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All or Nothing

Grandma and Poppy are here for a visit.  They’re a great help to us when they’re here.  This week, Grandma has been helping me a lot with the garden.

Today we harvested yellow beans, tomatoes, celery, onions, carrots, beets, peppers, green cabbage, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, watermelon, pumpkin, and blackberries.  While we were working together we were talking about (surprise)… food.

All In Gardening Harvest

Grandma said that the recommendations for what is “good for you” food always changes.  She used the example that for years she was told that eggs and butter were “bad”, but now they are supposedly good for you again.

I shared my belief that it’s not only about the individual food, but how it was raised or grown that makes a huge difference.  I believe that animals should be raised on grass with fresh air and clean water.  Plants should be grown in living soil that has not been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

Grandma then made this comment – “Everything should be done in moderation.”

While I was snapping the ends off of green beans, I thought about that.

It’s an interesting statement, and I can understand why she said it and that sometimes it should be applied. And yet, I found myself thinking about how in my life, I often do quite the opposite.

Truth be told, I’m more more of an “all or nothing” kind of girl and tend to tackle life with a “Go big or go home” mentality.

Here are a few examples.

Goat Milk Stuff. When I first started making goat milk soap, I had another soapmaker who had been selling her soap for roughly 7 years say to me, “You can not support your family making soap.” I thought about it for approximately 30 seconds and said, “Watch me!”

Ok, that sounds a bit arrogant now, but I had thrown myself into Goat Milk Stuff and was committed to making it a success.  I knew that with God’s blessings, I could do it.  I knew I could grow Goat Milk Stuff into a viable business that would support my family.  Just because another soapmaker couldn’t (or hadn’t) done it, that didn’t mean that I couldn’t do it.

So we went all in.  The first full year, we attended 30 craft shows.  The second year we attended 50.  It was the main focus for the family.  But that hard work paid off, and Goat Milk Stuff was successfully launched and does in fact support our whole family.

Early Days of Goat Milk Stuff

Making babies.  Even as a teenager, I knew I wanted a large family.  I also knew I wanted the children to be close together in age.  And so I had eight children in ten years.  And then I was done. Those ten years of either being pregnant or nursing (or both) was definitely and “all in” time in my life.

And after Jade was born, I knew I was done and I moved on to the next stage of my life.  I knew myself well enough to know that I no longer had the energy to both raise my children and continue having children.  The “all in” phase was over.

Do I miss having babies?  Sometimes.  But I figure it will just make more excited to be a grandmother some day.

Gardening.  I am definitely all in when it comes to my garden.  I grow so much food it’s kinda scary.  And it takes a huge amount of my time and my children’s time.  But to me it is worth it!

I can’t put a value on the health of my family.  There are so many things that affect their lives that I can’t control.  I want to make sure I do the best possible for them when it comes to things (like eating healthy food) that I can control.  And nothing makes me happier than to watch my children eating fresh veggies directly out of the garden.

But during gardening season, I am definitely all in.  I prep. I plant. I weed. I harvest. I cut. I chop. I cook. I can. I freeze. I ferment.  It takes massive amounts of my time.  But it makes me happy and it relaxes me.  I love having my hands in the dirt and being outside.

I’m even planning yet another garden expansion at the end of this season – I’m so excited!  I’m definitely still “all in” when it comes to my garden.

Organic Gardening at Goat Milk Stuff

Budgeting and paying off debt. I can tend to be a bit of a stickler when it comes to spending money.  I am incredibly frugal on items that don’t have a payback value.

I don’t mind spending hundreds of dollars putting in a new raised garden bed because it saves me time in weeding and produces healthy food.  I also don’t mind buying energy efficient appliances that cost more because they will save money in utilities throughout their life.

But I hate spending hundreds of dollars just to heat and cool our home.  I drive Jim crazy because I’m always changing the thermostat (it’s on a program) to save money on heating and/or cooling.

I use spreadsheets and Quicken and Personal Capital to track every penny we spend for both the business and the family.  Jim, the children, and the employees all know they will be “in trouble” if they don’t submit a receipt so I know exactly what a credit card charge was spent on.  I can tell you over years how our spending has fluctuated.

The reason I am “all in” when it comes to budgeting and tracking expenses is because I hate debt.  Really, really hate it.

Every penny that I save is then spent on paying down debt so that we can once again be completely, 100% debt-free.  I don’t think there is any such thing as debt in moderation.  I want all of our debt completely gone and am “all in” on making it happen.

Those are just a few examples of how I tend to not live my life in moderation.

I do have to point out that when I say I’m an “all or nothing” kind of girl, I am not talking about being a perfectionist.  I am not a perfectionist at all (as Jim will definitely confirm) and I believe that perfectionism in general is rather unhealthy.

But I think you can “go big or go home” with an 80/20 Principle* mentality instead of a perfectionist mentality and there are a lot of benefits to living like this.

  1. You learn a lot.  When you get excited about something and give it a lot of your time and attention, you can’t help but learn.  And learning is fun!
  2. You accomplish a lot.  When you are “all in”, it is much easier to make something happen and produce results.  It’s easy to be productive when you’re passionate about what you’re working on.
  3. You’re never bored.  I find it very difficult to be bored.  There is always something to focus on, work on, or learn about and it is often quite exciting.

But you do need to be careful not to let the perfectionist in you take over.  If you are an “all in perfectionist” it can lead to the following troubles.

  1. You can’t relax.  If you’re being a perfectionist, there is always more to do to get things “just right”.  That makes it difficult to relax or “turn your brain off” so you can sleep.
  2. You get overly stressed.  Perfectionism produces stress no matter how well you handle it.
  3. You don’t enjoy what you’re doing. If whatever you’re working on needs to be perfect, it’s difficult to enjoy the work and what you’ve accomplished.

So yep, I’m definitely not an “everything in moderation” girl.  I live life on full-throttle and throw myself “all in” to my passions with intensity.

Is it exhausting?  Sometimes.  But when I get exhausted, then I go all-in on rest and relaxation.

The intensity with which I live my life may seem exhausting to others, but it works for me.

If you still believe in moderation, I would remind you of the words of Oscar Wilde – “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

What about you?  Do you live your life in moderation?  Or do you tend to go big or go home?




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