A force to be reckoned with 

Growth is exceedingly uncomfortable. I wonder if it is painful for the trees, too. I wonder if creating life at the tips of their branches is hard. Creating, reaching out, and becoming anew amidst rain and strong winds. The purple, white, and pink tulips rise up during the bitter transition of winter into spring. Sometimes they get buried in late-season snow. I wonder if they question themselves: if they are good enough to be blooming, if they’re in the right place, or good enough to bring beauty to an otherwise gray landscape.

There is a house I walk past often with bushes that are currently in bloom, with tiny yellow flowers and dark blue berries. They are a stark contrast to their soundings: muddy lawns, drizzly skies, strong wind, cool temps. Yet they don’t question themselves. Their blooming may come at a painful moment — a mark of becoming when all is uncertain — but they don’t let this harden them. Their delicate petals are an unapologetically bright yellow in a sea of gray. The little blooms hold on tight as gusts of wind rush past them, daring to rip them away from the branches and roots that ground them. They are a force to be reckoned with.

I want to be like them.

Small victories

It’s the first day of spring. The sky is a clear blanket of blue. I’m wearing a long turquoise pleated skirt that wafts gently in the wind. This morning was for poetry and inky words.

In her poem called “Improvment”, Danusha Laméris writes:

“The optometrist says my eyes

Are getting better each year.

Soon he’ll have to lower my prescription 

What’s next? The light step I had at six?

All the gray hairs back to brown?

Skin taut as a drum?

My improved eyes and I 

Walked around the town and celebrated.

We took in the letters 

Of the marquee the individual leaves

Filling out the branches of the sycamore,

And early moon.

So much goes downhill: joints

Wearing out with every mile, 

The delicate fold of the eardrum

Exhausted from years of listening.

I’m grateful for small victories.

The way the heart still beats time

In the cathedral of the ribs.

And the mind, watching its parade

Of thoughts, enter and leave, begins to see them for what they are:

Jugglers, fire swallowers, acrobats,

Tossing their batons into the air.”

From our bodies to the tulips springing up from the ground, small victories are worth celebrating everywhere. For every painful moment that holds hands with a small victory, there is gratefulness. I am grateful that I am alive and that I am a human who makes mistakes. I am grateful to learning through uncomfortable growth.

What are your victories, the large ones down to the small, seemingly insignificant ones?

Here are a few of mine:

I made it through the first winter where I lived on my own. I made it through the high electric bills, the long dark nights where I had to shut the curtains at 4:55, the snowstorms, chapped hands, and navigating hard choices amid colds and runny noses.

I followed my gut and left an old job, even though it has resulted in a lower number in my bank account for the short term. Listening to my gut instincts instead of turning to others’ options has left me stronger.

The dirty dishes and crumbs are cleaned up after a couple longs weeks of a dirty kitchen.

Like Danusha, my eyesight has gotten better instead of worse over the past three years of odd, unruly inflammation. 

I’m trying new things simultaneously as the tree branches that are beginning to show their red blossoms. 

Noticing the full moon’s reflection in the dark evening river — present to the here and now for a moment, instead of being caught up in my own messy thoughts.

Although the life around me is painful and uncomfortable in so many areas, there are small victories that are worth celebrating — the victories that make life a little more tolerable. There are blue sky spring days at the end of every winter.