Last weekend I attended a women's retreat. The organizers thought of everything. Complimentary massages, yoga, belly dancing, drumming, comfy pillows and cots for lounging, tables for painting or coloring, a class on how to write poetry like Rumi, and a keynote speaker/singer that led us through singing and chanting song just for women.
The Betsey Mill's Club hosted the event. This set of buildings dates back to the late 19th century and blends beautifully with the old section of Marietta (Ohio) where its' located. As with most old places, it started off as someone's home (The Mills!) and over time became other things (home for unwed mothers, dormitory, etc.) and now is used as an actual club for exercise, community events, and a small dorm for visiting nurses is tucked away upstairs.
Part of my work, when planning trainings, is logistics. How are things arranged? How do rooms flow? Where will people go for a break? How many people will fit? All sorts of little questions. When I arrived at the Betsey Mill's Club, I went to the "wrong" door. Not a big deal, someone opened the door and gave me directions ("...its around the corner..."), so I walked down the street, turned the corner and...I guess its that door over there? So I walked over to a different building and opened the door - thankfully a volunteer stood just inside - and found my way to the gym - the main hub of the day's activities. A volunteer manning the registration table informed me that the yoga class would be held in the "living room" and the Rumi writing class would be in the "dining room". And where are these rooms? "Down that hall, down the stairs, and just go along, you'll find them..."
I felt a bit of harrumphness! Was there no map? No detailed drawing of the sprawling layout of these buildings? I was just supposed to "find my way"?! What kind of event is this? Who organized this day and left people to their own devices? Good God, did they know nothing??!!
And then I asked myself: why do I need a map? Why must I know exactly where I'm going? Why can't I just wander along, look in nooks and crannies, explore a few dead-ends, bump into a few walls, and happen upon the right place? Must I have all or nothing? Helloooo - I wouldn't be me if I wasn't an underachieving perfectionist.
So, I colored, I yoga-ed, I wrote like Rumi, I sang, I painted, I even knitted for awhile. I stopped trying so hard to be so organized and let the day go as it would. Fifty percent of me liked going with the flow, 50% hated it.
Do we always need a map? Yes. No. Depends. I like order and lists and checkmarks and times and dates and outlines with Roman numerals and one foot in front of the other (no dilly-dallying side-to-side steps!). When I colored, I tried to make myself go outside the lines. You should try, too. Find a coloring book. Pick a picture you like, pick a crayon so pointed it could be a toothpick, and start to color. When you get to the line, pay no attention, just go right on beyond that line. Bet you can't to do it happily.
My point? There aren't always maps, lines, lists, scripts, or frames. It's scary and freakish, I know. Try not to panic. Breathe deep and relax your shoulders. Try to let some part of your day just happen. Be open to a different way to solve for X. I'll never live without lists, but maybe I can stop numbering each line...