Control v. SURRENDER (Five Minute Friday link up)

Surrender – it’s a dirty word, a scary word, to someone like me who likes to be in control of every detail of my life, who finds security in planning and reassurance in things falling into place exactly as I’d envisaged.

So why do I work (and take great satisfaction) in the messy, totally unpredictable world of palliative care? Where no day ever turns out the way I planned and weeks regularly end in longer rather than shorter To Do Lists.

Take this month, for example: I’ve had to fit in urgent home visits to patients at 4pm on Fridays, leaving me finishing work late (again) far from our office base and even further from home; a new group cookery course we’ve spent much time preparing has been decimated by illness to only 2 or 3 attendees; waiting lists and caseload have expanded like a balloon; a colleague has handed in her notice and another is off sick so I have to cover some of their work too; random roadworks have sprung up across the county making me late on visits; simple referrals have turned out to be much more complex; and the only way to catch up on the subsequent notes and actions has been to miss other commitments.

And yet I glory in this work! Part if me loves the unpredictability of it all! I’ve told my current student, with a smile on my face, that no day turns out the way you expect it to in palliative care. How can there be such contrast in me?

Perhaps I’m better at surrender than I think. I do what I can in this job to bring some control back into their lives for my patients, to give them choices and enable them to achieve what’s important to them. Sometimes giving them control means giving up my own.

I have to put others’ priorities before my own (unless there is an issue with mental capacity or safeguarding), remembering that even if I am an expert, the job is to give patients the information about what is available to them so they can make a decision on whether they want it or not. It’s frustrating when I know that the help or equipment they decline would make life easier for them. But it’s more important to surrender my own need to control a situation, to offer my expertise as an open handed gift rather than forcing it on them, and to let them make the choices they still can.


I practise yoga once a week after work on a Tuesday. It helps me stretch out muscles cramped from driving between patients’ homes and hunched over a computer writing up those visits, as well as de-stressing mentally.

Sometimes our yoga teacher talks at the beginning of ‘setting an intention’ for the session. I suppose it’s just another way of saying to come up with a personal aim or focus for the session but somehow it’s a gentler, kinder ambition than a specific objective and therefore easier to succeed at.

I’ve had a long break from this blog – Christmas, New Year, a chest infection, too tired, and then just out of the routine, plus lacking an intention for it. With the end of 2017, I came to the end of my year’s series of the Blessing Jar weekly posts. I’ve been meaning to review them and write about that, thinking that it would lead to inspiration for a new series but I haven’t found or made the time and I’ve got stuck, lacking ideas and not finishing anything I have started.

I’m not one for New Year resolutions these days – too easy to be over ambitious, unrealistic, and then fail. But I have quietly started to read my way through The Message version of the New Testament in the mornings, alongside returning to Stormie O’Martian’s books to pray for my husband and sons. I’ve seen a lot of those ‘Bible in a Year’ schemes and wanted to do them but felt daunted by the commitment (I’ve tried before) so not having a deadline seems more achievable. I suppose that’s a form of ‘setting an intention’.

I’m trying to eat a little healthier too but without making a big deal or an actual diet of it. And I’m hoping to get back to swimming again. Or maybe that’s a bit over ambitious!

But I think it’s a matter of being intentional in my writing. I need to set an intention of writing for my blog each week again. Perhaps I don’t need to be too specific (yet) about topics and I certainly don’t need to keep holding up my recent failures to finish a piece or post something. – I just need to remind myself that I am still a writer and do it.