I love when things work out as planned. If we were to be honest with ourselves, who doesn’t? It’s great when things work out! It’s not so great when they don’t.
Throughout life, we continue to learn that we can’t always get what we want, or our original plan might have to be adjusted to reach desired outcomes. And you might have to shift through plan A, B, C, D… (you get the point) to get there.
I have held multiple roles both in and out of the optical industry. At one point, I oversaw managing a vendor conference with executives from multiple companies. One component of this event was a golf tournament fundraiser to support philanthropic programs. Everything was set, when suddenly four days before, there was threat of a hurricane that could impact the ability to golf. Either this fundraiser was going to be canceled, or I had to shift. After some brainstorming, I transitioned the golf tournament into a hurricane party – complete with games like ping pong and cornhole. We used alternatives for the golf competitions like Wii golf for the longest yard and bocce ball for closest to the pin. It wasn’t what anyone initially expected, and people poured out compliments about how much fun the event turned out to be.
Work is one thing; personal life is another. While I’ve learned over time the benefits of being flexible, that skillset has been accelerated the past few years. I was one of the lucky people who had a March 2020 wedding planned. Utilizing my event planning experience, it had taken me just over a month from when we got engaged in November to plan our destination wedding. People were excited this milestone in my life was finally happening and the RSVP’s flooded in. Things were going great…and then, not so much. It started with calls from older relatives who were concerned about COVID and made difficult decisions not to come. I couldn’t believe what was happening. While planning a wedding is stressful enough, this added a whole new level of complexity. I cried a lot. My fiancé was very supportive and continued to rollercoaster with me.
As our wedding day got closer, the two-week shutdown was announced. Since our venues were outdoors, they were willing to host our festivities. I started worrying about how our guests would eat throughout the weekend if restaurants were closed. One night I turned to my fiancé and said, “we might have to postpone our wedding” and instead of him telling me everything was ok, he responded “I think so”. I fell apart that night. The hotel called to tell me they were having a meeting to see if they were going to close and were checking if my wedding was still on. That was the breaking point. I told them “No, go ahead and close”. I had to shift. Instead of wallowing, I took action. Throughout the next few months, I worked with my vendors to reschedule – not once, but twice because information kept changing. I never thought I’d have to plan my wedding 3 times!
In the end, my husband and I ended up getting married on our original date of March 28. We rented a large house to space out, and our families came to town. My brother, who was supposed to be our officiant, didn’t come because his wife was pregnant, and they were concerned about health risks. Before it was popular, we decided that he could officiate our wedding over video. When I told my fiancé, he said, “this isn’t what you wanted” and I exhaustedly responded, “none of this is how we wanted it.” That weekend was odd and also very unique and special. We catered the food for the weekend, I did my own hair and makeup, and I had to make my own wedding cake. The goal was to marry David and I did.
We decided to stick with our re-re-scheduled wedding celebration date for August 2020. We ended up with about half of the people we originally had planned for as others were still concerned with COVID risks. We had to shift our celebration to a Friday which allowed us to organize a group to go river rafting the next day and have a fun casual dinner that night with friends and family. This shift gifted us with more quality time with everyone who was there to celebrate with us.
In a time that nothing was happening, our wedding weekend gave people a chance to do something that seemed normal. We all needed that. Living through the times where shifting is necessary can be uncomfortable. Hindsight now brings amazing memories of that time. I now have two anniversaries, which is a bit tricky to keep track of.
In 2021, I became a mom. Those who have experienced parenthood can think of many examples of how you navigate changes and shift every day. Many things I plan, or hope will happen, like taking a shower, don’t work out. It takes a lot more time now to get chores done or run errands. I triage the things that need to happen and allow other things to stay on my to-do list a little (or a lot) longer. If I allowed myself to be frustrated or disappointed with every plan that doesn’t happen, I’d be miserable. I’m not saying that I don’t get frustrated, it’s just that I choose to focus on the bigger picture like making sure everyone is fed and that I get to enjoy snuggles and play time. I know this stage won’t last forever. I’m not perfect at it, but things that would have driven me crazy before just don’t seem as big of a deal.
My challenge to everyone is to learn how to shift and become comfortable with it. Focus on what’s important and be open minded as to how and when you reach your goals. And if it happens that your goals shift in the midst of the journey, accept it.
Written by Kristen Reynolds Hopper