Living Plan B


This photo of South Padre Island is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

You know what will eventually happen . The best laid plans are so often just like those sand castles we build.

How often do your plans dissolve before you even touch them?  Looking back at my recent blogging sabbatical, I realize the plans I had early on did just that — and that wasn’t the first time.

In between the gardening and the grandmothering, the traveling and the farming, the training and the staining, I discovered — just as I’d hoped — the focus of my next major WIP, the prequel I once referred to as “My Grandmother’s Suitcase.”  This blogging sabbatical was working out well, or so I thought.

Excited that I finally had a theme, I knew I needed to get LEAPFROG — that ten-part series on holding civil discourse in this uncivil era that I posted back in 2017 — off my desk.  What I expected would be a fairly quick editing job prior to settling down to write the “real work,” turned into my summer writing obsession.

And, what was to be a give-away for my blog subscribers evolved into something bigger. (More on that in a few weeks.) One of the wall hangings from my former Chincoteague home comes to mind:

 

From my Chincoteague collection

My life has had a series of Plans B.

When I graduated high school, I was going to be a missionary nurse in Africa (it didn’t matter which country; back then I thought Africa was all of one sort!). Two years at a nearby bible college convinced me missionary work was not for me and after just one year in Cornell University’s New York Hospital School of Nursing, I knew I had to find another career. Off I went to NYU and sociology.

Plans change. Life happens. We move on. Or, as the saying goes:

(Wo)man plans, God laughs. 

When I lived in Philadelphia (in the ten years surrounding my 50th birthday), I had my life planned out far enough to envision me as a doddering 84 year old therapist seeing clients in my living room and still renting my third floor rooms to ESL students at Penn. My future was secure; I knew how I’d spend my final years.

Or thought I knew. We joined the Peace Corps and that life dissolved along with those plans — like the sand castle above.

Following our years in Kazakhstan, Woody and I moved here to Vermont with a plan that my younger son and his family would soon join us. We’d create “a family compound,” as his wife had phrased it.  My mom joined us the following year, according to plan, but various interruptions kept Jon and Jenna now firmly anchored in Ohio.

Another Plan B moment. Though nearly 1,000 miles away from my sons and their families, we have a life up here in the pristine and rural Green Mountains.  Still, it’s a life we enjoy filled with chickens and Sasha and the physical labor it takes to be stewards of 30 acres. It’s a life made even sweeter with each visit from my children and their ever-growing families.

I’m no longer attached to my plans. While I plot out my day each morning with Woody as we go over our calendars, I find that despite our best intentions, the day generally veers off into its own reality.  And for me, today, that’s perfectly OK.

How about you? Are you living your Plan? Is it A or B? (Or X, Y, or Z?)

 

22 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Do you love your life? Reading your brief history here, it sounds like it!

    Plan B for me? Back when I wanted release from the restrictions of Mennonite life in my 20s, I planned to join our church’s Teachers Abroad Program, tell the decision makers I wanted to go to Germany (where I hoped to find a nice German boy to marry, shed my plain duds, learn a new language). Instead, a German “boy” walked in the front door of my parents’ house. I’m glad I ditched Plan A!

    Next on the agenda: A breather, getting up and letting the day unfold with a to-do list as you do now! 🙂
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Memoir Marketing: My Story in Pictures, Part IMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks for starting us off this morning, Marian. I imagine Cliff is also quite pleased you ditched that Plan A! I’m enjoying following your book birthing process. Best wishes it continues to be fun.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  2. Susan Scott
    | Reply

    ‘The best laid-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley’ : Robert Burns – yes, life often has other plans. Lovely to read your post Janet and to know that I’m not alone in not doing what I thought I would be doing. I have friends who have their lives planned for the year at the beginning of the year – for good reason – but for me that idea fills me with dread.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, Robert Burns has so many good ones. Thanks for that reminder. “Gang aft angley?” Must be the original. I think my English teacher used something about ‘going awry.’ I like to write down my yearly goals at the start of a new year. Then, see how far awry I’ve gone. I use it not so much as a map but as a reminder of what’s important. And then life often has other plans for me. I too know a few who plan out everything; I want to tell them to breathe. Takes all kinds . . . Thanks for stopping by, Susan.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  3. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I must be on plan “q” by now! Life happens when you are making other plans. John Lennon said it but I´m not sure if he was the originator. It´s all part of the big adventure we call life.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      How could I have forgotten John Lennon! Thanks so much Darlene. I googled the quote just now and found it’s traced back at least to 1957 where it showed up in Readers’ Digest under their “Quotable Quotes” section and attributed to Charles Saunders who was the cartoonist who did Steve Roper and Mary Worth. Something for all of us to keep in mind. I sometimes feel the same way about photos: Life is what’s happening when you’re busy taking photos. Cheers.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

      • Darlene Foster
        | Reply

        Thanks for the history of the quote. No doubt JL heard it and liked it.

  4. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/happy-book-birthday/

  5. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    though I’ve always had a plan b, c, and d, I’m finding it more joy producing to let them go their own way, and simply allow my days to unfold before me. I love it.

  6. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I love that you’re living the old Zen proverb: LET GO OR BE DRAGGED. Way to go!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Lifelong LearningMy Profile

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Yes indeed; it’s really about the attachment to those plans that is the culprit, hey? Thanks, Laurie.
    Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  8. Bette Stevens
    | Reply

    Retired and living out this plan (after 5 others completed) day by day… Who knows where this one will lead us!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      And isn’t that what keeps it exciting, Bette? Indeed, who knows! Glad we’re reconnected here. We must find away to close those miles.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  9. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Welcome back, Janet! I’d say your time away was productive and clarifying. I remember that plaque from Chincotique and have had plenty of Plan B moments, like the one I’m living now—leaving our piece of “Heaven on Earth” for senior independent living. New adventures are in store.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Yes indeed, you know what I’m talking about, Kathy. I thought of you on your new adventure as I was writing this post. And of the lessons I learned while waiting for my Peace Corps life to begin, “In the end only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” You have all three covered methinks. Hugs.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  10. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    Excellent question. I’m sure I’m well into the alphabet now, having raced past Plan B by the time I was 19. I don’t know for sure which letter I’m on now but I’ll go with M because I like that letter– and if you put two of them together you get a piece of candy. I used to have a sign on my desk at work that said: Plans change. Often. I’ve come to believe that’s the truth, more than the plans themselves.
    Ally Bean recently posted…Rambling Thoughts That’ll Light No One’s Way, Yet Here They AreMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      You are too funny, Ally. M&Ms! Good sign. Change is certainly one of those constants in life.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Living Plan BMy Profile

  11. Carol
    | Reply

    Time, I think I am on my 2nd maybe third time around the alphabet and have had numerous plan B’s….One of my favourite quotes is The bad news is time flies …The good news is that we are the pilot…Time to take off again…:)
    Carol recently posted…CarolCooks2…weekly roundup…Thai noodle soup, Snake Gourds, the journey of a chicken sandwich and more…My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks for adding your alphabet here, Carol. I’d love to read how your “Plan?” to settle in Thailand came about — or, how many plans it took to get you there. There is a story behind your sentence (from your website, CarolCooks2.com) “… we decided to not only think outside the box but throw it away and now we are enjoying life in the Land Of Smiles.” Methinks we are of similar ilk.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Changing My FocusMy Profile

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