Friday, March 26, 2010

Hallelujah! Spring has finally arrived.

Winter hasn't quite given up the ghost yet. It's locked in a fierce tug-o-war with Spring, still reluctant to let go of its stranglehold on our lives. We know it will eventually loose the battle and we'll be free from it's icy grip. It just can't happen soon enough. Meanwhile, we take solace in the sure signs of change... white blooms on dogwood trees, colorful flowers that brighten the landscape, weeds sprouting through brown sod, birds singing merrily as they flutter hither and yon preparing their springtime nests. The most welcome sign of all... the sun. Sometimes shrouded by fluffy clouds, sometimes accompanied by chilly winds, there is, nonetheless, that unmistakable presence. Bright. Cheery. Warmth! Yeah!

I've enjoyed the gift of good health most of my life. But I discovered a malady in my twenties that I just couldn't shake this year. While I thrived in summer, I had always known a sort of melancholy in winter that lingered despite my best efforts. I felt a deep sadness that had no apparent cause. Oddly enough, the revelation came while sitting in the doctor's office waiting to be seen for a routine check-up. There in the pages of a woman's magazine was an article that perfectly described my symptoms. Sad, listless, tired. I couldn't shake this sense of gloom. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as it was called, was the diagnosis with a cure. Light, especially the kind that mimics the sun, helps to restore brain hormones depleted by winter's darkness. When I talked with my doctor about it, she said not to worry. Get a sunlamp and sit under it several hours a day. That remedy had always worked when winter was brief and gone but, this year, the tried and true was tested in new ways. I had a hard time finding enough light to get me through the long, dark days of this first winter of the new decade. And I wasn't alone; many of my friends complained that they, too, were battling the doldrums.

Now that the sun is making more frequent appearances, we're on the move again. Me and Max have reclaimed Freedom Parkway, our most often traveled trail. The one that brought us together on common ground and gave us the liberty to be our most authentic selves. With the familiarity of the trail, Max found that he could entrust me with his well-being. "This lady can't be too bad; she exercises with me everyday! I think I'll keep her." I, on the other hand, realized that I didn't mind the responsibility. No, that in fact, I relished it. "This dog grounds me and gives my life purpose," I acknowledged. "I think I'll keep him."

Even Max's mood seems brightened as we share our daily ritual. He's become the social dog, greeting new buddies with wags and sniffs, instead of his usual indifference or, worse, a snap. Our winter SAD is fading, and we're singing a new tune... we're so GLAD to have another sunny day.

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