Sunday, February 8, 2009

Planning My Life Away

by Caren Crane

I noticed something recently: I plan an awful lot. I plan things days, weeks and months away with enviable precision.

Right now, I already have hotel reservations, train tickets and a Metro schedule for the RWA conference in Washington, D.C. in July. It's more than 5 months away and already I'm stressing over what time I should leave my house to get to the train station. It's crazy!

I do this sort of thing often. My Girl Scout troop is planning a big, annual area-wide event for April. We have been working on it since October. So far, we still have no idea how many people are coming, so we can't do crucial things like order supplies or buy food. It's only a little more than two months away, so even though things are well underway, I am starting to have heart palpitations.

I know people who can go with the flow and simply let whatever happens happen. I have been that sort of person on occasion. Sometimes, in a moment of pure Zen, I can push aside last-minute concerns and let things simply occur, unplanned and unexpected though they may be. That's usually when it's too late to do anything about it anyway and I realize that any sort of stress is unproductive. But I prefer to do so much planning that the unanticipated does not have a chance to sneak up on me.

It occurs to me, though, that while I'm spending all this time planning, things are happening in real time that I may be missing. Sometimes it's things I don't mind missing, like conference calls and (yawn) meetings. Other times, though, it's things like watching a DVD with my family or going for a much-needed walk.

I haven't managed to convince myself that all the planning and anticipating if, whats and wherefores is not necessary. No matter what I may miss in "now time", I cannot give up my penchant for planning. I'm hoping someday to strike a lovely balance between planning and letting it be. A conscious balance. Like this meditating chick with the laptop, I guess. Not sure quite how I'll accomplish that, because I haven't managed it yet!

What about you? Are you a planner or do you let whatever happens happen? Or are you like me? Hyper-plan what you can, then let the rest fall into place as best it may? And most importantly, PLEASE let me know what your tricks are for stopping the obsessive/compulsive Google searches!


limecello said...


flchen1 said...

Woohoo! Congrats, Limecello! And Caren, I'm a terrible planner--I totally cede that to my husband for the most part, and take on smaller planning sub-tasks! Eee...

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Caren. I suspect most of us are planners. I know I am. It helps me bring order to my otherwise chaotic world.

I think the key is not to catastrophize, worrying about all the things that COULD go wrong. I'm still working on that.

Limecello, whooooo hooooo!

limecello said...

Caren, I go both ways, so I love this post. Sometimes, I go insane with the planning. I seem to always organize events - even little get togethers. I'll be in charge of guest lists, location, time frame, logistics, etc. But at the same time - it always happens that someone who was going to go... cancels. Or someone brings an extra person. The sky falls. *Something.*
I think my balance is... I'll micromanage certain issues, but other ones, I know that I could plan for forever and kill myself over... I just let go. Because I have to. I step away, tell myself come hell or high water the result will effectively be the same, so I'll just do my part and let it go. :)

Leslie said...

Hi Caren. I'm a total planner, list maker, list checker...crazy person. lol I make hotel reservations as soon as I know we're going somewhere. I have a weekly list of what I need to do each day which includes errands, appointments, kids school stuff etc.

When I try to do things on the spur of the moment dh will usually notice how I'm stressing. He'll laugh and say "This is killing you isn't it?" LOL

The google search problem, I've got that too. I try to set time limits on how much blog hopping/searching/lolcats I do. Sometimes it works, sometimes I forget to check the clock. :)

Congrat Limecello on getting the GR!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Limecello, it WAS a flying visit to Oz yesterday, wasn't it? He'll be full of Tim Tams if he had any say in Christine's menu for him! Congratulations!

Caren, I'm a Virgo. Nuff said!

What you don't know what Virgos are like? We're the uber planners of the universe. We plan when we're going to make plans! Seriously. It's not the most fun characteristic but I secretly think the world would grind to a halt without Virgo worriers to make sure there's enough of this and enough of that and that you can get here and there.

Also I'm a writer and I seriously think that writers in general are control freaks. That's one of the reasons we right - we can create universes where we are in control. Not that I'm actually in control of my characters but it's a nice thought!

So plan away, my little munchkin. And I'll be planning away at your side! ;-)

Jane said...

I try to plan ahead for things I'm familiar with and am able to the spend to do the planning. Sometimes I just wait and see what happens and then come up with a strategy. Mostly I just let whatever happens happen. I think it's less stressful this way.

Congrats on the GR, Limecello.

Keira Soleore said...

Yep, Limecello, after just missing him for a few days, you have him back with you.

Caren, I'm the planner in the family and also the worrier.

I'm reading a book that you might find very interesting: The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. I'm going to blog about the basics of it on Monday. So do stop by.

Tawny said...

I adoooore planning!!! It makes my little heart beat a happy dance. I love Outlook, the ability to track my schedule, tie it in with OneNote, cozy up my task list with my long and short term goals and color code my schedule accordingly.

That said, once its planned, I let it go. I figure I've done what I can, and the rest is just, well... up to time and life. Kinda like submissions and contests. I never used to worry or wonder or freak over results until the date my calendar told me it was time to hear.

So apparently, I schedule my freaking out. Hmmmmmmm.

Limecello -rock on with the bird capture ;-)

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Anna,

I'm a Virgo also, August 24! Honey
calls me the "Queen of Listmakers."
He laughs because I make lists of
my lists! Is that convoluted or
what? No, I have to be truthful, that's an uber Virgo!!!

Pat Cochran

Nancy said...

Liimecello, have fun with the bird!

Fedora, it's nice that you have someone you can turn the big picture over to. I'm in charge of our household calendar--which was a great system when I was in charge of all plans. Now, people are making plans and not giving them to me for hte calendar. Which leaves me feeling that things are, as Paul Simon said, "slip-slidin' away" at times! *g*

Nancy said...

Oh, Jo--

You know that old saying about expecting the worst and never being disappointed? I operate on "expect the worst, and you'll never be taken by surprise."

This doesn't mean I actually plan for the worst. Oh, no. That would be too organized. I do sort of think, in a general kind of way, what could go wrong and how I would deal with it if it did.

I plan, in the interest of keeping my family in some kind of order, but I really am losing control now that the boy and his dad handle most of the boy's outside activities. Each of them assumes the other one has told me what they've arranged.

You know, for the calendar. *sigh*

And the boy now assumes that if he tells one of us something, it travels by osmosis or telepathy (don't I wish?!) or cosmic thought-beaming to the other.

Nancy said...

Caren, you've probably already gathered that I don't plan as meticulously as you do. I've registered for RWA and have a room, and booking a flight is kinda sorta on my horizon, but I haven't done it yet.

About a week before conference, I'll start figuring out what clothes I'm taking and wrestling with that whole troublesome accessorizing issue (I don't have the gene for that!), and a couple of days ahead, I'll decide when to leave for the airport.

OTOH, when we traveled in England, I was meticulous--hyper, one might say--about using the advance booking service for our room each night. We decided to wing it one time, on the dh's preference, and ended up driving around the outskirts of Nottingham, sort of aimlessly, looking for a farm with a "B&B" sign out front. They were all over Yorkshire, where we'd just been, but not so much around Nottingham.

Since this was not fun for either of us, as the day waned and we grew very tired of the car, we wing it in other ways on trips now. :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pat! PAT!!!! I'm August 24th toooooo!!!!! How cool is that? No wonder you're another uber Virgo!

Helen said...

Congrats limecello have fun with him

Caren I always try to plan everything but someone always throws a spanner in the works so I just end up going with the flow and it is usually my children that change my plans.
I am going to the Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne in 2 weeks and we booked the hotel and have just about got everything planned on the way we would drive down and thinking about places to stop along the way and of course now we have had these horrible heat wave conditions and a lot of Victoria is in the grip of the worst bushfires ever which is really awful but we may now need to change our plans on the route that we will take down there.
I am with you I do like to have things planned and organised way in advance.
Caren I very rarely do any google searches I prefer to ask questions LOL and I am saying this in a whisper but I think my computer is working OK again keep your fingers crossed for me everyone.

Have Fun

Houston A.W. Knight said...


LOL...I'm just like you...I'm a list maker and a planner.

OMG, you've already made the reservations for the
RWA conference? Oh...I'm sooo behind...But as I told Donna a few days ago, originally, I wasn't going to the Nationals...AND NOW I AM!!!! WOOHOO!!!

So, that's why I'm so late in making the reservations or I'd be right up there with you! lol...

I hope to see you and the other RB there!

Hawk - and keep up with the good work of being have to be, to be a good writer...think how many lives we play GODDESS to each day.

PJ said...

I'm much more balanced than I used to be (I can actually be spontaneous on occasion) but, yes, I'm a list maker and a planner. I am a Virgo after all. :) Rather than the detailed Day Planner I had when I lived the corporate life I now track my appointments on Yahoo and a large desk calendar.

I registered for National the first week, have my room confirmation and have lined up roommates. I've registered to volunteer and already have two author parties scheduled. I book my medical appointments 6 months in advance, the exterminator 3 months in advance, have already booked my dogsitter through April and am now sitting here thinking that maybe I'm not quite as spontaneously balanced as I had thought. LOL!

I promise, I really can do things on the spur of the moment. I can! It's just that I prefer to have them planned out in advance.

Limecello, congrats on nabbing the GR. Have fun!

Anna Sugden said...

Hmmm ... as with most things, I'm a bit of both. I can plan to the minutest degree for some things, make lists and schedules etc.

Yet for other things I am totally laid back. Which given how much slips from my brain these days is not a good thing!

I know I should be more organised, but somehow I get distracted and end up not quite so organised.

The thing is, when my mind is on something I can be a super-planner. Then I forget and surprise myself by how organised I was!

Probably not a typical Leo, huh?

Hubby, on the other hand, is an uber-planner and list-maker. His life revolves around his Outlook calendar! Mine is hand-written notes on a Black Cats calendar *g*

Anna Sugden said...

Oh, and any other teachers out there will recognise the writing memos on my hand technique as well as the garden of sticky notes!

Caren Crane said...

Limecello, way to grab the GR out from under Christine! I'm sure he feels MUCH more at home at your place. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, I envy your ability to simply follow orders. I used to be a real control freak. I moved past that (mostly), but still find it hard to bite my tongue if I KNOW something could be done better. Your husband must be a great planner!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, is it possible not to catastrophize? *g* I'm sure with all those children of yours, you had plenty of "what if" scenarios to run through! I find I don't get hung up on all the things that could go wrong, but I do tend to have a "plan B" most of the time!

Caren Crane said...

Limecello, we are so alike in this! I realize I can't control everything, but still I wish I could. *g* I've been planning things long enough to realize NOTHING will ever go off perfectly. I've learned just to shrug if people who were supposed to show up don't. I find uninvited guests are often the most welcome! The only problem is if someone with a pivotal role doesn't show. I've definitely had that happen, too. Like you said, though, the effect is essentially the same in the end and whatever you see as a gaping hole in the plan, most people often don't miss!

Caren Crane said...

Leslie, my soul sister! *g* I get crazy when I have to rely on someone else to, say, make hotel reservations and they put it off and put it off and....aaaaaaah! That's usually why I go ahead and do it. I want to know (or feel like I know) what will happen. Plus, when I know where I'm staying, I can print maps and research restaurants, find the nearest urgent care....ha!

I like your idea about limiting the time. I think I would have to use a timer with an alarm, though. I would never think to check the clock once I'm down the rabbit hole!

Caren Crane said...

Anna, that's so funny. My youngest is a Virgo and a planner. Only, since she's 14, she doesn't always think of the big things. For instance, she will launch into a spiel about how she and her friend are planning to go this movie at this time. They will wear the following outfits. Friends X and Y will meet them there. Afterward, they will walk over to this place for ice cream. After that, a sleepover at such and such's house.

Then I will ask, "Um, has anyone asked for PERMISSION to do any of these things? And who is paying for it?" Well, THOSE minor details never crossed her mind!

I think, though, she will be formidable in a few years. I shudder to think what sort of example I'm setting!

The world does need the uber-planners, though. Otherwise, it would all be last-minute slapdashery!

Caren Crane said...

Jane, how you do you manage it? Are you a Libra? *g* Seriously, I can't leave things alone. It's a compulsion!

Now, if a friend or other party says they'll take care of things, I try my best to sit back, let them handle it and just wait for marching orders. This works great most of the time, because my life is insanely busy. BUT, if I have time to think about it and it becomes obvius they're not dealing with things in a timely manner (like my husband), I have trouble not stepping in. I often think if I left everything to the DH, we would sit in the dark with no phone service while repo men stood outside the door. He cannot get things done on time!

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I can't wait for your blog. That book sounds intriguing. Probably lots of great tips for me in there! The thing is, while I'm a planner, I am NOT generally a worrier (which seems odd). I try to handle everything I can think of, but don't worry about things that don't cross my mind. Maybe it's a little piece of sanity God gave me. Who knows? *g*

Keira Soleore said...

Caren wrote, "The thing is, while I'm a planner, I am NOT generally a worrier..."

Oh, how I envy you that ability!!!!

Claudia Dain said...

I'm a planner! Big shock, huh? But, here's your silver lining, the older I get, the more I can go with the flow. Not sure if that's pure fatigue talking, but I feel more comfortable now with a few loose ends than I ever would have twenty years ago. But just a few. Let's not go crazy.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats limecello! He likes you. He really does like you! (My little Sally Fields tribute.)

I have been accused of being an obsessive compulsive list maker and organizer. I really am not that bad, although my late DH said had I organized the invasion of Normandy WWII would have been over in a week. I have no idea what he meant by that. He was the wing it type. Which is really rather funny as he was the scientist and me the musician/creative type.

I came by it honestly. My Mom (also a Virgo - September 22) is the QUEEN of organization. She had to be to drag three kids all over the world as an Air Force wife. The contents of her purse are LEGEND in the area where she and my brothers and their kids live. Everyone knows about Nana's purse. In it you will find :

Handy wipes

safety pins

a sewing kit

band aids


hand sanitizer

juice boxes

a sleeve of Ritz crackers (the whole sleeve)

Several of those Nibs packs of crackers w/cheese, peanut butter, etc.

At least one can of vienna sausages

Bottled water

A bag of peppermints

A bag of cough drops

Super glue



A manicure kit

A small tool kit

A flashlight

A washrag in a ziplock bag.

Empty ziplock bags

A couple of small notebooks and pens.

Two romance novels

Pepto Bismol


A compass (she IS a military wife)

Her cell phone


A whistle AND an air horn

Get the picture? If I am ever lost or in an accident where I am trapped in a car for a few days I would want Nana's purse with me!!

Joan said...

Dear Lord, ya'll are making my head hurt!

Now that said, I am a list maker for the big events i.e. going on trips. I too have my hotel and my airplane booked for DC. Experience has taught me to get the room fast and I figure the plane fare could very well go UP if I wait too close to the event.

And my God,Louisa! How big is your Mom's purse? I'm envisioning a small suitcase. She's missing something to drink and a change of underwear :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

LOL, Joan. Did I forget to say that her purse also doubles as a deadly weapon? If she hits you with it you are out cold! She's a good old Southern Methodist, so the water and juice is about as adventurous as her drinking gets. Coffee in the AM. I don't doubt there is some coffee in there somewhere. Oh! And I forgot the pantyhose. She always has a new pair of pantyhose in her purse. And of course her powder, lipstick and comb AND hairspray.

The purse is huge and my Mom is 73 and only 4'11 and @ 100 pounds WITH the purse on her shoulder!

Virginia said...

Congrats limecello, the rooster must like it at your house! He has been visiting you a lot lately.

I am a planner on some things and other things I just wait and see what happens.Overall I guess I am a planner. I may plan what days I do the shopping and have a list for that. The meals I cook are planned the day before. I even plan our finances. I had't thought about myself as being a planner until this blog. Then I realize I am a huge planner.

Donna MacMeans said...

Congrats Limecello! The GR returned for the much delayed January thaw (grin).

Caren, I know this is no surprise to you, but I have a split personality. When I'm wearing my CPA hat - I am detail driven. Usually, this is also when I made lists - personal lists, client lists, food lists, etc. I jot notes on post-its (I sure buy stock!) and plaster my month-by-month calendar with reminders an appropriate number of months out - pay tuition, reserve flights, hotels, pay registrations etc.
I also keep a monthly file in my accounting office where I slip in any papers, emails, etc that relate to an anticipated event.

Then there's my "creative" office which is either my dining room or my porch depending on the weather. I don't plan, I don't plot in advance, I go with the flow and just keep my fingers on the keyboard.

Outside of the accounting office and with my family, I'm more of a go-with-the-flow person. I do yoga. I'm very laid back.

So I'm split - and desperately in need of both sides.

Janga said...

I tend to think there are two kinds of planners--the big-picture people and the detail-oriented. I think we need each other because the big- picture people refuse to let others get caught up in the minutiae. On the other hand, without the detail minders, nothing would ever get done.

I wonder how our planning styles are mirrored in our writing? Are all the detail planners plotters?

Caren Crane said...

Tawny, you DO have a reputation as a compulsive planner. *g* I have to say, color-coding does nothing for me (because I'm not visually oriented) but I can see how it could be if one were.

I remember things best if I talk about them and hear others talk about them. I'm all about frequent reminders. My favorite part of Outlook is the reminder feature for things on your calendar. Man, I abuse that feature! Of course, Yahoo groups has reminders, too, so I set mine to pop up for, like, three days in a row. I'm sure it drives everyone else on the group INSANE, but it's the only way I remember!

I think doing lots of advance planning is reassuring to me, since I remember nothing. I'm like you, Tawny, in that once I plan it, I put it out of my mind. Matter of fact, I've completed projects and planned trips and then completely forgotten I've done ANY of it. (Which is, frankly, scary to me.) What a lovely surprise when I see all the work I did/plans I made and recall how much work/planning I have now saved myself!

Okay, I think I'm starting to agree with my husband. My mind IS a scary place!

Caren Crane said...

Pat, I think Anna C. may also have a list of her lists. *g* Actually, Tawny may have one, too, but I'm not sure she's a Virgo!

My little Virgo popped into my Sunday school class when it was over this morning and said, "Um, I left my stuff at Brooke's house. So, is it okay if I go back to her house, then go to swim practice with her, then come home later?"

Of course, I KNEW this was a plan, so I said, "You mean, you left your stuff at Brooke's house accidentally-on-purpose so you would HAVE to go back home with her?" Both little connivers grinned at me. "Well, sort of," mine says. Oy! The world is in trouble with that one...

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, thank you for bringing up the "family calendar" thing. Gah! Every week (usually on Sunday), I write down all the things I have on my calendar or any appts from cards binder clipped to the dry erase board and write out the week's upcoming events (and sometimes some big ones that are a bit farther out).

Since my husband refuses to keep a calendar, this is the ONLY way I can keep track of what's going on. When the girls come to me and say, "Oh, yeah, I have to stay after school tomorrow to rehearse for singing Valentines" or something, my first question is always, "Is it on the board? 'Cause if it's not on the board, it's not happening in my world."

It's a pretty good system (DH's idea) but if those Other People don't write things down, it doesn't work! The DH is usually the one making appointments for the kids, too, which is why the appt cards are now CLIPPED to the board. I told if he won't write them down, he can at least give me a clue. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, the following conversation OFTEN occurs in my house:

Me: Did you tell me about this?

Kid: I told Dad.

Me: And how did you think *I* would get that information?

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, you'll be amused to know that I have, right beside me on my desk, the list I made of outfits, shoes and accessories I made for the RWA conference last year. On it, I included what outfit I would wear to travel TO and FROM the conference.

This list also has tiny tick marks on it that I put there when I packed my bags. I found the list with my conference stuff when I unloaded and I decided to keep it as a cheat sheet for this year.

I see that Thursday caused me particular trouble last year, so I thought I might head that off this time. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I know ALL about the spanners getting thrown in the works! And yes, the children always do it to you. I'm sure as they marry and have families of their own, this gets worse. I think we give our mother fits around holidays! *g*

I'm excited you're attending the Romance Readers Convention. That will be such fun!! Be very careful on your travels, though. It sounds like they are having fire troubles in Victoria like we had in California and throughout the southwest the past few summers. A few years of drought plus a heat wave create perfect conditions for wildfires. Be careful!

Caren Crane said...

HAWK, you're so right about being goddess to everyone! I shudder to think what sort of state my poor family would be in if anything happened to me. I keep telling my children all the many things they will have to do for their father should I die first.

He would be one of those sad old men with stuff piled up in his house and just a little pathway to walk through it. It horrifies me to think of it!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Hawk, I'm SO GLAD you'll be at the conference!! You have to make sure you track us down. We will be QUITE a presence at the Literacy Autographing, so be on the lookout for us!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, this doesn't really surprise me about you. *g* With all you do each day/week/month/year, you couldn't possibly get it accomplished without lots of planning!

My husband thinks I'm not very spontaneous, but I can be...if I have time. *g* My problem is, there are so many things I have to do (by obligation or choice) each day/week/month/year that it edges out the "free days". Today is the closest thing to a free day I've had in a LONG time.

Of course, I've been to Sunday school and church and taken sweet rolls for the fellowship corner, bought a book for a friend and made arrangements for the pick-up/drop-offs for my kids' many church activities today, but counts, doesn't it?

I mean, I have NO meetings tonight. Nothing to do except pick up the girls from their youth group meeting tonight. Woo hoo!

Caren Crane said...

Anna S., I could kiss you! You have encapsulated exactly how my life goes. I CAN get totally obsessed with planning, but I don't always. Sometimes I forget I need to and end up making plans at the last minute. OR, I make 9/10 of the plans and forget that last 1/10 until the last minute.

Then, as I said above, I will forget all the work I did until I hit the "holy crap!" moment and frantically scramble to get things lined up...only to find I've already done it. Whew!

I envy you having an organized spouse. Mine is NOT a planner by any stretch, though he does have a really great memory (that doesn't extend to paying bills or anything like that). Something I could use!

Caren Crane said...

Anna S., people make fun of me for my hand notes and sticky notes. I always tell them, "I lose sticky notes, but I haven't lost a hand yet!"

I think Suz and Joanie will attest that nurses know ALL about notes on the hands/arms, too!

Nancy said...

Anna Campbell wrote: Also I'm a writer and I seriously think that writers in general are control freaks.

I heard the late Robert Jordan say on a convention panel, "Remember, the writer is God."

I prefer to think of it more as being a benevolent dictator. *g*

Nancy said...

Claudia wrote: . . . the older I get, the more I can go with the flow.

Yes, but you have the accessorizing gene, which has to make conference packing, at least, a little easier?

Joan said...

the list I made of outfits, shoes and accessories I made for the RWA conference last year. On it, I included what outfit I would wear to travel TO and FROM the conference.

Don't forget "our" jacket

(You KNEW I'd have to bring it up

Joan said...

think Suz and Joanie will attest that nurses know

Yup, it's the only way I take notes at work...left hand only and IF it starts traveling up the arm? THAT has been a busy day!

I've told my MD if I'm brought into the ER with weird neurological symptoms check for ink poisoning!

Nancy said...

Louisa, good grief! Does your mom have an inter-dimensional portal in that bag, to access all that? Are you sure it isn't like Acheron's backpack--just a convenient way to hide the fact that she's magically manifesting whatever she needs?

I'm in awe. If I had that much in a bag--any bag--I'd never be able to find what I wanted. At least, not without a massive search.

Puts "be prepared" in a whole new light. :-)

Nancy said...

I'm also very impressed with all you list-makers. I make lists. I just can't find them later.

Caren, I'm astounded that you have LAST YEAR's conference wardrobe at your fingertips. I threw my list away as soon as I got home. I do manage to keep up with that particular one and keep it close for packing to come home. After getting to the northern outskirts of Atlanta after DragonCon one year, only to realize suddenly that I hadn't checked the hotel room closet, where I distinctly remembered hanging a jeans skirt and a couple of shirts, I'm fanatical about that list, at least. I phoned the hotel and had to turn around and drive back for those things.

But a good jeans skirts (5-pocket) is hard to replace.

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, it's just awful to see the devastation the fires have caused, isn't it? Horrible, horrible stuff.

Hawk, fantastic you're coming to RWA. I'm looking forward to meeting you! The RBS aren't hard to find - we're generally in the noisy corner.

Nancy said...

Hawk, so glad you're going to the conference! As Caren said, we'll be there in force. I'm arriving on Monday, and we do attend the booksigning en masse. Of course, many banditas will be signing as well, and a fair number of other people you meet here in the Lair will be there.

Looking forward to seeing you in DC.

Nancy said...

Caren, my dh isn't especially organized, either. He operates on the theory that everything will ultimately work out. On the other hand, I'm convinced that whatever can go wrong, will (per Murphy). We usually meet somewhere in the middle.

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I don't think it's an ability. It's more like a genetic flaw. *g* I think I'm missing the Worry gene. It was great when, say, my son started driving. Or when, say, I was at the RWA conference in Denver and my older daughter had to have an appendectomy.

I think God zapped the worry center in my brain to keep me from going absolutely insane. I really do!

p226 said...

Wow. I simply don't understand meticulous planners. I can't tell you what's on my schedule next week beyond the stuff that's always on my schedule. I know there are things there out of the norm. Couldn't tell you what they are. Don't care.

As I sit here typing this, a million things are happening around me. CNN is droning on about some miraculous new medical procedure. Smoke from my wife's cigarette (yeah, I know, bad habit) is drifting across the living room in a slow ballet. Her pen dances a quick, Irish jig as she scribbles notes for one of her school courses. Sunlight is coming in between our curtains reflecting like glowing platinum trim from my obsidian-black electric guitar. A naked tree in the yard sways like a lover, a testament to a gentle breeze I cannot feel from here.

At any given moment in time, a million beautiful things are happening. I often refuse to be distracted by the future when the present carries so much awe.

Caren Crane said...

Claudia, I hope to reach your level of Zen with the loose ends. I'm getting better with age, I've noticed. (Please note, a positive aspect of growing older!) I was a total control freak in my late 20s/early 30s and it's been decreasing every year since about...35, I think. I may be a buddha soon! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I bow to Nana's purse! I readily admit that when my kids were younger, I traveled with many of those same things. But...a whole SLEEVE of Ritz crackers AND a can of vienna sausages?! She has obviously been trapped somewhere with starving children before and no access to food. *g*

I have to say, there is a Girl Scout-approved, fully-stocked First Aid kit in my car and a smaller one in my desk at work. I also have current First Aid and CPR training (including defib) right now. Not sure I'll do that every year after we're done with Girl Scouts, but you never know!

Once the kids were a bit older, I started downsizing my purse from the Mary Poppins carpet bag to a relatively small, hard-sided one.

I think I'm going back to a bigger one, though. After a year with this one, I'm missing some of the things that won't fit in this one. Like my eyeglasses repair kit!

Suzanne Welsh said...

hmmmmmmmm...interesting post, Caren!

Today: I planned to get up early and go for walk, achieve laundry completion, marinate flank steak for dinner and read.

Acutality: slept til noon, (party at Addison Fox's house last night!!). Managed to walk. Hubby is working on laundry... :) Flank steak is marinating. I might read during the Lakers/Cavs game I KNOW hubby is planning on watching!

So it was sorta planned, but it changed. I think my job has built in go with the flow and that rubs off on me. I'm organized at work and sorta plan my nights out...but then a woman comes in with twins in labor. POOF...plans change. Plan on being busy and poof, all the moms deliver in an hour...POOF, must read or talk during the night to stay awake, unless of course...POOF three ladies come in with broken bags of water...

P.S. (I have my plane ticket, scheduled time off and plans with Joanie for the Conference, too!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Tawny, I'm sure there's a cure for your OUtlook/Onenote/colorcoding problem...Yep...I'm sure there must be!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Louisa...I've met you. That bag must be BIGGER than you!! OMG.

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL Caren. When I was at OSU we wore pale pale blue scrubs. During an emergency I often just wrote stuff on my thigh to chart later. The residents would sit beside me and copy my "thigh notes", too, often saying, "uh, Sue, can you hold your leg still?"


Now I wear black pants, so paper towels make good emergency note paper

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, Nana's purse may not have "spirits", but she did have those juice boxes (another thing I used to carry around).

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, do people see your mom first or her purse? *g* No wonder she's infamous!

Caren Crane said...

Virginia, isn't it funny how much planning we do unconsciously? Lots of things, like planning meals and tracking appointments, seem to naturally fall to the women to do. When our kids were younger, my husband and I used to cook about equally. He took 3 days, I took 3 days and we would get take out the 7th day.

Gradually, he began to "cheat" on his days pretty consistently. "Oh, let's have cereal!" or "Don't we have leftovers from last night?" or something similarly lame. For a while when he worked from home, he did most of the cooking.

These days, I do about 95% of the cooking. It keeps changing as our circumstances change. Somehow, though, I'm still having to track all the appointments...

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I totally get this! I am compelled to plan for "real life" stuff. But in my writing, I am such a pantser! I have tried and tried to plot (as you know), but I really do best with just a vague outline.

I have to let the characters develop and then the plot derives from who they are. Until I start writing them, though, doing much plotting is a waste of time. I just need a few major turning points and where they'll end up. I suppose that is some sort of balance to my hyper-planning!

Caren Crane said...

Janga, there's probably every combination of planner/plotter, planner/pantser, non-planner/plotter and non-planner/pantser right here in the Lair!

I think Donna and I are plotter/pantsers. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Suz, I'm not sure how you could manage your life if you didn't plan for the unexpected to happen! You certainly can't plan when babies decide to get born, so you are in constant "go with the flow" mode. I think that takes a very special sort of person!

It probably feels like a luxury to be ABLE to plan for things like conference, comfortable in the knowledge that only details will most likely change, not the course of whole days!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, Robert Jordan's characters must be better behaved than mine. *g*

As to Claudia's accessorizing gene, it just means you have to plan which accessories to take, like I have on my list!

Caren Crane said...

Joan, the jacket will definitely be making an appearance, but I wouldn't count on getting my hot little hands on it if I were you. Claudia and Deb have strict orders not to let you NEAR the closet. *eg*

And HA! on the ink poisoning. Hm. Maybe I'd better let my people know to check for that too...

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL...this is how I plan for clothes for National:

June, try on clothes....take all clothes I might take with me to the dry cleaners. Pick up and hang in closet. Shop for two new outfits.

July, the day before I fly out. Lay out itinerary and all conference clothes. Decide what to wear for each day/event. Pack. Put the rest back in closet. Stand and stare forelornly at jewlery box. Choose one piece for each day. Pack, Pray, Fly out the next day. Yep, that's my whole process.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I hadn't thought about Louisa's mom using a magic portal. That must be it! How else could such a tiny woman haul all that stuff around? Who knew science fiction/fantasy would come in so handy in life!

Now, if only we had that transporter and a kicking holodeck. I also want the thing that whips up the food - I could really use that!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, if I were anal retentive, I would laminate my list and mark things off with a grease crayon. Good thing I'm not AR! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Anna C., you're so right. Hawk or anyone else who is looking for us at the RWA conference, just listen for a really ROWDY group and look for the extra-shiny BANDITA pins that KJ had made for us!

Caren Crane said...

See there, P226? That's what I'm talking about. Here, it's currently sunny and 73 degrees. I should be out walking, which a look in the mirror tells me I DESPERATELY need to do. Instead, I have been blogging, clipping coupons, contemplating going to the grocery store to hit the sales one more time, figuring out what to cook for dinner, and organizing my coupon box.

I really need to go for a walk, though. I suppose I could walk to the store...but how would I get the stuff home? *g*

Caren Crane said...

Thigh notes. Snork! Man, I could currently write a novella on my thigh. Maybe a full novel if you use the back!

Christine Wells said...

Hi PoshT! I'm not really sure whether I'm a planner or go-er with the flow. Probably a bit of both, although I'm more spontaneous than I used to be--my unpredictable dh has taken care of that! I do try to tell myself to live in the moment more, which is a different thing from not planning ahead. Sometimes my efficiency at getting the task in front of me done is impaired by worrying about the next thing, or future events I can't control. I try to stop myself, but I'm a bit of a worrywart, and worrying about things you can't control is worse than planning for things you can, IMO. I really admire people who can plan huge events down to the last detail. Best of luck with the Scouts! I know you'll do a fantastic job!

Caren Crane said...

Suz, that wardrobe plan sounds so...organized! My problem is, I have no idea later what I thought I would wear on which day or for which event. By Thursday, I'm so tired and my brain is so full, I have no idea what I intended to wear when. Or even in what combination!

I have to have a detailed list to keep me on track. The only thing that changes is, sometimes if my feet are especially tired, I may opt for a more comfortable pair over the cute, strappy heels or something. Other than that, I pretty much use the list as a playbook!

Caren Crane said...

worrying about things you can't control is worse than planning for things you can, IMO.

Amen, sister! I think it's just my personality (or the aforementioned genetic flaw) that keeps me from worrying. Really, though, since I was a child, I've never seen the point of worrying. I have two sisters who were very anxious as children (and still are, but to a lesser extent). My older daughter is a worrier, but she's getting better and less anxious as she gets older, which is great.

My husband is a worrier, actually, but he tries hard to fight it. He spends so much energy sometimes fretting about things that he doesn't take any action. I think being paralyzed by your anxiety must be horrible! I would rather DO something about an issue than think about it. Then again, I'm a little hyper, so maybe I'm just too impatient to worry. *g*

Deb Marlowe said...

Caren, that's exactly why I'm a planner! Because I'm worrier and I refuse to bow down to fear. Planning gives you a comfortable, if illusionary, feeling of control. Even if I *know* it's illusionary, it still makes me feel better.

Plus, with all the stuff going on, especially in your life, I don't know how it would all get done without planning.

And hey, I plan which days I'll be wearing my jewelry at conference and which days you'll be wearing it! That's half the fun!

Keira Soleore said...

Just heard about all the bush fires in Vic and its surroundings. This is terrible!! With that constant heat, everything's lighting up faster than you can blink.

Helen wrote, "I am going to the Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne in 2 weeks..."

All you Aus readers and writers are going to have so much fun!!! Helen, you have to give our Banditas high-squeeze hugs from me. I've heard that Julia Quinn's going to be there. Do say "hi" to her; she's fantastic.

Caren wrote, "Keira, I don't think it's an ability. It's more like a genetic flaw. I think God zapped the worry center in my brain to keep me from going absolutely insane."

Are you kidding me? It's a boon. Manna from heaven. Take it from me. You don't want to ever acquire this corrossive worry.

Caren Crane said...

Ha! Deb, it's true that my conference clothes list says "Deb's bracelet". I think this year it will also say, "Deb's long green earrings". *g*

I love it that you plan to relieve your anxiety. That makes complete sense to me. I think the illusion of control is a beautiful thing!

Btw, don't remind me how busy my life is. The DH tried to make me feel guilty about how much time I spend on "other things" (meaning, anything that's not him) today. Um, all that did was cause bad feelings. What would I give up? The Romance Bandits? RWA? My writing? He just has to get over that!

Louisa Cornell said...

I really need to get a photo of Nana and her purse! I think the reason she is in such great shape at 73 is the workout she gets every day hefting that duffle bag she calls a purse around! You should see my brothers when they try to pick it up!

"Damn, Mama. What have you got in this thing? Bricks?"


"Don't cuss. And give it to me if you can't carry it."

"Do you really need all this stuff?"

"Yes, I need all this stuff. I am 73 years old. Don't you think I know what I need and don't need by now? Now put that purse in the car and hush up."

I've never considered the time/space portal but it's as reasonable an explanation as any. She goes to all of my niece and nephews' school events and I cannot tell you the times I have been sitting with her at a football game and had some kid come up and say "Nana, Mom said you might have a band aid." or "Nana, Mama said you might have a safety pin I could use to pin this hem up."

Suzanne, aren't you sweet! The purse is not bigger than me, but I will concede that it is close!

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Caren! Sorry I'm swinging by so late. Maybe if I made a list, I'd get more done on the weekends....


Just kidding. I actually always have a list or two going. My favorite lists are my packing lists. I have an excel spreadsheet detailing all the things that need to find their way into the suitcases before we hit the road.

My husband, on the other hand, tosses his stuff willy-nilly into a suitcase three minutes before we hit the road. Every couple hours thereafter, he starts saying things like, "Oh my gosh did we (and by "we" he means "you") remember to pack the XYZ??" And I'll say, "What, do you think I'm an amateur? Am I new? Of COURSE I have the XYZ. It was on the list, it's been checked off, it's in there. Trust me."

It's most gratifying. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I think your mom is the woman many of us aspire to be someday. That venerable go-to girl/mother/grandmother no one can imagine NOT being around. *sigh* Enjoy every minute with her!

Caren Crane said...

Susan, so nice you get snaps for remembering stuff! My husband usually waits until we're some hours down the road, then says, "Did you remember the [article]?" I say, "Yep, I packed it." He then says, "What about the [other article]?" I say, "It's in my big bag." Then when we're there, "We should've thought to bring some [yet another article]." I'll say, "I packed it, honey. We just haven't unpacked it yet."

This goes on until he finds something WE didn't remember (usually something I either didn't think we needed or we were out of). Then he can run out and get it and be the hero. He needs that, I guess to feel necessary. Which is fine. He can be the hero once in a while. I'm not completely selfish.

Kirsten said...

Hey Caren! Fun blog! You know, I think this may be the only area of my life in which I have some genuine balance. I'm pretty organized and anal, but I'm not an obsessive planner. I have my calendar, but I'm not wedded to it, and I definitely forget to put things on it. LOL.

I admit I did plan out my RWA conference outfits weeks in advance last year. *g* That's part of the fun of going! :-)