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NORTHERN DRIFT by Monique Sliedrecht

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Allow yourself time to rest at 'fallow' time of the year

We are at the beginning of February and I wonder how many of us have kept any of the resolutions made at the start of this new year?  I’m guessing many of us would say, ‘Mmm… well….no’ or ‘I made a good start, but three days in… well… no.’


For me, resolutions don’t feel natural or embedded into my life.  If I can’t get excited about doing it, I’m not sure I will.   I can make myself do things, but if I want to do something, that makes all the difference.  So I don’t form resolutions anymore.


I have a similar response to 5 year plans.  I’ve never been able to answer the 5 year plan question.  Even if I did arrange a long term schedule, it never goes as I have laid it out.  Besides, how many of us have had our well-meaning plans interrupted - by the weather, by a change of heart, a sudden loss, or a new sense of direction?  


Perhaps the start of each new year could be a more gentle exploration of what it means to grow daily, in a way that feels fun and exciting.


What would you like to move towards? What might you leave behind? And do you have an overarching intention that can help guide your plans and decisions? 


One thing we don’t easily put into our calendars are spaces for rest.


The challenge for self-employed people like myself is that we don’t have paid vacation, so often don’t organise a holiday, mainly because a job might come up, along with the prospect of being paid.  Or we simply can’t afford it.  But maybe it is possible to build in small breaks - a day off here, two days there, and establish a pattern of rest.


There is a principle built on the idea of rest occurring in multiples of seven: one day in seven, once every seven years, even every 49 years (a ‘Jubilee year’).  For example wisdom from the ancient world suggests taking a full day’s break every week, a sabbatical, on Sunday, the Sabbath.


Fallow periods are times when nothing seems to be happening, and yet it can be a very important season.  Historically, fallow spells in agriculture were an important part of renewing the earth.  Crop fields or gardens can benefit from fallowing. Allowing the soil to have a specific rest period gives it time to replenish nutrients which can be leached from certain plants or regular irrigation.


The new year brings a host of activities, tasks and expectations. Perhaps many of us feel like we’re scrambling to do everything on our bucket list. I feel I want to try and slow down to take in the beauty of these precious days that are passing so quickly.


When giving ourselves a break in this time, it feels like this low season heralds a different kind of growth — words finally coming together for a longtime project, sweet hours with old friends, and time to nurture new things.


February is the month of ‘love’, but love is not just to do with romantic messages to someone; it could be about loving oneself.  And loving oneself could be about taking rest.  We cannot love others if we don’t receive love and develop the ability to love and care for ourselves.  Not to rest deprives us of fully loving and caring for others because we are depleted of resources.


Do you have an overworked field in your life that might benefit from lying fallow for a season? Is there anything in your life that you could simply let rest?


February is a time to lay low, to take stock and breathe.  Spring will come soon enough, and with it a renewed energy and sense of movement and growth.  For now, maybe it is a good moment to percolate, germinate, and peacefully contemplate the future. 

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