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Oh March, You Changey Thing!

  • Change

Winter’s dormancy is ending in Vermont. Sunlight, increasing in strength and duration, cues sap to flow in our maple trees as robins and red-winged blackbirds return. We ride into a perennial mess called mud season. And just when we think it won’t happen again: snow. Back and forth. Up and down. March is like that. This seasonal shift shows us a lot about personal transformation.

The Sweetness of Flow

Farmers tap trees in January or February. It’s later that warm days (with nights still freezing) start the movement of the sweet liquid. Sometimes change is like that.

We do the footwork and land a better job. We communicate what we need and improve a relationship. Our clothes start fitting well after returning to a food plan that worked before. Our loneliness takes a big hit when we make time to reconnect with friends or activities we once enjoyed.

These are the straightforward changes. We tweak circumstances and get results. But other times …

It’s Messy

Mud season happens because the ground freezes deeply for months, then thaws from the surface down. The mushy stuff rides on top of still-frozen earth for a while. And we ride in the mushy stuff. Big changes are like that.

Examples here are complete shifts in career or leaving a long-term relationship. Being forced to give up an activity you trained for and engaged in for years. Gaining or losing a lot of money.

At the root are identity and attachment. Free of those containers, things slosh around; they don’t take shape right away. It’s actually our sense of self that loses form. For a while, we are in murk, wondering where to begin. We’re looking for solid ground. Often, there are missteps before we find it.

And just as you make progress, there’s a twist.

It’s Snowing Again

Looking for a conversation? Ask any Vermonter what day of the year they switch their snow tires to summer tires. This is the trick: You want to avoid extra wear on the winter tires but maintain your ability to get where you want to go. We make our best guess and choose a date. When the weather outmaneuvers us, we’re in a jam.

Personal progress runs the same way. You score a job interview, then a Zoom upgrade makes your video go wonky when you log on. The trainer you want to work with at the gym tests positive for Covid the day you’re scheduled to start the prepaid sessions. There’s nothing but good feedback on your work for months, then a glitch at the end of a project.

We tap into the personal resources we have; we manage the hiccups the best we can. We know …

April Always Comes Next

The one thing in life that’s constant? Change. Whether we flow, flounder, or get flummoxed.

Checking In

How is your internal mud season going? Has the increased sunlight made you restless for personal transformation? Are you wanting to create something new?

If you’re ready for change—be it sweet, messy, or nonlinear—I am happy to support you in finding your way.

Susan McDowell is a personal coach based in Central Vermont. She’s also a mindful outdoor guide looking forward to offering Mindful Outdoor Experiences after the change of seasons.

Read more of Susan’s blog here.