A few days ago, in one of those moments where I knew it would happen before it happened, I dropped my phone in the lake. All alone in the boathouse at Mystic Waters, I held the lever to raise the boat on the lift. With my other hand, I held my phone. Or should I say, tried to hold it. Before I knew it, the phone was leaving my hand to bounce once on the floor and into the lake.

As I said a few choice words, I also made note of where the phone went into the water. Then I looked around for someone to dive in to rescue my phone. It hit me pretty quickly. Getting to my phone before it was completely waterlogged was on me.

My first thought was to get into the water as quickly as possible. When I realized I would be drenching my clothes, I thought better of it. I changed into a swimsuit and then set about figuring out how to get in the water. The space between the boathouse and the boat on the lift was very narrow and it was a big drop into the lake. I decided that getting off from the back of the boat made the most sense. So I lowered the boat, scrambled off the back and worked my way to the spot where the phone went in the water.

The lake is shallow enough for me to stand in that area, so I started searching the bottom of the lake with my feet. No luck. I tried to expand my search, but the boat was in the way. In the meantime, Jen and I were planning to meet about this time and fortunately, she came into the boathouse. We strategized about how to move the boat out of the way, after which I carefully walked in an ever-expanding grid.

Still not finding my phone, I was ready to give up. I had this moment of insanity, where I thought “Well, it can’t be here, because I can’t find it.” Jen said “You might be getting a new phone.” I thought about the hassle of that, which sounded even less fun than the search in the lake. Something clicked in my mind and I decided I was not getting out of the water without my phone. I kept on, moving methodically back and forth. Soon, my feet felt the unmistakable square shape and the phone was in my hands.

While the phone dried out – still working perfectly – I reflected on that click in my mind. I also thought about other moments of phone dropping drama I have experienced. This time was mostly about solving the problem at hand. In the past, I have gone into overwhelm over such things. This time, there was no beating myself up over dropping it in the lake. There was no “ain’t it awful” thinking. (Ok, maybe there was a tiny bit of that.) For the most part, I focused on solving the problem in front of me.

So what did I do instead of overwhelm? I went into acceptance. There were several moments. When the phone first hit the water, I quickly accepted that it was in there. The most difficult thing was recognizing that getting it out was on me. Once I accepted that, I started thinking through the steps to get it out. And once I was in the lake, that click in my mind was the acceptance that I wasn’t getting out of the lake until I found my phone.

I once worked with someone who often answered the overwhelm of those around her with the statement “It is what it is.” Through all the BMW (bitching, moaning and whining), she would just set about getting the work done, step by step.

The Serenity Prayer says:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference

Knowing the difference between what we can change and what we can’t change truly makes a difference in how we go about solving the problems we are faced with everyday. I was going to be searching for my phone (or getting a new one) either way. Wishing the situation wasn’t happening would have changed nothing. The question was whether or not I would do it in a state of overwhelm or acceptance.

Where are you beating yourself up instead of focusing on solving the problem? How can you break the problem into manageable steps? Where would you like to have less overwhelm and more acceptance?

Oh, and next time I put up the boat, I will wait to check my phone until I’m totally clear of the lake!

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