A Lesson from the Vineyard: Strength Through Struggle

Can I be honest with you? I’ve really been struggling with my health this past week. I’ll spare you the details, but as I tried to get back to ‘normal,’ I became really discouraged. How can I help others improve their health when I’m struggling so much with my own?

I realized, though, that nobody is healthy all the time, and as we talked about in What Is Wellness, sometimes our health just ‘is what it is’. And sometimes, the very struggle that threatens to bring us to our knees can end up making us stronger.

I was reminded of a movie I saw once. In it, one of the characters made the statement that the best wine came from grapes grown in rocky soil. Being the naturally inquisitive (okay, nosy might be more accurate) person that I am, I decided to do a little research. Guess what? It’s true.

This was really interesting to me because as a gardener, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure my soil is in great condition for the plants to grow. I try to do everything I can to make it easy for them to produce beautiful, healthy vegetables. If I don’t, I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be shopping at the grocery store instead of in my back yard, so the idea of plants thriving in poor soil is almost a foreign concept to me.

Why would a plant actually produce better from poor soil? Well, I found a couple of reasons. First of all, in this type of soil, roots have to branch off to gather nutrients. This serves two purposes: it increases the surface area of the root, allowing more nutrients to get to the grape, and it helps regulate water absorption. Evidently, if the grapes get too much water, the flavors of the grapes are diluted. Secondly, good drainage is a must for grapes to do well, and rocky soil drains better. Here’s where it gets really interesting though. When a grapevine has to struggle for survival, it prioritizes where the nutrients go. Instead of sending all the nutrients to the leaves, it sends them to the roots and to the fruit, resulting in those beautiful, flavor-laden grapes.

What Do Wine Grapes Have to Do With Me?

Like those wine grapes, we may find ourselves planted in “rocky soil” from time to time. During those times,  we’re forced to prioritize our “nutrients,” those things that help us thrive, such as a healthy diet, adequate rest, exercise…..all of our self-care activities. We learn what’s really important, and we also learn that it’s okay to let those things that aren’t so important go.

And like those grapevines that are struggling to bear fruit and growing stronger from the struggle, we grow stronger each time we’re able to say, “I made it through (you fill in the blank).” It’s probably not what we would have chosen, but we can choose to channel our energy and resources toward things that are going to benefit us. We can grow stronger, not just in spite of our circumstances, but because of them.

Keep Growing Those Roots

Each step we take forward, no matter how small, moves us forward and makes us stronger for the next step. And moving forward under adverse conditions just amplifies that. The more we direct our energy to those things that are beneficial for our well-being, the stronger we become.

We may not always feel it; in fact, there may be times when we feel weak, or feel we’re not making progress, or that life just keeps throwing one thing after another at us and we’ll never get where we want to be. The truth is, though, if we’re continuing to put one foot in front of the other, doing those behaviors that move us toward better wellbeing each day, we’re well on our way.

When we stop and look back at all the struggles we’ve come through, we can see just how much stronger we’ve become and how much progress we’ve made.

If you’re struggling right now, I hope you know you’re not alone, and that this period of struggle won’t last forever. You are stronger than you know, and you’ll come out the other side of this with even more strength and resilience. For now, it’s okay to let some of those not-so-important things go and concentrate on the things that best support your wellbeing.

Do you ever feel like those grapes struggling in rocky soil? How do you make sure you prioritize your “nutrients”? Please share!



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View of a vineyard at sunset, with text overlay: A Lesson from the Vineyard: Strength Through Struggle

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  1. I am so with you on this one Terri. I tend to look at others and wonder how is it that we’re doing the same thing for our health but you’re getting the results you want and I’m not. But as long as we’re trying then that’s a plus in my book. We always learn through our failures than through our successes. I loved your analogy of the plant growing in poor soil. You put it in a way that was cool to understand.

    1. I’m so glad you found this analogy useful Mark! I agree with you that we learn more from our failures than our successes. As you said, as long as we’re trying, that’s definitely a plus. I think we all face those struggles from time to time, and for me, it helps to know that I’m going to get some benefit from it in the long run. Blessings to you my friend!

  2. Great post for today. Similar to realizing you can only change the things within your “circle of influence” it is so true “The more we direct our energy to those things that are beneficial for our well-being, the stronger we become”. We only have so much energy so a great reminder to use our energy on things that benefit our well being.

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