on planners and plans


summer-1So many friends’ children begin school this week, and as we fumble our way into our own year, I admit I’m a little sad to say good-bye to this care-free season of flushed cheeks and bare feet. I bought a new planner this weekend, a favorite I use each year and replace each August. When I first began using a planner for our family many years ago, I thought of it merely in terms of order and tasks, a tool of organization. I realize now, my planners are more a sort of journal, a story stringing together randomly scribbled thoughts and tasks. They tell a different side of our family narrative. Looking back, I can see anything from the food we prepared to the books and favorite quotes we read or even a new friend’s number or email. I often have pictures my children have drawn or tracings of their handprints and can identify patterns, such as periods when planning and organization become more difficult (i.e. emptier pages). I have a hard time replacing them each summer. But it’s time–time to fill blank pages again with lists of tasks and ideas and food and books and gatherings and ordinary.

I’ve re-read this Mary Oliver poem recently and am reminded of the beauty each season offers us. Some parts of the year grant us large fields to wander and explore while others hold us more tightly indoors or with routine and tasks. Each teach us something new and help us to appreciate the other, and together they amount to something we term life. To all of you packing backpacks and lunches or preparing spaces and routine at home, best to you this week.

“The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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  1. Hello! I have been reading your blog for a while now and thought I would introduce myself. My name is Anna, and I find your writing so thoughtful and refreshing. It always leaves me feeling so calm and better able to appreciate the beauty in my own everyday life. So thank you!

    I completely relate to your sentiments on planners. I love getting new planners…but also have a stack of my used planners, all black moleskines, buried on my desk. I love starting a new one, but can’t stand to throw an old one out!

    Best wishes as you begin your school year!

    1. Author

      Welcome, Anna, and thank you so much for speaking up. I’m so grateful to hear how this space has encouraged you and impacted your own family. It’s always good to know we’re not alone on this journey through motherhood, yes? In past years, I’ve thrown away my planners, tearing out pages I might find important, but I now regret it and am saving them. I love the idea of having a log of the ordinary routine! thank you again for sharing. x

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