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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« To Do or Not To Do? | Dwell in Possibility »

Even the Best Laid Plans...

@2011 Photo by Linda SamuelsLife has mishaps. Stuff happens even to the most organized people that interrupt all those well thought out plans. I don’t plan everything. That's too restrictive. But I do a certain amount of planning and organizing. When things don't work out as anticipated, I enlist four coping strategies: humor, flexibility, positive spin and other people.

So, the "plan" this past weekend was to write, update financials, catch-up on correspondence and cook in prep for the impending snowstorm. Thinking I’d have a few solid days ahead to work, I gladly went out with friends for dinner, a movie and fun on Friday night. With list and plan in hand, on Saturday morning I was ready to get going. First, I headed to the grocery store. As I left the market, the snow was already falling quickly. When I arrived home, I put on music while I unpacked groceries and began cooking. There was a huge pot of vegetable soup warming on the stove and a pot roast simmering in the crockpot. I was happy and content as I sang along to the music, smelled the delicious kitchen aromas and watched the beautiful snow covering the brightly colored fall leaves.

The plan was moving along seamlessly when all of the sudden, the power went out. Everything stopped. The soup was done, but the roast had hours left to cook. Thinking that the power would be restored soon, I figured there was hope for the roast. I was wrong. Days passed. We had no heat, no power, no phone or Internet, and no roast.

The other work I’d planned for the weekend also needed electricity. The longer the power outage lasted, the colder our home got. It was time to bundle up. I wore many layers of clothes (I could barely move), extra blankets at night, and candles and flashlights to illuminate the way. On the positive side, no power gave us more quiet time to talk, sit, read and just be without the pull of electronics, beeps or buzzes calling for our attention. It was a gift- a tech-free vacation.

Friends and family extended lovely offers to use their showers, beds, warmth and electrical outlets. While we appreciated their generosity, we opted to wait things out. We went out to more movies, visited more local eateries and became Starbucks’ fixtures, hanging out with other locals out of power. I even met a USA Today reporter at Starbucks who interviewed me about how we were coping.

The power outage and its inconvenience were a disguised blessing. It made me grateful for all the times that life goes smoothly and closer to the plan. I realized that when life gets off track, friends, family, flexibility, humor and a positive attitude are there to lift my spirits, give me perspective and ease the way.

What is a strategy you use to cope with life’s curve balls? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join in the conversation. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Thank you for sharing, Linda! We were without power for six days and once again, I became aware of the illusion of control and power. We can have plans, be extremely organized and have our ducks in a row. Then, nature strikes and it all goes out the window. We're left to our own devices to cope. That's when being flexible, creative, able to see goodness and find the humor in it all, come to our aid. Having a Starbucks in the area doesn't hurt either:-)

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

Yes, Yota...the stuff we're made of was tested. I guess that's always the case. When things are moving along smoothly, it's easier to be even-keeled. But when "life happens," or as you said, "nature strikes," well that's the true test. It helps to be resilient and enlist various coping strategies. I'm so glad that you're back...six days without power. WOW! I was going nuts after two. Welcome back and thank you for stopping by to join in the conversation.

November 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thank you for your reply Linda! I love our conversations. I keep thinking that in a different time and era we'd be "pen pals". Being where we are now, we're tweet pals, blog pals, web pals:-)
Among the many aspects of my life, I was able to reflect upon during Irene and "Helga" - as Neal named this Halloween snowstorm - has been the polishing effect of life experience.
It's not in my temperament to be patient and one of my daughters shares some of my traits. Yet, there is a distinct difference on how she and I handle hardship, "mishaps" - as you put it - and off course moments.
Observing her reactions at fifteen and my state of mind at fifty-two makes me appreciate my life experience and the ups and downs that have shaped my understanding and character.
I can look at my daughter and smile because I know something she doesn't yet. Nothing is static and everything that happens is an opportunity for growth, transformation and self-discovery. I can't make her see it yet but she will . . . in her own time and pace.
Wishing you a joyful weekend.

November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

I am so appreciative of this wonderful connection we've made, Yota. Your wisdom and openness come through in all that you share. I love your calm, reflective way. Be it pen or web pals, I'm grateful to know you.

It's fascinating to see what traits emerge in times of stress, change or crisis. And even more interesting to watch how our children handle these times too. All of which provide us with ample opportunity for growth and reflection.

So interesting that you talk about patience. I was reflecting recently on exactly that with a slightly different bent. You might enjoy this very short post on "Patience."

Thank you for sharing the wonderful post you wrote for The Art of Pausing" blog about the recent storm, your experiences and insights. Just beautiful. I loved reading it and am sure many others will too.

November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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