The Best Laid Plans

” Once we’ve thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.”

-Leo Tolstoy

My initial interpretation of this quote was “once we’re thrown off our habitual paths…” I took it to mean something much more visceral, like an outside force coming in and giving us a hearty shove off of our old rusty rails. Somehow, this interpretation made more sense to me and gave me a stronger comfort because it does, after all, promise the beginning of something new and good.

Happiness

Turns out, sometimes we really are the ones who throw off our own habitual paths: we take on a new job, we let go of a stagnant friendship, we start a meditation practice, we get off Facebook, we move across the country for love, and sometimes we just clean out our closets or go and get a haircut. We make changes in our lives to feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive. Along with the change comes inevitable vulnerability and maybe a bit of fear, but it all feels damn good and it’s all entirely necessary.

Well, it also turns out that sometimes we get knocked right off our habitual paths and we have no say in the matter: we get laid off, our loved ones die unexpectedly, we become allergic to foods, our dream grant gets funded, we meet our partner while waiting in line for a taco. At the core of it, these changes will also likely make us feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive, but the vulnerability usually hits us first and the fear is probably what we feel the strongest.

In both instances, the new and the good eventually makes it’s way to us.

I found out in early February that I’ll be having a baby in October. I found out a couple of weeks ago that the baby is a boy. I found out this weekend that he likes to wiggle and dance just as I’m ready to fall asleep.

Let’s just say that finding out this big news shoved me hard off my habitual path.

This isn’t what I had planned for myself. Nope, not at all. I wanted to be a carefree bride, go on a honeymoon somewhere peaceful, run a few more marathons, start teaching yoga classes, fix up our house, turn 30…

But those were all my own plans, and it seems as though those plans didn’t align with what was ultimately meant for me. It looks like I’ll be a bride with quite a bit on her mind (we’re getting married at the end of June), a honeymoon is being replaced with home fix-ups (at least that part will happen!), my due date lands exactly on the day of the next marathon I had hoped to run, and I’m still a couple of years shy of 30.

I’ve been struggling to not feel overwhelmed by all of this. I’ve been working hard to remind myself daily that the only thing that’s consistent in life is that it changes. That’s what makes it rich, right? But as much as I would like to be brave and strong as I face my new path, there are times when I get so scared or so mad or so disappointed that I just crumple into an inconsolable mess of sobbing. It’s not pretty, and I’m not entirely proud of it, but it’s the truth.

I spent the evening with a friend of mine who recently gave birth to a lovely baby girl. I watched my friend nurse, soothe, maneuver, bathe, and console her daughter and I thought to myself, I just don’t think I can do all of that.Β And it’s becoming clear to me that my habitual path has been full of thoughts just like this; ugly thoughts that leave me without much courage, strength, or belief in myself.

So maybe I needed to get shoved off that path. Maybe I needed to get placed directly into a role that I would have fearfully talked my way out of if left to my own devices. I’m getting the sense that life seems to have more confidence in me and my capabilities than I have in myself, and is offering me an opportunity to shine in a new light.

I’ve been holding onto this news for all these months for a number of reasons. Partly because I needed to let it sink in before sharing it with the wider world, and partly because I am still a bit embarrassed about getting pregnant “out-of-order” in the traditional sense.

Another reason I’ve been hesitant to share is because I know how badly some women and their partners want babies. I am sensitive to the fact that it can be an immensely painful process for couples who struggle to conceive, and that it can be crushing and heartbreaking to miscarry. I realize these things, and I hesitated to share the entirety of my feelings towards this news because I didn’t want this post to seem insensitive to the women who are in the throes of conception challenges.Β To all the ladies who read this and are aching for babies: please know that I love you and that it’s my hope that in sharing my truth, we can see each other’s side of the track a bit better.

We are all trying to get to our very best paths in life, and we all get knocked off our course in different ways.

We are all in this together.

So, whether your path is fresh or habitual, whether you have thrown off your path or you yourself have been thrown, let’s all start opening up to see the new and the good.

I’m trying. Everyday. Join me?

When has life thrown you a curve ball? How did you respond? How did things turn out?

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43 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans

    • Thank you, Rachel. We both have had a huge shift in our habitual paths, haven’t we?! I’ve been thinking about you so much this past week, and hoping that things are both settling and ramping up. You’ve got so much amazingness in store!

  1. So strong! So brave! I am proud of you too. A magical adventure lies ahead and I’m inspired by your drive to see it that way. I appreciate your honesty that was probably hard to muster, and thank you for your sensitive spirit to those who may struggle conceiving. These qualities, vulnerable honesty and thoughtful sensitivity, truly make the world a better, richer, sweeter place to dwell. Sending prayers, friend!

    • Thank you so much, Jane. Actually, the day I went to my Dr. to confirm the pregnancy, you posted your post about having children. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Yea, that’s exactly how I feel…” But it’s amazing how time can shift our perspective and bring peace.

      • AHH you’ve been freshly pressed by Truth and Cake!! It’s the best! So fun! Doesn’t it just make you feel a little more legit than before? Haha, celebrating with you!

      • I feel SO honored! I remember you saying your husband treated you to any beer you wanted the night you got “Freshly Pressed” by Rian. I think I’m going to ask my hubs if he’ll take me out for frozen yogurt to celebrate – the elixir for a pregnant lady. πŸ˜‰ Weee!

  2. Thank you for this! This post is a great reminder for me at a time when I’m struggling with what I’d planned for my life and what it’s actually doing. I’m focusing on remembering that “expectations decrease joy” and that the unexpected is often far better than whatever plans I’d been clinging to. Congrats on your exciting life changes ahead- it’s all good stuff. πŸ™‚

    • I’ve actually thought about your post regarding expectations quite a few times. I even caught myself thinking, “Katie, expectations decrease joy” when I was in the kitchen over the weekend. I think the key phrase you just used is, “plans I’d been clinging to.” It’s very difficult to give up those plans. Or, at least, give them up without mourning a bit for what could have been. But you’re absolutely right; often whatever comes is far better than we could have planned for. I’m glad this post was timely for you, and I also do hope that certain plans you’ve been hinting at in your blog come to fruition. You’re marvelous, Amber.

  3. Wow, Katie, glad I was reading this carefully instead of just skimming it haphazardly. If you’d been watching me read it, you would have seen my eyes go wide and round when I got to the part about having the baby in October. This is throwing off you habitual path big time. I’m excited for you and Peter. I know you well enough to be confidant that you’ll be a tender, loving mother. I also know you well enough to be confidant that the man you chose as father to your child will rise to the occasion. Have a wonderful June wedding! Congratulations all around.

    • Oh, Carol. In many ways, Pete has risen to the occasion more than I have. He’s going to be an excellent teammate in this next phase of our lives. I like the visual of your big round eyes – that sounds about like what I must have looked at when I looked at the positive pregnancy test. Thank you for the well wishes – here we go!

  4. Pingback: Arrival | Bravejuice

  5. Hi Katie,
    I was just reading Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” and it made me think of you and this post. She writes, “Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.” You will be an amazing mom. I know this because I remember being struck by the kind, gentle, honest, engaged, and thoughtful way moved through life even at 18, and those are the qualities I hope my kids will own.

    Best wishes!
    Alison

  6. I was just reading Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” and it made me think of you and this post. “Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.” You will be an amazing mom. I remember being struck by the kind, gentle, honest, engaged, and thoughtful way moved through life even at 18, and those are the qualities I most home my kids will own.

    Best wishes,
    Alison

    • “Daring Greatly” has been one of my favorite books this year – reminding me that we all get caught up in fears, doubts, and uncertainty from time to time; but what we do in those scary moments is where we can really rise up to meet life. I certainly hope I can teach this little babe how to explore, examine, try and live his life with curiosity and kindness. Thank you for such generous and loving words of support, Alison – it means so very much to me to hear things like this.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. Finding the way forward when life takes you in unexpected directions can be a challenge. It’s good to hear you are finding your way.

    The time when life threw me the greatest curve-ball when was I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was 25, and I had known for a long time there was something wrong, but to finally have it confirmed was both a burden and a relief. A burden in the sense that I had a lifelong illness to cope with, but a relief in that I finally had an answer and a way forward.

    The biggest challenge has been accepting that I can be open and honest about it and not see it as something to be ashamed of. It’s just a part of who I am.

    • Thank YOU for sharing, Bob. I can only imagine what a relief it was to finally have a diagnosis. It takes so much strength to face the elements of life that we cannot control, and I admire the honest and open way you seem to be handling your path. Thank you for stopping by – I’m looking forward to taking a peek at your blog!

    • Thank you, Laura Beth – I am so excited to have found you, too! I love your “Throwback Thursday” concept, and your belief in the strengthening aspects of sharing our experiences. I can’t wait to read more from you!

  8. Hi Katie! I found you on Truth and Cake and I’m so glad I did – I loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing. I love the attitude that you’re embracing here, and I’m going to work hard to have the same outlook when I’m feeling like I’ve been put on a path I’m not ready for.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Amber! I just love when Rian hosts the “Freshly Press Yourself” posts – it’s such a wonderful way to meet new bloggers. I am glad this post resonated with you. I think we all encounter times and places in our lives where we sit and think, “wait, this isn’t where I wanted to be!” I hope this can be helpful for you the next time life presents a little curve in your road. And yes, please share the Tolstoy quote! It’s a good one.

  9. I enjoyed reading this post! I came from Truth and Cake and happy that I did, you are a great writer! I feel for you so much. I sometimes feel like I am never where I expect that I should be. My counselor has told me a few times that I’m “exactly” where I am supposed to be. I repeat that statement to myself when I’m feeling a bit thrown and it helps…I’m just hoping that that confident faith sinks in for good one of these times πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing.
    xo, Tobi

    • Thank you, Tobi! I found your blog either through Amber at The Usual Bliss or Jane at Raw Milk Marathon (I can’t remember which it was!), and I have been so enjoying your adventures. I, too, have needed to repeat phrase, “you are exactly where you need to be” during times of disapointment and saddness. It doesn’t always feel true, but it always comforts me. I am so happy we connected!

  10. This is great! Your wisdom and openness will no doubt increase tenfold in the process of becoming a mother. I had an unplanned pregnancy at 27 and it was a mess of emotions and changes. I now have two gorgeous children, 8 and 4 and I feel so lucky everyday. I had feared that I would only be a mother and lose my own self in the initial stages. The opposite has happened; I have grown in so many unexpected ways. Best of luck and looking forward to hearing more about your journey!

    • What wonderful words to hear, Dani. It makes me unendingly happy to hear women speak well of their experiences as mothers, especially when they come about their role unexpectedly. Knowing there are nuggets of growth and goodness in the midst of all this helps me feel more grounded – I trust the wisdom of women who have done this before! So happy you stopped by – I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  11. Twins. For me, it was twins at age 39 with two older kids of my own and two of my partner’s. We had planned to have a baby (one!) and were going to start trying for that one baby in a while. Before we knew it, I was pregnant. And then there were two babies. Knocked us completely for a loop! And while we were grateful for the ease of having babies, and are delighted with our two (now 7-year old) boys, it was a HUGE adjustment. Having kids is a wonderful thing, however you get them. But you’ll never be the same again. I am the better for my kids. I am sure you will be too.

    Lovely post – I came over from Truth and Cake’s Freshly Press Yourself.

    • Oh, wow! My husband’s brother and his wife have twins, and they said that the news really shocked them, too. But with older kids already in the house, I can only imagine what a shocker that was. I’m nervous about all the upcoming adjustments, but it’s unendingly comforting to hear from experienced mothers that all the adjustments are worth it in the end.

      I’m so happy you stopped by, Lisa. Rian’s idea of hosting “Freshly Press Yourself” is brilliant – I love getting to know all these new bloggers! I hope winter is treating you kindly over in New Zealand. I spent a month there during college and fell in love.

      • I love NZ as well and am very happy to live here. Always nice to hear when people have had a good experience here. It’s a wee bit cold here – about 4 degrees C, which for Auckland (normally sub tropical) is terribly cold. I’m off to Christchurch next week for work and it is MUCH colder there. All the best.

  12. I’m so glad you decided to share this post with Rian at Truth and Cake- and not surprised at all that she selected it as one of her “Pressables.” Congrats, and thanks for your honest writing! πŸ™‚

    • I found your blog through “Freshly Press Yourself” and I am SO happy I did, Amber. I feel really honored by this. What an amazing community this blogging world is!

    • Thank you, Talia. I admire Rian’s blog as well as the previous bloggers she has chosen for this fun segment – I feel incredibly honored. This post was pretty scary for me to write, but getting the nerve to hit that little “publish” button always seems to reward me. My fingers are crossed for this new and unexpected adventure – thank you for stopping by!

  13. Motherhood is hard, but as my friend says, it’s also the most amazing thing you’ll ever do. You need a LOT of energy so you may be glad it was earlier rather than later. Good luck with it πŸ™‚

    • Oh, yes – I am doing my best now to get rested for what I know I’m in for. Ultimately, I think I will be happy with the timing. Motherhood just feels like such a tremendous role, I feel like I need lots of years under my belt in order to be properly equipped. Ready or not, I suppose! Thank you for the good wishes!

  14. What a beautiful post. I love your writing style and as one who is not entirely on the road I wished to travel because of a few ‘curve balls’ I find it inspiring. Casting off the ideals of what was ‘supposed to be’ and embracing what is … such a simple thing to do. Congratulations – I wish you all the happiness.

  15. This is a great post. I love it. Just know that we are all winging it. No one knows what they are doing 100% of the time, but with mothering you just do what you feel and it turns out to be right. Also know, we all had doubts. Even those of us who struggled desperately to get babies. So in that, we are all common. In a year you’re going to never be able to imagine life before your little wiggly baby. It’s a grand adventure! Plus you’ll run marathons again in no time.

    • Oh, my – there are so many pieces of this that make me feel comforted and excited. I am glad to be joining the leagues of women out there winging this whole motherhood gig, and I am so curious to see what life with this wiggly baby will be like. Thank you for your insightful and thoughtful words!

  16. Found you via Truth and Cake and love your site. You write with so much honesty. You boy will be ( and is) lucky to have such a sweet mother to nurture him. Enjoy every minute.

    • Thank you, Avilla. I’m so happy you found your way to my little blog. I just read your granddaughter’s sweet essay about you, and I think she is pretty lucky to have such a loving Grandma. I hope you’ll stop by again!

  17. Congratulations to you and your sweet husband!
    I had to chuckle when I read about your torn up kitchen. If you can get through that you are on your way to a long and happy life.
    That inspired my latest blog if you care to stop by and read.

  18. Thank you for sharing your story! I’ve been there too, as have many members of my family. Finding myself, after taking a wrong turn earlier this year, turned out to be an adventure rather than a challenge. This part ‘We make changes in our lives to feel open and new and raw and fresh and alive. Along with the change comes inevitable vulnerability and maybe a bit of fear, but it all feels damn good and it’s all entirely necessary’ really pulled on my heart strings… i’m not very good at sitting still and letting things comes to me; i prefer to make things happen. I make decisions and choices based on my desire for adventure or family or love… or strength. Lately i’ve realised that sometimes, not always but sometimes, it’s okay if things don’t go the way i planned them to.

    • It can be a tough realization that even when we do our best to plan things, life goes it’s own way. Sometimes we make the decisions we think are the best at the time, and they lead us where we least expect! I’m glad to hear you’re becoming okay with things not always going as planned – it’s a process I’m certainly still working on! Thanks for stopping by, Chelsie.

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