By this time next week, spring will have sprung–whether the view out your window says so or not! And, as Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez wrote, “You are reborn with the roses in every spring.”
Because even if we can’t quite see it yet, change is in the air! And it’s the kind that makes us all feel a sense of newness. Things are stirring beneath the surface–both literally and figuratively. We can almost taste those ripe berries in season… feel the balmy breezes… smell the perfumed nights and hear the crickets’ songs to come. And, as the spring equinox shifts the balance towards more light and longer days, we can also feel a surge in our own energy.
No matter our age or stage in life, we can tap into the potent, life-affirming qualities of this time. Here are a few tips (from spring itself!) to help you reclaim your evergreen side as well:
1) Clear out the old to make way for the new!
The idea of “spring cleaning” originated straight from the source: Nature undergoes a natural cleansing cycle in small and big ways each spring. Perennials shuffle off dried stalks and foliage, enriching the soil for new growth. Spring rains help purify both the air and the soil. And many birds leave their old nests to build new ones in the spring.
Fortunately, we don’t need to switch our address to feel the benefits of a good spring cleaning! As author Eric Riddle writes, “Clear your stuff; clear your mind.” This is a great time to sweep out the cobwebs and tidy up your spaces. Keep only what you truly need or love, and donate the rest.
Riddle also suggests that clutter in one area of our lives often spills into others. Have you deleted those old files on your laptop lately? Or simplified your schedule where you can? Pay attention, too, to the thoughts and habits that haven’t been serving you (a.k.a. the “mental deadwood”). Believe it or not, they are the mulch for the future garden of YOU. Even our negative behaviors have something to teach us. But we can’t change anything if we continue to sweep it under the rug. That’s not clearing; it’s burying!
So roll up the carpets! Examine the whys of your thoughts and actions by the light of the spring sun. From there, you can finally address them and commit to a better way. And that’s how we ready the soil for the roots and shoots to come.
2) Embrace movement and change.
Let’s be honest: bone-chilling weather doesn’t always inspire that “get up and go” feeling. Just ask any bear… hibernation is a thing! If you have kept your fitness routine through the winter, kudos! For me, it’s a daily must–as much for my mental well-being as for my physical health.
But now that the sap is rising, so can we! Youth is all about movement and suppleness. Our bodies were made for dancing, climbing, swimming, rowing, biking, stretching, and shimmying! Even a short walk in that fresh spring air can have tremendous health benefits.
According to a recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, for every 2000 steps we take each day, our risk of premature death is potentially reduced by 8-11%. Walking has been shown to improve almost every system in our bodies, either directly or indirectly. Even if you’re still in the snow zone, you can still bundle up a little less and get out a little more. We may not be able to speed up the transition to spring, but we can certainly make getting there more fun!
Activist Gloria Steinem talks about how she keeps an “on the road” mindset, always welcoming the inevitable transitions that life brings. She likens this state of mind to the way birds fly along the currents of the wind. As a self-professed “Change Junkie,” I, too, believe that openness to change is the most essential ingredient in our growth and transformation! This is prime time to get out there and learn a new skill. Or sign up for that class. Dare to get uncomfortable (yes, you heard that right… because real change requires stepping out of our comfort zone!).
Most everything born in nature requires either a break–think of a sprout cracking the seed’s hull–or pain, or both. True growth is rarely easy, but it’s always worth the sacrifice!
3) Be purposeful, and take your time.
Poet e. e. cummings mused at the way spring “comes carefully out of Nowhere” to rearrange things slowly and deliberately. And how true it is! A new bud here, a peek of green there… and suddenly (it seems), all these tiny changes become a vibrant, blooming landscape!
The lesson? We don’t need to overhaul our lives all at once to make changes that matter. We can plant a seed here. Another there. We can get back in touch with our purpose… look at our goals with fresh eyes. We needn’t rush things to see them through. The most important thing is that we take one step–or make one change or adjustment–every day. (Stay tuned for next week’s Aries 12-Day Challenge, which may be just the inspiration to get you started!)
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake…. by an infinite expectation of the dawn” –that perpetual new beginning. This is the true spirit of spring.
From a Kabbalistic perspective, this opportunity presents itself at every moment of every day. There is, in each instant, a new Light. A new chance. A new choice. Essentially, a new you!
And on that note, I hope this week finds you with a spring in your step, in more ways than one.