Freedom of the Mind

Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” – Victor Frankl

Mr. D’s daycare opened 3 hours late yesterday because there was a possibility of snow the night prior. When I asked Miss O if for special, special she wanted to go to school late since Mr. D was going to go to school late, her response after carefully considering her 2nd grade schedule was, “I’m flexible to miss first recess.

Of course this is all a bit ridiculous because there wasn’t any actual snow on the ground (see featured photo). But Seattle is notoriously bad at handling snow. We once had a mayor who was supposedly not reelected because he did a bad job with snow removal the prior year. Not sure that really is true because every mayor seems to do poorly in that regard and some get reelected so there’s some faulty logic in there.

Just the threat of snow has meant Mr. D’s daycare closed early one afternoon so the teachers could get home in case it snowed. Then it did snow in the middle of the night but warmed up to 40 degrees and all melted before the kids looked out the window in the morning.

And then there was the late opening of daycare yesterday morning because of the possibility of snow. Not all of the teachers live near the school so it was a concession to getting them to school safely in case it snowed in the areas surrounding Seattle. I’m very sympathetic to this. I want the teachers of his daycare or any other facility to be able to travel safely.

But this change in routine for a weather event that never actually materialized caused me to feel crunched. Like when life changes unexpectedly, I’m the one squashed in the middle needing to adapt. It’s a little mix of self-pity and tiredness that seeps in because I know I’m going to have to work harder both at work and in taking care of two people because the routine is different.

I suspect that my irritation has two sources really. The first is that things were cancelled based on the forecast that never came to pass. It reminds me of how often I’ve not done or tried something because the conditions might not be right instead of outlasting the uncertainty to make a better decision. As Dr. Phil used to say (and he still might), “There is something about that guy that bothers me about myself.”

The second is that of course I need to get my work done no matter what the weather does. But I probably have more wiggle room than I’m willing to admit. It’s just hard for me to pivot enough to relax when factors outside my control force the option.

In my struggle to regain my equanimity, I thought of the quote Endless Weekend contributed in the comments on the Negotiation with Others post that I used at the top of this post. It’s by Victor Frankl, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

My feeling of being crunched is entirely under my control. Freedom can be achieved by doing the mental work to restore equanimity, regardless of the weather or other people’s decisions.

Which brings me back to Miss O’s decision. It turns out she really wasn’t flexible to miss first recess. It showed me that most of us, at least in my family, even without concrete pressures of work and money, have a hard time diverging from the routine. But life will force us to – and we just get to choose whether we’ll enjoy it or not.

So, thinking about the quote from Frankl, I finally worked myself around and rearranged my day, did a little more email before the kids went to school, dropped Miss O off in time for first recess and then took Mr. D to Starbucks for hot cocoa. It was pretty fun so it turns out there are some things worth being flexible for…


62 thoughts on “Freedom of the Mind

  1. The Frankl quote is a keeper…one of my faves…and yes, yes, yes…it’s all in how we react. We’re vibing again in our posts today, Wynne…different stories and details…similar ideas. Love that…and you’re a better person than I am…day care closing because of the THREAT of snow? That would drive me over the edge, I fear. Cheers to you for making it work. Diverging from routine is not one of my strengths. Xo! 😘

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ha, ha. I love the way we vibe. Changing from routine isn’t one of my strengths either — and I think not for Miss O as well. 🙂

      I was very grateful the daycare closing was on the 1st of the month and not the last day of November when I was really pressed so gratitude saved me a little bit. 🙂

      And for the record, I’m not surprised that the Frankl quote is one of your faves too. Clearly you have a lot of thoughtfulness that shows in freedom in your reactions! XOXO dear Vicki!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Love that…your observation that even though it was a curve ball…the closure and the resulting ‘ripples’ would’ve been yuckier the day before. There you go! Finding that sunny side where we can. xo! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I need this reminder every day until January 13th, when (fingers crossed and all stars align) I will actually be able to get on a plane, on-time at SEA and 4 days later return home- again on time and fully unstressed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, fingers crossed for January 13th. Let’s hope all the fuss this week was just people warming up their “snow cancellations” reflexes and our collective preparedness for snow will be more thoughtful for the rest of the season. But either way, I’m rooting for your travels to be completely untroubled.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t think I watched Dr. Phil enough to know he said: “There is something about that guy that bothers me about myself.” I love it. I’d like to put that on a business card then hand out the card when some not self-aware person starts dragging someone else down. And how do you suppose that would turn out? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ally, I don’t think I’ve watched enough Dr. Phil to know that in the first place but somehow I do. Isn’t that funny? I must have caught just the right moment and it stuck with me because it’s SOOO true.

      Love the idea of the business card – made me laugh out loud. How do we suppose that would turn out? Can’t wait for you to blog about it! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your post touched me deeply. I get where you’re coming from, having been there myself. And while in an ideal world we’d be able to always choose wisely on how we react, in our much-less-than-ideal-world I go back to our new Danish word, pyt. And here’s a pyt button I now try to carry (metaphorically 🙃) with me:

    You can share it, too, especially on would-be snowy days, and would-be flexibility 🤗

    And thank you for the shout-out, it is one of my favorites, too 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pty button. I love it!! Thank you so much for sharing it with me and all the wisdom that goes with it. I love your comment, “in an ideal world we’d be able to choose wisely on how we react…” But for all the other moments, we have our button. Love this comment, your wisdom and your post, EW!! ❤ ❤ ❤


  5. It’s not just a Seattle thing. It’s a Pennsylvania thing too. We’ve had any number of expected snow storms over the years, with the schools calling off for the morning, all for the forecast to be wrong. It tends to happen later in the winter when we’ve been hit with a few back to back storms. They’re expecting the snow to still be on the ground or to ice over. I guess I don’t blame the schools, but when our kids were younger, it made for a heck of a time trying to manage work. Good luck to you. And, is it wrong to say that I can’t wait for summer. I’m done with winter already!!!! Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That surprises me about Pennsylvania. I would have thought you all were way more hardy than us Seattleites. But maybe it’s just human nature to try to make calls early. You’re right about it making for a heck of a time trying to manage work!

      Thanks for the good wishes. And I bet summer will be here before we know it and if not, we can blog about it, right? 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s sort of strange. In Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia suburbs, there’s definitely more of a concern about the roads and calling in two hour delays. It’s a mixture of obviously the snow we get, but also the poor job cleaning them off. In Central PA where I grew up . . . it seemed like we went hell or high water. Lol. Maybe that’s why I dream so much of warmer regions! Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I would add to your demonstration of flexibility, that frustration is built into us, not to mention many less attractive qualities. We adapt quickly, slowly, or not at all. To me, I try not to disapprove myself too much. The world hands out enough punishment quite well on its own!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think I respond patiently in most cases but late starts and cancellations because of threats of snow would mean no school in most of BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, and so on from October to April. I think you are more sympathetic than I am to teachers. Would you extend the same consideration to the IRS collection staff?, or pretty much every service job? They have to get to work also. If it’s snowing is one thing, close early, start late but “threat” – sometimes it snows in July in Calgary, though it doesn’t last long. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yep—sometimes I get a teensy bit cranky when somebody or something comes along to interrupt my cozy little routine. As your quote from Dr. Phil says, “There’s something about that guy that I don’t like about myself.” There’s nothing like a little hitch in my routine to remind me that I have might some inner-self work left to do. And the good news is that as Victor (and you) says, I can choose the way I respond to it. Good old Victor—a man of wises words indeed. Thanks for another great post, Wynne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so delightful in your response to things, Julia. I love the way you put it – a little hitch in the routine reminds you to do some inner-self work. I wish we were all so enlightened as you, Julia! Thanks for another great comment, Julia! XOXO


  9. How interesting your post is about controlling our reaction to life’s unexpected events as the last post I commented on was about a similar topic.

    I agree with the quote that we can only focus on the things that we can control and not try to dwell on the things that we can’t. How wonderful that from this day, Mr D got hot cocoa from Starbucks too.

    I have to laugh about the snow causing the mayor to not get re-elected. Many years ago, one of our mayors over reacted with the impending snowstorm and called in the army to be on standby to help dig the city out. That snowstorm never happened and he never lived it down. Snow makes politicians do funny things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s some interesting synchronicity. I wonder if it’s that time of year when things are more often beyond our control – or appear to be!

      I’m laughing about your mayor. That’s funny!! Ah, it’s not only reaction that can go wrong but anticipation too.

      Hope you all have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. First of all, I got unfollowed. I just refollowed you. I don’t understand why this keeps happening to some of the blogs I follow.

    And second, I love the quote. So very very true.

    Third, there is nary a snowflake nor a drop of rain in my region but they have dumped massive amounts of road salt on every sidewalk. What an ecological waste! Why not save the salt until we need it?

    Nice to be back on your blog. 💟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to see you back here, Claudette. That is the strangest thing that’s happened to me too. I have no idea why!

      So interesting about the salt. I guess it falls under the category of preparedness but I’m with you – save it until it’s needed.

      Thanks for the refollow!! 🙂 ❤


  11. Wow, this post had Kendra all over it. Finding it hard to pivot when circumstances are out of our control. Feeling frustrated that we’re the ones being forced to scramble. Oh yeah, that’s me. But I love the conclusion you came to, and how you handled it. And Miss O is simply the cutest thing. Her comment that she was flexible enough to miss recess? But then not really? Love, love it! 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought missing first recess was pretty funny too. Gotta have priorities, right?

      Yes, I think we that feel frustrated in those circumstances might have a big club. But I have a big suspicion that you handle it graciously, as always, Kendra! Hope you have a great weekend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Portland is the same way. My kids missed school one day because of the mere threat of snow, and it turned out to be sunny and 45º. Not going to lie: that was pretty irritating!

    For me. They, of course, were thrilled.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Another lovely post, Wynne.
    I love this quote, ““Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” – Victor Frankl
    I agree that although we have the freedom to choose how to respond, pivoting when things are out of our control is hard sometimes. Especially if we have to consider many factors before we respond.
    Reminds me of the times when I had planned an exciting lesson and presented it with a flourish, only to be stared at by 24 pairs of eyes saying, what was Ms. U thinking of? Even though I had not anticipated the reaction, I had to pivot, without brooding over my disappointment, think on my feet and redo the lesson differently while I still had their attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great example, Chaya. And I love how you put it – that you had to pivot without brooding over your disappointment. Grace in action!! I’m sure you did it well – because I find myself learning from you. Thanks, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post! I like the way it made me think about my relationship with routine. I think I am good with or even prefer a lack of routine in general- but with the things for which I prefer routine, I turned to be pretty inflexible, or at least very reluctant to flex.

    The school cancellation thing cracked me up- school districts around here often make giant errors with snow too. Sometimes school would be canceled for the day, but the snowstorm had veered away from us so all the roads were clear. People would end up running into each other at coffee shops, or at the mall, etc- even the movies-it was kind of fun 😁

    And as if this comment hasn’t rambled on long enough….

    Long ago when my wife, girlfriend at the time, we’re dating- we went to the beach almost every weekend (about a 3 hour drive from home). These were all day trips, not what you want on a rainy day. We adopted the policy of never canceling for whether unless it was a very highly probable big deal. Most of the time the weather turned out beautiful. Not only did that approach get us to the beach much more often than something more conservative, we also learned how to survive a rainstorm on the beach 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, oh, oh, I love this comment, Todd. Especially learning not to cancel unless it was a “very highly probably big deal” (love that phrase) and learning to survive a rainstorm. There is so much wisdom in that. It reminds me of your “Pina Coladas” post.

      I also like your phrase “very reluctant to flex.” Yep, I can name the things in that category for myself.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Todd!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Isn’t it amazing when we choose our response wisely, how wonderfully things can turn out.
    Viktor Frankl’s wisdom is admirable. His story is a powerful one and his books are inspiring.
    I made a video some time ago around the same subject. Not sure if I shared it with you, but here it is
    Lovely post as always Wynne, with plenty of wisdom.
    Have a happy Sunday! 💕🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m so glad this had a happy ending. 🙂 Nobody likes change and routines being thrown off. (This morning a coworker ranted to me about Facebook changing up their scheduling process.)

    This line rang so true for me: But I probably have more wiggle room than I’m willing to admit. I sometimes tell Hubby, “But I really need to get my work done now.” When, more than likely, no one will notice if it happens a little later than usual.

    As always, good reflection and good wisdom in here, Wynne. Love that Frankl line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad it’s not just me that has trouble being flexible. Sometimes I think I just I’m just interrupted out!! Yes, the wiggle room is tricky, isn’t it?

      Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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