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Feeling Fallow

Crush, press, rush, stress—it must be harvest. Soon enough all the gondolas will be put to bed and there will be some relatively quiet months in the valley before the pruning shears get sharpened and the mustard shoots up. What sometimes follows a rush is a letdown or depression. Too often I berate myself for laziness during fallow periods rather than enjoy the time to rejuvenate. Before I know it the busy season is upon me again and I didn’t make the most of a much needed break.

This article was inspired by writer Camille Dungy who lectured at the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference this summer. She talked about writer’s block as a fallow period that can be reframed as an opportunity. Here are some ideas to make the most of blocks, stuck-ness, downtime and general slow times:

Be ready for fallow periods: When you know a slow season or some time off is coming, be ready for it. This doesn’t mean fill the schedule. It could mean sleeping in and luxuriate in it rather than guilt-trip. It might mean looking online for an art class. It might mean enjoying time at home devoted to family. It might mean making arrangements to clean out your garage or simply sneak out to see a movie or two in the middle of the day.

Sick Days: If you have upcoming surgery or start to come down with a cold, have a little plan with any books you’d like to read, movies to stream, fresh sheets on the bed, etc. Don’t resist the down time; let yourself heal.

Make a list: Start a list of all the things you would love to do if you have time and when you know free time is coming up, pick something from your list. Sometimes sleep is at the top of the list! Scroll through the list of movies you’ve been wanting to watch or books you’ve wanted to read. Indulge yourself.

Irrigate and amend the soil: If your fallow period is an unwelcome slow time in your business, take advantage of the extra time to take a class that could rocket your work in a new direction or give you added credibility. Join a service club. Work with a business coach. Organize your desk and deep clean your files. I’ve always found that cleaning and clearing creates space for something new to enter your life. Get rid of the dead weight, it’s called pruning!

Speaking of irrigation, drink more water and prune the junk from your diet. So often when we’re busy our diets suffer and an unhealthy body will only slow you down further later on. Fallow periods caused by a health crisis are especially unpleasant and can often be prevented.

Feng shui it: Look around and see what might contribute to a feeling of dead time and could be energetically or symbolically slowing you down. Do you have a clock that is not working? Is there a vase of dead flowers or dusty old silk ones that need replacing? Look for broken things that irritate you and slow you down. Toss and replace them. Wash windows and mirrors so that you can “see clearly.” Get your car serviced, washed and fill it with gas so you’ll be ready to go. Oil your door and gate hinges for smooth flow and improved speed.

Remember the emergency mantra: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. So often we require a little slow time to mentally and physically prepare for new growth.