Cultivate What Matters

Cultivate What Matters

Cultivate…that’s the title of a book I am working my way through.  The full title is actually, Cultivate ~ A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.  It’s by Lara Casey.  I find myself pondering on the big ideas and doing a lot of reflecting.  So, it’s not a fast read.  It’s more  of a work book to help you create a flourishing life and let go of perfection.  I don’t know about you, but I could use a few lessons on this very thing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have a good life.   A wonderful, loving family.  We enjoy good health.  We have jobs and a roof over our heads.  This is more than many people can say.  Especially now, when so many people are struggling through catastrophic events.  Without a doubt, I am blessed.  Still, I wonder, do I live the life I am supposed to live?  Am I doing the “right” things?  Is God pleased with me?  Do I set the right example for my kids?  Is my life flourishing or am I just going through the motions?   Is there more?  Please tell me I’m not alone in these thoughts.  So, when I stumbled upon this little book, I knew I had to read it.


Cultivate is a book helping me to learn to choose what matters and let go of the rest.

Hello my name is Jenny and I am a perfectionist.  I try to hide my perfectionist, controlling tendencies.  I realize this may not be my best quality.  It is true that sometimes I so focus on making things ‘perfect’ that I forget to enjoy the moments.  I find myself constantly torn between the two ~ I want to live life and enjoy it AND I want to make things as close to perfect as I can.

This is especially true in my family life.  I want to be the BEST mom, the BEST wife, decorate my home perfectly, celebrate every holiday and then some, create life-long memories, and document them all in beautiful scrapbooks.  My home needs to be clean and clutter free.  I must make time for everyone plus a workout each day.  It’s a lot.  Can you relate?  Does this sound at all like you?  If you say yes, we should be friends. 🙂

Of course, I impose much of this never-ending to-do list.  I do it to myself!  Mr. LouiseMarie does not need a clean house.  He can’t see the clutter.  The kids just want to play video games.  They couldn’t care less about the decor of our home.  In fact, I am not sure they would recognize the BEST wife or mom if she punched them in the nose.  So, why then do I put so much pressure on myself?

I was struck by this analogy.  Casey says that trying to live an intentional life without making a mess is like trying to garden in white pants.  To me this means that trying to fully live and enjoy your life while trying to not mess up or be less than perfect is futile.  You can’t do both.  That’s a hard idea to really accept because it means letting go of a life-long habit of expecting to do things perfectly.  I do expect a lot of myself.   Still, it rings true that when you focus on being perfect you miss out on the joy in the moment.

Another take away is the idea of thinking you can handle more than you actually can.  You know, doing too much and not doing any of it well.  This is one that I feel all of the time… trying to be a wife, a mom, a friend, a sister, a teacher, a blogger…  I wonder if I try to do too much and if I were to cut back would I do a better job of any one of them?  The question is…which do I give up?  Where do I cut-back?

The idea is really about learning to simplify.  Learning to say no.  Giving yourself room to cultivate the things that matter most to you.  Casey states the obvious ~ we only have so much time, energy, and resources to give.  We have to choose wisely.  I know it seems obvious.  None of these are new ideas to me; however, there is something about the way Casey writes that really gives me pause.

Along these same lines, this idea has really struck me:

“But I’ve learned there is no guilt needed when times of overload press in; there’s just grace and an opportunity to shift.  When life changes, as it often will as we grow, something has to shift or overload occurs.”  pg. 33

I frequently feel overloaded or overwhelmed.  I need to let something shift.  So, I am working to determine what I really want to cultivate, what I need to let go of, and what shifts I need to make in my life.  If you see the need to make some changes in your life, read this book along with me.  I’m only finishing chapter one and I would love to hear what you think about these ideas.

You can find the book by clicking on the image.   

Or, you can learn more by visiting Lara’s website here.


So, are you struggling like me trying to spend your time and energy on what really matters?  Have you already conquered this and you’re living your best life?  Either way, I want to hear about it.  Comment below, and don’t forget, please join my email list here so that all my posts are delivered right to you.


Until next time~


  1. Jenny, this is a wonderful, AND important, post. I’m a recovering perfectionist and can tell you that life is much better when you let go of perfectionism. I find setting a timer is helpful in limiting the time spent on something I might go overboard “perfecting.” Example: Setting the table for a dinner party is something one could spend hours on – but is that the best use of my time? No! – So set the timer for one hour (or whatever) and then stop and call it done as soon as the timer beeps. I’ll definitely look into this book.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your comment Jean! I am so glad you stopped by today. 🙂 You are right, I’m sure, that letting go makes life better. It’s the letting go that’s hard! Your idea of using a time is brilliant!

  2. You are probably not alone in your thinking Jenny, these days we seem to have so many competing issues going on. We have to realise that no-one can be perfect and accept ourselves as much as possible. It’s much easier said than done though! I’m glad you are enjoying this book and thanks for sharing with us at the Blogger’s Pit Stop. Take care. Deb

  3. I’m not a perfectionist, but I do get sidetracked way too often with things that only matter for a short time. I need to focus more on what’s most important. I struggle with this daily.

    1. Author

      Me too! It’s so hard to keep things in the right perspective. I’m looking forward to more lessons in this book.

  4. Brene Brown talks a lot about the beauty of imperfection and it’s a lesson I’m slowly learning. I always thought perfectionism was the ideal – now I know it’s the opposite and slowly erodes a lot of the joy out of living.

    1. Author

      You’re right, she does! I do love her. Have you seen her TED talk? It’s a hard lesson to learn and a really hard habit to break! SO glad you stopped by. Stay tuned for the next lesson from the book. 🙂

  5. Jenny, I can relate myself with you … only difference is that myself I am referring to belongs to 5 years back. I, no doubt was trying “to garden in white pants” then. Not any more. How did this transformation happen? I learnt it in a hard way. I burnt myself too fast and from both the ends. And I was worn out! And when the things started slipping out my hands and I was weak, wisdom struck me! I am far more relaxed and let it go kind now!
    How I wish, I could have chanced upon Lara’s book!!!
    Very engaging read, Jenny.
    Anagha recently posted Its All About Money, Honey!

    1. Author

      Anagha, thanks so much for your comment. I am glad I found that book too. It’s really making me think about a lot of things. I’m sorry to hear you had to learn these lessons the hard way, but I can relate to that too. I hope you’ll stay tuned for the next lesson.

  6. Thanks for this post. As I quickly approach birthday #40 (augh!), I’m slowly figuring myself out and what things I get myself involved in that make me unhappy and proceed to have a negative ripple effect on the family. To me, the positive of getting older is that we (hopefully) know ourselves better and what limitations we need to set so those around us don’t suffer. Visiting from BEE Party.

    1. Author

      So true! so glad you visited. Stay tuned for the next lesson from the book. I was reading last night & can’t wait to share it.

  7. I like what you said about having to accept that you can’t be perfect 100% of the time. Thank you for linking up with us at the #HomeMattersParty this week!

    1. Author

      Thanks Nicole. Right? But, I think it’s one thing to know it mentally and another thing to really own the idea. #workingonit I’m so glad you stopped by to visit today.

  8. Thank you for sharing Jenny! I am a huge fan of Lara Casey. I have not read Cultivate but I have read her first book, Make It Happen. I’m also a fan of her power sheets! I look forward to reading Cultivate in the near future.

    1. Author

      Thanks! I’ve read about the power sheets, but haven’t tried them yet. Maybe that’s something I need to look at again…

  9. I so agree with your viewpoint that we HAVE to cultivate what matters in our life, to do deep work, not just going through the motions in life — which is tragic, and just being caught up with ‘belonging’ and conforming. Thank you for this post! And yes, nothing is perfect on earth and will never be.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it! Stay tuned for the next lesson coming soon. 🙂

  10. Yes Jenny, I have gone through a perfectionist stage (some issues I still act that way). Most things now I just stop when I’ve had enough. It’ll just have to be good enough. I also choose to do so many things. I have so many things I want to do. I feel like I don’t want to miss out on anything. But eventually, I have to drop some things from my to-do list. As long as I get the most important ones done, I’m OK with that. I move the rest of them to the next day and eventually get around to them. Or not. I don’t stress out about it anymore. I do get the important things done. Still trying to stop filling up my days with things to do tho. 😉

    1. Author

      Oh my gosh! Yes! The never ending list of things to do!!! I relate completely. I am getting better at letting go of some things, but have a way to go on others. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment.

  11. “The idea is really about learning to simplify. Learning to say no. Giving yourself room to cultivate the things that matter most to you.” OMG…SO good. I need to print this on a poster and staple it to the wall where I can see it, and live it, every day. THANK YOU. Stopping by from the Pit Stop.

  12. Hi Jenny, thank you for sharing this book and part of yourself in this post! In some ways I’m a perfectionist and in others I’m not. We just had family members visit that we hadn’t seen in almost 20 years. I was working like a crazy lady to have the “perfect” house. But I didn’t make it, time ran out. And you know, it didn’t matter at all, no one noticed the things I didn’t get done. I think we make ourselves miserable when we try to make everything perfect. Thank you for sharing this at Party in Your PJ’s! I pinned to my “Thoughts on Life” board!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Teresa. I appreciate you taking the time to ‘chat’ with me. 🙂 You are 100% right! We do make ourselves miserable ~ and many times people don’t notice where we feel like we’ve fallen short. Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing lesson 2 soon.

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