Staying Grounded in the Season

Last year, at 36 years old, I got my first tattoo…quickly followed by second tattoo. I wrote about it here: Mountains and Valleys. I started thinking more about metaphors, symbols, and also I had learned about about leaning into the pain and leaning into the season.

After a series of many dark years, I learned that I am someone who likes to push forward or avoid my current situation in an effort to finding more pleasant experiences. I think that is rather typical for human nature: avoid pain, seek comfort. But, all this hiding from pain, or dreaming about the next thing, left me missing out on the current thing, even if the current thing is pain.

Through my heartache of depression and alcohol addiction, I learned that that by hiding from pain or suffering, you are not escaping it. Eventually, when you come out of the hiding space, it is still there, and oftentimes in a much more layered pile. Ugh.

Eventually I had to face it all.

Eventually I had to be present.

Eventually I had to learn the beauty and the growth that comes in the suffering and in the still.

There is beauty in all the seasons.

Life is a series of seasons.

A series of growth, abundance, death, rest.

A cycle of new beginnings, flourish, harvest, and still.

It is so fiercely rhythmic that it cannot be denied there is a gloriousness in the way our days unfold over time.

But still, we often forget about the roots in each of these seasons. The roots that spread, give life, and hold us up strong. Our roots do not disappear in the dark days. The growth does not cease, it is just not visible from the surface. Roots are essential to growth and to life.

It is so challenging to the human design to stay planted in our current season. We keep wanting to move ahead, or at least this is how I am wired. So, last year, with my new tattoos on my arms, I was paddling with my husband, sitting on the paddle board because the wind and the current had taken me a bit downstream, and I mentioned to him that I want to stay grounded in my current season. If it is good or bad, challenging or easy, I need to stay grounded in it because there is a lesson to be learned in it, plus life has taught me that the season will change. We have to show up for the lesson and suffer well.

I began drawing this preliminary series of four lines and a flower in all the stages of seasons, being sure to always have a root present. I have drawn this several times, always with the understanding that I am not an artist, but this is what I want and I want it on my foot as a reminder to stay grounded in my season. Keep my foot planted in the season. Stop moving.

Let us pause and give credit to my tattoo artist who turned this drawing into what you actually see on my foot. Thank goodness for that.

Fast forward to this April, I got that tattoo.

And…since I am all about balance, I got a tattoo on the other foot too. I got an arrow. I had been thinking about this idea for a bit, but nothing as deep as my seasons, or my mountains and valleys, or my garden… but a simple arrow that reminds me that sometimes in order to propel forward, you have to pull back.

There is a story in everything. Each season teaches us so much. Share your stories too.

Plus, for anyone keeping count, yes, I have gotten 4 tattoos in 9 months.

I have never denied having an addictive personality.

To read more like this, check out Sobriety Part 1: What is sobriety?, Sobriety Part 2: the fall, Sobriety Part 3: the valley & the rescue, Sobriety Part 4: the climb, Sobriety Part 5: glancing back to walk forward, Suffer well, Showing up for the lesson.

light.

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Embrace the current season of your life. – Gabrielle Blair

As I was driving home tonight, I was blinded by the light. The sun was glaring in my eyes. I looked at the clock and it is 5:45 and there is still light.  For anyone living in the tundra, this observation is a welcome sign that spring is near. We made it. We have made it through another winter. 

Winter symbolically is a hard season, known for its harsh elements, solitude, darkness, quiet, and lifelessness. Everything seems to be on pause or muttering through until the first signs of light again. When the world was designed, it was done  with beauty, even in those dark moments of winter, as the cycle of the seasons so perfectly match our seasons of life. The new life of spring, the lively days of summer, the death of fall, and the wait of winter. If you are fortunate enough to go around the sun year after year, you can start to appreciate the ways the seasons work and blend into your own life.

Lately I have found myself in a wintery season. Yes, we have new life, which would lead one to think that I am in more of a spring season, but emotionally, I have been feeling vey wintery. Everything is just a bit harsher lately and sometimes I feel very alone in my own thoughts. We are waiting for the days that we can get out and do things, but right now I sometimes feel rather trapped and alone, even though I have three beautiful children who are always close by. My husband and I are spending so much time being present and raising our children or working hard to develop our professional craft, that we have not given our relationship the time and attention it needs. Right now we are surviving and making it through, but we are not growing in our relationship or growing together. We are in a winter.

To take the metaphor a step farther, in winter the roots of strong trees do not disappear, they are just silent. The bulbs that will bring beautiful flowers are just waiting for their chance to sprout. Life and beauty is still there, hidden under the snow, patiently waiting for their chance to show their full potential.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. – proverb

Feeling the light on my face the other night reminded me that this hard time will end. This season will end. They always do. That is how our world works. Spring will come. A new season in our marriage will come. We will have to be intentional about that, but it will come. Winter is the hardest season but it comes every year. My husband and I are in  a winter, but that does not mean we are in trouble, it means we are going through the normal cycles of life, marriage, relationships. It is how we emerge from this winter that will show the strength of our marriage. Literally, we do this with our surroundings at the end of every winter. Once all the snow is melted, we will look around to see what else has survived the winter, or what needs repairing, or replanting. Each year we have this chance to re-evaluate our surroundings, make adjustments, and try again next year.

There is some comfort in knowing the predictability of the harsh season and being able to prepare for it.   We need to be doing that in all our facets of our life: Enjoying the wonderful seasons but also carefully laying the ground work to prepare for the harsh ones. Having lived in Minnesota for 6 years now, I have learned about the summer tasks that must happen to be ready for the long winters, such as taking the hose off the house so you do not have a frozen pipe, or making sure the gutters are cleared so that you do not have an ice dam, or growing a gigantic garden so you can make homemade sauce…eventually. However, I have not been as diligent or intentional when it comes to life’s figurative seasons and preparing for them, even though I should know by now that with all the good, the hard will come too.

Every season has its purpose. My grandma was a woman of her own type of faith, but one thing she really made sure to reiterate time and time again with me, was the importance of understanding that everything has a reason. Everything. She was right.  Winter is this brutal season of struggle. However, there is also the profound feeling of success when you come through the harsh season. I was recently talking with my sister-in-law about struggling and how it is hard to struggle and even harder to watch your child struggle. But, how important it is in both your own life and your child’s to go through the struggle. In the struggle is the learning and the growth. As both parents and educators, we know this. It is harder when it is you or your child dealing with it, but emotions aside, we know that an appropriate level of struggle is actually really good for us. As I felt the glow of the sun, it gave me hope that the growth has happened, this lesson has been learned, and it is time for new life, or a new perspective, moving forward. This winter has served its purpose. 

While I reflect on this current wintery season and rejoice in the coming light, I have these take aways about seasons, change, and growth:

Each season has a time.

Be fully present in each season, as they are intentionally designed.

Be open to the change each season will create.

Prepare for the hard seasons, while embracing the good seasons.

Every season has a purpose.

Make sure you do not leave the season without learning its purpose and be humble enough to grow from it.

So here I am. Reflecting and listening. Waiting and growing. Struggling and pushing forward. I will get through this season and I will love my spring and summer, but I  also know that winter will come again.