Spring is always like this.
We are All most vulnerable during the transitional times in between seasons…
when everything fluctuates and nothing is fixed…
and we don’t know how to be, where to be, how to feel, what to wear.
but especially in the Spring.
there is a mild violence in the undercurrent.
all the Possibilities rushing to the Surface.
it’s all about Anger.
wanting, longing for, and demanding room to grow.
pushing away and up and out.
shouting to be let out of the confines.
to shed the layers.
one more second of limitation is too much.
We are All outgrowing Ourselves.
and We are tender and easily damaged.
before Our feathers come in…
before Our leaves appear…
until it is not The New.
and we are called upon not only to Grow but to Mature.
–Be Nadine, Dagara healer and Plant Spirit Medicine Healer
In spring, I’m always anxious to get outdoors . The warmth of the sun on my skin and the spring breezes beckon me into my garden, a tangled mass of decaying plants, newly sprouted weeds, and familiar perennials, pushing out new growth. An amazing swath of bright green is everywhere, reminding me of the new growth that lies ahead.
In Five Element Medicine, Spring is the season of explosive new growth, promoting our future goals and projects, and the planning and decision-making required to give legs to our visions and dreams. Like our outer world, our inner landscapes ache for the excitement of new growth, ripe with possibilities and potential. Just as the gardener longs to get her hands dirty, working the earth to help facilitate the dream of her garden, in our inner landscape, we also are called to begin the process of bringing our dreams into reality.
During the winter months in the natural world, much time has been spent at rest. In winter, life has gone still. We may even believe a death has occurred. Flora and fauna barely awake, have been engaging in a much needed season of creativity, conservation, and restoration. But the wise gardener knows this withdrawal of life force is only temporary. She knows that the sun will begin to warm the earth again in early spring, as life awakens once more.
“The season of spring has long represented passages of rebirth marked by expansive new growth. In the natural world, everything necessary for the structure and vision of a future harvest is encoded within millions of tiny unassuming seeds. In this season of new growth, a seedling must relinquish its former life to push skyward and become a plant.”from Soul of the Seasons
When I was young and winter was nearing its end, my Mom often started some of the more tender plants indoors to get a jump on the sometime late and unpredictable weather. A season of “hardening off” was required for these plants in order to sustain the unprotected environment of the outdoors. Mom would carefully set her new tomato and pepper plants out in the sun for just a few hours every day, making sure they were protected from a sudden cold wind or the frosty nights that still lingered.
In the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I grew up, the deliciousness of the warm spring sun, especially after a dark cold winter, was often irresistible. Forty degrees often seemed like summer as we ventured outdoors in our shirtsleeves. But, like the tender seedlings my mom started indoors, we also needed a hardening off period. Many times, enchanted with the lovely weather, we’d spend too much time in the sun, unprotected, and later paid the price with a painful sunburn.
Our seedling dreams and visions also require a “hardening off” period. We must take care to protect them, in the early stages, from the harshness of criticism by those unfamiliar with our dream. Much time needs to be spent to shore up our dreams with proper planning and the decisions necessary to build a foundation that will carry our visions through the rigorous maturation of summer and into the season of Harvest.
I’m often excited at the “Spring” stage of a project. I get all tingly with the potential I see in each new project, relationship, or piece of art. But I’ve learned the hard way not to reveal too much too soon. Once, excited about the potential to transform others with the powerful wisdom of the Five Seasons, I shared with a friend a first draft chapter of my book, Soul of the Seasons. Though a dear friend, this person couldn’t see the vision of the entire book. She wasn’t a writer, so she didn’t understand the refining process necessary to craft a rough draft into a published book. “I know you’re really into this stuff, but I just don’t get it.” She replied after reading the chapter I had sent. I know she was being honest, but her comments crushed me.
In its tender seedling stage, my manuscript was not ready for a harsh critique—and neither was I. The book was still in its infancy and it needed a lot of loving nurturing before it would get its legs, as did I as a writer. What I really needed then, was a good dose of encouragement and a little cheerleading.
Fortunately, I had the loving and wise guidance of an editor who intimately understood the writing process. Together we helped support and “harden off” my work until both it and I were able to withstand and even welcome criticism, even if it seemed harsh. When I handed my manuscript off to a selected group of beta readers for their feedback, I was able to hear their critiques with an open mind and a heart that was grounded in the vision of my book. I made good use of the helpful feedback and released any advice that did not fit the vision of my work.
Now, I honor my need to share my excitement during the early phases of a project by selectively offering it only to those whom I trust and who understand the creative process. When I’m more confident that my vision or project will fulfill its intended potential, (usually during its Fall season) I offer it to others for their feedback.
It feels like we’ve all been in a collective Winter season for the past year. In a world filled with so much uncertainty, as we begin to venture out, we can remember the wisdom Spring offers us:
- Be protective of your visions/projects. Only invite those you can trust to be completely supportive of you and your work during this phase.
- Spent time planning and developing the proper foundation for your vision/project. What will your idea need in order to “harden off” and sustain itself until the Harvest?
- Make sure you value your work and yourself enough to withstand any criticism offered by others.
- Periodically, give your project a rest. Go out with friends, play with your pet or children or grandchildren, sit by the beach or a stream. Sleep on it—literally. When you return to your project you will be able to see it with fresh eyes.
Where ever you are today, enjoy all the gifts of spring as we look forward to the long hot days of summer.
With Blessings of Abundance and Grace, Melody