Learning How to Un-Plan 2012 (And Ruminations on 2011)

Today was one of those perfect driving days in where the sun warmed up the entire cabin of my car just enough, so that I felt like sunshine was seeping into my achy bones. Which put me in the perfect thinking mood. Of course I had to think about the year that was 2011, as the new year is almost upon us.

2011 has been a headache, a blessing and a life changer all wrapped into 365 days.

The start of 2011 had me buying a one way ticket to Turkey and boarding that plane in March. I put a lot of hopes and dreams into going to Turkey. Surprisingly, my expectations outweighed reality, and I found myself yearning to come back home. Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe I was never meant to go. But what felt right was coming home. So about a month later, I bought my second one-way ticket and boarded a plane back to Cali.

I figured out that changing my mind was my prerogative.
I didn't have to prove anything to anyone, and through this experience, I felt more autonomous than I have ever felt in my life.

Sitting by the Mediterranean, figuring out life.

Back in California, I had to find myself a job. It worked out that I was employed a month after being back from Turkey. Whether it was luck or divine intervention, I still feel blessed to have gotten a job.

As most of you know, I've struggled with this job, asking myself: is this what I really want? Is this the right path for me? I still struggle with this question.

What I do know is that I am meant to go through this struggle. These growing pains help shape me into the unique being that I am; there is no other like me, or like you, in this universe. And if you really focus on that thought, the struggles almost seem less arduous, as they are a part of the bigger picture: The bigger picture that is Ashley's life.

I've been learning that life is a series of guess & checks. There is only so much you can plan or even hope for. So I think I'm going to start giving up on planning, and even hoping too much. I always feel a bit silly hoping for a 'good year' every time the ball drops on the New Year's Eve, as if that's the only path or emotion in life. Sometimes life is bad, dirty, hard, grungy and full of sorrows. But those too, are all a part of the whole and worth experiencing.

And so, I trudge into 2012 with a sharper intuition, fine-tuned by every mistake I've made, every wrong turn that caused me to detour and every tear that helped shape this being. I will not plan for 2012, but I will leave it open: A blank canvas in where I welcome the good, the bad, the surprising, and the hair-raising. I welcome it all. I welcome life.

So here's to a new year, whatever that may bring.

Cheers, friends.


  1. Hear hear! And I hope you had a merry christmas! Here's to not letting our neurosis get us down in the new year!

  2. I hear ya...and yes, welcome life with all there is! And yes, whatever the new year brings I'm sure you will handle it beautifully!


  3. Good post. Well written. I think in coming home from your Turkish adventure, you demonstrated that you're not a slave to your plans, and can adapt when the plan doesn't work out. Seems to me that as long as you're able to do that, as long as you can hit the "abort" switch before things totally bottom out, your planning proclivities haven't gotten out of hand.

    This title's post reminded me of the scenes in Office Space with the Bobs. The white board in the conference room had this elaborate flow chart diagram, and the heading was "Planning to Plan." You're planning not to plan.

  4. Ha yes, and in writing this post I realized the irony of my plan not to plan :)

    But I still gots to plan just a little!

  5. Oh man, I lived in Turkey for 4 months, and it was amazing. Maybe you just needed a better/different support structure? It's sometimes hard to be in a new place, and this sort of lesson is something you can take and apply elsewhere, too.

  6. I adore Turkey, and always will. But it wasn't the right time. And that's the point of me bringing it up in this post. What worked for you is great, but what works for me is quite different. We all have to follow that inner most instinct...and I followed mine.

  7. What a great post, it's so refreshing to hear someone being honest about the ups and downs of the last year. Here's to more learning and lessons in 2012.