The Power of Choice


Whether you’re a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Agnostic or Pantheist, this is the season of birth and fertility. Today marks the first day of Passover, the Jewish people’s commemoration of their Israelite forbearers’ escape from the constrictions of slavery into freedom. It is followed five days later by Easter, a similar story about being unencumbered by the physical body.

A week ago, I saw the first purple crocus in my garden. Its golden eye winked at me as I bent down to cup the first sign of spring in my hands. I might have winced instead at the drab brown earth and grass, weary of winter’s frozen grasp. I chose to see the flower. We each have the power to make a choice in every moment.

The night before I had had a difficult phone conversation with one of my sons.  We are teaching each other what it means to co-create a relationship. Old wounds die hard. It takes a conscious decision to evolve into a new place of mutual respect, boundaries, and loving intent.  His recent visit home had brought up old resentments of not being seen or respected. He told me how unsafe he felt when his father and I kept changing our expectations of him. As a result, he didn’t get the rest he came for.  We talked it through to a place of compromise, and developed a strategy for sharing our expectations ahead of time before the next visit.

When I got off the phone, my first inclination was to cry and call a friend. But I didn’t. I had promised myself to get caught up on emails and other work, for this was my only night alone. I knew if I didn’t follow through I would wake up the next morning with the same ball and chain around my ankle. I ignored the residual feelings of sadness and regret, and focused. In that moment I chose the path of inner freedom.

The next morning I woke up feeling freer and lighter than I had in months. I had listened to my son’s feelings, played back what I heard instead of getting defensive, and had walked in the unfamiliar landscape of co-creation. Afterwards, I wrote 78 emails, whittling my list from 152 to 21!

We all have the power to choose how we frame a picture. We can see brown grass or a purple crocus. We can hang up the phone and go back to old feelings of guilt and sadness, or commend ourselves for moving forward.

Choosing is a form of exodus from internal enslavement. Choosing in every moment is the opportunity for resurrection from destructive patterns.

Happy rising, in whatever way you choose to celebrate spring.

  • What choice have you made recently that shifted your perspective?
  • What is your own definition of freedom?
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16 Responses to The Power of Choice

  1. John Eldridge says:

    I used to see things on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being “my way”, but I try to stay gray at a 5. That allows me to see what someone else shares in their light. I might say, that is an interesting perspective, not necessarily the route I would go. I could grow from that experience being elastic, i.e., not digging my heels in. It gives me choices, freedoms. It also says to me the other person speaks the truth. It is better to learn than to judge. John

    • I believe it is true that there is freedom in staying open, as long as one has a sense of personal boundary in the balance. I applaud you John for looking at both sides. I think the greatest freedom is the freedom from fear. When we give up our fear we can see much more clearly. Another way of saying your last piece of wisdom about better to learn than judge, is to say, “don’t get angry. Get curious.” Hugs to you.

  2. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, I am sorry to say I am unfamiliar with the concept “co create”. I looked it up and the references tended to be “businessy”– strategy, marketeting, customer and firm relationships, etc..
    I discarded these explanations and decided that you and your son were trying to build understanding, a kind of dependence on one another and all that goes into stamping a bond with mutual respect. Difficult because “old wounds die hard.” Perhaps, another family visit would help.

    Your intelligent rapport with your son may be strainned by your son’s tiredness– you know, only too well…

    My oldest son and I watch movies, together on his computer, when he visits. Now, he cooks a dinner for all of us. In his senior year at Sewanee, University of The South, his leadership and academic accomplishments have earned him tremendous respect from faculty and students. I am so pleased for him! I call him every Sunday afternoon to talk and I try to make sure his “needs”
    are fine. I worry that he will feel an emptiness in life and I will not be there to understand. I try to help him define an inner world that is easy to reach??? This evolving gender world is wacky and he is a straight kind of guy with everything going for him. He comes home to sleep, rest and I take care of him, so he can work. I never had that kind of attention! Go deeper into your son’s feelings and decide, if you are on the right level with him. Maybe, you need to lighten up? Is he with too much work and not enough time for “whatever”?

    Freedom for me has to be having financial security and the ability to turn my inner thoughts away from fear. Fear is sad… My perspective changes on a warm day; when I hear beautiful music; when I pick up my needles and “move” forward. Perspecive has to have movement for me and make sense– talking, positively, doing positive things.

    Do we loose perspective when we begin to pull all kinds of strands, together and knit up a story of deceit, betrayal, love lost and tragedy because we need drama? Where is the light hearted?

    One word of advice to your son: responsibility has many facets and perspective is essential.
    Life works out for the best.

    • Elaine, I agree that life works out of the best. Thanks of your words of comfort. I am blessed that we have open communication and feel confident that things will work out for the best in the long run.
      Co-creation is the term we use together in how we are creating mutually agreed-upon, new patterns and expectations in our relationships.
      How nice that you have a regular call on Sunday afternoons. I’d love that but it doesn’t seem to work for my son with the pattern of his work just now. But someday…!

  3. Louise Gilbert says:

    Hi Eileen, this blog is really beautifully inspiring and came at the exact time I needed it. I say this because today, after much history and mutual wounds, my sister and I decided to MOVE ON AND MOVE FORWARD! I am happily open to this and I know she is too. In sum, sometimes we need to exchange the difficult stuff in order to arrive at a positive mutual choice and mutual acceptance and care and love. I cheer your garden’s Crocus!! 🙂 Louise

  4. Congratulations Louise! I’m so happy for you – and your sister! I agree with you that we need to move through the difficult stuff in order to move on from it. More power to you both! Big hugs. Eileen

  5. joaneee says:

    Eileen . . . rarely do I recommend a book . . and, as you know I always do, I have more than a few thoughts on this subject . . . but, perhaps, for the first time in life, my own thoughts so closely reflect those of an author living close to you: Katrina Kenison. She too has two boys just grown and what we read – I am sure – reflects what we have all felt during this stage of life. The book – well, it is called THE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY and you will find it highly applauded in reviews.

    Katrina makes us stop in our tracks – looking back at our own lives and relationships, but particularly the lives of our just grown children. Both you and I like words of wisdom in our use of quotations – quotations that stick with us. You will find yourself re-reading sections, absorbing them, and perhaps finding them more than helpful. As I do, I think you will wish to know the very deep and lovely woman who seems to have found the right path, after mistakes we all have made in life’s challenges, as I would. All of us can benefit from this book I believe. I wish I had had all its insights years ago!!!!!

  6. Thanks Joan. I’ll look into it!

  7. Phyll says:

    For me, emotional freedom comes when I feel at peace within my heart. This happens when I’m with one of my furry friends. My pup, kits and pony soothe my weary heart and rejuvenate me with a new lease on life—no matter my worry or woe. I can always count on them. And do! The rapids of life can get tumultuous at times, and we all need a safe haven where we can retreat, relax and restore ourselves. It is here we find solace and true equanimity, harmony and peace.

    • joaneee says:

      Phyll . . . truly, you have written the most beautiful words that will affect all who read them. In my case, I have written often of “a room of my own” — all in sunshine tones — that provides the “escape” I need to bounce back from — in my case, the terrible health issues of others close to me, — and give me respite. But we each have our own method of rest and rejuvenation — coming back refreshed . . . and I can understand how pets can be the answer as well. Thanks for your writing.

  8. I love that Joanee was inspired to comment on Phyll’s comment! Now I feel like we are becoming a community. Thank you both for sharing yourselves. Joanee, I am sending healing thoughts in your direction for those who are close to you with health issues. May you find energy, even as you give it.
    And Phyll, thanks as always for reminding us of the importance of animals in our lives. I just came back from riding my horse, Lucky, and the sense of responsibility that I was carrying today seem to have fallen off in a field somewhere….

    • Phyll says:

      I well understand, Eileen. So happy to hear. You and Lucky are a great team. Same with me and Dancer. When we’re driving down the road together, all is right with the world—pure bliss!

  9. martin rosen says:

    So glad that you chose the crocus to share with us. Waking up each morning is our personal resurrection and renaissance.
    love, marty rosen

  10. sandmansand says:

    “Choosing is a form of exodus from internal enslavement. Choosing in every moment is the opportunity for resurrection from destructive patterns.”

    I love these words. They tell me to look deep within my self, within my soul, at my own destructive patterns. Patterns of hate towards people, towards things, and towards the world.

    The words remind me of my own choices that I have made in my life. Why do I enslave myself with hate? Ahh, it must be because I am not living in the moment. I’m not enjoying the moment. My moment is foggy and not clear. I need to focus more on living in the moment. I need to broaden my horizon of choices, instead of focusing in on a destructive few. Because that is what true freedom is – power over, overbearing emotional baggage’s that weigh us down.

  11. eileenrockefeller says:

    You must have just discovered my blog. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on so many topics. You understand a lot. I think for all of us, the real challenge is in implementing what we know to be true. I’m certainly in that camp too!

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