A plan is only as good as the sum of its parts

The only thing spontaneous about me is my hair. It wakes up in the morning and decides what it’s going to do for the day.  I’m never quite sure.

I, on the other hand, sink or swim according to the confines of my calendar.

I have a plan. Or I think I do.

I know that to some just the mention of the word “plan” brings to mind all the negatives associated with control. But if I didn’t start with a plan that coordinates my comings and goings between my work schedule, my personal needs and requirements, my husband’s very few expectations, my grandchildren’s school and play days, not to mention friends and other family birthdays and special events…and let’s not forget my weekly field trips and pleasurable exhales, well, I have to start somewhere.

And control? Believe me, I may not be spontaneous, but I hold very lightly to THE plan, because THE plan hardly ever comes together. It’s merely the jumping off point–the direction in which I face each day and hope for the best.

The last few days have been remarkably full, but also full of surprises.

We started with a plan. A very special little girl was turning five-years old.


We massaged our tightly bound schedules and celebrated with a preschool graduate.


Then later that day we were off to a birthday party with all her friends.


It was all according to PLAN.

But at the same time as our plans were in full throttle, a good friend was changing hers. Or more accurately said, circumstances were changing and she was shifting accordingly.

Many of you have previously been introduced to my fellow blogger and friend, Andra Watkins.  After knowing Andra only through her delightful blog, The Accidental Cootchie Mama, last fall Jay and I had the opportunity to spend a nice evening with her and husband, MTM when they traveled from South Carolina to San Diego.

We were anticipating another brief visit in a couple of weeks when the couple returned from their anniversary holiday in Australia. We planned, there’s that word again, PLANNED to meet at LAX for at least a cup of coffee and a brief hug.

Sometimes even very well-coordinated plans change, too.

While boarded and ready to leave the tarmac, the jet experienced an on-the-runway “event” with another jet…and the next thing they knew, oops! They were grounded!

I may not be particularly spontaneous, but I can spot an opportunity when one presents itself. A few phone calls back and forth and we came up with  a whole new plan.

Guess who came to a 5-year old’s birthday at my home in San Gabriel?


Sometimes we get lucky and as one plan falls apart another one comes together.

What a delightful surprise!

“To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.”
― Bertrand Russell


67 thoughts on “A plan is only as good as the sum of its parts

  1. I’m tickled pink for all of you – you all deserve such unexpected pleasure ! And that quote from Russell makes me realize what a curmudgeon I’ve become. I shall attempt to Do Better !

    1. Thank you, M-R. 🙂 I couldn’t stop smiling once I realized that we were going to have the time together with our friends. And isn’t that Bertrand Russell quote a good one? I think it’s good for each of us to remember the delight that comes with the spontaneity of friendship. 🙂

  2. Happy birthday to that very special and very beautiful little girl! How lovely that your blog friends were able to join you for the party – yes, sometimes the silver lining is much bigger than the cloud! 😉

  3. Firstly a Birthday wish of happiness and prosperity in her future for a precious little girl… as for the plans, they are good when they come together like the “A” team always used to say…

  4. Your warmth and hospitality sent us on a better way, Debra. Thank you so much for enriching our holiday. We both agreed that we couldn’t have spent our unplanned time in happier company. Please give my regards to everyone. xo

  5. I’ve been thinking about my understanding of ‘planning’ recently Debra ~ and your words echo my thoughts. I’m also prioritising the most important areas of my life and working through those less attractive so that I can focus better. But, like you, I’m flexible and rejoice in those blissful occasions when it all comes together ~ with or without the plan! Lovely, inspiring post. Oh, and btw my hair is unbelievably neat. I try my best to make it less structured but it defies all hair products and falls into place within a few minutes. I even wake up looking as if I’ve just styled it. I don’t get it, it so isn’t me!!! 🙂

    1. I admire neat hair, Jacqueline! I have friends, who like you, can depend on their hair to cooperate in the morning! 🙂 I don’t know what my problem is, but it’s a bit different every morning. 🙂 I guess that’s okay, but definitely some days are better than others. LOL! I do think it’s important to prioritize time for what is important to us, and that requires a little planning. Otherwise I get buried under simple “busy-ness.” But I hope to always have time for friends and to know when it’s important to shift from my “to do list” to enjoy someone’s company. This weekend will continue to remind me that friendship needs prioritization, too, sometimes.I’m so glad you stopped by. Thank you for your lovely comment. 🙂

  6. Adding that endearing accent to your party noise had to have been a wonderful addition to your plan. 🙂 I like a good plan. But I like a change that makes life surprisingly happy, even better. 🙂

    1. It was a delightful visit with Andra and MTM. They just relaxed and graciously watched us buzz around with the little ones. I was so sorry they had their flight delayed and plans temporarily on hold, but it sure did open up a way for us to have a little time. We were fortunate that we were in town and sticking close to home! 🙂

  7. Your granddaughter is gorgeous and it sure looks like she was ‘queen for a day’ with her birthday celebrations. It’s so true that when our best-laid plans crumble around us, often a new and unexpected delight is presented before us. I’m so pleased your friends were able to join the celebration xx

    1. Karina is a very sweet and funny little girl. I can’t believe my youngest grandchild is already 5! Too fast, too fast! 🙂 It was really delightful to have Andra and MTM at her little party and to be so gracious to fold in with nothing more than hot dogs and chips for lunch! The larger party had been the day before and this was almost an “after thought.” It was good for me to be hospitable at a moment’s notice and not to have time to think about what we were serving. It certainly wasn’t a time to shine in the kitchen! LOL!

    1. We were up and down that freeway so many times last weekend that I was exhausted on Monday! Ha! But it was a very delightful time. If you happen to find yourself at LAX…let me know. 🙂 I am more than pleased with being Plan B. 🙂

  8. What a fun week, Debra! I love the Bertrand Russell quote. Glad you and Andra had a chance to hook up again for a few hours. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the gorgeous girl!

    1. Thank you, Nancy. We had quite a weekend. Preschool graduation, two birthday parties, and our unexpected guests! I had a blast, but I was tired on Monday! I think this next weekend needs to be a little less ambitious. 🙂

    1. Are your plans moving forward for your Charleston visit, Nancy? You are going to have so much fun! Andra is delightful, as you know, and I think it would be really fun to be with her on her own home turf. 🙂

      1. Absolutely! We are debating fall (Sept or Nov) or early next year. I didn’t want to be in SC during the height of summer. Humidity is not the friend of my hair. 🙂 Vanity first, Debra. 😉

  9. Lovely images of Karina on her birthday and amazing the way you had the extra guests. I’ve read a few of Andra’s posts and MTM is an architect, so I would have been fascinated with their company. Wonderfully serendipitous, Debra.

  10. People young enough to still have baby teeth are the best people in the world, in my opinion. Happy Birthday to the new 5-year-old! And congrats to you on a successful incidence of spontaneity.

    1. You are so right, Janine. My “little” granddaughters are growing so fast. Sophia, now 6, has lost entirely too many of her baby teeth. So Karina, still our baby, is getting a lot of attention. I wish time didn’t seem to move quite so quickly! Hug that little granddaughter…like I need to tell you that! Ha!

  11. What a delightful post and your granddaughter is so pretty and so full of joy. I know she had a very special birthday. Now, I’m off to read your two previous posts about Los Angeles. Well, at least one of them was about the secret stairs.

    1. Sometimes spontaneity really does work, Tom. The LAX “debacle” was probably much harder on our friends than it ever could have been on us, and we even braved some nasty traffic (after we dropped them off for the return) and we just smiled at how much fun it had all been. This last weekend was VERY quiet. Balance. 🙂

  12. Love that bit about the jet experiencing an on the runway event! I hope your friends were not shaken up by the experience. Sounds like you put the situation to good use 🙂

    Looks like the Birthday Party was a great success too – Pretty colors and lots of smiles 🙂

    1. Our friends are very experienced world travelers. They didn’t seem to be badly disturbed by the runway incident, although it was a lot of work for them to get booked on another flight that would accommodate their expectations. I, on the other hand, am “uneasy in the skies” and probably would have considered it a sign to cancel my vacation. Now you know how neurotic I am, Martin. I don’t share that with just everybody. 🙂

  13. Catherine Wade

    Karina looks like she had a very special day and lots of fun. So glad Grandma had a good time too! Loved the quote.

  14. And it is all part of a plan that is bigger than any of us, Debra. What fun – for everyone, and I’m sure Andra and MTM fit right in with the birthday celebrations. I love the spontaneity of it all. You are my kind a gal, Debra; one who can veer from her course if need be and adapt to the moments at hand.

    A very special, happy birthday greeting to Karina. 5! That’s big news, for sure, and it looks like it was a very special birthday for her.

    This whole post just makes my heart sing.

    1. Thank you, Penny. Since you know Andra and MTM, you know how delighted we were. It’s not everyone who can jump right into a family’s pre-existing itinerary, and they were so easy with it all, there were no strangers. I am not sure I’d have felt that resilient in reverse! And I can’t believe our “baby” is now five! We have Kindergarten in the fall…and then you know how fast it goes! ox

  15. That’s my kind of plan, Debra – open to happenstance and wonderful opportunity. Happy birthday to your gorgeous Karina who looks more than ready to graduate from pre-school. It looks like she had a wonderful celebration with very special unexpected guests. 🙂

    1. I do like an agenda. 🙂 I was raised in a household that made plans and by George, we stuck to them! LOL! But I learned rather early in life that it was a lot easier to assume that most plans will change. They do! And I think the only thing I’d do differently as a result of what we experienced last weekend is perhaps build in a bit more space to allow for those plans to change. I don’t think we had a spare moment in three days, and perhaps I could be a little easier on myself. I don’t have a lot of common sense when it comes to family celebrations. I don’t sit anything out. Even a five-year old children’s party in a loud and boisterous bounce house. 🙂 This past weekend was a recovery time. Much less active!

    1. It’s so true about flexibility. I sometimes laugh at how many “detours” we can take in a week, and sometimes many in one day. I was so pleased that our birthday “detours” were of such a pleasant variety! 🙂

  16. I’m a little late for Special K’s party, but wow … she’ll be expecting multiple parties within days in the future! Love the way you handle “the plan”, which had me smiling.

    1. I must admit that by Monday of last week I was just exhausted. I’m resilient in spirit, but it does catch up with me sometimes. this weekend was much, much quieter. I hardly knew what to do with myself. LOL!

  17. I used to hate to plan. But now I do try to at least know what I plan to do or not do a week ahead! sometimes my plans get wiped away but usually a much better plan comes to me with out me trying to get it! Time is very special and I now see it as a BIG word! That spells out LOVE ! I still am not spending enough time with what I love and those I Love but working on it! Love Deb

  18. Dear Debra, it has always seemed to me–I’m a “planner” also–that a good mantra is “to expect the unexpected.” Then the unexpected doesn’t throw us for a loop and we can get from it what ever is offered to us–friendship or the opportunity to grow in some meaningful way. Life is just full of surprises and even the hard, sometimes tragic, ones can, over the course of years, yield us some good. But there’s no down side for you as you celebrate your beloved granddaughter’s fifth birthday with the unexpected arrival of two friends. That is a gift from the Universe! Peace.

  19. dandyknife

    Good stuff! Dunno about the “spontaneity” part, but you’re clearly capable of imagination and lateral thinking. 🙂

  20. I love how things and people can come together in such unexpected yet special ways, Debra! I was so happy last week after reading Andra spent a wonderful afternoon with friends during her layover in LA and here we are today saying hello and getting to know each other. 🙂 Your granddaughter is a beautiful girl and boy do I understand the spontaneous hair thing. I try to force mine into submission with a flat iron but there is always room for surprises. 🙂 Lisa

    1. Thank you, Lisa. It’s really nice to get to know you through our mutual friendship with dear Andra. I enjoy her so much! And weren’t we lucky that she is willing to be spontaneous! We were the lucky recipients of her generosity of time. And hair! Good grief! When I saw what my hair looked like in the photo that Andra posted I just had to laugh. It hadn’t started out looking like that at all. LOL!

  21. First off, this Bertrand Russell guy and his quotes been showing up to blogs I read. Second today. What really surprises me is your admiration to Andra Watkins. It shows how you try as much to meet her. It’s only deserved that the forces of blogosphere let you meet each other longer than just a quick hug. 😀 All the best for your plan and serendipitous moments. 😉

    1. I do like Bertrand Russell, and although I haven’t personally seen him quoted too often of late, I’m not really surprised. He was quite the “thinker” in his day. 🙂 Andra has become a good friend, and I thought it was great that Andra would give me a call from the airport. It’s lovely to be so comfortable with someone I haven’t known very long. 🙂

  22. Pingback: Morro Bay Rock(s) | The Sophomore Slump

  23. I love surprises, particularly such as the one you describe her; sudden visit by friends or acquaintances. I am sure you had a great time – even if it wasn’t planned. I have to admit I am one of those that like no plans at all. Have it all as open as possible, that’s what I like. 🙂

I always enjoy hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.