Sharing a Life of Passion & Purpose

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Deb Habib and Ricky Baruc talk about what they've learned from living and farming together for more than two decades, including how to maintain intimacy and a sense of adventure, as well as how to nourish passion and purpose.

By Deb Habib and Ricky Baruc

Omega: Many couples would find it challenging to be business partners. What have you learned from farming that you’ve been able to apply to your relationship?

Deb & Ricky: For our livelihood we run two entities: Seeds of Solidarity Farm and Seeds of Solidarity Education Center, a nonprofit organization that offers programs that "awaken the power among youth, schools, and families to Grow Food Everywhere to transform hunger to health, and create resilient lives and communities." We have weekly meetings to discuss upcoming work and new ideas for both. We open and close each meeting with a moment of meditation.

We’ve worked hard on listening, on the concept that nobody has to be right, and acknowledging our individual patterns that may or may not be helpful. We are both creative people with no shortage of new ideas, and we might be on our way to a social date when someone brings up a work-related thought. We’ve learned to ask each other whether we need to be talking about that right then, and instead return the focus to our precious non-work togetherness or family time.

Omega: You’ve had a pretty adventurous life, and you say that adventure is important to relationships. What do you mean by that?

Deb & Ricky: One of our 12 marriage vows over 20 years ago was—and still is—we commit to take risks in our relationship and for our beliefs. Some of this is in the form of journeys of thousands of miles, at other times it is close to home.

We recently started teaching gardening in a medium security jail. Going through several electric gates to create gardens with men who had not been in daylight in months and years was a huge unknown that took us to our edge. One of us could have taught the course, but we knew it was important to do this work together, both to model a healthy partnership for the men, and to share in together what we knew would be an intense experience for us. It took us to an edge, and in turn opened up new doors for our work.

We grew up in a suburban New York middle-class area and have chosen a rural do-it-yourself adult life that enables us to survive quite well on a modest income. But having not so much money forces our path to adventure to be pretty creative and resourceful.

Omega: What is one of your favorite ways to maintain intimacy in your relationship?

Deb & Ricky: If something comes up that makes us heated or creates disconnect, we prioritize dealing with it right away, unlayering whatever is going on to its source, so that we learn and end up closer rather than letting angry or sad energy fester. We are committed for the long haul, which means we have a commitment to gaining a deeper understanding of each other and the roots of our patterns, and a desire to understand, support, and challenge these patterns so we can move toward increased knowing and love.

To keep love and fun flowing, we make dates—to take walks, go kayaking, make dinner with friends around the fire, as well as some evenings kept sacred for closeness and physical intimacy. We each have our own contemplative and exercise practices—Ricky meditates and lifts weights, Deb does yoga and dance. These enable us to each keep our minds, bodies, and spirits tuned and healthy.

Omega: How can a loving primary relationship help you have more passion and purpose in life in general?

Deb & Ricky: A loving primary relationship means you have a supportive partner to help challenge you to your edge and to help keep you balanced and encourage you to take care of yourself, because otherwise the relationship and family will suffer. It means there's someone to remind you what your intention is at certain life junctures.

A loving primary relationship provides someone who knows you so well that they can help you see things you might be missing, or places where you are afraid, or your inability to recognize your own strengths and help you to stay true and move forward fully. Parenting together is a huge opportunity to work together to extend your passion but let others—your children—blossom on their own.