Reflections on a year of surrender

IMG_0652I’ve spent the past week in that blissful state many of us find ourselves in at this time of year. Not knowing what day it is; just bobbing along, resting, relaxing and reflecting on 2018. If last New Years someone could have read my future and told me how the year was going to turn out, there is no way I would have believed them.

I was at my favourite beach with a few of my favourite people on this planet. All around me various areas of my life were coming to a head. And everywhere I looked, I kept seeing the word ‘surrender’. I took it as a sign that that’s what I was supposed to do. So 2018 became my year of surrender.

For months I meditated every morning on surrender. Letting go of everything that didn’t serve me. Letting go of resentment, letting go of attachment. Letting go of people and things. I felt like I had already given up and/or lost so much in my life, but the Universe kept asking me to surrender it all.

The more I surrendered over the year, the more I saw signs. Signs that led me on what some thought were crazy journeys: Gold Coast, Broome, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Jordan, Byron Bay, Peru, the south-west corner of Western Australia, but I was led to each and every one of those places this past year. In each of them I spent time with someone important; someone who had a message or life lesson for me. And they all came in the right order, with divine timing.

Surrendering led me to have some beautiful experiences. Sunset at Gantheaume Point with one of my oldest, dearest friends who I hadn’t seen in 17 years. Seeing first hand how the issues in the Middle East play out in the day to day life of Jordanians as I stood on a hill looking out at Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Floating in the Dead Sea. Snorkeling in the Red Sea. Seeing ancient wonders of the world like Petra in Jordan and Machu Picchu and Nasca in Peru. Meeting other authors at a writers’ festival who have inspired me to tell my story. Being blessed by a Quechan shaman on an Andean mountainside. Waking up in the Amazon jungle to the sound of Howler monkeys above my hut. Walking 135 kms of the most spectacular Western Australian coastline to raise awareness of an issue close to my heart.

As much as I’ve loved each and every adventure and seeing new places, it is the people I’ve spent time with who have helped me on my path emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Some of these people are new friends I’ve made, some I’ve known almost all of my life. Some I encountered adventuring, some have been here at home in Canberra where we’ve caught up between my adventures.

After spending time with each of them, I’ve been able to take what they’ve taught me and absorb it into my life. I’ve learned many lessons this year about myself, about my family, and about life in general. Top of the list is that life can’t be controlled, no matter what we do or how we think we can control it. The best thing we can do is surrender and trust. I know from experience how scary and difficult that can be. There are times that surrender brought me to my knees this year and yet, I know it’s what I had to do.

Surrender, and the trust that goes along with it, has provided opportunity after opportunity for me to connect with those I love. It has shown me how much I am loved. And it’s shown me how much I love who I am and the life I lead.

Author Eckhart Tolle says, “If I accept the fact that my relationships are here to make me conscious, instead of happy, then my relationships become a wonderful self-mastery tool that keeps realigning me with my higher purpose for living.”

Surrendering has taught me to look for the ultimate lesson in each encounter, each relationship.

Over the past few years my greatest teachers on this planet have been my daughters. So it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve taught me much about surrender this year too.

The moment I watched my eldest daughter’s head hit the basketball court during a game at National Championships in April, changed my relationship with surrendering. As I stood in the stands in the stadium watching her lay on the court surrounded by coaches, physios, medics and teammates, I knew I had to surrender and trust. That evening she was misdiagnosed in the hospital which led to months of setbacks and eventually she missed six months of her final (and most important) year of high school.

There’s been many scary moments between April and today that have required surrender on both of our parts. Eventually some good things have come out of the accident. We’ve both remembered how quickly life can change. Her path has been altered but she’s discovered a talent for floristry that she never would have found if she’d stayed on her International Baccalaureate track. She and I wouldn’t have been able to travel to Peru if she had been in school. She was medically exempt from all assessment which allowed us to be at Machu Picchu on the day that her classmates back home sat the Australian Scaling Test. And recently the Australian Institute of Sport heard her story. They interviewed the two of us for a new Concussion in Sport website and video resources they will launch next month to medical professionals, parents, athletes and coaches across Australia to educate people about concussion. Our hope is that the resources will help other families avoid some of the issues we faced.

As scary and as big as that experience has been, it’s always my youngest who day in and day out, who teaches me the most. She’s like a slow drip feed for me. My relationship with her forces me to be present, in the now, consciously learning, consciously listening, consciously being there for her. Our relationship isn’t always easy, but ironically, the more I surrender it, the closer we have become. I love spending time with her, as I never know where it will lead, only knowing that I will be enriched by the time we have together.

Looking back on 2018, I’m proud of myself for seeing the signs and surrendering. For a tried and true control freak like myself, it was often a difficult year, making me go against my usual mode, but it’s changed me into a better person, a more tolerant person, one who is learning to take time to consciously align with life.

I’ve learned surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. It means allowing, it means letting go of what doesn’t serve me. It means opening to a force greater than me. It means letting life unfold and trusting the rhythm of life to carry me along. It means seeing the signs and following them to see where they lead.

Surrendering has carried me beautifully this past year. And I am grateful. I’m in a very different place mentally, emotionally and spiritually to what I was last year at this time.

I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store.

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