The Pressure Cooker vs Pace + Grace


When the heat feels endlessly high, the rain leans toward extreme drought or heavy flooding (without much in between), and pressures in our country, world, economy, health, and more turn the dial up - again - it can be challenging to find that patience and grace. Whether we feel this or notice it from others, people seem stretched thin and testy. Even folks' driving gets more aggressive!

Science has long noticed the effects that the heat of summer has on humans, often making our adrenaline increase and causing us to get cranky. Humans are just as sensitive to barometric and climate changes as other organisms on earth, even if our subtle awareness of those effects gets buried under the many layers of modern life.

Lately, as I garden, I've been exceedingly aware of the parallel that little slice of the natural world is showing me. We're at the peak point in the summer growing season (in Missouri). It's a time of abundance, nearing full harvest, toeing the edge of planning for fall garden planting (yes, already), but it's been a strange year. With the heat and drought, the veggies have been slow and sparse. The garden still requires regular seasonal effort though: pests to manage, water to maintain, and weeds and pruning to tend. Squash bugs are my garden nemesis. This is the time of year when I wonder what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and if I should just throw in the towel on the whole thing. If it wasn't for the work already put into the garden and the plants doing their own work in exchange, I might. Eventually, despite that, the harvest does come and usually outweighs the effort.

The parallel is with the other efforts we make in life: when the work gets challenging, just after the intensity turns up one more notch and makes us question our goals or choices. Some of us feel like quitting. Others push harder and add more until they're overwhelmed or exhausted.

But then we find a prize. It can be small, like a single jalapeño or an email response we've waited for. It can be big, like a juicy watermelon or the big, fat check that we are ready for. Regardless, we finally experience a taste of our efforts' harvest and it bolsters us to continue on, renewed, motivated, and grateful.

Wherever you are in our projects, goals, and progress, this is the time to pace and allow grace. As easy as it is to focus on the momentum and productivity that we feel, the pressure and heat makes burn-out possible. It's equally as important to allow the moments of grace, slowness and stillness, refreshment and rest. Otherwise, we're too crushed with pressure to appreciate the nourishment in the moment.

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