Spring, glorious spring!

“Let it rain on some days,
Let yourself shiver on some cold nights,
So when it’s Spring you’ll know why it was all worth going through.”
― Sanhita Baruah

After a snowier-than-usual winter, this week brought some sunny days, and with the first day of spring, a spring in my step as well. Sunshine will do that for you, when you live in a rain forest! 🙂

You’d think that in SE Alaska, snow would be common. You would be wrong, at least at sea level, and in this small region of the state. Rain is common, storms are common, but not snow. This year my boots got to walk all over town as I had the chance to wear them most days the past six weeks. I’ve turtle-necked my way through, and now, as April approaches,  I’m looking forward to shedding a layer or two. It will be nice to put away gloves and scarves, and walk out without the extras.

As winter leaves, I feel the flow of spring-time energy. I picked up a paint brush yesterday to freshen up a wall or two; such a simple thing, but exciting after a hiatus of tackling projects. Spreading color on the walls was therapeutic and nourishing, a visible illustration of what I felt happening in my spirit.

I’ve filled the pantry, and after two years of minimal cooking, I’m trying new things, dishing up old favorites, and using cookware that’s been out of sight and out of mind.

I’m reading again, books that speak to my heart, and some new finds prompting me to thought.

I’m thinking of the curious combination of spring strength and softness…the strength it takes for green leaves and tiny flowers to push into the sunlight and the softness of the  early morning sun on my face as I walk to work. I think about the strength it takes to keep moving and growing through all the phases of life and the softness of heart that comes with experience and age. (Sometimes hearts harden with age, but I’m choosing not to do that.)

Strength and softness: that’s the combination I want in my life. I love strength of spirit, will, and courage. I love the softness of kindness, generosity, and gentleness.

Spring reminds me that the harshness of winter is disappearing, and the sweetness of the next season is here.

Seasons exist in all realms of life, and seasons of energy, creativity, and accomplishment are no less real than the seasons of the calendar. Manifesting in different ways, the results are sometimes visible, sometimes not.

I’ve learned that human seasons rarely match up with the calendar. I’ve learned that sometimes you can push yourself into the next phase of life, and sometimes, like a flower waiting to bloom, you have to wait for your next season to arrive. Some things you just can’t hurry.

I’ve learned that you can’t force what isn’t ready. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

When you’re ready for a new season, it will appear. In good time, but not before you’ve done the work to be ready to move forward.

The past couple of years have been quiet, times of growth and discovery. And those times are vital. All humans need time to percolate a bit, time to let life flow around and over, time to make sense of what was, what is, and what’s changed.

I sometimes call it wandering in the wilderness.

Good to do, but also good to come out of.

No epiphany required for the sunshine of springtime to remind me, it’s time to get busy. Time to paint, and plant an herb or two, and a flower or two, time to create in the kitchen, time to shift to a new season.

And while my hands are busy, it’s good to practice the values of strength and softness.

How about you? Are you feeling the pulse of springtime? Tell me about it? I’d love to know what spring sunshine prompts in you!

~ Sheila

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Need to nurture

I have a need to nurture. I’ve known that for a long time, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit it. Does this mean I’m not done mothering? Or am I somehow seeking to make myself necessary to others by providing comfort? I like to bake, and I frequently take food to work to share. Does this mean that I’m needy, looking for approval? It can be confusing. Am I giving comfort, or seeking it?

Well, like many answers in life, I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in the middle. I am giving comfort with food, or by doing a favor, or by…(fill in the blank here). And of course I enjoy the approval that comes my way when my food is appreciated, or I know I’ve made a difference in someone’s day by helping out.

But I also think the answer is more complex than either of these obvious choices. The truth is, I am comforted and nurtured when I give to others. That doesn’t make me a saint or anything special. In fact, it could be argued that because this behavior feeds me emotionally, my giving is more about me than others. But it’s really a nice balance between the two. Everyone has strengths, and I believe that strength is a reflection of behavior or attitude that flows naturally. My strength reflects my core.

I know people who are wonderful leaders, decision-makers, clear-thinking and strong enough to create their vision for work, mission, family. I know others who are detail oriented, dedicated to seeing the smallest task through to completion. I know people who dream big and see the goal to be met. Each personality has strength, and mine happens to be sharing comfort, nurturing when I can, in small ways or large.

It took me a long time to accept that about myself, to recognize bringing comfort to others as a strength. It seemed like I was just being nice, when all along, I was being strong. Good to know!

Good advice!

A few new favorites…

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate. – Thornton Wilder

If you want to be happy, be. – Leo Tolstoy

The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  – Anna Quindlen

She took the leap and built her wings on the way down.

You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  You’re on your own and you know what you know.  And you are the one who’ll decide where to go. – Dr. Seuss

Today is a new day. – Chicken Little

Earth’s crammed with heaven. – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

She decided to enjoy more and endure less.

She was kind and loving and patient…with herself.

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at her. – David Brinkley

Anything you are good at contributes to happiness. – Bertrand Russell

A strong woman understands the importance of creating space for personal well-being, spiritual nourishment, and regeneration in order to maintain her authenticity, especially when the universe whacks her with its two-by-four and hands her days when it takes a great deal of courage just to show up. – Laura Folse

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

She discovered that she was the one she’d been waiting for.