The first day of spring is Monday. From my little corner of the world on the East Coast, it has been the longest winter on record. Just hearing the birds chirp again was startling, and the sight of grass was a shock to the eyes. Not only has the winter been unending, but the relentless pound of natural disasters, economic woes and endless bad news leaves a deep longing for the promise of spring at every level. The seeds of change are sprouting everywhere we look.
Historically, March 21 is known as the vernal equinox -- an equal balance of light and dark. It is a nice time to get quiet, go out in nature, plant seeds and embrace the new changes to come. It is also a full moon- neither waxing or waning, but suspended brightness. Spring is a time of quickening, and our energy, plans and mood all elevate with the lengthening of the sunny days. Instead of just letting the equinox pass by, how about using it to conduct an internal once-over? What changes need to be made in your life? In order to make them happen, do you need a little inner spring cleaning?
Take advantage of this time to take stock of what is soggy, melting and slipping away in your life to make room for fresh shoots. What old beliefs or cumbersome habits are you ready to shed? What layers of consciousness need to be swept away to prepare for something new? While it may be tempting to leave the old behind and jump feet first, remember that the equinox is about balance. Simply chucking everything out the proverbial window is not what we are talking about here.
Spring is a time of transition and new growth, and the old wet leaves provide lovely protection while we are trying on a new pattern, or gaining confidence with a new project. Nothing in nature is instant, yet we are often so impatient with change, and want to run from one thing -- relationship, job, focus -- to another, without taking time for balance, rest and reflection.
"Whenever we are faced with a time of change in our life, we often forget how important it is to pause, be silent and alone for a while, or even to take a retreat to truly prepare ourselves for what is coming next," said Madeleine Marentette, founder of Grail Springs Spa and Retreat Center -- a place many go to spend a week doing just that. "Making space for an internal change in life is sacred time and deserves to be given undivided attention."
When a seed sprouts, there is enormous work done underground before it ever breaks through the hard, cold surface. Is change scary? Of course. That inner voice is ready to burst through, but has to open underground, and then with strength, fortitude and an unrelenting push upward eventually burst through with the triumphant colors of the first purple croucus. Often we negate the power of a transition in our life simply because we are afraid of that darkness, or of risk it takes to burst into the new.
People are hungry for change at a very deep level. Look at the transformation in the Middle East as a clear reflection of our collective consciousness. The old ways are going, and fast. Superficial change is not going to cut it anymore. We want to dig down to the "destiny" level of life and live from that place full time. We want to build bridges between the old and the new and spring forward into a new level of global community. Our society cannot afford to continue in the same mindset we have become so comfortable. The tragedy in Japan is a fresh reminder, after the floods in Pakistan and the oil spill in the Gulf that our world needs a fresh spring cleaning if we are to survive.
I have had the amazing privilege of interviewing 100 amazing women during the month of March for the 100 Women of Destiny TeleRetreat. These experts are from all walks of life, including business, fashion, entertainment, authors and activism. Guess what they all had in common? They took advantage of change or transition; they listened to the little voice inside and went for it. They had planted the seeds of their passions, and soon the garden took over.
Tzeborah Berman is an executive at Greenpeace International in Amsterdam. She told me her own story of taking risk and following the voice of change. As a young woman, she saw the deforestation of her native British Columbia and helped organize the largest protest ever- with 10,000 people. She was arrested for her efforts. After lawyers argued and won her case, she went to work for Greenpeace and after ten years, has helped to save over six million acres of trees worldwide. She is now an expert in climate change.
"The world is living the tipping point right now," she said. "The times require us to engage."
On this vernal equinox and full moon, let us all take a moment to pray for those suffering in Japan. For the fifty workers who are giving their lives at the nuclear power plants to protect us, who will not survive the radiation exposure. Let us contemplate what we can cultivate inside ourselves to rise to the precarious situation that lies ahead. If all of us listen to the voice of change and have courage to grow, who knows what can happen? We need strong advocates to feed hungry children, fight for sustainable energy and build bridges to neighboring nations bursting forth wtih the clarion call of freedom. What seeds of change are you planting this spring eve? Tell me your stories below.