Giving It All Up

Today I had a lovely day…I was off from work, went to my reflexology appointment, got a cup of coffee, then drove to the beach to enjoy my relaxed state of mind and body and contemplate life while looking over the frozen bay. Now I can write without a cluttered mind.

I’m currently reading Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner. In a nutshell, it’s a memoir about a woman who became an Orthodox Jew then converted to Christianity. It’s an interesting read. But one section struck me in particular and gave me an idea for a blog post. Winner (an avid reader and observer of religious materials and people, respectively) and her rector are talking about Lent and what it is that she will give up. Winner has decided that she will fast every Friday. But her rector asks her to give up reading as well: “‘Reading, it seems to me, is something you really love. It may be the thing you love most. I would like you to give up reading for Lent.’” The night before, the rector had given an Ash Wednesday homily focusing on “the need to give up something that was truly important to you. To give something that was truly yourself.” He told Winner, “‘I want to encourage you to give something to God that really matters. Something you really love. Something that is hard to do without.’”

While I don’t practice Lent in this fashion (in my religion and church, we don’t officially or specifically have to give up something), I wondered what it would be that I would give up if I were in Winner’s shoes. And the answer is obvious. There are many things I like to do and some that I continuously do (like reading). But there is only one thing I constantly do, without fail, every day of my life, many times without even thinking about it: planning and/or organizing.

(Ah-ha! Now we get to the point.)

Since I have embarked on a life organized and maintained by a planner, it has become a part of who I am. Ask anyone who knows me to describe me in one word and most (if not all) of them will say organized. Like some of you, my planner is my life and my life is my planner. This is not always a good thing – sometimes I feel I rely too much on my planner, and it’s times like these that I try and back away from it for a while, or at least not rely so heavily on it (I never give it up altogether). I love to plan. I love to organize. It helps me make sense of a chaotic world, to put random items in their designated place, something I cannot do with the world at large. But sometimes planning and organizing so much can be more of a hindrance than a help. My family will sometimes make fun of me saying, “If it’s not in the planner, it doesn’t get done” or “Nope, we can’t take a detour to run that errand because it’s not in the planner.” These ideas about me are of course dramatic and exaggerated. While most items are in my planner so that they get done (and mostly that’s what I follow), I am not that inflexible. Sometimes I do things that are not in planner, just as some things that are in the planner do not get done. (The horror!) But their teasing me about how organized and planned I am reminds me not to take it all too seriously, and being someone who loves to laugh and have a good time, that is important to remember.

With all that said, if asked to give up my planner for the sake of Lent, God, or anything…I’m not sure I could. I definitely wouldn’t want to that’s for sure. I know I could get by without it if I had to. I would readjust or do things differently to compensate for a life not well planned, for a life that just is. I may even feel a bit freer. I might be able to let go a little more, fly by the seat of my pants, go where the wind decides to take me. All good things and all things that a strict Type A person should do once in a while. Sometimes I even accomplish this – I can not look at my planner for an entire day, an entire week when we’re on our annual vacation (although it does come with me just in case).

But there is nothing wrong with being organized or well planned. The trick though is to find a balance between the two – I can be organized and well planned and prepared for many things. I can carry my planner with me wherever I go. I can be the master of all lists and dates. But I have to learn to let go of it all sometimes too, just like the rector is asking Winner to do. And finding that balance is something that I need to work on, something I am working on. With me, it will probably always be a work-in-progress.

It’s a good thing I have my planner to help me (lightly) organize that little project. =)


  1. I love this post! As a church leader, my planner is absolutely essential for me to stay on top of all the myriad of details of my church work and life. To not look at it would spell disaster for me! But the thought you leave with me is good: all things in balance!

  2. Thanks so much! I'm glad I'm not the only one who needs to be reminded of balance. =)


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