Do you pick a word each year? A word that will set your intention for the coming year, a word that will hopefully define your future and correct your course? In 2019, my 37th year around the sun, I chose the word “surrender.” I chose it because it hit me like a lightning bolt just a few days in to January, and I knew without a doubt that it was MY word for the year. I suppose subconsciously it had been a powerful and defining word for me because I’d sat in countless AA meetings, staring at a poster on the wall that said, “Surrender to Serenity.” For decades I’d been on a search to find lasting peace in my life, some might call it serenity, and I knew that I needed a crash course in letting go of control, some might call that surrendering. When I chose the word, I knew that we would be leaving on our year of travel in July, so obviously surrender would be a big part of releasing and letting go of one lifestyle and embracing another. However, I had no idea how surrendering would become part of me at a cellular level. I had no idea that the third step prayer would quite literally BECOME me, because fighting would not only NOT give me the peace I was searching for, but it could mean the loss of everything I love, including myself. So yeah, 2019, year 37, it was a big one!
Early in the year, I found myself at a shooting range in Las Vegas, as part of an exercise at an empowerment retreat I was attending. For many, the combination of Las Vegas and a shooting range would be overwhelming enough, but for me, it struck deeply. It also led to a massive panic attack in the parking lot of the range, with my head between my knees, and would be the beginning of a landslide of panic attacks over the coming year. However, I happened to be in the company of some of the most incredibly loving and uplifting women, who quickly coached me through that suffocating incident. That day I surrendered my walls of armor, and just about every self protecting method I had established in order for others not to see my vulnerability. Lesson in surrender-numero uno!
In the spring, Dave and I attended “Unleash the Power Within,” a Tony Robbins, 4 day intensive life changing event. Day one, we walked across fire on hot coals that had been smoldering all day, while we learned we had the power to change the way our bodies and mind feel and react to physical and emotional pain. If you have never stood in front of a row of hot coals, coached yourself out of doubt and fear, and left a version of yourself on the other side of the fire, I highly recommend it. During that conference, I had a single moment in the midst of a recurring painful relationship that was showing up again at that exact place in time, that changed the way I will forever see how hard relationships present themselves in my life. I learned that when a relationship causes me to feel pain, I am being gifted the opportunity to see that those people are being exactly who I need them to be, in order for me to become exactly who I am meant to be. There is no greater feeling of surrender than letting go of pain that no longer serves you, because I promise, your pain is always serving you in one way or another. It is feeding patterns that you either see or don’t see, negatively or positively, but you are choosing the direction you allow it to impact and direct you.
In late spring and early summer, we packed up our lives, our 5,000 square foot home, minimized everything we owned, and either gave it to charity, put it in our 450 square foot trailer, or stuffed it in a small storage room in the basement of our house. We had a “See Ya Later” party, and our home was packed with those that we love and have spent years building lasting relationships with. It was so hard and scary to look around, and know we were not only saying good-bye to those we loved, but also knowing that we would not come back the same people, and wondering if those friendships would still be the same-Surrender! I watched another family move into our dream home, a home that we spent 5 years manifesting, and then spent 3 years making our own, and when they began to move in, even though we were not completely moved out, I left with tears in my eyes and an aching in my heart because I couldn’t bare to see someone else live in our home. I had to trust that moving our kids out and away from everything that they had ever known, would redirect their little souls in ways that would create an even greater destiny for them. Every day before, during and since that day, we have had to trust that we are doing the best thing for them, without a crystal ball to reassure us-Surrender!
In August we arrived in a suburb of Detroit to learn the hard way that the camping club we are a part of did not have to guarantee us a spot, and since that campground assigned spots on a first come-first served basis, and we had arrived after 5pm, all of the spots were taken, We were told that we could set up in the parking lot, (near the black tank dump,) and wait for a spot to open up in the coming days, or remain there for the rest of our stay. I was leading our team on a training call that night, and needed to finalize my presentation, put our home back together, and cook dinner, all with less than two hours to spare, so we went about setting up in the parking lot. Upon opening up the trailer, we found the mirror in the girls bathroom had fallen down and shattered all over the floor, and when the refrigerator got opened, due to all of the shifting that happens when driving, our glass tea pitcher fell out and shattered all over the kitchen floor. Taking big, calming breaths, this was a time that I used my word and intentionally plugged it into my life in that moment. What else could I do, other than surrender? We spent the next five days catching the aroma of the dump station, but also finding joy that we would have taken for granted otherwise, like being so close to the pool and laundry room, seeing Miyah find peace in having a game room with hours of puzzle building while she gained some much needed personal space and time away from her sisters, and watching Aubree bound fearlessley into a karaoke contest and win second place. Surrender turned out to look pretty beautiful in a situation that the war seeking me would have taken on as a personal mission, finding no peace and joy in the situation.
In September, the “Honeymoon Phase” of our year long adventure had worn off, and we were sitting in rainy and cold Canada, having a hard homeschooling day, (one of many at the time,) when I had my first day of really feeling like I wanted to throw in the towel and go home. While Canada is a lot like the U.S. there are also a lot of differences, especially the further east you go, and being out of our comfort zone, in addition to the stress of work, school. and crummy weather, had all added up. We were also mourning the community we had not found on the road that many Facebook groups and Instagram influencers had painted a dreamy picture of. The kids would often find other kids to play with, but for Dave and I, the lifestyle was lonelier than we had expected. I reluctantly told Dave how I was feeling, and he said that he was feeling the same. You know how misery loves company, so we sulked for the rest of the day. Things shifted when I realized that there was no going back, there was no giving up, and we are not quitters! Another family lives in our house, there is no going “home,” we have an obligation to teach our children how to see things through, and show them how you don’t give up when things get hard, because we know that we can do hard things. I asked myself, where can I find the joy, how can I shift to an attitude of gratitude. Cliche, I know, but when you come to terms with your reality, you either shift your perspective and focus on the solution, or you sit in the problem and become miserable. Part of my surrender at the time was to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The whole situation was uncomfortable, and I knew that God had called me to surrender my comfort zone. I also knew that I had a pattern of giving up when things got hard, and not completing important things I had set out to do, and there was work to be done in changing this pattern. So, I surrendered to God’s will for our lives and trusted in his plan. I recited the third step prayer like it was a mantra of salvation, and day after day, minute after minute, I surrendered, and things began to change and reveal themselves in ways that brought harmony and peace to our lives.
At the end of October, I embraced and celebrated two years of sobriety. I surrendered what felt like an obligation to write about it and share my journey through another year of sobriety, and instead just reflected within on the year, and gave myself a lot of grace. I remember people talking about the two year mark and how it begins to feel less like a pink cloud of happiness and more like a way of life, but comes with a lot of questioning ones self. I found myself in deep thought often, and went to meetings throughout the country. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to walk into meetings all around the world, and know that you’re amongst strangers that are also like family. Meetings are the only place that I feel like I can let my guard down completely, and say aloud the things that are haunting me internally, and know that I’m not alone.
In November I hit a promotion in my business that I had been telling people for years that I was trying to achieve, when I was really self sabotaging it often. Being truthful about that to myself and others created a shift of epic proportions in my business and myself. A big part of this realization happened because my being successful helped a purpose much greater than myself. With this new promotion came a $5,000 bonus check that I was able to give to my sister to help with my nieces medical expenses. By being a giver, I had a defining moment that will redefine the course of my business moving forward, as my goals moved from looking successful, to having the ability to be radically generous. Game changer! Surrendering to the release of what others think of me and the fear of rejection, allowed me to make a greater impact on the world than hiding behind my fears, and I know I am meant for more!
The surrender of December looked a lot more like fun! It looked like riding multiple roller coasters at Disney World, after almost 20 years of telling myself I was too afraid of them. I quickly learned that there is no fear greater than the joy you will find on the faces of your children when you kick fear in the face. The surrender of December looked liked having some hard conversations, honoring myself more, being fully present in the small moments, and spending two weeks at a campground full of hundreds of full-time traveling families, and despite wanting to be reclusive and self protective, I embraced social gatherings and unknown potential friendships. December looked like a year of, well, practicing surrender. It looked like a woman that has learned to know when she is being called to action, and a warrior laying down her sword when she knows a battle is not hers to fight. It looked a lot like peace, and love, and even a little bit of rock and roll. It looked like my best life, and knowing that the best is yet to come.
So, do you pick a word? Be careful where you set your intentions, because the universe will pick up what you are laying down, and if you’re ready, open and willing, the lessons will start abundantly coming, baring priceless gifts!