The Fallow Time: Giving Ourselves Permission to Go Within


Karrie SteelyMany of us who spend much of our time outside suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Being nature’s children, we function in its rhythms and fluctuations. When days become short and temperatures drop, so does motivation. There is a strong drive to eat and sleep, and we become less productive. It’s not uncommon to be reflective, pensive and lethargic. If you can relate with me on this, you’re not alone.

monument valley 

What’s going on inside of us is a reflection of what is going on outside. Where there was recently green and life all around, it is now gray, brown, decaying or frozen. Death is everywhere. Nothing is growing. Plants and bugs have died or gone into hibernation or stasis, and animals forage and hunt for whatever sustenance they might find. What is still alive is struggling to survive. The weak sun offers little warmth or consolation.

snow and Kate   snow on the pass

For me, my normally fertile, happy, verdant mind is sluggish and numb. If I can’t go outside, I don’t want to do anything. When I do go outside to get fresh air and exercise, I return feeling somehow empty and dissatisfied. There are some days that I have to force myself forward, going through the motions of life. On the worst days, being alive is painful. This isn’t necessarily something that I want people in my life to know about, so I tend to withdraw and isolate.

For years I felt certain that there was something wrong with me, and I put on a happy face around others and cried and slept when I was alone. It’s something that people just don’t understand if they haven’t been there themselves. The well-intentioned advice, “Just snap out of it” or “Why don’t you just find something to do?” isn’t helpful at all. It just makes me feel more broken somehow.

11/18/2014 9:32:37 AM

Karrie, more people than you think have the same winter issues. I long for the day when that first seed catalog arrives which is a just before Christmas. Planning the next year's garden season takes up hours as each day finds a different tweak on the plan. YouTube gardening programs, back issues of garden magazines, reading books of people who have written about their experiences, and getting ready for the seed starting in February are all ways I survive winter. Have the best winter surviving day that you can.

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