Close this search box.
Shanina Carmichael with two other women, standing outside of a building n Nambia
Shanina Carmichael shares her adventure of living in Namibia, a country in South Africa, during their season of rest—a transformational experience that helped her think about creating her own season of rest as an American city girl. Photo courtesy Shanina Carmichael

Opinion | An American Girl’s Season of Rest: Time of Faith, Affirmation and Mental Work

I remember when I lived in Namibia, a country northwest of South Africa, and a teacher took me back to her village for holiday. It was so peaceful and relaxing. We literally sat around, drank tea and hung around outside most of the day. The women would gather around the fire at night and wash each other’s feet and talk. 

It was a bit uncomfortable at first. It felt vulnerable to have someone serve me in this way, and when I wanted to return the gesture, as a guest, I was refused. But as time went on, we got more comfortable with each other, and it became my favorite part of the day to both be able to have my feet washed and do the same for my sisters. 

It was time to leave and go back to the town, and I thanked the teacher, explaining how relaxing and peaceful the experience was. The teacher told me this was only so because I came during a time of no work. She explained that this was the time of the year where a lot of the laborious farm work had been done. The planting, tending, harvesting, drying and preservation work was finished, and this was their time to relax.

The Earth Provides All Necessities

As a city girl raised in America, this concept of a season of no work was foreign to me. There were always bills, so there was always work. I think one of the most profound lessons of that experience is that the earth provides everything of necessity and the more we accumulate things that create financial obligations, the more we must work, or at least generate income.

So back to this idea of a season of rest or no work. I’ve been feeling so discombobulated lately. Several work assignments have been placed on hold. Although the need to make money feels urgent, a lot of my work is frozen. I feel like the universe is giving me a season of no work but I’m feeling nervous about accepting it—and searching for work instead. 

I said to myself, “Hey, you have cast nets. You have tried the effort route. Maybe it’s time to try ease.” If you have been given a season of ease, why tense up and spend it seeking? This is a time of faith, affirmation and mental work.  

holding fall colored leaves in hand (season of rest)
Shanina Carmichael admires the fall-colored leaves as the seasons change in nature and in her life. Photo by Shanina Carmichael

I really dislike the way society is structured to ignore the rhythms of nature, especially when all around us, life is preparing for dormancy. The earth is doing less—less blooming, less producing and more shedding. Yet, our lives are requiring more of us. 

It just goes to show you how out of sync we are with nature. Everything in nature has a season of dormancy, rest, or shedding. But the way our society is structured it doesn’t really allow most people a season of rest. 

After the fall equinox, our days become shorter and shorter, and our bodies attempt to sync with the circadian rhythm. We find it harder to get up in the morning. The darkness in the evening signals us to cozy up in bed.

I really wonder if the seasonal mood disorders are really due to our body’s wisdom being ignored while every living thing about us seems to be doing less. When we have less access to the sun, the source of energy for all living things, we are expected to do more. We need more money for winter bills, more energy for holiday cooking and more money for holiday shopping. 

I think that many of us agree that farm life or homesteading lifestyles are hard. But I think we neglect to acknowledge that this lifestyle we live is just as hard, but in a different way. While farm life may be hard in seasons, city life can be hard each and every day. 

I’ve never lived on a farm, and I may be completely romanticizing what it is like to have a season of no work or what is required to have a season of no work without anxiety. But what if I’m not? What if living on the land, working in the sun with the Earth, sweating and eating well rewards us with a beautiful, stress-free season of rest. What if we could have a season of no work and have everything we need?

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints. 

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one.