Inspiring Women:

Savoring Abundance 


When Lisa Kivirist and her husband John Ivanko moved from their corporate jobs in Chicago to a farmstead outside Monroe, Wisconsin, they knew little about farming but a lot about themselves.


"We moved out of what was then a congested and isolating environment to one where we could connect with the land, people and our values," Lisa says. Sustainability in their farming practices and their lives was a priority.


Lisa Kivirist 

"When we saw the stars and reconnected with the seasons, things started to happen," she says. "Change sparks change.


"Spiritually, we began to savor abundance. When we had apples, we ate apples. When we had zucchini, we developed new recipes for using it. When we noticed how windy it is, we captured that wind for electricity," Lisa says.


Increasing numbers of women are making the same kind of change. The number of women farmers nationally increased nearly 30%, according to the latest USDA agriculture census, with the majority launching organic and sustainable operations.


"Women value healthy food for their families and also value the soil and labor that produces it. They're connecting a lot of dots," Lisa says.


Among Lisa's other ventures is the Rural Women's Project, Inn Serendipity Bed and Breakfast--named one of the top l0 eco-destinations in North America--and a series of books, including her latest, Farmstead Chef (see blurb to the right).


How does she sustain such a full life?


"That's a good question," she says. Here are a few of her tips and observations:


* "When we shifted from the corporate environment, we needed not to be so reliant on a paycheck. We realized that the less we needed financially, the more freedom we had to choose the life we wanted."


* "When you're not putting on pantyhose every morning and driving a long commute, you free up new resources," she adds.


* That frugality led to a rekindling of interest in cooking and other ways of saving money. She cooks more, buys in bulk and plans her menus carefully to take advantage of seasonal foods.


* "You need to organize for seasonality. If you're going to have pizza three nights from now, that means taking the tomatoes out of the freezer today. I've learned to enjoy preparing to cook as much as cooking," she says.


Lisa's work also champions the voice of women in agriculture through such programs as Plate to Politics.


"Although more women are growing food, our numbers don't equate to having a significant voice in politics. If we had a seat at the table, we'd have fresher, more affordable food," she said.


How can urban women support this movement?

"Women control household purchases and have economic power. Increasingly they have options to buy local, affordable food through farmers' markets and CSAs," she says.


Lisa and John's description of themselves at their Inn Serendipity website sums up their diverse and rich lifestyle:


"Conservationist-author-innkeeper-student-teacher-spouse-muffin baker-bioneer...While we wear many different hats, we're both fueled by passion and commitment to leave this planet a better place." 


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Staying true to your path

through the holidays


A young friend recently said, "I don't know what I can talk about with my mother over the holidays without creating a big argument!"


"Tell me more," I said. 


"We were raised in a conservative church, and I don't relate to the word 'God' any more," she said. "And...I've become a vegetarian," she added, with an ominous look that told me her mother would disapprove.


She described a common situation--conversations that create conflict when we focus on our beliefs rather than the values that underlie them. 


As we continued to talk, my friend shared her enthusiasm for her new church, where members are encouraged to use their own words to describe the power and energy that flows through all creation.


"I like the words 'Holy Presence,'" she said.


She also described her recently discovered joy of vegetable gardening. "I never would have guessed as a farm girl growing up that I'd like working with the soil."


"Why not share your love of gardening and cooking with your mom?" I said. "Would she appreciate that?" 


"I think she would!" she said. "Maybe if she sees my enthusiasm for something that relates to my childhood, she won't care so much about the fact that I don't eat meat."


My friend's apprehension is not uncommon. As you spend more time during the holidays with family and friends, you may feel a need to conform to their perceptions of you, even if those perceptions aren't accurate. In the end, it comes down to this question: Is it more important to be true to yourself, or to someone's image of who you are?


For ideas to focus on this week, visit our blog. And as you make the transition from fall to winter, savor this time and the magic of holy wonder to honor and celebrate you!


Diane Glass


Join Us for a FREE 

Informational Open House


Learn about our new 2012 year-long program:


   Reconnecting with Spirit, 

the Earth and Your True Self 


We've planned an exciting year of seasonal retreats, one-on-one mentoring, monthly potluck suppers, guest speakers and an ongoing curriculum of spiritual practice. Check our website for additional information.


Through the year, you'll come to know yourself and Spirit in harmony with nature. Enjoy the company of other women and shape your life and relationships with intention.


Sign up now for a FREE open house where you can learn more, hear from past participants and enjoy a fun afternoon!


Sunday, December 11 or Sunday, January 8  


Can't participate in the year-long program in person?


For the first time, we're offering a year-long program accessible via Internet and phone for women anywhere on the globe! Join us for a free teleconference open house January 10 where we'll provide all the details. RSVP today.




Resource of the Month:


Farmstead Chef by Lisa Kivirist


Lisa's new cookbook (see profile to the left) includes recipes and stories capturing homegrown and homemade cooking. She focuses on the independence, self-sufficiency, and frugality of our nation's roots and writes for the kitchen gardener, the urban homesteader and the "farmstead chef in all of us."  



We're excited that Tending Your Inner Garden is part of your life! We're here as a resource to help you...   


listen to your inner guidance and wisdom so you can live a more authentic life


connect with other women around the world who are on a similar spiritual journey


feel supported and inspired as you make transitions in your life, whether you're a college student or retiree. As a community, we all have so much to learn from each other!


Tending Your Inner Garden has grown steadily since 2003, and now we have a brand new site/blog to help you on your journey. Come see us at  and check out all the great new resources, including...


news about upcoming classes and workshops


downloadable ideas for journaling, meditation and other spiritual practices 


an audio recording of one of our favorite visualizations.


a FREE ebook on Sacred Listening!


It's all designed for women who want to grow. Join us...and please spread the word. The bigger the garden, the more everyone gets to bloom!  

Hope you enjoy the new site! We'd love to hear your questions and feedback.



Deb Engle and Diane Glass 

Tending Your Inner Garden