Are you quick to pack up Christmas/holiday baubles or do they keep you company into the new year? As much as I delight in decorating for the holidays, when January hits I’m normally ready to welcome the new year with a clean and fresh slate. This unusual year, I decided to keep my holiday lights up a little longer.
So instead of taking down greenery and packing up my Santas last Sunday afternoon, I sat on my perch, surrounded by scraps of paper with scribblings on them (brilliant thoughts for future blog posts!), tablets for different blog subjects and a calendar, trying to come up with some organization. It was snowing out and I could hear strains of Bruce Springsteen coming from the TV room where Mr. Smith was watching Western Stars the Movie. Bruce has certainly gotten reflective in his old age.
I hit a lull in my process so to clear my mind I texted my sister. I wrote longingly of hoping to spend some extended time with her this summer (post-vaccination), helping her work in her yard. She has lovely visions of what she would like dancing around in her head. And me being me, I started talking about measuring and graphing out the yard and thinking about what would grow well where. Her response was: “My sister, the inveterate planner.”
I am a planner, some might say it’s my superpower. I love lists, sub-lists, and calendars. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Sadly, COVID-19 has thrown a colossal monkey wrench into my way of life. How do we plan when we don’t know what’s coming? After the pain of cancelling Camp Grandma last summer, I am gun shy to start planning trips and vacations. But I also miss the process.
Personality tests and quizzes attempt to divide us into one of two camps. Either you are a studious planner or a spontaneous free spirit. Despite what I know about my nature, I took a couple of online quizzes and yes, I am admittingly a Determined Planner.
I know that I am never going to be comfortable with the “oh, let’s just wing it” approach. But aren’t we all planners to a certain extent, or at least we must acquiesce to a certain amount of it? You don’t wake up in the morning, brush your teeth and say – hey, I think I’ll drop by my doctor’s office for a visit. We don’t sit around waiting when we need a repair person thinking they will serendipitously show up. We schedule them.
Likewise, I don’t think all planners are devoid of joie de vivre. As much as I like to know what’s on the schedule, I have been known to call an audible. I have never played professional football, but I have been at the metaphorical line of scrimmage and had to change my plan.
This new year more than ever, I will accept my natural tendency to be a planner, but also endeavor to find a bit more balance in my life. I will never be laissez-faire, but I will try to be a little less controlling. It could be an adventure. If we learned nothing else in 2020, it’s that we have very little control over our lives and the control we do exert can unexpectedly or quickly become a mirage.
Summer will come and instead of being overly rigid or stringent when working with my sister on her landscaping, I will strive for harmony. Between the two of us, we will bring the best of both worlds. Just like I believe our lives are enhanced when we surround ourselves with others who think and believe differently, I believe we can both bring our different skill sets and create something better than either of us would on our own.
In Anne Lamott’s book, Almost Everything, Notes on Hope, the Prelude begins”
“I am stockpiling antibiotics for the apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen.”
This book came out in 2018, long before COVID-19 was front and center on our minds each and every day. The realities of the Pandemic are unprecedented, but I have always been worried about something, often trying to plan for the unexpected. While I am a planner, I am also a realist. I realize we can’t foresee all that life may throw our way. I will take Mary Oliver’s wise words to heart and do my best not to waste my one precious and wild life trying to plan out every detail. I think I’ll start by buying myself some paperwhite bulbs and wait for them to bloom.
C’est la vie.