Sunday, October 27, 2013


--> I grew up in the Bible belt in a family that wasn’t religious. Setting aside the inherent difficulties in that, I always associated faith with religion, and didn’t think it had much of a place in my life.  Though I still don’t consider myself religious, I am deeply spiritual, and becoming more so each day. Last spring, I began to focus on the role of faith in my life, and I to really trust in something bigger than myself more fervently than I have before.

Though I have always been a positive and hopeful person, there was a sort of block when it came to faith. I wanted evidence before I could trust. I believed that science and faith were at odds with each other, and that faith required a suspension of reason. I wanted to believe some of the things I was reading and hearing about the nature of the universe and the metaphysical, but I was skeptical and sometimes even cynical.

I now see that they are actually intertwined, and there have been a number of scientific studies that have proven the power of faith such as those that confirmed the healing power of prayer. Quantum physics is gaining traction as an explanation of how our thoughts affect our physical surroundings and circumstances. And while his experiments have been criticized as unscientific, Masaru Emoto, demonstrated that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.

His experiments involved exposing water samples to concentrated thoughts of either a positive or a negative nature. Thoughts such as “you make me sick,” “I hate you,” etc. were juxtaposed with loving and positive thoughts. Water frozen and examined under a microscope showed incomplete, malformed and distorted crystals from the negative thoughts and beautiful, symmetrical, colorful patterns from the positive ones.

In March, I participated in a program for young adult cancer survivors in Hawaii. This surf camp asked us to choose a camp name that represented our power, and I chose Kale‘le’, which means “to have faith” in Hawaiian. I chose this, not because I already had an abundance of faith, but because I was seeking to foster more of it in my life. For a few months now, I have awoken to a sign above my bed that reads, “I trust that I will be taken care of.” And I really do.

In the past, I worried a great deal. I didn’t necessarily express my worries to others, but internally, I was always focused on what was “wrong,” and on the problems in my life. Now, I choose to focus on the positives instead. It’s a subtle shift with profound implications. The circumstances of my life haven’t changed dramatically, but my inner state about them has. I am much calmer, more peaceful, grateful, and loving in my thoughts.

I have often viewed religion as a sort of crutch, giving the faithful a certainty that was comforting, no doubt, but provided little basis in reality. Sure, it was helpful in getting through day-to-day life, but wasn’t it also folly of a sort to believe in something for which there was no evidence? Now I see that there is no downside to faith. If we believe in something bigger than ourselves and are wrong, we’ve lost nothing, but if that belief gives us comfort in life, we’ve gained a great deal.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Every spring I seem to experience a slump. I don’t know how else to describe it. Cocooning maybe.  I travel a ton for work, and to visit friends and family around the country, and it is usually following a long spate of travel that I come home, have some down time, and feel the strong urge to wear yoga pants all day and not leave the house. This usually looks like hours of watching old episodes of a favorite tv show, or reading the stack of books piled next to my bed. Sometimes I even manifest an illness to give me an excuse to lay around all day. I don’t want to see friends or talk on the phone. I don’t want to cook. I want to eat ice cream and take long baths.

For most of May, I have been in full-on slump mode. A bad cold kept me in bed for much of a recent weekend, and though I rallied to get those things done that needed to be, including a trip to Vegas to speak to young adult cancer survivors, and some pressing work and writing projects, I have also spent long hours on the sofa playing solitaire on my phone while watching television. I saw two movies in one week, and did a lot of laundry and organizing. These are all clearly avoidance tactics.

My book deadline is looming, and as this is my third draft, I am feeling a fair amount of pressure to get it right this time, and a bit overwhelmed by what it will entail to do that. I should be writing, and I guess technically I am (though this isn’t my book), but I’m slumping instead. I have forced myself to do a bit of clean-up editing and some outlining of the last three chapters, but it’s not the productive chapter a day schedule that I managed when I was in Hawaii a month ago.

It is so rare for me to have two weekends in one month not only in town, but with little on the calendar, and I should be making the most of them. Here’s the thing. . . maybe I am. Maybe slumping is what I need right now to re-energize. Maybe indulging my laziness during some rare downtime shouldn’t produce guilt, but relaxation instead. Maybe I need some mindless activity for a while so I can focus and write later.

My chiropractor was adjusting me this week and he did some energy clearing as well, which he has never really done before. I’m not sure what prompted it, but one of the things he cleared was around this very issue. He asked me to repeat the following phrase over and over again while he did some work, until he felt it was cleared: “I am a good person, and I deserve some time for myself.”

The first time I could barely say it because I was choked up, crying with the realization that I really always feel as if I need to be productive in some way. This has always been true for me, but it has become a more pressing feeling since I began working for myself. When I had a job, I could often leave work at work and enjoy my time away including weekends, but now it sometimes feels as I am never off. The pressure I put on myself to do more, write more, read more, know more and produce more is always there.

Maybe that’s why spring cleaning exists. We clean our homes to get ready for summer, and we should clean out old, limiting beliefs as well. I AM a good person, and I DO deserve some time for myself, even when a book deadline is looming, a new business is being started, and a six month consulting contract is drawing to a close making a new source of income somewhat pressing. If I don’t take time for me, I will be useless to complete any of those other items as well.

Monday, April 1, 2013


A cool breeze rifles my hair from the hammock under the vanilla tree just steps from the aqua blue waters of the Pacific ocean off the coast of Maui. A week ago I arrived as a newcomer to this island, and a stranger to the fourteen other cancer survivors who shared this special place with me. Now we, as well as the staff and other teachers we have had the good fortune to interact with this week are ohana – “family” in Hawaiian.

This incredible experience was provided to us through an organization called Athletes for Cancer whose mission is to enrich lives impacted by cancer through the healing power of the elements and the tenacity of the human spirit. They fulfill that mission with surfing, stand up paddle boarding and snowboarding camps for cancer survivors in Hawaii and Hood River, Oregon. Camp Koru is healing in so many ways. At the outset, just the connection with the incredible beauty of this place and its natural wonders: the water, fragrant flowering plants and the towering volcanic peaks provide a sense of peace not readily available in the fast-pace of the mainland.

For some, just being in the ocean was a new experience that required them to overcome a fear of the unknown. For others, sharing their story for the first time with other survivors was an opportunity to connect with those who have been there. Putting words to an experience that engenders such turbulent emotions is not always easy, but definitely feels safer with someone who has walked a mile in your shoes. With our scars, buckets of meds and all their assorted side effects, sometimes unusual diets, prosthetic and missing parts, not to mention the emotional impacts of facing your own mortality, we can sometimes feel like misfits among the general population. But here, we are just like everyone else, or even realize perhaps that we didn’t have it so bad, after all.

As it is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week (April 1-7) it is appropriate to reflect on how far we've come. Thirty, or even twenty, years ago, there were no services for young adults with cancer, and probably most oncologists wouldn't even recognize that young adults got cancer at all. Now, there are a number of programs, camps and other services for those of us diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 40.

The natural world has always been healing for me, the water especially. Just hearing the waves lapping against the shore as I drifted to sleep at night soothed my soul. Returning to camp each evening after surfing and paddling all morning and hiking or exploring coastal towns in the afternoon with aching muscles and a kind of satisfying weariness made sleep welcome and easy despite less than luxurious, though completely adequate, accommodations. The food, however, was world-class. As someone with a really healthy diet, I always give a fairly significant amount of thought to what and where I’m going to eat. It was so great to have incredible, gluten-free, veggie-laden meals with vegan options prepared for us each day by an amazing chef who volunteers his services for the camps.

Excited to paddle an outrigger canoe, I had no idea how much the blessing and Hawaiian ceremony conducted by a native before and after our paddle would impact me. With tears streaming down my face, I listened to the prayers in wonder even though I didn’t fully understand their meaning. Kimokeo’s presence alone was so powerful, and his chants, songs and blessings filled me with hope and peace.

I came to Hawaii to rest, and to learn to trust. We were each tasked with choosing a power name for ourselves during camp, and I choose Kale`le`, which means “to have faith” in Hawaiian. At the beginning of the year, I left my job of five years with a nonprofit I founded in order to serve single cancer survivors. Even though I have accepted the fact that I am a “starter,” it is still scary to take the risk to start something new, again. A six-month consulting gig ends in June, and I don’t know where my income will come from after that or how much it will be or what my work will look like.

An intuitive told me once that I was like a dolphin (an animal I have strongly identified with) confident that there would always be more fish. I haven’t quite been able to embrace that philosophy yet as fear of having enough money and being able to pay for my health insurance is ever present. Coupled with that is the fact that I am currently in the middle of a recurrence of ovarian cancer with six masses in my abdomen that aren’t causing any problems yet, but could at any time, requiring surgery. It definitely requires all my trust and faith that things will work out, that I will land on my feet, that I will have the opportunity to make a difference and serve single survivors while supporting myself in the process.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


Sobbing uncontrollably, I began to take stock of everything I was dealing with. Why did it all have to implode at the same time, I wondered?  I could handle one at a time, I thought, but financial, relationship, work and health problems all at once just seemed like too much.  Within two days, it felt as if my entire life had completely fallen apart: medical bills, health issues, relationship trauma and work frustrations all days after receiving my final paycheck from the nonprofit I founded five years ago.

I was stuck, and I couldn’t see a way out on my own, so I reached out for coaching from my friend Mike who helped me distinguish the underlying story. I really get that it isn’t the circumstances in our lives that cause us upset, it is the story we make up about them.  Mine is this: when things go wrong, or right, when I am in despair or when I want to celebrate, I feel really alone. This doesn’t show up for me as a story though. It is REAL. I AM alone. This time, I saw even more to this story: the thought that I will always be alone, and that I will have only myself to rely on.

Bringing the story to the surface helped me see exactly how much it had been running the show for so long. When things go wrong, I have a fantasy that it would be easier to deal with if I had a partner. Financial catastrophe wouldn’t be so bad with another income to fall back on. Health scares would be easier with someone there to hold my hand or give me a hug. My work life is so difficult because I am a one-woman show and don’t have support.

Distinguishing the story, lessened its impact on me. I recognized immediately that it wasn’t in any way true. I am NOT alone. Within the first hour of my crisis, three people in my life gave me significant support. They all dropped whatever they were doing to come to my aid, and what they provided made a huge difference for me. After 48 hours of breakdowns, I had a breakthrough, and regained power over my circumstances.

Later that week, I received results from the ultrasound my oncologist ordered when I experienced some distressing symptoms. I had expected to hear from him on Thursday as the technician told me she would send the results to him that day. Instead, I got them on Saturday at exactly the right time, in exactly the right place for me to deal with them powerfully. Are you aware of divine timing in your own life?

I was in Atlanta for a leadership program when my oncologist left me a voicemail that the two masses we’d been watching for a year were both still there, and one had grown somewhat significantly. Additionally, he said, there are four new masses since my last ultrasound six months before. This call came just before the dinner break, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to find a group to go to dinner with and find some privacy to talk with my doctor at the same time. I was talking to the program leader, and dealing with my own emotions about the news when my friend walked up behind me. I was staying with him for the weekend since we were both in the same program, but I thought he had already left for dinner. This was perfect.

“He will take care of me,” I told the leader. I didn’t know just how true that statement was when I made it. Shaun is studying to be a chiropractor, and has a brother who is a cancer survivor. He introduced me to his friend Dee, an energy healer and shaman who was planning to spend the dinner break with him. Wow! I was with the perfect two people! I explained what was going on, and these two amazing healers provided just the support I needed.

I want to back up a minute to explain that I believe strongly that every ache, pain, disease and malfunction in our bodies is preceeded by an emotional trigger. I first discovered this when a seriously stiff neck led a friend to recommend Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. Rigidity was associated with neck pain, according to the book. When it asked, “who is being a pain in your neck?,” I knew exactly what the problem was. When I spoke to the “pain in my neck” and apologized for my inflexibility, my pain went away, and it hasn’t come back.

I know from this book that cancer is correlated with a deep hurt or resentment, and I had been looking for a few years to uncover what this might be for me. It wasn’t in any way obvious. I don’t have any serious trauma in my past. I had a happy childhood, supportive friends, a great life, really. I have struggled with my finances for as long as I could remember, so I wondered briefly if it might have something to do with that, but it didn’t really resonate.

So, as I was sitting between Dee and Shaun and receiving healing energy from them both, Dee asked, “What is the hurt?” I told her I had been trying to figure this out, and it just wasn’t revealing itself to me. Her intuition told her it had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t have kids. I immediately shot that down, because while it was true that I had a hysterectomy and couldn’t now have kids (Dee did not know this, by the way), I had never wanted kids, so that couldn’t be it.

We kept exploring. She asked questions that came to her. I cried a lot, and answered them as best I could. Suddenly, it hit me. This was tied to the story I had distinguished earlier in the week – it was about being alone! While I never felt the pressure of a biological clock, and refused when my oncologist suggested we freeze some eggs when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 36; I always thought someday, I would meet an amazing man, and I would want to have HIS kids. This wasn’t about whether or not I wanted kids, but that now, that option wasn’t available to me. Even if the amazing man showed up, I couldn’t have his children. Again, seeing the story allowed me the opportunity to release it, and the deep hurt and resentment that came along with it.

Is it any surprise that of all the aspects of having cancer I could have chosen to write about in this blog, I have focused on being single? Feeling alone is clearly the central theme for me. It is likely the deep hurt that triggered my illness to begin with, and it is the area I have chosen to focus on providing support for others. It is incredible to me that it could have remained hidden for so long, but it was revealed exactly at the time it needed to be. I am at a crucial point with my book about being single with cancer, and it is obvious to me now that I must write more about this. I know I’m not alone in feeling alone, and I am hopeful that my own revelations will help others heal as well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Forgive me for the radio silence since May. I've been busy - ha! You'll get the joke when you read this month's post. Actually, I intentionally took some time off to finish my book, which incidentally, is based on this blog. A publisher discovered it a year ago and offered me a book deal, and the final draft is due a week from yesterday, so I will be getting back to regular blogging again soon. Watch for My Dance With Cancer: A Solo Survivor's Guide to Life, Love, Health & Happiness in bookstores this spring.

Several years ago when I worked on a college campus, I had the kind of schedule that revolved largely around students. I would regularly find myself still on campus following a meeting at 10 p.m., or coming in on a Sunday afternoon. At the time, I was a young professional, and didn’t think much about this schedule and the impact it had on my life – or my social life. I was doing what most student affairs administrators do, and it didn’t seem possible to ask the students to change their meetings to a time that was more convenient for me if they wanted me to be there. I was a little bit afraid the threat would be empty because they might be happier if I weren’t there.

I used to keep track of how many hours I worked each day in my calendar, and some days, I’m embarrassed to admit, the number 16 was circled. Often I would log 60-70 hours a week, and not even find it unusual. At a staff meeting one day I realized we were all unconsciously one-upping one another with how many hours we’d been on campus that week, and it was a serious wake-up call for me. “Are we really competing for who has the worst work-life balance,” I thought?

These days I have a much better work-life balance, and rarely work more than 40 hours a week. For the past several years, I have worked mostly from home as well, which allows for a good deal of flexibility. It is only in the past year that I have been back in an office, and there have been both pros and cons to adding that kind of structure back into my day. Con = commute time, which though short, seems like a waste when I could have been at my desk already for 45 minutes if I were home. Pro = being around other people and getting to interact throughout the day.

Even though my work-life balance with my job is better, it still hasn’t improved my social life a great deal because I’ve found plenty of other things to fill my time, including a part-time job as a river guide, a board position with a local nonprofit, a new career as a college speaker and a book deal that requires me to produce a book by a deadline that is inching ever closer. I distinguished recently how much I complain about being busy. Several years ago I told my boss I was overwhelmed, and he replied, “You’re always overwhelmed.” He was right. I live in this world of, “I have too much to do.”

This is what I’ve gotten present to lately. We ALL have too much to do, ALL the time. I’m not unique or special in that regard.  That I allow it to overwhelm me is my issue, and I’m sure other people are sick to death of hearing about it. I know I am sick of saying it. So I have started telling people in my life they have permission to call me on it when they hear those words come out of my mouth. It’s just not interesting to share for the millionth time how busy I am.

The truth is I love my life, and I’m exhilarated by what I am up to in the world. I wouldn’t have it any other way! While I often think it would be great to have some more down time to take a walk, see a movie or read a book, I would be bored to tears sitting in front of a television or hanging out at home all the time. I know what I need to feel healthy and happy, and when I don’t give myself at least one weekend at home each month (as is the case for most of this fall), I know I will feel the consequences of that.  I also know that if I push it too far, I will get sick (my body’s way of telling me “enough is enough, rest already.”).

The biggest potential negative of my hectic life is that I don’t always take time for dating. I tend to find time to be with friends, but not always for romance. This is a convenient excuse for why I’m 42 and still single, but it doesn’t bode well for having someone special if I don’t have any time to meet someone much less build a relationship. This is one reason for being intentional about leaving time in my schedule for what is really important to me, and actually scheduling those things first before the hours, days and weeks get filled with the uninspiring.

I also know when I have too much “down time,” I tend to waste more time. I finally had a weekend off after several weeks of travel and commitments, and I did next to nothing. I spent much of the weekend on the couch, and watched a lot of television. I also spent some time with friends and had some fun, caught up on a few chores around the house, and did some laundry. I think these sluggish weekends are necessary from time to time, but they aren’t particularly satisfying.

Having a lot to do helps me get more done, and keeps me on my toes. There have been times in my life when I spent a great deal of time at home, alone, reading, writing letters and being introspective, and now I tend much more toward being with friends, jetting around the country for work or fun, participating in programs and contributing to some amazing causes with my time and talents. This is much more satisfying, and if that means that busy is a permanent descriptor of my life, I’m ok with that.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The past few months have opened my eyes to so many patterns in my romantic relationships that have held me back for years. Through reading, seminars, courses and coaching, I have begun to see the myriad of ways that I keep myself from experiencing true connection and love. What a gift it has been to recognize these patterns, so I can begin breaking them.

Control vs. Surrender
Ask anyone who knows me and I’m sure they’ll tell you I like to be in control, and believe it or not, I was totally unconscious of this until recently. I think all of us have control issues to some extent, but I really didn’t know how far mine extended and how much it affected my relationships. Wanting to be in control is one way that we unconsciously try to protect ourselves. This can manifest as controlling your emotions, what your dates are like (where you go, what you eat, how it will all play out and when they will take place), and perhaps even planning out the entire relationship. Have you ever thought about  what kind of cake you’ll have at your wedding before the second date?

While I don’t think I was quite that bad, I see now how my need for control held me back from allowing myself to be vulnerable. Being open and sharing is key to intimacy, and I complained constantly about the lack of intimacy in my relationships – always blaming the men for not being more open, of course. I can see now that I wasn’t very open in a true sense either, always putting my best face forward, and not sharing my fears and failures. (See more on this below in the vulnerability and authenticity section.)

We not only try to control ourselves, but our partners as well. We see all the things they are doing “wrong,” and genuinely want to help them. When we point out these issues and offer “advice” though, we come off as nags, and send the message that our guy isn’t good enough. This does not make for good romance.  

Laura Doyle shares in her book The Surrendered Single, what we all already know if we just think about it for a minute. Our guys want us to be happy. They will do quite a bit to insure our happiness. We don’t have to manipulate or control to get what we want. We just have to ASK. Why is this so hard? Men have been lamenting for years that they can’t in fact, read our minds. We get upset when they don’t do what we want – no wonder they’re frustrated – how about we just try asking.

Have you ever heard that men need to be needed? I’m guessing you have. This has been a big one for me to really get. I have male friends who would rather I call them than a plumber when I have a problem with my toilet or sink. This is so difficult for me to understand. I feel like a total burden when asking for help with stuff around the house, and don’t feel as if I can ask my friends, especially if I haven’t seen them for a while. They, on the other hand, love to help out whether it’s a ride to the airport or help with the dripping sink in the bathroom, and are usually not just available to do so, but thrilled to be able to be helpful. Wow!

I am now recognizing how my independent, “I can do it myself” attitude occurs for men, whether they are strangers or friends. They want to help and when they offer and I don’t accept they are actually emasculated. Really?!  Since realizing this, I am super conscious of accepting offers of help from men. It doesn’t mean they see me as weak and incapable of doing it myself, as I might have previously misunderstood. Put that heavy bag in the overhead for me, sure. Carry that box to the car, absolutely!

Independence is one of my strong suits – practices I use to get me through difficult times in my life. Adopting an independent attitude has served me well for many years in a variety of ways, but it has not helped in the romance department.  If men need to be needed and I don’t need any help, thank you very much, then where does that leave me? You guessed it. Sitting home alone on Saturday night.  

Giving & Receiving
Ok, this is another imbalance that has left me scratching my head for years. I am a super giving person and a two on the Enneagram. That means I will often put others’ needs before my own. This should make me the best girlfriend in the world, right? Hmmm. . . maybe not.

Turns out being a good receiver is pretty important too, and receiving is a feminine trait. Think about the physicality of sex for a moment: men give and women receive. Aha! Except I was always giving and actively deflecting receiving because of my personality type, independent streak and unwillingness to ask for help. Yikes! This obviously didn’t bode well for male/female relations.

Does this mean I shouldn’t ever give anything in a relationship? Of course not. I just have to maintain a balance and allow myself to receive more, while also perhaps giving a bit less. Giving to get people to like us is manipulative and controlling (remember what we talked about above?), even if it is unconscious. Look at the motivations behind your giving.  Are they selfless or is there an ulterior motive?

Vulnerability & Authenticity
We all think putting our best face forward it necessary in most parts of our lives. Think about the job interview, online dating profile and resume. We don’t mention our weaknesses, fears or flaws in these arenas. An ex-boyfriend even said to me once when I was showing him the scars on my stomach from multiple cancer surgeries, “Don’t point out your flaws.” He may be right that I didn’t need to point them out as if something was wrong with me, but it is ok to talk about how you feel about these things. In fact, it’s refreshing.

We all have weaknesses, vulnerabilities and things of which we are ashamed. Opening up about them gives others permission to do the same, and creates a new level of intimacy that probably wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. This is what relating to each other is all about. And relating to someone else in a deeper way is what makes a relationship.

I once led in my online dating profile with the fact that I was a total klutz. I used the phrase, “I could trip on a pattern in the carpeting.” My friend advised me to change it because, as she said, “People will find out about your shortcomings soon enough. You don’t have to point them out.” I got so many responses to that profile as men wrote to tell me about their quirks too. Numerous klutzes were drawn to tell me about how they had cut themselves shaving that morning, or tripped crossing the stage at their high school graduation. It gave us something to relate to about each other right off the bat.

We look at others and get intimidated by the fact that they are so successful or good-looking or wealthy, and we use that status to put them on a pedestal and assume they are somehow better than us. The truth is that each of those people likely once struggled, lost a job or important relationship, had zits or went bankrupt. Hearing about those struggles helps us better relate to them.

I learned in a relationship seminar once that sharing that which you are most afraid to share can open doors to the deepest levels of intimacy, so I asked someone I was seeing if he would share something he was ashamed of, and promised I would do the same. He said, “I already shared it last week.” Wow! I was thrilled that he felt comfortable enough to open up to me in that way, and I shared something that had previously been very difficult for me to admit.

Rather than react in alarm and disgust as I had imagined he and others in my life might upon learning this, he was sympathetic and even helpful in so many ways. He has since sent me tools, resources and provided support as I work through my issue. The same thing happened when I shared this confession with my mom – the person I was most ashamed of sharing it with.

This experience was incredible, and so eye-opening. It makes me sad to think that for years I lived my life being so ashamed of something that I was unwilling to share it with those who loved me the most, and that doing so was the key to deeper more meaningful relationships with those who are important to me.

What are you trying to control in your relationships? How could you surrender instead?

What traits do you have that keep you separate from others?

What could you share that you are most ashamed of?

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I am a control freak. I didn’t realize this until recently, but it is becoming clearer that, as a visionary, I nearly always have an idea in my mind about how things should go. And because of that, I like for things to actually go the way I envision. When they don’t appear to be doing so, I tend to get somewhat bent out of shape about it. There are both positive and negative aspects of being “visionary,” obviously, but recently I have been bumping up against the downsides repeatedly and painfully.

As a student of the Law of Attraction, I know that visioning is the first and perhaps most important part of the process of manifesting what I desire. To get what I want, I first have to know what that is, and then be able to see and feel what it will be like when I have it. I don’t have to know exactly HOW to get to that desired end-point, however, and this is where it gets tricky. I often DO see a path forward, and by the time I’ve gotten out my map, chosen a route and spent some time and energy planning it all out, I feel pretty invested in that direction.

Plans are all well and good until those pesky “other” people come into play. They often have ideas of their own, and they occasionally (frequently) differ from mine. Drat! At that point, there are a few techniques I typically employ to try to get MY way:

1. Explaining why I am right. I diligently and firmly explain why my plan is the best one. I really lay it on thick, because obviously, as soon as the “other people” truly understand the merits of my plan, of course, they will jump on board enthusiastically. It doesn’t typically occur to me that I am striving to persuade anyone of anything. I am just letting them know why I am right. I wonder why this isn’t usually effective?

2. Repeat Step One. Clearly, I didn’t do a good enough job explaining the finer points of my plan, so I do it again, more forcefully this time, and sometimes in a louder voice. How are they not getting this? There must be something wrong with them.

3. Telling them why they are wrong. This one is hugely popular, as you can imagine. It usually involves some aspects of points one and two illuminated now in a more condescending tone, and topped off with a good dose of all the flaws of the path they are charting. By this point I am super full of myself, which we all know is totally endearing, right?

Two recent situations have helped me see the benefit of surrendering my need for control and relinquishing my vision of how something would play out. One involved work and the other a personal relationship. Both were extremely challenging to me over an extended period of time, and I’m sure caused no end of angst for the “other people” involved as well. But once I made the decision to surrender, a weight was lifted. I felt lighter, more at ease and freer. Though the “rightness” of my stance still sometimes rears its ugly head, I can also feel freedom in the knowledge that along with control, I can also let go of the weight of responsibility for making things work out, and rest easy that other hands are carrying some of the burden.

About a decade ago, Laura Doyle ignited a firestorm with her Surrendered books for wives and singles, suggesting that women surrender to their men, and stop trying to control the way the relationship was going. She advised respecting men’s decisions for their lives, practicing good self-care, expressing gratitude for the things others do for you and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

The idea of surrendering stirred up controversy among some who hadn’t read the books, and who misinterpreted the premise to be about submission to men’s desires and needs at the expense of our own (something perhaps women tend toward already). One human rights activist even went to so far as to liken this approach to slavery, suggesting that the author expected women to subvert themselves entirely to their man, becoming a kind of puppet.

I remember the hubbub around the books when they came out, and admit to feeling a significant amount of distaste for the idea of surrender, even buying into the feminist outrage about the misrepresentation of this concept. I had no interest in reading the book then – why would I want to surrender my control?

I am absolutely intrigued by this idea now, and totally see the power of this concept. To me, surrender simply means ceding control. It goes beyond gender issues, and speaks only of letting go, and knowing that I don’t have to try to steer the outcome of every single thing in my life. Whew! What an incredible feeling to trust other people to take care of it, trust the process to produce a great result, or even, as my intuition whispered to me recently, trust love, and know that whatever form it takes, it is real and I don’t have to manipulate it in any way.

Even though there are sure to be moments that scream for me to wield some sort of influence, assert my opinion or just feel strongly that something must be WRONG, surrendering, in and of itself, is nothing short of blissful. I recognize there are numerous routes that lead to the same end, and that the view from the passenger seat can be really great and quite relaxing. The destination itself may even look different than expected, and that is ok too.

What are you trying to control that is stressing you out?

What does the idea of surrender look like to you?

To what or to whom could you surrender in order to feel freer?