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Reaping the Benefits of Fallow

There is a temptation to presume that the sole benefit of laying fallow is rest and a break from most everything. Not so. There are several other benefits of the season of fallow:

It is a time to invest in myself. One of the things that can drive us to the breaking point is self-neglect. Few things precipitate the need for an entire season of fallow like self-neglect. We often allow the needs of spouse and family to take over our life and we get lost in the shuffle. The danger here is that when a season of fallow finally arrives people can conclude that they need to jettison people and things that they may later wish they hadn’t. The old phrase “throw the baby out with the bathwater” comes to mind.

When I say invest in myself I mean taking time to rest and give yourself a pass on many things for a while. I mean reading that book you’ve been meaning to, hopefully one that you want to read for enjoyment not self-improvement. There’s time for that later. Go to some places you‘ve wanted to visit and take your time while you’re there. Some days, do nothing or only what you absolutely must. Take naps, go to bed early and sleep late when you can. The point here is to get the rest you need and take the break haven’t been getting.

Later, as the process unfolds, you will eventually start to feel the desire to do something, to sort of get moving again. Move in the direction of your family. This is a great time to invest in family but only in a non-productive, unpressured, fun, relaxing way. Let housework go to read to your kids. Let the lawn grow one more day to throw the baseball or football or shoot some hoops. Go to a park and take a walk but no agenda, let the conversation take you where it will.

Get to know your spouse again. Rearing children can make life pretty hectic. Take time for a quick lunch date someplace cheap or a picnic lunch, any place where the main attraction is conversation with your spouse. You may have to make do with awkward silence for the first bit but conversation will come. Do not go over calendar or discuss anything of significance, just chat. Engage in the small talk that you did when you first met.

As you feel the desire to get back to productive life begin to grow, postpone it long enough to re-examine the component parts of your life to see what you want to keep as is and what to modify or discard altogether. Now you and your spouse can have deeper conversations about what significant changes to make beyond incorporating one day of rest in seven.

I hope these ideas help you make your way through your own season of fallow and a return to productive life.

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