Plan

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It’s a new word, as these things are measured, although none of us was alive when it started to be used. 🙂

Again, being in a hurry to live, I will ignore the etymology for the time being, and that is difficult as it can mean so many things and link to so many concepts I have talked about already, like intent, motivation, practicality.

But for today, I will limit myself to a few observations on plans.

I was talking to a friend about being muddled, as it sometimes happen when you don’t have a plan of action. Being on the impulsive side, I immediately started to make the connections with spontaneity, on which there is already a blog article. But something didn’t sit right with that comparison. It is true that being spontaneous implies no plan, but it certainly doesn’t imply being muddled. Impulses are by nature quite clear, or so they appear to me. I don’t mean you have to give in to them, but it is clear what those impulses would have you do and the satisfaction that follows is linked to how well you have executed the clear instructions 🙂

But if neither spontaneity nor being muddled imply a plan of action, is there a connection? I tend to think there isn’t. Being muddled means you can’t be really spontaneous, just caught in whatever life has decided to throw at you; in short, it means no control. Spontaneity links to making a decision without an obvious trigger, being muddled means that you react to a very obvious trigger.

So having a plan for the routines of life means that your brain can afford to be spontaneous when it comes to the opportunities of life. It also helps with those impulses by allowing you to remain in control. So once all the bills are paid and the weekend is upon you, you could say “let’s go travel” and you won’t come back to disaster. You steer the boat, not let it blow this way and that way at the mercy of circumstances.

Some plans depend on the actions of others, or on enough time passing, or even on opportunities presenting themselves. So having a plan is also very good exercise for patience (or stubborness 😛 ).

There is one more issue I need to plan for now. You see, once I develop a habit I am obviously reluctant to give it up. So before I acquire it I need to think very carefully if the habit will be beneficial in the long term or is just a short-term release/coping mechanism. It isn’t perfect, but you can add a coda to the action that will become a habit which tells the brain to regard said action as temporary rather than permanent. For example, I am in the habit of using same coloured pegs when I hang out the washing. The mild discomfort I feel when I break this habit isn’t really worth mentioning. The habit also doesn’t impact greatly on my life, maybe a minute more spent doing it this way. But having several habits like this might mean the difference between being content with life and being hemmed in by it. I know which one I’d choose, so I will plan my habits too 🙂

Efficient

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I purchased a mushroom growing kit late last year. It had been an idea I had toyed with from time to time but the price for a retail kit was pretty steep for the result indicated, so it was only when I found a cheaper one that I finally gave in. I had partial success but before I could reap the full benefits it started to dawn on me that it wasn’t a very efficient way of doing things.

Let me explain: growing mushrooms in a bag implies several times a day watering despite the fact that outside it’s raining. It is not a difficult chore, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as non-efficient, and that, more than hard work, has the power to stop me in my tracks. Just as an aside, I don’t mind hard work, as long as it’s smart and the results are visible in a reasonable amount of time… or the long term results have good ROI 🙂

I liken this to growing chicks with an incubator: hard work, good results (if not perfect) and cheaper than the other way. What other way? Get a hen, of course! Then and only then, when the hen sits on fertilized eggs, will you figure out how far away from nature (therefore inefficient) incubators are. Not bad, I repeat, but a clumsy attempt at a short cut.

I am not the type of person who advocates a complete return to nature. I like my comforts and am grateful for the era in which we live. But I do like to tweak my life to make it MORE comfortable, and that, ironically, implies getting back to more natural ways. Another personal example: most supermarket soaps, creams, detergents etc. dry and irritate my skin. I could go the standard way and get some more stuff from my doctor to soothe it, instead I chose to go more natural in my cleaning choices and it has become a way of life for me. I am also saving more money than I expected, even with the few products I do buy being more expensive that the standard ones. These choices have also led me to many, mostly happy, mostly cheap experiments: anyone fancy a nice galenical concoction of beeswax, olive oil, rose water or orange blossom water and just a tiny bit of borax to fluff it up? I garden a lot, so that has been my saviour these few years, which reminds me, I need to make another batch!

I hate waste, so re-usable nappies for the little one also struck me as an efficient choice at the time.

The thing that puts most people off doing things efficiently seems to be a higher initial investment cost as opposed to the cost being spread out otherwise. Going back to the cleaning products described above, natural soap is more expensive than the standard one (why, I ask myself sometimes?), beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, flower waters, essential oils, re-usable nappies don’t usually come cheap, instead of opening a jar you actually have to melt the wax in oil, stir in the other ingredients, then stir again until the three, usually incompatible, main ingredients actually agree to stay together. Hard work? I think I mentioned above that I am not afraid of it… and it’s not, just out of our comfort zone. Worth it for me – and it makes nice presents, too 🙂

How about the mushrooms, you might wonder? Plan: invest in some wood chips and a different sort of mushroom (one that prefers the ground as opposed to the trees), mulch a shaded area of my garden that would otherwise remain fallow; inoculate the wood chips with the mushroom; go away and do something else for a while; water the garden as usual or enjoy the rain and let nature do the hard work for me 🙂

Anxiety

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I am talking of the run of the mill feeling, not the diagnosable crippling condition some are suffering from. I am also not talking of fear, as that is linked to something real, not anticipation.

Just run of the mill anxiety, the restlessness that cuts into your focus, that demands your time and attention and action. Don’t get me wrong, I know what to do: get help and make a plan getting there though… hmm, let’s give it a try!

Anxiety, of course, thrives on loneliness. I don’t mean no people around, I mean loneliness as in the shouldering of responsibilities by yourself and being there for the people but also feeling that you have to be forever strong. The thing is also that anxiety also narrows down your line of vision and so you go past opportunities to slow down and take care of yourself.

No point in reading that you need to take a bath, pamper yourself for an evening, go out, meditate, ask for help if you can’t take it in and do it… scratch that, there is a point in reading about those things. Sooner or later your brain will slow down (just before restless sleep?) and will allow those suggestions to become obvious things you can do… just as soon as you can fit them in… sigh

Making a plan also requires that restlessness to take a back step. Washing the dishes, having a shower, sewing, making a puzzle and writing things down help with that in my case. Going through the things that need doing now and preparing for the near future (Xmas anyone?) get back that beloved feel of control I like having when it comes to my life. So I have started going through the presents I have accumulated and gathering wrapping paper and ribbon etc.

I have figured out what I need to do this weekend and left enough time for blobbing.

I’ve also been wanting 6 impossible things before breakfast (I am homesick, and international travel is out of the question) so that will have an impact… time to schedule at least some domestic travel methinks…

I need to also read the books and listen to the music that reminds me that there is more to life than reality, that there is more to reality than just the senses and that we are beings of light, not flesh alone

Does that seem to you again as if I am doing it all on my own? Right, family to the rescue! Time to get some TLC from the nearest and dearest – scheduled for this weekend again – life, you know?

And I also need to keep into account that not all the anxiety will be mine, I also feel and respond to the anxiety of others, especially the nearest and dearest It’s a side effect of having family and friends, you know?

Right, I have a plan, I will get help… and I will take it easy on myself. TGIF!