As the blossoms of spring ripen into the fruits of summer, I marvel at the beauty, promise and power of nature. And I come, yet again, to this question: How does Mother Earth never fail to deliver? 

It’s because, every year, she surrenders to rest. 

In the three years that I’ve been leading The Highland Project—a nonprofit that invests in the sustainability of Black women leaders, I am reminded every day that there is a lot to be done. And when there is a great deal of work ahead, it can be easy to fall into a multi-generational pattern of constantly moving and building, too often prioritizing survival and community over self-preservation and restoration. 

I know that I am not alone. For Black women and women of color, this tendency runs deep—particularly when so much is at stake. Our approach to realizing bold and innovative ideas reinforces movement, urgency, and production. Sometimes, it can feel like we can’t lose a second to build, nourish, and protect. The shifting sands in politics, philanthropy, and everyday life about the value and worthiness of Black humanity and women’s rights continue to place us on the defensive. 

In the past year, especially, we have seen more threats to our work as our country experiences setback after setback, from anti-DEI laws to the injustice on the health and well-being of Black women. And while we all continue to stay focused on our purpose, and building the world we wish to see, we are simultaneously preparing ourselves for the possibility that something much worse will come.  

It’s when I come back to nature that I am reminded that we can keep going, and we can keep growing. But moving along on our path requires us to surrender to stillness during the change in our life seasons. If we keep trying to seed and grow and harvest progress and change from the same soil without nurturing interruption, all we get in the end is barren ground. 

In both my work and in my lived experience as a Black woman, I know that rest can often feel like it isn’t a viable option. That’s why, at The Highland Project, part of our focus is building the support and infrastructure to make rest possible. Because we know that this is what we need, both as human beings and leaders, to sustain ourselves in our work and in creating multi-generational change. From holding collective rest breaks with our internal team to organizing quarterly rest exploration sessions with our Chief Daydreaming Officer to creating care plans during our peak periods, we need these pauses to dream big, get clarity and return to our purpose. It has always been a must-have for change, never a nice-to-have.

But it all starts with choice. When I allow myself to surrender to stillness, I have seen the most profound changes in my leadership occur. I can turn my focus away from stop-gap measures and pose myself this single question: “What patterns can I actually disrupt to move through change with growth, integrity, safety, and community?”

Nature’s cycle of surrender—from planting a seed, to the way in which it flourishes and grows—is embodied in our own bodies and souls. We are not made to hold everything, all the time. We must create and honor cycles of rest and restoration. Nature teaches us, time and time again, that yes, one can keep moving forward—but there will be an ending punctuated by depletion. 

If we want Black women to blossom and invent radical new systems that can bear the fruit of change, we must invest in their ability to make space for self-nurturing. We’re in for a long, wearying haul. Surrendering to rest has never been more important.