A Spring Awakening: Leaving the Darkness of the Womb

New Visions of Spring

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.
expanding boundaries.
wanting, longing for, and demanding room to grow.
pushing away and up and out.
shouting to be let out of the confines.
and impatience.
to shed the layers.
one more second of limitation is too much.

We are All outgrowing Ourselves.

uncomfortable.
unknown.
unsettled.
ever-changing.
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.
again.

–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
Newly unfurled fig leaves

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

Am I Repeating Old Patterns or Engaging in a Healing Crisis?

I’ve been in a bit of healing crisis lately, one that has sent me to bed for several days to recover. These difficult passages often create symptoms that show up as spiritual, emotional discomfort that also manifests in the physical. Symptoms of illness can surface as we make ready for a new chapter in life. Transiting from one season to another is stressful and it’s natural to resort to old coping mechanisms. It’s not uncommon to feel restless, disconcerted, and cranky as a result. 

I’m guilty of possessing what can be a hyperactive inner critic. When I’m not feeling well, either emotionally or physically, my first response can be to wonder what I’ve done wrong. I might ask myself, “Did I eat the wrong thing or stay up too late or forget to take my herbs? Is there something I need to uncover or process or forgive? Maybe I need to meditate or pray or get outdoors more.” More often, however, what I’m experiencing is a natural response to a challenging life passage. 
This is exactly what happened to me this past week as I welcomed in a new phase while letting go of some wounds of the past. 

My book is getting ready to go to print and this a HUGE step for me! As part of this process I am simultaneously planning for a new season of growth and releasing of some old patterns and behaviors. So, it was not really a surprise that my decisions have brought up some old fears, self-doubt, and negative thought patterns.

As I battled what felt like a sinus infection and exhaustion, I wrestled–hard–with my harsh Inner Critic. I became overwhelmed with feelings that I could or should be doing something more, something better. Even though I was aware that I was undergoing a huge transformation, I’d forgotten to practice what I often teach my clients: to be gentle and generous with myself, to stop struggling, and allow for a changing of the seasons

“Sometimes your last resort is your best resort.” –Marianne Williamson

Struggling against my discomfort was exhausting and it soon showed up in my body. My sinuses were so inflamed even my hair hurt. I retreated to my bed, feeling alone and pitiful. This time, however, instead of judging my discomfort to be the result of some personal failure, I reminded myself it just might be a signal that a healing crisis is underway. So instead of letting my unforgiving Inner Critic run the show, I asked, “What do I need right now? What is my body and soul calling for?” The answer was immediate, “Rest, support, and gentle compassion.”

Though there were still many details in getting my book ready for print and, I needed to prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement, I cleared my calendar for a few days. I also took a much needed media break and made an appointment with my healing practitioner. I supported my body by taking herbs and drinking lots of fluids. 

Though asking for help does not come natural for me, I engaged in some loving self-care by texting a few of my close Mamma Bear friends, requesting their love and support. Within the hour I received their loving responses. They offered prayers of healing and kind, nourishing words. Another friend brought over some home made soup. Flooded with tears of gratitude, my exhausted spirit drank in the much needed nurturing, providing me with the strength to face old feelings of unworthiness and loss that had surfaced as a result of my commitment to finishing my book and releasing it out into the world. 

Though the release of my grief and self-condemnation was intense, when I stopped resisting, it passed relatively quickly and soon I was feeling more like myself. I know that, though the process may be uncomfortable, my discomfort will soon pass if I surrender to the season at hand and don’t allow myself to become enmeshed in old behaviors and coping mechanisms. I can gently remind myself to enter into the change of seasons with a generous compassion, one that will welcome in a new period of growth. 

Seasons of Reflection: How do you respond to uncomfortable feelings or situations? How to do engage in gentle self-care? What is your soul asking of you?