GNL number 50

a report of doings at meeting #50, Sunday, July 10, 2011
including litergical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


Letting go does not mean giving up, becoming passive, or accepting the status quo.
It just means loosening your grip on life, accepting that many things are
beyond your control, and trusting that whatever happens in your life, there will be
wonderful opportunities for learning, growth, choice, freedom, and happiness.
—teacher Amanda Harvey


Before our topical conversation, we had some important updates.  First Christine reported on her not easy last few weeks, that have been brightened recently by her “good numbers”.  And then Anna C told us of her move a few weeks ago to her new home in Delmar, where she hopes to host us someday for Skippy.

Ann then started the discussion about CONTROL and  LETTING GO; and very appropriately to a beginning, she posed some questions that set the stage and drew a number of responses, particularly about the nature of letting go, and forgiveness. She read a quote from Gunilla Norris, and some pithy 6wordies of her own that together became a poem.   See AFTERWORDS, page 2.

Sue spoke of recent trials with her troubled brother, and how she is trying to learn where her “control” efforts need to stop—how sometimes one should makes efforts and other times, not—that we need to learn to find that balance.  And she said she’d noticed she is a “militantly happy” person, as was her dad.  She also brought a number of strong quotes, which follow in AW.

Anna M again referred to her earlier adult history of low self-confidence that has in recent years given way to a kind of self-acceptance and trust, so that she finds she doesn’t often get tense to control things, but is more inclined to happily observe and fit with few needs, into the life around her.

Nancy, like Ann, had asked questions, especially about her own need to control, and some answers follow in AW.  She said that she’s been seeing that her mother’s end of life is beyond her and her siblings’ control; they’ve been trying to learn letting go.  She saw that not only she but her mom too has been straining to force things to go her way, and N prays they both can stop straining and surrender to the way life is what it is. Some help on this from the words of two wise women, psychologists Stella Resnick and Amy Johnson, in AW.

Anna C recalled her dad’s decline and death, and how she wished that she’d been able to do more for him.  She said she had given him massages during his final illness though, and that had seemed to comfort him.  She also thought of her close friend who has been going through this same kind of experience with a loved one at the end of life, facing their losses and our own; she’ s found talks with this friend very helpful for both of them, and was reminded that friends are family you choose.

Chris spoke movingly of her deep feelings of loss—not only of skills like reliable walking, writing and typing and other fine motor skills, as well as ability to eat much food she’d enjoyed, but also her total loss of control of her life in all ways.  So hard to accept.  But she also spoke of how critically important it was, and how lucky she was, to have a partner like Paul doing so much she couldn’t do—keeping meds straight, communicating with family and friends, advocating for her in so many ways.  This testimony itself felt to us like a letting go.

Vijaya was thinking of people in her life that had inspired her and helped her believe she could do things in the world—the grandmother back home in India, who managed as a widow through adversity so bravely; and her father, who, with his efforts and ingenuity as a young man, built a very successful manufacturing business, and always gave his daughters opportunities for education.  She invited us to her annual luncheon honoring her father and mother on August 6.

We decided to direct our offering this month to the American Friends Service Committee for its humanitarian and peace and justice work throughout the world.

And after our meeting, we made a pilgrimage and short visit to Jack’s, bringing flowers and dessert.  Vijaya said he looked like Krishna surrounded by the worshipful Gopis.


Can I control the clouds? Can I make the weather change?
Can I force other people to be the way I want them to be? No!
No wonder I get anxious when I believe that the outcome of every issue
is up to me! Even if I want to be able to control my universe, at some deep level
I know I can’t. What a terrible thing to do to myself to imagine that I can.
Faith is knowing that after we have done what we can, there is a turning over,
a letting go, a trusting beyond our knowing that relieves us.
—writer Anne Wilson Schaef


Sunday, August 14, 2011, at  Cynthia’s camp in Blenheim, directions to follow.   Our topic: Clothing—a show & tell (about OldFavorites/Least Favorites/Memory-Holders, etc.)


from Ann:

Letting Go

July 2011

It won’t be long before a storm will prune what is ready to let go.
It will be clean and swift. Be your own storm.
~Gunilla Norris, ”Pruning,” A Mystic Garden: Working with Soil,
Attending to Soul
, Bluebridge, 2006, p.86

Do we have to have a reason to let go?

Do we have to have/need a reason to forgive?

Is letting go also, necessarily, forgiving?

Six Wordies

I let it go, now what?

I gave it back… letting go?

Give and take, now we’re even?

It’s gone, the memory is sweet.

from Sue:

Control-Letting Go quotations (I think I read all of these)

  • “Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong- sometimes it’s letting go.”
  • You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it. Admit your ‘weaknesses’ and watch them morph into your greatest strengths. ~Neale Donald Walsch
  • All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ~Havelock Ellis

  • Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. ~Author Unknown
  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~ Lao Tzu
  • “We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.” ~Anonymous
  • “To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy… is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. ~Lao Tzu

from Nancy:

Notes to myself:

How am I in the grip of the need to control? And why?

How?—-For one thing, in the need to write all those little jobs down in that everlasting to-do list.  And keep do-do-doing.

Why?—-Because I don’t trust these 2 or 3 overloaded brain cells that still fire. Because I have not developed the skill/habit of talking to myself; but have developed the habit of running mindlessly from task to task.  Because moving seems like living. And because I fear not being worthy of life unless I do things. Because, as some spiritual teachers would say, fear is here.


from Gestalt therapist Stella Resnick:

On Surrender:

During the course of each day, stop for a few minutes—-

Close your eyes, inhale deeply, all the way to the top of your chest, and blow the air out in a complete exhale.

Imagine that you are also blowing out any tension or unpleasant feelings you’ve picked up along the way.  Then rotate your head a few times, stretch your neck, your arms and back.  Yawn and relax your jaw, and reconnect to your senses—scanning your environment slowly with you eyes, smelling the air, hearing distant sounds, feeling the objects that touch your skin, the tastes in your mouth.  Practicing little moments of surrender makes big surrenders easier.  As resistance and angst diminish, softness and trust grow, as so too grow feelings of love and tenderness.


An essay by psychologist Dr. Amy Johnson:

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.—Proverb

I’ve noticed that things go much more smoothly when I give up control—when I allow them to happen instead of making them happen. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at this.

Although I’m much better than I used to be, I’m a bit of a control freak. I often use perfectly good energy trying to plan, predict, and prevent things that I cannot possibly plan, predict, or prevent.

For example, I wonder if my baby is going to get a proper nap when we travel and, if not, just how crabby she might be. I think through her travel and napping patterns, attempting to figure out exactly what we’re up against, as if her sleep is something I can control.

I also think about the weather a lot when out-of-town guests are visiting. I spend my already-limited time planning for every possible weather/mood combination when considering our itinerary.

Like most humans I know, I spend a lot of time in business that’s not mine. The baby’s business, my friends’ business, Mother Nature’s business.

As a recovering control freak, there are three things I know for sure about trying to control things:

1. We try to control things because of what we think will happen if we don’t.

In other words, control is rooted in fear.

2. Control is also a result of being attached to a specific outcome—an outcome we’re sure is best for us, as if we always know what’s best.

When we trust that we’re okay no matter what circumstances come our way, we don’t need to micro-manage the universe. We let go. And we open ourselves to all sorts of wonderful possibilities that aren’t there when we’re attached to one “right” path.

3. The energy of surrender accomplishes much more than the energy of control.

I suspect it’s slightly different for everyone, but here’s what ‘control mode’ looks and feels like for me: My vision gets very narrow and focused, my breath is shallow, adrenaline is pumping and my heart rate increases.

My mind shifts from topic to topic and from past to future very quickly, and I have little concentration, poor memory, and almost no present-moment awareness.

In surrender mode, I’m calm, peaceful. Breathing deeply, present in the moment. I see clearly and my vision extends out around me, allowing me to (literally) see the bigger picture.

So the great irony is that attempting to control things actually feels less in control. When I’m micro-managing and obsessing over details, I know I’m in my own way.

The Art of Surrender

Surrender literally means to stop fighting. Stop fighting with yourself. Stop fighting the universe and the natural flow of things. Stop resisting and pushing against reality.

Surrender = Complete acceptance of what is + Faith that all is well, even without my input.

It’s not about inaction. It’s about taking action from that place of surrender energy.

If letting go of control and surrendering not only feel better, but actually produce better results, how do we do that?

Sometimes it’s as easy as noticing that you’re in control mode and choosing to let go—consciously and deliberately shifting into surrender energy.

For example, when I become aware that I’m in control mode, I imagine that I’m in a small canoe paddling upstream, against the current. It’s hard. It’s a fight. That’s what control mode feels like to me.

When I choose to let go and surrender, I visualize the boat turning around, me dropping the oars, and floating downstream.

I’m being gently pulled, no effort necessary on my part. Simply breathing and saying, “Let go of the oars” is usually enough to get me there.

Sometimes it’s a little harder to make the shift from control to surrender. Here are a few questions that can help:

1. What am I afraid will happen if I let go of control?

When you pinpoint the fear, question its validity. Ask yourself, Is it true? If you’re afraid the night will be ruined if your boyfriend doesn’t remember to pick up eggplant (and you’ve already reminded him 14 times), question that assumption.

Can you really know the night would be ruined without the eggplant? And if it would be ruined (by your definition, anyway), what’s so bad about that?

2. Find out whose business you’re in.

Your business is the realm of things that you can directly influence. Are you there? Or are you in someone else’s business? When we’re trying to control things outside of our own business, it’s not going to go well.

3. Consider this: Would letting go feel like freedom?

It almost always would. Let that feeling of freedom guide you toward loosening your grip.

A Friendly Universe

Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

I believe in a friendly universe.

Being receptive and allowing things to happen is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon. It helps to believe in a friendly universe—one that is supporting you at every turn so that you don’t have to worry yourself over the details.

We can always choose to do things the easy way or the hard way. We can muscle through, or we can let go of the oars and let the current carry us downstream.

There is a peaceful, yet focused energy that accompanies holding the intention of what I want, but not forcing myself to do it. That energy is magic. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m allowing it to become a habit instead of making it a habit.



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