Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Surrender - but don't give up

To let go of struggle. To give up control where I have no control. To stop trying so damn hard all the time. To do what needs to be done and let the chips fall where they may.To understand that when things don't go as planned, it often means that the universe had other - better - plans. To let things be what they are and not wish them to be different.

I want to see surrender in those positive ways.

Instead, I keep seeing it as failure. As my inability to organize things correctly, think about things in the right way, or consider all the possible obstacles and the ways in which to overcome them. I see it as giving up. As being lazy. As not wanting it bad enough - whatever it is. After all, that's the American dream, right? Want it bad enough, work hard for it, never say die and you'll be successful. But if you let go, give up, let things happen instead of trying to make things happen then you're not going to be successful. And you only have yourself to blame.

Strangely, I'm getting better at letting go of the big things. Although I'm in the middle of a custody battle, I'm not fighting.  Not really.  I'm letting the lawyers and therapists work with my kids and figure out what's best for them.  I just listen and help where I can but I'm letting other people do the worrying and fighting. I know in my heart that my kids will be fine. All the rest is details. In addition, I have some financial issues. Right now I'm dipping significantly into my savings in order to take care of myself and my kids. But I'm not worrying about money. Not really. I'm doing what I can do to set up my business, get clients and work the hours I can work given my single-mom schedule. I know in my heart that I will always have enough money - however much (or little) that is. Those are huge issues. But they don't really stress me out - not day to day anyway.

It's the little things that are driving me absolutely nuts! My daughter having to scramble to finish her homework in the morning because she "forgot" to do it the night before (despite my repeated questioning that night about the status of her homework). Not having the basketball practice schedule even though the season starts in less than a week which makes it hard for me to plan anything. Streets and Sanitation randomly closing streets near my kids' schools during drop off time creating huge traffic jams. My computer freaking out the day before I'm leaving on a 5 day trip. Bike riders not following traffic rules.

One of the things I learned in an ethics class recently is that I'm responsible TO other people but I am not responsible FOR them. (Easier said than done when it comes to my kids but important nonetheless.)  All of those little things are the responsibility of other people. My daughter might get a bad grade for not finishing her homework on time. But hopefully in getting the bad grade, she'll learn a lesson about doing things in a timely manner. I can't force the basketball coach to get the schedule done but if my daughter can't attend a practice because I can't pick her up when it's over or I plan something else, that will have to be ok. If the coach is missing one of his best players because he didn't get the schedule done in time for me to plan ahead, then maybe he'll learn a lesson. Or not. Not my issue, I think.

I don't like the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff."  First of all, it isn't all small stuff and the small stuff adds up. It's hard to be bombarded regularly with things that are not your responsibility, are not within your control but impact things that are your responsibility.

Maybe the best thing is to be ok with the fact that the small stuff bothers me. Maybe it will be easier to get over the small things if I stop trying so hard NOT to let them bother me. It's ok to be pissed off at the bike rider who flies through the stop sign requiring me to slam on my breaks and nearly have a heart attack. It's not ok for me to let it ruin my day.  Learning to surrender doesn't mean I can't ever be angry or upset.

Learning to accept things as they are doesn't mean I can't work to change them, where appropriate (and possible). I can accept that my daughter is forgetful sometimes. I can love her despite that (god, I hope so since I'm probably 10 times as forgetful as she is). But I can also try to help her come up with strategies to improve her memory and be more organized.

I can surrender but I don't have to give up.
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