As I sit here writing this with just a few weeks left in 2023, I wonder how most people go about planning out their goals for the next year. I know some do vision boards, some set up
calendars on their phones, others just wing it.
I am a pen to paper planner.
I currently have the next six months in my personal and business planner (yes, as a busy
person I really do think that far ahead) roughed out with events, appointments, holidays, and clear steps to help me reach my goals for the next trip around the sun. I also have a Pinterest board filled with beautiful images of homes, wardrobe inspirations, books to read, movies to watch, crafts to make, recipes to try, and countless other pins that will probably never become reality. But I’m just dreaming after all, so I continue to scroll mindlessly through the app.
I admit to probably overplanning in the hopes of “slaying” this new year. I’m tightly booked
and my calendar already looks full. However, I’m a person who thrives on overwhelm and I
push deadlines to the last minute. I know this and just accept it as my own reality. I love to
pressure myself to achieve, always eagerly looking forward to my next project or event… my
next big thing.
I almost let it slip away, simply because I didn’t leave a space.
Looking at it all, neatly written out in front of me, I realize that I’ve left out the most important thing – I forgot to plan for the unplannable. I’ve gotten so caught up in planning every minute of every day and I forgot to leave room for miracles.
A few years ago, in 2021, I received a blessing, and I almost let it slip away, simply because I didn’t leave a space.
It was the year after Covid and all the havoc that came with it. I remember throwing myself
into rebuilding my business after such a financially devastating year. My small store had
made it through, but just barely and I had a lot of lost revenue to make up. I was steadfast.
Determined to take what I had learned while navigating a pandemic about social media, a
strong online presence, and keeping myself in the public eye so my community wouldn’t
forget about me and come visit my struggling store, I allowed little time for anything else. I
was all business and no fun at all.
While scrolling through social media to make sure I was responding to comments, I got a
message in my personal folder. That chime caught me quite off guard. Personal? I couldn’t
remember the last time I had a personal message. It was from a dear friend from high school, Rachel. She and another former classmate and long-lost friend were traveling together and planning to go through my area.
Did I want to meet up? Maybe grab a drink?
I remember pausing for a minute, too many thoughts running through my mind. Could I tear myself away for even just one evening? I had been in serious work-mode for so long and living with the residual anxiety and a very real fear for the security of my store for so long, I wasn’t even sure I knew how to have fun anymore.
That’s the thing about serious-ness. It’s hard to turn it off. Switching from hustle to relax was a luxury I hadn’t allowed myself since March 2020 when the world as we know it pivoted and everything shut down. As much as I wanted to see my friends that I hadn’t seen in 25+ years, I wasn’t sure I could spare the time or even that I was mentally ready to let my hair down to hang out. Not even for one night. Not even for one hour.
There was a self-imposed stress that I felt that summer. One that I held on to for so long and
so tightly that it became comfortable. To use a phrase we all heard so many times it’s all but
lost it’s meaning, my “new normal” was to keep my head down, do the work, go home, sleep,
I decided a few minutes after reading that message that I would apologize and say no. I was
not available, but I thank them for thinking of me.
I set my phone down for a few hours.
When I picked my phone back up, I quickly typed out “Sure! I’d love to grab a drink!”
Well, now I’d done it. I’d committed myself to having a fun evening with two old friends.
With just the push of the send button, I had apparently decided that I had had enough. I would step outside my new (un)comfortable zone. Just for one night.
It was awesome! Rachel and Amy were the breath of fresh air I needed after so long of living
without looking up. We laughed for hours and I even met them for breakfast at their hotel the next morning before they continued on their way.
As I was leaving, we all hugged. It was tentative at first. If we had learned nothing else over
the last year of living through a pandemic, it was the concept of social distancing and to keep your hands to yourself. We all hugged anyway. For me at least, it was the kind of hug that I sank into, letting the warmth of my friends circle around me. It struck me much later that I had nearly missed that warmth… that miracle.
I rode that high for the rest of the day. I suppose I should have gone back to work after that,
to pick up where I had left off on my grind, but I didn’t. While I was having fun with friends, my store did fine, exactly like I had never left.
There was a subtle shift in me that day, so nearly imperceptible it was weeks before I really
noticed it. I could, if only for a few minutes, have fun again. I could relax, enjoy life with my
friends and leave the hustle behind. The spell that the global pandemic had on my had been
not fully broken, but cracked a bit. Some light shone through that crack and a miracle had
seeped in. If I hadn’t made the time, I would have missed it.
So now, in this present moment, with business and health fears and uncertainties in the rearview mirror, I take another look at my 2024 planner. I look for the blank spaces and realize there aren’t enough. I pick up my eraser. I have no idea what I will fill these blank spaces with – maybe rest, maybe something fun or silly, or maybe… a miracle.