“Then we’d go running on faith,
All of our dreams would come true,
And our world will be right
When love comes over me and you”
-Eric Clapton, Running On Faith
If I could sum up the way I live my life, I would say that I wing it. I feel my way. I kind of just go with it. I’m not a big planner. Never have been and probably never will be. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is.
Some times the universe conspires to plant seeds in my mind…
Last week, Aussa wrote a post about life planning and Diana wrote about planning and organizing her blog. I do neither. My life has no plan beyond next week. My kids will be out of school for the summer in a few weeks. No plan. I’ve been writing this blog for 7 months. I average a post a week, sometimes two. I have no idea what I’m going to write about this week. Or next week.
But Diana and Aussa got me thinking. Along with the chaos that sometimes is my life. The rushing around, the race to get things done. The screw ups when you get schedules confused. I tend to live in laid back mode until the last possible moment and then it’s a frantic rush to get the stuff done. Accomplished. Crossed off the list I didn’t actually make. I always get it done. Just not in an organized, sane manner.
So no, not a big planner. I didn’t plan to have a third child. I didn’t plan on going on a first date with my (future) husband two days after breaking up a three year relationship. I didn’t plan on leaving Atlanta and moving back to my home town. I didn’t plan on starting a blog.
What if I had planned?
It’s real easy to plan to not have a child…
Popping a small pink pill would have been all the planning needed. But what if I had? This child, who made our family complete, who brings me laughter every single day for the last five years, I never would have known. My “plan” was to go to graduate school. I had started studying for my GRE. The older kids would both be in school full time and it was time for me to work on me. But I got pregnant. And I panicked for about a day. I stressed over a third pregnancy. I stupidly stressed over what it would do to my body. I stressed over having a baby need me night and day when I had just started to taste the freedom that comes with kids becoming self sufficient.
Stressing didn’t stop the inevitable. She came barreling into our lives, quite literally, not even waiting for the doctor to show up at the hospital. The last five years have been a beautiful crazy mess of a whirlwind. That first year, I would hold her every afternoon feeding her before her nap, her tiny hand reaching to grasp a piece of my hair to twirl through her fingers. As she would stare intently into my eyes, I would find myself overcome with emotions. I would hold off the tears until she shut her eyes. The tears of joy and relief. Silent prayers of thanks swirling through my mind as I studied her delicate face through the haze of tears. Intense gratitude that my “plans” had been ignored. That someone, something, knew better than I did what I needed.
I didn’t plan on falling in love…
I had just ended my relationship with my college boyfriend. I had a “plan.” I was going to move in with my friend, sleep on her floor until I saved up for my own place. I was going to experience young adulthood as a single woman for a while. I had been a serial monogamist, in a series of relationships through college. My friends called me “Never without a man Gretchen.” I felt like I really needed to take some time to just be me.
Joe asked me out two days after I left my boyfriend. I was torn. I had a plan. But I also really wanted to go out with him. I did what any rational woman would do. I said yes to that first date. And it was incredible. I knew there was no going back. Eighteen years later I wonder what would have happened if I would have said no to that date. If I would have insisted on being single for a while. Would we have found our way to each other eventually? Would I still be single? Would I not have these three children? I threw my plans and caution to the wind and have a marriage that has endured and weathered and strengthened and a life I never could have imagined.
I never thought I’d move back home…
I loved Atlanta. I wanted to live in a large city, a city of art and culture. Not the small southern city of my youth with it’s conservative bent and unofficial uniform of khaki pants and polo shirts.
But one weekend I went home for a visit and returned to Atlanta with the overwhelming urge to move back. Joe agreed to move with me. A few months later we were setting up house in our new apartment, ten minutes from my parents’ house. A year later my brother would be diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
The prognosis was horrifying. The 18 months that he fought for his life were spent hanging out together, going to movies, going to concerts, having lunch. I can’t quantify the value of spending all of that time with him. I know that it would have killed me to live four hours away. My decision to move back home gave me the gift of time. Time to laugh and talk and soak up every second with my brother. Time that I look back on as treasured memories, the most precious of moments that reside in my heart. Time that I still cling to all these years later, time that was a gift.
I had no idea what I was doing…
A blog. I had flirted with the idea, but that’s about it. Then one day I read something that infuriated me and within minutes found my way to WordPress and set up a basic blog and started typing. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t plan to do it. I didn’t research the ins and outs. I just did it. I started typing and didn’t even edit before I hit publish. And seven months later I have found something I love, something I don’t think I can live without. Sleep, nights out with girlfriends, projects around my house- all things that I’ve sacrificed over the last few months for this blog. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Writing in this place has been huge for me. It has given me a voice I’d forgotten I had. It’s made me stretch and grow. It’s given me something… something all mine. And I love it.
So, what if I had planned?
What if I lived my life needing complete order and control. Following a carefully crafted blueprint? What if I agonized over every impulse and every unscripted action? It is completely possible, likely even, that I never would have had my daughter. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with my husband. I wouldn’t have lived near my family when they needed me most. When I needed to be here. I wouldn’t have started this blog. I don’t know where I would be or who I would be with. I don’t want to imagine. These things that were a consequence of lack of plans are some of the biggest blessings of my life. They are more than happy accidents. They are me, listening carefully. Following my inner voice. Listening to my gut. What works for me and how I go through life wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone. But for me, living life is not a race, not a straight shot for the goal… but more of a meandering. It’s what works for me. Planning would cloud my process. So I’ll take the chaos and the frenzy that comes with winging it. Because along with that craziness comes surprises, comes blessings, comes a beautifully unplanned life.