Make a Plan

Be Flexible

Mary was going to Manhattan for business and pleasure. The business went off as planned. The pleasure wasn’t quite so easy.


For starters, late luggage caused the day plans to cancel. Instead Mary made the best of an extended airport stay. By the time her luggage was spotted, it was half past 9 p.m. Grateful to have received her bags, Mary proceeded toward the city. Her transportation of choice was a comfortable bus that makes three stops – Grand Central and Penn stations, and the Port Authority.


Since her hotel was on the Upper West Side and Broadway, she thought it best to disembark at the Port Authority on West Broadway. She realized Grand Central was actually closer to her hotel after the bus left the station. No worries, she thought. The bus rolled on downtown and she got off, as planned.


Now on foot, Mary was working her way from the bus station to the subway station, through the typical tight maze of people and cars in Times Square on a warm Friday evening. She considered taking a cab but the traffic quagmire led her to believe that a train would be faster. Minutes later, at the top of the subway entrance, Mary was contemplating the Red Line route when someone walked up and offered her help. Mary gratefully accepted and in the process learned that the NYC subway lines and stops are displayed on Google Maps. She was amazed!


Down Mary went, hauling bags, and pretending this was a “normal” activity. She proceeded to hike through the underworld corridors and finally found the “Uptown 1.”  She said it seemed like she had walked halfway to Harlem when she finally spotted the train! She was tired, but moving forward, confident that sleep was near.


As the train took off, she thought, wow, this was a challenging day. But, so far, so good. She had successfully navigated through several circumstances that could have thrown her into frustration. She’s had plenty of practice with taking every opportunity to see if she can think her way around frustration. Like an athlete who stays focused on winning, even when the opposition is consistently controlling the ball and seemingly scoring at will. Mary has learned to look at circumstances from various angles, choosing her attitude, to best support her plans. This practice helps create positive personal outcomes. She knows she can control her response to circumstances, and thereby support her well-being.



As the weekend continued, Mary experienced additional delays and cancellations. She also noticed – and appreciated – when plans and programs went off without a hitch. C’est la vie.


Over the short stay in Manhattan, Mary had one friend who was down and out with food poisoning; another with an allergy that landed her in the doctor’s office; and yet another who suffered a heart attack that required open heart surgery.. Additionally, three other friends now have complications in their advanced stages of cancer, and two were admitted to the hospital. Mary was startled, sad, and hopeful that everyone would recover and return to happy and healthy lives.


Once on board her outbound flight, Mary contemplated the inescapable fact that “life is short.” Her motto: Be mindful of what’s important, grateful when things go well, flexible when plans change, and compassionate during challenges. Wise woman.