As I drove through Inglewood recently with my son riding shotgun, I turned to him and asked, “Do you smell that?”
He looked at me with the typical annoyance of a tweenager who has been interrupted while scrolling and said, “All I smell is pollution and gas.”
Although my video-game-loving son couldn’t smell what I could smell, it didn’t stop me from rolling down every window in our minivan.
The powerful fragrance of spring flowers wrapped me in its warm embrace, and I was transported back to my hometown of Minneapolis. Growing up in a climate that is infamous for its aggressive winter season gives me a unique appreciation for spring.
For the first half of my life, I lived in a place where we spent several months holed up in the house. As the snow melted, we would put away our heavy boots and winter coats and excitedly switch to denim jackets and tennis shoes.
Without fail, the moment we boxed up all the winter gear and put it in the basement, Mother Nature would come through with one last snowfall to remind us that we are not in control of the weather.
This kind of unpredictability created a unique ability to adapt to any weather.
And maybe I am not talking about the weather right now. Maybe I am talking about how most of us just spent a year holed up in the house, attempting to avoid a virus. And just when we thought it was safe to go out, another stay-at-home order came tumbling down like an avalanche.
During this unique time of isolation, I called upon the strength and resilience of my former life in Minneapolis. As a health and fitness professional, the closure of gyms last April hit me over the head like a surprise blizzard.
Cue the music: “Sometimes it Snows in April” by Prince. Want to know how we survived long periods of being homebound in Minneapolis? We found ways to enjoy life…despite the weather. After the initial shock and devastation of gym closures wore off, I found ways to stay active and engaged and healthy.
I started leading online exercise videos: Instagram and Facebook Live workouts. Every Saturday, I met with my community at Darby Park to lead free safe, outdoor, socially distanced group fitness classes. I attended intimate wellness gatherings with less than 10 people where we discussed ways to stay active and accountable and connected. One of the major keys to good health is community. It’s important to link up with people who like to move.
I am overwhelmed with emotion as I reflect on the last year because during a time of great sadness and isolation, I created a space for connection and movement and joy.
Never in my life have I been so grateful for my Midwest upbringing. An upbringing that led to innovation. An upbringing that breeds an appreciation for the sweet smell of spring.
For the sake of your health, go for a walk, smell the flowers and connect with humans.
These things are essential.
Claudine Cooper is a writer and mom of 3, and has been a health and fitness professional for more than 25 years. She and her family live in Inglewood.