This morning it is a crisp Autumnal Day here in Christchurch, and I reflected on what it must be like on the other side of the world as they start to move into Spring


“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina


As a young man I attended Boarding school on the North Yorkshire Moors. The school terms were neatly sectioned to semi- mirror the seasons, A short and exciting summer term, full of the promise of a long school break, a long Autumn term, spiced with the gift of Christmas and then the feared term between Christmas and Easter, which for all intents and purposes was the winter term in terms of its cold and dreary weather, with little to look forward. These were hard yards on the moors, January through March. Bitterly cold, and no special gift at the end.


We reflected the season. We were miserable, insular, focussed only on enduring. Long nights to contemplate the woes we had. This was the traditional term for ‘run aways’ and people leaving. The grind of winter was almost too much. Like a long Russian Winter.

We huddled in our school dormitories, wrapped in as many clothes as we could find, shielded from the world of harsh weather and harsh reality. Sport was frequently cancelled, events were often postponed due to bad weather and snow. I imagine we looked like a smelly rabble, which I think we probably were.


Which is why I remembered Tolstoy and his comments on spring in Anna Karenina. ‘Spring is the time of plans and projects’.


After Easter, we all returned. Spring was in the air. We smelt good, we had longer days, more sports, and there was an excitement in the air. People made plans to prepare for exams, cricket, summer, the future.


It was as if we had thrown off the heavy mantel of winter. Which in fact is exactly what we had done. This process of shedding winter was not just attitudinal. We also did stuff. We discarded winter clothes, cleaned up the dormitories of accumulated detritus, cleaned, moved beds nearer to windows to make the most of the sun.


We engaged in an ancient ritual we now call ‘Spring Cleaning’. It always felt good to get rid of old stuff and find or create new stuff. My coach, Charisse, has a twice yearly ritual of riding herself of 10% of her ‘material possessions’. Apparently this mainly means her clothes and wardrobe, but she also rids herself of items she hasn’t used for 6 months or more.


So how can You use this ritual for your own benefit?


De clutter your life!


This may be in terms of material items, (a good closet cleanout), mental items (stop that habit you don’t like) or even simple creating a new outlook.


Why not pick 3 new things to do, 3 things to stop and 3 things to change?


You may decide that as it is lighter in the evenings you could start to walk for 10 minutes after dinner, and you could stop watching TV for 20 minutes to do something else and you could change the way prepare the evening meal.


You could start to learn a new language, give up smoking and change your hair.


You could start a new habit such as eating a healthy breakfast, stop the habit of eating fried foods and change your coffee to decaffeinated.


And why bother?


Well, lets face it , some of us are perfectionist some of us horde and some of us are untidy. This is a great opportunity to ‘let go’ of some stuff, which could be an issue such as the need to have everything absolutely perfect, or the resentments we hold against someone who has ‘wronged us’  or decide that we will pay our bills on time and not incur additional fees or decide that we will keep our car clean.


It may be that we get rid of any clothes we haven’t worn for six months, or give away that fondue set we got 30 years ago and have never used.


Why not also do an ‘inventory’ of the thoughts and feelings that have been ‘bugging us’ through the winter? That negative self-talk, those feelings of frustration, all of which tend to create a ‘dark mood’. Be courageous and list what they are



Its Fun. It feels good after it has been done. A sense of control and euphoria comes over us. We are subtly telling ourselves “I am not owned and defined by my possessions and thoughts. I am the master of them “. It’s like a freedom or a release. Make this a fun thing to do, not a chore. This is about Spring and new life and new growth and new opportunity. Leave the ‘winter’ behind because as Tolstoy said” Spring is the time of plans and projects.”