Tend to your money life as you would a garden: Lessons from the backyard.

written by Bari Tessler August 15, 2014

This is a guest post by Jessie Rey Howard and Maketa Wilborn. It’s hard for me to convey just how much I love these two! They’re a married couple who recently completed my 6-month private financial therapy program — but beyond that, they are beautiful hearts and incredibly loving, conscious folks. In our time together, I watched them make huge progress in their money relationship. They’re truly a testament to the magic that can happen with the right timing, the perfect client-therapist fit, and devoted practice. I’m so honored to share their “garden wisdom” with you today! For more on Jessie and Maketa, see the bottom of this post.

Guest Post by Jessie Rey Howard and Maketa Wilborn

We have been married for over 16 years and we both run thriving independent businesses built around our creativity, our passions and our gifts.  We are also avid gardeners and have created a home that is surrounded by lush, abundant, nurturing gardens. We call all of this the GardenLife.  In this we feel blessed — but none of it has been by accident.   

Our garden has become a metaphor for how we live our lives – personally and professionally, spiritually and financially.

Through our Practice, we came to recognize that cultivating a thriving and abundant relationship with money is very similar to cultivating a thriving and abundant garden. With gratitude, we’d like to share with you the 4 Elements of Garden Wisdom we’ve discovered:

Garden Wisdom #1 – Map out your garden

maketa-300wKnow what you’re working with, and be intentional. Create a tangible picture of what you have and what you are seeking to create.  As gardeners, we sketched an aerial view of our property and intentionally mapped out everything that we sought to create. We mapped out garden beds, and labelled them with things we wanted to grow in our lives, like world travel, financial abundance, health and vitality.  We drew in pathways and marked them as things we wanted to practice in our lives, like gratitude, ease and truth. We tagged the areas in our home where we would cultivate community, playfulness and devotion.  

We loved this work in our physical garden, but avoided cultivating our financial garden for a long time. Finally, we dug into our numbers and began to understand the lay of the land. We created a financial map to guide our work.

By holding these maps of intention, we have been able to recognize the areas of our life that are flourishing and the areas that are not.

Garden Wisdom #2 – Water often and stay ahead of the weeds

jessieIntention and clarity are powerful, and they need to be supported by committed action.  Staying attuned to the weather trends and what the plants are telling you in the moment helped us be responsive gardeners.  Skip the sprinkler.  Take the time to water by hand. Weed puller?  Nope. Get down on your hands and knees and clear them out.  This is the ongoing work that is required to keep a garden thriving.  

The same is true when cultivating a successful relationship with money.  Stay connected to what happening.  Look at those bank statements, categorize your expenses.  Avoid over-automating your system.  Be hands-on.  Take the time.  Look closely and respond to what’s coming up.

Garden Wisdom #3 – Don’t Be Afraid to
Trim Heavily

log-plants-300wAfter cultivating and nurturing a garden with such focus and intention, it can be difficult to go back and trim to create space for each plant or for something new.  Pruning trees that are old or crowding their neighbors, pulling out some of that lettuce that we planted too close together, chopping that bamboo that’s trying to jump beyond its barrier.  Sure, we’ve enjoyed that huge alder that held our daughter’s swing, but now it’s old and leaning and it has to go.  Gardening requires that you not be afraid to cut it back or take it out.   

Cultivating the financial garden sometimes requires the same heavy hand and hard decisions.  The numbers don’t lie.  Yeah, you do eat out that often and yes, you really did spent that much on entertainment last month.  It’s time to cut back.

Garden Wisdom #4 – Take the Time to Enjoy What You’ve Cultivated

garden-path-300wDespite the never-ending work, gardening has become a passion.  We don’t have to work in the garden, we get to work in the garden.  We rarely even refer to it as “work” anymore.  Gardening is a Practice and our challenge as gardeners has been to stop and take the time to enjoy the garden that we have created.  

Sit.  Breathe.  Relax.

The same is true in the cultivation of new money practices.  It is vital to pause and celebrate your financial wins.  To stop and smell the roses.  To acknowledge the successes along the journey. Whether it be a new accounting system in place, a financial goal met or the positive vibes created from owning this new financial Practice.  

Sit.  Breathe.  Relax. Celebrate.

Mark Twain said, “The problem with opportunity is that it shows up in overalls and looks like work.”  

Cultivating a new relationship with money is an incredible opportunity that invites us to get our hands dirty. It invites us to dig into the numbers and look below the surface at the health of our financial soil.  It’s an opportunity to create light and space and provide water and nourishment for the areas that really need it.  It challenges us to be discerning and choose what stays and what needs to be cut away.

We were successful gardeners long before we began cultivating our relationship with money.  Our financial landscape was crowded and neglected.  We occasionally gave it some attention when it started looking really rough, but it generally felt like an overwhelming amount of work.  We always did just enough to keep things looking okay — but we know that they needed more attention.  With this approach, we were only able to harvest “just enough.”  It was not until we began to apply the wisdom of the garden to our financial landscape that we began reaping the abundance and vitality that our hearts desired.

With clear intention and the right tools and knowledge, anyone can nurture their gardens so that they flourish naturally.  It’s never too late to tend to your garden.  Dig in!


We are Jessie Rey, Maketa and Mihna.

We are from Seattle.

jessie-maketa-familyJessie Rey Howard practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. She brings a very modern flavor to her practice of medicine by assessing each patient based on the world that we live in now. Her skills as a practitioner are enhanced by a fundamental knowledge that we are all major players in our own healing process. Jessie Rey’s guidance in uncovering our mental, emotional and physical patterns that keep us in a place of pain or disease is invaluable.

Maketa Wilborn is an international organizational development consultant and trainer. He is a graphic facilitator, educator and performing artist who designs and leads team development, strategic planning, and equity trainings and interactive rhythm-based community development programs. Through his work Maketa inspires creative problem-solving and participation, and creates space for authentic connections across difference. He is a catalyst for turning ideas into action!

Our beautiful and vibrant daughter – Mihna Soleil – is a thriving, fully expressed 10 years old. Together we love to garden, cook, practice yoga, play music, snowboard, travel, camp, and dance. We are very involved in our community and deeply connected with our home and with the Pacific Northwest. “GardenLife” is our motto. The way we grow our garden and beautify our space is a metaphor for how we grow and live our lives.

Join the Art of Money 2015

Did this episode stir something within you? Are you inspired, a little scared, but oh-so-ready to heal your relationship with money in 2015?

Then you might love The Art of Money: my year-long money school for individuals, couples, and entrepreneurs … weaving all of my teachings into one complete tapestry.

We have this kind of money conversation … along with mentoring from me, eclectic Guest Teachers, and an *incredible* global community of Money Adventurers. With un-shaming, smart tools, gentle guidance, and chocolate … in droves.

The Art of Money only begins once a year. Is 2015 your year to get conscious, happy, and whole with money?

Click here for details and registration for The Art of Money 2015.

You might also like: