Where’s the wiggle room?

Not Everything will go as you expect in your Life. This is why you need to drop expectations, and go with the flow of life – Leon Brown

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My friend wrote recently about going with the flow, about being open to possibilities and not planning too thoroughly.

The idea of free falling and not having a plan sends chills up my spine, it has my head spinning and my palms sweating. That said, when I have been open to spontaneity (usually initiated by others) I’ve been delighted with the outcome.  Learning to go with the flow is a concept I’ve not yet fully embraced in practice even though I can see the beauty, wonder and joy that can arise as a result of letting go, just a little.

My friend’s story of arriving in a foreign town with no means of transportation to the next destination, feeling abandoned a and nearly giving up hope of continuing on his planned journey reminded me of a similar experience I had while travelling.

Last year I travelled to Italy. I planned my itinerary, booked my accommodation before leaving and had a rough idea of what I wanted to see while there. There was room within the plan for opportunities that might present themselves while satisfying my need for structure and order.

For one leg of the journey I’d booked a room in a motel in Riomaggiore on the Cinque Terra. When I arrived the room hadn’t been cleaned but the proprietor allowed me to put my pack in the room to free me up for roaming. After a long, hot day hiking between villages I returned to my room to find a dirty towel in the bathroom, used sheets and pillows on the bed. When I questioned the desk clerk whether my room had been cleaned he became incensed, claiming “of course” the room had been cleaned. He quickly escalated to yelling at me. Despite acknowledging the hair on the pillows, crumpled sheets and a wet towel this man maintained the room had been cleaned. Mindful of remaining calm, despite the hostility, I asked for clean sheets so I could change the bed myself and was promptly shown the door and told to “go”.

I was almost beside myself. Where would I go? What would I do? I was alone, in a village far from home where few people spoke my language. It was late, I was tired and bewildered at the exchange that had just taken place. As I wandered down the street, heart pounding in my chest and almost in tears, I wasn’t sure how to proceed given that I’d planned my accommodation from Australia in the comfort of my living room using an online booking agent. To make matters worse most accommodation “houses” didn’t look like motels in Australia. So I wasn’t even sure where to look for somewhere to stay.

Eventually, I came upon a doorway, entered, asked the elderly gentleman, who spoke no English, if he had a room. By some chance we communicated a price, muddled through the reservation process and he took me on a long, steep and windy path to get to my room.

The room was tiny yet it was magnificent. The sheets were clean, the bathroom was clean and, best of all, I had a view of the ocean.

image I’m all for planning, I’m not naturally spontaneous but had fate not intervened and dashed my plans, had I held on rigidly to my plans and stayed miserable and uncomfortable in a dirty room I would have missed out on a rich experience and my memories of Riomaggiore would not be fond ones. If I had held onto my plans, if things had gone accordingly I would not have had the lovely interaction with this man, who offered to carry my 20 kilo pack up the steep and windy path. Had my plan played out as expected I would not have met this kind and gentle man who sensed I was upset and offered me coffee and finally escorted me to a quaint little whitewashed room with a window that framed the most gorgeous view of the Italian coast. As fate would have it, I sat and drank in the changing light of that view all night. I have a wonderful memory, a few fuzzy photographs and a pretty cool story to share of that joyful night.

Are you leaving enough room in life for spontaneity, for fate to intervene and surprise you?

Have you allowed for wiggle room?

When plans go awry are you open to the joy and opportunities that may wiggle into that tightly planned schedule you’ve designed?

I wish you luck and the joy that comes from flow,
Shannyn

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Scheduled fun!

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.              

                                                                                         William Glasser

Do you have a list of fun things to do in 2014?

Some years ago I began making a list of fun ways to spend time. It was like a dream list in a way. The aim was to tick off as many activities as I could in a year. The list also proved to be useful on those rare occasions when I wasn’t sure how to fill my weekend or spare moments.

What kind of things were on these lists you might ask. Well, all sorts really. Little things from going for a picnic by the river to swinging on the play equipment in a park or visiting the museum regularly.

There were also things on there I’d been wanting to try, like floating in a float tank, zorbing, walking the Milford Track. You get the picture.

After a wee hiatus of a few years I picked up the pen on New Year’s Day and created a list for 2014. It’s not done yet. I know there’s more to add but it’s a start. In my last blog I said I was going to dance more, host tea parties, go clothes shopping and have fun with it. That was just the beginning. I added a few other items and created a photo collage as a great stimulus to encourage me to play this year, get out in the world and have fun.

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Interestingly, something new crept in this year. Challenges! Yes, a couple of things on the list are personal challenges. I decided I wanted to read more and to define it I set myself the challenge to read at least … fifty books this year (the number just popped into my head. Crazy!). On reflection, that’s a pretty tall order given all the work related reading I have to do but I’m keen and excited to see how I go. The second challenge I set myself was to take a photo a day for 365 days. What on earth will I do with all those photos you ask? Hmmm, not sure yet but I may publish them as a photo blog – daily, twice a week, weekly, monthly???

Anyway, the point is, sometimes it’s handy to plan our fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spontaneity but let’s face it some of us are just not that spontaneous and when work and life demands creep in and we are tired. It’s easy to squander the weekends, sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching the television when you have no stimulus. I, and those I’ve shared this with, find when we create a list we are excited to complete a wish, tick it off and move on to a new one. When we get to the end of the year there is a sense of really having lived, of having spent our time well. We’ve swung the scales in favour of life as opposed to work being the weightier side.

It’s just a bit of fun. It’s not meant to be onerous? Some items may carry across to the following year so there is no harm done if every item isn’t ticked off. As for my challenges, again they are just a bit of fun to stretch me. If things don’t unfold as planned, hey, it’s not the end of the world. I’m just keen to have more fun and enjoyment in my life this year. Will you?

Fun is good.   Dr Seuss