Spring reflections

The Spring is here and with it comes the awe of nature waking up to life after a long Winter. I enjoy observing how days are getting longer and longer, feeling the warmth of the sun, the birdsongs, and seeing plants and trees growing leaves and flowers.

Spring always brings me so much joy, but the start of the season is always challenging for me. I don’t know why, but I often feel tired physically, mentally and emotionally, and it takes a lot of inner work to get myself through it without allowing this tiredness to push me into a negative space. It has taken me some years to understand this pattern and even more importantly, to accept it.

My theory is that I spend so much energy keeping up with life during the dark and cold Winter, that when the Spring comes, my body is exhausted. I tried this Winter to follow better the rhythm of the daylight and allow myself to rest more and do more indoor activities that inevitably require less energy such as sewing, knitting, reading, playing board games with my kids and watching movies. Still, the tiredness of the Spring did come along.

Spring is also a quite busy period for me. As a teacher, May is an intense month with many holidays sprinkled throughout the month, and although I do appreciate the breathing pause they bring, they also interrupt the rhythm of school life in what I see as one of the most critical periods of the school year as we should be wrapping up, doing our last assessments to start writing report cards, write the end-of-the-school-year student reports, and prepare for next school year. In addition, all clubs my kids are part of, want to mark the end of the school year with celebrations, and on top of all that we have the Norwegian national day and all the expectations around it. Fighting all this, my desire to be outdoors and enjoy the better weather.

So, even though the light and the milder weather call me to be more active, I am trying this year to work with my expectations and what my different roles require from me. Not an easy task, but I keep learning:

  1. Prioritise: I can’t have a hundred items on top of my priority list. Remind myself of what is important for me and make my list accordingly.
  2. Put some things aside both practically and mentally. I can’t do everything right now. Some things will have to wait. This is very connected to nr1.
  3. Keep my sadhana rock steady. At least twenty minutes of sitting in silence preferably preceded of some yoga asana.
  4. Say no when needed. This one is very though because I don’t want so seem rude nor disappoint anyone, but it is also very necessary.
  5. Good enough is good enough.
  6. Give myself time and space to feel tired, confused and frustrated but do not feed into the emotions. Time and space will always allows me to get some perspective and find a way to get through situations.
  7. Make choices based on what I know and the resources I have with clear intentions and trust that whatever happens will be for the best. I must confess that making choices is one of the most energy-draining activities for me, but I am learning to follow this little formula. Trust is an important ingredient to not spend too much energy on them.
  8. REST. Go to bed early, listen to my body and mind and take a break during the day when I need it. I often eat lunch with my students or in meetings, but when I can, I take a half hour break during my work day and go for a walk in the park, literally. Walking in nature always recenter me. When I get home, if my kids are at their respective activities or with their friends, I take a coffee break to rest my mind and body.
  9. Move outdoors. I have as a goal to walk at least 7km a day, some days I walk more, some days slightly less. The key is in using my legs as my means of transportation. I walk or ride my bike to and from work and to whatever errands I have during the day.

About habits and breaking them

I used to drive to work, but almost a year ago, we had to let go of our car and decided not to buy a new one. I started the school semester riding my bike to work.

I soon discovered that I love to ride my bike. It gives me a feeling of freedom, at the same time as it helps me wake up before my day and get some exercise and fresh air after my work day. I have even bought tires with spikes for the Winter.

Some weeks ago, I had to walk instead of riding my bike. Just for some days, I thought but I soon remembered how much I love walking, especially during the Spring. I listen to an audiobook or a podcast or I simply use the time to either get mentally ready for the day or digest and let go of my work day before reaching home. So for four or more weeks, I have resisted to the idea of riding my bike again.

Today, I was running late for work, so with a bit of regret for not having been more efficient in the morning, I decided to ride my bike. It didn’t take long before I felt again the happiness and freedom it gives me. On my way back home, I started thinking about how I couldn’t understand why I had stopped riding my bike in the first place. I had to laugh a bit when I realised this thought.

When I walk, I don’t want to go back to riding my bike, when I ride my bike, I don’t understand why I had stopped biking in the first place.

I think this is a very simple example of how my mind creates habits, and how difficult they can be to break. It isn’t really a very big deal whether I walk or ride my bike, but it certainly reflects my fondness for habits. Habits can be good, they can help us develop discipline and have a healthy routine, but habits can also create stress and distress, either because they are born without us being aware of them or because we get attached to them.

The first happens, I think, when we forget to stop and ask ourselves ‘why’. Why do I do this? Why do I do it like this? It often happens when we come into new situations without a clear idea of what we want or what our role is, or as a consequence of our fast paced life. I think someone said thoughts become actions and actions become habits. It doesn’t take much before we create new habits.

Habits can create distress when circumstances push us to change them and we resist to this change. Few people like change, but luckily most of us are able to see the new possibilities after the first discomfort has passed.

This little bike vs walk story has reminded me to mind my habits. Take a look at what I do and why I do it. Can I work towards letting go of some? Can I change some? Can I create new ones?

I have one that I have been having the intention to create, but keep forgetting: talk less. šŸ˜€