"From the mud of adversity grows the lotus of joy"- Carolyn Marsden
If I ever had to pick a time to be mostly confined to my home in the middle of a pandemic, I would choose Spring every time. It is hands down my absolute favorite time of year. I come from the desert of Las Vegas, where it's either hot or cold, where the wind barreling through the valley makes you wonder whether Chicago was rightly awarded the "windy city" nickname, and where naturally blooming trees and flowers aren't easy to come by. I was pleasantly surprised by the symphony of color that unfolds here in Georgia in Spring. At the end of our block a neighbor on the corner has a flock of tulips planted in an array of colors that I anticipate every year. Outside my kitchen window, I wait patiently for the first signs of another neighbor's cherry tree to blossom its beautiful pale pink flowers, and as I drive down the main road I squeal with delight as the most gorgeous tree I have ever seen is starting to come to life again. Its blossoms are like cotton candy and its exquisite nature truly cannot be described. It must be witnessed. I have gone so far as to climb the thing to be nearer its majesty. This is my twelfth Spring in Georgia and it never gets old.
Another of my favorite blooms in Spring are the wisteria vines that drape the trees. I'm surprised by how many people haven't noticed them, but you really can't miss the grape-like clustered purple flower that hang everywhere from the trees. They are a beautiful sight, but the best thing about them is their smell. I swear this must be what Heaven smells like. So when I was driving home from getting my drive-thru coffee the other day and fully enjoying and taking in Spring 2020, I decided to pull over to pick and smell some wisteria. With all the anxiety of the pandemic and limitations to life's normal flow, I have been determined not to let it cause me to miss the joy and awe that comes every year with Spring. For I also know that if you blink you will miss it. The tulips are only briefly in bloom and the cherry tree quickly loses its flowers in exchange for its lush green leaves of Summer. I have vowed not to allow anxiety or despair of a future yet to be written to snatch the brief, brilliance of the season that lay in front of me to enjoy right now.
And then, with all my good intentions, and even though I got to pick the flowers and they smelled so heavenly and perfect and wonderful, as I tried to drive out of where I had parked on the side of the road, my car wouldn't move. The wheels were spinning, the car was trying to drive, but I found myself stuck in the mud. I hadn't noticed the muck I was in because I was too focused on the beauty in the tress. But here I was and now I had to figure out how to get out of it. Long story short- II called my boyfriend, he came with boards to put under my tires, and together we got out of the sticky situation. I was a little embarrassed explaining to him what I had done, but not too much. The wisteria was on my dashboard and every time we tried to move a board to better free up the wheels to get out of the mud, I took a sniff of the flower and thought to myself, "It was worth it." No big deal in the grand scheme of things. I would pick the smell of Heaven any day over not taking action to experience as much beauty and grandeur as possible in the little time I get to be on this planet.
"When Spring came, even the false Spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people, and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the small few who were as good as Spring itself."- E.E. Cummings
We had been social distancing and mostly in the house for a little over a week when my oldest son came up to give me his daily report about what school work he needed to complete that day and what news and social media was saying about the virus. "So much for 20/20 vision.", he said. "First Kobe dies, now this. 2020 sucks!" I was quiet for a time, thinking about how much this year had been hyped up and how false hope or skewed vision can be as bad as no hope at all. Had I, like many, fallen for the hype or even worse, played a part in peddling the notion that vision boards and words of the year and a cute numbered year that corresponded with a phrase denoting clear vision meant that life going forward would be smooth sailing? Puppies and rainbows and unicorns? Had I even started to expect that myself? After all, in a world of spring time and blue skies and perfect weather and heavenly scents and expecting a new baby, how could anything bad happen?
The truth is, no cute year, good weather, or inspiring messages of hope and inspiration will ever keep us immune to the challenging aspects of life. Loved ones will pass away, our children will suffer the loss of innocence, we will continue to grow older and have health challenges of our own. Inevitably, storms in our lives will come. But when we are faced with our own personal pandemic, where life as we know it has changed in a heartbeat, who do we want to be and how will we be prepared to show up in the most healthy way for ourselves and others? If you guessed self-care first, you are correct! Now is always the perfect time to take stock of your habits when it comes to sleep, nutrition, exercise, and meditation. We have been thrown into an experience where we, without the consistent practice of The Four Seeds of Self-Care serving as an antidote, can be consumed by the other, very real, life-sucking illnesses of stress and anxiety. Our world, our communities, and our families deserve better. By focusing on your self-care, you keep yourself open to the beauty that always exists all around you, regardless of the circumstances, and you make yourself available when you are called to help someone out of the mud.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel