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  • Christy@Gnarly Oak Acres

A New Year: A New Opportunity to Learn

This time of year, the week between Christmas and New Year's is always a week that slows down a bit for me. I know that sounds crazy - who can slow down during the holidays? But this week, work is quieter, school and activities are paused, and I actually take time to sit down in front of the fire with my family. There is something about winter too I think, that makes it is easier to rest, restore and reflect. The snow makes the woods quiet and everything seems a little closer and cozier here at the farm.

When I was in my twenties (just a couple years ago), I would always make the "Resolution." You know the one I'm talking about. "This year, starting immediately, I will: Work out five times a week; Communicate respectfully with my husband at all times; Read a chapter from the Bible everyday; Eat only things that fuel my body in a positive way; Take more time for me. Blah. Blah. Blah." Now, the "Blah, blah, blahs" are all GREAT things and I am not disputing that making resolutions is a good thing. They can be very effective for some people and that is something I will applaud all the day long! My experience, however, is resolutions don't work for this lady.

So, when I was in my early thirties (just a couple years ago), a young mom with LOTS to learn, I found myself thinking I needed a new approach. In those days, with tiny kids, it seemed like I was learning hard lessons everyday. So, what if instead, most days, I tried to be a better version of myself and at the end of the year, I reflected on what I had learned about myself, others and the world around me? Hmmm... that seemed like it could work.

I'm here to tell you, most days, I'm probably not a better version of myself. Most days, I get bogged down in what the day brings: long hours of work + long hours of decision making + long hours of parenting + long hours carpooling, practice, meetings, activities, etc. By 9 p.m. I'm asleep on the couch with my mouth open (I'm serious - I'm very certain I swallow the average 8 spiders a year) and I feel like not much changed that day. But everyday, at some point in all the chaos, I've made a slight adjustment AND learned something. By default, slowly over time, I believe I'm improving. Stop and think about that for a moment... what have you learned today? I guarantee there is something. How could you use that to do better tomorrow?

2021 was a HUGE learning year here at the farm. As you know, we scaled up our veggie biz to a full-fledged CSA operation, providing a weekly basket for 15 families last growing season. It was crazy exciting... until about the middle of June when we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of an epic drought and record breaking extended heat. That's when sh## got real. And when sh## got real, the real learning began. I couldn't just curl up in a ball and pretend it would all be fine. In order for our plants to be "fine" we had to adapt and work our tails off. I filled pages with notes and observations. The hubs and I spent countless hours watering, replanting, adapting. And by golly, we made it through! Then right as our season was wrapping up, the rain came.

Right here is where you expect me to say that the I am thankful for the drought... well I won't and you can't make me. The drought was the WORST and if I could pull a mulligan, I would. BUT... I can't change it. Stuff happens and all we have is the opportunity to learn. And not only did I learn things about our plants, soil, insects, etc. - but I learned about myself too. I learned that I had a breaking point that only frost on May 27th could push me over. I learned that in my vegetable patch is the best place to chat with Jesus. I learned that HOURS of watering can actually bring me peace. I learned that my husband loves me no matter how much I talk to vegetables. And mostly, I learned that I can do hard things.

Over the last couple days, I was finally ready to revisit all of those notes and observations. As I began planning for 2022, I poured over all of it, thinking how much more I know now then I did last year at this time. Decisions I made today, while I chose plant varieties and growing supplies, were based on what I had learned. Not a book by someone else (but those are priceless too!), but from me and my experience, right here on my own little farm.

Happy New Year to you and your family. We hope that 2022 is a year of learning and growth for you! In 2022, I will resolve to learn. And with God's grace, I'll hopefully become a better person during the lessons.

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