Locked Out

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Image by Kevin Spencer via Flickr Creative Commons

By Tiffany A. Potter

Have you ever experienced a moment of sheer panic? A moment in time that has caught you so completely off guard that it takes a minute to process what’s actually happening? I’ve had a few of those moments in my life, one as recently as three days ago.

The day started like any other day that I work from home; coffee in the morning as I watch the news to see what has happened overnight around the world, followed by a few hours at my desk before I eat lunch. But this is where the day went off the rails. Wanting to use the toaster to fix a bagel I decided to take the recyclables to the trash in order to make more space on the counter. What followed is a bit of a long story but the short of it is this… I locked myself out of the house. In realizing what I had done I, first, denied it. And once that didn’t work I mentally ran through the list of options available to me that would get me back into the house, back into my comfort zone where I feel safe and as though nothing can ever go wrong because I have complete control of my surroundings.

Turns out, the list of possible solutions to the problem was rather short. I hadn’t stashed an extra key somewhere outside of the house for a moment such as this, I didn’t have my cell phone on me (it was locked in the house along with my keys and the bra that I wasn’t wearing), my husband was at work and wouldn’t be home for four hours, and none of my neighbors were home so I could use their phone. I was screwed.

$50.00 to a Locksmith and three hours later I was back in the house with a somewhat interesting realization about myself. When all was said and done, the way I handled this quasi-catastrophe looked exactly like the way I that I handle any unexpected situation in my life; from divorce to running my own business. My plan of attack always begins at the methodical, intellectual appraisal of the situation. What happened? How did I get here? What is the desired end result? (Perhaps this approach is exactly why I turned out to be a consultant. Huh, never thought of that until this very moment.) Then, once I get a handle on what and how I set forth in moving toward the end goal. In this case, I tried picking the lock with anything I could find. I tried breaking the lock. I tried prying open a window.

I even thought about trying to squeeze my size 10 self through the doggie door fit for our 15-pound fur kids (this plan was thwarted because even if I could get my shoulders through I would never get my boobs to follow suit). All the while, as I see that nothing I had planned to do was actually working, I started to curse the Universe. My go-to low energy, unhelpful question/rant is always, “WHY ME?!?!”; as if I’ve met my quota in life for shitty challenges and I should be exempt from here on out. My little pity party never lasts long before I get back to the task at hand but I would be lying to you if I omitted the real and honest moments I have that are less than attractive. My spiritual evolution can, and does, revert back to my childhood self if given the opportunity… and when I’m stressed is where she always lurks.

Two and a half hours into the ordeal, and still outside without a coat or sweater on a cold winter day, I had to admit that no matter how hard I tried this obstacle was bigger than I (and, also, that my house is apparently as safe as Fort Knox- silver lining). I couldn’t outsmart this challenge so I needed to switch tactics. Which is also what I do in life; I try everything I possibly can within my control until it becomes apparently clear that the situation will go unchanged if I continue in the direction I’m going and I need help from an outside source, be it God, the Universe, Buddha, a therapist, a glass of wine, or a neighbor walking his dog who had his cell phone with him… Whatever will make itself available to help me get unstuck from the current predicament.

Strategy be damned, even the Navy Seals have to adjust their plan of attack if what they’re doing isn’t working, so do I. It’s at this point that I move into becoming very zen about the whole situation and usually get my humor back (if you can’t fix it, laugh about it). If I can’t change the circumstance to fit how I think it should play out, then I need to flow with it. In other words, I need to stop resisting and surrender.

This ordeal took the better part of my work day and I didn’t get to half of the emails and phone calls that I had planned to; but I accept that there was something more pressing the Universe thought I should learn about myself that will, inevitably, help me process other hurdles in my life down the road. It reminded me that resisting what is happening in the moment will never get me to my desired end result. I could be angry all day long at myself, at the Universe, at my husband just because I can. And because if I think hard enough I’m quite sure that somehow this is all his fault (why didn’t HE take out the recyclables). But all of that resisting and resentment muddies up my ability to think, feel, and act unencumbered.

I think as adults we become more and more sure of our competence, lulled into believing that there’s nothing that life can throw at us that will stump us outside of death and divorce. We’ve learned, we’ve grown, we’ve made the life mistakes that you do in your 20’s, and we’ve made it through the challenges, hardships, and heartbreak that life inevitably sends our way, and come out the other side. We begin to feel bulletproof. But it’s the silly little moments like I experienced the other day that remind me that we will never ever be fully in control. We will continue to make mistakes that humble us and remind us to never get too comfortable or complacent; which I know sounds quite bleak until you realize that that is what makes life the adventure that it is.

Adventure- an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity/ calling for enterprise and enthusiasm

(VERB): engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.

So take chances, embrace risk, let your heart lead the way, stay open minded and ready to laugh for adventure awaits. And relax, because nothing is in control.

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Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and change agent. Find her at: www.TiffanysTake.com. Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.columnist