Fallow: Farmland plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation
When I look at my roots and my path, it makes a lot of sense that my oldest child ended up in Texas playing beach volleyball. It suits her, and me, not that that really matters, but it makes for a great weekend to visit and restore my memory bank. There is nothing better than a college campus on a Friday afternoon. Lauren and I trade country music songs back and forth almost weekly on our family Spotify and she’s been my Stagecoach date since her sophomore year of high school. She has the tenacity and the grounded nature of the heavy clay and the live and let live approach to life that feels like the light sand that we both love to have under our bare feet. She’ll be 20 in July, almost incomprehensible to me, and yet her self awareness and clarity of what she wants from her life assures me that this is indeed the case.
I often marvel at the work my kids put into school and sports. The two who are either in college or college bound have managed to have higher GPA’s than I did and have gotten farther in their sports careers, earning scholarships and awards that of course make me proud. This is sounding like a bragging session but bear with me because I’m getting to a contrasting point. While there is nothing more rewarding than watching your kids succeed, there is something that I want to impart to them about the process, because, as they find their flow in life, I want them to see recovery, whether from failure, or extended periods of hard work, as an integral part of their game. Struggle and grind are a part of the process to achieve flow, but there is an equal need to restore our bodies and minds, and learning to make that a part of life’s best practices is a harder lesson to learn than it sounds.
In the world today, I talk to so many people, from kids all the way to adults, who struggle with anxiety, physical overuse injuries, and overloaded nervous systems, in fact I’ve been there myself which makes it easy to empathize and recognize. There is an ethic built around hard work, one that people of past generations instilled, that, while admirable on so many levels, can cause build up of some pretty intense feelings, symptoms, and inflammation in our bodies that shorten our life spans, lead to addictions, and take away from the joy we feel in the moment when we are living on purpose. When we don’t deal with that tension, we end up using too much energy trying to control things outside of ourselves rather than using our energy to create experiences in our lives that are uniquely meant for us.
The truth is, although we are born to belong, not one of us was born to fit in.
One of the best lines that I learned from Luke when he was still very little and I would be rushing around, unaware of my own heightened and hypervigilant senses was:
“Mom, don’t stress, it’s not going to change anything.”
Wise words from a little one that are far easier stated than practiced. Nonetheless, it was one of my first indicators that I needed to bring my level down and I began seeking out ways to do that for my mind and body, as well as for the energy I was giving off to the people around me. How could I channel more calm?
In farming row crops, as my family has done for 70 years and three generations, it is customary to fallow a field every couple of years. During this time, the field that has produced bountiful crops for the past two or three years gets a chance to rest and restore itself to its fertile nature because the past years crops have depleted its soil nutrients. We are the same. We need time to rest and rejuvenate. For us, that comes in the way of relationships that build us up, mindfulness practices, breathing exercises that bring us out of fight or flight, healthy food, sleep regimens that give our minds and bodies a break, and so many other practices that I employ these days as I work for a life that creates deep meaning, connects people, and makes an impact.
This connection between recovery and work swam through my brain this morning as I played volleyball and I was having one of those days where movement and vision were in sync and the gratitude I felt for this life felt like it could pierce the pure blue sky above me. Since I was about Lauren’s age, exercise has provided me a place to push my limits, feel strong and accomplished, and exhaust the worry so the 2am demons don’t wake me in the night. I’ve swam and run more miles, lifted weights, spiked volleyballs and poured buckets of sweat in hot yoga to get that endorphin high that is so addicting. But as life and years catch up with me, finding ways to beat fatigue, injury, and inflammation, so I can have as many of these moments of flow in my life as possible, require rest and recovery, and my own human version of fallowing becomes an integral piece of my puzzle.
While I want to teach my kids all about hard work by setting a good example of what that looks like, I also want them to know that its not ALL about the grind, we have to take the time to restore ourselves. Although balance may be an illusive concept for anyone who is trying to squeeze every drop out of life, there is something so rich in the recovery, the fallowing, that can’t be ignored…the question is will we slow down enough to listen and feel the promise of greatness that lies in the stillness.