Face It! Life is Messy!

Recently I read the book titled: MESSY: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford. This book has really opened my eyes to all the ways in which the best intentions for tidiness and order can sometimes have a negative impact. My plan is to look at several sections of the book that directly relate to what I do as a professional organizer over the next few weeks.

I know, first hand, that life is messy. Things do not always happen as planned. I’m a huge fan of planning but quite often the best laid plans simply need to be put aside to let whatever happen. I started my work life as a preschool/primary school teacher. Teachers create lesson plans but many times the lesson can morph away from the planned lesson into something very different but equally beneficial – a unique learning experience. Something you could never have planned for but which just sort of organically happened. Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing and sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn – not so wonderful. The trick is to let the lesson happen and not to insist that the planned lesson take place. That has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I usually wanted to bring the discussion back to its original intention. As the years went on and as I gained experience in the classroom I learned to be more flexible, to go with the flow, and to let the alternative lesson happen.

The book, MESSY, addresses this topic in the opening chapter. The author teaches the reader that some of the best performances have happened when the planned circumstances did not come together as the planner had intended. No, I’m not going to give you any specifics – you’ll have to read the book.

What do you do when life gets in the way, when it’s messy and your plan is foiled?

My son and daughter-in-law had planned for their wedding ceremony to be on a lawn over- looking the water. It was a picture – perfect location. The white chairs were set out on the lawn. There was a tent which was beautifully decorated for the dinner and dancing to follow the ceremony. The morning dawned with some wispy clouds. We thought nothing of it. The hairdresser came to give all us women in the bridal party gorgeous hairdos. I noticed it got a little overcast but didn’t pay too much attention. We were having too much fun getting ready for this wedding to happen.

Wouldn’t you know, it started pouring cats and dogs (as the expression goes) about an hour before the ceremony. Our guests were arriving and went straight into the tent. They couldn’t hang out on the lawn as planned.

We didn’t know quite what to do as there really wasn’t room on the dance floor under the tent to set out rows of chairs.

The Rabbi and the Priest suggested that the wedding ceremony take place on the dance floor with the wedding party in a semi-circle. Our guests could gather around. Those who needed to sit could sit at a table.

The rain stopped just as it was time to begin the ceremony. We stuck with our new plan because we thought the rain might start up again.

It was a beautiful ceremony. Made even more intimate because the guests gathered around, forming this almost magical circle around the wedding party.

We never would have felt that closeness out on the lawn with the guests seated in rows of chairs. It would have been lovely but what actually happened was even better.

Yes, it was a little messy and we, the two moms, were a little frantic at first but we let it be and it was better than anything we had planned.

Are you a planner? Do you have trouble going with the flow? Connect with me for support.



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9 Responses to “Face It! Life is Messy!”

  1. Hazel Thornton Says:

    I think it’s important to have a plan. How will you know you have reached your goal if you don’t even know what it is? But I also think it’s important to go with the flow. When something happens, it’s time to figure out what’s within your control and what isn’t; to remind yourself what else you had intended; and to decide which things can be let go, and which ones might be accomplished in a different way. Like a map on a road trip: There are always detours, and the occasional flat tire, but the map helps you get to your destination even if you have to take a different route, or evaluate whether a different destination might be even better!

  2. TheSeanaMethod Says:

    I am totally a planner and get unsettled when plans fall through. If I throw an event, it is pretty much assured to rain, so I’ve told me girls to either get married in the desert or plan on an inside wedding. At the end of the day, however, it is usually the things that go haywire that make the best family stories!

  3. Linda Samuels Says:

    Seana’s comment made me laugh. I am a planner, but I’ve learned to go with the flow much better than I used to. The reality is that the plan rarely goes EXACTLY as expected. But if I’m prepared, I’m more able to adjust as needed and let go of what things were supposed to be like. The beauty of that is that you can more fully enjoy and embrace what’s right in front of you, rather than stressing over what’s not going right.

    Congratulations on your son’s marriage. It sounds like it was a beautiful day…rain and all.

  4. dnqsolutions Says:

    Thank you, Linda!

  5. Sabrina Quairoli Says:

    It’s important to have a plan but also have a backup if needed. I rather be flexible in the process just in case something needs to change because life is messy. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Janet Barclay Says:

    What a wonderful example of the importance of being flexible! I always like to plan, but try not to be too rigid about it, because there are just too many things that are outside our control.

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