Illusions of Control

Friday Five: Living with Ambiguity

 If you are like me, keeping life under control is one of your goals. At this moment in my life, things feel pretty out of control and I am struggling to regain the control I always thought I had. I believe that most of us struggle with this every day.

We decide what we eat and wear, what kind of phone to have or car to drive. We work to make sure things fit onto the neat little pegs we’ve decided on. Even in our relationships, we work to make sure we have control of something or someone, such as the cap on the toothpaste or who does the dishes on what night. Making life work is all about the control we have over it.

Until that day comes when there is no control.

Until the day, we realize that control is an illusion.

This is a lesson I tend to forget. I kid myself into believing that I am working on my “control issues.” Some days, I even believe this is true. But this is also an illusion.

It isn’t just having control of things that is an illusion, it is the belief that we can let go of this need to control.

I believe that the need to control our lives is very human. This is one way we’ve survived for millennia.

We couldn’t control the elements so we moved into caves. The weather got cold, and we built fires. Getting around with animal power was too slow so we created machines that move us along the ground and through the air. This need to control our lives continues to this day.

Since we’ve very firmly established through previous posts that I believe that life is about lessons and everything is repeated until we learn what we need to learn, I’ve come around to control again.

At this moment, I am waiting. Waiting for changes and decisions, of which I have no control over. Yet, I am still sitting here wanting to shake someone to say, “come on, do something already.” I still have not learned this lesson of the illusion of control.

If I had my way, there would be no waiting, I would have what I need to function normally, except that is an illusion also. There is no normal. And, I wouldn’t need to go through the pain of learning to live without the answers, without control, again.

There is pain in this learning of the lesson again. It seems that the more I am forced to repeat a lesson, the more pain there is.

You see, I also believe the outcome is inevitable, it has already been decided. No amount of fretting or worry will change what will happen. It is a matter of waiting. And I’m not very patient.

This post was supposed to be a Friday Five so here I go with some things I will be doing to help deal with learning this annoying lesson again:

1. Attending a 1-year-old’s birthday party. It is impossible to worry when you see a little one covered in cake.

2. Writing – I intend to write whenever I have spare moments. Not that this alleviates my anxiousness or my need for control, it does, however, make me feel as if I’ve made progress.

3. Organization – I began some organizing projects in my house a few weeks ago which will continue, again. Regardless of the whatever happens in my life, this still needs to be done.

4. Attacking the weeds – This year my husband and I didn’t grow a garden, however, what we did grow was a large, healthy batch of weeds. As I am getting ready for company, the weeds need to go, or at least be beaten back enough that the yard doesn’t look like a jungle.

5. Breathe – Yes, this is a bit redundant. We breathe every day, it is necessary for life and we do it unconsciously. What I had in mind was the conscious breathing that makes me step back and not get caught up in all the external happenings in my life.

A friend of mine likes to ask me: “can you live with ambiguity?” Usually, my answer is some kind of grumble because I know she is right. I just don’t want her to be. The fact that she has to repeat it should be my first clue that I haven’t learned the lesson.

I often repeat the mantra “it is what it is.” I even try to live every day like that. Being human, I tend to slip just a bit on occasion. Well, the truth be told, more than a bit.

This week, I will take up this mantra again. I will remember to breathe and that life will continue regardless of what will happen in the future. For me, this is the only way to get through each day.

“It is what it is.”

The Importance of Posture

body-143798_1280I’ve been writing for a while now and have discovered that my body is suffering a bit.

Last year during November, I realized that when I was immersed in writing my story and sitting in my normal office chair, my posture was terrible. My office chair is not stationary and tends to spin if I’m not paying attention. What would happen as I wrote is I would turn my torso and one shoulder would end up more forward than the other. While this caused no pain at the time, it has had some longer reaching issues.

The shoulder that would be forward has been troubling me for some months. Apparently not enough to see my doctor sooner but it also didn’t get any better. I have this fear of losing the use of my body parts so I’ve finally taken action.

The good news is there is no permanent damage, only inflammation and irritation. The cure for this type of shoulder pain is physical therapy. This is my second round of shoulder pain and physical therapy, just the opposite shoulder.

I’ve had a couple of appointments and I am happy to report things are on the mend. My physical therapist sent home some exercises to complete which I am trying my hardest to complete. I often struggle with doing those things I am supposed to do.

Another thing that he talked about was the importance of posture. Having your chair at the right height to the desk you are using is important. The idea is to have your arms at 45-degree angles to the desk so there is no strain on your back and shoulders.

This is harder than it seems.

I am short. Not horribly so but I must admit that I need to shop in the petite section. This causes problems when the world seems to be built for average sized individuals. I’m not sure what “average size” is, but I know that I don’t reach it. So I must adjust.

At this moment, I am writing from a hard chair with only a cushion on the seat for comfort. The chair works for my new desk, which is a vintage piece of furniture that fits perfectly in my new writing space. My arms are at the correct angle and the writing is going well.

The only problem is my legs and feet. For those who are short, you know what I am talking about. My feet do not sit flat on the floor. While I am used to this problem, it is very uncomfortable to stay in this position for long periods of time.

I wanted to change out my chair for one more comfortable, but the chair was too short for the desk. It would have been hard on my back and shoulders. So my solution, albeit a temporary one, is to put a spacer on the floor under my feet. This small wooden box is nearly the correct height to keep me from dangling my feet.

While I don’t know if this will be permanent, it is what is working for the moment. As I continue on with my PT and my writing I’m sure changes will need to be made. Nothing in life stays the same.

I will keep working on a healthier workspace both at home and at my job. I would hate to struggle with the things I love.

Friday Five: Stress Busters

balance-110850_1280Stress is a crazy thing. It comes, we process, and, if we are lucky, it goes. We aren’t always that lucky.

One of my old professors once said, “there is no such thing as no stress.” I am beginning to see this in my own life. Beneficial stress, often called eustress, still can cause havoc in the body just as “bad” stress can. The question is what to do with it.

In recent months, I’ve been dealing with the effects of stress on my body. I have discovered that even the act of writing this post causes a few issues that have built up over time.

The pain that this build-up has caused sent me to the doctor. Currently, I am seeing a physical therapist and massage therapist and, though not healed, I can feel a difference.

It is not enough.

Now, I must deal with the causes of this pain. The process isn’t easy. I’ve known for a little while that my life is out of balance. My body gives me these cues and I can no longer ignore them.

Relaxation is high on my list of priorities. Here are five ways I may be using to help me with this priority:

1. Yoga – This has a two-fold benefit. One, yoga automatically stretches the body helping it to work better. Two, yoga is about breath, which can help with stress levels. There are many more benefits, but these are the ones I will focus on for now.

2. Walking – Again, there are lots of benefits besides getting my butt up off the couch – or writing chair. Physical movement can help release the tension stored in the body.

3. Hot Baths – I’m not normally a bath person, but a good soak with salt and essential oils can do wonders for a body.

4. Unplug – I’m hearing more and more about turning electronics off. I’ve even heard the recommendation to turn off the WIFI at night. I can do this – not sure if everyone can – I just forget to do it. One way I have added this to my life is that my new writing space doesn’t have electricity (yet) nor can it receive the WIFI signal from my house. I don’t spend a lot of time out there, but for me its a start.

5. Do Nothing – This one may be the hardest of all. after all who has the time to just sit and do nothing? Doing nothing may be a relative term. Doing nothing may be a few moments of sitting outside and watching the world go by. It may be that you pick up that book, find a comfy chair and read for a while. It may be some form of doodling. The main point for me is telling myself it’s okay to not worry about my to-do list at the moment. Yep, that’s the hard one.

Each of these is a doable option. Your list may look different, but I believe everyone should have one. Our bodies, and minds, can only take so much before we begin to break down. And, I’ve discovered it happens quicker as we age.

It’s time.

Challenge: Create your own list of doable ways to help you bust some stress.