I’m an organized woman. And being a planner gets me in trouble. I know how to cross my “T’s” and dot my “I’s” to prepare for what might come.
I know how to make lists—very well. I know how to calendar myself and how to produce events. I know how to assess situations and ensure they work out well.
Or do they?
Too often, I have everything planned and marked out, and life still happens without me.
A few years after I divorced, I found my dream home, a sweet small cottage for lease in the Santa Monica canyon overlooking the sea.
With tears filled with happiness and release, eagerly anticipating a new life for me, I sold my house and started to prepare for the move. Two days before the movers came, the owner of the cottage said she wanted to dissolve the lease.
I was freaked out to say the least.
Yet, I tightened my britches. I called the movers and asked them to store my belongings until I knew where I was going. I pressed my real-estate agent to find me another place to rent. At the time, it was a bad rental market in Los Angeles.
The next morning, I ran into my lovely neighbor in front of my house.
Seeing the “Sold” sign in my front yard, he asked me, “Where are you moving?”
“I don’t know,” I said, discouragingly. “My lease fell through; I’m putting my stuff in storage.”
Seeing the fear in my face, my neighbor said to me, “Lynn, when is the next time all of your stuff will be in storage? When will be the next time you’re not paying a mortgage? This is a perfect time to go somewhere fun for a while, especially after your divorce—how about the south of Spain? France?”
That all seemed too crazy to me.
But later that night, I thought to myself, “He’s right. If I wanted to experience some place else, where might that be?”
I didn’t get a clear answer.
I called a friend and told her what my neighbor said to me. She reminded me, “Remember a year ago, you said you were curious about New York City?”
“Yes!” I said and decided to take the leap.
I learned a valuable lesson in regards to my practical plan making: No matter how much I plan, it doesn’t always work out the way I think it will.
Here are four questions I’ve contemplated since then about letting go and allowing life to happen:
- What if you stopped trying to do?
So many times we think we have “to do” to make it all happen. It’s not that we should stop trying to be productive or lose sight of our goals, desires, or needs, but sometimes “doing” overrides “allowing.”
I often attempt to not do—to see what happens next and where I might end without so much effort.
I see clearly now that something larger than me had a plan of it’s own: another city on another coast. Who would have believed it?
- What if you only focused on what is in front of you?
It’s common sense that we cannot plan out everything, because we all know that even when we try, life can throw us a curve ball.
So, what if we were to just focus on the object at hand? The one thing in front of us?
For instance, right now, I’m selling a house. Right now, I’m renting a cottage. Right now, the cottage is no longer available. Right now, I am moving to New York City.
Well, then life gets interesting!
We get to be a part of the flow and might find we’re led somewhere better than we thought we could go.
- What if you don’t know?
Too often, I think I know what’s going to happen. Or at least, if I don’t know what will happen, I have a back-up plan. (Or several. Or many.) I try to stay safe by predicting and preparing.
And I realize now, that’s my ego speaking. It stops me from seeing that something other than what I think I want might be awaiting me.
I learned from this experience the humility in the power of “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know” keeps me fresh. It keeps me present. It keeps me alive. Then I don’t have to force things to be in the way I think they should be.
Plus, I no longer have to pretend I have everything under control. Instead, I’m free!
For fun, try saying, “I don’t know” for a day to everything.
Sit in the unknowing. It’s uncomfortable, for sure. This “emptiness” is disconcerting. But great new and exciting territory lies in that unknown. And the mystery, ultimately directs us on it’s own.
In the end, New York City has brought me a plethora of wonderful new things. After being on the west coast for twenty-seven years, this was a huge surprise to me—a life experience I didn’t know was available.
Wishing you freedom in the flow!