It's my pleasure to introduce this week's guest blogger, Diane Peterson, a dear friend to us at Organic Artisans and our community. She is one of the most genuine, loving people you'll ever meet! Although Diane has raised livestock, homeschooled four children, and hosted friends by the dozens with her beautiful gift of hospitality and delicious cooking, she shares in a beautifully raw (and charming) way how she has not yet "arrived" in all things organic and what she has learned in the process. Diane was inspired to write this post for any of our readers out there that might be intimidated by aspects of this lifestyle or perhaps for those that feel like everyone else has it all figured out. :)
Yesterday I was in my garden. Now I should tell you, my garden is a tiny little rectangle. It’s about 4x10 at the most. Then I have two other tiny rectangles that maybe total 3x6 square feet. I have been working these little patches of dirt for a few years now and they are still pretty sad looking. This year’s crop looks pathetic. I just figured out that a giant mulberry tree next to the beds is giving way too much shade. The plants should be triple what they are by now. After weeding and transplanting a few things yesterday I thought to myself, “Why do I do this ridiculous garden? It is so lame. I’m probably not going to get much of anything out of it. Is it even worth it?” But right away, I answered myself, “Yes! Yes, it is worth it--because I like to do it. My kids like to do it, and it brings me joy. Even just a little bit of joy is worth it!” My garden is a sad looking thing compared to most that I see on Instagram. But that’s the point right there, friends. I can’t compare myself to anybody else. I can learn from them. I can admire them. I can enjoy their success and still be ok that I’m not at the same level. I realize I might not ever get there, but that fact doesn’t define me. I can work my sad little garden and be happy! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just might not have this gardening thing in me, and that’s ok. I’m good at other things. In the journey of discovery and trial and error, I can enjoy it and love me and the process.
Let’s not stop at gardening though. I recently was given a kombucha scoby. I was so excited to finally drink my own homemade kombucha. My sweet friend @riddlelove took the time to make me a batch and sent me on my way to beautiful fermentation. In just a few weeks, I was going to be drinking its goodness. Well, after the prescribed amount of time, I took off the cheese cloth and looked in and saw gnats swimming and flying around in the jar. I was so disappointed. Gosh, how did this happen? How did those little boogers get in there? What should I do? I felt like I better throw it away in case they laid eggs in it. I mean, that would just be gross to have little critters growing in my happy scoby. So in the trash it went. Sad sad sad me. I failed. I killed my scoby. I felt a bit embarrassed, but then I told myself, “Well, it’s ok. You tried and you can try again. It’s no big deal. Learning is a journey. You’re not always going to get it right the first time.”
Over the winter I made a failed attempt at sourdough. It just wouldn’t work. I can’t even tell you how much organic spelt flour I wasted. I had a few “almost” successes and then I’m pretty sure my culture was not active or alive. I realized making sourdough is not as easy as it looks. Or maybe it’s me? Regardless, I am going to try again this summer when it’s warm and I’ll be more focused on keeping it alive. I may never become a sourdough master, but I’m going to keep trying.
Another friend recently gave me milk kefir grains. When I had made my first batch, I put it in the fridge. My youngest, Jubilee, is seven and thinking it was milk, she poured it over a bowl of cereal. She thought the milk had gone bad so she threw the whole first batch away! She came to tell me that the milk had “gone thick and chunky” and she poured it out. Oh me, oh my! I didn’t lose it though. “It’s going to be ok,” I assured myself. NO big deal. It’s all good. I can just make some more. Thank the good Lord she didn’t dump out the grains. I think I would have tried fishing them out of the disposal if she had! The grains are still alive today. Glory be! I haven’t killed them. Maybe I’ll just live on kefir!
As I'm reporting all my organic-living mishaps, I look around and see the laundry pile is high in my room right now, my bed is unmade, the sink is full of dirty dishes, and the living room is a mess. I’m about to be late picking my daughter up from school, but I realize that I'm happy. I used to get very discouraged with comparison, failure, and mess. But at 45, I've finally settled into this peaceful reality...Life is not a race or about being great at everything or doing things perfectly. I just get to be me, right where I am. And I’m going to be really good at that. If my tomatoes don’t grow, or I kill another scoby or never make the perfect loaf of bread, I can know that I am learning and that my process is valuable, that my failures don't define me. Of course, I don’t want to just be ok with the failures though. I want to celebrate them and laugh in the process. I want to have peace and joy in all of it--the good and the bad, the failures and the victories. This enables me to keep trying and learning new things. And, I now know I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL! I don’t have to be superhuman and have my own apothecary, and make all my own stuff. I simply get to do what’s in my heart to do, whatever my current level. I can rest in the knowledge that my life is building something beautiful... and building takes time.