The Ocean and a Mop

Hello brave friend!

About a week ago, I saw a meme on Instagram that had me laughing to the point of tears. I’ll describe it the best I can, although the visual is definitely much more satisfying. There was a man standing on a beach, at the waters edge, with a classic industrial mop and bucket. You know the type that most janitors use… the mop “bucket“ is large, usually yellow and has a squeeze contraption on the back so you can ring out the mop. This man was flinging the mop into the ocean, swishing it around, and then squeezing the water into the bucket. The caption below it read:

“This is how ridiculous you look trying to control everything.”

My hysterical laughter came at how spot on this image was… And how cleverly they had articulated the ridiculousness of one’s freakish control antics, and the attempts to “manage“ everything around them. It is easy to look at the man on the beach with a mop, and say… “You can’t do it, why do you try? There is no value in attempting to mop up the ocean into a bucket. That’s ridiculous!” And yet it is with this frenzied determination that many of us attempt to navigate life.

As a recovering perfectionist, and someone who can admit to a deep need for control, I’d like to offer myself congratulations for the ground I’ve covered in letting go. The holiday season is a perfect opportunity for even “recovering“ control freaks to step outside their boundaries… So this year I’d like to celebrate a win with you all.

I have worked hard over the past few years to align my holiday festivities with my core value of connection. I love creating opportunities to be with my people, share joy and laughter, and resist the urge to make it about material objects. This year I decided to organize a joyful activity every week of December that brought together my family and friends. From touring festively decorated mansions, attending the Boston Pops, to hosting a gingerbread decorating party. I wanted to create a month-long celebration of love and friendship. I planned each event out, made the reservations, secured the tickets, bought the supplies, put up the decorations, sent the invitations and prepared for a full heart.

The first event had been planned with my three daughters and a close friend. Being with all three of my girls doesn’t happen as much as I’d like anymore… So I was really excited for us to be together. I thought perhaps this would be an opportunity for a picture together again, another rarity. And yet on the day of the castle visit, one daughter simply declined to join us. There wasn’t any specific reason… She just wasn’t feeling it. The old me would have crumbled in frustration. I would have cajoled and urged her… Probably laid on some guilt about not being together very often and attempted to control both how she was feeling and her choice to attend or not. But this year, I gave her a hug, told her we would miss her, but appreciated that she was setting boundaries that felt good to her. I knew forcing her to come would’ve resulted in resentment, and likely the afternoon would’ve been ruined for us all. But instead, we honored her needs and had a fantastic time. The daughter who chose to stay home, and I won’t call her out specifically, took care of her need for space, and understood that we respected that. I let go of my need to control what was planned and let go of what perfect was supposed to look like. It was glorious.

The following week the gingerbread party resulted in multiple cancellations for a wide variety of understandable reasons. I let go of the planned activities and just embraced the time with those who could be there without controlling what that looked like. Again… It was perfection!

So, my Mindful Mini invitation for today is to step back and allow yourself to release control. Let go of trying to manipulate all the variables, along with people’s needs and feelings. Let go of your need to control what perfect looks like. Stop trying to control both the process and the outcome. It is as ridiculous as trying to empty out the ocean with a mop. Let go of trying to control everything!! It is only an illusion anyway… And what arrives in its place is an unpredictable, messy, hysterical, beautiful and joyful experience that, when allowed, might just be everything you long for and more! It’s all there waiting for you. And you are so worth it.

Yours in heart,

Kelly Lynn Driscoll

About Kelly Lynn

Kelly Lynn Coaching & Consulting

I empower districts to transform culture and educators to transform their lives so they are connected, fulfilled and aligned with purpose. With over thirty years experience in education and education administration, I specialize in supporting Social Emotional Learning (SEL), balance and a culture of wellness. It is my MISSION to bring joy back to education!

Contact Kelly Lynn

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