As Spring takes its full course, I am poised to acknowledge all that it brings for me, and I’m sure for others. Like all things in life, there is balance between Satisfaction and challenge. Within this philosophy, it makes sense that the beauty of foliage, warm temperatures, and sprouting gardens would be balanced with pollen, allergies, and insects. Most world religions and spiritual beliefs accept that pleasure can only be acknowledged as such when we know the other end of the spectrum; pain, discomfort, dysregulation. How often have you shied away from something because you want to avoid the struggle you have associated with it? On the other hand, how often have you felt overwhelmed and burdened, only to come out with some degree of strength, lesson learned, or at least experienced gained? The same tree that was bare and bland only two months ago, now blossoms with color and vibrance. The weed that gloriously paints your yard with purples, whites, and yellows also kills the grass and reproduces faster than you can manage. The relevance of these metaphors to everyday living is to practice mindfulness, self-control, and accountability for making healthy choices, and being open to what is provided for us. An opening that seems distasteful or a waste of time in the immediate moment may turn out to be an enriching experience. Looking inward to gain self-awareness allows us to be in touch with what we can and cannot control or handle. We often know what challenges are doable. When they are beyond our manageable capability, we can accept the rigidity of the external world, and focus on what we can control or adjust in order to make the most of what has been presented to us. Simply avoiding or closing yourself off only inhibits growth and understanding. Imagine a time in your childhood when something seemed completely different than what you know now. Growing up in the rural countryside of Georgia, I was terrified and completely resistant to the thought of living in the city, especially this one. By opening myself to opportunities and taking on experiences, I have found myself in a place I enjoy and appreciate (both pros and cons). Consider similar experiences in your life, and meditate on them. Be grateful for what, whom, and where you are, as well as those around you. Find the silver lining and strength in your present. You have a choice to experience joy. You just have to look harder for it sometimes. Remember, you always have have at least some potential for choice, even when circumstances suggest otherwise. Wishing you peace and satisfaction.