In the summers we lay fallow

lifestyle

I was the student who never took summers off.. actually let’s back it up to being the child who was always given the next years curriculum to start working through during the summer months from the moment I started school. And because I’m a person who loves being good at stuff, I naturally enjoyed the head start I had on my peers by the time the school year came around.

This was actually one of the reasons I was able to go from Primary 2 (2nd grade) to Jss 1 (7th grade) when I was only 7 years old.

The more I pushed myself to my own limits during times that were allocated as rest times, the more quantifiable successful I was which internalized for me a narrative that I had found the cheat code for life: hustle while others are resting. My cycle of go hard during the school year, rest a little but go even harder during the summer was born. And with that I finished uni at 17. Took unpaid internships every summer during law school. Finished law school at 20. And the ultimate test of my mental fortitude? Even after I knew I was experiencing burnout studied for the Bar Exam the summer I graduated from law school for 6 hours every day from May till July. Thankfully I passed that exam on the first try which again was a success but also created a narrative of superhuman invincibility for me.

But then my absolute burnout set in. I’ve written about that a few times. The year where I absolutely could do nothing. I taught me new habits and new ways of being in a body that centered rest, rejuvenation, and the importance of empty time. But I still never quite had the opportunity to take summers off again.

Until last year.

Last summer after I quit a job that was bringing me to the edge of burnout, I lost my grandfather somewhat unexpectedly, and my best friend had Covid. All around the same time. The compounded stress and exhaustion of it all forced me into a summer of absolute stillness. I remember sharing on my podcast that it was going to be a “sad girl summer.” And I truly leaned into sadness and nothing-ness for months. Until I was no longer sad.

We are not yet in a post Covid world but this year as I have attempted to figure out how I want to re-organize my life moving forward I knew this commitment to non production as a radical way of being had to be a part of how I spent my summer.

My father loves to farm as a hobby and he’s taught me about this idea of a fallow: leaving land uncultivated and empty for a certain cycle so it can recover and restore its depleted nutrients. This practice, any good farmer will tell you, is necessary for long term success with land that is being cultivated. It has always intrigued me how much nature can teach us ways of being that are sustainable. For me this summer I intentionally penciled in some fallow time into my calendar. A month to slow down (June). A month of non-productivity (July). My intention is to disconnect myself from a desire to produce anything beyond what is absolutely necessary to my daily well-being in real time. I am not working. All my clients and team mates are aware of this time I’m taking off. And this isn’t necessarily vacation because we all know how vacation expectations can lead to adventures that are tiring and taxing on the nervous system.

The goal is to be with myself.

Totally present.

No preset expectations or deliverables.

I’ll report back from the other side but I bet this time of rest will be exactly what I need.

I no longer identify with the story I once told myself that the cheat code for life was to hustle while others are resting. I have a new cheat code for life but I’ll hold that close to my chest for now.

Thank you for reading. I hope you take as much time to fallow as is accessible to you. Let me know on Instagram if you do and what your results have been.

Love,

Salem

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