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You Are Not In Control... Here's What to Do About It

We THINK we're in control... but any moment life can throw us a curveball. You have to learn to let go.

My husband and I used to live out of our truck... with five small children.

The truck had a home-made camper and a roof-top tent.

We were Overlanding from Alaska (with Argentina as the goal).

It was a great adventure, but after four months of camping in Mexico, we started to have some 'problems'.

It began with a really bad stomach bug.

... then 'Montezuma's revenge' (aka diarrhea) and pooping my pants...

The problems continued when we ran low on funds...

And culminated with ongoing vehicle troubles we couldn't figure out.

The truck would break down again and again... each time thinking we'd finally fixed it, only to have it stop working a few days later.

The pressure kept building -- one thing after another went wrong, and the temperatures kept rising (literally).

Each time I got more irritated and upset and said, "How could things get any worse?"

One evening, days before Christmas, it did get worse.

All I wanted for Christmas was a house to rent and to get out of this blasted truck for awhile! I wanted to have a real kitchen to cook in, and maybe a stove to make bread or pie.

We'd spent the day searching for something (within our meager budget) in a dilapidated beach town on the Caribbean side of Mexico.

We found just ONE house available... but it was perfect.

Built on stilts, it had a view of the ocean and the front grass led right into the turquoise sea.

It even had a stove. I wanted it. So bad.

I wanted to get out of this camper truck and into a real bed and a real room with walls and a roof.

I wanted to wash my hands in a sink, and take a shower in a real shower. I needed a break from life on the road.

The problem was my perfect house was $1000/month. That was as much as we were spending on all of our monthly living expenses at the time.

Renting it wasn't even in the realms of possibility. I was devastated. Could things get any worse?

We kept driving around town (pulling people out of muddy ditches and the like)...

But with nothing else available in this pocket-sized pueblito, we ultimately camped in front of a broken-down shack-of-a-house on the beach.

It had an outhouse we could have used... except I didn't dare go in it for fear of the stench, trash, and creepy-crawlies.

Despondent, I began preparing dinner using our camp stove on the tailgate of the truck (our outdoor kitchen while traveling).

In moments, the stove burst into flames nearly catching the truck on fire.

As my husband scrambled to douse the flames, and after I stopped screaming, I burst into sobs. It was the breaking point.

I had kept asking myself, "Could things get any worse?"

It had been weeks of misadventures such as this, and I wasn't one bit happy about it.

When was I going to get a break?

It seemed the more I fought and cursed my conditions -- the more I refused to endure my misfortunes -- the more abundantly they were heaped on.

At that moment, I finally realized...

Yes. They could get worse. Things could always get worse.

I said a silent prayer in the midst of my sobbing, seeking for some sort of solace or direction.

And then I did something I hadn't done before.

I submitted. I let go. I stopped trying to be in control.

"Fine," I said, to God, to the universe. "If things can get worse then I submit to it. Whatever is coming my way, I'll submit. I'll let go of trying to be in control.

Because I'm not.

I am not in control."

And with that, it was gone.

All the fear. All the resistance. All the anger and irritation and cursing and grasping. All the vain attempts (I realized now) to direct or stop or withstand or withhold the waves of circumstances that had come and would come my way.

I just let it all go.

And from almost the moment I 'let go', things improved.

The next morning, we left the shack on the beach and drove directly (without Google maps, without even knowing where we were driving) to a beautiful camping spot.

It had showers and a kitchen and was nestled on the shores of the 'lagoon of seven colors' where we spent seven wonderful weeks (and where we finally fixed the truck... for good this time).

Of course, there were further ups and downs and low points during the next several years of travel (and dozens of countries and three more kids).

But overall, my life has been on an upward slope from the moment I decided to just 'let go' and recognize that I AM NOT IN CONTROL.

This is what I wrote about the experience when it happened:

In reality, none of us have control over our lives. Oh, we think we do. We think we have things down to an art, and that life will continue on the way we've planned it, the way we expect it to.
But really, at any moment, life can throw us a curveball. And unless we learn to 'roll with the punches' - to take what comes and make the most and the best of it - we're going to get pretty bruised up, and just end up black and blue.
That's part of the beauty of this entire crazy, sexy, preposterous journey [called life].
It's totally, entirely and completely unpredictable - which is great and terrible.
I [had] been eager to change my circumstances, but unwilling to change myself. I'd been fighting fate, but the only result was personal suffering.

Changing yourself is the only way to survive.


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