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Lessons from Natural World

December 23rd, 2011

I’m continually amazed by what I see going on in the natural world around me. Last week, after making some kimchi using a savoy cabbage that I got from a local farmer, the core was left sitting on the counter by my compost bowl. A week later, the cabbage was growing fresh new leaves.

At first I didn’t make anything of it, but then thoughts of struggle came to my mind. In nature, the main goal is to reproduce to continue the species; this cabbage is no different. If I planted this core in a pot, it would grow roots, leaves, and it would begin to flower in the spring. It would then produce seeds, scatter them around, and then tiny cabbage seedlings would pop up all over my garden. I’d have a bumper crop of cabbage in the coming years!

This is the same reason that spinach and lettuce plants will bolt when they get stressed by heat or dryness. Often, when a plant comes under so much stress that it’s survival is threatened, they’ll expend the last bit of energy they have to produce flowers and then seeds, thus ensuring the survival of their kind.

It got me thinking about something Mr Chiots and I have talked about at length. When you look back at your life, the times that were the most difficult are the periods of the most growth, if you allow them to be. Many people don’t sprout new growth when difficulties arise, they simple wither and die; others fight by doing everything they can to survive, thrive and prosper. This moment in our lives is looking like it’s going to be a season of much growth, spurring us on towards something bigger and more beautiful than what our lives are today. Perhaps this is the nudge we need to make a few changes. As I grow older, I’ve learned to embrace these times because so much growth occurs and I know good things will come from it.

Have you found that difficulties produce the most growth in your life?

20 Comments to “Lessons from Natural World”
  1. The Minnesota Farm Woman on December 23, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Great post….how true!

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  2. Fawn on December 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Beautiful post!

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  3. goatpod2 on December 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Not really!


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  4. Joan on December 23, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I’m not sure. I do know that when I was a kid, and a fairly good horseback rider, I’d go through periods where I felt I couldn’t do anything right and felt like my riding abilities had slipped back considerably. Then, after a month or two, everything would click and I’d progress way beyond where I was before the difficulties started. Same idea I guess…

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  5. Denimflyz on December 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    For about 5 years, after I was dianosed with thyroid cancer, I didn’t think that the bad things would end, loss of our home, homeless for about 5 years, living in my parents cold garage until we could find someone to rent a cruddy trailer because our credit rating wasn’t good anymore, and then the very long climb (11 yrs) to get back on track, and to feel like a human being after being treated like a bum.
    It is still bad but the only thing is I have a roof over my head, and I took control and starting gardening again to provide food for my table. That is one thing that I will never let slip, not being able to provide food and being dependant on others who are not in your corner or care about your well being.

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  6. Alecia on December 23, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Cabbage are amazing like that! If you grow them, harvest the first head and cut a cross in the stem, sometimes you get as many as four mini cabbages. I’d read that before but never believed it until I tried it and it worked!

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  7. Carol on December 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Yes. Of course I’d rather grow a different way. No discipline is pleasant at the time. :)

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  8. songbirdtiff on December 23, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Oh my goodness yes. I went through the scariest and hardest time in my life this summer, dealing with panic attacks and severe anxiety. It came out of nowhere and I had to adjust to survive. So much in our lives has changed because of what happened and I can honestly say we are healthier and happier because of it. It was something I’d never wish on anyone but instead of hiding in fear or going on pharmaceuticals to deal with the anxiety and going on with life as it was (which clearly wasn’t sustainable) we allowed life to come to a screeching halt and adjusted our lives. My hubby and I are loving the low stress lives we have adopted and have NO desire to go back to life.

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  9. amy on December 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I heartily agree Susy. Yet, it is so difficult when one is in the midst to hold on to that promise but it is worth it in the end:)

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  10. KimH on December 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I absolutely agree that the most difficult times in my life are the ones that have produced the most rapid growth.. at least they’re the times that growth is really screaming to be seen and there are no mistakes about it.
    I continue to grow in good times too, because its one of my life’s purposes/goals, but its a softer gentler growth usually. ;)

    Very awesome about that cabbage. I dont think I’ve ever seen one do that but Im not a cabbage grower so I guess I wouldnt. ;) Broccoli, yes, chard, yes, greens, yes, cabbages.. no.

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  11. Lee on December 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Susy, make kimchi using jalapenos and anaheim chiles. That’s my mother’s secret. Stores sell only the green ones, and you need the ripe red ones, so you will have to grow them yourself.

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  12. tj on December 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    …I love this post Susy. Speaks straight to the heart. :o)

    …Yeah, I agree that the hard times and struggles in life are what really shape us into who we truly become. Some become angry and bitter while others learn from it, become better and move on. We too have been experiencing difficulty this past year with lack of work, illness and no health insurance but like so many others we persevere. I dunno really, if it weren’t for the sadness and torment in life would we even know the happiness and good fortune? The way I see it is you just gotta keep your head above water, paddle like hell below water and smile all the while you’re doing it.*giggle* Much like that cabbage up there… ;o)

    …I just want to take this time to wish you & the Chiot’s Family a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with happiness and prosperity! And possibly a new farm?! *wink*wink*nudge* Thank you both for doing what you do and for allowing us to tag along for the ride! :o)


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  13. SixBalloons on December 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Hmm, great post and definitely some “food for thought”! Those are beautiful photos.

    Merry Christmas to the gang at Chiot’s Run!

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  14. Eliza J on December 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Life is a learning process. We grow when we learn from what we experience, both good and bad. I understand what you are saying, and in retrospect, I can say that I have grown because of the difficult times in my life…most recently my job of 19 years got outsourced on November 1st. I am not happy to be temporarily unemployed, but I believe that my friends and I are where we are supposed to be at this point in time, and that in the end things will work out, I don’t know how, but I trust they will. …and yes, I do believe “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger”.

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  15. Eliza J on December 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    …one more thing…Have you previously listed how you make kimchi? A friend mentioned this to me recently and I am curious how you make it, and use it. Thanks

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  16. Kath on December 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I love the cabbage pictures! I agree personal growth seems to occur when we go though difficult times. I’m getting ready for a new growth spurt as I just lost my job of 25 years. I know things might get tough, but I have my husband and friends and kitties to curl up with….time to grow again.

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  17. June on December 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    This is so true in my life. After 6 years of infertility, my husband and I conceived our first child only two weeks after major, unexpected, life-threatening surgery. Facing his mortality made me realize that I really did want a child and more importantly, that I wanted his child. I’m sure that it made all the difference.

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  18. Maybelline on December 24, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Difficulties? Hope all is well.

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  19. daisy on December 24, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Most definitely! Having a child on the autism spectrum changed the whole way I looked at challenges in my life. You can’t grow without a bit of struggle.

    Just keep your focus on the big picture and stay open. It really helps!

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  20. Corner Garden Sue on December 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    I enjoyed this post and the comments. My co-workers and I have had pay cuts this fall due to a redefining of how the levels of pay are structured. The lack of respect for our agreement and the levels of work we are actually doing, that they are calling something else has bothered me as much or more as the pay cut. It has drawn me back into God’s Word, which is something I really needed. I have been blessed, but I still sometimes wake up in the night thinking about the unfairness of the situation. Yes, I am in the process of growing in the midst of all of this.

    I hope things are getting better for you and your family.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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