Once I surrendered…

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That’s a triumph.”
~Ray Bradbury


The most incredible thing happened on Sunday while I was at the beach; I’d gone away for two days for a self-led business retreat. Sunday had been filled with lots of reflection, 2013 assessment, 2014 looking-ahead, some prayer and ritual. I had worked with my tutoring client in the morning from the beach. I’d been attacked by hordes of seagulls who sensed that I was the only human dumb enough to bring breakfast down to the water with me.

I was dressed up in MULTIPLE layers and I had blankets that I huddled into while I read to my client.

I was dressed up in MULTIPLE layers and I had blankets that I huddled into while I read to my client.

You can see a few of the seagulls here, but seriously, there were about 50 more that stalked me as soon as I removed the shiny-wrapper-covered sandwich from my bag. And when I opened the actual sandwich they swooped in on me and I thought I was in "The Birds"

You can see a few of the seagulls here, but seriously, there were about 50 more that stalked me as soon as I removed the shiny-wrapper-covered sandwich from my bag. And when I opened the actual sandwich they swooped in on me and I thought I was in “The Birds”

It was a full day, a lovely day. I felt accomplished. None of those are the incredible thing that happened though.

It was 6 pm:  I was drinking a glass of wine, curled up in the recliner and doing more exercises when I reached around my neck to absently touch my opal pendulum. It was gone.

I leapt from the chair and immediately began scouring the house. I checked the bathroom, I packed and unpacked all my bags, I moved the recliner in case it had fallen beneath it. Nothing.

I looked in the mirror and began to cry. I use the opal in my healing work and it was a gift from a dear friend when I became a Reiki Master. I ask it questions multiple times a day…. and I had lost it.


I had taken a picture earlier in the day because it was lit up on fire in a way I’d never before seen. Stunning light came from inside it.

In the dark, I searched my car. I drove to the grocery store where I’d been earlier and asked. The woman, after seeing the picture told me, “Nobody’s turned it in, and I don’t think someone would turn it in if they found it.” Awesome.

I sat in the parking lot and cried a little more. I texted two friends (not the friend who’d given it to me) and I wrote “Hey lady, I lost my pendulum…I’m at the beach and I have no idea if it fell off somewhere…it’s a really special opal- was a gift. Could you send some “find it” vibes?”

As I sat, I thought to myself, Maybe it isn’t supposed to stay with me anymore. Maybe it’s time for the opal to have a new home, and it’s been with me as long as I needed it. I’d really love to find you, but if it’s your time to move on, thank you for the gift you’ve been, and bless whomever finds you. 

I drove down toward where I’d parked my car earlier, ready to search the beach with a flashlight and a prayer. As I went to turn and park in the same spot I’d used earlier, THERE, next to a truck, just behind its wheel, was my opal. Here’s a picture.

parking spot

Right behind the wheel, to the left of the line, was my opal pendulum, just chilling.

I didn’t finish pulling my car into the spot; I stopped, halfway turned in, leapt out and picked up my opal. It.was.magic.

I have no idea how my opal ended up behind a truck, nor do I know how it managed to not get driven over, picked up, or otherwise vanish.

It wasn’t quite time for my opal to find a new companion… I believe that I found it because I released it and let go of expecting that it would still be with me. So often, we hold tightly to things and choke them. It’s only when we surrender to what is, to the lost opal, the moment of grief, the waves crashing on the shore, that we actually are in the present, in the now. And it’s in those moments that we find peace and freedom. Peace because we’re not in the future nor in the past. Peace because we’ve chosen surrender. Freedom because we’re practicing non-attachment and freedom because we’ve surrendered and acknowledged our powerlessness. In that very powerlessness, there is immense power. I’m grateful to my opal for reminding me of this. I continue to learn from it, in ways I never imagined.

Here's what my opal normally looks like. You can see that it's a decent sized stone.

Here’s what my opal normally looks like. You can see that it’s a decent sized stone.

So I asked for help…

When I don’t listen, I don’t end up being eaten by a whale like Jonah. Instead, I usually end up in a car accident. Don’t ask to see my driving record: trust me on this one.

Last time I had an accident, I had just ended a very important relationship. I had not one, but TWO car accidents in a period of less than 3 weeks. After my first car accident, which was about a mile from my house, I called no one. Instead, I walked home, carrying a booster seat, and let tears trail down my face. I had people that I could’ve called—it just made more sense to me to do it alone. Plus, it was only a twenty-minute walk to my house and I was still shaking. I was certain that if I called my family, they would make a joke about my driving.

That accident was enough to propel me to make an appointment to see an acupuncturist (who has become my acupuncturist) that I’d thought about seeing. I knew that it was screwed up that my response had been to trek it alone, especially after having an airbag explode in my face—a first for me. There was still lots that needed to change in my life in those weeks, and just in case I hadn’t heard, I was hit driving on the beltway by a girl who sideswiped me during stop and go traffic: she could not have been paying attention to hit me as she did.

It’s been 18 months since my last accident, and I’ve changed in so many ways over the last year.  10 months ago though, I sent a friend a box of books; she wanted to pay me for them—usually I would have said no, but I had realized that I needed to practice receiving from others, so instead I offered her a few places where she could make a donation to cover the cost of the books.

Receiving. Yup. That’s what this post is about: receiving generosity from others.

I could tell you the stories of why this is a “thing” for me. But that’s a long story. So instead, I’ll just let you know that I’ve lost friendships over not “allowing” friends to give to me as they wanted to. I’ve been accused of being awful to shop for by family members at Christmas.  I love to practice generosity, but it’s really hard for me to accept it from others… especially people with whom I feel vulnerable. Seriously, ohmygoodness. I break out in hives. Well, not really, but just ask people who know me; it’s as if I have an allergic reaction.

The past few months, I’ve been practicing this:

Key word: practicing. I guess I wasn’t practicing enough? Or I’d fooled myself into thinking I was practicing, when really, I was still doing so in a way that allowed me to receive in a way I was comfortable with.

Over the last 2 weeks or so, I’d worked with a naturopath and receiving had come up during my treatment. It’s come up in my training with Rose. It had come up in conversation with friends. In my old journals I’d been reviewing. BUT I STILL DIDN’T GET IT.

Until last Friday.

I had just left the pet store and was cutting through a parking lot so that I could go meet some friends for lunch… Yup, that’s right. I hit a car…. pretty badly. After I moved out of the aisle, I texted my friends, “Gonna be late. Had accident.” “Tell us where you are? Are you okay?” was their response. I typed back, “Have to talk with insurance. Will check in after.” I knew what I needed to do: take care of it on my own. So I did. And once I had the tow truck take my car away, and the rental company come pick me up, I drove to meet them.

Did I let them help me once I arrived? Not really. I prepared the roasted cauliflower I’d packed (and snagged from my car); I grated the cheese for the meal; I said “I’m fine.”

Fast forward to later that day… The impact of the hit had finally petered down into my body, and the shock had worn off enough that I could feel my old back injury flaring up like it hadn’t for years. One friend offered to drive me (but that would inconvenience her, so of course, I could do it). I finally asked for the ibuprofen that had been offered and took 1000 mg. I barely made it to the end of the street before the tears from the pain in my back began.

When your body doesn’t work, you’re not left with much choice, but to allow others to help. And thus began my practice of receiving.

Here’s a list of what I received from others:

  • Ibuprofen
  • I called a friend and told her that I wasn’t okay. She listened and offered to come over if I needed anything.
  • I asked a funny friend to tell me a joke because I really needed to laugh (it worked).
  • I asked my brother to fill my car up because it was on empty and I hadn’t stopped on my way back because I’d been afraid my back would get stuck while I pumped gas.
  • I asked my dad to get my medicine for me.
  • I was honest with my friends who asked me how my back was.
  • And then, the real doozy. I asked a (newish) friend if she could bring me pho. I was hardcore craving some hot soup, and she had asked if there was anything I needed. I didn’t really * need * pho, so I didn’t say anything. Several hours later, I went back to her, and I shared, “I’d really like some pho, if it works for you.”

My friend lives 25 minutes away. It felt like I was asking her to bring me the moon. But you know what? She brought it to me and said it wasn’t a big deal.

I’m hoping that this barrage of practicing receiving generously keeps me and my car safe for the next 5 years. Or maybe I should just listen sooner next time.

So, is it harder for you to give? Or to receive?