By Ingrid Sapona
I don’t have a particularly scheduled life. Indeed, one of
the best things about working for myself is the fact that my days are largely
my own. That said, I do have deadlines and occasional meetings, and I generally
am in, or near, my home office during normal business hours, so that I can
respond to clients.
And, like everyone else, my days get filled with routine
things that need to get done that keep me busy: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping,
and so on. Social commitments and outings fill in the rest of the time and so
before I know it, my calendar ends up as full as everyone else’s.
I’ve been thinking about being busy, in part, because
December seems especially busy for many folks. Invariably work projects that
have dragged on suddenly need to be finished before year’s end. And for many,
the holidays bring stepped up social and family commitments.
But I’ve also been thinking about schedules because of the
negative effect they have on spontaneity. I know that sounds obvious, but I’ll
bet many of you’ve forgotten that of late. Worse still, you’ve probably
forgotten how much fun you miss when you rationalize your way out of being
So, in hopes of inspiring you to let go of your schedule a
bit – I thought I’d share a couple unexpected – you might say once-in-a-life-time
– experiences I recently enjoyed because I decided to be spontaneous. About a
month ago I had driven out to one of my favourite independent grocery stores
because I thought they might have something I was looking for. They did, so I was glad I made the 25 mile
(one way) trip.
That day they were offering samples of a brand of yogurt I
hadn’t heard of before. I stopped and tried it and chatted with the saleswoman.
She explained the dairy’s been in existence for 40 years, but last year they started
producing their own products and they opened to the public. I asked what that
meant and she said they give tours. I’ve started work on a new app (the Ontario
Culinary Trail) and it sounded like something I might want to cover in the new
app. I noticed a map on the back of the business card she gave me and I made a
mental note to check it out sometime.
Then I thought about it a bit more and I figured I was half
way there already and it was a nice day for a ride – so I decided to go there. I
found it with no problem but when I went in, I was disappointed to learn that
in the winter you have to call ahead for a tour. I explained to the woman about
the app and asked if I could look around and take a few photos. Before you know
it, she was leading me on a kind of mini tour.
As it happened, that morning a cow had given birth. Next
thing I know, she takes me in to see the mother and her newborn. And, as we
stood there, the six-hour-old calf took its first tentative steps. Can you
believe it? Me either – but I have the photos to prove it. Talk about being
richly rewarded for my spontaneity!
Then, just yesterday – because I decided to abandon my
previous plans – I had another unique experience. At about 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon
I got an e-newsletter from a winery up north. In it they said they were looking
for volunteers to help them pick icewine grapes on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (For
those unfamiliar with icewine, it’s a luscious dessert wine that’s quite an
Ontario specialty. It’s made from grapes that remain on the vine throughout the
fall and into the winter. The grapes are picked and pressed when they’re
My immediate thought was that I wanted to do it. But that
thought was immediately followed by a list of reasons why I couldn’t go. For
starters, the winery is 100 miles (160 kms.) north of here. To get there on
time I’d have to leave before 7 a.m. But I’m an early riser, so that shouldn’t
be a problem. Then I thought about the weather. The winery newsletter specifically
mentioned the wind chill and suggested dressing in layers. Well, I wasn’t
worried about that because I know I’ve got the appropriate clothing, though I might
have to dig some of it out.
Then there was the issue of the driving conditions. A winter
storm warning was in effect and we were expecting a significant accumulation.
But with such a dire forecast, maybe there wouldn’t be so many people on the
road, I figured. And then there were the tasks I had planned on doing on
Saturday morning. But the truth is, they could wait.
As I sorted through the various excuses for why I shouldn’t
go, I realized there would really never be a more convenient time to go icewine
picking (or better conditions, given that it has to be cold enough for the
grapes to freeze). So I e-mailed the winery and told them that unless the roads
were impassable, I’d be there. Well, I went and it was really fun!
Had I not gone, my Saturday would have unfolded in the usual
way, which is fine. But I wouldn’t have felt as invigorated or excited or as
alive. All the way home I was grateful the opportunity presented itself and
pleased that I decided – for a change – to be spontaneous.
I know you can’t plan to be spontaneous, but you can “reason”
your way out of being spontaneous, which is a pity. So, next time an unforeseen
opportunity presents itself, don’t let your schedule be your excuse. I
guarantee the energy you get just by allowing yourself to be spontaneous will
make it worthwhile.
© 2013 Ingrid Sapona