Personally, I find it challenging to remember not to push. But my life has recently been giving me powerful reminders:
By nature, I thrive on multitasking and marking items off my list. I am the person who puts something back on my list after finishing it just so I can feel the satisfaction of checking it off my list again. (A bit beyond obsessive, perhaps?) I also suffer from impatience and forgetting that tasks done incorrectly are teaching opportunities.
Recently, I realized I needed to stop pushing others to fit my mold of getting things done and checked off their lists. Nobody likes to be pushed; it tends to frazzle even the best of us. I needed to slow down, give more direction and guidance, and be a teacher for my team. I knew that when I could allow my team’s unique gifts to shine, focusing on how to use their best qualities, we would all benefit from a stellar work product.
Next up was me pushing my son, Blaine, to memorize his multiplication tables. My initial strategy of making him re-write the tables before taking a test was failing. He was miserable, and I was distraught with my own pushing.
One day, Blaine got up and started tossing a soccer ball against the living room wall while singing his table of 6’s (see video). Watching him, I flashed back to his unconventional ways of reading in first grade and his teacher’s concern that he might be unable to read. Surprised at her concern, I noted that Blaine could read just fine at home. Laughing, I told her I let him read upside down on the couch. She was intrigued by my technique, and together we figured out that Blaine was having trouble focusing when the teacher’s pushing and pressuring him to read was making him uncomfortable.
Flash forward . . . I suddenly realized I’d been taking the same pressuring approach with Blaine’s multiplication tables. So, the other night when he suggested we play basketball at his sister’s soccer practice, I played ball with him as he sang his multiplication tables. I’m proud to say that after only a few weeks’ practice, he has them down pat.
Empowered with our new approach, I asked Blaine how he wants to keep his reading and writing muscles strong during the summer. He said, “I love to write when given an assignment, and Audrey does book reports. Can we do that, too?” So, we chose a book he had just bought, and he plans on doing a book report this summer.
Letting Blaine lead the way has been a success; he’s shining!
When Even Allowing and Letting Go Does Not Work
As my Grandmother lives her final days of life, I am reminded that allowing may not always work and that, in that case, letting go is necessary. For three years, I have allowed my Grandmother to make her own decisions, only trumping her when her safety was on the line. In the past few months, however, she has resisted further care despite her need for it. When I’ve hired people to help, she’s kicked them out.
Most recently, I’ve had to hire 24/7 care because she’s begun experiencing panic attacks due to her inability to walk and care for her basic needs. Even though the increased care is to honor her request to keep living at home, she is resisting and complaining and making it hard to help. Out of respect to her spirit, I am staying on the sidelines and taking care of all the details behind the scenes, realizing she is fearful of the uncertainty of her last days. I’m letting go of needing to make her happy. I’m letting go of the need for her validation that I am doing a good job. I’m letting go of wanting her care to be perfect. I’m letting go of caring what others are saying. I’m letting go fully and completely. Instead, I’m focusing on loving her. Having compassion for her fear. Focusing on the beautiful memories.
I wrote the above prior to making another trip to see my Grandmother. My intention was to let go of any outcome, and my mission was to shower her with love. Upon my arrival, my Grandmother asked, “Why are you here?” When I answered that I had come to give her love in her time of pain, I could see her physically soften. That I had no agenda gave her peace.
In our visit, my Grandmother was able to give me instructions and paperwork for distributing all her possessions. She gave me, her only granddaughter, all her jewelry, much of it personally designed and created by her. She also gave me her wedding bands from her marriage to my paternal grandfather I never knew and to the grandfather I always knew as Grandpa. She had been holding on until she could release all these items into safekeeping.
My Grandmother was letting go with grace, and I could feel her peacefulness. She signed the do-not-resuscitate form and asked to just take a pill since she was ready to go. I had to laugh and say, “Grandma, you can’t just take a pill. You have to go naturally.” Then she asked to stop taking her medication. So now we are keeping her comfortable and letting nature take its course.
My Grandmother and I are both allowing life to unfold with peace, love, and grace.
Show Up with Love
I used to think that allowing and letting go is enough. Though they are both essential, I learned from my Grandmother that showing up with love is the remaining piece to the puzzle, a lesson I’ll be eternally grateful for. It causes me to reflect now on other areas I am pushing or holding onto, not allowing the natural flow. I give myself compassion for forgetting, and when I remember times I’ve forgotten, I begin again. I know in my heart that if I allow it, love will open the door for grace and peace to flow.
Do you have something you could allow versus push, or something you desperately need to let go of? Why not give it a try? And whenever in doubt, just show up with love.