Hello beautiful people!
It feels so good to be back here and able to talk to you again. I know, it’s been a while … but even the best laid plans can go haywire.
Which brings me to what I’m talking about today – making plans.
I am the queen of To-Do lists! There’s that virtual Post-It note on my computer desktop screen listing everything I have to do today/this week/in order.
There’s the actual Post-It note stuck to the screen edge … which never seems to remain stuck, so it drifts off and I can lose that part.
There’s the open square paper note block on the table between my keyboard and screen—everything and nothing on, in no particular order.
There’s my diary/planner to the side—month ‘jobs’, week jobs, day jobs clearly listed. There’s the whiteboard on the wall of the hallway to the kitchen—grocery list, to-do list, important dates.
Oh, let’s not forget the calendar on the phone, with reminders, and the online Google calendar and the like.
Ahem, Type A, much? Sadly, yes.
But my point being – I make plans, yes, but they don’t always pan out.
For example, the plan for 2018 was to write X number of books, complete a series, further another, do some translations, among my ‘day’ job which is editing. Oh, and yeah, read 200 books for the Goodreads challenge.
Result? Number of books written is more like X-3, no series finished or furthered, zero translated words, and just clocking in 190 books for the Reading challenge … and that, too, by counting and adding second/third reads of some books just to make the number swell.
I can go all into the reasons this didn’t happen. My son had to change schools amid some upheavals at his previous school. My dad got seriously sick but we didn’t know how sick as he would end up passing away exactly 2 months later. Now, my dad was my hero, my teacher, my rock and one of my most solid anchors—losing him did throw me into a spin. My son moving schools from public to private aka paying school meant I needed to work more to afford those fees.
But in all this, there’s me, too. I just couldn’t do it. Never mind the circumstances – it boiled down to “I couldn’t do it” aka stick to the ‘plan’.
Seeing the mess I had made of 2018 made me jump into the deep end straight away so as to make 2019 the best year ever, where I actually would accomplish so much!
But is that actually a good thing?
We make plans. We all do. They allow us to chart our path, organize our day/week/month/year/time, give us a streamlined direction where we can channel our tunnel vision and forge ahead.
And that’s where the problem lies – this tunnel vision we engage in when we’re set on a goal. Imagine the horse that is racing—there’s that head covering they put on him, the one that restricts his range of peripheral vision (sorry, for a wordsmith by trade and profession, I am baffled as to what it’s called and finding it a bit pathetic to go Google ‘horse face thingie for racing’). So, back to what I was saying – that horse will run, and run straight ahead, allowing no distractions, noticing nothing outside the very narrow range of vision this ‘thingie’ allows.
Having too rigid plans do the same for us …
It was November 2018 when I reckoned the year had gone down the gutter for me, like, I had almost nothing to show for that year. Yes, I did have a brush with depression after my dad’s death, the almost continuous burn-out from all the working I was doing, the senseless and pointless indulging I had done in the little spare time I’d had by mindlessly playing kitchen/restaurant games on my tablet when I should’ve been reading for pleasure. That’s when I decided 2019 would absolutely kill it!
Then December came – my supposed R&R, chilling, relaxing, no working month. [FYI, far from the actual December I lived, ha!] Amid the to-do lists I was still chasing and making right that month, there were trips to the sea … where instead of plunging my head into my phone screen on my Kindle app to read, I plunged my gaze and awareness into actually being at the seaside.
There was the moment when I learned to make that ‘killer’ cup of mochaccino my husband adores and which made him say, “Coffee shops won’t get my money anymore for this drink!” (side note – I didn’t get that saved money, though …).
There was the sound of my son laughing his head off in his bedroom, which is a ways away from my home office, but I could still hear him (yeah, that loud! A little like a hyena on steroids, to be honest …) … but the point being, I hadn’t heard him laugh like that in a while. Was it that he hadn’t been laughing like that … or that I had been too busy, too into my world, too focused on my tunnel vision and tunnel hearing and tunnel everything to not hear him?
There’s something to stopping and living, being, in the moment … That’s what I found that December. I call it my very own kind of mindfulness—this is what works for me … and it might work for you, too.
Because life is not a race. Nothing is a race (unless it actually is the sporting event-type). But for us, we everyday-type-folks, it isn’t a race for us. It shouldn’t be.
True, you also cannot live by being completely in uncertainty, with no direction, no plan … but often, a sense of direction and/or plan works just as well, if not better, than having everything set in stone and living the Type A life chasing ‘something’ which keeps on eluding us. We fail to realize there are things, occurrences, people, still here, right here and right now just waiting for us to notice them. Plans are all good and all that, but you know what’s even better? Enjoying this life you’ve been given …
… and for that, start actually being into every moment you are getting to live. Smell the coffee, breathe in that whiff of perfume reaching your nostrils, sneak a kiss from your significant other, hug a loved one, stop and just do nothing for a little while—yes, I know; it does work! Do all that around and in between your bigger plans. Trust me, you won’t lose anything from it. In fact, you may just gain so much more in return!
From Mauritius with love,