A long time ago, in a school far far away, a plucky redheaded school teacher faced many a frustration and was up against several walls within the once calm, wonderful workplace she had been part of for so many years. To survive the chaos flying at her from multiple directions she adopted a simple, yet power packed, five word mantra. Each morning before walking into the building or when she was faced with a challenge that took her by surprise, she uttered these five words… I am a palm tree.
Between their not too hard, not too soft wood, tremendous height and deep wide running root system, a palm tree is magnificently resilient and can return to its original glory with ease no matter what mother nature tosses at it. Telling myself I was a palm tree helped the wackiness roll off my back and kept me from beating myself up when things didn't go the way I planned. Now years later, I'm back to needing this same mantra!
When I have a task ahead of me I jump into organizational superhero mode that involves problem solving, research and lots of purposeful colour coded post-it notes. I know how a situation should unfold because I have over designed it and am fully prepared to wrap it all up in a pretty box boasting the label of ‘complete’ when it's all said and done.
The second I was presented with this cancer journey, I put on the cape of 'I've got this' and replaced grungy mats throughout my home, researched how to read medical reports and bought so much toilet paper that it wasn't until this week I needed to buy more! I made myself battle ready and with a clear plan from my Doctors that told me how this was all going to go down, by gosh golly gee I was all prepared for the craziness. Or so I thought.
I had forgotten one crucial reality... the plan I was given didn't include all of the surprises and detours that have magically appeared around each corner. It's because of all these forehead smacking moments that whenever I describe for my family a new step in my treatment their first question is “yeah, but what are the exceptions?” It turns out I’m exceptional… and not necessarily in the way I would like to be! Every plan that has been put into place has involved a creative, out of nowhere slide in a different direction.
More importantly, I am hurting myself by clinging to how I think things SHOULD go when really, I need to be a palm tree about it. I need to bend and flex with the changing winds, surprise storms and always appreciate the sun when it shines.
I need to do what I can do, then let go and allow things to unfold the way they need to. What I have discovered is...
Just because something doesn’t unfold the way I expect it to,
doesn’t mean I didn’t do it or accomplish it.
Chemo being cut short was not in the original plan, but just because the treatment didn't look like the way I was told it would, doesn't mean I wasn't successful with chemo!
Being flexible, and open to possibilities outside of my own overly organized plan will help me feel less duped and side swiped when things do take a different or wild turn. And when I am open to things not going the way I originally intend them to, then it isn’t a catastrophe when the outcome looks different then what originally devised.
Flexibility allows me to be resilient, knowing I can handle anything tossed my way. Why?
Because I am a palm tree!