Life Lessons

Waiting with Open Hands

It’s happened before. I enter the bathroom, thick with sleep and running late. In my haste, I wrench open the medicine cabinet too hard. Items hurtle towards me.

I should know better. This booby-trapped cabinet—with its sloping interior and wiggly shelves—is not to be trusted. It’s skittish, and forceful movements make its contents spill out. If I’m lucky, it’s something unbreakable, like deodorant. When I’m unlucky, it’s a $75 bottle of intensive repair serum (in a surprisingly unrepairable bottle). This morning? Thumbs down. My husband’s aftershave tumbles toward me in slow-motion.

But let me back up for a moment.stop

Last week, I found myself grocery shopping at 8pm. It was cold and dark out, and I was tired after a long day. I felt burdened and frustrated. The holiday shopping, decorating, and planning squeezed between writing projects and meetings had me overwhelmed. By the time I entered the store, hot tears of resentment burned behind my eyes.

Before I wallowed too long, an “Ah-ha” moment occurred. My wisest voice spoke up and challenged me. Did I want to cling to negativity, or could I let go? Did I plan to stay miserable (and make others miserable as well), or make a change? I stopped my cart in frozen foods and took a deep breath. After all, no one can change my attitude but me.

Exiting the store an hour later, chunky, snow-globe-style snowflakes greeted me. I sensed a test of my resolve. How would I respond?night-snow

“It’s snowing!” I said to myself.

“Isn’t it beautiful?!” a wistful voice answered. The small woman startled me. I hadn’t noticed her there. But the wonder in her voice and the joy in her smile unraveled the last of my resentment.

Yes, I agreed. It was beautiful.

When I feel overwhelmed, it’s a struggle to be positive. Looking back, this past year challenged me to accept circumstances as they are rather than how I expect them to be. There were times I shook with anger and others when sadness swallowed me. Yet in hindsight, the most intense moments taught me the most gentle lessons…

  • By letting go, acceptance entered.
  • By acknowledging fear, courage appeared.
  • By releasing a tight grip, grace arrived.

I don’t have it figured out and often lose my way. Yet I’m learning to listen for that wise inner voice.  Those “Ah-ha” moments have much to teach.

So this morning—as the aftershave catapulted from the cabinet—I instinctively placed my hand, palm up, near the sink. Luck was on my side. I caught it. In that microsecond, I had assessed correctly.

And then I thought of my angry trip to the store and how a stranger’s serene smile and the gently falling snow softened me.

And I remembered times when I’ve been brusque with others because something wasn’t following my plan, only to later discover a better result than I could have imagined.

And I recahands-and-feetlled how gentleness, sensitivity, and kindness boldly overrides anger and ferocity.

When I caught that silly aftershave bottle, I didn’t lunge or clamor. I opened my hand and it landed. Sure, I was lucky, but perhaps that’s the lesson. During this season of the year, I can’t help but wonder what else will land if I remember to keep my hands outstretched, palms up, and ready to receive.


6 thoughts on “Waiting with Open Hands”

  1. Tom Palmersheim says:

    Once again I loved it. Keep up the wonderful work.

  2. Peggy Jensen says:

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder Katie. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year. We hope to see you strolling the streets this holiday season??

  3. nancy simpson says:

    Thanks for reminding me to stay positive during this hectic time. Your posts come at the right time to make slow down & enjoy with a positive attitude.

  4. Wanda says:


  5. Maureen says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! Loved this piece and so timely…!

  6. Therese says:

    I love the reminder of a physical movement that can remind me to be in a receiving place, hands out palms up. While these last few days of extreme cold, I seem to stop at the feeling of warmth to take it all in. Your writing just did the same. Taking it all in my friend.

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