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Being thankful for changes to plans

By Neil Allen

Recently my daughter received a post card in the mail stating she had a package at the UPS office in Keene. There was only one thing it could be — a $2 container of hand sanitizer. We could have decided it wasn’t worth the 90 minute round-trip but we reassessed our plans and opted to go get it as it was the only day available to us before they shipped the item back.

We groused about the trip the whole way down to the UPS facility. And, once we got there, things did not go exactly how we’d planned, either.

When we got inside, there was a man at the counter trying to mail a package. He only had cash and the UPS facility only accepted debit or credit cards (sensible given their remote location). The poor guy was really upset about it. Being a problem solver and a bit of a busybody, I stepped up and offered to have him give me the cash and I would use my debit card to pay for the shipping. It was the only reasonable solution for his predicament that didn’t require him to leave and find a way to get a card.

The gentleman seemed to be shocked at my offer to help and he thanked me more than a few times. The woman behind the counter was very grateful, too, as there was nothing she could do to help. I was happy to have been of assistance and able to do a good deed. We were soon on our way.

Then, on the way home, just after we passed through North Walpole, we saw a blue-green fireball over the Connecticut River. It lasted only a few seconds but it was fantastic to watch. The neon green streak behind the small meteor lit up the sky until the fireball extinguished itself with a small burst of bright orange then disappeared. This was the second one I’d seen on Rt. 12, the first time was two years ago on the way to Keene late one night, and the first time my daughter had seen anything like it. It was something to talk about.

The trip, which seemed like such an inconvenience at the outset, turned out to be one I am now thankful for.

We may not always be prepared to follow the changes the universe has set up for us but being able to be flexible is an important skill to learn for ourselves and to share with our children. Knowing how to not overreact and to reassess your plans as you move forward in a completely different direction. This is true for just about every aspect of our lives — including work, school, children, and relationships.

Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Take a few deep breathes then reassess the situation and make a new plan. In my case, I moved registering my car to the morning then let my boss know I was going to be a little bit late and instead of making the bank deposit in town, I made it at the branch in Keene.
  • Accept that life is full of changes that cannot be controlled. This is somewhat harder to do but that doesn’t change the reality of it.
  • Get perspective. How will this change impact the rest of your day, week or month? For most of them, it will be nothing more than a blimp on the radar. It is a bit easier to see this in hindsight but if you can think about this in the moment, it may take away some of the stress.
  • Look for silver linings. If we hadn’t gone to Keene, we wouldn’t have been able to help the man or see the fireball. We would have missed out on two things that are now special memories for us. Looking for the good from the situation can turn a negative into a positive and flip the experience for you.
  • Share these tips with your children when they are faced with things changing unexpectedly and help them to reassess, get perspective, and find the silver linings. And, you can intentionally role model these tips with your children when you go through these situations.

Hopefully these tips will help you find peace and acceptance for the chaos that can be life and make going with the flow a bit easier. Do you have any tips that help you when life changes unexpectedly?