Spring cleaning is a time to restore and rejuvenate the home and peel back the layers of dirt and clutter…
Winter 2015 went down as one of the coldest on record here in parts of the Northeast, and although warmer weather has finally appeared (yay!) it will be a few more weeks before we can bask fully in the glory of spring.
This is the time of year when we need to practice a little patience. If you’ve been wishing away the days until warm weather, here are a few things you can do to stay present as we make this amazing transition into a new season. Enjoy trying them out, and let me know if you have any questions!
At this time of the year I remind myself to breathe. The earth is doing its thing, it’s working its way around the sun towards spring, there’s nothing we can do to rush it. It’s a great reminder that there’s a steadiness to life, and that change takes time.
Breathing can be a daily meditation routine, if you have one, perhaps a few quiet moments in the morning before you start your day. But it can also be done throughout the day to let things go in the moment when you are feeling antsy about the slow pace of life. I remind myself all the time to breathe, and I also remind my clients. The body has a built in stress-relieving mechanism which starts with a deep breathe into the low belly. As a childhood musician, I long ago learned how to take a breath down past the lungs and into the belly so I could hold out a long note or phrase, but it wasn’t until I connected with my spiritual self in my early thirties that I experienced the instantaneous calming effect even one deep breathe has on the mind and the body.
If you are feeling impatient in these in-between weeks of March, with the weather bouncing to-and-fro, try taking a conscious breath at least once a day, it’s good for the body, and it’s good for the brain. Breathe in through your nose, down past your lungs into your belly, and then allow the air to move back out of your body again, either through your mouth or nose, whichever feels best. This breath takes up to ten seconds, so it’s not your normal in-and-out breathe, but a conscious action; there’s no rush.
I find that it helps to anchor this breath to a part of your day, so try it when you first wake up, or stand to brush your teeth. Or perhaps at lunchtime before you sit to eat. You can do it at home, at the office, or even walking down the street, but I do find that it’s best if the body is still when you take your breath, so if you can, stop and be still. I notice clocks when they are at :55 past the hour, so I grab my breaths then, which often is up to four or five times a day. I encourage you to look inside your life for a time, or your own sign or symbol for when to breathe. And remember, this breathe is a gift to your self; don’t think of it as work but as a mini vacation for your body, so enjoy!
Let the Sunshine In!
Another thing I do at this time of the year is to let the sunshine in! After the long winter months, a dose of warm sun on my skin, or bouncing off the walls of my home or my office, is a welcome relief. Sunlight is loaded with Vitamin D, which allows our bodies to absorb calcium and promote bone growth, so we need it for healthy living. But more to the point, sunlight puts us in a good mood, it’s truly a natural high; I encourage you to embrace the sun any chance you get.
Most of us naturally start to gravitate towards sunlight in springtime without thinking about it, but in my world I go out of my way to build sunlight time into my days in these early weeks of spring, as it really helps to ground me. I’m a Leo so I chase sun like a cat; I go where the sun goes. I’ll cross the street to grab sun when walking one block to another, or relocate where I’m working in the office just for a touch of warm sunlight on my face. But where I chase sun the most is at home.
Last week we posted 4 Projects to Spring Forward where we shared thoughts on Light Therapy, which is the importance of washing one’s windows to bring sunlight in. I treat my home to Light Therapy twice annually, each fall and each spring, and I do so with excitement as the effect has a dramatic impact on how I experience my home. Years ago I walked into a friend’s apartment and I knew instantly that something had changed. His home looked larger, cleaner, like there was a sparkle and crispness to the air. I asked what happened, as his place looked like a castle, and he laughed and said, “we washed our windows!” It made such an impact on me, how such a simple thing could renew the energy in a home, and I’ve never missed a year since.
If you have not washed your windows in a long time, go ahead, take an hour to do it, you’ll be grateful you did. Your home will look larger, everything you own will look prettier, and everyone you live with (even your pets) will thank you. And let’s not forget our plants. Plants need extra TLC at this time of the year, as they’ve spent the winter months in dry heat, so in addition to extra water as they begin their growth cycles, keep your shades open for them during the day, or move them closer to your clean windows so they can soak up the sunlight and grow.
A final thing I do at this time of the year is to press pause. A wise friend long ago told me, “don’t do any one thing for too long.” It made sense, as I’m prone to spinning in circles on projects when I’ve been at them for too long. While I liked what she said, it took me many years to fully embrace this philosophy.
It’s not an easy thing to do in life, to step away and take a moment from an important project, or a looming deadline, even for five minutes. But the mind and the body respond well to breaks. So if you’ve been working hard to keep a daily routine all winter long, like working out, or making your bed, and find that you are losing speed, go ahead and press pause, even with projects that you are pushing hard to get completed before spring. March is a month of transition, the green things of the earth are coming alive all around us; things are in a slow dance. When spring arrives it will do so with a rush. Overnight we’ll go from feeling as if we have too much time, to no time at all, so take some time now to press pause, and take a break from life’s routines.
Remember how I said that I notice clocks at :55 past the hour? When the :55 symbolism first began in my life it would come with some electronic slow-down, like my email would freeze or my internet connection would stall, or my computer would crash. I used to get frustrated, try to power through, but in time I took this as a sign to step away from whatever I was doing for a few minutes, to press pause.
In recent months the :55s stopped showing up, then last week they resurfaced. I was grateful for the reminder as the truth is, in recent weeks, I have forgotten to press pause on since I’ve been pushing hard to get things done before spring.
If you haven’t stepped away from something for a long time, even for 5 minutes, I recommend it. It’s a great way to clear the mind and relax the body. You can return to whatever were you were doing without the frustration, or impatience, and with many of your road-blocks suddenly gone.