Monthly Archives: March 2012

Five Seconds

I’m a planner to a fault. I plan everything.

Example One: When I was a kid and a friend was coming over to play, I would make a schedule of events. First, we’ll play with my Barbies. Then, we’ll play house. After that, we’ll take a break and go outside to play with my dog. Then there’s lunch. After lunch, we can play school, I’ll be the teacher.

Example Two: In college, we would have fun group road trips to Six Flags. As the planner, I assigned the drivers, who would ride in each car, a navigator for each car and had a set of itineraries/maps printed out for each navigator. I planned the trip all the way down to what restaurant we would eat at on our way back.

Example Three: Also in college I began obsessed with an excel document I created called, “The Four-Year Plan.” People would give me their major, their desired hours each semester, the electives they would like to take and their ideal schedule and I would put together a four-year college plan for them. Basically, what courses to enroll in each semester, what fun electives they could take and somehow I was able to get them one, two and sometimes three days where they only had one class (or sometimes no classes at all).

Now that I have revealed to you that I am, in fact, a crazy person, I think I’ve done a pretty good job convincing you that I am a planner. That’s why the place I am in right now, sitting on my porch on a beautiful Friday morning, is very uncharacteristic of me. Because right now, for the first time in my life, I don’t have a plan…(and I’m actually okay with that).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how five seconds can change your life. You can get food poisoning, get an important phone call, break a bone, get engaged, all in the matter of seconds. Life is seemingly normal one second and then all of a sudden, everything changes. I know something like food poisoning may not seem very life altering, but it could keep you from ever touching sushi again which may lead you to going to Whole Foods. And then, while you’re there you run into an old friend who introduces you to his roommate who turns out to be your future husband. Ha. I just laughed out loud because even now, I’m planning fake futures for my imaginary readers. Sorry.

So often we forget that we only have one life and one life to get it right. It’s so easy to become consumed with work or exercising or “The Bachelor” when we live with our life blinders on. (Life blinders are what I picture we wear around our eyes to keep us focused on one thing, like those black things they put on horses). I’m the same way. In my life plan I had it all scheduled out: graduate from college, get a job I love, be successful in the job I love, find a man I love, get married, have kids, grow old, be happy. But here’s the reality: I can make lists and plans and follow all the steps I need to get from A to B, but I don’t really have any control in my outcomes. Like I said, five seconds can change your life.

A couple weeks ago I was driving my roommate to the airport and witnessed a car accident in my rear-view mirror. I was marveling at how smashed-in the car behind us looked and the speed they were going didn’t seem right. Then I realized it was because it had hit a semi-truck and was now spiraling out of control. In a matter of semi-seconds, the car smashed into the side meridian at full speed and pieces of the car flew in all directions.

If that doesn’t sober you up to life blinders, it should. The driver could have been just like me, a girl with a plan. Drop my roommate off at the airport, then go for a run, attend a lunch meeting at Bricktops, have afternoon coffee with a friend, dinner and a movie with my youth girls. But being consumed with your life isn’t going to matter if you don’t have a life to live.

A dear high school friend of mine got engaged last year after almost eight years of dating the same guy. They wanted to wait to get married until she finished all her schooling and she had just contacted me last month to get my address so she could send me a wedding invitation. The day before I received their Save the Date cards, I learned that he had died in a car accident. Even as I type this, it doesn’t seem real.

Life isn’t just too short, it’s full of opportunities. There is a world outside of your work bubble, your school bubble, your city bubble, your country bubble. It’s broad and it’s wide and we only have one life to discover it. It’s easy to make a plan, to say when I get done with this, I’ll finally have time for that. But, why wait?

Take every moment to live freely and love well. Tell the people you love that you love them every chance you get. Be spontaneous (yes, stop planning!). Serve others. Perform random acts of kindness. Give and share – yourself, your time, your resources. Go for a walk, yes, without your iPod, and be content with just listening and being still. And last but not least, laugh. Laugh often. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with your friends. Do these things daily, and over and over again, and make sure to pass on only good.

Five seconds can change your life. Make it count.

Advertisements

The Snowglobe Theory

Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a snow globe. Not a year-round snow globe that sits as a permanent fixture on someone’s mantle (which side note: why, just why?), but the kind that you only bring out during Christmastime as an afterthought decoration. My closest companions are of course, artificial, plastic people who have no concept of life outside this bubble. We live in a village that gives out the allusion of serene perfection and everyone is just faking it. I feel inevitably trapped in a blanket of white nothingness that isn’t really snow, but merely the idea of snow.

Every now and then, someone, let’s say the god of snow globes, decides to shake things up. All of a sudden the dull, monotonous snow globe is turned upside down and panic ensues. But like everything in life, the fake snow eventually settles back into the crevices of our plastic village and life moves on; as much as life can in a snow globe world.

That’s when I find myself back to waiting, or as I like to call it the “in between” period where I’m wistfully hoping for a real life with real relationships and real conversations. Waiting to be important more than once every 12 months. Waiting for something, anything – even if it is just another uninvited shake-up.

I went to lunch earlier this week with a friend of mine named Leigh. I’ve known Leigh for a couple of years now, but in the past few months she has become more of dear confidant and mentor in my life. If you ever get the privilege of meeting Leigh, you won’t be disappointed. She is brilliant, successful, a great wife and an amazing mom. More importantly (and quite admirably), she is fearless.

During our lunch, Leigh encouraged me to take up writing a blog and actually stick with it. The first thought that entered my mind during this conversation was, “But I have nothing worthwhile to say.”

For the rest of the week I have allowed that line to fester and settle into my head. Which led me to the realization that our life, particularly mine, is a battle of excuses. Think about it. On an average day, we spout out more forms of “I can’ts” and “but what-ifs” then we do anything positive and worthwhile.

This brings me back to my snow globe theory. I think we actually like feeling like we’re stuck in a boring snow globe with minimal excitement because it gives us something to complain about. We don’t realize or intentionally love it, but at some point, complaining has become a security blanket that we can pull out whenever we’re afraid of the unknown. As mundane and fake-tastic this snow globe world is, it’s safe and predictable. Everything stays the same. I stay the same.

But we weren’t created to live in a snow globe, much less an artificial world within reality. (Hence the constant feeling of restlessness.) If we believe in the bigger picture outside of the snow globe then the point isn’t to wait for our life to begin later, but to make the most of what we have. Yes. That means right now. It’s like being handed a blank canvas with an abnormal selection of colors and choosing to paint a red barn surrounded with green grass underneath a blue sky and yellow sun. Just because we choose to draw simple pictures, doesn’t mean that was ever the life God intended for us.

So I’m planning my escape from the snow globe now. There’s a trap door under one of the villager’s houses – the one with creepy snowman in front of it. This leap is terrifying for me in so many ways, but I’m going to keep writing and hopefully you’ll keep reading. Together we’ll run from this artificial reality and maybe someday paint some brilliant pieces of art worth talking about. And then we’ll look back and remember how silly it was that we had even considered ever staying in the snow globe, how afraid we used to be and how ridiculous we looked. And we’ll marvel at the scene now, because everything is different.

Now, we’re fearless.