Anticipation: The AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeIt’s been a while since I signed up for the AtoZ April Challenge, and like many most things I sign up for, it seemed a long way off at first. I had plenty of time to think about it, and come up with a theme, as well as ideas for each letter. I imagined writing some of the posts ahead of time. Here was a project that I could approach in an organized way and not start each day pondering how/if/when the post would get done. That’s the fantasy version of my life.

The reality is significantly different. While I thought about this challenge off and on for weeks. made some preliminary attempts at lists–both themed and unthemed. I even typed up a draft of my 26 entry titles, but the revision process eluded me as other things came up. I still had lots of time. Yeah, that old line. Somehow, April kept getting closer and closer with no theme, not even a list that really felt right. I had already let a March challenge slip by, so I was determined not to just throw in the towel.

Over the weekend, I thought I had my A under control. I had gone through several possibilities–agenda, art, adventures, agriculture (I have my reasons). You can probably tell by now that the theme things had totally gone by the wayside. Up until last night, I was sure today was going to be adventure. But by the time I went to bed, I had changed to anticipation.

It wasn’t my original intention to include Carly Simon’s song in this post, but I realized that they had a lot to contribute to my “problems” with anticipation.

We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway.

I’ve known for a long while that I need to be in the present. But still, there’s that planning thing that can distract me. I can map out all the things that need to be done, and even create lovely timelines. Almost nothing seems impossible to me with the right amount of planning. But that translates into over-planning, and a variety of options, and thinking that because I can map these things out, that means I’m somehow good at planning, and maybe I am. (It also leads to really long, complex run-on sentences.)

Anticipation is making me late, is keeping me waiting.

that’s making me late, or at least keeping me waiting. But sometimes, I get stuck in the planning phase, and never move on to execution. OK, maybe more like I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the execution stage.There is something about the act of planning that is infinitely more interesting to me than the execution of said plans.

Yet, when I focus, I can handle the details. When I stop struggling, I can accomplish awesome things. It just sometimes takes a while to get that part of me to come to the table. But I’m starting to understand that part a little bit better. I’ve learned that she needs something “fun” to anticipate, not just the tasks involved with all my intricate planning. I’ve been making that part focus on tasks too long, and putting the “fun” too far into the future, where it ran into the danger of not happening at all. The carrot on the stick that keeps moving into the future is not a very good way to make for a pleasant present.

I also realized I needed to stop making this challenge a project. I needed to stop trying to plan it and make it fit some preconceived mold. I could go into it without a solid plan. I could be spontaneous. It was enough of a plan to just agree to write a post 6 days a week, and to follow the alphabet. Certainly, I can relax the planning part of me enough to go along with that.

Life is kind of a struggle right now, but I can make it better. I can be more reasonable about the plans, and remember that rewards cannot be put into an indefinite future but need to be part of the present. Part of the reason that it feels like I’ve seen better days is that I’m not always crazy enough to postpone the rewards and renewal of fun. Fun in the form of quilting, blogging, and mini-adventures are now part of the short-term plan, not simply a memory of the past or a remote possibility in the future, contingent on being good enough. It’s a part of making life better today, in the present. Now the part of me that was frustrated with all the tasks and little fun is starting to be a little more willing to join us at the table. The present is looking less stressful, more inviting. All the parts of me are much more willing to work together and . . . .

. . . [to] stay right here ’cause these are the good old days.

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4 comments on “Anticipation: The AtoZ April Challenge

  1. I love that song. Love. And I love the way you’ve decided not to overplan, but to enjoy the carrot before it dangles too far away. Despite all your worrying, it sounds like you’ve got A to Z in the bag!

  2. I’m so much like you! To me it was a miracle that I planned to write my posts in advance and then that I actually did it!! That was a first!! And it felt so good. I’ve been able to relax and explore other folks A-Z and it has been marvelous. I’m already planning to start on next years before the end of the year. Ha! We’ll see… Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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