Like a winter that seems too long in Massachusetts, life sometimes feels stuck. The uninspiring job. The unhealthy relationship. The pain of illness. It all leaves a gnawing wish for something better than being frozen in this unwanted reality.
Spring begins, though, in the depth of winter.
I live on a farm, where we make maple syrup. And by we, I mean my husband Joe. I help, but he does the heavy lifting. He starts in December, when we are immersed in darkness and cold. There is not a hint of spring anywhere. He starts going through the inventory. What do I have? What do I need? What needs fixing? Joe doesn’t question whether or not winter will end. It’s a given that spring will come. Preparation for that eventuality is needed.
These are the same questions—and the same mindset—to engage in when life feels stuck.
Can you trust that spring is possible after the winter of this challenge? How are you preparing for the next season of your life?
Come January, Joe is tapping trees, drilling holes for the sap that will eventually flow. It’s usually bitter cold still, but this activity reminds me that warmer days are ahead.
What are you seeing, experiencing, and doing today that reminds you of the warmth in life—even if that warmth hasn’t quite arrived yet?
At some point, with understated quiet, a slightly warmer day arrives. One that has a touch of sunshine. Enough that the sap flows through the sugar maple trees. Like a blessing, nature bestows the first harvest—sap that looks like water flowing out of the trees. It heralds the coming transition.
These moments before the full transition of spring are subtle. It just a slight warmth. Snow still blankets the growth. Winter is still here. Because we make maple syrup, though, we pay really close attention to small changes. We want to be ready.
It’s easy to miss the small, nourishing things that are growing in your day. The winter of life is still prevalent and takes center stage. If you looked closely, though, what other clues of spring are arising behind or around your stuckness? These micro-moments of spring before a major transition give hope. They are seeds that nourish our soul when life feels frozen.
Then nature ramps up, and the sugaring season comes on full force. Joe boils the sap often, works really hard, and stockpiles enough maple syrup to last the year.
It’s the harvest season as winter thaws.
It’s easy to think that life will be grand after an illness is healed, the relationship mended or dissolved, or a new job is landed. In reality, what comes next is the hard work of transitions. It’s the bridge-building between winter and spring.
What are you harvesting? How will that harvest sustain you in the coming months and years? What’s the bridge that is heralding in spring for you?
For maple syrup, the full transition to spring is seen on the buds of the trees. When the buds come out, the syrup changes flavor and we know we are done. It feels abrupt and gradual at the same time. The season is over, the transition is made, and the crocuses and tree buds burst forth.
Winter, no matter how harsh, is followed by spring.
Megan McDonough if the Founder of Wholebeing Institute, an organization that focuses on teaching the science of human flourishing. The Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology is the foundational program that helps people flourish while navigating the transitional seasons of life.
Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology: