Learning to Accept What I Can’t Control

As one who has minor (ginormous) challenges with slight (immeasurably large) control issues, I have yet to find a way to master my emotional response to situations that don’t turn out according to plan (that I created in my mind regardless of anyone else’s plan or reality). While I am aware of this flaw in my thought process, I struggle deeply with disentangling my personal feelings from the scenarios that upset me even when I recognize that I can’t change them.

A few months ago, we moved to a unique suburban area that offered over-sized lots with a small forest of trees blanketing the back of the yards. My oldest daughter and I discovered a shared passion for wildlife photography (especially of the feathered variety). We have always loved birds, but we were clueless about the vast array of species that would appear when we shared a little space with a grove of native trees.

In addition we have since found countless animal tracks trotting across our yard (inside our entirely enclosed fence). Our family and friends have been entertained over and over again with photos from our game camera as well as our evening animal stakeouts (a.k.a. sitting together in the dark in my room while we all stare out the windows with binoculars in hand and wait for our eyes to adjust and the nocturnal zoo to reveal itself).

game cam1

This level of nature may not be for everyone, but it’s an absolute paradise to my crew.

So when I woke a few mornings ago to the sickening crack of massive trees being felled a few feet behind our home, I felt an indescribable sadness. Our lot backs up to a tiny creek that separates our property from the lots behind us. Despite having a massive lot and a huge amount of space available for any castle / pool / soccer field the a new resident might need, the builders bulldozed tree after tree to the ground. The birds flew madly and many pairs could be heard wailing madly for hours as their nests and chicks were stolen away from them.


This was the view from our lot a few days prior. We were upset with our own builder for clearing the back of our lot, but we were confident that the green space would be maintained.

To be clear, I’m not an unrealistic person nor do I live in a tree house of my own. I understand that even if it isn’t exactly what I want, many trees may have to come down to make room for a home, pool, and significant yard. But if you buy a massive wooded lot, why in the world would you ever destroy such natural beauty that took decades (or longer) to grow? Why come here at all? In addition, it was a clear violation of everything that we had been told about maintaining the larger trees. Although we rallied with the other neighbors beside us to get the builder involved and stop further mindless clearing, the damage was already done. The builder feigned confusion about the excess of clearing, and the destroyed trees were piled into an 18 wheeler and hauled away.

This quickly became our view as the bulldozer began to tear through the trees. They did significant additional clearing after this photo was taken, but I couldn’t stomach taking another picture of the decimated habitat.

There was a pair of great horned owls that lived in one of the trees behind us that is now gone. We used to see a thick forest when we looked across our back fence but now see power lines and electrical boxes running along the other street several hundred feet behind our lot. I feel so sad and I don’t know how to let that go. I can’t control their choices nor can I fix the damage they caused.

All I can do is pray that the sadness will fade and that hope will find a way in the end.

I can’t change what has been done, but I humbly ask that you please consider planting a very small native tree or shrub near your home, school, or park. Any home improvement or garden store should be able to offer basic advice regarding appropriate plant species. If not, google might have one or two (thousand) suggestions. People constantly asking us how we get these beautiful species in our yard, and the answer is truly so simple. They just need a little bit of help.

We can’t control the situations around us nor can we go back in time to undo a hurt once it has happened. But we can make better choices when others can’t or won’t. We can rise above the pain. We can recognize that anger may be warranted but cannot define our existence. And we can choose hope and prove that it’s more than an idea.

As Willy Wonka beautifully said, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.”

And it’s true. Regardless of what is occurring around you, find your song and celebrate your dreams. Never forget that the smallest light can brighten the darkest room. Don’t let fear, hurt, or anger extinguish your brilliant glow. Find that beautiful spark that is an innate part of who you truly are, take positive action of your own whenever you can, and show the world what it’s like to shine.

Hugs to you all. Jo

26 thoughts on “Learning to Accept What I Can’t Control

  1. How difficult that must be for you! Hopefully you and your neighbors will be able to continue to offer enough green space to keep many of the critters around! I like your phrase about “finding your song.” Although I’m now closer to children and grandchildren after moving to Texas a few years agoe, I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding my song and miss my yard, critters, flowers, and seasons of Michigan. I guess that it’s just a work in progress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do have seasons here in Texas. We have Summer I and Summer II. You just adore it when people here tell you that it’s snowing outside. Lol! 😉 There are definitely pockets of critters around here, but too many of those pockets are being wiped out. It’s terribly sad and truly unnecessary. It makes me bananas to watch people now down trees and then plant a couple of replacement sticks instead. What a waste!

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  2. Jo I feel for you. I had the same thing happen at a house I lived in and I grieved for those trees for a long time. A friend still lives in the house and now almost twenty years later the trees have regrown and again there is a treed view. As humans we seem to give no thought to the wildlife habitats that are destoyed in the process. I’ll plant a tree at our new house. Hopefully you can plant several trees along your back fence that in time will hide what has happened.

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    1. Willy Wonka’s words often float through my mind when something strikes a chord within me. Your words absolutely did just that, and when I read your comment about planting a tree in your yard, I heard, “So shines a good deed in a weary world…” It was tweaked a bit from a Shakespeare line, but I find such power in it. You are that shining light, and you remind me once more that there is always hope. ❤️ Thank you darling friend. Biggest of hugs to you. Jo


    1. I am so pickin’ up what you are puttin’ down. I long to be zen about it and know that everything is as it is supposed to be. But… Another part of me seriously fantasizes about having a giant sign made to post along my back fence that reads, “YOU STINK FOR CUTTING DOWN THE TREES. IRONICALLY YOU COULDN’T SEE THIS IF YOU HAD LEFT THEM THERE.” I mentioned that it would be a very large sign, yes??? I would never do that in reality, but maybe I can put out a monster sized laundry line to hang out some bras and panties. I have a dryer and wouldn’t put my bras and panties out there, but I would be willing to buy more just for this. 😂😂😂


  3. Oh Jo, my heart hurts for you. I’m so sorry you’ve lost your trees.

    The farmer who owns the land behind our street’s lots came by last month – he’s decided to clear it for pasture. It’s “just” very overgrown shrub(age), certainly not magnificent old trees, but it looks like forest to me and I’m sad that soon it’s gonna be gone. Right now I have lots and lots of birds coming to our feeders. I hope they’re still around after the dust settles…

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    1. I always thought that it was just scrub brush and weeds, too. I didn’t realize that all that was actually understory, and that it is a wildlife haven. The good news is that you can add some stuff to the back of your yard. It will take a while, but the critters will recognize it as home again one day. Or, as my husband has tried to tell me, it will just make your yard that much more appealing for the critters right now. 🙂


  4. We live in the city, within a stones throw of a creek. We’ve shielded ourselves into our now oasis of a woodsy haven for at least thirty-six varieties of backyard birds, chipmunks and squirrels galore, the occasional rabbit, hawks, owls, and a lone pileated woodpecker. I credit much of this to not a line, but a zig-zag of naturally placed Green Giant Thuja. They grow approximately 3 feet a year and have high resistance to pests and disease. Our backyard looks like a spot high in the mountains. Please google up these trees … they grow to be over 30 feet high and they were the best investment we’ve ever made. I feel your pain about the loss of your privacy and creature sanctuary. Get out there and create your own spot of heaven. love, a fellow lover of God’s Creation Jan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello darling! It’s so funny that you mention those trees (this is one of those moments that I think of as a wink of the universe) because I keep seeing references to the Thuja trees whenever I research replant options online. I have been kicking around maybe including those in the mix but have been uncertain since we have never gone with those before. I appreciate your writing this comment more than I can tell you Jan. Thank you so so much!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jo, I could tell you and I were kindred spirits. I think you’d really love the Green Giant Thujas. Do leave plenty of room for them to grow tall and wide … these are super big … that’s why I love them … beautiful trees and lots of lovely privacy. Also, our critters love to hang out in its branches. Glad to be of help … glad the universe winked !! Jan

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    1. There should be a widget that allows you to request them via email, but I’m not sure if people are able to see it or not. Could you please tell me if you are trying to find it via the momentumofjo.com site or the lifeonthespectrum.com site so I can see which one is being a pain. So sorry that it’s acting up, and I appreciate your asking about this!


    2. OK so it looks like the email widget is active but maybe it’s easier to see on the desktop site. If you go to lifeinthespectrum.com, there is a little box to the right of the posts that says “Enter your email address.” Once you put it in there, I believe that it will send the posts to you directly. 🙂


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