Herb garden at Cranbrook House & Gardens / Cindy La Ferle
Throughout the summer, I've been dealing with a couple of chronic health challenges that are overshadowing other things I'd like to do. For instance, sometimes I drop out of social activities because I'm feeling down or I don't have the energy to give others. And even though I know better, I still beat myself up for not focusing more attention on my work, and not being fully present in other key areas of my life.
While I wait for additional testing and a new treatment plan, it occurs to me that I'm now in fallow time. In agriculture, the term fallow refers to land that is plowed and tilled but deliberately left unseeded during a growing season. In life and creative work, it's natural to experience fallow periods, too.
As a professional writer for more than 30 years, I've coped with stretches of fallow time -- which isn't quite the same as writer's block, yet just as discomforting. During my creative dry spells, I learned to understand that new projects were quietly germinating in the back of my mind, or that I'd find new and better assignments in due time. I had to cultivate patience.
In our hyped-up culture, however, we're encouraged to accelerate our productivity and avoid losing momentum, no matter what. For some of us, being "busy" becomes a legitimate excuse to dodge feelings of loneliness, stress, or grief -- or to evade the big questions we don't have the courage to face when we slow down.
If, like me, you're a people-pleaser (or an over-giver) who typically says "yes" to keep everyone happy, making your own needs a priority won't be easy. But if we don't respect our own fallow periods, we risk burning out.
Healing and growth require periods of rest. Once I finally stop spinning the wheels on my tractor and allow myself to be still without feeling guilty, I'll find comfort in remembering that fallow time eventually leads to renewal, healing, and positive change.
Wishing you all a restful and happy Labor Day holiday! ~CL