I am two days into the third week of this project, and only now am I taking time to pen the first weekly update post, and this isn’t even a “real” update. I had every intention of writing a summary post every Sunday evening, posting it on Monday morning, and allowing you, the reader, an almost-real-time account of the details of the project.
Three weeks in, and not a single word I’ve published.
I thought I knew what to write, what to share, what to list. I thought I knew what this project would be like. I thought I knew the story I wanted to tell.
But then, reality hit, and I won’t go so far as to say my planning was in vain, but something new is emerging, and I want to share it with you. All the planning I did in anticipation for this project did not (or, more accurately, could not) prepare me for the reality of stepping into the process. This simple, single fact has done a number on me over the past fifteen days.
Let me back up and explain.
I have lived most of my life planning ahead, thinking through possible pitfalls, and then developing strategies to avoid any and all said pitfalls. As a result, I am good at thinking eight steps ahead. I can anticipate disaster at every turn, and I know how to best side-step or avoid potential land mines. This approach is how I have navigated and survived the challenges of my life. It has, in some regards, served me well. I am a heck of a planner, and I can execute large projects well. I know what to look for and what to avoid. These side effects are not all necessarily negative. I would credit most of my success in life to these very strategies.
And yet, there is a glaring blindspot.
What I don’t know how to do well is live in the moment. I hate surprises. I hate the unexpected. I hate not knowing what’s next. It freaks me out, and I feel unsafe, unsure, afraid. I recently did some heavy emotional work to figure out the origin story for some of these feelings. It wasn’t easy, but it was good work. Even after the uprooting of old lies and coming out on the other side of facing multiple fears, my coping mechanism of planning as a means of self-protection is so habitual, it feels natural even though I don’t need it any more.
I approached the Ina In A Year project like all the other events in my life. I planned out every detail, then expected my strategy to work, as it always has. Only, this time, instead of serving me well, my white-knuckle grip on the timing and execution of my plan became a liability. I mapped out a year’s worth of menus without knowing a year’s worth of actual life events, because who even knows what will happen a year in advance? Spoiler alert: No one. No one, including me, can predict life a year in advance. As events surfaced that weren’t part of my original plan (a football game, a wedding, a retreat), I felt trapped. What do I do? Do I stick to the plan because the plan is safe and the plan is my friend and the plan is how I avoid pain? Or…do I try to change?
Without seeing it coming, I have been forced to entertain some fairly huge questions in my life. What would it look like to live in the moment? What would it look like to let go a little bit? What would it look like to become a bit more comfortable with the idea of not knowing exactly what is next?
Because I know I am safe, loved, accepted, and not operating from a position of danger or trauma or turmoil, I am able to hear these questions and choose to move forward toward change and growth. I want to learn to live in the moment, because I want to live. I don’t want my life to be a slave to this project. I want to use these meals, this food, this experience to enrich my life, not control it.
My team, whom I love and respect, have helped me course correct. My stringent plans, which made so much sense on paper, have become a guiding framework, but without the chokehold on my calendar. Our lead time has been narrowed from several weeks to a few days. We are adjusting. We are altering our methods. We are figuring it out.
And so, I choose to attend the football game, attend the wedding, attend the retreat. I choose to let go of one of my biggest self-protection mechanisms and work without a net, so to speak. It feels uncertain and scary. It feels unnatural and vulnerable. It feels…free. Freedom is something I want, but not necessarily what I know.
The bottom line of this update? I am learning a new rhythm, a new approach. I am walking forward and figuring out how to do life, to do this project, to be who I am, all while leaving behind the mirage of control that over-planning used to provide.
Don’t worry. I’m still a planner at heart, and I still find joy in details. But I choose not to believe over-preparing can protect me or save me or keep me from having to engage my whole heart with the whole of what life may present at any given moment.
Do I have project updates I want to share with you? I do. And they are forthcoming, I promise. But today I wanted to let you know what is happening behind the scenes, and to give you an honest look into my heart. Who knew the decision to cook all these recipes would yield such an emotional journey?
Thank you for the grace and space to take a minute (or three weeks) and readjust myself and my approach. I think the end result will be well-worth it for all of us.