The Garden of Life

Todd Michael Putnam
Outskirts Press (2014)
ISBN 9781478737254
Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views (12/14)

I knew from the moment I looked at the cover, that I would enjoy “The Garden of Life” by Todd Michael Putnam. It was bright and cheerful, and it didn’t hurt that there was a hot guy on the cover. Actually there were two guys on the cover, one an old, happy codger, and the other, young and…well, let’s just say he could make me want to start gardening!

But this self-help book is not meant to jump start your gardening career or even make you want to start dating again. It is written as a guide to a better life. Indeed the author says it is an, “…inspirational fable on growing faith, joy and meaningful fulfillment….,” I love the concept. Each chapter is introduced with a new story from the Old Man and the Young Gardener.  The cover photo reminded me of the concept of the wiser neighbor in Home Improvement, the once-popular TV show. But in this book, it is the younger man who shares his wisdom. Then the author moves into an explanation phase, full of wisdom. Each chapter ends with “gardening tips” for working in your own life and ends with a question for your “inner gardener.” It can be read all in one sitting or a chapter a week, giving yourself plenty of time to ponder the ideas presented.

It is very easy to apply these concepts to your own life, even if you’re not a yard person.  I couldn’t help but relate to phrases like, “Attend to the garden of your life by weeding as you go.” We’ve had a bit of warm weather and I got out and weeded and weeded and weeded, because I hadn’t pulled each one as they appeared. Just like I hadn’t dealt with each of the problems in my last relationship. In reading this, I am inspired to do better, try harder, and implement effective changes to truly make a better life for myself. The author reminds me that it takes courage to do something you haven’t done before. “Cherish your ability to chart your own course.”

I think this is a great book for young people graduating college, but also for older folks set in their ways that might benefit from looking at things a little differently. Maybe they would see the Young Gardener they used to be. I also appreciate the inclusion of the concept of God. We can’t blame God when things go wrong, or turn out differently from how we planned. And we can’t live in the past. It’s all here, plenty of wisdom in a small, simple package that doesn’t come across as if I’m being preached too, or someone is wagging his finger at me because I’ve messed up.

In “The Garden of Life,” Todd Michael Putnam even addresses the four things love needs to grow, sticking to the gardening theme. I’m thinking these important words need to be all over my house as daily reminders. Common, but important concepts, I intend to nurture them like new seedlings so they grow stronger. Read this short treasure to discover them for yourself.

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