I was just traveling, visiting family in Ohio. Normally when I travel, I plan extensively in advance: cooking and packing food to take with me, searching for gyms, scoping out the health food stores in the area.
Preparation has its value. But my approach to preparation was couched in fear a reaction against some imagined foe, the many barriers that would come between me and my needs; between me and my self-care. My anxiety would work my thoughts into a tizzy: What if I dont get enough sleep? Enough time to exercise? How will I find healthy food? I know theres so much junk at family gatherings. And on and on and on…
With this mindset, you can imagine how my visit would play out. I would find it hard to sleep, to exercise, to eat healthy food. I would feel frantic and stressed out and like the world was conspiring against me. Id be in a panic, I never get what I need! Which would lead to overwhelm, stress and a challenging vacation for me and my family.
This time I tried a different tactic. I traveled with the expectation that I would get what I needed. That I would have a relaxing, joyful time. That I would find healthy foods to eat, a way to exercise, and rest even though I was away from home and my normal routines.
I let go of rigidity, fear, and a beautiful thing happened: I got what I needed. I got what I needed by opening to the idea that there are a million different ways to feel held, to feel loved, to feel safe.
I ate fresh tomatoes and raspberries straight from my parents garden. I found a bounty of delicious salads and fresh fruits and veggies even at the airport. I savored the stuffed cabbage at my cousins graduation party (a poignant reminder of every wedding and family event I had attended as a child.) I even got a coupon for a free Greek style yogurt an unexpected treat at the grocery store. I took several long walks with my sister-in-law and her dogs, treasuring the opportunity to connect with her on an intimate level.
I spent hours laughing at old family stories, playing cards or Scrabble. I slept soundly and restfully every night even with a full house of guests. I sang with my uncle to Lady Gaga and smile every time I hear our song. I even enjoyed the time I spent working with my mom, aunts and cousins prepping for the graduation party.
If I wouldve arrived in Ohio with a rigid mindset, of demanding, I need this, and this, and this and this I wouldve missed the many gifts that came my way. If I wouldve insisted that I find a gym versus walking with my sister-in-law, I wouldnt have had those precious hours with her. If I wouldve been adamant about bringing my own food, I wouldnt have enjoyed the fresh garden produce and stuffed cabbage. If I wouldve been insistent on keeping to my schedule, then I wouldnt have had that precious afternoon with my grandparents or the camaraderie of preparing for a large party with my female clan.
I am grateful that I let go of the reins and received….love.
I know what I need to feel good. You do, too. Heres where we get stuck: Instead of tapping into the essence of our need, something that can be met in a multitude of ways, we become fixated on meeting that need in one, fixed rigid scenario. And when we do, we make our lives very small. We make our options narrow, and limited, and miss out on the opportunity to expand our horizons, to breathe and grow and trust in lifes bounty.
What about you? How can you expand the essence of what you need to include the myriad ways life blesses us with wonder?
How can you let go of the reins and trust, trust, trust that the universe is friendly, that God knows your needs, and that all of life is conspiring to meet them, if we only open our eyes and see? We are held by something that loves us completely. As Rilke said, “Life holds you in its hands and will not let you fall.”