Surrender | October 2022

Happy Halloween! I can’t believe it’s the last day of October – my most anticipated month! And it has been a picture-perfect October, hasn’t it? I couldn’t have been happier with the foliage or the weather. But I’m here today to talk about how I’ve been engaging with my word of the year this month. Thank you, Carolyn, for being a wonderful host for this linkup and to all of the other bloggers who participate, month in and month out. Your support is a pivotal part of this experience!

I nearly skipped this month’s OLW but knew that I couldn’t. I’ve been doing this linkup for at least three years and haven’t missed a single one. I’m not about to start now! So here I am, lost in my own swirl of overwhelmedness (I’m trademarking that word), and am simply sinking into it. Surrendering to it. Trying my best to smile at it.

Many of you know the struggle that I’m about to share: deciding what is the most important thing to do with my precious time? You probably know that reading was my priority through the summer and early fall. But lately, my interests are shifting to making and a part of me wants to resist this shift. It makes total sense: I am outside less and less and am looking for the coziest activities possible to fill the place of gardening. So I don’t know why I have to experience such internal angst about this every single season!

I read this paragraph early last week and flagged it twice:

“The other day I was talking to an old friend, an experienced Zen practitioner, about her practice. She told me she was beginning to notice that the persistent feeling of dissatisfaction she always felt in relation to others, the world, and the circumstances of her inner and outer life was probably not about others, the world, or inner and outer circumstances, but instead was about her deepest inmost self. Dissatisfaction, she said, seems in some way to be herself, to be fundamentally ingrained in her. Before realizing this, she went on, she’d assumed her dissatisfaction was due in some way to a personal failing on her part – a failing that she had hoped to correct with her Zen practice. But now she could see that it was far worse than that! The dissatisfaction was not about her, and therefore correctable; it was built into her, it was essential to her self.” pgs 103-104, When You Greet Me I Bow by Norman Fischer

I keep trying to correct myself, narrow down my interests and activities, devote myself to something. But maybe there’s nothing to correct, maybe this is me. This internal angst? It’s me. Trying to find my purpose in life and satisfaction in what I create. It’s built into me and will always be there. My inner critic is severe and says the ugliest things to me (she is me). I don’t know where she came from and I don’t think she’s ever going to leave me, so I need to get used to her (and she is me). Not surrender to her, but surrender myself to knowing that she’ll always be there (because she is me). So I will smile at her, greet her, and then tell her that I’m too wrapped up in my current activity to sit and chat, but she’s welcome to join me. This critic is essential to my self. I need her in some ways, but more as a voting member of parliament, not as my queen. (I know that’s not a perfect analogy because the monarch is the head of state and doesn’t make any actual laws. My inner critic is telling me to delete that sentence totally because it’s not factual in any way. But I like the imagery and will leave it. Please forgive me.)

I think I’ve written some version of this every month since I’ve started writing these posts consistently. It is clearly my eternal struggle and I am thankful that you all are still so patient with me! And friends, we only have two more months with our words! What kind of witchcraft has made this year go by so quickly?! I hope to be back on Wednesday with some bookish chatter. Until then – take good care!

23 thoughts on “Surrender | October 2022

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  1. Oh that Inner Critic – I know her (mine) well. and I still have to remind myself she’s not always (honestly almost never) right! Enjoy the making – all the other things will still be there ❤️

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    1. Thank you for the reminder that she’s almost never right! And I love that it’s possible to do the making and the reading at the same time. Audiobooks to the rescue again!

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  2. Loved this insight, Katie. It’s definitely something that I struggle with, too. And recently I’ve also been recognizing these unhelpful parts of me as parts that are ME, and also parts whose influence I can reduce. I think of them, often, as younger parts of me. They repeat learned behaviors that helped or seemed necessary at some point. But NOW, they don’t serve.

    So I’ve been thinking about this a lot in terms of parenting — letting those parts know that they’re important to me and I love them, but there’s an adult in charge of things now. So they don’t need to worry or protect or do whatever they used to do any longer.

    And I’m discovering that they may also have things they need to ‘tell’ me. So I let those parts speak. AND I’m working to establish strong, clear boundaries so they don’t interject themselves into the present so much. They can ‘relax’ and stop interpreting today’s news as if it’s something that happened in 1965. But old habits don’t go away easily — it’s definitely a slog and something to surrender to!

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    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Jordy. I think about how some behaviors/thoughts have helped me survive in the past, but not thrive. I definitely have a lot of things that I can let go of!

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  3. The inner critic is you too, what an incredible thought, mine tends to sound remarkably like my Mother, usually accusing me of sloping off, when she wanted me to do housework and I prefered reading. Be interesting to know if the inner critic sounds like someone you know.

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  4. I identify with this inner critic a lot — I am certainly harder on myself than almost anyone else, and it’s hard to shut that part of me up sometimes. But you’ve realized something really important: That part of you is never going to go away, so you might as well learn to live with it. I think a big part of learning to live with it is knowing when to listen and when to ignore it (or at least when to listen and then disregard what it has to say).

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  5. Boy this sounds familiar. Making peace and/or letting go of/ ignoring my inner critic/taskmaster is one of the biggest challenges of my life. Therapy has been helping! Good luck with yours. Seems like you’ve got a good plan. 🙂

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  6. That inner critic. She is just such a pain. I try my hardest to not listen to her, but she is persistent… that is her only good quality. She is never, ever right.

    I think that you have found some amazing ways to think about surrender this year! I have learned so much from you and in such beautiful ways!

    (and I think your making is amazing! And your reading… well, you are a reader who inspires me!)

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  7. Yes, yes! Your description fits so many of us. Over the years, I have learned to push on and live the life that is true to my authentic self. But it isn’t easy. I guess it is never easy.

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  8. Your parenthetical phrase on the monarchy had me laughing pretty hard, Katie! I’m glad you left it, all of it–because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t laugh nearly enough.
    I had a fascinating session with a ‘spiritual intuitive’ a few years ago, and she said that my inner critic was hardly leaving any space in the room for either her or myself. (I was sad but not surprised.) She suggested speaking to this ‘other’ in exactly the way you described in this post. And she encourages people to give that critic a very specific name, and call her by the name: your own middle name. (!!!)

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    1. I’m glad you found it funny, Carolyn! It was a hard decision for me to leave it in!!

      I love the advice you got about your inner critic. And how startling to hear that it takes up so much space – yikes! It makes me wonder how much space she’s taking up in my own life? (a lot, I’m sure)

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  9. I have the same struggles as you – there is so much I want to do, I am constantly over-planning or creating goals that are impossible or all consuming. But, I was thinking about this earlier today: there is so much in our lives that are scheduled or inflexible. I can’t decide what work I get to do at my job, or when I have to attend a meeting. I can’t decide to just not make my kids lunch one day. So in my free time, I want to be able to follow my interests at a whim and be decisive based on my mood. If you don’t want to read a book you had planned to read – then don’t! If you want to craft instead of read one day, then do that. Enjoy the little freedom you have 🙂

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    1. I love this strategy – to just enjoy doing whatever I feel like doing! Thank you! (it seems obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s totally not obvious to me!)

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  10. My inner critic is leering over my shoulder right now. It’s kind of her spot, you know? I go along in life with two other selves besides my physical self. The critic, the scared little girl (she’s in a dark basement a lot but sometimes I can coax her out to ride in the car beside me and I tell her that life is safe) oh, and maybe the third…my physical self that struggles with being herself because of listening to0 much or catering to the other two.

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