It’s a little ironic that I’m beginning to think about spring as my yard is literally blanketed in snow. But, while my surroundings are screaming that winter is still in full force, my heart is longing for those first few weeks of not-quite-spring – the celebration of slow transition and incremental growth.
Those first few weeks of the in-between can feel decidedly unpretty. The trees don’t yet have their leaves – standing bare and twiggy. The bulb flowers haven’t yet pushed their way through the cold ground and lawnmowers sit unused in garages and sheds. It’s easy to view those misfit weeks as unsatisfying – even ugly. We want to shout into our backyards and yell, “Make up your mind! Be one thing or the other!”
We’re comfortable with Point A and Point B. We know what to expect in Winter. We know what to expect in Spring. But the middle? We’re impatient. Restless. Ready to move along.
And it can feel the same way with our own growth.
We get excited about the idea of starting the process of change and personal growth – of breaking a bad habit or forming a positive one. Whether we’re getting ready to clean out our closets or free our minds of negative thinking, the beginning is almost fun. We’re giddy – coming alive with hope and the thought of what the changes we’re planning for will look like. In the tangible world, this means trips to the container store, label makers, and an excuse to binge-watch Marie Kondo. In the mental and emotional realm, this might look like journaling, planners, motivational books – even listening to podcasts. The thought of something new and fresh excites us. Our own personal “spring” feels just around the corner.
But much like nature, the changing over of seasons isn’t all-at-once. We too, must endure the weeks (months/years) of standing bare and twiggy before the world, with only the promise of new leaves in our future.
We jump into the changes we’re after- often with both feet, and suddenly find ourselves with a mess – and at least for me, a much bigger mess (of either the physical or emotional nature) than anticipated. (Change is hard. Who knew?) 😉
If we’re honest, we don’t want incremental growth. We want instant gratification. Just like many want to push the “melt” button on the snow and wake to find their yards full of beautiful spring blooms, we often want our intention and first efforts to be enough. But there’s beauty in the making – if we’re willing to wait.
It won’t always be pretty. It may feel bleak and you will likely want to give up. Don’t.
Just as unexpected late snow disrupts newly planted flowers and late-season winds knock limbs from trees, you’ll face setbacks and experiences losses every time you set out to make changes. Keep going anyway. Hold on to the idea of slow and incremental growth. Winter does not yield to spring sunshine in an instant. Instead, we gain sunlight in slow but steady increments of three minutes per day.
Three minutes. Three minutes feels insignificant. A throw-away. But – three minutes of gained sunlight every day over time equals incredible and noticeable change. And every day, as the sun shines just a bit more, evidence of the slowly transitioning seasons begins to appear. Daffodils begin to slowly push through the ground as trees begin to grow new leaves. And then one day, it’s spring.
Keep pushing. You may be feeling less like a tree and more like a tall and unmajestic stick. You may be feeling frustrated at the setback of having an emotional snowstorm take out your newly planted posies. Try again. Like spring, change will come.
But today, as I look out at my yard full of snow, I choose to think about those three minutes of sunlight. It’s not spring – but it’s three minutes of sunshine that I didn’t have yesterday, and that’s the kind of incremental change that will one day turn into spring.