A couple months ago I decided to take a sabbatical from my usual schedule to get ahead on a couple of major writing projects. I don’t know why this never occurred to me before. Actually, I do. I’ve never had a paid vacation day in my life. Such is the downside of self-employment. But the upside is I get to work in my jammies and slippers a lot, so who’s complaining?
For six weeks I’ve been fantasizing about February 1, first day of my new life putting my poetry manuscript and another manuscript front and center. My plan for Day One was something like this: Send the kids off to school, come home, grab a cup of coffee, sit in my favorite chair, journal and laptop at the ready, and then just…think. If I felt like writing private thoughts, I’d grab my journal. If I felt like tackling my manuscripts or blog, I’d turn on the laptop. The main thing was to start the day and then see what happened (in the midst of what was sure to be gleeful giddiness). Once the sun warmed the road, up the mountain the dog and I would go. I also was (can’t believe I’m saying this) jonesing to do some deep cleaning around the house.
On January 31, I worked from before dawn to after sundown, finishing projects for a client. I had a great sense of accomplishment, not only for checking off everything on my to-do list, but also knowing that I was leaving them well equipped for the future. The next day was Freedom!
And then along came reality. About a week before my sabbatical start, my doctor had told me to quit caffeine, cold turkey. An arctic cold front moved in on January 31, shutting down businesses and schools. My youngest came down with a wicked cold. February 1 dawned at about 18 below zero. No coffee to help me peel my eyes open. School was closed. I spent the day helping my youngest tackle an overwhelming reading assignment of 100 pages, all while administering chicken soup and hot chocolate. The only thinking I did was wondering how so much dust and so many down feathers could accumulate under the bed, as I did manage to deep clean a bathroom and bedroom between making lunches, letting the dog out for 5 minute intervals so her paws wouldn’t freeze, and whipping up a dinner of pork chops, gravy, rice, and broccoli for my hungry peeps. In all, a good day. But I didn’t write a word.
I think it was John Lennon who said “Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” So true. The trick, I think, is to recognize the need to surrender, go with the flow, and see the blessing you didn’t intend to enjoy that day but got to experience in spite of your grand schemes. I got to sit in a cozy chair with one of my favorite people on the planet. I got to experience Nature with her game face on. I cleaned my room and actually made it through the day without falling asleep. And I got to feed my brood some comfort food on a frigid winter’s night.
Not bad for an unplanned miracle or two.