February

February is my favorite month, but it hasn’t always been that way.  In the last few years, I’ve noticed that I like December far less than I had before and that by September, I feel a decided shift toward negativity.  Today I looked at the recently picked tulips scattered around my home curated in their vases, noticed the new bending arc of their stems, and felt that same September feeling. 

They’re on their way out. 

In September I feel a pit in my stomach about the weather turning, about the cave-like existence we’ll have in our little house through the winter, about the lack of light and length of days.  But in reality, the month of September around where I live has none of that.  It’s warm actually, and there are lattes and colorful leaves and pretty light, but I notice that more and more, I have my eye focused on what’s next.  

It’s why I love February.  It’s cold here in that month, really cold and likely snowy, and the days are the shortest they’ll be all year, but there’s something about February that helps me to look toward spring, toward the possibility of flowers and light and my very favorite season.  It’s extremely possible that it’s due to the increased chocolate intake, but to me, February feels like hope while September feels like impending doom.  Weird, I know.  And Christmas, well let’s just say that it’s been many years for me since Christmas felt particularly jolly or hopeful.  There are a lot of reasons for that.

But today I’m mindful that in placing my hope and my emotions in the potential of things, and in what’s coming next – well, this is simply robbing me of the joy of today. 

Today there are real live tulips in my home and they’re beautiful.  Today the weather is perfect for the run I just returned from, and today I’ll get to celebrate Mother’s Day with my dear ones a few days early.  Today there are flowers on trees and bushes in my little yard and though it is true that some have started to fade, they’re still here and so am I.

The last year has taught us all that the future is unpredictable, and I’ve been working to see and appreciate the life that’s right in front of me rather than to pin my joy on future hopes.  I understand better just why it is that I do that – why I habitually scan the future for both danger and answered prayers, and I’m learning that this does not serve me. God is with me today as I type these words and He’s in the future too, figuring out the stuff about which I have zero idea at this moment.  I believe that, and I want to live like that, too.

Each morning when I wake up, my brain automatically scans for future trouble in the day, week or season ahead.  It does this within seconds, unbidden and unwelcome, and I’m newly becoming aware of this automated procedure.  I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one whose brain operates this way, but I’m sure I’m not, and working to pull myself back here, where I am, and this rewiring of my thought processes is some of the hardest work I’ve done.  This morning that work looked like noticing five things in my bedroom: a blade of a ceiling fan, a gray curtain, the indented place at the foot of my bed where my pup had slept, a corner of a pillow, and a mirror my Mom had given me with a claddagh symbol at the top.  

The mirror is here, but my Mom is not, and that reality hits me harder some days than others, but today she’s in my past, reminding me that the love, loyalty and friendship of the claddagh are gifts I need to first give myself in the present.  Today, May 5, 2021 at 3:32pm.

“Give the kids hugs,” she used to say when we’d finish up a phone call, “but you first. Hug yourself first.”

Ah, Mom, I know. I’m working on it.

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