Excerpts from The Promise in Plan B: What We Bring To The Next Chapter In Our Lives
Make Time for Community
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
—Anthony J. D’Angelo
A physiologist whose research focused on the human heart once offered me a provocative piece of information: “When you place cells from two separate hearts into a single incubating medium, they begin to communicate with one another.”
It seems that certain proteins in heart-cell membranes enable the cells to communicate with one another. Unlike other body cells, those that make up the human heart can transfer electrical energy from cell to cell. Once placed in a petri dish, the faster-beating cells tell the slower-beating cells to speed up until, eventually, the two kinds beat in unison, as one. Compelling evidence that at the very center of our beings, we humans are quite literally connected. So after all the science and technology has been applied, and all the quality assurance metrics benchmarks have been met, our mission in life comes down to just one thing—we simply cannot fail when we choose to connect with and care for one another. And caring for one another requires building and maintaining meaningful bonds through community. This lesson came early in my professional life, about the time I was unceremoniously dismissed from what I once thought was an important job.
Betsy O’Reilly—The Resourceful Planner
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
—Paul J. Meyer
A friend and I once facilitated a retreat titled “Healing of Memories.” During the course of three days, everyone engaged in a variety of group and individual exercises, including storytelling. No surprise, the stories covered an array of harrowing topics that ranged from abuse and alcoholism to divorce and bankruptcy. At the end of the second day, the group came together for a glass of wine and an informal discussion, during which we encouraged questions and comments about the program content. After fielding a handful of remarks, I noticed an older woman named Iris sitting by herself. She wore a rather pensive expression, causing me to wonder if she might have something to say.
“Tell me, Iris, was there anything about the first two days that that resonated with your experience?” I asked.
She seemed uncomfortable with the question and took a moment to think before answering.
“Well, truthfully, I feel a little embarrassed,” she finally replied. “I’m afraid I have nothing very dramatic or painful to add to what I’ve heard so far. My life has been blessedly calm and pretty predictable.”
The Promise in Plan B
Her comments served as a good reminder that a Plan B can be blessedly calm and pretty predictable. In fact, frequently a Plan A doesn’t implode but simply runs out of steam. Other times, a natural course of events, such as aging or a move to a different state or country, precipitates creation of a new blueprint. In any case, changing direction does not require a catastrophe. We assured Iris that her calm and predictable situation qualified as both gift and asset.
Consider This: Nothing Beats a Solid Plan
One look at the daily newspaper or TV news would suggest that chaos surrounds us and mapping an even path to the future is impossible. Not true! Creating a Plan B often begins with clear thinking and steady preparation. Betsy O’Reilly provides a fine example of a great outcome that began with a great idea and a solid plan to back it up.
A move to a new home, a new job, or a new adventure prompted by children leaving for college provides the perfect occasion for us to organize our thoughts before taking a next step. Changing direction does not require pain or crisis. It might, however, require shifting our perceptions to see the hidden opportunities ahead.
Think of a time when you found yourself making a plan that was not driven by a setback or emergency. Describe the gifts or assets you brought to the planning table.
What previously undiscovered or untested talents came to light during this process?
Mary Farr, a retired pediatric hospital chaplain, teacher, and motivational speaker has devoted more than 30 years to exploring the worlds of hope, healing and humor. Today she has infused these life essentials into her writing, including her wildly funny and gently inspirational book Never Say Neigh. Her capacity to light up audiences with laughter inspires kindness and concern for one another.
Mary has published five books including the critically acclaimed If I Could Mend Your Heart and Peace: Intersections Small Group Series. The Promise in Plan B explores themes of grace and gratitude seasoned with a generous dose of wit. Mary has been featured in numerous publications, conferences and radio programs and has inspired audiences including women’s leadership groups, the Hazelden Foundation, integrative medicine conferences and grief and loss seminars. Through her work, she seeks to shine a light that enables others to discover new meaning and richness within their life journeys.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Mary completed her divinity studies in the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1983. She received a Master of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.