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Photographs by Meadow Linn

Friday, June 8, 2012

Releasing Control

A honeybee enjoying some nectar in my garden



Have you ever noticed how life has a way of gently nudging us to become better versions of ourselves?

The theme for me lately has been “letting go.” In all its wisdom, the Universe continually finds opportunities for me to practice relinquishing control and trusting that everything will work out anyway. In many aspects of my life I’m easy going and willing to roll with the punches; however, in other parts of my life, I’m very particular and want things done a certain way.

Since I’ve been too busy (or injured) to do everything myself the past few months, I’m finally getting the hint that I have to learn to delegate, which is something I’ve been working on since high school.

High school graduation
In my teens I believed no one else could do things exactly the way I wanted them to be done. So, I volunteered for every committee at school, and even though I wasn’t on student council, I became an honorary member and attended every meeting. I was so busy that I literally ran from place to place. One day while moving briskly through his classroom, a favorite teacher cornered me and told me I needed to slow down. Although his comment was somewhat offhand, it has stayed with me and has been a guiding force throughout my life. It was the first time I realized I needed to open myself to the possibility of magic unfolding without orchestrating it.

I spent the spring semester of that school year at a boarding school on a farm in Vermont. Since I was with all new people, I decided to try an experiment. I didn’t volunteer for a single committee, project, or event. Even when students were invited to make Sunday brunch for the community, I shied away from that as well. For four months, I gave up control and trusted my fellow classmates to plan fun weekend activities and coordinate projects. It wasn’t easy at first, but once I settled into it, it was so relaxing (and fun!). And honestly, my classmates did a much better job than I would have—that was truly eye opening. By not constantly trying to organize everything, I was finally able to be a part of the group and simply enjoy. This experience when I was 17 years old showed me that it was possible to let go; however, now 17 years later, I still find myself falling back into this old pattern.

A few weeks ago, unwilling to give up control by asking for help, I developed bursitis in my right knee by pushing myself too hard. The inflammation was so painful that I could barely walk, let alone kneel to plant my vegetable garden. Hiring someone to help wasn’t particularly easy for me to do, but I also knew that if I wanted to have a bountiful summer garden, planting couldn’t wait until the swelling in my knee subsided.

My recently planted vegetable garden
With a diagram in hand of where I wanted each variety of vegetable to go, I pointed and directed as the man I’d hired placed each plant, seed, and irrigation dripper. He did a good job; yet, I still found myself wishing he’d planted some things closer together and others farther apart or some seeds deeper and others shallower. Regardless, I’ll end up with a delicious cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, but I’m still coming to terms with the fact that the garden isn’t planted exactly as I would have done it (despite my diagram).

There’s majesty when we release expectations and a need for control, and so that is my vision for myself. My name, after all, is “Meadow,” and meadows are places in nature that grow wild and free. As I look at the things in my garden that don’t exactly fit my plan, I’m going to remember that beauty exists in nature whether or not it’s controlled by me.

What patterns and challenges do you find keep surfacing in your life? Is the Universe nudging you to do something that you keep ignoring? Consider taking one step today (no matter how small) in that direction. I promise it will be less painful than bursitis!

A meadow in Yosemite National Park

Popcorn for Letting Go

Not long ago, once again, I pushed myself to the limit and as a result found myself taken down by a cold. I decided to let go of controlling the situation. Instead, I loaded a movie on my iPad, got in bed with a big bowl of popcorn (I don’t usually eat in bed), and luxuriated in the seeming decadence of spending an afternoon in such a manner. I hope you enjoy this popcorn as much as I did.

Popcorn, popped in an air-popper
Olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Chili flakes (optional)

Unfortunately, popcorn air-poppers are a bit of a relic these days, but they make the tastiest and healthiest popcorn. Once the corn is popped, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chili flakes. This is so good, you might even find yourself licking the bowl.