Your Mind on Spring by: Natalia Noble

Regardless of how much I adore the unique beauty of winter, there’s something so inherently magical about waiting for the moment the snow thaws and melts away, revealing the newness of vegetation beneath it. Classically speaking, artists of all types have made analogous connections between the fresh air of spring—as well as the return of sunlight, warm breezes, and blooming flowers—to express the hope that resides in the renewal of life in all its forms.
It makes perfect sense, then, that I’m a huge fan of the tradition of “spring cleaning.” What better time for me to dust off the cobwebs—both the literal ones in my garage and the figurative ones in my mind—than at spring’s outset, when all the world around me is practically begging for me to rejoin them in the sun? But, where to begin?

Making Spaces

I’ll be perfectly honest: no matter how many “Savers” and “Goodwill” donation runs I make, I just have too much stuff. Things I don’t use enough, or things I should use but haven’t in years. The useless clutter fills my rooms and blights my peace of mind. Every spring, I try to honestly evaluate my stuff: getting rid of the things I don’t need, and storing the things I do need, but that I don’t need cluttering my garage.
I try to “up-cycle” some things, too—if there’s a nice parka that I don’t need anymore or I’ve outgrown, I start with assessing who I know within my immediate sphere of influence who might benefit from owning it now. This cuts out the donation middle-man, and allows me to help a person I know and love. When I free up my life and make reclaim space from the items I don’t need, I know I’m freeing up space to be filled with the things that I do. And when I do, somehow, the things I really need find me. Unlike the carpet in my den during spring cleaning, nature at large abhors a vacuum—and when my mind is decluttered enough to focus on the things that I need to propel me further in life, I more readily recognize them, and bring them home.

An Open Mind

It’s not just the dark corners of my garage that need some clearing out—I’ll fully admit to filling up my mind with too much unnecessary information and “junk,” too. Cheap straight-to-streaming shlock films, gossip and shock-jock podcasts, and poorly executed television programs (let’s face it, I binged all of Netflix’s “Love is Blind” in one weekend, and maybe you did, too) all serve to fill up space in my mind that could be freed up for material that’s actually enlightening and uplifting. If I inundate myself with enough negative media, it starts to fill up my mind, clouding it like a noxious gas. Just as I would aerate my basement or scrape hidden mold from behind sinks if I felt that I was polluting my home, every spring cleaning I’m reminded to aerate my mind. To cleanse my mind, I practice daily meditation: in the span of time that it’d take me to watch another “The Bachelor” recap on YouTube, I can spend fifteen minutes just quietly searching my mind for inconsistencies in thought, and focus in on my goals for the day, the week, the month, even the whole year. The spring season ushers in light and hope into the physical, tangible world around me—why not follow that example, and welcome light and hope into my own mind?

Clean Dreaming 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve given up on a completely reachable and realistic goal, because I allowed my aspirations to become as cluttered and messy as an unkempt storage unit. It’s not enough to simply free up space for brighter, more positive thoughts: I have to organize those thoughts, goals, and dreams into a cohesive vision that will allow me to act on them, and turn them from dreams into reality. Often times, especially during the darker months of winter, I let the dreariness of the season infect any goals I’d set for myself. The shorter days, too, can certainly be discouraging when it comes to undertaking a project or outdoor activity. The depression that follows then sets itself into opposition against my goal list. How could I possibly finish that, I seem to ask myself, when I’m not capable enough to do this? The secret is to pull back the old dusty curtains and open up the window in your mind: I think about which goals are most logically achievable, and I focus on those first. Once those goals are met, the rest seems much easier to reach. When I’ve been holed up in my room all winter and unable to hike on slushy trails, I don’t immediately think about hiking Mt. Olympus on the first sunny day of spring. Instead, I make hiking just a few miles my goal, until I feel like I can tackle any trail in the state. 

Inside Out

Escaping out into the wilderness usually means I have to make sure I’m cleaning out my closet of my winter things, and sticking all of those heavy parkas, snow-pants, and heavy snow-boots (if they’re high-quality items that I know I’ll use again) in storage. I allow myself to mindfully reflect on these items, though, as I organize and put them away. Was it an article of clothing that I’ll use again and again, or was it an impulse purchase made on a whim? Just as it’s possible to show moderation and good judgment in terms of the food and media I consume, it’s entirely possible to be less wasteful when it comes to clothing, and by that, I mean abstaining from buying clothes that won’t be useful to me. If it’s not an essential or an upgrade, then there’s not a point to buying anything like that in the future—especially when I know I’ll just be cleaning it out next spring.

I want to be certain that I’m not holding onto spring’s ideals of a fresh start for only as long as it takes a fickle groundhog to irresponsibly claim that winter will be around a little longer. Each spring, though, is a reminder to maintain my frame and mindset, so that I can push my mettle past the sadness of SAD, until the moment I can pick wildflowers again in a green field. For every season, learn, learn, learn

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