I had grand plans for February. Fresh off New Year goal-setting and determined to make progress before the frenetic energy of Spring arrived, I had it all figured out. I established timelines. I created metrics. I ensured the elements I was adding to my life didn't require more time and energy than I had to give.
But then I got sick. I could feel it developing but couldn't be bothered to slow down. Yes it was a weekend - and theoretically the perfect time to rest, but we had a full slate of birthday parties, baby showers, and long-ago scheduled dinners and brunches with friends. A virus wasn't an interruption I was interested in acknowledging, so I didn't. I opted to drown the symptoms in tea, Vitamin C, soup, and healthy dose of denial. I maintained my full teaching load and populated the calendar with meetings, plans, and projects. Phew - I'm glad I got that out of my system. Now where was I??
Right on cue, my daughter fell ill. I was filled with sympathy for her, but at the same time, frustration welled within. I can't stay home today. I have updates to present at a meeting this morning. I have clients counting on me. I have a million things to do. I don't have time for this...
But this time I couldn't completely ignore the interruption. A tiny human was counting on me to take the situation seriously. So I did - if somewhat grudgingly - and she recovered. We may even have enjoyed the luxury of an unstructured day... I justified the lapse by promising myself, Tomorrow I'll double down and FINALLY catch up!
And then we learned about an unexpected setback in the health of someone near and dear to us. This time instead of resisting, I surrendered completely. Without a second thought, I closed my planner, put my agenda on hold, and bought two plane tickets. Rather than bemoaning the items that would not be crossed off the list, I embraced the interruption. I let go of my "need" for productivity and focused instead on what we could gain from our time away. As a result, we were able to soak up special moments with family, make meaningful memories, and reinforce important connections.
I know you have been there. Despite our best efforts to take charge, we are at the mercy of so many factors beyond our control: A child brings a virus home from school. A car window is broken. A friend needs our help. A family member receives an unexpected diagnosis. And just like that - whatever was on our agenda for the day, week, or month gets pushed aside.
At that moment we have a choice: we can waste our time on a futile fight or embrace the unexpected and learn the lessons it brings. A sick day offers a chance to recharge our minds as well as our bodies. Time spent caring for someone else is an opportunity to shift our focus off of ourselves and gain some much needed perspective. An impromptu trip gives us the space to to create special memories.
Next time reality interrupts your carefully crafted plans, can you resist the urge to fight? Can you embrace the interruption?