, warm and humid.

The basil in the greenhouse is thriving.  So is the cilantro in the raised bed:


These plants are at ease in their respective environments with little outward appearance of  stress.  What they need is what they have, not too little and not too much.  Balance and growth.

We also have examples of plant “siblings” that were provided with identical (at least in ways we could control) growing environments, but only some are thriving.  Consider these zucchini plants:



One is  thriving (getting there anyway) and the other is clearly just hanging on, either not getting enough or getting too much of something.

Or these tomato plants:



This survivor is making a valiant effort to keep going, leaning toward the sun, taking whatever nourishment is available from the soil and absorbing the water.  But again it’s clear that something is out of alignment for this plant.

As  “master of the garden” I will try to help the survivors start to thrive.  I have the tools at my disposal if perhaps not quite enough knowledge at this point.

So what do we need to thrive rather than just survive? I think it’s pretty much the same thing as the plants-more of what feeds us and  less of what doesn’t and lives that are in alignment with the deepest parts of ourselves.  That sounds simple but it’s anything but easy.   In order to get there we need to be our own master gardeners–no one else can know what we need to thrive.   And once we know what we need do we even have the courage to make it happen?

My journey involved changes in marriage, friendships, where I live and how I spend my time.  These transitions often caused pain for me and people I care deeply about.  I trusted (or maybe just hoped) that understanding would come my way.  Sometimes it has and sometimes it hasn’t.  Through all of it though I believed that I would not only find more peace and joy for myself, but that I would be a more hopeful and positive presence in the lives of others.

Upon starting this blog, a frequent comment I received was “you’re beaming” or ” you look so happy”.  And that’s the thing about thriving.  It’s not something that’s easy to define and it looks different for each of us.  But as with the plants in the garden, I think we all pretty much know it when we see it.









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