Spring Emergence (& Irritation)

IMG_7998.JPGA friend furrows her brow. “I made it through winter,” she says. “I did so well this year. But suddenly, I feel like I’m totally falling apart. Like, isn’t spring supposed to be flowery? Shouldn’t this be the easy part?” We laugh at this, that anything might be the easy part.

For the clients I see in my office, spring is second only to the holiday season in terms of sheer angst and discomfort. When the sun breaks through and the first blush of green spreads across the lawn, what many of us feel is less relief than whirring, chafing frustration. There can be a jarring dissonance between how we think we should feel (birds! flowers!) and what we do feel (blargh, go away).

In Chinese medicine, spring is the season of anger. Consider how transformative this energetic can be: It’s anger that propels a seed into a sprout, anger that organizes for justice, anger that speaks truth. But until it’s rooted, anger can also feel like irritation. If you are waking up at night, if you are feeling too fast or slow, if you are both overwhelmed and underwhelmed… you’re right on time.

I’ve written about this mud season of the soul before, a time that melts away what’s been covered and demands we see. As tempting as it is to look away or act as if things are fine, we might try pausing, actually feeling our own annoyance. Sometimes growth isn’t a fairy-leap over a rainbow but a furious awakening that this feels too small. The structures don’t line up, the form has to change. This is the discomfort that precedes becoming. We wish we could skip over this part, but it’s also the compass that guides us to what comes next.

Please note! A few spaces remain in our upcoming Qoya + Embodied Writing afternoon retreat on Saturday, April 13th from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Learn more and register here.

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Right-Sized Bites

Down on Broadway – South Portland, not New York – is an electronic sign with a running countdown. “Only 15 Days to Spring!” it says in green digital letters. Technically, we know this is true. But it is 20 degrees and snowing.  An icy crust covers all surfaces.  And we haven’t even gotten to the part where the snow melts, and months of detritus begin to emerge from the banks.IMG_2707

This is a season that can really test our trust.  Also our patience, our senses of humor, and our desire for fresh produce not trucked in from 3,000 miles away.

Last month, my family and I trucked ourselves 3,000 miles away, to Southern Mexico. Cloudless days, hot afternoons – we went outside without coats and ate roasted corn from pushcarts. I love (love!) being in warm places, and I’ve learned not to expect immediate arrival; it takes me at least a few days to stop squinting and start breathing, to actually land.  Coming back, I had a keen sense of how many time zones and latitude degrees we crossed in order to get from there to here. 

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Back in Maine, it is still winter. The season feels like a not-subtle metaphor for body discomfort: Like the pile of snow at the end of the drive, the aches in our bodies don’t go away at the pace we want them to. We want springtime, blossoms, and t-shirt days just as we want easy backs and unhindered shoulders. We are not accustomed to waiting, and it’s hard to trust the pace that gets us from here to there.

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Seeing the coming change at the level of tissue is a little easier. Tissue really does change; muscles unwind and let go, shoulders open.  But for that change to unfold, we have to pace carefully. We want just the right amount of work to invite something new.  Too little, and we feel unmet, too much, and we can react like seedlings in hot sun, over-taxed and overwhelmed.  When I work with clients, I think about what it means to take the right-sized bite; how to exercise patience and long-sightness so that they can  integrate change. 

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So I’m thinking this very long-in-coming spring is its own right-sized bite. Perhaps, with this much time to let winter run its course, we will really occupy spring when it comes. We won’t need automated signs to tell us when the season is here, because we’ll know it from the inside.

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