Vacationing in Pencil
June 28th, 2010

Today’s post goes out to my sister Anne, whose practical blog Life in Pencil has been telling me for more than a year now about the merits of letting ourselves evolve organically and embracing life’s unforeseen changes. 

Since we got married six years ago, GAP and I have had an every-other-year approach to vacation planning.  Even numbered years were international trips.  Odd numbered years were domestic trips.  In that time we’ve covered Hawaii, Cardinals Spring Training, Maine, San Francisco, New York (3 times), Italy, Cancun, Switzerland, and the Pacific Northwest.  We love to travel and both get heavily invested in planning and experiencing each trip we take. 

This year’s trip (even numbered year = international destination) was to have been Ireland and Scotland.  We were going to go in the fall.  The British countryside would be lush and cool.  The pubs would be jovial.  The castles would be ancient.  And the beers would be room temperature.  (You can’t win them all.)  Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men… 

GAP and I have spent the better part of the last six months commenting to each other that we really need to have the house tuckpointed.  We have a bit of plaster damage in two rooms and before it becomes any more unsightly or irksome than it already is the exterior bricks need to be replaced and sealed.  To add insult to crumbly plaster, we also need a new roof.  Being responsible consumers as we are, we’ve gotten several bids for each set of work and the results are in.  The verdict?  Expensive. 

As the bids trickled in over the past few weeks we slowly began reconciling ourselves to the fact that our UK trip should probably be postponed.  Fast forward to last Thursday and GAP dreams up the idea of a four-day trip to the coast as a substitute.  I was delighted at the thought of a getaway and gave him the go-ahead to start scouting around online. 

Fast forward again to today and I’m so excited at what we’ve cooked up that I’m already over the disappointment of kissing our original plans goodbye.  Later this summer we will fly to San Diego for four days of the zoo, Sea World, the beach, and what I expect to be outstanding Mexican food.  Not only that, but we will be joined by some of our dearest friends (whom we haven’t seen in a year and who have had their first baby in that time).  Further still, in a stroke of brilliant happenstance, GAP’s sister and her family will be there at the same time and the entire lot of us is planning a collective day at the beach.  I’m so excited I can hardly sit still!

If life always played out as planned we would not have to deal with such headaches as home repairs and resource constraints.  But as we accepted and then embraced each of those fates we’ve ended up with plans that might actually be better.  (Kudos primarily go to GAP – it was his idea in the first place and he transformed it from whim to reality in less than 48 hours.)  Not to mention the fact that the unexpected nature of these plans makes them even sweeter.

As Anne and her blogging partner Elizabeth have so eloquently explained on their site,

Life is a series of revisions.  As soon as we think we have it all figured out, life reminds us that nothing is permanent, and we have to be willing to rewrite our plans.  And it’s this unpredictability that makes life exciting, novel, and, yes, messy.   Life requires flexibility, ingenuity, and acceptance, because there is no “final draft”.  We’re in a constant state of rewriting our lives.

Apparently, after reading their words for the past year the message has finally sunk in.  Perhaps I should allow my plans to get roiled more often.  At least in this case, I must say I rather like the results.

12 Responses to “Vacationing in Pencil”

  1. Leigh Says:

    Gail – have been in / out of town so just catching up on some of your more recent posts. SO very true how life can throw a curveball – sometimes its messy, sometimes its frustrating or diappointing, and somteimes, the curveball leads to something better. Sounds like a GREAT trip you have planned!! BTW, love the quote….beautifully written – might need to poach it for a FB status (with accompanying credit for the author/blog of course)! Hope you are well…

  2. Leigh Says:

    Sorry for the typos!!! I really do know how to spell was just in a hurry and didn’t proof (oops)

  3. Anne Says:

    Ah, sis. Thanks for the shout-out! This is a PERFECT example of Life in Pencil. And isn’t it amazing what happens when we allow ourselves to rewrite our plans? Sometimes we end up with a plan far better than we originally envisioned. Because you (and I) are persistent people, it’s easy to mistake stubbornness for perseverance. All it takes is the openness to entertain a new idea, and boom…you have something wonderful to look forward to. You’ll have a wonderful time, and the UK will always be there.

  4. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    As much as the idea of your planning your destinations based on the odd or even number of the year warms the cockles of my Type-A heart, I am really happy to hear that you and GAP were able to make such a great alternate plan. Here’s to planning, living, and vacationing in pencil!

  5. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Life is, indeed, “a series of revisions” – for all of us. We learn to plan, we rely on our planning skills – especially as women – to juggle so many aspects of life. But sometimes, the spontaneous, the alternate plans quickly thrown together – and even the upsets – may send us in other directions that ultimately allow us to experience life differently. And perhaps, with greater appreciation for what we have.

  6. the Provident Woman Says:

    It doesn’t matter where you travel as long as you have fun.

  7. Eva @ Eva Evolving Says:

    Yuck, home improvements. Amazing how quickly they add up. But I’m so glad that you’ve found a happy medium – not having to give up a vacation altogether. And San Diego sounds fabulous!!

  8. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Home stuff sucks! I feel like it’s never-ending. Still, congrats on making lemonade out of the situation and finding a workable (and fun-sounding) revision!

  9. Katybeth Says:

    Last June, my husband died unexpectedly, two weeks before our trip to Italy with our 13 year old son. One of the first questions my son asked after I told him his dad died is “are we still going to Italy?” Kids. Love them. But what was I going to say…no your dad died and we aren’t going to go to Italy, either? The next catch came when I planned my husbands memorial on the day we were suppose to leave for Italy…I thought we were leaving on Sunday–not Saturday. My travel planner took over and we flew out as planned. We had an ok time…being together was the important part–without other people, without phones..and without everyone concern that we “were ok”

    I just found your blog after reading your Daisy cow comment on PW. It made me laugh. I’m glad I clicked and found you!

    “Life is a series of revisions”


  10. Nicki Says:

    Wow! Am I the only one who did not know Anne was your sister? I am still stuck on that.

    Oh, revisions – yes! I was thrown a curve ball recently. My 19 y/o is working a job all summer that requires he have access to a car. Some days he can work 16 hours. He may have to drive between job sites. It is not a drop him off and pick him up job. He even works weekends. Then, his sister got an unexpected job for the summer in another city, two hours away. She took her car with her. I am basically carless for the summer. It has involved rethinking things but nothing that cannot be handled.

  11. Gale Says:

    Nicki – You’re probably not the only one. We’ve each mentioned in passing in various posts, but it doesn’t come up all that often. At any rate, yes, we’re sisters. I’m older by about 2.5 years.

    As for your summer logistics… You’re quite a sport for sacrificing your wheels for your kids’ jobs. Do they drop you off at work? Nothing like a little role reversal to shake things up! :) I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend!

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