Spring Miracles

I never can decide whether spring or fall is my favorite season. Both are beautiful, offering change and new directions, the beginnings of new roads and opportunities. 

But with spring outside, ready to touch, see, and smell, I’m feeling a bit swayed toward the beauty of this season.

It’s in the living buzz of the bees as they stuff their pockets with pollen.

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It’s in the scalloped edges of the new leaves, still sticky from their buds.

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It’s in the outrageous colors of the flowers, outdoing the imagination of any fashion designer.

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It’s in the unshorn grass, joyful to be alive and growing.

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It’s in the unfurling petals, reaching toward the sun.

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It’s the magic and mystery of the world coming back to life, of beauty and expectancy, of wonder even in the tiniest of vessels.

And so I pay attention.

Because each day is its own kind of miracle.

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Running

I don’t love running. Really, exercise in general doesn’t thrill me, with the exceptions of hiking and ballroom dancing.

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But I do it, at least sometimes, because I know it’s good for me.

And ironically, it’s taught me some things about life.

Pace 

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You run differently for a 100-meter dash than you do for a 2-mile loop. A 26-mile marathon is a different skill entirely. You have to know in advance how far you’re planning to go, then pace yourself accordingly. At the Olympics, the long-distance “run-walk” stride may look slow, but you know those runners are going to last til the end. Some efforts in life are short-term and you give your utmost for a few hours, days, or weeks, knowing you can then flop down, exhausted. But if you’re going to last and continue having resources to give over the long-term, sometimes that means curbing your pace, conserving your energy.

Rest

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When I first started my running route through my neighborhood, I made it my goal to jog to the top of the hill without stopping. I made it, but then I stood at the top, bent over and gasping for breath, for at least five minutes. My lungs burned, my calves burned, and by no means did I want to run anywhere else after that. But a few weeks ago, as I started getting tired and sore halfway up the hill, I…stopped. Realized I didn’t have to achieve high marks on my imaginary goal. I listened to my pain, stopped to catch my breath, then ran on to the top feeling good and ready to continue (like pacing, rest is an element of long-term survival ). I realized that I didn’t have to wait until I was completely exhausted and feeling horrible to take a long rest. I could take a short one when I just felt tired. And then I could continue on with energy and a good attitude.

Thanks

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When running, there are two possible things to think about: the pain, or everything else. I can focus my mind on my screaming calves and how hard my heart is hammering, or I can enjoy the blue sky and the quiet places my routes take me. Sometimes even my body’s exertion is a cause for thanksgiving–legs that can move, lungs that can fill with clean air, eyes that can see the beauty around me. The act gives me a rush of adrenaline, helps me find the good even in an activity I don’t love.

Have you learned any life lessons from running? From any form of exercise? 


When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Everything

Did you do one of these posters in kindergarten?
I did. I remember it well. 
In the bottom left-hand corner was a space to write what you wanted to be when you grew up. The walls of the classroom were papered with posters of kids who wanted to be firemen OR police officers OR ballerinas. 
I wanted to be ALL of those things. And ALL the rest of the things. In fact, I remember one of my first existential quandaries: if there are only seven days in a week, how on earth will I find enough time to be ALL the things I want to be when I grow up? 
The solution, of course, was to have a different job every day of the week. Phew. Solved that one. I would just be an astronaut Monday, a teacher Tuesday, a farmer Wednesday, etc. (Yes, farmer was one of my kindergarten career choices. I blame it on Laura Ingalls Wilder.)
My childhood fantasy
Well, some life happened and I discovered that I don’t particularly like heights, lesson planning, or cow poop. That narrowed down the career choices substantially. Plus, majoring in EVERYTHING in college would have taken me a little more than four years. 
But little did I know that some weeks, I would get my kindergarten wish. 
Like this week, for example. 
Most weeks of my life are pretty interesting. For work, I juggle a balance of tutoring/proofreading/blogging/copy editing/novel writing, and I like doing all those things. But last Wednesday, I added a new job to the mix: knit modeling.
My super-creative friend Audry asked me to model one of her creations for the top-secret book she’s writing. It turned into an all-day adventure that blew desk jobs out of the water. First, we got to ride in the golf cart. Move over, Mr. Toad. 

There were also the wild animals–er, interesting features of the landscape. (The heap of sticks on the left, apparently, is a wood-rat nest. The thing in the purple sweater is anybody’s guess.)
Photo courtesy of Audry Nicklin

We needed to find horses for the photo shoot, which ended up entailing half an hour of trekking through backwoods trails (don’t worry, we had permission). But when we found them, it was well worth it. One of them tried to eat the golf cart, but this one just wanted carrots. I ended up getting horse cuddles in the bargain. 
Photo courtesy of Audry Nicklin

Laura Ingalls would have been proud. 


Does your line of work ever throw you surprise adventures?

(P.S. Audry wrote up her own take on the day. To hear her side of the story, click here.)

Life

March is here, and my camera and I see the world returning to life in small and miraculous ways. 

In little leaves whose pale flush of chlorophyll hasn’t fully waxed to green…

…buds so fresh out of the branch that they’re still sticky…

 …delicate lily flowers like drooping bells, blooming from sleeping underground bulbs…

…tiny rose leaves still backed with soft, silvery hairs… 

…plum trees blushing into plumes of cotton candy, with thousands of fingernail-sized pink blossoms opening at the same time…
See! The winter is past; 
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth; 
the season of singing has come.