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Mary's Moments Blog Post

Planning vs Reality

Imagine your life as a road trip. The ideal: You start by picking your destination, plotting your route, and setting off with a full tank of gas or a bike - whatever works for you.  In life, it’s setting goals, making plans, and taking steps to achieve them. Maybe you plan to graduate from college, get a good job, buy a house, and start a family. It's a neat, tidy roadmap to a happy and successful life.


However, just like on a road trip, life rarely goes exactly as planned. The reality is that there are roadblocks, detours, and sometimes, you might even find yourself lost.   We all know life's unpredictability can be challenging, but it can also lead to unexpected joys and discoveries.


Let's break it down:


When things go according to plan, it feels fantastic. Graduating, landing that dream job, or buying your first home can bring immense joy and satisfaction.  Even when plans change, the journey often leads to personal growth. Overcoming challenges makes us stronger and more resilient.  And, sometimes, the best parts of life are the ones we didn't plan for. Meeting a lifelong friend at a job you didn't expect to have, or discovering a new passion while trying something new.


The flip side, plans fall apart. Maybe you didn't get the job you wanted, or a relationship ended. These setbacks can be disheartening and make us feel like we are off track.  Uncertainty about the future can cause stress. When things don't go as planned, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.


Looking back and feeling like we should have done things differently can be tough. Everyone has regrets.


Here are a few common setbacks:


Physical or mental health problems happen unexpectedly, requiring us to focus on recovery.

 

A sudden job loss can impact financial stability.

 

Losing a loved one can be a significant emotional blow.

 

Events like natural disasters, pandemics, or political upheavals can disrupt daily life and long-term plans.

 

There are so many examples of what could happen.

 

When our second daughter was born, everything changed for us. We had pictured a life filled with typical family moments, like playing in the park, camping and cheering her on at soccer games. But when we learned she had special needs, it was like landing on a completely different planet. It was hard at first, and we faced challenges we never saw coming. But as time passed, we began to see the beauty in our unexpected journey. Our daughter taught us so much—patience, strength, and how to appreciate the little things in life. Despite the struggles, her presence brought us a love deeper than we could have imagined. We learned to find joy in every small victory and to see the world with fresh eyes. She showed us a whole new world of possibilities, and for that, we will always be thankful.


There is an analogy in our neurodiverse community called, "Welcome to Holland." It's a metaphor used to describe the experience of having a child with disabilities. It compares the journey of parenting a child with special needs to planning a trip to Italy but ending up in Holland instead. In the analogy, Holland represents a different destination than what was initially expected, but it's still beautiful in its own way, with its own unique attractions like tulip fields and windmills. The message is about embracing unexpected circumstances and finding beauty and joy in the journey, even if it's different from what was originally planned.

 

So, how do we navigate the ups, downs day to day?


Stay flexible: Because life is so unpredictable, be ready to change plans. Look on the bright side and celebrate wins, big or small. Learn from mistakes. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or professionals when things get tough. By breaking big goals into smaller steps, they’re easier to tackle. And taking care of ourselves by exercising and eating well to stay strong also helps immensely.


Writing goals for day to day planning works; though it is not as popular as one would think. Interestingly, only about 3% of people have written goals, and it’s been proven that these people are 10 times more likely to achieve them than those who don't? This statistic shows the importance of setting clear, tangible goals. Writing them down gives you a sense of direction and helps you stay focused, even when life gets chaotic.

We need to always remember, though planning life is important, it's equally important to be prepared for the unexpected as mentioned earlier. Accepting all its twists and turns.  It’s not just about reaching the destination, but also about enjoying the ride. Some of the most rewarding experiences are not planned. So, I think the key is to keep planning but stay flexible, and make the most of every moment.


In the end, what helps us deal with challenges is our ability to bounce back, adjust and be positive. No matter how things turn out, we're creating a life with lots of interesting experiences and important lessons. And that's something we can't always plan for.


When my accident happened a few years ago, it felt like my whole world was turned upside down. Suddenly, everything I had worked so hard for seemed uncertain. Losing my job as a result was a blow I never saw coming, and at first, it was devastating. But as time went on, I began to see it differently. That job was actually pushing me to my limits, with long hours, constant stress, and unhealthy habits. It was a fast track to burnout and possibly even a heart attack. Losing it forced me to slow down and reevaluate my priorities. I focused on my health, spending more time with my family, and pursuing passions that had long been neglected. While the accident may have derailed my career, it ultimately saved my life by giving me the chance to take better care of myself and find happiness outside of work.


It's been a long road to feeling like myself again. Every day, I still face new challenges, some of them you can't see. But I've learned to accept these challenges, understand and work with them. Even though it's tough sometimes, there's so much good in my life. And that's what keeps me moving forward.

 

A poem by Laura Ding-Edwards:

 

If the mountain seems too big today

Then climb a hill instead

 

If morning brings you sadness

It’s ok to stay in bed

 

If the day ahead feels heavy and your plans feel like a curse

There’s no shame in rearranging

Don’t make yourself feel worse

 

If a shower stings like needles

And a bath feels like you’ll drown

 

If you haven’t washed your hair for days

Don’t throw away your crown

 

A day is not a lifetime

A rest is not defeat

Don’t think of it as failure

Just a quiet, kind retreat

 

It’s ok to take a moment

From an anxious, fractured mind

 

The world will not stop turning

While you get realigned

 

The mountain will still be there

When you want to try again

 

You can climb it in your own time

Just love yourself till then.



The fact that life doesn't always go as planned, is okay. None of us are perfect. It's like how a cracked glass lets light shine through. Our flaws make us who we are. It’s when things don't go as expected that we learn and grow the most. It’s what makes life interesting and beautiful.

 

So keep dreaming, keep planning, but always stay open to the magic of reality.

 

 As long as we have Memories, yesterday remains.

 

As long as we have Hope,Tomorrow waits.

 

As long as we have Love, Today is Beautiful.

 

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