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What a Gift: Tips for Showery-Flowery Spring By Leslie Vandever

   Ah, springtime! The last rotten snow from The Endless Winter is finally melting away as March’s lion-ish spring morphs into a showery-flowery April spring. Gray, sodden skies have turned blue. They’re dotted with white, fluffy … OK, gray-bottomed clouds (representing the “showers” part of the old rhyme). They scuttle from right to left, left to right across the horizon rushed along on a frigid—I mean brisk—breeze. Robins are everywhere, singing their little fool heads off, amour in their hearts. And yes, those pointy little purple and yellow things you saw poking up through that leftover snow really were crocuses. It’s spring!   So stumble out of your cave, blinking in the sunshine, and suck in a deep breath of that fresh spring air. Welcome the annual re-awakening of the natural world around you. Need a little inspiration? Here are some good tips to help you really get into the season.   Walk Off Those Winter Blues This one is so easy. All you need is a sweater, a good pair of walking shoes, and decent weather. Still a bit chilly out there? Don’t worry. Once you get going, you’ll warm right up. Walking is one of the simplest, best forms of exercise around. It gets your whole body moving without heavy impact on your joints.   You can walk anywhere: at the mall, in your neighborhood, on city streets, on a country road, through a park. For a healthy spring-has-sprung boost, adults should walk for 30 minutes a day, at least four days a week. If it’s been a while since you got any exercise, start slow and easy. Then, as your body and mind get used to the idea, speed up your pace a little. Your goal is a brisk walk that gets your heart pumping, puts a smile on your face, and that you enjoy so much you’ll keep walking year ‘round.   Do Some Spring Cleaning Spring is a great time to clear out the pack-rat clutter that builds up over the winter. Open your windows and air things out. Clean and polish them with natural glass cleaner: mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with a quart of water in a spray bottle. Wipe and polish with sheets of newspaper or a clean rag, then step back and enjoy the sun streaming in. Broom down the cobwebs along the ceiling. Sweep and dust and neat-ify. Finally, go through your closets and get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore. Donate them to a local thrift store or, one fine weekend, have a yard sale.       Start a New Habit Spring represents rebirth. The trees put on new leaves, flowers swell and bud, and the weather changes for the better. So really, what could be a better time to start a healthy new habit? Choose one that you’ve struggled with in the past: changing your diet, maybe, or drinking more water. (8 measuring cups a day is a healthy amount.) Now’s the time to transform that daily walk (or other exercise) you’ve started into a habit you no longer have to force yourself do. It’s a great way to take care of yourself.   Look for the Gifts One of the best things about spring is that with the sun and the fresh air, it’s easier to take a moment or two several times a day simply to enjoy the world around us. Call it looking for the gifts the world has to offer. Call it mindfulness. Call it conscious awareness. Whatever you want to call it, notice the bright, lime green color of the new leaves on that tree, and thank the world, or god, for it. Take the gift of a bouncy brown sparrow with black button eyes and make it your own. Reward yourself with a smile. Every day offers us countless gifts. They can be as a simple as a smile from a stranger. Enjoy the spring!   Leslie Vandever—known as "Wren" to the readers of RheumaBlog, her personal blog about living well with rheumatoid arthritis—is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California. 

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