Today, we have Barbara Stahura. We have known each other for over twenty years, having met at a writer’s workshop.
Barbara is a thoughtful, delightful writer. Her work has been widely published and I am delighted that she has joined us.
“Fallow Time” is a piece that will make you reflect and think about the role quiet times play in your life.
Note: I wrote this little essay years ago and had forgotten about it. Yet now, just when I needed to receive its message again, it appeared while I was searching for something else and reminded me of the ways we often magically discover what we need just when we need it. Barbara
We’ve forgotten about fallow time. In this ancient process, a field remains unplanted and rests, restoring itself so that next season it can once again produce a bountiful crop.
We humans need fallow time, too, but any more, we tell ourselves we can’t permit it. Rest? Take time off? Turn off the cell, don’t check social media 5, 10, or 50, times a day?
How will I be able to keep up?
My question is, keep up with what?
In her book If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland wrote, “The imagination needs moodling — long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” I’ve found that my writer-self needs plenty of moodling if my best, most creative work is to emerge. My thoughts need quiet in order to ferment and blend. Like juice transforming itself into wine, the process requires undisturbed time in the silent dark of the barrel.
As a human being, I need fallow time. If I’m to be the best wife, daughter, sister, friend, and citizen I can be, I can’t do it on the fly. It’s harder to act with integrity and thoughtfulness if my addiction to moving fast means I can’t ever slow down long enough to consider new possibilities or even to see if my old patterns are still serving me.
We’ve forgotten that inner progress—the kind that means the most in the long run—often requires standing still. Sometimes that means whiling away a couple of hours without any pressure to accomplish anything. Other times, it means going about your life, however chaotic it might be, while holding a quiet, positive expectancy that the changes you desire will occur. It took me years to understand this, and those years were often painful. But eventually, the right livelihood, the right man, and the right home all entered my life. Each one was worth the wait. It’s like baking bread. You can’t rush the work of the yeast; only in its own time does the dough rise and become a beautiful, satisfying loaf.
I’ve become an apostle of slowing down, a maven of moodling. I’m learning to let myself go fallow at times, to let transformation root itself down deep in the moistness and the quiet and the dark so that, when the time is right, I will blossom.
About Barbara Stahura
Barbara Stahura liberated herself from Corporate America in January 1994 to become a freelance writer. Originally amazed that her plan actually worked, she continued writing full-time until about 2011. At that time, she became a certified journal facilitator and devoted her energy to helping people journal for self-discovery and positive change. She had learned about the power of journaling while caring for her husband, Ken Willingham, after his serious traumatic brain injury in 2003. During this terrifying time, she poured her tumultuous feelings and thoughts into the private sanctuary of her journal.
Barbara later learned about the research-proven power of journaling for well-being and in 2007 created a journaling program for people with brain injury (and later for their family caregivers) in Arizona. After she and Ken moved to Indiana in 2012, she continued this work there through 2016. In 2009, her acclaimed book After Brain Injury: Telling Your Story, was published. It is the first journaling book for people with brain injury and is now in use around the country. She also has spoken at nearly a dozen Brain Injury Association/Alliance conferences around the country, including a keynote address.
Even while facilitating the programs for people with brain injury, Barbara created and presented other journaling programs for a variety of venues and audiences around the U.S., including two HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospitals, National Guard Bureau, Arizona National Guard, University of Southern Indiana, University of Evansville, Ivy Tech Community College, National Association of Poetry Therapy conference, people with cancer, various community venues, and others.
Today, Barbara presents her programs under the umbrella of A Living, Breathing Story: Journaling to Discover Your Empowered Self. She is a member of the Therapeutic Writing Institute faculty and the Journal Council of the International Association of Journal Writing. In 2017, she became certified as a Transition Writing Specialist. She and Ken, who slowly and surprisingly recovered despite a poor prognosis, now live in Southwestern Indiana. See Barbara’s website at http://www.barbarastahura.com.