Not-So-Springlike Lack of Sunshine Killin My Vibe
Happy Spring! Or at least that’s what the calendar tells me I should be saying. Reality: maybe not quite yet. I don’t know what winter’s deal is this year, but it definitely isn’t moving on without a fight. Winter is making sure to get the last word in here: all morning we’ve been comfortably below the freezing mark and the skies are gray with another snow dump on the way.
I don’t know about you, but I just can’t deal with all this winter anymore. So I’ve been trying my darnedest to channel spring vibes in spite of the weather out there. I’ve been doing my best to cultivate that #sunshinestateofmind. Because this time of year also brings with it some loaded memories.
Working for that Springtime Sunshine State of Mind
Yesterday I woke up feeling very Monday. It was the last official day of winter, but Spring most certainly did not feel a hop skip and a jump away. Temperatures stayed low here and we were all bundled up, and personally I just felt super low energy, as did most other people I encountered. It was definitely a very ‘Monday’ Monday.
But I dragged myself out of bed, got myself together, and went out to get some coffee and get sh*t done. In spite of the frigid temperatures and my foggy mind, I looked up to see completely clear bright blue skies and sunshine. I couldn’t help turning my face to the sun. The air was cold and I was covered, but I could almost feel the warmth of the sun penetrating the tiny regions of my exposed skin.
At one point I looked up to see a bare tree with ominous wintry branches hovering above, yet I stopped in my tracks because I could the sun shining through, perfectly framed by the craggy branches. It was almost like the tree was trying to grab hold of the sun to bring it back to life. Almost like it was framing the light just for me. I immediately understood the message: See the light.
Here’s a confession: I’ve been struggling with this winter. I was fortunate to have a much needed escape to warmth and sunshine in Miami last week, but as soon as I landed back in the Northeast I was greeted with a blast of winter. It was cold and tiny flakes of snow floated around me. Nothing stuck; it was just like winter wanted to make its powerful lingering presence known.
I get it. You’re not done with us yet, winter. Noted. Accepted.
But really I just felt exhausted. And it was a deeper exhaustion than from the poor sleep I had gotten in Florida. I was simply fed up with cold temperatures and gray skies. I just want to wake up and be kissed by the warm sunshine already.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
I do believe I have a touch of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve always felt the need to escape the winter weather, but this year seemed to be all the more challenging. I don’t know if it’s a literal physical thing – that perhaps my body is more sensitive after all the craziness it went through – or if it’s just a heavy mental reminder of the dark place I was in two years ago leading up to my diagnosis: feeling trapped by a body that was slowly failing me for reasons I couldn’t explain – in the depths of winter itself. And not feeling like I’ve entirely crawled out of those depths yet.
A Known Enemy
March 22 is the anniversary of my first CT scan – the one that I had called my doctor and demanded I get that afternoon. Mind you, that’s not normal. As the receptionist put not so mildly: “Sorry, but you need a reason to get a CT scan. You need insurance approval. You’ll never get it done today.” But my uncle had passed the night before from cancer and I knew I couldn’t just let this instinctive sense of urgency go. I had to figure out what was going on.
As scary as it was to find out, it helped to know the source of my increasing discomfort and decreasing energy and health: a growth the size of a grapefruit squeezing out the other organs in my chest. I hadn’t wanted to be right about needing that CT scan, but I received an ironic sense of comfort just knowing the demon I was up against. A ‘known enemy’ kind of thing.
Spring is meant to be a time of renewal and rebirth. But while the longer days do give me hope and do add some much needed lightness to both my day and my mood, I’m still thrown back into that scary space I was in two years ago – in the depths of winter, shrouded by the uncertainty of life.
The Light in the Darkness
When I stood underneath that tree yesterday and looked up, I was reminded that this is all temporary. Winter will in fact – eventually – give way to Spring. Change is the only certainty in life, so even if it happens more slowly than we would like, we can at least have faith in a brighter tomorrow, hope for a better future. We just have to remember to see the light. It is always there.
Just as I got through the scariest, most difficult time in my life, I would get through this winter. If I could conquer cancer, I could conquer anything. As long as I just remember to see the light. Focus my mind on the good and the positive.
I kept moving forward. And then I looked up again, outside of the shadow of the tree. All there was above was a clear blue sky surrounding a great ball of white light. It struck me to my core. Once we see the light, we must remember to Be the light. Be the light that shines hope into other people’s dark winters.
And this is Spring’s promise to us: there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Have faith. Have hope. Have courage. See the light. Be the light.