Wisdom of Winter
It’s a rainy day in Boise today, the quintessential “April showers bring May flowers” day. After the snowy winter, much of the hillside is coming to life with new colors: yellow, purple, pink, orange. It’s amazing that year after year, hard winter after hard winter, these plants remember to bloom. They know their purpose and they are so resilient. I think the Universe speaks in flowers and seasons, and my front yard tulips are the perfect example. Despite my complete and utter lack of gardening knowledge, the most beautiful tulips RISE up from the ground in my front yard every year. I don’t have to do anything to them or for them. They just show up with their beauty and they remind me that I too, can do hard things.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking while walking the trails around my neighborhood. And while walking these beautiful foothills one day, I was listening to a conversation between my Yoga teacher Adriene Mishler (Find What Feels Good) and Reggie Hubbard (Active Peace Yoga) called Renewal. Their conversation brought shape to something I had been reflecting on for the past several weeks: the wisdom of winter.
So, in case you didn’t know this about me, I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with COVID. I mean, wasn’t it enough for me to be going through a divorce and losing my kids 50% of the time? And on top of that, a deadly illness was going to close down schools and remove all the connection and joy of teaching from my job? My school was my refuge and that was gone now too. Restaurants? Nope. Summer concerts? Cancelled. Camping and Parks? Closed. REALLY COVID?!?!? All of my anger went straight towards the coronavirus. And so about a month ago when I had to take my daughter in for an x-ray on her ankle, she and I had to get COVID tested before she could get treatment. And guess what happened? My rapid COVID test came back POSITIVE. You have got to be F’N kidding me!! I was outraged. I had no symptoms but I knew the protocol: no work, no visits with friends, no going out. And it was Thursday. I simply had to wait it out until the results of the PCR test came back.
The next day, my kids were supposed to transition to their father’s. Nora was good to go; she had a negative test result. But my ex questioned if my younger son might have COVID too. I offered to take Landen in to get a test that afternoon so that everyone could rest assured that he was fine. As it turns out, the Friday before Spring Break is NOT the ideal time for a non-symptomatic “just-in-case” rapid test. In fact, after waiting for a half an hour at the same clinic as the day before, my son was turned away. Have I mentioned my hate-hate relationship with COVID yet?!?!? It was a Friday night and I was 98% sure that my test results were a fluke and now I was having to drive all over town to find a place that would test my son because I had offered to do so (there was a lesson for me to learn there!). Most places I called said that they couldn’t do a rapid-test on a non-symptomatic child who had only possibly been exposed. I was livid and I wasn’t doing a good job at keeping a poker face. In fact, my son started to get visibly agitated in the passenger seat. Then he started to cry.
That’s when the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle resounded in my mind:“Stress is wanting something to be the way it isn’t; stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there'”- Eckhart Tolle
The only thing I had control over in this situation was my mind. I could control my attitude which would in turn help my son handle this situation much better. So I did the only thing I knew how to do while driving down Chinden Road at 5:00 on a Friday night: I inhaled deeply. Then I slowly exhaled while silently telling myself “I surrender”.
And here’s the crazy thing. Just at that moment of surrender an email popped up on my phone from the VAULT lab, where I get my weekly COVID test for school. The results were in. And I was NEGATIVE. Tears started to pour down my cheeks and I pulled over into the nearest parking lot and just sobbed. Landen looked at me strangely and asked what had just happened? I told him that my results were negative after all, and the tears were tears of relief.
So what does any of this have to do with flowers and winter?
After dropping Landen off at his dad’s, I came home to an empty house. I was an emotional wreck and the events of the previous 24-hours made it very clear that I had some issues to work out with COVID. Why was I so angry? How did all the distress disappear the moment I surrendered? What was really going on here?
And then I knew what it was all about: it was teaching me my pandemic lesson. I was not angry with a disease nor with the government (ok, maybe a little). I was hurt by everything that didn’t go the way that I thought it would when I took my vows 20 years prior. I was sad that so many people were suffering as a result of this virus. And I was mad at MYSELF for not owning my convictions. Not just in this circumstance, but for YEARS. I made myself small in my marriage and I stopped trusting myself. I stopped remembering who I was.
But like the tulips, every year there is a chance for renewal. There is a moment where we can rise out of the cold dark winter and step into the spring carrying the lessons that we learned. My winter lasted a lot longer than December, January and February of 2020-2021. It started last March and it’s just now ending. My pandemic lesson is to own my convictions. That was made so clear to me that Friday in March. I have got to go back to the beginning of knowing who I am, what I want, and how I want to move through this journey called life.
I believe that there’s a lesson for everyone to learn as a result of the pandemic. There’s no other way for me to make sense of it. And I also believe that the sooner we all learn our pandemic lessons, the sooner this curse will be lifted. I know there is zero science backing my beliefs, just a gut feeling. And you you may not believe what I do, and that’s ok.
Let’s bring it back to Adriene and Reggie’s conversation on Renewal.
The hour long conversation (which can be found on the Find What Feels Good App or Yoga with Adriene on FaceBook or Instagram) ends with a meditation by Reggie where he invites the listener to “Inhale the wisdom of winter” and “exhale the gifts of spring”. My wisdom of winter is my pandemic lesson: to make peace with the events of the past year and own my convictions. What’s yours?
WInter Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Your writing and the kids writing are a eye opener. When I see you and your gang I never see the pain you guys are going through. Your smiles hide the pain.