Opinion Column

finally getting the 'spring' back in your step

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Spring is a time of renewal, a chance to cleanse not just your closet but yourself, too. File photo.

Spring is a time of renewal, a chance to cleanse not just your closet but yourself, too. File photo.

The arrival of spring comes with special hints in the preceding weeks. There are certain smells in the air that remind us it’s not far off. The most distinct of smells I remember clearly from my days living in Ottawa was not necessarily a very pleasant one, in fact, it was the scent of dog droppings that had been left behind to freeze over the winter in the nearby park.

But it still meant that the dreaded cold months were coming to a close, which also means it’s time to do your taxes and clean out closets of long forgotten t-shirts and trinkets. Some people might hate doing those two things, but to me it feels as though I am shedding an old skin and coming back to life after hibernating for a few months.

This is my favourite time of year. While some people mark Jan. 1 as their day of change and renewal, I save mine for the first day of spring. I’ve never been much of a resolution maker – in the past I’ve made a list of things I wish to accomplish and forgot about it in a drawer, mainly because I have other, more important lists that consume me, especially around such a busy time of year. I will rediscover the resolutions and let them come in time, or by the time I find them I will realize they were unrealistic or unnecessary.

When spring finally arrives, the weather is milder and I’m slightly more motivated to step outside. To be honest, winter blues hit me hard, as they do for many people, so my whole mindset changes. Sometimes I think it’s because I was born just several days after the coming of spring, but this could also be a coincidence. Maybe this is how everyone feels.

For me, it’s more than just spring cleaning in the physical sense. It’s also a time to reflect on yourself. Sometimes, throwing out old things can be a part of this. It can affect us emotionally, this physical baggage weighs on us in more than one sense. We hold on to certain objects and artifacts, and perhaps five years ago they meant something important, but now they don’t. It’s OK to admit this, but it can be hard to get to that point.

I used to be a person who had a lot of things. A closet bursting with shoes, dresses and bags, knick knacks that were scattered along my desk and dressing table. Things that my grandmother would refer to as ‘treasures’, a double entendre that could also translate to ‘junk’.

Looking back, I’m not sure why I had all of these things. Sometimes I think they were some sort of protection. I tended to buy things when I was sad or upset, like a defense mechanism. An unhealthy habit I developed as a teenager that I realized early on I had to break.

It was spring time when I was preparing to move overseas. I packed up bags and bags full of these things I had spent my short life collecting. My attachment to them was somewhat weird and hard to understand, even for myself. Of course, some things will have special meaning forever, like family heirlooms or pieces of jewelry passed down from the women in generations before me, my great grandfather’s hat, my papa’s thick-rimmed glasses. Those, I will keep forever, because sentiment and old photos are important to me.

But the little oddities accumulated from random shops and wherever else, I realized those didn’t matter. And so, I learned to let them go. I had to force myself, and it wasn’t easy. It was similar to pulling a bandage off quickly; I had to drop the bags at the donation centre and peel off with no regrets.

To my surprise, it was refreshing, and I felt so free after relinquishing these objects. It was as though a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It’s safe to say, I will never be a pack rat. My love for space has grown, and my love for things has diminished. I connect this awakening to the new season. When things start to sprout and bloom again, it makes me feel healthier and all around better.

Shedding your emotional and physical baggage, letting it run down the drains with the melted snow and ice, this is what really helps to put the spring back in your step.