On our to-go list this year was a visit to the island of Malta, we fancied going somewhere new as we’ve spent a lot of time exploring France, Spain, Portugal and Greece that Malta seemed an ideal alternative for a change of scenery.
However, despite our best efforts our travel plans wouldn’t fall into place, we couldn’t decide whether to stay on Malta or to head over to the neighbouring island Gozo instead? Or should we opt to stay in a villa or choose a central hotel? And could we go away for just a few days and see what we wanted to or did it need a full week stay?
Decisions needed to be made and whilst um-ing and ah-ing over what to do the prices increased significantly, so we held off booking and my husband and I decided to chat some more over dinner that evening before committing.
Fortunately this deliberation was for our highest good, as later on that afternoon my husband learned that his position at the company he worked at for 13 years was about to become redundant. Subsequently we had a very different topic of conversation over dinner than initially planned. In that moment we were grateful that we hadn’t gone ahead and booked our trip to Malta, it saved us from a large expense that we could now do without.
Within the space of a few hours everything was thrown up into the air, this situation hadn’t come completely out of the blue, but still it was an enormous shock and we faced the big question, what happens now?
And this is what happens in real life isn’t it? Despite any short-term or long-term plans we may have life will throw us unforeseen curve balls that change everything, including all our plans in an instant. It could be due to redundancy, sudden poor health, an accident, bereavement or even just a change of heart. But when it happens to you, you realise you are not always the one in charge or control of your destiny.
There was more stress to come our way a few days later, whilst retrieving the washing from the clothes line I encountered an unwelcome intruder at the bottom of our garden. I am always one to bang on about speaking up and using our voices, however I hadn’t quite anticipated that mine would be needed to deter an intruder. Despite being startled to see a strange man lurking in our sacred space my instincts kicked in and I shouted “What the eff are you doing there?”
He’d already seen me and was attempting to make an escape, but claimed to be looking for a spot to fish, despite not having any fishing gear with him and wearing a dark hoodie. He scarpered and shaking I called out to my husband to ring the Police.
Thank goodness I ventured out when I did otherwise we’d have been none the wiser to his real “plans”.
My already high stress levels became stratospheric. All of this additional stress was most definitely not in our plan either and it was here where we knew we were firmly off course and our home and safe space no longer felt quite as safe as it once did.
And it’s here you find yourself fully immersed in the realms of total uncertainty.
Needless to say there were plenty of sleep-less nights and I couldn’t breathe fully as I anticipated something else about to happen. When under enormous stress all of your senses are on high alert. You panic and feel anxious about pretty much everything. You know you’re firmly out of control. And have no idea what to do.
But then an inner strength kicks in out of nowhere, you forget about any plans for the time being and bring your immediate attention back to the here and now. You question what is important and what isn’t. You have no idea what the future holds so you decide you’ll take it as it comes, day-by-day. You sit with the uncertainty and try to avoid pushing it away however uncomfortable it feels. Because it’s all you can do right now.
The space in between now and then
In our case we’ve been here before, only now we’re older and wiser we knew we had to utilise the tools at our disposal to help support my husband through this transition and life change. There was no need for any knee-jerk reactions, and however tempting it seemed to rush and create a new plan, everything needed time to settle and unfold, whilst he processed all that had happened.
Benjamin Franklin says “Fail to plan, plan to fail” but when things go totally off plan through no fault of your own you have not failed. Circumstances are simply out of your control.
Plans help us get to where we want to go and enable us to feel we’re safe and fully in control of our lives, but as human beings we have to learn to accept that we cannot control everything. What we can do is control how we react, shift and adapt to whatever circumstances are suddenly enforced upon us. And before jumping or pushing for something else, just wait a bit longer to create some space and breathing room to be with what is before attempting to move forwards.
If you feel yourself going under go where you feel most alive
With hindsight we can see how our intuition was absolutely right about our Malta trip. Something felt off because it was. The set-backs were there all along for our highest good. Only we didn’t have visibility of what lay ahead at the time. But it was time for a much-needed breather, we both needed to get away from it all and with our Malta plans shelved it opened up the possibility of something else, something better, something that was not on our radar before but placed our well-being and happiness at the top of the priority list.
Contained with my magical vision book of the year, which I suppose has become some sort of fluid and flexible planner in itself - I had listed Osborne House to my “must visit wish list”. I had no idea when or how I would visit I just put it down on the page as will do one day.
Osborne House is magnificent and was once the much-loved holiday home for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert situated on the Isle of Wight.
Thanks to divine timing my wonderful Mum sent me an email filled with special offers for short break retreats. With over 50% off the price this was more of a possibility being a fraction of the cost of the Malta trip. And even better they had a beautiful woodland retreat available on the Isle of Wight and situated only a few miles from Osborne House.
We knew instantly that we could do this – it seemed to be exactly what we were looking for at the right time. So we booked immediately.
You’ve got to go there to come back
In times of stress or strife heading to the coast always works it’s magic on both of us. It’s soothing, the stress evaporates and we feel fully alive and free. Going away brought us back to ourselves once more.
And summer truly arrived, we spent our days on the beach, exploring the island and of course visited Osborne. It was the perfect retreat and tonic we needed to recharge and come home with a fresh and positive perspective.
Now we’ve been able to create some new plans not only for the future but for the here and now, which include enjoying everything about this summer together.
Eventually new wonders and possibilities come out of the blue
We all live with uncertainty on a daily basis. Nothing is certain despite any plans we may make and being OK with not knowing what lies ahead takes some practice. We can only control what we can control and have to find a way to let go and surrender to what will be. Trust is my word for the year and believe me I am having to trust in more ways that I ever envisaged or planned for.
And what do you know, I am delighted to share the fabulous news that there is another brand new business operating in the Mackie household.
My beloved husband is not going to work for another corporate, now he is embarking on a brand new endeavour and is the boss of “Blackcat Broadcast” - open for business, offering support and consultancy services to the broadcast, TV and media businesses.
This was not in the plan or anywhere on his radar but life is full of unexpected possibilities, especially when you suddenly go off plan.
Standing outside the “Black Cat” restaurant and seeing two black cats during our visit to the Isle of Wight served as a significant reminder - we were exactly where we were meant to be. Malta can wait, as we’re sure we’ll able to plan a visit there another time. But only when it feels absolutely right.