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We dissolve stuck and rewrite patterns. We apply radical playfulness to life (when we feel like it!), embarking on internal adventures (credo of Safety First). We have a fake band called Solved By Cake. We build invisible sanctuaries, invent words and worlds, breathe awe and wonder.

We are not impressed by monsters. Except when we are. We explore the connections between internal territories and surrounding environment to learn what marvelously supportive delicious space feels like, and how to take exquisite care of ourselves. We transform things.* We glow wild.**

* For example: Desire, fear, worry, pain-and-trauma, boundaries, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity.

** Fair warning: Self-fluency has been known to lead to extremely subversive behavior, including treasuring yourself unconditionally, unapologetically taking up space, experiencing outrageously improbable levels of self-acceptance, and general rejoicing in aliveness.



This year is Shmita year, it is the sabbatical year in the seven year agricultural cycle when you let the land rest.

More than rest. You let the land lie fallow. Lie fallow.

That phrase used to feel desolate to me, almost a lonely sort of emptying, but now it feels luscious, vital, thrilling.

What happens when I enter — consciously, purposefully — into a state of intentional not-producing? What happens when I choose the experience of letting my fields lie fallow?

This is what pulls me right now, this and everything else about Shmita.

It’s for releasing.

Shmita literally means RELEASE.

It is a whoosh let go let go sort of word.

Whoosh! Let go, let go.

I am in the desert, and this is what I am doing: letting things go.

Releasing and recovering.

To let land lie fallow is to let it rest and replenish, to be left unsown for a period of time in order to restore its fertility.

During this time, all agricultural activity is forbidden by halakha (Jewish law). You can do things like weeding or trimming — clearing out — but only as a necessary preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants.

Debts are let go of.

It is a time of emptying and replenishing, of emerging and receiving, easing and releasing, echoing and returning.

It is a releasing to refill (bountiful harvests are promised to those who observe the Shmita), but that is not the point of the releasing, as far as I’m concerned.

The releasing needs to happen because the releasing needs to happen. The plentitude that comes back to the land is a result of the releasing, not the reason to release.

Though hey, sometimes things don’t happen (in my life, at least) unless or until we find Reasons and Justifications, so if you need a reason, that’s a good one.

Twenty-first century releasing.

In these decidedly non-biblical times, our fields are — for most of us –metaphorical, internal.

And yet here we are, overworked, overcooked, overwhelmed, overdrawn, endlessly plugged in, exhausted.

We live in a culture that is all about producing, output, productivity, ass in chair, making stuff happen, get it done. We get so disconnected from what our fields actually need.

If you want to do more thinking about Shmita as a concept, and possible implications for us, I would direct you to this piece from Hazon, which means vision.

The Hazon piece also references six qualities: Sova (enoughness), Hodaya (thankfulness), Revaya (plenty), Hesed (loving-kindness), Puriyut (fertile), Otzar (treasury and shared resources). It’s almost a compass, so if anyone else feels like playing with that, I am adding Ahava (love) and Shlemut (wholeness).

And while I hesitate to link to HuffPo, a place I find exhausting, my interest was piqued reading about how some Jews are giving up things like Facebook, Amazon, apps, news and more as a modern experiment in Shmita year, finding their own way to live out both the practice and the intention of releasing, sustainability, wholeness.

Releasing, sustainability, wholeness.

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the past several months about what Shmita could look and feel like for me.

God knows it’s necessary. I’ve been doing this Fluent Self work since March of 2005. That’s just about ten years of asking my fields to produce.

The thing is, I like producing. What we are doing here feels tremendously vital. It also actively makes use of my superpowers: building creative spaces and culture for intentional play, infusing them with spaciousness, permission and sovereignty.

And given this world of ours, this world of go go go that seems to be fueled on guilt, shame and pushing, this world where the default choice is not to be conscious or aware, I think what we are doing here is both necessary and deeply subversive.

So I’ve been looking at what reconfigurations need to be made in my business, how I can change how I work/play so I don’t burn out.

Asking over and over again: What is needed here? What do I know about this? What do I really know if I’m being completely honest with myself?

What do I know?

1) Resting does not require a reason.

Or at least, it shouldn’t require a reason. I would like to be able to remember this.

Right now I rest when I reach my end point. When my fields are already done.

Resting to recover is a good reason, a very legitimate reason, and I don’t want it to be my reason anymore.

I need healthier cycles that are grounded in sovereignty and self-fluency, anchored in truth-love.

2) My body is telling me that we are done.

These last three years have been rough, it is just now occurring to me that this may or may not be related to having plowed through — if you will excuse the agricultural pun — the first seven years without pausing.

One of the things that has been made very clear to me over the past five weeks of Operation Tranquility Recovery (Magic!) is this:

I have reached the point of beyond worn out. My body has made it very clear that it doesn’t have more to give.

I can keep pushing and trying to make stuff happen, and my body will go on strike and I will need to rest and heal. Or I can skip the part about pushing and go straight to the “rest and heal” option, but either way resting and healing is the new game plan.

3) Rest, space, time, quiet.

That’s what I need. Preferably away from the endless noise of the internet. And definitely a break from being immersed in the day to day work of systems, chocolate shop drama.

I want to find out what my fields want to produce, what I want to write about, what I want to be doing and experiencing in this life, but in order to get there, I need this Shmita period of releasing.

4) What does service look like.

Whenever I take time to look at what I care about, something that always comes up as incredibly important to me is being in/of service.

And the reason I don’t stop (even though I talk so much about beautiful red lights and the practice of pausing) is that I don’t want to stop serving.

Except now this is going to be how I have to serve.

Taking space and time to figure out what is next is going to be how I serve. Taking care of myself is going to be how I serve. Emptying out and not-producing until I can find a more sustainable way to serve is going to be how I serve.

5) The edge of the circle.

Edge of the circle

When I wrote about Constellations, I talked about how I do my best work at the edges of the circle, holding the circle.

This is very important for me. I am an ally of spaces. Where I excel is at making spaces and experiences special.

This is where I want to be. Not in the center. Not at the front of the room.

What else do I know about what I want?

I want to be a bell: to be at my most resonant. This means doing the things that help me connect to myself (getting on the floor and breathing) and not doing the things that disconnect me (reading everything on twitter).

I want to be a beacon. This is about living by example.

Living in a harmonious congruent way in which I am true to my instincts, my needs and my desires. Demonstrating that it is possible to live like this. Walk the walk, clear the path, document the process, share through being.

I don’t want to teach through teaching, I want to teach through glowing. I want being a beacon to be the primary way that I work. Doing the work, documenting the work, breaking it down where necessary.

I want to take deep breaths, spend time in my thank-you heart, play, laugh, wear costumes, write, dance, cry. To spend more time in presence and grace, less time in the land of spreadsheets.

I want to protect my energy, my force field, my memory at all costs, this means things like not reading about Gamergate right now, removing sources of toxicity from my life.

What does Shmita look like for me right now?

Even though this current Shmita year began in the fall with the Jewish new year, I am going to begin mine at the end of February, which is when I embark into the year in my business.

I am going to devote this year to releasing and letting go, in all forms. Not just releasing. Easing and releasing. Allowing the releasing to be a softening into.

Releasing: Clearing out my space, my home, my closets, saying goodbye to everything that is no longer harmonious or congruent.

Releasing: Grieving what needs to be grieved.

Releasing: Getting quiet. Time to honor the decisions being made (as Bryan puts it), instead of forcing decisions or making decisions based on what I think other people want from me.

My plan. Trusting and laughing.

If you’re currently panicking about the thought of the blog going away, breathe freely. The blog is not going away. This is where I process and reflect, how I empty and replenish. I still plan on being here.

I am also going to continue to spend time with my (private) online community, now entering its seventh year, though it is getting a new name, a new look and a new focus. More about this soon.

And other than that, I am going to rest and release. I am not clear yet how this is sustainable in terms of, you know, money and rent and real life things like that, and yet I am so very clear that doing anything else is not sustainable, so I am letting a possible plan for this emerge.

I will also be renting out half of my house as well as embarking on a year of intentional Not Spending, and will write more about this as I go.

And practicing trust, because what is crazier than not planting, not producing? How were my ancestors brave enough to let their fields go? Fallow sounds like barren, not fertile. And yet fallow is the answer.

It is deeply counter-intuitive, and so it requires trusting and laughing. That’s what I’m starting with.

Play with me.

I would love warmth, support and enthusiasm about Shmita, as a concept or more specifically my experiments with it.

You are welcome to share anything that was sparked for you, or do your own processing about rest and releasing, fallow fields, what this might look like for you, anything you’re working on.

And you can laugh with me about how I have been thinking about this biblical practice for the past four months, but it took — yes — forty days and forty nights of wandering the desert, the desert of California and Nevada that is, to get to the point where I can say out loud that this is what I want and need.

The way commenting works here: we make sure we have safe space through the practice of not giving each other advice or telling anyone how to be or how to feel.

We all have our stuff, we’re all working on our stuff, it’s a process. We meet ourselves and each other with patience, warmth, love, to the best of our abilities.

I have a heart full of appreciation for everyone who plays here, everyone who reads. It is vulnerable and scary to talk about what I really want and what I really know, and knowing I can do this with you is a big deal, even if I have to take a deep breath and remember this every time I post. ♡

29 Responses to Shmita

  1. Karensu Light_of_Summer
    Twitter: light_of_summer

    Yay for moving toward susainability! Thanks for the reassurances!
    Karensu Light_of_Summer recently posted… Paperwhites

  2. seagirl says:

    I love this. I often think in terms of the slack tide, when the waters are just resting, in between coming in and going out.

  3. Nela says:

    I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to seriously consider this, and it’s no wonder it took so long to finally decide.

    Holding my fingers crossed for the plan that will make it possible!

    I really loved this paragraph:

    “I don’t want to teach through teaching, I want to teach through glowing. I want being a beacon to be the primary way that I work. Doing the work, documenting the work, breaking it down where necessary.”

    So beautiful, and it exactly describes how I would want to teach.

    I’m so looking forward to the insights you’ll share from this very courageous journey!
    Nela recently posted… Letting go of old dreams

  4. Åsa
    Twitter: asaplesner

    I have so much love and joy and respect for this. <3

  5. elspeth says:

    yes. resting and releasing are so important. and living by example. congratulations on your big decision!

  6. KJ says:

    I love this. I have been fallow for a few years, it feels like, which was probably longer than it needed to be because I didn’t know what I was doing. I understand the richness in fallow much better now, and I am grateful to have both a name and words to put around it! Thank you!

    I will still want to receive your glow however you glow this year. I’d like to be able to slide (wheee!!) into your online magic space, but if that ship is full that’s OK. I will read and change from reading, as I have for some years now.

    Deep appreciation for you and for your journey. Thank you for taking us along.

  7. Kathleen Avins
    Twitter: spiralsongkat

    I am here. I am here now, and I fully expect that I am here for the coming YEAR, to rest and play, and play and rest.

    My heart is filled with love for the adventures to come, and my thoughts are filled with sparkling possibilities.

    I have a milestone birthday — a queening! Sovereignty! — coming up in about six months. There are gwishes that I want to fulfill by then, and the monsters are feeling some urgency about them — and at the same time, I have long wondered if this birthday will mark the time that I stop pushing and perfecting, and especially stop WAITING for that feeling of being polished, and just embrace the self I am, period. I begin to suspect that this is the right time to ask myself, “what needs to happen backwards?” I also have the growing belief that Easing and Releasing can help me find the answers to that question.

    As I said, I am here, very much so, and expect to remain so. <3
    Kathleen Avins recently posted… Something In the Air

  8. Kariel says:

    This resonates so much for me. For a while I’ve been disconnecting from the internet, but the more I disconnect, the more I need to disconnect. It comes because of getting quieter.

    Also, I’m in my 7th year of graduate school. I’m finishing my dissertation, a project and subject I’m devoted to and love. But I can see that I’ll need to rest my fields at the end of this harvest.

    I’m so pleased and delighted that the Fluent Self is in such a similar, resonating, chiming-back place! Good luck and I’m glowing back at you!

  9. Laura
    Twitter: SaltyLaura

    beautiful radiating words. <3

  10. Leni says:

    “Quiet friend who has come so far,
    feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
    Let this darkness be a bell tower
    and you the bell. As you ring,

    what batters you becomes your strength.
    Move back and forth into the change.
    What is it like, such intensity of pain?
    If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

    In this uncontainable night,
    be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
    the meaning discovered there.

    And if the world has ceased to hear you,
    say to the silent Earth: I flow.
    To the rushing water, speak: I am.”

  11. brooklynchick says:

    40 days and 40 nights…. :) life is flipping hilarious!

  12. Natanya says:

    Dearest Havi, you are (already) a bell, and a beacon. The most sacred instruments must be cared for with the greatest of love and respect. Such courage it takes to treat ourselves as sacred instruments. And such beautiful resonance and illumination goes out into the universe when we do. I have been in a sabbatical of my own for the past seven months, trying (most often failing) to allow it to be a sabbatical. But even as flawed as it has been, I have energy and joy again, I find myself laughing like a child again. Rest is important. Thank you so much for sharing your process here. It is truly a service, and has helped me in my own rest period. May your Schmita year be deeply restoring and regenerating. Glowing love to you and this special community, and scattering petals and pebbles along the path for us all.

  13. Rosie Braeburn says:

    So much love for you, your recognizing what you need, your going after what you need, your trust in it all. Also, 40 days and 40 nights – so awesomely perfectly congruent! huzzah! <3

  14. Jess says:

    This post feels like a big warm hug. I especially love the idea of intentional Not Spending, and cannot wait to read more about it. May all your wishes come true, Havi.


  15. Claire P
    Twitter: making_space

    I am cheering all the cheers, and glowing all the glows, and smiling all the smiles for this plan. I believe in it and in you. I love how our bodies sometimes say ‘we can do this the easy way… Or the hard way…’ For me it was childbearing that most clearly demonstrated this. I definitely found it easier when I agreed to it, and then when I changed my mind, to have someone lovely reassure and encourage me back into agreement. May you have all the willingness and trust and clarity and comfort and support you need to do it the easy way as much as possible. <3

  16. Leni says:

    So much sparked here for me, heart sighs and love!

    I followed the rabbit holes and was really struck by how lovely and elegant and tmely this is. I have always loved the word fallow, it always seemed rich and mysterious and lush, full of treasure and anticiaption.

    I so wished for fallow time in all the grief and worry of the past years of X & Y. I do not think 2015 will be a fallow year at all, the energy is going the other way and i want to extre that time joyflly because i really need it. but there are so many qualities of schmita i want to explore. this is an important clew for me in Embarking on 2015. 2014 was about Integration, and wow it surely was. 2015, i have decided, is about Foundation & Temple, and i am naming it El ANo de Oro, the golden year, because i turn 50 in late June. i desire so many things for this year, and none of them are things.

  17. Kathleen Jowitt
    Twitter: KathleenJowitt

    This is a gorgeous post. I can feel the resting and the rejuvenating sinking into me and refreshing my roots. I am enjoying the comments, too. All these lovely people, all talking about the wonder of not-doing. This is a wonderful place to be; thank you, Havi, for making it.

    This is sort of what I am doing this year, and sort of not. (My year begins on Advent Sunday, so I am already two and a half weeks in.) This year I am enjoying where I have got to; I am playing with the idea that I have already got to where I need to be, that I can let go of what-next-what-next-what-next and just greet the next thing joyfully when it shows up, in its own good time. And use the space in between now and its own good time to sleep and laugh.

    And, because I have already got to where I need to be, I am going to let myself have fun this year. I can go on holiday abroad; I can read whatever I damn well please; I can block out whole weeks of annual leave in which to do nothing at all; I can have a birthday party with an eightsome reel and a rozsa; I can sing; I can paddle…

    (And yes, there are still things in my head that are clamouring to be written, and I am trying to trust that they will write themselves when the time is right, even though it feels as if they should have been out in the world yesterday – or longer ago than yesterday…)

    Happy birthday years to everyone with notable birthdays! I have one too. It’s going to be fantastic.

    And happy Shmita, Havi. May it give you everything you need.
    Kathleen Jowitt recently posted… Reverb day 16: refusing to try harder

  18. Spike says:

    Hand on heart sigh for you, and a long belly laugh of perfect congruity.

    I gave up New Years’ Resolutions years ago; they weren’t a Right Thing for me. The monsters would all sing a chorus of “Too Much and Yet STILL Not Enough!!” to the tune of whatever I resolved, and so I’d give up in shame and disgust around February.

    I started choosing “words of the year” with the intent of looking at my relationship with the word. “Wealth” was amusing; it was how I found that money means OPTIONS. Not stuff, not envy, but just the ability to make more choices. Different choices.

    The words are kept on a spreadsheet, chosen by random number generator — let the universe seed what I need to see. The year it chose “prayerfulness” was one heck of a ride — full of “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE” and the occasional whispered “thank you.”

    This year coming is RELEASE. Amazing how it all comes together.

    Wishing you a loving journey through trust and on to what is waiting to become.

  19. Carolina
    Twitter: CarolinaLucian

    I love you
    this space
    your crazy ideas.

    May you have everything you need,
    may we all.

    ps. 40 days and 40 nights!!! really?!
    Carolina recently posted… La viejita de verde: arrugas, soberanía y el qué dirán

  20. Angel says:

    Part of me wants so badly to comment here… and part of me is whispering “No… that is *way* too vulnerable a thing to talk about in public. Better to just think about it privately. Well… better yet to not think about it. Maybe go make another chai instead. Yes, that’s the ticket…”

    And yet….

    I keep re-reading passages of this post, and feeling… I don’t even know.. a longing, maybe? A sadness too?

    I feel nearly desperate for deep rest… the kind it feels like you’re talking about here. The kind that allows the noise to fall away, and the silence to swallow me up so that I can hear my truth again. I want to be loam… well balanced and perfect for growing… but right now I feel like sand. Just almost entirely dried out.

    And even as I say that I want these things, it feels ridiculous. I keep thinking “Well, that’s nice for someone who can pull it off… but that’d never work for me. I’m barely keeping it together as it is!” and then I want to sigh and read another post and feel sorry for myself.

    Then I think… well… sand has some lovely properties. It can make things smooth by rubbing against them. It looks awfully sparkly in the right light. It *can be* super soft and warm and relaxing when you throw a cozy towel over it.

    So maybe there are ways to play with being sand-y. Maybe I can enjoy it right now. Maybe I can deeply rest *as* sand.

    Well there now. I’m glad I commented after all. That feels better. Thank you Havi… thank you for sharing like you do & being here and available in this way. I wonder how often you hear that you make a big difference… so I’ll tell you now.

    Havi Bell, you make such a difference in the lives of those who connect with you in the ways that are available. Thank you for that, and for being honest (here with us) so that we can all see how to process things in ways that are helpful.
    Angel recently posted… Knowing what’s yours to do

  21. Will says:

    I learned so much through you. And now I am full of patience and pebbles to give. I wish you a sweet shmita.

  22. Margaret says:

    Letting fields lie “fallow” allows roots to grow more deep. Billions of soil organisms multiply, replenish natural fertility, rebuild structure, strength, & stability of the ground. Rain falls softly, water soaks in deeply. The land becomes rich again with teeming life. So it is also on the inside.

  23. Shmita. If I had a daughter or created a new, small, pale pink and lightly-scented orchid I would name it Shmita. It is wholly new to me, and what my soul has been crying for. Now is not the time for me to take Shmita on fully – to do it as designed. But I can begin. I can begin by restoring the sabbath to my life with weekly intentional not-doing. And perhaps by this time next year Shmita will be a possibility.

    Bless you, Havi, as you release and renew. And thank you for bringing this concept to my life.
    Shannon W (@scwink) recently posted… Dream a little dream of me

  24. Pawe? Listwan, Warsaw, PL says:

    Dear Havi,

    I am so inspired by the things you write, by your ideas and ways of looking at things, doing your best to keep sane amidst the insane world… I discovered your site and the Rally (Rally!) idea a couple of years ago, but only now I remembered it, just at the moment you’re about to close your shop. But I’m glad you follow your hunches and wish you all the Trust and Love you need.

    I believe/feel you’re on the right path and in the process of showing/glowing the way to many.

  25. gialuna says:

    From calm, placid waters to fallow fields, the seed/me feels my earth body relax a little bit as I read your thoughts on shmita et al.

    This post… my quite layered story over the last handful(two handfuls?) of years… I never once considered my fallow field as part of my process because I have been so obsessed with surviving my choices. Even as I respect and believe in the cycle/power of the fallow field…

    It wasn’t until I read this post that a few more of the truths were able to thaw. No answers, but still there feels clarity. And, really, these days this gal is much more intrigued by the questions.

    Your writings. Any post I read, is chock full of goodies which feel relevant to what I am experiencing/recognizing in the moment.

    I have many thank yous and sparkles and hugs streaming in your direction.

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