Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Cleaning


Growing up, "Spring Cleaning" was always a HUGE ordeal. It usually involved brooms, vacuums,  garbage bags and tears. But I must say, after all was said and done, I was secretly (deep deep down inside) glad that I was made to do it. There is just something to a totally clean living space. Not just "clean" but totally uncluttered- no excess junk in drawers, under beds or hidden in closets. I'm sure you all can totally relate to the feeling. It just feels like you can "breathe" again!

But why do we "spring clean"? I'm sure you all clean your homes year round, right? So then,


A local bee "Spring Cleaning" the neighborhood flowers.


Why is Spring so special?
Sometimes we forget that we are part of nature. We drive cars, eat fast "food", have electricity, and live up in tall apartment buildings.

Looking at the "ground" from my 16th floor apartment.
Count up 14 window air conditioners and you will see our apartment.

We try to ignore our animalistic nature in most every way. But when it comes down to it, we are still very much spiritually and emotionally tied to the Earth. Let's look for the answer there-

What happens to the Earth in Spring?
After the long slumber of winter, the Earth begins to "wake up".
During winter the Earth is slow. Animals slumber or hibernate, daylight hours grow shorter, the ground becomes mostly barren, there is stillness. With all the stillness there is peace. This "wintering" is very needed in the plant and animal kingdom. Many important processes happen during this time. But, after a while, too much stillness leads to stagnation.

When the face of the Earth starts to feel the warm sun on its face, it starts to regenerate. Animals wake from their slumber, as do plants. The Earth starts making way for the "new". Winter is a long period of inward "work" that the planet and OURSELVES must go through in order to grow anew in the Spring season.

Beautiful blooms in my apartment complex.

A gorgeous pic taken by my good friend Meghan at a Cherry Blossom Festival.

Now, what happens to US in the Spring?
It's pretty common for people to "get sick" during the changing of the seasons. Our bodies need to clean out from the past season and prepare for the challenges that it will incur in the next few months. The body knows exactly what needs "cleaned" each season. Spring is no different.

Most people notice excess mucus in the transition from Winter to Spring. If you are going through this, do not complain- CELEBRATE! Your body is cleaning! Be gentle on your body and don't rush to the doctor or the pharmacy. Let your body WORK. Mucus encapsulates toxins, bacteria and other microorganisms so they may be expelled from your body! Mucus has also been building up due to the heavier /richer foods typically eaten during winter. Red meat, eggs, dairy, refined sugar, wheat, grains- all of these foods are very dense in calories and/or fat and they generate lots of heat when they are digested. Shedding the mucus created from these things will allow our bodies room to eat from Spring's gorgeous green bounty.

Foods to Eat in Spring
Spring= green! There are so many wonderful fresh greens in the Spring! They will help your body detox all the mucus that has been building over winter and get you hydrated and remineralized for the hot Summer months ahead. The liver has been working hard all winter to metabolize the fatty foods that most people eat in large quantity during cold weather. Help your liver detox by giving it GREENS.
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Kale, chard and other dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli and cauliflower, 
  • Cabbage, asparagus and artichoke
  • Lemons or lemon juice
  • Garlic and onions
All of these foods are slightly bitter in taste. Most bitter foods help detox the liver. "Bitter" is sadly a taste we don't appreciate much in the American diet, but it is desperately needed to help our over burdened livers. 
Mushrooms mixed with awesome greens called "돗나물" in Korean. The English translation is "Ashdod Herbs".
A lot of old Koreans believe these have magical healing powers, as there are some myths about wild animals being on the brink of death before eating. Then after, they magically are healed! If you live in Korea, be on the look out for these in the Spring only! They taste INCREDIBLE! So fresh!
Lightly steamed broccoli. The original FAST FOOD. It takes 2 minutes, costs around $1 a head, and is delicious!!!!!

In addition to greens, add as much fresh fruit and veggies as you can and drink plenty of water to help the detox process. Fiber and water bring MOVEMENT inside to push everything out!

Need a good starting place to eat with the Spring season?
Here is a super helpful SPRING shopping list from Sara Avant Stover's book, The Way of the Happy Woman:



Spring Activities
Most of us don't feel much like moving during winter. But with the Spring comes more found energy! Be gentle on yourself and start bringing "life" back to your body. Here are a few things to try:
  • Stretch and Move. Bring blood and oxygen back into stagnant areas. Focus on the hips and bottom. Join a yoga class or watch some videos on Youtube!
  • Walk. Go out and take in all the senses around you. Smell the air, feel the sun on your face, take off your shoes and walk through the dewy grass. Enjoy your newly born surroundings.
  • Touch & Explore. If you have your own land, dig in the dirt. Feel the life! Plant seeds and watch them grow. Gardening gets you in contact with the Earth, time in the sun, and fluidity in your body. Find time to re-connect with nature during this special time. 
  • Create. Just as nature is "creating", Spring is the perfect time to begin creative projects around the house or just for fun. Creativity will flow easily to you during this time of year. Paint, write, draw, collage!
  • Execute. You've had a winter of inward reflection. You've been planning. Now it's time to set your ideas into motion. Let them bloom and become fruitful!
All of these activities will sync you up to the natural rhythms of the Earth. Living in harmony with the natural rhythms of our Earth is a lost art. 

How do you sync up with nature? Do you have any special rituals that you do in the Spring? I'd love to hear about them. I'm always looking for new soulful traditions to incorporate into my routine!

This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous! Go outside- LIVE Spring and EAT Spring! It's all around you!


With a Spring in my Step,
Meg