Life is All About How You Handle Plan B

In 2013, the year I began blogging, my southern friend Carolyn gave me a clever memo pad for my July birthday. I haven’t used many of the chartreuse-colored sheets because I want the packet of pages to stay plump, so I can stand it up nearby on my writing desk. I love the inspiration on the cover and sentiment inside. When I peek at it, the message gives me pep and purpose.


Suzy Toronto, designer


Like you, I’ve had to choose Plan B at various stages in life. At the time, I thought that Plan B was second choice. I wanted Plan A, the one I thought was the best option. But sometimes Plan B has turned out to be the Best choice of all.


Last Friday, we went to Miller’s Ale House for their lunch special. I chose a club sandwich, but when our server told us that wasn’t available on the menu, I had to make a different choice, this time the flatbread with a house salad. Although I like both options, I had to go with Plan B instead of Plan A. After all, we came in at 1:00 p.m. on a week day, so maybe customers on their lunch break ate up all the cold cuts. No matter, switching to a different dish didn’t ruffle my feathers very much.

However, sometimes accepting Plan B is harder when the stakes are higher. Like in college. I dated a young man I was crazy about during my sophomore year. Let’s call him Wayne. At age 19, I had my heart set on Wayne as a husband, the best choice for me, so I thought. The sun rose and set on Wayne. We took walks together. We went on dates in his snug VW Bug, royal blue. He gave me a paint-by-numbers letter holder. Why, we planned a life together! When he asked me to marry him, he promised me a new sewing machine—a portable one—as an engagement gift. (Mennonite girls didn’t get diamond rings in those days.) But it turned out, marrying him would have been a disaster. When he broke up with me, I was heartbroken. On campus, I was a pitiful sight downcast and shuffling from class to class, red-faced from crying. The Dean of Women called me into her office, offering sympathy and assuring me I had averted a dismal future. Dodged a bullet, even.  A few days later, his father visited campus to tell me Wayne had been admitted to a mental institution. I got the impression that he thought that such news would help me get over my infatuation with his son. Not long after, I learned that Wayne was married (married!) to a woman he met as a maid in a motel, a fact that seemed then, and now, to be incongruous with the person I had idealized. I have no idea how the rest of his life unfolded, but I did learn a few years ago he had died, in which case I’d be a divorced woman or a widow with sad memories now had I gotten my wish and married him.


More recently, when we were house-hunting, I had my heart set on another house for sale in the community we now live in. It was new on the market and close to a cul-de-sac, just perfect. The porch in front was adorned with limestone pillars. The stone may have been an imitation, but it looked like the Pennsylvania limestone I grew up with.

I felt deep disappointment that we didn’t snag that house. In the end we purchased a home two doors down, this one with access to a path opening into a preserve and a clear lake view complete with an aquatic runway for ducks and geese. When I talked to the homeowner of the house I had previously craved, he remarked, “Be glad you didn’t buy this one. Last year, we had a leak under the concrete slab. What a mess that was, expensive and a pain to fix. We had to move into a hotel for a while.”


At a crossroads, especially with big decisions, it’s hard to read the signs clearly. Both ways seem to have advantages. How do we choose? Life is lived forward, but understood (if incompletely) in hind sight. I need supernatural guidance when it comes to choices, large and small. Often I have found wisdom in this verse from Proverbs 3:6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

If you don’t know what to do, just take the first step. “To take the first step in faith, you don’t have to see the whole staircase.”    Martin Luther King, Jr.




How to Handle the Daily Grind, Emerson style

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson



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Your thoughts on dealing with Plan B?

Tips on how you handle life’s inevitable disappointments or snafus?