How to Bloom This Spring

I love spring so much I incorporated the word into my passion and work.

The word itself is flexible in its meaning as both a noun and a verb. I aspired to capture and embody many of those meanings - a flow of water rising or welling naturally, a source, a first sign of dawn (as in dayspring), the beginning of a new time, the first or an early stage of life.

Wellspring Stones is a place for all of that - natural, easy resources, fresh dawns, and new life.

The stones represent the sturdy, lasting building blocks needed to create a solid foundation for the wellsprings we are creating that we can turn to again and again. (Plus, it takes “stones” to endure and navigate chronic illness).

Be sure to read to the end to grab a special playsheet guide to show you how to embody spring, no matter how you are.

Now as you know, I love poetry. Intriguingly, not one, but two of the most prominent poets in the English language begin their most famous poems by speaking of April. One wrote in 1387 and the other in 1922 - 535 years apart.

Each sees the season of spring and the first full month of spring, April, as a suitable beginning for their epic poems.

However, each poet embraces a very different tones. The opening lines of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Cantebury Tales is more positive and speaks of siring and birth and flowers ::

When in April the sweet showers fall,
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all
And bathed every vein in liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower
— Geoffrey Chaucer, The Cantebury Tales (1387-1400), lines 1-4

While the opening of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is more negative and refers to dullness, deadness,  and of dryness ::

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers....
— T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland (1922), lines 1-7

Why, as T.S. Eliot puts it, would April be cruel? For me the answer may be that when you are sick and the world is waking up around you, the contrast between you, stuck inside and sick in bed, is sharper, harder and more piercing. We long to be a part of the newness and growth that is arising around us, out of the earth and among the live.

I love Eliot for acknowledging that not all of us can fully fulfill our longings. In the winter months, when everyone is hibernating, and not just sick people, we sick people do not feel so alone.

As both poets note, spring time is one for beginnings and transition. The last two years the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in DC were challenged by weird bouts of cold. This year they are going to bloom even later as the green buds were seen only on March 4th (in 2018 on February 24 and in 2017 on February 25). The time from those first buds to first bloom varies mightily depending on the cold. You can monitor the cherry blossoms here in DC at the official National Park Service site here. (Prepare to laugh!)

This spring weather makes no sense. And this nonsense is similar to what it it like to live with a chronic illness – unpredictable and disorientating.

And as others focus on spring cleaning or shedding pounds or venturing outside, what does this time of renewal mean for those of us who live with an unpredictable illness every day?

How can we embody the spirit of spring when we feel tied to our beds?

What can spring mean when renewal seems so far out of our reach?

When we feel stagnant and stale all. the. time?

When we would give anything for a resurrection of any kind?

Spring is not just about flowers bursting forth from the dirt. By examining other meanings of spring – as both a noun as well as verb – there other ways that one can embrace spring. 

Anyone in any state can bloom and create sweetness.

Here are 5 ways to bloom and embody the season of spring ―

1/ SPRING AS ORIGIN

Spring is the source or origin of something, the first or early stage of life. Even if we are not 100%, we can still recommit to new start. We used to begin our year in the springtime, in March. That is why the last months of the year are rooted in the numbers that seem to be off by two - 7 (sept) for September, 8 (oct) for October, 9 (nov) for November, and 10 (dec) for December.

For me, this spring, I resolve to a consistent bedtime, meditation twice a day, and to consistently reach out to friends. All of these practices will enhance my wellness.

I start again.

One very helpful lesson from my meditation practice is that we can always begin again (at any time of year). Spring moves us to begin again no matter where we are or how we are. And to start where we are. (Which by the way is the title of a great book by teacher Pema Chödron Start Where You Are – A Guide to Compassionate Living).

2/ SPRING AS FLEXIBILITY

Spring also suggests a malleability ― that ability to spring back to normal when an external pressure is removed. My bed springs absorb me and my weight, but when the gravity of my body is not there, the bed bounces back to it’s original form.

We too can strive for that flexibility.

My illness has the power to keep me bedridden for weeks at a time. When it comes, and how long it stays, is not up to me.

But I can stay nimble in response. I can adapt to the barriers and boundaries. 

Spring can be a way of being – a flexibility, a buoyancy.

One of my yoga teachers taught that trees that can bend in the wind don’t break. So spring can be a time of agility and fluidity, and we should aim for that outlook.

3/ SPRING AS CREATIVITY

This time of year is one of creation. Last year, the Hirshhorn Musuem featured a very popular exhibit featuring the work of Japanese artist Yahoo Kusama and some of her best-known creations which feature dots going on into a seeming infinity.

She attributes her most ground-breaking work directly to her physical limitations. Again - a physical limit. My ears perked up!

One curator wrote,

In response to the labor intensity of this work, she started to utilize mirrors to achieve similar repetition…The reflective surfaces allowed her to transcend the physical limitations of her own productivity.

We too can utilize our creativity to find innovative ways around our limitations. We can extend and magnify our efforts.

Just because we may not have the energy or ability to create like before does not mean we should not create at all. We can create, and we can innovate.

We just have boundaries that challenge our creativity. Often, boundaries and restrictions is a catalyst for innovation and creativity.

And if we are lucky and the muse strikes, we could even have those boundaries boost our creativity in innovative ways that change everything, like it did for Kusama.

4/ SPRING AS GROWTH

Life is growing up and bursting from the earth all around us now.

Humans grow through learning and evolving and changing. We strive to improve our habits and our skills.

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This effort is more true if you live with an illness. But with an illness you have symptoms that can thwart and force you to give up.

But don’t. You can learn ways to grow and evolve around a force.

For example, gravity is a non-negotiable force. As a yoga teacher, I describe headstands and handstands as a dance with gravity. We respect gravity’s push and pull as a partner and don’t fight it. We’re responsive.

The same is true when you’re partnered with chronic illness. We cultivate ways to work skillfully with our illness rather than resist it.

Fighting an immovable force, as physics tells us, is futile. Rather than banging your head against the unyielding wall of reality, explore how to dance around your illness for the easiest way forward.

I also like the image of a surfer riding a wave. The wave is a very powerful force. But we can grow and then reap the benefit of our improved skills. So work to learn how to surf the tumult and waves of your illness. Duck and weave when you need to. Rest and retreat when you need to.

Do not worry about being strong enough to defeat the force; when you fail, and you will, you’ll just feel bad about your “weakness.”  Instead, be skillful enough to work with and around it. 

Amy March says in Little Women, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”  The thing is – learning can help keep the fear at bay.

5/ SPRING AS SOURCE

Finally, spring is a source of water, the beginning of a stream or river. The water flows naturally from the earth. World Water Day aims to ensure safe drinking water around the world and recognizes water as a necessity of life. Water’s sacred symbolism as a source of renewal and rebirth recognizes water as source of life.

I use the season of spring to recommit to drink my water too. I try to swim more as that’s the perfect type of movement for the rising strength, sun and energy (yang) of this time of year.

Make spring a time to evaluate your own sources of renewal. What refreshes you, easily and naturally? For me that can be a change of sheets, an open window or a visit from a friend.

We also have more light as a source now as the days grow longer, so we can wake up and see and notice to ask ourselves – what does my body need today?  

What are your sources of renewal? What nourishes you?


Spring is a beginning – a beginning of poems and the beginning of a fresh start.

While the outside world comes back to life, we can still find meaning and create a sense of renewal for ourselves and in our lives this springtime no matter the actual weather outside or the barometer in.

It is possible.  We can bloom and create sweetness in our lives if we  ―

  1. Remember you can always begin again. Always.

  2. Stay agile and flexible, don’t be rigid so you crack.

  3. Nurture an adaptability that enables you to create.

  4. Learn the force in your live and improve your lifestyle skills so you can dance with it.

  5. Refresh your sources whatever those are.

Rouse and renew yourself however you can and relish your own spring. On full blast!


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Free Download

I created a play sheet for you How to Bloom this Spring including over 6 probing journaling prompts and more than 30 creative ways to embody spring for your body, mind and spirit.

Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself - Rumi (as interpreted by Coleman Barks)

Enjoy your spring!!

LET’S DISCUSS

  • How do you feel when spring arrives?

  • Do you feel spring is cruel with the mix of memory and desire, as T.S. Eliot suggests?

  • Do you have any rituals for the spring equinox?

  • What would you like to birth this spring?

EXTRA ELEMENTS OF INTEREST

Books

Start Where You Are – A Guide to Compassionate Living
Pema Chödron

Four Seasons of Inner and Outer Beauty - Rituals and Recipes for Well-Being Throughout The Year
Peggy Wynne Borgman (2000)

The Seasonal Detox Diet - Remedies from the Ancient Cookfire
Carrie L’Esperance (2002)

Ostara: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Spring Equinox (Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials)
Kerri Conner (2015)