Planting the Seeds of Recovery:
Navigating the Journey One Row at a Time

By Tim McLeod, NCRC-II
Director of Alumni Relations & Connect365, Sierra Tucson


Living in the heart of the Midwest, I have grown accustomed to the sights of large combines and John Deere tractors navigating bumpy country roads. Not only do these scenes paint a picturesque rural landscape, but much like the unplowed fields that often border these roads, they serve as powerful metaphors for the journey of recovery.

As I drive past these fields, my mind wanders to the farmers who work tirelessly to ready the land for planting season. I imagine them perched high on their tractors, preparing to tackle acres of muddy soil saturated by winter snows and spring rains. The enormity of their task is clear – from tilling the soil to planting the seeds and nurturing the crops. Their ultimate goal, a bountiful harvest, echoes the aspirations of individuals on the path to recovery.

But a successful harvest in recovery may mean resetting recovery expectations. Rather than fixating on the end result – an entire field comprised of row after row of healthy crops – it’s essential to embrace the journey one row at a time. Just as a farmer tends to each row with care and precision, so too must individuals in recovery tackle each challenge methodically, celebrating each small victory along the way. It’s an approach that can mitigate the complexities of recovery, especially for individuals who quickly become consumed by the big picture, fretting over the multitude of steps required to reach their goals.


Here are three tips to sowing your recovery one row at a time:


Embrace Tunnel Vision

In my work supporting individuals on their recovery journeys, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of adopting a mindset of tunnel vision. Focus on one task at a time rather than being overwhelmed by the grandeur of the overall goal. In the movie, “City Slickers,” Curly (Jack Palance) is the tough cowboy giving advice to the naïve city boy, Mitch (Billy Crystal). As they ride along a desert trail on their horses, Curly stops and proclaims, with the unquestionable wisdom and authority of a rugged old cowboy, that the secret of life is to find that one thing that is the most important to you. Recovery requires that kind of tunnel vision.


Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself and recognize that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Instead of harsh self-criticism, acknowledge the efforts you’re making, no matter how small. Seek support from others who can provide encouragement and perspective. Too often, individuals berate themselves for perceived shortcomings or setbacks, falling victim to feelings of negativity and self-hatred. By cultivating a sense of kindness and understanding toward yourself, you can acknowledge the efforts you’re making, no matter how small.


View Obstacles as Opportunities

When faced with challenges, question the validity of negative thoughts and beliefs that may immediately surface. Roadblocks can give rise to self-doubt, so it’s important to question the validity of our thoughts and beliefs, recognizing that our minds can sometimes distort reality and perpetuate unhelpful thought patterns. Instead, reframe your perspective to view obstacles as opportunities for the growth and learning that are necessary in recovery.

Embracing the farmer’s mentality of making progress one row at a time is not just a metaphor – it’s a guiding principle for navigating the complexities of recovery. Remember, progress takes time, and every small step forward, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is a step in the right direction.


tim-mcleod copyTo learn how to start your path of recovery to find your own miracle,
contact me at [email protected].
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