I’ve just returned from a two-week visit to the land of my ancestors: Italy. It is the place where my heart yearns to dwell.
Surrounded by vivid evidence of springtime, with green grasses and flowers in bloom, it was especially hard to leave this time. Here in Colorado, the landscape continues to be filled with the brown hues of wintertime, adding to my longing to return to Italy.
I lamented to a girlfriend that it was difficult to be back, especially returning to where it feels as if winter continues to do her best to hang on. She challenged me. “Look harder, Donna. Look more carefully. There is evidence of spring all around if you really pause and take it in.”
Springtime in Colorado
She was right. Spring is here in Colorado too. It’s just a slower ushering in of the season at over 6,000 feet elevation in the Rocky Mountains in comparison to the warmer Mediterranean climate at sea level. Yet as I write this, I hear beautiful birdsongs that continue to grow in variety and volume outside my office window. The birds have returned, even beginning to build their annual nest in our backyard.
Looking at the grasses around us, the pops of green are expanding with each passing day. It won’t be long before the brown carpentry will be completely replaced by the vibrant hues of green expanse. Buds are popping out on my favorite backyard tree, promising me plenty of foliage and flowers in the coming weeks and months. The days are growing longer, and we’ve already had a few very warm days.
I know we are not “out of the woods” in terms of snow, so it’s not time to plant flowers in our pots. And the hummingbirds haven’t yet returned either. But spring is beginning to awaken all around me. It’s made me consider where I am in relation to the seasons.
Fall and winter invite us to go inward, and admittedly, they are easy seasons for me. I like that time of year when we are invited to become more contemplative and introspective—to hibernate underneath warm blankets.
Moving from fall to winter gives me permission to keep to myself. It’s my happy place to stay indoors—in my own world. The COVID lockdown showed me just how much I like my alone time.
Spring and summer encourage us to come out into the light. To become part of the light, to be active, to be seen and heard. It is not the time to stay in the shadows.
Spring invites us to awaken and to stretch along with the lengthening days. Living in a place where spring doesn’t quite “burst forth,” but eases in gently, is an invitation to take all that’s churned within me throughout winter and allow it to rise to the surface and sprout.
Italy’s Springtime Influence
This year, I seem more ready for spring—more ready to be energetic, more ready to create, and more ready to sprout. I can feel that something is shifting within me. Maybe it’s because I was in Italy less than a month ago. Maybe it was the vibrancy of Florence and Venice, where restaurants open for dinner after 6:30 or 7 and people savor their multi-course meals, relishing their food and conversations long into the night. People stroll the cobblestone streets even when it’s raining—wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas, rather than staying inside seeking refuge from the elements. Even the elderly can be seen outside making their way through the streets, no matter their physical limitations. Social life is essential to everyone.
I’ve done a lot of hiding out this past year. Ever since Mosaic Heart was released in February 2022, I told myself it was time to focus back on others’ books now that mine was out. Although that’s true and necessary, it’s also true that I needed to focus on my book as well.
I haven’t given my book the attention it needs and deserves. I’ve resisted. It’s been suggested that I do more to be seen, including Facebook lives, videos, podcasts, book clubs, in-person talks, and anything that gives me the opportunity to share especially about the story behind the story. Why did I need to write it? Why did I share such intimate details? What motivated me to keep going even after ten years of working on it? I’ve shown up in some ways, but I haven’t done that much to be seen.
My mantra for this year is authentic visibility. That phrase came to me at the beginning of the year without any striving to find it—the words were there as soon as I asked. And they were perfect. It’s not enough to be visible—it’s about being authentically visible.
Just as springtime in Colorado is true for Colorado and different from springtime in Italy, so must my visibility be true for me. My mantra invites me to consider the many ways I am being called to be authentic, encouraging me to find what it means for me to be seen and heard. Not trying to be like anyone else, but finding my way. Not trying to compare myself to others, but being unapologetically me.
The feelings I’ve had of impatience for spring to burst forth tell me I’m ready. Yet, I’m reminded that I do still need to ease into this energy. It requires patience and trust in the process just as I need to trust that spring will arrive in all her glory during the coming weeks. The ways in which I need to allow myself to be seen are still not clear, so I can’t force that process either. But it’s most definitely time to listen and be open rather than to shut myself down.
Practice Ease, Grace, and Gratitude
Just as the seasons cannot be rushed, writing a book or working on a project you discovered during your fall and winter hibernation cannot be rushed either. Whether it takes one year or five or fifteen, your responsibility is to stay present and stay the course. To go within when necessary, to emerge when it’s time, and to do it all without force. It’s about allowing the seasons of creation to flow one to the other with ease, grace, and gratitude just as it’s essential to emerge from the season of hibernation when it’s time. I wrote about the concept of ease, grace, and gratitude (EGG) in Mosaic Heart when I realized on more than one occasion that ease and grace were not enough. We also need gratitude. Together, the acronym (and word) remind us of new life and rebirth—neither of which can be rushed.
Ah springtime! You encourage us to be in gentle flow and trust that more will be revealed in and through us just as you will continue to reveal more of the beauty of this season to each and every one of us. Thank you for being!