Forcing forsythia and smiles.

I’m training myself to be mindfully optimistic about spring instead of wishing away the present; but it’s not easy.  Embracing three days of cold rain and grey fog in late March challenges my best intentions. So I cheat a bit. Without threatening mother earth to quicken the pace of her slowly timed season change, I force forsythia. Forsythia is a wonderful, hardy shrub that explodes into tons of bright yellow flowers in early spring. When the buds finally burst nature proclaims that winter has passed, but that’s in April.
The cheating begins in the dark of March. Before the blooms have begun to open, I sneak into the garden to cut stems and carry them into my house. Putting the sprigs into vases of warm water, I can practically hear the sticks sigh with relief from the harsh cold. Then I wait and watch. I consider it a meditation to spend mornings with my coffee willing the buds to unfold. Eventually bright yellow petals greet me in my kitchen and my impersonation of Mother Nature is complete.  And that makes me smile; which is another way to endure March.


My current favorite guided meditation includes the instruction to create the “suggestion of a smile” at the eyes, and the mouth, and inside the mouth. Just hearing the teacher giving this direction makes me smile, so I comply. And I’ve started applying this forced smile concept to my March life. In the early morning, when I go out to feed my horse, if the rain runs down my back I practice smiling with the inside of my mouth.  Or if a passing car splashes me with cold slush as I approach my mail box, I attempt smiling at the corner of my eyes. I’ve read that dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all released when a person smiles. So maybe even pretending to smile makes a person happier. And if it doesn’t I’m still cheating winter by forcing the bright, sunny forsythia in my kitchen. It’ll do.

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