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Clarity and Calm in the Midst of Upheaval

I always marvel at how the universe seems to conspire to bring us what we need right at the very time that we need it. 

I bet if you pause to look back on your life, you will see dozens of instances of blessings coming to you in a miraculously timely way—blessings often given before you even realized you would need them. 

During this time of international upheaval, I have made an effort to be intentionally aware of the things that have been placed in my life and the reasons for their arrival.

Three weeks ago, when my friend Natalie sent me and my teen daughter copies of her Anchor Planner, and Teen Anchor Planner, I was stoked. But not because I’m good at planning and managing my time and my life. In fact, I'm probably the worst example that could possibly be found for proper planning and managing of commitments and time.

So I wasn’t stoked because I’m good at planning—I was stoked because I am a planner addict.

I am ashamed to say that I probably have a thousand dollars worth of planners laying in closets and drawers and purses and cluttering up shelves and desktops. They all belong to me, and each one represents a moment where I believed wholeheartedly that I was turning over a new leaf to reveal a better and more goal-oriented and purposeful version of myself.

Usually, my planner purchases or orders were accompanied by purchases of new pens and highlighters and any other products I envisioned the new and organized me using in my new and organized life. 

Alas, all the planners and all the pens and highlighters and alarms set to get my days mapped out, and routines earnestly and hopefully started have amounted to nothing more than a small fortune in unused or twice-used dust collectors and paperweights.

Of course I didn’t tell Natalie this because I once again believed that this time would be different.

And so—like I had done dozens of times before—I tore open the box and pulled out my shiny new planner and thumbed through its gloriously crisp freshly printed pages—the smell of new paper and ink and the visions of my new-found productivity mixing euphorically and creating an immediate need to go buy new pens.  

Only this day, I had a full plate, and I couldn’t rush to Barnes and Noble and dig through their stationary section. So for whatever reason, I decided to just use my regular old pen that I used for regular old things, and sit down right then and see what Natalie had created. 

That afternoon with my hundredth new planner set in motion a chain of events that I couldn't have foreseen, and laid a foundation for a much easier transition to the chaos of the coming weeks than I would have otherwise been able to make.

By the time going to Barnes and Noble, kissing my husband goodbye as he left for work, arranging playdates for my kids, and all other normal and previously taken-for-granted activities had been banned, I had found the rhythm and focus that had evaded me for the last fifteen years. 

I had filled pages and pages of my planner, I had set clear and reachable goals and succeeded in managing my expectations and my commitments. I had identified my Anchors, prioritized my actions, clearly noted the things I had to be grateful for each day, and defined goals that had once seemed only distant hopes or wishes but have now become clearly—and shockingly—attainable.

I turn forty in a couple of months. I’ve raised and homeschooled seven children; three to adulthood so far. I’ve moved more times and lived in more places than most people I know. I’m adaptable and have always prided myself on my free-spirited way of navigating the world. But I’ve always known that I can’t manage my time. I’ve always seen my weaknesses and my reluctance to set goals and make the changes that I know would improve my life. 

I’ve always worked from home—something that I am grateful for the ability to do, and that I love. I’ve always homeschooled my kids. But I haven’t ever worked from home with my husband. I haven’t managed health scares and financial upheavals and a complete turning upside down of all that was just a month ago normal and predictable. I haven’t had to cancel summer vacations and visits with family that my heart really, really needed, or adjust to my now grown children living across different states and being alone in these confusing and trying times.

 I know that the timing of my introduction to my friend’s labor of love was inspired. I know that it has helped me lay a foundation for my ability to happily and confidently and with total clarity navigate this unprecedented and uninvited new “normal”.

It has blessed my home, my marriage, and my ability to serve and care for others because each day begins with calm and clear focus on who I am, who I am going to be, and how my daily efforts are combining to shape the life I envision. 

In this strange new world, the calm and clarity of parents and spouses and friends is more needed than ever before. The Universe provides us with the things we need before we even know that we need them if we will slow down just a little bit, listen just a little more closely, and try to be just a little more purposeful in the way we interact with the world around us.

Today I recognize the place that a product created by a wise and loving friend has had in making me a better steward of the time and talents and resources that I’ve been blessed with.

I suspect that we each can list experiences like mine—where in hindsight we realize that we were given gifts to prepare us for challenging times to come. 

I hope you’ll write them down. I’ve found that putting pen to paper in recording the ways that we are provided for and prepared in times of difficulty helps us face new trials and upheavals as they come with the confidence that we already have the tools at our disposal to get through them and come out better and stronger on the other side. It also helps to remember that you have a 100% track record of surviving the hardest things that life can throw at you. It turns out you’re pretty much killin’ it at life and you didn’t even know it. 

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