The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Robert Burns

When we plan every little detail and the unexpected happens, know this:  while we can and should plan, it’s just not possible to cover every contingency. Something will always happen to get you off course. There will be that one domino that won’t fall. For a minute or a season. Go off course. But sail on anyway. 

My Plan That Went off Course

I had planned so carefully. As we remodeled our den and sunroom, the calendar was filled out to a T.   The contractor, painter, and wood floor installer had all but signed in blood that they would be done by April 30th, the DROP DEAD date—yes, I actually wrote that on the calendar and they took a photo of it!  

We moved out until the floors cured enough for walking in socks. For a week the refrigerator lived in the living room. We became contortionists as we maneuvered around temporarily placed paintings and tables and knick knacks to get to it. That was fun. 

We ordered a new sectional and rug. I finally received notice that the sectional was ready for delivery. A glimpse of the horizon on the ocean.  And yet, call after call to the rug store kept resulting in “not yet.” Yes, I planned. But now, I was off course. I can’t have a sectional delivered without a rug to put it on after all!

Getting Back on Course

Then hallelujah, the call finally came! We could pick it up and get back on course. Immediately I called to schedule delivery of the sectional.

The rug may have been the wind that changed the course…but it was the sectional that caused the storm. The sectional will be delivered the day I fly out to Idaho to visit my mom for Mother’s Day.  That’s when I was reminded of the fact that there is no planning, no calendar, no coordination that will account for every contingency.

I begged them to find a way to deliver even just a day earlier. I visualized a near empty truck with just enough space for my sectional and imagined how happy I’d feel when she called back to say, “Why yes. There is room!” But she didn’t. I considered delaying my flight a day. But let’s face it, I’ve spent enough money on this project. 

So, I made myself take a breath and just get on board with how it’s unfolding here at the end. I am so happy with the project so far. My family has retained our sense of humor (mostly). Yes, I have my bestie visiting from California later in May and it would have been lovely to have the project done. But the reality is, it will get done. It will get lived in and messes made in and I will forget all about the ordeal this has been. 


Last week I had lunch with my friend, Mary, former head of our local legal aid clinic. She is an outstanding lawyer and has worked harder in this field than anyone I know.

A couple years ago she quit her job, sold her home and most of her possessions, and bought a boat. She and Jim (her husband) have been sailing the seas and posting pictures that makes me want to leave it all too.

At lunch, hearing about all her adventures and  some harrowing and funny  stories, I asked, “What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve learned from all this?” She responded, “No matter how carefully you plan, something will happen that throws you off course. The boat will develop a leak. The generator will stop working. You spend longer than planned at an island waiting for a part. And yet, you sail on.”


Sailing On

You sail on. You go see your mom in Hospice for Mother’s Day. You explore the island and get to know some locals. You trust your husband to know the best positioning for the sectional (No, you don’t. Let’s not get carried away here). But you recognize things can be repositioned and get you back on course!

What are you planning? The start of a new company? Your retirement? Your summer vacation? How you’ll break it to the kids you’re getting divorced? Your 25-year anniversary surprise trip? How you’ll convince your dad that he really shouldn’t drive any longer? A retreat for your team? Committing to a new relationship? 

At all times we are living both in the present and planning for the next thing. So is the answer just not to plan? Or to just plan better so there are no surprises? After an interesting spring, here’s what I hope to remember when faced with the next big thing:

  1. Plan: Plan deep. Calendar it out. Name a drop dead date. Take a breath and dive in.  
  2. Be Realistic: Don’t for a minute believe that’s exactly how it will go. Expect the unexpected.
  3. Adjust: Let things unfold as they will regardless of your plan. Sail On.  Anticipate the wind will blow your ship in unexpected directions. It’s going to awry for a bit longer, but then it will fall into place. So, until then, sail on. Ask yourself, in 5 years, will it really matter?

So I’ve moved the drop dead date. In five years I’ll have forgotten I had to. 

Happy sailing!

Wishing you wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz

PS. A Shout Out!

  • Need wood floors? Michael with Northwoods is the best.
  • Randy the Painter has done careful, beautiful work. The colors are light and lovely.
  • Sean and Carter with Movin On were so careful as they moved our stuff (and waited patiently while I cleaned and dusted each piece of furniture as it emerged from the garage). 
  • Jayme, my trusted designer, has been such a trooper with all my decor questions and design decisions. And holy headache, there are a lot of decisions!



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