So nice to get a warm welcome.
You raise an important recovery issue: self compassion and acceptance vs. dissatisfaction and willingness to push through discomfort to advance in recovery.
You might want to look more carefully at what you see is an either or situation.
Self compassion is needed all the time as a basic ground for everything. That doesn't mean you can't evaluate yourself and find room for improvement. It means that you are kind to yourself regardless of what is happening or how you are feeling.
Acceptance doesn't mean staying in once place. It means accepting where you are, wherever you are. In fact, you can't really move beyond where you are unless you acknowledge the reality of your current position.
Challenge doesn't have to mean giving yourself new challenges. You may have plenty in front of you in your daily life right now. Most of us do. Your challenges now, it seems, are based on your marriage, your job, your garden, your cats and the development process you are going through as you look at your position in your lifespan.
That sounds like plenty of challenge to me. Sometimes the way out of a problem or the way through a challenge is to move more deeply into it, like digging into the earth which you so much enjoy.
I wonder how you might go more deeply into the challenges you already have. You might discover some new resilience in yourself and some new opportunities that are happy surprises.
Thank you for writing on the site.
P.S. I agree, it's fun to plant sunflowers and watch them grow!