Floundering on the road to serenity

Last week, when Patrick drove home from choir practice and backed into the garage, I did something bizarre.

I did not suck the oxygen from the car, offer GPSA (Garage Positioning System Advice), and shriek “Don’t hit the recycle bin!” Instead, I sat in peaceful silence.

And I inhaled a whiff of the exotic perfume of serenity.

It brought to mind the serenity prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Inspired by a snapshot of perfect peace, I made a commitment to encounter more moments of letting go, knowing that others are trustworthy to drive and live without my oversight.

Peace of Mind 2

Shallow Reflections made this using Picmonkey

So how did I do?

Situation: We met James and our grandsons at Playland Adventures which provides ‘inflatable fun for everyone.’ I wasn’t concerned about 4yo, but I writhed as I watched 2yo mirror his brother’s activity. I winced, “James, do you think we should retrieve Max from the Jousting Arena full of eight year old giants?  He scoffed, “Mom, he’s fine. With the second child you surrender, and hope for the best.”

Lesson: He is the parent who must deal with concussions and stitches, and I am the grandmother who worries. This is an example of accepting the ’things I cannot change.’ I felt a wave of nausea, and pulled a Carhartt wool cap over my eyes.

Situation: Patrick microwaved a frozen waffle and I asserted, “Do whatever you want, but I find they are better when you toast them.” He replied with a crispy bite of sarcasm, “Can I? Can I really do what I want?”

Lesson: When I say “Do what you want, but….” I am shifting into ‘over responsibility,’ aka controlling. I’ve heard self awareness is the first step toward ‘the courage to change the things I can.’ I felt a surge of uneasiness.

Situation: I opened the dishwasher, detected a putrid odor, and added a soiled plate. Three minutes later I saw Patrick putting dishes away and bellowed, “What are you doing? Those aren’t clean!” Patrick shot me an icy glare.

Lesson: My husband, who has keen senses, did not mistake spaghetti-streaked dishes for clean ones. He was tidying up the hand washed dishes that littered the counter, proving that one of us has the ‘wisdom to know the difference.’ I felt a flood of gloom and mumbled an apology.

Situation: Patrick drove me to work and stopped at a green light. I clucked, “The light is green, dear. You can go.” Patrick admonished, “Can you see the cars backed up? When the light turns red, I will be stuck in the middle of a busy intersection with nowhere to go.” I sighed, “I did it again didn’t I?”

Lesson: I am spinning my wheels. I felt a deluge of despair, and heard Patrick mutter, “God grant me the serenity…”

But something happened yesterday that gave me hope for lasting change. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. I experienced tranquility. That is, if you don’t count tossing and turning, a bad dream, and two trips to the bathroom.

Have you encountered detours on your pathway to peace of mind? How do you maintain forward motion knowing you are ‘under construction?’

Floundering on the road to serenity

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20 thoughts on “Floundering on the road to serenity

  1. Haha – love this! I can’t say I am a remotely serene person. I’ve decided not to even try. Which is accepting the things I cannot change, right??

    • Thank you Rica. I used to take myself too seriously, and now when I do something ridiculous, it is new material for my writing. The fact that others can relate to it, and get a laugh makes me very happy. Isn’t it great to be ‘works in progress?’

  2. This is so me. Right now with the kids, although I imagine my husband will move into the first spot once the kids are grown.

    • I understand, Faye. Your husband will no doubt take the brunt of this when the kids are grown, but as you can see from my post you will eventually have grandchildren you can try to control, along with the adult children. Such joy!

  3. Oh Molly, I literally struggle w this every single day! I can relate — trust me!!
    You know, I started reading this a few days ago. Now I’m just finishing it.
    God, grant me the serenity….

    • Awareness is the first step to denial! Bury this knowledge quickly and I expect you to live a happy, fulfilling life with the illusion that you have control. Good luck Amanda! As always good to have your comments.

  4. Life long challenge to keep my lip zipped, but in my head there is a secret teenaged voice saying “WHATEVER…..”

  5. Oh the lessons I’ve learned, as well. I hear myself having those same conversations as you did with Patrick. I am learning to back off as I’ve gotten similar responses from my 16 year old son. As I get older, I’m learning to let go and let things work themselves out without my control. I love Roxanne’s theory, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I’ll have to remember that one!!!!

    • I’m glad you are making progress, Laurie. It is a life long challenge to mind one’s own business, and frees up a lot of mental real estate. It is quite amazing when things work out without our intervention, often better than we could have imagined! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  6. Now in my 9th month of sobriety, I have FINALLY memorized the Serenity Prayer and am beginning to internalize its meaning!!!! Love your concrete examples, as I am a concrete, literal gal!!! Your writing is delightful – thanks for the giggles and humanity!!!

    • Thank you Joan, and congratulations on the 9 month mark. The serenity prayer is such a valuable tool for everyone who wishes to live peacefully with others and self. Glad you stopped by and left a comment. P.S. I am also a ‘literal gal.’

  7. there’s definitely an element of control freak in my nature and I am working on breathing and letting things go – I just haven’t mastered it completely yet. I loved your examples – it’s a never ending challenge isn’t it?

    • It really is a never ending challenge, Leanne. I am blessed with family who are ‘helping’ me with my awareness. Breathing is a great form of letting go and relaxing. As long as it isn’t a sigh, because I’ve found that doesn’t go over all that well. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Ah, the universe is constantly testing our ability to let go, isn’t it? For those of us who default to control mode (and we know who we are), it’s a struggle. It’s probably a good thing that I never had kids…The older I get, however, it does get easier to “know the difference” and accept what I can’t change (like Hubs’ tendency to see the glass half empty), and change the things I can (how I choose to deal with it and other bumps in the road). It helps to recite “Not my circus, not my monkeys” when my own serenity threatens to go off the rails because I get caught up in someone else’s “issues.” Chardonnay helps, too.

    • I love that phrase, ‘not my circus, not my monkey,’ Roxanne. I’ll write that down and post it at work, at home, in the car….heck, I guess I’ll just tattoo it on myself so wherever I go, I’ll take it with me. Since I’ve failed miserably letting go of all the little things, I think I’ll tackle some of the big ones. I’m sure it will be a lot easier, don’t you think? In the meantime, I think I have a cork to pop in the kitchen. Thanks for the comment and the empathy.

  9. Funny, you feature dishwashers scenarios….I have concluded via extensive anecdotal evidence that women, who otherwise seem to have a decent handle on household chores, suck at loading a dishwasher with any semblance of efficiency!

    • I can’t speak for other women, Marvin, but I believe I do a great job throwing dishes in the racks every which way. They mostly come clean unless two or three items are jammed up against each other. Once in a while something breaks, due to the vibration but that seems unavoidable. What is it with you engineers and orderly dishwasher loading? LOL.

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