My garden has been awakening now that spring seems to have arrived for real.
It's amazing what a few warm days will do for the plants and for me, too.
I've been cleaning up in the garden, trimming, weeding, edging. Preparing for the growing season and planting out some things that will survive even if the temperature dips to freezing. I've walked barefoot in the grass. I've gotten dirty and sore. I feel awake, again. Alive. My spirit is expanding with inspiration, excitement and joy.
It's as if I've forgotten this part of me, forgotten what it's like to be out in the garden, forgotten what it's like to go outside barefoot, dig in the dirt and soak up the sun.
But it's more than just the changing of the seasons and the beginning of the growing season.
This has been a rough year so far. I haven't shared why that is, or where this detour I'm on has been taking me. I haven't meant to be cryptic; I just wasn't sure what to say and I struggle with how personal to get on my blog.
My blog is about my art, about inspiration, about creativity, nature and gardening. It's also about the struggle to choose joy over darkness, to see beauty not ugliness, to live creatively each day.
And yes, choosing light over darkness can be a struggle. During ordinary, day-to-day life it can be a struggle. Busy-ness and the fast pace of our lives challenge it. Failures and frustrations challenge it. The world's cruelty and hate challenge it.
During more personal difficult, scary times it can be even harder.
In January Matthias was diagnosed with an unusual type of cancer. It was a complete shock. Last Tuesday he finished his fourth and last round of chemotherapy. Even now, after all his treatments I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that he has cancer (or perhaps the word now is had. There are still tests and procedures before we'll know for certain that we can use the past tense).
I won't go into details (I certainly don't intend to make you feel uncomfortable), but I will say that it's been very difficult. Scary, disheartening. Matthias has been so sick both from the cancer and from its treatment and although the doctor (whom we adore) has been positive and hopeful, the day-to-day dreadful slog of the situation has been challenging.
This year spring is even sweeter because we're coming out of winter, but also because we're coming out of this strange, frightening experience. I find that I've been bracing myself. Almost holding my breath. And now I can breathe deeply again.
I imagine that many of you have experience with cancer. Co-workers. Friends. Family members, distant or close. Maybe even you have battled it yourself. It touches so many lives (the statistics are staggering*), but its influence is not all ugliness and darkness. Cancer is life-changing in part because I think it brings with it some unexpected gifts, if we're open to them. The reminder to cherish each day (and each other). The reminder to be present in the moment and to see the beauty that is around us. The reminder not to put off what you really want in life. The reminder that everyone is struggling with something.
Strange as it may sound, this experience has helped me to worry less and to let go of things that are not important.
I am so grateful for all of the support, encouragement and love we've been shown. I'm grateful that we live so close to my family (I don't know how I would have gotten through this without them here). I'm grateful for the beauty of the countryside where we live and the landscape and wildlife on our drives to the hospital. I'm grateful for the caring nurses and doctors and hospital staff. I'm grateful for modern technology and healthcare. I'm grateful for spring, wonderful, magical spring and the lifting of the darkness.
Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me as I've tried to make my way on this journey. I may have faltered a bit at times in my focus and it may still take me a while to find my groove again, but I appreciate your being here.
For those of you struggling through your own detours or challenges, I'm sending light and love to you. Take the time to notice joy. Breathe deep and be present in the moment. Focus on the light and not the darkness.
*This winter I read the book The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a fascinating historical look at cancer. In the preface the author states that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will develop cancer during their lifetime (from 2010 data). The National Cancer Institute's statistics state that 39.6 percent of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives (data from 2010-12). Any of those numbers are mind-boggling to me.