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I Don't Think We Understand Spring

(*Written on a 39-degree day in May)

I don’t think we understand spring. Even when I say the word, let’s be honest what goes through your head? Most likely you’re thinking of tulips, you’re thinking of flowers that have arrived and all of their glory.

But I live in Chicago. We don’t let things arrive in all their glory, okay? Not without some character-building struggle.

Those who know me know that I’m sort of taken with my plants lately. (Okay, obsessed).

So I can’t help but draw the correlations of how much they have to teach us about being human… even though they are plants. And as a career coach, I always say, "to work is to be human and to be human is to work."

During the past few months, when I saw the first perennials come through the ground I felt nothing but elation. But anyone who grows perennials knows… they look a little odd when they get started. And strangely they look like a joke. It’s as though someone rolled dollar bills and put them in the ground overnight. One of my favorite flowers, the peony, looks like someone put little red daggers in the ground, and yet, when I first see them poke through I do nothing but celebrate their arrival. During this past spring, on the day that I saw the very first peony, I also went in to my office to have a coaching appointment. And as I walked into the conversation the person apologized for what they felt was a rather rough start to their new résumé. They were getting started in their career change journey. I began to see the correlations with almost all of my clients. Everyone seems to be rather apologetic for where they are in the process. At what point did we start feeling that we were obligated to become full-blown flowers at every stage in our life?

Why is it so unacceptable to be the awkward sort of sprout coming through the ground?

I’ve never met anyone who stomped on a new spring flower, because they were upset that it had not yet become what it is meant to be. Instead, we celebrate it. Flowers are our relief from winter. Our hope.

I decided that I was very much into this new sprout sensation, and I’ve been growing flowers from seed in my greenhouse. Be warned, this is such an addictive feeling that I have now turned my basement into a small greenhouse as well. There’s almost nothing quite as thrilling as seeing a seed that you put in the ground decide that it will fight its way toward the sun.

I saw my little sunflowers making their way through the seed starter soil, and the main thought I had was… “respect.”

They don’t know what’s ahead. They don’t know if they’ll make it. But they are trying anyway because there’s something in them that needs to grow.

And that’s what spring is about. It’s muddy. It’s cold. It’s frustrating because you want it to be further down the line than it is. But it’s not. It’s spring. It still requires hard work.

So the next time you’re starting something new, the next time you take a little bit of a risk or feel a little bit awkward, maybe don’t despise yourself so much. Perhaps you’re just a spring flower trying to figure out the direction of the sun.

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