Letting Go

IMG_1116I am the first to admit that I am not particularly good at “going with the flow.”  I may not be fond of schedules (being over-scheduled actually makes me cranky), but I do like to know what to expect in any given situation.  And the reason I want to know what to expect is so that I can prepare for it, fully and meticulously.  Being prepared makes me feel as if I’m on top of things, and  secure in the knowledge that I’ll be able to handle whatever situation happens to arise.  Trust me, I would have made an amazing Boy Scout.

When I’m going to be spending the night at a hotel, I bring along a box fan, a pillow and a night light, just so I can be sure of getting a good night’s sleep.  (I can only sleep on a soft pillow, the night light helps me find my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and the box fan drowns out the sounds of my husband’s snoring.)  I don’t set foot on an airplane without a carry-on containing food and water (I was once stuck on a runway for five hours), a light sweater in case they turn up the AC, and a couple of crossword puzzles to pass the time.  The trunk of my car is packed with emergency essentials, including a pair of comfortable walking shoes just in case the car breaks down and I have to walk to the nearest gas station.  One way or another, I like to be prepared.

The problem is that there is so much in my life that I can’t possibly prepare for, and when that happens, I tend to get very anxious.  For example, I didn’t plan to spend last month dealing with complicated dental problems, but that’s exactly what happened.  And the situation was made even worse because I was never exactly sure what to expect at each office visit, which left me feeling completely unprepared and unsure of my ability to cope.  That meant I spent a lot of time and energy in these past few weeks worrying and fretting about dental procedures that weren’t even all that bad when I actually had them done.

I may be almost sixty, but there are still many things I hope to learn in this life.  And one of the biggest lessons I’m hoping to learn is how to let go of my belief that I can actually anticipate and prepare for all the problems that come my way.   Because I realize that my obsession with being prepared is really just a way of trying to stay in control, and there is always going to be a portion of my life that is absolutely beyond my control.   And just like everyone else in the world, I need to find a way to come to terms with that.

A good first step, I suppose, is focusing on the things that I can control (I will always travel with at least a fan and a pillow) and trying hard not to think so much about the things I can’t control.  An even better step might be to remind myself that I am stronger and more resilient than I think I am, and that I am also resourceful enough to find solutions to problems when and if they present themselves.   Because if I can remember that, then it’s so much easier to just let go of all the rest.

Losing Control

For the past few months, I’ve been careful to keep to my blogging schedule of posting twice a week.  I usually post on Sunday, and then again on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how my week is going.  I’ve become almost obsessive about it, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.  I tend to establish habits and then stick to them, come what may, even about things that don’t particularly matter.  It’s not one of my more endearing characteristics.

So yesterday, even though I had a bridal shower in the morning, an out-of-town nephew arriving for a visit in the afternoon, and a family dinner to host in the evening, I still believed that I should somehow find the time to write and publish a blog post.  I mean, yesterday was Sunday, so what choice did I have?   Surely, somewhere in that busy day, I would find the time to write a and publish a short blog post, accompanied by an appropriate photograph, once I came up with an idea to write about.  But as the day went by, it became obvious, even to me, that I wasn’t going to be doing a blog post.

I admit, I fretted about it at first.  But gradually I realized how absurd it was to be trying to rush through something as important as a bridal shower, visiting with a nephew we don’t get to see nearly as often as we would like, and a family dinner just for the chance to write (yet another) blog post.  And once I had let go of my original plan for the day and just went along with the flow of what was actually happening, I found myself having a grand old time.

Giving up control is a hard thing for me, as I believe it is for many people. We get an idea about how things are supposed to be, or a schedule we are supposed to follow, and it’s only natural to feel a bit anxious, or even annoyed, when things don’t go according to plan.  Sometimes we even want to control how others react to us, and feel put out when they aren’t appropriately impressed by our latest news, or one of our blog or Facebook posts doesn’t get enough “likes.”  We forget that other people are the ones who get to decide how they are going to react to what we write, say and do, and that we….don’t.

So I’m glad that I had a such a nice day yesterday, and that I had the chance to enjoy a very fun and creative bridal shower.  I’m glad that I got to spend time talking to my nephew, and realizing again just what a fine young man he has turned out to be.  I’m glad that I got to host a family dinner, and hear about my daughter and son-in-law’s recent trip to Colorado, and to continue the discussion about whether my son and I will or will not be doing a mother/son dance at his wedding.

But mostly, I’m glad that yesterday was so busy that I wasn’t able to follow my usual blog posting schedule.  It was a great reminder for me that sometimes in life, the best things happen when we allow ourselves to simply lose control, even for just a little while.  And who knows?  I might keep the excitement going by accompanying this post with a photo which has no relevance whatsoever…..img_1498