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Spring Ain't All Flowers and Sunshine

It’s the middle of March here in Silver Spring, Maryland. Spring started several weeks ago when winter weather was still dragging us through its seemingly endless dark days. I first noticed Spring on a particularly grey day with flurries chaotically spinning in the wind. Standing in my back yard waiting for Bobby, our dog, to do her business, I stretched and looked up at our grandmother oak tree. In her giant, silent majesty, I saw her reaching for the steel silver presence of sun looming behind stubborn cloud guardians.

Something was different about grandmother oak. Her bark was warmer looking than previous days. Her branches waving in the wind were a little more supple. Then, a smile came over me, head to toe! At the tippy end of her fragile twig fingers, were tiny buds! They seemed just born of this morning, just peeking through, not quite proud yet - like eyes blinking not quite open open after a long sleep.

I looked around at the rest of the yard and noticed the azalea awakening, the daffodils that jumped the gun in December perking into straight up attention, the forsythia tentatively putting out a few tester buds. This dreary, rainy, snowy, messy winter was on the decline and finally, there’s a hint that we won’t be stuck here forever.

Spring doesn’t care about the weather. It steps right in, often with a wind so strong, all you can do is stand aside and hope for the best. She’s a torrent one day and a benevolent queen the next. You never quite know what you’re going to get but you DO get that when Spring is good and ready, ain’t nothin’ stopping her.

Spring moves through us too - often not so gracefully. In my patients, I hear complaints of aching joints and imagine my Grandmother Oak stretching tentatively while her sap rises. I see frustration, anger, hopelessness, helplessness and I imagine how the crocus and daffodils feel when they stand all tall and proud only to be plopped on by a soppy wet snow.

It’s a challenging time for so many who haven’t stopped at all through the winter and paid attention to its call to rest and to listen deeply. It’s hard even when we HAVE rested and sat for endless hours in deep silence. We are just ready to move on! It’s time to wake up! It’s a new day, a new season, a new everything! That uprising energy that pushes the sap 100 feet into the tippy edge of Grandmother Oak fingers is the same uprising energy pushing us to see something anew, create something new, fight for our right to be here, take a stand for something, move forward into our vision for ourselves!

We feel frustration when that uprising energy is thwarted somehow or if we have to wait for some reason. Frustration arises when something is in the way. Anger arises when that something seems insurmountable for a time. Healthy anger will find a different way around or through. Unhealthy anger will collapse in despair or destroy through the release of fury. It’s most easy to see all this play out in children. Ask any teacher what they notice in their classroom and you’ll hear how they know it’s Spring. Kids are louder, more combative, extra squirmy and always ready to move!

Spring is a time for vision and intention. Everyone says it’s a time of hope but I am cautious about that word. Hope can imply powerlessness, waiting for something to happy TO us on our behalf. Hope is a “sparking” emotion. It’s a coaxing, cooperative energy from nature to encourage us to life after being stuck in fear, grief or despair. It’s not the end game though. Hope is a push, a nudge, a call to action, a sign that we’re on the right track - but we can’t stop here. Hope arises from fear or grief only after we’ve given those emotions their due respect and attention. Hope comes out of the depths of silence, when we’ve finally calmed ourselves enough to listen and to know reassurance because, no matter what, as long as we’re here, life moves on, the cycles of seasons don't stop.

If we have not gone through the last couple of seasons in good health, good spirits or in the general flow of the energy of the seasons, we will find ourselves like bees coming out too early from the hive - exhausted, lackluster, frustrated, hopeless. We won’t know how to create a strong, determined vision for the rest of our year. Year after year of this and we lose the capacity to take up our own space in the world. We shrink in victim mindset or fear of failure. We can’t stand up for ourselves or claim anything for our own cause. We lose the energy that supports discipline. Worst of all, we lose a healthy, forward-looking perspective on our lives and become narrow-minded and stubborn.

In good health, we not only have hope, we have capacity to see lots of possibilities, the creative awareness to see many ways to reach our vision, enthusiasm about the present and future, discipline and determination with flexibility and an open mind. Spring becomes an encouraging ally rather than a diminishing nag.

I enjoy treating my patients in the Spring. It’s a time for motivation, turning over the earth and planting something new. It’s a time l enjoy encouraging us to take a look back, gather all of our strength and push forward with discipline and determination and clear intention. I enjoy sparking their sense of vision and encouraging them to take up their own place in their lives. Spring is a great time to reclaim a full and fulfilling life for ourselves. It’s a time to refuse mediocrity and to step with renewed vigor into a purposeful day.

There are those who just cannot see anything good for themselves. They are stuck in anger, resentment, fear, whatever. There’s no movement. Everything is hopeless. They feel powerless. “What’s the point?” Is the dominant question. I get this way myself. I thank God for acupuncture then too because that’s when I know I need a treatment! When I can’t get out of my own way, I’ve learned to ask for help even when everything in me is unable to see any light. I may feel a sense of desperation to get away from this feeling. Living a long life helps me know that this feeling is temporary but there is something out of whack in me that needs help to break through it when no busting up insight is forthcoming. I get a treatment or two or three and suddenly the clouds clear and I can move forward even if it’s just baby steps.

There are lots of points that help us move through spring. One of my favorites is “Great Esteem.” I treat this point on my patients who are constitutionally prone to losing their capacity to take up their space in their world. Great Esteem reminds me of the scrappy, determined power a crocus demonstrates in the early spring.

Through frozen earth and icy winds, wet snow and cold rain, this beautiful little specimen pushes her way through no matter what! Even in her tiny stature, she means business! She pops straight up, spreads those tough little pedals and in spite of every soul crushing weather events, shows up strong and defiant, exuberant and beautiful. She says, “If I can get through all that and look this good, so can you!”

What’s stopping us from claiming our rightful place in this world? Nobody but us. Don’t let that remain the status quo this year. Wake up! It’s Spring! Harness your own power! Set a vision for yourself in present tense! What will you do TODAY to take one step - ONE step toward that vision?



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