April reflections - renewal springtime

IMG_1985 Thinking of all the people I love in my life right now. My heart goes out to my young niece who is getting extra special love this week. You are so loved. You are so cherished. You are so beautiful. You are so courageous and strong. Going through tough, tough times right now.

Thinking of my dad who has been in the hospital for over two weeks and came home earlier this past week. He is soooo courageous! Ironically, he has major heart issues (all his life) but he has the sweetest, kindest heart of all of us. We LOVE you!

Thinking of how this new year looked so different just three months ago. Letting go of a business that was supposed to happen these last 2.5 years has been very challenging.

And finally, thinking of my extended family through my husband's side. So much change in the past several months - change that none of them (me included) has ever wanted. Change that involves other people that I cannot seem to love or forgive right now because it all is hurting my husband and my sister and brother-in-law. Change that profoundly effects the trajectory of all of our lives.

But love is all that matters in each case--the first two situations, it is easier to love my niece, love my sister, love my dad, etc. Much more difficult to love and think well of the change that so effects us personally in our lives. But it is an opportunity to love more, forgive those and yourself and do the best that we can individually. "We cannot possess another person," as Quinny puts it in the Larkrise to Candleford BBC TV series. But there is a great fundamental shift that's happening in my husband's and mine's life right now, a huge change. Closure. Closure for my business I thought that I would have started by now is finalized this week. Closure for my husband's family. Moving on.

I've been thinking about the word, "renewal" the past couple of weeks, associated so much with springtime. Birds chirping, bunnies hopping, dog-walking, trees budding, finally sunshine and forwarding the clocks are all imagery that we are familiar with around this time. Descriptions like fresh, lovely, bright, cheery, and clean. It coming alive again, waking up after winter time, looking forward with anticipation of summer, good times and a relaxed, sun-drenched atmosphere.

But reflecting where I am right now, my life is far from cheery, bright and fresh (except when in the presence of my 18-month old son!). It has been interesting to look up what springtime means in Chinese medicine because as I read some of the insights, I realize that yes, that sounds more like my own experience right now.

Apparently the element associated with this time is Wood.

The power of Wood is gentle, persistent, and filled with creative potential. It has the power of both being and becoming—of being true to your own nature and becoming more yourself by clearly expressing your inner needs and desires. Wood gently penetrates the earth to bring forth water, the source of all life.  Drawing from our roots, we find the energy to push forward with strength and firmness of purpose, always remaining supple, yielding, and true to our nature.

I love how this passage above implies that growing is hard. We often think of all the new plants and infant buds that just "pop" out overnight and voila! there they are! But no, this is a reminder that for weeks, the growth has been happening slowly, consistently, underneath the earth or within the tree or bush itself, and even though we happen to witness the exact moment the bud bursts forth from it's stem, it took a great deal of energy and work for this to happen.

Then reading about the emotion associated with Wood was eye-opening for me.

The emotion associated with the element of Wood is anger. In its balanced state, anger can be a healthy emotion, for it can be understood as a natural reaction to stress, frustration, or injustice. When expressed with careful control, anger acts like a thunderstorm that clears the air; controlled anger can dispel tension and restore balance. An imbalance in Wood, however, often has the quality of out-of-control anger, and results either in excess or depletion. An excess, or pent-up quality of Wood, expresses itself as “quick to anger,” prone to volatile outbursts, irritability, and the tendency to judge others too quickly or harshly. The converse, deficient Wood, often expresses itself as difficulty dealing with anger at all. Swallowing your anger, you become anxious, irritable, and tend to blame yourself when things go wrong.

I've never really thought about anger being a healthy emotion. It is so often in Western culture, especially among women, it is not a "natural" state at all but one that is unladylike and crude. If we, as women, get angry, we are emotional (which in our culture is a negative association even though the actual definition is simply, "one who appeals to his or her emotions"). It actually can be associated with ugliness--we are ugly women who are angry. And we're told to "simmer down," or asked "Is this your time of the month?" etc.

I certainly have been angry the past couple months and frustrated for sure. I never thought about anger being a healthy emotion that "acts like a thunderstorm that clears the air." I can certainly see why men have more leeway with anger then women do in our culture. My husband's responses to these challenges have certainly been more anger than my "brooding" but it definitely helps to let it go quicker for him. But prolonging anger makes us "quick to judge others harshly, anxiousness, irritable," I have definitely felt those emotions too--for far too long I realize.

And how do you process all this anger this springtime? Amazingly, our body has given us a clue to how to deal with and process all of these emotions in a healthy way. Apparently the organ most associated with this time is the liver. The liver is an amazing organ, essentially performing hundreds of "essential functions, including the formation of blood and the cleansing and filtering of the blood to help the body eliminate toxins and ensure its continued vitality." Cleansing the toxins is an important step in order for us to literally grow, mature and develop like the spring bud. Letting go of old resentments and grudges prevents the natural energy of the liver to function in a healthy way. We have millions of ways to remind us that it is forgiveness that is not for that person or people or event, etc. It is for yourself.

Forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness. That's what I need to be focusing all my energy on so that I can grow more. That is what is the solution to all of this. Again, not for anyone else, but for myself.