Fallow time

Fallow Time

August 26, 2019

Photo courtesy Alfred Borchard via FreeImages

Our backyard has grown from oasis to jungle after months of rain and sun. My husband has had his hands full keeping the bird feeders and birdbath cleaned and filled, and collecting all the debris that falls into the yard from the trees (sticks, Spanish moss) and trimming out the most obvious dead stuff. He hasn’t had time for pruning or puttering around for pleasure, and it’s still too hot to plant. Right now, in many ways, we’re holding on, waiting for a change in the season, or at least a lessening of the heat and humidity enough to allow new things to sprout.

In gardening, as in life, there are times for planting, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. There are fallow times.

In the US, I don’t think we allow ourselves enough of this fallow time. Instead, we tend to fill every free minute with noise—whether it’s actual noise from the TV, radio, or a podcast, or “noise” from the written word. We don’t give ourselves time for our own thoughts to wander where they may. At least I know I don’t, because my own thoughts are often full of worry or fear.

I’ve been weeding and pruning and getting rid of the most obvious dead stuff, otherwise known as purging. Pulling books off shelves, throwing away or shredding file folders of outdated papers, sorting through my clothes, putting closets and shelves in order. Taking everything off my desk and cleaning it thoroughly. Getting ready for fall’s cooler temperatures and generally higher energy levels, when I’ll be capable of planting again.

But before that, during this last week of August, I need some fallow time. Maybe only an hour or two here and there, to lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling, or to rock in my glider rocker while acoustic guitar music plays and I stare out my office window. To sit propped up in bed with my journal and pen in hand.

The past 12 months have brought a lot of changes, new projects, new experiences, sad losses, and one spectacular trip to France. I feel like I haven’t processed half of it. It’s time to allow myself to slow down, even stop, and let all of that sink in. There will be time, soon, for planting, weeding, pruning…the cycle will continue. But first, fallow time.

Do you allow yourself the rest and restoration of fallow time? 


Mindful March: Work, Rest, and Healing

March 11, 2019

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

I’ve been playing with my theme of mindfulness these past 10 days—doing simple things like turning off the radio while I drive so I can hear myself think, pausing between tasks to take a breath and notice my surroundings, etc.  A sub-theme has appeared: listening*.

What I’m hearing, especially from my body, is that I need to take better care of myself. In addition to the pulled muscles from the fall from Tank, I’ve been dealing with severe tendonitis in my right (dominant) wrist and forearm. My preferred method of self-care, ignoring discomfort and pain and hoping it goes away, isn’t working. I’m also due for some routine checkups at various healthcare practitioners’ offices. The pain I’ve been having has impacted my exercise habits, which is a problem in itself. It’s time to reevaluate how I take care of my physical health, and devote a little more time and attention to it.

After a season of hard work preparing for my trip to France, and a season of turmoil, stress, and change following my dad’s death and moving Tank, I find I need extra time to care for my body, mind, and heart. I need renewal, nourishing, and to cut myself some slack. I do want to keep building my freelance business, and I have new projects I’m excited to work on, both professionally and personally. But at the same time, I’m trying to be better at responding when my mind cries “enough!” and my body stiffens from sitting at my desk and begs for some movement.

I know I’m lucky to have the flexibility I have—it’s much easier for me to move things around to get the healing and rejuvenation I need than it is for those who work full time for someone else, or who have small children at home. I’ve been in those situations, and I’m grateful for my current life stage…even if it is a bit challenging physically.

I also know that some of the crazy mind pressure I feel is coming from me and no one else. I know it’s important to set and reach goals, and not to waste hour after hour of precious time, but that constant, driving voice that remains impossible to please…that voice needs to stop.

And that’s what mindfulness has revealed so far this month!

How do you find balance when you need to work, but you also need rest and rejuvenation?

*I’ll be writing more about listening in March’s Happy Little Thoughts newsletter, a once-a-month email in which I share unique content, favorite recent reads, and other happy little things—click here to subscribe. 

In other news:

One of my favorite freelance articles ever has just been printed: “An American Quarter Horse in France” (click on the title to read the article). Monica and Bandit’s story is delightful—I hope you’ll check it out!



January 21, 2019

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

I’m back. So where were we?

The past two weeks flew by (what a surprise). After wrapping up a couple of freelance writing assignments, I enjoyed some much-needed rest and mental downtime. During my time off, I:

  • Watched Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix. I know her methods can be somewhat controversial, but I found her presence soothing, and her attitude respectful rather than shaming, even in the face of American-style excess. 
  • Took down the “happiness souvenirs” from my bulletin board. There were fewer than in previous years, but I think that was because I didn’t do a great job of collecting them, rather than that there were fewer happy moments.
  • Created a vision board for 2019.
  • Thought about and brainstormed on my word of the year, “rise.”

Mostly I rested my brain and my emotions.

By the end of 2018, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I got sick twice (which is unusual for me), and found myself eating junk food uncontrollably and leaving the TV on all day for comfort. I needed a reset. I share this because even though I know better, I don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes runs off the rails when life gets crazy. And while my reset came at the beginning of a new year, it’s something we can do any time of year. Call a halt to “normal” and take a look at where our habits are taking us.

Now I’m creating a new morning routine, working on goals again, and also leaving time for play and unstructured creative time. I’ve got some great books on happiness to share with you, some new links to love, and more trips to France for Field Trip Friday. I feel refreshed and ready to dig in to life again.

Hello, 2019.

So what’s new with you?


Drop Your Burdens

November 23, 2018

“After all, a vacation is not a matter of place or time. We can take a wonderful vacation in spirit, even though we are obliged to stay at home, if we will only drop our burdens from our minds for a while. But no amount of travel will give us rest and recreation if we carry our work and worries with us.”
—Laura Ingalls Wilder


Rest, Recharge, Refill

October 14, 2016

Guess where I am? I’m indulging in simple pleasures and everyday adventures in California while I visit my parents. Here, there’s no chorus of projects, laundry, or errands. Time for a break, to enjoy my family, escape the humidity and hurricanes, and recharge.  Time to hear myself think on the airplane and on the drive from the airport to my mom’s house. Time for reading and sketching, drinking tea and playing games. Heaven!

My posting schedule won’t be affected much. I’ve scheduled a poem for next Wednesday as usual, and I hope to be back here next Friday to share my adventures, but until then I’ll have limited email and computer access by choice. I need some recharging and well-refilling.

Whatever your week holds, I hope it’s a happy one!


Motion and Rest

June 22, 2016

Photo courtesy Tim Marshall

“How desirable is a proper balance between motion and rest, and how difficult it is at times for us to achieve it. Alternation lies everywhere in nature. Even cows and chickens take time off from producing milk and eggs. Only we human beings foolishly forget these solid well-known truths at times and try to live our lives from crest of wave to crest of wave with never a trough between. We forget that in the trough the next crest builds.”
—Jean Hersey, The Shape of a Year

Life lessons

Life Lessons From the Mat: Rest Now

May 27, 2016

Photo courtesy windyschneider

After two weeks of reno chaos, I’m finally able to leave my house for more than the absolute essentials. Yesterday I indulged in the simple pleasure of my favorite local yoga class—Yoga for Stress Relief.

In this class, we use props such as bolsters, blocks and blankets, to help us hold restorative poses without straining and tiring our muscles. We let the props support and cradle us, allowing us to go deeper, hold longer, and really relax into the poses. Yesterday, as I have so many times before, even as I settled into a pose, I could feel my muscles clenched and tense, holding on even when they didn’t need to. I had to consciously relax them into the support beneath me. I could almost hear my body sigh with relief as the instructor led us through the day’s sequence and I began to let go of my tension.

It occurs to me that I do the same thing in other parts of my life. Even when support and help is available, I don’t ask for it. If someone offers to help, I don’t always accept it. I don’t use the resources available to me, just like I don’t relax and let the props do their job in yoga class.


Well, let’s see: independence (not to say stubbornness), fear of being a bother or a burden, a bit of control-freakishness, and a dash of the two-year-old’s, “I can do it myself!” Oh, yes, those are good reasons.

Even in our more strenuous classes, our yoga instructors remind us there’s nothing wrong with using props to make our poses more effective. Every body is different and requires different support to work its best. We are to listen to our bodies and give them what they need, both on and off the mat. It’s a lesson I’m slowly learning.

Aside from the obvious physical and mental benefits, the message of the Yoga for Stress Relief class is: “Rest now. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” A good message for us all, and not just while we’re on the mat.

So the next time you need me, you’ll find me in savasana, supported by a folded blanket under my head, a bolster beneath my knees, and an eye pillow draped over my eyes. 

Rest now.


On a Summer's Day

August 05, 2015

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
—John Lubbock, The Use of Life



May 18, 2011

“We live in a culture that denigrates rest. We think that we need to fill every moment with action. Some people have difficulty with even an instant of silence.”
-- Rabbi Naomi Levy