And trying not to control the uncontrollable.
Well, I guess this is it. I’m not sure if I should call this the beginning of my new life and the end of my old, or just the turning of the page from one chapter to another. It feels bigger than a chapter though. So much bigger than just a chapter. It’s hard for me to say that I’m closing a book on a part of my life while I’m still living it, but that’s exactly what’s happening. I’ve read that to live in the past is to die in the present and I love that so much. After losing my husband of 23 years, and another 2 years of “healing and processing”, it’s time for me to write a new story for my life. So slowly—and with deep gratitude and respect—I will close this old book I’ve been living. I will wrap it up softly and gently and tuck it away for another time when I can process it with a different view. I am grateful for this book because it’s defined the human being that I am now. The woman I’ve become. I am respectful of it because it’s an empowering story that won’t be forgotten. And because of this, I am tearing out a few pages to bring with me on my new journey.
Or maybe a chapter or two…..or five.
There are so many emotions that gather around change. Guilt, anxiety, fear, helplessness. The biggest emotion of all, I believe, is fear of the unknown. How? When? Where? What? How will I afford this? When will I begin? Where will I end up? What if I fail? If we look at our fear from a larger perspective we can see that what it’s telling us is that we are not in control.
Most of us don’t like to hear that.
We spend the better part of our lives trying to control things; our children, spouses, partners, careers, pets, health, and surroundings. But what we fail to understand is that while we feel we are in complete control of these things, it’s mostly an illusion. Of course we have basic control of our daily decisions and choices, but what I’m talking about is the controlling of the uncontrollable. Some of us spend years and years trying to accomplish this and in the end, when we throw our hands up in the air and give up because it’s toooooo hard, we are sooooooo tired, sooooo stressed out, and we cant taaaaaaake it anymore; we rarely understand that it was us all along. We were trying to control a person, a situation or a circumstance and it’s inevitable that in the end…we would fail at that.
It’s our own inability to change that causes this. Not anything or anyone else.
Knowing we don’t have control forces us to live in the present moment. This scares many of us because we don’t like where we are. We don’t like who we are. Letting go of control shows us how to adapt and go with the flow. It teaches us how to be quick on our feet and to look towards the unknown, trusting that everything will always work out for us. It gives us the understanding that the only thing we have control over is our thoughts and how we react and respond to whatever happens—to us or around us.
Haven’t you ever noticed that many of the great changes you’ve had in your life were preceded by chaos? And have you ever looked back on an impactful and possibly dramatic disruption in your life and thought, “Wow, if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be where I am today.” The latter usually takes time before we are able to reflect positively on it, but as our lives move forward our past and present makes more sense. That is, unless, we are still digging our heels in fighting against the change. This is where the fear sets in and why it seems to hurt so bad. The more we dig our heels in, the more conflict we create in our own lives. The more we try and stay in our comfort zone, the more pain we can cause ourselves and others.
It’s not the change causing our pain, it’s our inability to change or except the change that causes our pain.
Chaos is the combination of change unfolding and of us resisting it. That’s all it is. If we choose to look at it in this simplistic way it can make a difficult situation seem more hopeful. Change is the beginning of what’s next for us yet we are so stuck in what-was and what-is that we don’t see the benefit of what-could-be. We let ourselves become paralyzed by change without knowing we are doing so because it’s habitual and comfortable to stay where we are. We get satisfaction out of complaining about our situation and hope some outside source will come to our rescue if we continue to verbalize it. We want others to change in order to make us happy and we may find relief for a time, but it’s only a temporary solution. Then we merely find ourselves in that vicious cycle of “I’m stuck. My life is stuck” because we are not taking the responsibility of changing upon ourselves. We stay the same because sameness is what we know and what makes us feel safe. And the cycle continues. Change makes us feel uncertain and we’ll choose fear over uncertainty almost every chance we get because we know what to expect.
Fear is familiar.
Imagine change as a powerful river always flowing and finding it’s way south. If we are constantly trying to swim upstream against the current, you bet we’re gonna get pretty beat up. And if we try to hold ourselves against the strong current—treading water to stay right where we are—we’re gonna get exhausted sooner or later and be forced to surrender. This is a hard way to go about it and causes the most stress and pain in our lives and with our health! Instead, if we give up the fight (control) and turn around to flow with the current, we’ll stop resisting the change and allow things to unfold and manifest naturally and in it’s due time. We’ll learn that we can float (trust) and may even find a life raft and enjoy the ride. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you finally give up the fight, broken and exhausted from trying so hard, the things you want finally happen? People look at this as some sort of phenomenon or miracle when it happens, but it’s just the release of resistance. It’s the letting go of control.
And it’s the acceptance of change.
Change should be experienced with excitement, expectation, and satisfaction. We should trust that everything is always working out for us and that the Universe is always on our side. Sadly though, many of us look at it in a fearful way and put up our defenses. This only keeps us stuck in what-is. When we start to understand that we simply need to give our attention to the things that bring us joy, and allow change to happen without resistance, we start to live life on the outer edge of our comfort zone and we are no longer afraid. We start to expect that only good things will come to us and the things we want start to flow easily into our lives. Repetitious thinking in this manner pre-paves our future for better experiences and a happier life.
We become more afraid of not changing than we do of changing.
We learn that not changing equals boredom, repetition, pain and apathy and it’s the best way to waste our one and only life. We can allow the change to work in our favor by expecting it and learning how to choose it. Change is the one thing we can always depend on to happen because it happens all day, every day, whether we accept it or not. When we begin to understand that change is inevitable, we begin to truly live.
I learned how to stop controlling the uncontrollable and to embrace change during the 10 years my husband Klink was sick. It began in 2006 with his reoccurrence of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (first diagnosis was 2002) and continued on during his diagnosis’ of COPD, Congestive Heart Failure, Spinal (Bacterial) Meningitis, Bronchiectasis, and finally Lung Cancer in 2015. As you can probably imagine, this brought a lot of chaos and change into our lives. Even within the span of 12 hours, things could go from bad to good, or from bad to worse. I never knew what to expect and everyday was a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s when I gave up trying to control the outcome that I allowed what was happening to us to just happen and life started to become less stressful. It took time to practice this but when I finally just allowed the changes to unfold, things got easier to handle. I couldn’t control anything in this situation—except my response and reaction— any more than I could try to control a boulder falling off a cliff. I became flexible and learned to trust that the Universe was unfolding as it should. I knew everything was going to be OK even when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to. Over time, I stopped having expectations altogether because it was far less painful this way. I learned to just go with what was happening and to be fully present with it. It made the final years of his life and our time together incredibly special; raw with unconditional love and a sense of peace knowing that I wasn’t in control of anything that was happening. It was freeing.
I learned to just be with it.
This learning of allowing change to happen had become a great gift. It was a by-product of the chaos I was experiencing and even though the chaos continued on for some time, my perception of my circumstances changed and I had less anxiety. I came to understand that everything is temporary—pain, suffering, loss, chaos—because change is always happening. Things never stay the same, ever. It’s just our thoughts around them that do. After Klink died, this gift of accepting change allowed me to grieve with the knowing that it was a temporary pain. I knew that I would float slowly on my back with the current gently carrying me downstream—and with the Universe holding me in it’s hands—until I reached a place where I could begin to swim on my own again. I didn’t try and force myself out of the current of grief and try to swim upstream to prevent it from happening. That would only add to my suffering. Because I knew the grief would always be changing, it gave me a profound sense of peace and optimism for the future.
It helped me heal.
Thanksgiving Day will mark the second anniversary of Klink’s death and I have come to make some decisions about my life. I’m 51 years old—healthy, independent, capable, and my head is full of dreams once again.
As I sit and write this I am looking out the window with my eyes fixated on the garage and the shiny new (and very big) truck I purchased last week. My sister called it the Big Kahuna as she helped me successfully navigate into the stahl, and the name has officially stuck. I didn’t attempt to drive it for several days as I was afraid when I backed out of the garage I would either be taking parts of the garage with me or leaving parts of the truck behind. None of that happened of course and I am now driving down the road smiling and waving at all the other truck-driving folks—as if we are all best friends.
And so now a new book begins.
In February I will be selling my beautiful home and buying a teardrop trailer to head out on the open road for a two year journey across America and Canada. I will be blogging and podcasting about health and wellness; exploring, experiencing and sharing people, businesses and things that are good and healthy while I live my truth.
This dream has been brewing for many years. It began as small little road trip down Route 66 as a virtual escape when Klink was ill. And then after he died, I started to plan a full-country trip to distract me during the grieving process. I finally realized that I was completely obsessed with this after my Camino was cancelled a few months ago, and I started to build a business plan around living on the road full time as a Health Coach.
It’s finally time to open the starting gate. It’s not just on paper or spreadsheets or a story I tell to my friends anymore. It’s a 5000 pound reality squeeeeeeeeeeeezed into my garage and the first step towards my vision. I love the feelings I am having; the nervous excitement as I stare at this truck in awe; a symbol of what’s to come. The feeling of anticipation for what’s next and the possibilities of my future. The not knowing of how it’s all going to unfold but the trust it will always unfold in my favor. The trepidation I feel when I turn the key and listen to the engine roar. The panic I feel when I imagine myself pulling a 3500 pound trailer through the mountains. How? When? Where? What?
It’s the feeling of change. And it’s the feeling of being brave through the change.
I don’t know the How, When, Where, or What of any of this. I only know I need a truck, a trailer, to sell my house and to have a business plan outlining my dream. I’m not waking into any of this with blinders on, mind you. I have been researching, studying and planning—doing all of the due diligence I can in case an opportunity arrises. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and know the importance of having a solid foundation on which to leap from. Structure is the most important thing to have when planning any project but the ability to be open-minded—to change—is just a millisecond behind it. Last week the perfect truck fell into my lap and I was ready for it. The process was easy and painless and dare I say, fun?
My plan is to plan for change and to be open for how it comes to me. Because when you’re comfortable on your path, it doesn’t matter where it leads. I would love for you to follow along on my journey and to allow me to share with you the incredible experiences I plan to have.