Last week I somehow managed to have plans every single night. I’m not sure how this happened. I didn’t even realize that I had made these plans until I looked at the calendar. On our family online calendar, I am the colour chartreuse. All I saw was chartreuse.
In past years, whenever I had scheduled nights out during the week, I often paid the price with physical and mental exhaustion. I would spend a weekend bingeing on Netflix and Ms. Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips only to feel guilty Monday morning as I scrambled to get lessons together and nurse a sick belly.
Last week was different. I didn’t feel taxed or over scheduled. In fact, I felt grateful and I felt alive. I felt that I was moving with the flow of life itself. When opportunities came up, I seized them and although I was uncertain of where they would lead, I trusted that they appeared for a reason. All I had to do was give myself permission to fall down the rabbit hole.
How could I have all these things on my plate for the last 6 months and not once feel completely overwhelmed?
Surrender means “to give up.” It comes from two French words sur which means “over” and rendre which means “to give back.” It essentially means to stop fighting; to yield; to cease resisting; to give up control.
Admitting defeat is also part of surrendering. The origin of the word defeat was diffacere which meant “undo, destroy.”
I believe that my willingness to surrender and to essentially destroy myself every moment has allowed me to really live. I have faith that wherever I am is where I need to be. I have seen my life twist and turn in ways that crippled me emotionally and tested my strength to carry on. I struggled and fought against myself, people who were close to me, and everyone I encountered. This fight expended so much energy. If I wasn’t fighting, I spent a lot of time thinking and worrying about what others thought about me and not meeting their expectations or my own. It wasn’t the endless tasks and to-do lists that were giving me grief. Being on guard and trying to maintain control were the true culprits that were taxing me.
Last week I surrendered in little ways. Tiny daily acts of letting go, of waving the white flag. I noticed how I spent a lot of time drawing on the chalkboard last week and using up creative energy in planning a Halloween/birthday party and making costumes. I had no desire to draw or create anything in my Book of Hours. I still needed to read quotes to set the tone for my day. I didn’t force creative output and instead read my Book of Hours – referring to it for guidance and inspiration. After over 115 days of entries, it felt amazing to use it this way, to go back and reflect and add notes in the margins. I added thoughts about my life and what I was witnessing. I added pieces of gratitude here and there.
I have to admit that I did panic a little with the costumes. I left all the errands for Wednesday which happened to be a day full of torrential downpour and high winds. I waved the white flag and put on my rain gear. We spent 6 hours running errands getting soaked in the process. I managed to find the perfect fabric at a discount for the Jedi costume, sheets of foam for the stormtrooper costume after not having any luck with our local art stores, and a perfectly good white sheet for my Princess Leia costume. I gave the 5 kids money to spend in the Halloween pop-up shop and they had a blast planning the haunted house. We screamed and laughed as we ran from the car to the different stores as we splashed in puddles. I ended up feeling a jolt of energy for the next few days and I managed to finish the costumes with plenty of help from the kids and my husband.
In past years, we would normally take a break from homeschooling during Halloween week. This time we didn’t and it was fine. I was open to taking a break if we needed it but the kids wanted to hear their lessons. We managed to complete what I had planned even though we had been out more than usual that week. My goals were to tell a few stories and to check in with each child about what they were jazzed about learning right now but I made sure that I let go of any expectations.
On Friday morning, I left my jacket and phone at the house where I take a yoga class. I phoned but no one picked up so I assumed my teacher had left to go about her day. I surrendered to the fact that I would have to spend my day without my phone and without my warm down jacket which was especially unfortunate since we were going to spend the day outdoors at the kids’ outdoor program.
I surrendered. This was new for me. I really wanted to pout and complain like a spoiled brat but for the first time, the feeling past instantly.
And in that moment of surrender, as my husband was rushing to leave for work, he hurriedly brought the 5 gallon water jugs in from the porch and dropped one in our foyer. It shattered and 5 gallons of water flooded our hallway living room (and basement). While he was cussing at himself, I just laughed. I laughed harder when I noticed that I was laughing. The kids were scurrying to save the library books that were on the living room floor. Other children were getting bedsheets and duvet covers to absorb the water. Then my yoga teacher called my husband’s phone and said that I could pick up my jacket and phone anytime. I ended up driving my husband to the subway so he wouldn’t be late which was on the way to the house where I do yoga.
When I give up, life’s events don’t alter the way I feel and things always work out. They don’t work out according to my timetable most days but eventually they do work out.
When I surrender, I trust in being guided. Whenever I resist, I know that I need to let go and open myself to the unknown. I am more flexible than I have ever been. I extended the kids bedtime last week because I wanted to come home and tuck them in. I stayed in bed one morning and my youngest two children crawled into bed with me and we sang songs and I told them stories. Instead of immediately jumping into lessons with my kids, I baked banana bread with my daughter today and yesterday we baked cheese and strawberry danishes. After we baked, I found her more receptive to beginning our day. I sat and wrote 2000 words yesterday for my Nanowrimo project while time miraculously opened up for me.
Surrendering involves destroying my assumptions and joyfully undoing mental constructs that have kept me imprisoned. With the awareness that my need to control causes me to disengage from life, I can admit defeat willingly and wholeheartedly. It isn’t a one-time deal. It is a daily act of letting go of likes, dislikes, past influences, fears, anxieties, control, and the thought that there isn’t enough – enough time, money, energy, love. It isn’t easy either but it does make life very interesting.
I will be posting here every Tuesday about some of my small daily acts of surrender. If you have a story about “letting go and surrender,” please comment! I’d love to hear from you!