The best laid plans

“What came up doesn’t match the seed she pushed into the ground but hey, it’s upright and strong and verdant and interesting in its own way”
(Kinser, 2012, p. 430).

Of late, I have thinking about life plans. When I lead visitors on guided tours, I talk about our species’ proclivity for structure and order. I tell them about the many plans I have made in my life and the fact that few have been realized as originally intended. I speak of the wealthy investors who came to this area with an idea of what could be and the ways their ideas were shaped as they invited other people into the burgeoning reality.

We each have the ability to create our own reality. We construct the world around us, choose who we wish to spend time with, wander near and far in search of community and acceptance of our quirky selves. Within the scope of sustainability, I imagine a chaotic world with much that is beyond our control. Yet, we have the most fundamental right to define our response to changes in our best-laid plans.

In the shadow of yesterday’s Bastille Day anniversary, a reminder how plans can shift and momentum can bring life to actions both complex and simple, this reflection seems a propos.

My research partner Malcolm told me a couple of weeks ago that my nascent career as a musician was a race against time. He imagines that at some point, my biological clock will take full grasp of the reins, at which time I will more than likely exchange ukulele for baby.

I stubbornly insisted that I could do both, to which he responded with laughter supported by wisdom and experience.

“Something happens to a woman when she becomes a mother,” he told me. “Her entire focus shifts to nurturing this new life.”

Ok. Maybe. But having only recently begun to dictate the parameters of my own existence—with eager participation and push and pull from the universe—I am not sure an infant is the best choice for this particular moment in the life of Marieke.

“You can’t force these things on the universe,” Malcolm told me. “If you are meant to have children, they are likely out there and they will arrive when they are good and ready.”

In an autoethnography I discovered from the June 2012 issue of Qualitative Inquiry, scholar Amber Kinser offers scholarly foundation for this notion with an engaging, autethnographic account from a maternal perspective of the path she imagined for her life and the one she has followed.

“So all these disruptions in the maternal and broader life landscape that she has come to see as losses have really just been changes in the terrain, divergent and contrasting changes in the terrain that have given form to a life and texture to a person and meaning to the struggle inherent in it all” (p. 430).



I get the message, loud and clear.

This now begs the question, what am I good and ready for?

Certainly, cooler, less humid weather would be a welcome change.

Less pain in my lower back, right shoulder, and neck.

More than just the semblance of stability in my personal world.

Acceptance of a paper or presentation for a scholarly publication and/or conference.

New house plants to replace those that froze and melted en route north to Alaska and those I left behind when I left.

A glimpse of the Wood Thrush, elusive fairy of the New England forest.

I am not sure where this falls in the “dancing with the universe” realm of reality re-imagining, but I have been working on behavior shifts that bring confidence, fewer tears, and calm to the easily excitable overly active monkey mind of mine. A friend recommended that I begin a month of music where I write a song a day using the Story-to-Song method. This exercise has been confidence building, fun, and challenging. It has also created opportunities for connecting with friends and loved ones in new, unexpected ways. It has also helped to keep my feisty inner critic fairly well at bay for the past couple of weeks, perhaps because my inner critic goes to sleep early, and I tend to work on songs in the evenings?

And so I carry on, continuing to keep my senses open to incoming messages from the universe, in whatever shape and form they may present themselves.

Quoi d’autre à faire?

Kinser, A.E. (2012). Plotting maternity in three persons. Qualitative Inquiry, 18(5), 427-431. doi: 10.1177/1077800412439528

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