Summer School

fallow field


1. (Agriculture) (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. 2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful.

To keep a lamp burning, we have to put oil in it.- Mother Teresa.

Last Wednesday night I went to a Live Empowered workshop with my friend Tamela. The workshop was offered by a gifted occupational therapist, Kristen Oliver. Kristen’s techniques are hard to explain in a sentence or two, but they are exceptionally powerful. She focuses on helping families and individuals learn how to break the patterns of personal stories that no longer serve us, and to train our mind and body to work in new and transformative ways.

At the end of the session, we did a ten minute meditation. I have experienced Kristen’s guided meditations in a personal session, and they are wonderful. But on Wednesday night, I’m pretty sure I nodded off. I didn’t fall out of my chair (Thank God, that would have been embarrassing!), but I don’t think you’re supposed to fall asleep while meditating.

Man, am I tired these days.

After the session I had a chat with my friend. I told her I had a sort of ‘planner’s block’ going on. I was having a lot of trouble identifying the next big goal in my life plan; I felt tired and just plain uninspired when faced with my journal questions on defining my desires and intentions for the future.

I wrote about this struggle in my last blog post. What was next on my roadmap? How could anything compare, after the great and long effort to raise my boys?

I am someone who is wired to move from project to project; someone who must always be improving something – either myself or someone else (whether they like it or not!). So this block was really bothering me.

Was there something wrong with me? Was I in one of those empty-nest-mother depressions? Why wasn’t it just coming to me?

Tamela listened patiently and lovingly to all my introspective whining, and then responded with a very simple statement.

“A healthy field needs to lie fallow for some time. Maybe you should just go ‘fallow’ for a while, to rest, renew and replace your nutrients. It’s perfectly OK to do that, you know.”


Immediately, I connected with the image of a fallow field. My heart screamed YES! -that’s it, that’s just how I feel. Having finished the job of raising my boys and getting them through college – having produced a successful harvest, if you will – the idea of sitting quiet and fallow, of not having to design, execute and produce ANYTHING for a while felt so right.

I thought about it more on the drive home. In my heart, at the deep cellular level – it just fit. It resonated so loudly, but it was truly radical thinking for me.

Who are we if we are not producing, not driving something momentous to fruition each day, each month, each year? Don’t we all have a responsibility to try to do big things all the time?

Perhaps not.

All I can say is this. I think God or the universe was speaking to me, saying, “It’s OK to just stop for a while. It’s OK to not have the next big grand plan yet. Just STOP all this craziness for a while, stop your all your worrying and visioning and project planning, and just leave it all be for now.”

What might happen if we stop all the striving and pushing and forcing, and just let our daily life be the ultimate curriculum?

Voila! The block was broken and my next intention came to me.

I’m going to try doing a lot of nothing for a while (beyond my day-job).

I think I’ll take the summer off from self-improvement.

I’m going to read. My pile of books has sat gathering dust over the last six months while we all focused on graduation, grad school and the Big Bash.

I’m going to keep taking pictures, but NOT focus with any sense of urgency on mastering the ins and outs of Photoshop or Lightroom, or improving my blog site.

I will continue to do my personal journaling, but not stress and struggle over the pages, trying to design the grand master plan.

I will write when the spirit strikes me, but I will not have a goal for how many blog posts I put out there monthly.

I’m going to try some visual journaling. This is a bit of a risk for me since I can’t draw worth shit.

I’m going to get more sleep and spend more time sitting in my garden. I’m going to meditate.

I’m going to visit my Dad and get a tan at the beach. And NOT do any work on my vacation.

I’m going to dream and prep for our September trip to Italy.

I’m going to savor how my wonderful husband loves to take care of me (take that any way you want – food, wine, and all kinds of other good things).

And that’s enough. More than enough for now.

The soil is dry and depleted; the lamp is empty, so I’m taking a personal summer sabbatical from drive and self-improvement.

I’m going to listen carefully to the small sounds and messages coming from below; I’m going to trust that there is growth and discovery happening there, even when my field is officially fallow.

The only class I’m taking this summer is Life Imagined. It’s all experimental learning, no homework required.

Let the sabbatical begin.

Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?” – Lao Tzu

4 thoughts on “Summer School

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