My daughter Georgie has always been a reflective person. As a very little girl, she wanted to pin down the location of heaven and questioned who would take care of her if something happened to her dad and me. When she got older, she was always making plans for what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go and how she wanted to get there.
By the time she was 11 or 12, conversations in the car went something like this: “Melissa and I are going share an apartment-I think in New York City-after we get out of college. Don’t you think black and white with red accents would look good?”
“What kind of dog do you think I should have when I move into my apartment? Or, maybe a cat? I think a long haired grey cat would be good.”
It was when she was 17 and riding with Jack and me to see her grandma that she started talking about her “5 year plan.” It might have been a journal prompt. But her 5 year plan lasted from Pleasanton to Uvalde. It was detailed and hopeful, part realistic and part fantastic. I loved listening to her.
Then, she asked me: “Where do you want to be in 5 years, Mom?”
The truth? I had no plans. I was deep into my alcoholism and the only thing I could think about was death. Dead? That was my 5 year plan? I lied and made up some gumdrop and unicorn fabrication about what I wanted to do and be. The question played in my mind for hours after it was asked and it wasn’t answered at all. Not truthfully.
Five years later found me sober. I didn’t see that coming. But in sobriety, I often take stock and see where I’m headed.
I try not to write things in stone, but in construction we say “plan your work and work your plan.” Without some kind of plan, I tend to drift. I have to work inside of some kind of constraints. At my age, I don’t want to make a bucket list; the reality is that mortality is nearer to me than it was 20 years ago. A 5 year plan suits me better.
Writing this blog is part of my plan. I’ve said I want to write a book and even have 150 pages toward that goal. But the pages have sat on a shelf for years unfinished. I’m a good starter and a terrible finisher. Taking the task of writing daily feels like a good thing to do.
I want to refine my art skills. So I take a more disciplined approach to drawing. Goofy as it sounds, I am surprised at how much better I get if I draw every day.
Sometime in the next 5 years, I’m going to take a walking tour of Ireland. I just applied for a passport. Can’t get off the plane without a passport.
I also have the intrinsic goals of being a better mother and grandmother, a neater housekeeper, a consistent and reliable person, an honest friend.
I hadn’t planned on being in a relationship. I would have said that was Plan Z in my life plans. Bob came along and I’m thankful for the chance to learn how to be half of a whole love. Sobriety tossed me several desirable personal characteristics that I have mastered living alone, but that are a challenge to practise living with someone else. Fun but challenging.
My son Jack used to say there’s nothing in this world that doesn’t have a funny side to it. I use his perspective to look at the world, stop and laugh every day. Usually, I’m laughing hardest at myself.
Five years is 1,825 one day at a times. If I can live today sober in mind, body and spirit, I have a chance for tomorrow.