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.
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 3:6 ”In 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.
Have you had trouble commenting on my blog lately? One blogger suggested this work-around: If you use the back arrow after the error message appears, fill in your email address and name again. Then your comment should go through, and WordPress will recognize you in the future. Thank you! (An Oops! You may need to sign out of WordPress first.)
Your thoughts on dealing with Plan B?
Tips on how you handle life’s inevitable disappointments or snafus?
Good morning, Marian! Your post popped up early today.
As you noted, sometimes Plan A turns out not to be the best plan. I like King and Emerson’s points –take the first step and go to bed knowing the day is done and tomorrow is a new day.
Happy Wednesday, Merril! Thanks for commenting so early. Now it’s probably time to wake your Muse with a morning walk. 😀
How lucky you were in disasters being averted Marian. A guardian angel by your side. I often have a Plan B in reserve just in case. Things change so rapidly it is helpful to have a Plan B tucked under my sleeve or in my brain … I loved all your quotes and take them to heart.
from Dictionary.com I googled it ..’No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it. The saying is adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”
(I’m hoping this comment will go through!)
The Bobby Burns quote is perfect. Thanks for mentioning it here, Susan.
I’m glad you enjoyed the theme and the quotes. You are a practical woman, I believe, and always have a second plan, just in case. 😀
So true! Sometimes we need the fullness of time to gain perspective on things. It hurts when a door slams in our face, but so often the door next to it (or 2 doors down) leads us to a better place.
I found this helpful this morning. Thank you.
I’m glad this post “fit” for you today, Arlene. We have imperfect vision as we live life, so it’s good not to be upset when our plans are changed. Thanks! 😀
Marian, what a great post. Your relationship with Wayne (what a heartbreak) brings back memories of a man I thought I would marry. But we broke up. A huge disappointment. He married someone else. Had I married him, I probably wouldn’t have written any books. And we would probably be divorced, because he wanted children and I was physically unable to have them.
It’s funny how our Plan B is often God’s Plan A. In disappointments, I often stew first. I’m not going to lie. I mope and cry. But then God reminds me that He’s there, and offers comfort.
You averted disaster too, Linda Marie! How awful if the world would be deprived of your writing. Still, disappointment stings, and we move on with better plans. 😀
Thanks for this reminder!
You’re welcome, Holly! 😀
I can’t count the times when plan B turns out to be the better option maybe we should relabel our plans to start with…lol
Good idea, Carol. Thank you! 😀
Our family experienced a Plan B this summer when our extended family cottage stay was cut short by two days because of Covid and our Ontario family couldn’t stay with us the next week as planned. Such a disappointment for us all. Can’t help but wonder what might have happened had plan A remained. Perhaps we avoided a bigger calamity than the one we experienced? “We know not what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.”
You’ve had several disappointments this year. Ones that sting hard, and others a generalized ache. I rest with your thought at the end. The One who holds our future has the best plans, even if we don’t understand them. Always good to read your real-life examples here, Elfrieda! 😀
Hi, Marian! This is so true in so many areas of my life and the lives of my loved ones, and that Proverb you quoted, Proverbs 3:5-6, is my LIFE verse! Thank you so much for this post. Plan A often comes from our human side, the one whose sight is limited and self-centered. Plan B is usually God’s choice, and His sight is not only limitless, He already has our best path marked out and ready for our steps of faith. You’ve made my day!
You’ve made my day too with your uplifting comment, Patty. I like the distinction you draw between Plans A and B, so very true. Thank you! 😀
I used to have a lot of trouble making decisons and worrying I may make the wrong one. Then I attended a seminar with a fellow called Charlie Tremendous Jones. He said not to fret, make a decision and then make it right! That really helped me. Learning to be flexible when things don’t turn out and you have to go with plan B or maybe even plan C or D, is valuable in life. And aren’t you glad you ended up with Cliff, who turned out to be plan A+!
I’ve heard of Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, but never attended a seminar. I’m glad you can apply his sage advice to your livelong experiences–as wife, mother, and author. Yes, Cliff is a Plan A+ and I’ll be sure to share your comment with him. Thanks for checking in today, Darlene! 😀
Your post gave me a lot to chew on, Marian. First, as an educator, there were many days going to plan B (not to mention plans C and D.) I think it’s important that we’re open-minded and flexible to move on in most areas of life. What other choice do we really have?
What you’re also talking about is perseverance. I think that’s a great quality to have. We soldier on whatever the situation may be. That’s part of life, and I take pride in being able to do that. Pick ourselves back up and move on.
Remembering back to teaching days, I think part of my tiredness at the end of the day was fatigue from making (and revising) plans with those variables–students, the administration, the weather, even. You hit the nail on the head: Perseverance is key. Here is a Nat King Cole rendition of your last bit of advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20ViFpURIDk&ab_channel=NatKingCole-Topic
Thanks, Pete! 😀
The writer in me is dying to know why you and Wayne broke up…but you don’t have to share. Then of course I’m thinking he ended up in the mental institution because he realized what a mistake he’d made by breaking up with you. From my experience, Plan B is always better!
Jill, in your work life and your writing life you know the value of shifting plan. The short story: Wayne broke up with me. I think his mental challenges started long before we met, probably in childhood. I’ll never know the “why,” but I’m happy I get to spend life with Plan A, the best plan for me.
By the way, I’m having trouble commenting on your post. I did subscribe to SubStack, but somehow that service seems curate comments stringently, so you don’t get Spam. It doesn’t happen every day, but today I got blocked. Maybe you know a “workaround” for me.
Thanks, always, for reading and taking time to comment. ;-D
Love this post Marian. I have experienced God’s better plans (Plan B – His plans) in my life many times.
Blessings for sure.
Ann, it’s wonderful to see you commenting here again. Thank you so much for your testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life. 😀
Pretty sure I passed Plan Z years ago but it’s all part of the journey. God knows where I am headed and I know where it all ends…Zion (ps84:7)
Part of your blog’s charm is how you navigate the journey. It’s never boring and your zig-zaggy path, like mine, will end in Zion, to quote Psalm 84:7 “They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.” Amen, sister Jenn! 😀
You can do all the right things in the right ways, and still fail. It’s then incumbent on you to make a go things as they are, not getting lost in thoughts about what didn’t happen. I’ve lived most of my life far from Plan A, more like using Plan X or Y or Z. And you know what? It’s all good, it’s all God.
Preach it, Ally! I guess I could say the same thing, although I couldn’t imagine the life I now live, growing up Mennonite in PA. Maybe Plan X, Y, or Z is better than A, our first choice. 😀
For me, Plan B has been the rule, not the exception!
Liz, I remember reading this description when I first met you, part of your bio on your blog, copied here so others can see: “I have been a preacher’s kid, a Navy wife, a Woolworth’s counter girl, and a Latin teacher at a dying private academy next to a cornfield in Virginia.” Now you an author, a poet, among other things. Wow! 😀
WordPress might have fixed the error message issue. People seem to be able to comment on my blog – and yours, by the looks of it – again, but of course, I have no idea if people are still getting the errors and then give up…
A very timely blog topic here. As you read, we’ve had to deal with plenty of disappointments and plans A and B and C not working out. Time will tell if there was a reason for all that and if we are better off now, with our current camper. It’s always hard to see this when being in the midst of something you hoped and planned for not working out.
Another example for me – which I’m still having a hard time with – is none of the little houses working out in Baja, Mexico, when we had made offers and planned to buy one, eighteen months ago. If nothing else, we could have sold it again with a huge profit or rented it out.
I know, it’s hard to know what’s going on on the other side of the screen–in the cyber-world with comments–and also in regular life. I hate to sound cliche, but your comment brought to mind the main character in “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” as manager for a group of Brits complaining about accommodations in his hotel in India, he said, “Everything will be all right in the end, so if it is not all right it is not the end.” I hope that is true in your case, especially with house-hunting in Mexico. Hugs to you, Liesbet! ;-D
I’m very familiar with Plan B Marian. In fact, there have been many Plan Cs in my life. Usually what doesn’t happen wasn’t meant to be. It sounds like you dodged a huge bullet with Wayne. <3
You have gotten very adept at adapting- ha! Although this has been such a hard year losing your sweet Puppy, friends rallied and brought care and comfort.
I agree, usually what doesn’t happen wasn’t meant to be in the first place. Take care, Debby. And thank you! 😀
Comment from MELODIE DAVIS, who was blocked from commenting today:
I enjoyed your boyfriend story, I don’t remember if that was in your book. It is interesting to talk (sometimes) about past relationships and wonder how our lives would be so different if Choice A had become the reality. Our children would be totally different!! What a blessing our girls have been in our life, and now the grands.
MELODIE, there was a boyfriend story in my book, but it was not “Wayne,” a pseudonym. It was John, a real person. I’m glad I ended up with Cliff and have the children and grandchildren we have now. It’s good to feel content with our lot. I know you feel the same.
Thanks for making such a huge effort to comment. I’m sorry you had so much trouble. ((( )))
Hi Marian, I really liked this post and I love the message in your book. I believe that God always gives us signs and guides our path. Sometimes we ignore them and that is to our own peril. I have had trouble commenting on some blogs lately. I have found more than one workaround as some work for one and not another. Determination always saves the day.
Your diligence and determination shines through in all you do. I notice it too in your comment today. Here’s to better sign reading and following God, who guides our paths always. Thanks for cheering us up with your comment, Robbie! 😀
Well, Marian, it looks like you’ve had a couple of lucky scapes in your life so far! I learned a long time ago that to be flexible and to adapt to new circumstances quickly is the best policy. Nothing’s written in stone! 😉
You and that hubby of yours have learned to be flexible–as nomads in your RV and now in a house. “Nothing’s written in Stone” is a good maxim to remember as we put-put down life’s pathway. Thanks so much, Maria Fatima! 😀
I have rejoiced over the many plan “Bs” that have come into my life. The difficulty comes accepting when Plan A didn’t work out. I LOVED this post, Marian. Thank you.
You are welcome, Rebecca. You and I have lived long enough to know not to get our hearts set on the first plan as the only plan. Many times, if we wait we are rewarded. 😀
I lean heavily on “everything happens for a reason.” It brings me a sense of calm because it takes away the “what if I had only done this or that” second-guessing to make sure my Plan A happened. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and let it go. And so many times, something better happens anyway (for you, Mr. Cliff Beaman :)), after Plan A falls apart. Sometimes, a divine hand guiding is pretty perfect.
Thanks for your kind reply, Melanie. I think I’ll hang on to the thought “a divine hand guiding me is pretty perfect.” 😀
Enjoyed your perspective on when things don’t go your way. In our lifetime, Andy and I have been disappointed by not getting a house or job, etc, that we wanted. Then later on we see why God did not allow us to get them. A better house came along, job layoffs where Andy had applied numerous times and so on. I love the scripture. If we trust His guidance everything works for our good.
Yes, Bonnie, we do not have divine omniscience, so we see through a glass “darkly.” That’s why we need faith in the One who knows our future, our next steps, even. Like you, I’m SO glad I didn’t get my way when I thought it is the only way I would be happy.
It’s good to hear from you–thank you! 😀
Hi Marian – this is an excellent post. I’m sorry I’m just seeing it now! I’ve had to revert to several Plan Bs, but they’ve all been the best thing for me. From the small things like not making the twirling squad in high school and playing field hockey instead to bigger life events, Plan A is often seemingly perfect, with hidden problems in the foundation, like your neighbor and the leaks.
Good morning, Barbara. I noticed your mini-pun on the word “foundation.” Maybe you didn’t make the twirling squad or field hockey team, but you surely are twirling and playing hard on your blog. I admire you dedication to learning Bach these days.
By the way, the light is always on at the Plain and Fancy porch–whenever you arrive. 😀
Yes, yes, and yes to the potential disasters of Plan A. I’ve had to learn to trust in what life offers, even if I thought things should go otherwise. My husband died, so what next? My response was to stay in our country home by myself instead of following my older son’s advice to move near him in North Carolina. It’s worked out well and now my younger son bought land and a cabin 3 miles from me–a plan B (C or D) I hadn’t imagined. There are so many surprises in this life. Have my plans used up the whole alphabet? I’m working on it. Cheers to your recent Plan B.
I can’t imagine you not living close to Mother Nature, close to Vic’s cairn, the birds, butterflies, bees, and sturdy trees. And, you are blessed to have your younger son move closer for companionship and helping out.
My friend Susan Weidener’s husband died when her two sons were very small. She was married only 17 years to the love of her life. I just recently reviewed her book, And the Memory Returns. Even if you don’t have time to read it, I think you could relate to so much of her story, intimate and heartfelt. Here is a link to the review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4908798092
Thanks for sharing your retrospective here, so valuable, Elaine. 😀