We were all sitting on the roof of my cousin’s home in Crete finishing dinner when my family asked what the plan was for the next day. My Greek relatives giggled. They had started making fun of us for our constant querying about The Plan. Where are we going, we’d ask. What are we doing, what time will things begin and end?
Instead of indulging our questions, they nudged us up, grabbed our hands, and we all began Greek dancing. With whoops and laughter, we forgot about The Plan, instead dancing as the moon rose over the small village.
This memory came to me again as my husband Charley and I found ourselves dropping The Plan last week on vacation in Seattle, instead following a red-headed, self-proclaimed “vampire” down the street one day.
Let me back up. During our Seattle trip, literally every day we watched as our itinerary dissolved midway through the day. We would begin with a guidebook and an idea, and eventually that would be replaced with something different and often much better.
After dinner one evening we heard some far off music. Following it, we noticed crowds increasing. We soon discovered there was a Mariner’s baseball game that evening, and almost before we could ponder if we wanted to go, a woman appeared offering us free tickets! We ended up sitting with her and her lovely family, watching a rare Mariner win complete with a grand slam and fireworks. And of course, we couldn’t leave without trying a famous “Seattle Dog” (hot dogs with cream cheese, grilled onions and jalapenos).
By diverging from our plan, we ended up talking to people we never would have, finding hidden places, and discovering an ease that comes from having loose directions, but plenty of spaciousness for the universe to step in and delight us.
That takes us back to the vampire. We were in the middle of a crowded, rush hour downtown Seattle street, wishing for a peaceful outdoor happy hour, yet seeing nothing but honking cars and bumper to bumper bodies. Just then the red-haired woman appeared from behind asking if we were finding everything we needed. We told her what we were looking for, and she said follow me. We obeyed. (She went on to explain that she hated sunlight and Seattle summers and preferred living like a vampire in dark, shaded places.) Within a few minutes we had all ducked down a side street and landed in Occidental Square – a wide, tree-lined, quiet square with a row of restaurants and outdoor patios for people watching. There was no traffic to be found, just birdsong and cool shade. We felt like we had been hand delivered into Paradise.
Now that I’m back home, I’m seeing how we spend so much energy trying to control our days and efficiently line up tasks and outings so we don’t risk boredom, missteps, lack of productivity or missing out. But ultimately we ARE missing out. Missing out on the magic that happens when we leave breathing room in our days along with curiosity about what can happen. Missing out on a more interesting and creative way to experience life.
Yes, vacations are an ideal time to experiment with this way of being. But I find when I bring this mindset of discovery and listening for what’s next to my daily work life — rather than always following the narrow marching orders of my inner scheduler — something delightful often happens. An impromptu trip to a coffee shop leads to meeting an essential contact I haven’t seen in years. Playing with my routine leads to unexpected new energy. The Plan falls away, leaving room for new ideas and, sometimes, even dancing…
What gets in the way of loosening the grip on your Plan every now and again? When have you released your Plan in the past and found delightful consequences? Click here and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.
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Creative Soul Seasonal Women’s Circles
(Last chance) – Circles begin August 15, 2019
You can procrastinate another whole season… or you can slip into one of the last spots of the Creative Soul Women’s Circles. Stretch into something new and risk finding new friends, expressing yourself in a way that lightens your burden, and finding inspired clarity about your life. If you want to explore with us this fall, go here.
Women’s Inspired WRITING (and life) Circles
Stuck with your writing or your life? There’s no need to make this a solo or difficult journey when you can get inspired in a community of like-minded creatives and step into freedom and flow. Two spots in these popular Circles will open in September, 2019. For specific details, email me; for general information, go here.
Spring Retreat in Taos: Greening the Creative Spirit
Mabel Dodge Luhan House
April 5 to 10, 2020
with Carolyn Scarborough and Sharon Zeugin
Unwind underneath the big skies and tap into your most alive, inspired and creative self at this special retreat in New Mexico. We will stay in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, a rambling hacienda nestled between an Indian pueblo and the artsy village of Taos. Whether you are interested in art, in writing, or inspiration in general, you are welcome to join us. Nothing is needed but a desire to tap into your creative soul. More details coming soon…