What if I just let myself be curious?

Try new things? Go with the flow? Walk out the door, and see where my Doc Martens take me? What if I let myself be present and grounded at all times? What if I relaxed, went with the flow, and let myself just take things as they came to me?

My first thought is: ew. But my higher self, the wise part of me, is saying: please.

That discord might sound weird coming from someone who is committed to personal growth. The truth is, though, nothing makes me feel worse than trying something new, not getting the results I wanted, and thus feeling like a failure.

If you guessed that Playing It By Ear (PIBEing) is not one of my strengths, you’d be correct. I tend to micromanage everything from dinner plans to dissertation plans. What seems like good intention can easily morph into self shame and unrealistic standardsbasically setting myself up for failure. Because The Tending Year is about learning my patterns and developing new ways to tend to myself, I decided to try out PIBEing.


From Cancelled Flights to Jacuzzi Tubs

I’m not big on traveling. Between having to talk to strangers, navigating transportation, and finding food I can eat, it all feels so overwhelming. Lucky for me, my sweetheart is a traveling pro and she booked our flights and hotel for our eagerly awaited trip to New Orleans the first week of January. All I had to do was save up money and pack a bagI even knew exactly how much to budget for, so I could break it down to save $X each paycheck. I was ready!

Unfortunately, the New England “bomb cyclone” storm had other plans for us. Our flight was cancelled a few hours before it was set to take off on Thursday, and we couldn’t book another flight until Sunday. We were supposed to fly back to on Monday, so New Orleans was pretty much out of the question at that point.

We were really bummed. But while my sweetie was on the phone with a very sympathetic JetBlue representative, I was Googling “Portland, Maine fancy hotel.” We had talked about traveling to Portland before, and we had both saved up money for this trip, so I thought: why not make a little getaway of our sudden bummer situation? When she came back in the room, I said our go to phrase: “Hear me out,” and told her I thought we should get a hotel with a jacuzzi tub in Portland. That sweet Gemini was down with my plan, and within an hour or so on the internet we found a room that had both a jacuzzi bathtub and a fireplace. We decided to go Saturday through Monday, but not to schedule things while we were there and instead just go with the flow. I took FIVE baths in the jacuzzi tub. (I looove baths), we had our first clam bakes, and we didn’t set alarms in the morning. I will admit that I had a couple of struggles leaning into PIBEing: first, when I was trying to cram in work the day that we left for our trip (mostly just for the sake of feeling like I should be working every day) and I worried that I made us late, and second when I felt overwhelmed by the number of restaurants we could chose from the last night we were in Maine.

Realistically, I know those two things are small bumps in the road, but sometimes small things can add up! I wanted to share that they happened so you know that even while dedicating myself to PIBEing that I experienced a couple of blips. When I tried out PIBEing, I ended up getting this view from the jacuzzi tub:



Some people feel great about Playing It By Ear! Some people, like me, need a little emotional preparation to PIBE.  If you want to figure out more about your own PIBEing disposition, try journaling about these questions:

  1. What do I like Playing By Ear?
  2. What don’t I like Playing By Ear?
  3. Is there a particular time or place where I do better at PIBEing? Why is that?
  4. What is the next event that will require me to PIBE? What steps can I take to prepare myself to feel comfortable and grounded during that event? This could be a mantra, such as “I am exactly where I am meant to be,” or it could be a plan for how I will reward yourself with self care after I kick ass at that event.

*Please note that the original version of this post was published here.

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