Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner; can’t you tell? Okay, may not if you’re living in much of the United States north of Florida and west of California. Ten days before the official start of spring, the temperatures can’t get out of the twenties and more than a foot of snow is predicted. Forecasters promise a colder and wetter than usual season.

Absent weather that conforms to a recognizable pattern, we proceed by sensation. It feels like spring is close at hand and not just because the calendar says so. We have more hours of daylight. Here and there, a bud or a birdsong suggests we are done with hibernating, no matter what the thermometer says.

Spring it is, then, and with it, a chance for renewal, reinvention, rebirth, redo.

Sorry, not that last one. Though we’ve been pummeled and punished by the toxic sludge stirred up by the election of 2016 (wherein violence seems to have been given a permission slip to run amok) or by life in general, we know there are no mulligans. We can’t rewind to our twenty-first birthday or even to last year, much as we might wish to. We can’t do over; we can only do again, maybe better.

What does “better” mean? I ponder this every March, which, by the way, is my personal new year. Not for me the man-made calendars or cultural/religious constructs that have us repenting or resolving in September or January. My rhythms derive from Mother Nature. If I could sleep from December through February, I would. If I could live the other nine months with nothing but naps, I would do that as well.

I engage in what I call psychic spring cleaning. My physical health is something I attend to seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Mental health, though, can always use a reboot, never more so than this year. So I’ve joined a group so I can attend get-togethers, meet with new people and feel connected.

The real adjustment I’ve had to make involves my attitude. Like many of my friends, I’ve lived these last four months alternating between anxiety and anger. Each is a natural default position for me and neither produces anything constructive. Thus, I’ve taken on a set of activities that allow for civic involvement rather than simply online venting. Thus, I’ve renewed my attention to charities that supersede politics and target groups that are chronically in need. Thus, I check in on my neighbors and practice my customized version of gratitude.

There’s also this: my birthday is in the spring. It’s been years since I’ve looked forward to it. From the moment I crossed what is by any measure the halfway mark of my lifespan, I saw myself as in countdown mode. That’s a formidable shadow to shake off and each year it becomes a little more challenging.

Which is why each spring I emerge, determined to fight my impulse to stay hunkered down and folded in. If I open my eyes, I see there are places I’m still needed and ways in which I can still be helpful. Sometimes I have to push extra hard to prove my worth in this youth and resume-oriented world. And yes, sometimes it’s a struggle to rise to the occasion or even rise up out of my comfortable chair. But the times demand it. So does a life repurposed, renewed and rebooted.

About Nikki

Author of non-fiction books HOPE IN SMALL DOSES and BECAUSE I SAY SO as well as numerous published essays. Her new novel, THE FORMER ASSASSIN, is due out January 2018.
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9 Responses to Spring Cleaning

  1. Joan Cushing says:

    Beautiful essay, Nikki.
    Being connected, politically active, and practicing core values is a good way to go. One positive thing that has come out of this mess for me is that I have learned a lot about how our country works, and what is valuable, and why we are looked up to around the world.
    It’s pretty clear from the rallies that our fellow countrymen and women will not stand for losing our freedoms, and the way I figure it, each day Trump is one day closer to impeachment. I pray this circus will not last 4 years

  2. sue phillips says:

    Thank you, Nikki, for sharing this with me and for being a beacon of hope in these challenging times. Complacency can be my worst enemy but reading your words was very uplifting. You are inspiring … thank you!

  3. The Old Soak says:

    Alas, unlike you, I continue to withdraw — whatever the season. I wish you well, Nikki.

  4. Elizabeth Helming says:

    I love your writing, Nikki. It is inspiring! Thank you !!!

  5. Judith Sonnenberg says:

    The last four months have been filled with anger, anxiety and fear. Renewed energy focused on changing our mindset and doing something is energizing. And purposeful. And connects us back with others. Thanks for this Nikki.

  6. Greg Correll says:

    Emerge, determined! We can’t help being shaped by the seasonal changes, the vagaries of weather— and m’lord P-nut’s mad coup, his every utterance, his utter everyday stupidity, his terrible threat. I look forward to the harvest that will be his impeachment, the jailing of a dozen of them.

  7. Maura Swanson says:

    Uplifting and consoling, and also a thoughtful guide for how to move forward during uncertainty and grief.

  8. David McClain says:

    To rage against the darkness, to no go gently into that good night…yes, each year the struggle to remain even slightly relevant gets harder and harder in our youth obsessed culture. I too love Spring. It shows me irrefutable proof that the world will keep on keeping on long after I’m gone. As always, my friend, well written, I loved this.

  9. Cathy Steck says:

    Love this Nikki!!!

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