I know spring is coming. I hear the mourning dove on the roof cooing each morning when I sit on my meditation cushion. I note the red buds on the maple are getting fatter. I witness Canadian Geese grazing in wetlands and office parks on their way back north. Yet I when I opened the blinds yesterday morning I was astonished to see fat snow flakes covering the neighborhood. Yes, it was gone by mid-afternoon, but still, snow?
I sit at my writing desk and look out at the dense gray sky. Snow is in the forecast the next few days. My furnace continues to fire up and warm my home. Multiple cups of hot tea are needed to keep my finger tips warm. I keep telling myself, spring is coming. I see it on Instagram and Facebook. All over the US, from Portland OR to Dayton OH, sunny daffodils, bright tulips and sweet purple crocus are pushing up through the earth reaching for the sun. Not here. I think we are still a month away from spring blooms. I have seen a few tips of tender green but I think they have tucked themselves back into the dark earth to shelter from the ice and snow.
I feel like I am whining. Lamenting my latitude instead of trusting the slow easing into spring this year. I know from experience a gradual change is more sustainable than an abrupt change. I think of an analogy I heard years ago when I struggling with self-destructive thoughts and rumination of my self-hate. I wanted to be a different person and stop hurting myself, yet it seemed like I was never going to change. A therapist told me if you take a glass out of the freezer and put boiling water in it, the glass is going to shatter. But if you take a frozen glass out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter to gradually warm up before you put the boiling water in it, the glass will not break.
To be honest, it took me awhile to understand what that meant for me. I was 23 years old, a new mama with baby just diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and I wanted to feel better now. I didn’t want to wait. I wanted out of the frozen tundra of my maladaptive habits and into the warmth of something new, still yet undefined. All of which translated into, I didn’t want to do the work of showing up each day to take care of myself so I could take care of my baby.
No I wanted a quick fix or a pill to make me feel better now. But lasting change does not work that way. Lasting change requires me to be still with my discomfort and pain. It requires me to show up on the page, move my body, sit on my meditation cushion, even when it seems like nothing is happening, which is often.
Slow change allows new habits to grow deep into my marrow. These little daily habits are how I breathe. When new pain or discomfort arises, as it will, I am able to sit with it and be present. I know today I am not going to shattered when a loved one dies, or when something I created is rejected—or when the spring I crave unfolds with painstaking precision. I am all warmed up from taking care of myself.
So let me embrace this spring, even if it is not meeting my expectations. It is reminding me that gradual change is good.
Here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart:
What it Means to Hold Space for Someone by Heather Plett- Here is a wonderful article about holding space for people when they are in pain. It is hard. How do you allow yourself to witness another’s pain without rushing in to fix it but rather offer presence and comfort, whatever they may need, even if it’s not what you think it needs to be. As someone who was trained to put everyone first and fix everything this is hard stuff to practice but worth it. Nothing will open my heart more than being present with a loved one and not trying to fix them. Read this for gentle guidance.
And before you hold space for others, learn How to Hold Space for Yourself First.
Nurturing Creativity in Solitude via Talent Development Resources- Interesting article about the role of solitude in development of creative work. I personally need time alone, lots of it really. I am one of those children who grew up with ample amounts of solitude and was left alone with my vivid imagination. I attribute most of my creative impulses to this environment.
Dear Sugar: How Do I Survive the Critics– Wow I had no idea Dear Sugar is a regular Podcast. In this episode Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond call George Saunders to get his input about dealing with critics when we put our work out there. So much happiness, I found a new podcast to listen to on my long drives.
Graduating from the School of Suffering by Sas Petherick- Yes, to leaning into and being with all of our emotions, even the painful and hard. I love Sas’s insight about how she abandoned herself and how that was more painful than others leaving. Great post reminding us to stay present. There is exquisite beauty in the now.
Finally, I love daily photo challenges. They keep me doing something creative everyday—no matter how busy I get with work or life. The simple act of taking a photo a day and sharing it on Instagram is small enough creative bit to get me working again when I am struggling to get my words flowing, or I am overwhelmed with plain of too many not good enough feelings. In case you missed it, here are two daily photos I am going to participate with in April.
April Love with Susannah Conway
The Daily Miracle with Catherine Just (follow her on Instagram to get the daily prompts)