Every year, during lent and advent, I take a break from the things that I've been practicing so often and that I've gotten so good at that my priorities, values, and quality of life are starting to feel compromised. Those things that in moderation offer comfort and connection, but in excess start to build stress that can lead to overwhelm.
We become skilled at what we practice and we practice what we value, but we live in a world that easily takes advantage of that. For example, my fast will include social media, negative thinking, unhealthy and processed food. I get really good at those things because they are designed, marketed and available in ways that make me feel good, really fast, with very little thought or effort. The reward is so artfully built into them because someone, somewhere, has something to gain from our ritualistic practice of what they are selling.
Because EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING THEM there is a layer of connection built into choosing them. Before I know it, I am getting better at those things and less skilled at healthy eating, intentional reading, positive thinking, time in silence and listening to the needs of my self, family, and the people I care about.
My 40 day break, twice a year, allows me to practice those more meaningful things without distraction. They slowly become more common and habit place. My brain begins to change as my favorite healthy recipes, daily lectio, and positive thoughts come flooding back to me. My farmwife sabbatical always leave me more creative, grounded, and present to my life.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist