Don’t Miss the Flowers for the Freeze

It’s perhaps fitting that I last posted for New Year’s, and that I’m finally posting again just after Nowruz– the Persian New Year. I always felt that it was more natural to celebrate the new year with the arrival of spring. Spring is such a time for hope- new growth, new warmth, new babies.

But the funny thing about spring is that it doesn’t follow a rigid schedule. Nowruz happens on the equinox, and while this often coincides with milder temperatures, it is just as often marked by blizzards.

To me, celebrating the start of a new year on this day represents a leap of faith. We rejoice over the end of winter before we have evidence that it’s really gone. We trust in the process and believe that it will get warmer and lighter and more beautiful.

I’m getting a little obvious in my metaphors here, but bear with me:

I’m learning to believe in my own wellness and appreciate the signs of its early arrival while trusting that there’s more to come.

Over the past three months, I have made some major changes to my diet, exercise, supplements, behaviors, and outlook on life. These changes have had mostly positive effects and, aside from a horrendous January locked in the house to avoid Omicron, things have been pretty good. I may not feel overjoyed most of the time, but if you pinned me down and asked me I’d say that I’m feeling good.

If left to my own devices, however, it’s not something I’d necessarily offer up.

As therapists always remind me, our brains are trained to recognize the bad in things- it’s an evolutionary response to avoid tigers and poisonous berries and whatever. So it’s not necessarily my fault that when I see early blooming daffodils covered in snow, the blossoms aren’t what I notice first. But I need to retrain my brain.

There are a lot of flowers in my life right now if I look for them.

Bailey is at an adorable (albeit exhausting) age, and is learning more and more language every day. She is strong-willed and smart. I have to laugh when she pulls a book away from me, saying, “Let go, Mama!” and proceeds to recite what she remembers of the book by herself.

On two separate occasions, each of Bailey’s grandmothers got to watch her for a few days while Matt and I worked, and it brought me so much joy to see how deeply she connected with them and how much joy they brought each other.

I’ve finally embraced the idea that we need to enjoy low COVID numbers while they’re low. We’ve been stepping out for more date nights and indoor dining with friends, even hosting a few playdates. We took Bailey for her first indoor dining and brought her to a real, live store for the first time! While this may not seem like much to many, these are huge steps for our household and good signs that my anxiety has been drastically reduced.

And finally, because one form of therapy plus support groups isn’t enough in this household, Matt and I have spent the last four months in couples therapy. We’ve worked a lot on our communication skills, negotiating what it means for him to be a caretaker when I need one and how to step back when I don’t. This has made us so much stronger and happier, and has given me even more faith in him as my partner. He is the ribbon that holds all my flowers together, reminding me of how good things are and how far I’ve come.

Today, our couples therapist asked about my mood, and I told him what I told my psychiatrist yesterday, “Things have been pretty good. A little muted, but overall lower anxiety and depression.” He nodded his head and said, “I ask because you’ve smiled more in this session than I’ve ever seen you smile before.”

He saw the flowers. I’m still learning to keep them in focus. But I’m so grateful that they’re there.