The pilot doesn’t need my help.

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I’m home!

After a crazy week leading up to it, and a busy but good weekend in the windy city, I’M BACK!

To be honest, I really didn’t think I was “stressed out” about the test…. Then I couldn’t sleep and wasn’t hungry for the 24 hours before… I may not have felt it, but looking back, all evidence points to “stressed”. Hahaha! I was a little weird-ed out when I couldn’t sleep on the plane on Friday morning… No sleep since Wednesday night, and if there is one place in the world I can sleep, it’s an airplane (strange, but true). Suffice it to say, I was OUT COLD on both flights home today… despite being stuck in the “sandwich seat”.

Although the purpose of the trip was definitely the NCE (my big counseling exam), there was time for fun, too. I got to hang out and spend time with one of my dearest friends, and I saw some great theatre…. If you ever have the chance to see “Angels in America”, I HIGHLY recommend it. I would also recommend the chocolate chip cookies sold at the Court Theatre, I ate two. ….Very fantastic.

I think it’s completely amazing how just going somewhere different for a day or two can complete reset your vibe….One of my psychology professors once said that if he had a client that was really in rough shape- like, to the point he was considering hospitalization, he would often first suggest that they go away for the weekend… Place didn’t matter… It was just about being somewhere different.

I think the guy is on to something, just sayin’.

I went to Chicago and I took this test (which was a major thing in my life for the past month or so); I connected with people who are important to me, and my soul got fed: …With art, with theatre, with faith, with talks and discussions, with down-time, and with surroundings that are just completely different than my norm. It was EXACTLY what I needed. Tonight I strolled in my house and happily exclaimed, “I’m home and I’m normal again!”

Who knows exactly what “normal” means… but I walked into my house feeling 100% like myself for the first time in a few weeks… and, in the words of Martha Stuart, it’s a good thing!

If you’ve read the other entries on this blog, you may know that something I’m kind of into right now is the “gratitude” thing and articulating what it is that I am THANKFUL for… which, admittedly, has been challenging for me with this whole “vocal rest” thing. However, the last 5 days have provided MUCH to be thankful for in this regard…. My Chicago trip would have been COMPLETELY different if it wasn’t for vocal rest… I would have been rushing back for Carmina Burana rehearsals and church music/ work obligations… Instead, I had the luxury of being able to change flights, spend an extra night, and actually have fun. Vocal rest also continues to give me “quiet time” and “alone time” to reflect, which, while at times is uncomfortable, is REALLY, really good for me. …And it has just presented me with an opportunity to go WAY outside of my comfort zone….

…. Naturally, my first reaction was to RUN… in the other direction… as quickly as possible.

I was thinking about this opportunity (which is to attend a pricey workshop, free of charge, by a leader in Creative Therapy, who happens to be a mentor of my advisor at school) and I was trying to be quite logical with myself… making a list of pros and cons, trying to justify why I might not do it. Turns out, the best reason I could come up with was that “I hate dancing, and I’m really scared of having to do it in front of other people… and there’s a good chance that’ll happen.” I literally have NO OTHER REASON to say no- I get the opportunity to watch a super cool person in therapy world work, they are offering this free of charge- to me personally, it’s in New Orleans, and I don’t have to cancel or change any plans- vocal rest resolved that part of the issue for me. The workshop is not until late May, but I have 4 days to decide…

While I was pondering all this on the plane home tonight, I realized that this whole internal debate is really not so much about the workshop, but about 2 fundamental things with me: the need for control and the fear of being vulnerable.

(I admit it, I did it… I dropped the “V” word… Clearly, I’ve been watching & reading WAY too much Brene Brown!)

I don’t know what exactly will happen at this workshop. There are no observers- you go, you participate, you engage. I would really like to just go and watch the cool things happen with other people- I want to be the fly on the wall. That is really what I would LOVE to do…. But that is not a choice. The thought of me doing something and looking stupid or feeling stupid (as stupid as it is) is horrifying to me…. And I don’t even know what this “thing” might be- I can’t practice or rehearse for it… so I fear it.

Two friends, in two separate conversations, gave me exactly the same counsel: THIS IS PERFECT, AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHY YOU SHOULD GO. IT’S A GIFT.

…And while my brain knows they are right, I am still hesitant to hit the “reply” button and respond to the email that extended such a generous offer to me. I “NEED” TO KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. Turns out, I’m a little bit of a control freak… In fact, just changing my plane ticket was HUGE for me… and I totally had an “Oh S!#t!” moment when it looked like that plan exploded in my face for an hour or two on Saturday… Or, when I knew “my kids” where singing at State Rally on Saturday, and I wasn’t there…. (They did great, btw… and I wasn’t surprised by it.)

If I had my druthers, I would be everywhere, all the time, with Google calendar pulled up on my iPhone and a perfected post-it note on the tip of my finger, cool as a cucumber, directing things, calming people down, and making sure everything went according to plan…. With 4 contingency plans at the ready just in case they didn’t…. Never flinching all the while…That’s me: I plan, I manage, I control.

….Or, I at least I like to fool myself into thinking so.

The fact is, there is very little any of us actually have any REAL control over. We (I) like the illusion of control. It makes us feel better… It’s how I cope. We invent rules or procedures or ways of doing things, and suddenly we magically feel more secure. The fact is, we’re no better… and in fact, we may be possibly worse off for it… but it’s human nature.

I was drifting in and out of sleep on a flight from Houston to New Orleans tonight, pondering all of these things (which, I am quite sure seem very disjointed to any reader at this point) when I realized it was almost time for landing….

The flight attendants were doing their final checks… and suddenly, I found myself uncrossing my legs, trying to wake up, and sitting taller in my seat.

I caught myself…. “Tara, what are you doing?”

Internal dialogue: Oh, well, I always have to be up and alert for landing, with my feet both on the floor.

Hmmm…

Well, turns out, the pilot doesn’t need my help. The girl with no flight experience in seat 36 E?

No worries, sister… relax… we have it under control here on the flight deck.

While I hadn’t even realized this was something I ALWAYS DO until this moment- the instant I realized it- I realized it was completely ridiculous… but it was some way I made myself feel slightly in control.

I was fixing this….Right then & there.

I decided I was going to sit, with my legs crossed in my lap…. And I wasn’t allowed to open my eyes until we were on the ground…

…..Plane landed just fine. 🙂

I realized that this one, small, silly thing I have basically unconsciously done on planes my whole life was indicative of a larger life pattern and need for me…. And I’m thankful for the realization…

How many things in my life am I NOT “the pilot” for? How many things don’t want or need an extra “pilot”, provided by me?

What can I just let go of, experience, and trust the process in? Where are the places that I am supposed to be “a passenger” and just be in the moment?

As much as we like to think that we are “charting our down course”, there are many things in life we are not piloting- nor should we… Nor could we make a more perfect plan than the one that is already charted for us…. It’s just easier and simpler to forget that part sometimes. But that requires trust… and giving up a little bit of the “illusion of control”.

These are things I hope I continue to think about and areas I hope to grow in. The illusion of control is just that- an illusion. And learning to be authentically present, even if that means being a little awkward or uncomfortable or, (gasp) dancing and looking ridiculous… It’s being real.

…. I think I have an e-mail I need to respond to.

Have a great start to your week!

-T.

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