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Strength Through Struggle: Learning To Thrive In “Rocky Soil”

One day as I was watching a movie, 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 sending all the nutrients to the leaves, it sends them to the roots and to the fruit, resulting in those beautiful, flavor-laden grapes.

Like those wine grapes, those of us who live with fibromyalgia, or a chronic illness of any kind, are planted in “rocky soil.” We are 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.

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, we may feel weak when we’re having a flare, dealing with bone-numbing exhaustion, or fighting through fibro fog, but when we stop and look back at all the struggles we’ve come through, we can see just how much strength we really have.

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




  1. I always feel like the grapes as far as struggling in the rocky soil. I don’t have a system for how I make it through though. But I do appreciate how strong I have become after I do…if that makes any sense.

    1. It absolutely makes sense Grace! I always seem to realize it after the fact as well. When the struggles come, I don’t know about you, but I just put my game face on and do what I have to in order to make it through. It’s only afterward that I’m able to see and appreciate the strength I gained.

      1. Agreed! Actually, I have a practice that I actually say “I’ll handle it” when I start to question myself with the what ifs. I hope you have a great weekend Terri!

  2. Terri I love this analogy so much! And yes, lately I have been prioritizing myself and my health over other things, like my blog and social media. Sometimes we all just need a break to breathe and live our lives. Gentle hugs!

    1. Thank you so much Cynthia! I’m glad you’ve taken the time to make taking care of yourself a priority. You’re so right that sometimes we just need that break. Gentle hugs to you sweet friend!

  3. Another great perspective, Terri, this is a fascinating one and I love it! Channelling our energy and resources, working with what we’ve got, growing stronger from the struggles are all things that we can fail to see and appreciate when times get tough, but it’s important to remember so that we prioritise the important things a little more, and give ourselves a little slack because we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Brilliant post 🙂
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I love your point about giving ourselves some slack because we’re doing the best we can. That’s such an important reminder, as we tend to be way too hard on ourselves. Love and hugs to you sweet friend!

  4. Terri, this was a great analogy! I might not have fibro, but I do often feel this way. Pain is so real and it is often misunderstood by others! I do feel that all of the struggles we deal with create who we are and give us more strength than we realize! Absolutely brilliant post as always!

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