#AtoZChallenge: N is for the New Plan

stormtrooper r2d2 charge cord

What do you think of those Facebook memories things?

NCrazy, right? The damn site looks back at what you posted a year ago. It’s like finding a stormtrooper figure in the pocket of shorts you haven’t worn since last summer. Or, something. (This happened to me last week, I confess.)

Depending on the user and the posts, they’re also a peek into our former selves – or current selves, if we’re still in the same currents.

Spring’s often been a time of loss for me, and only sometimes could I blame another slow start from my beloved Rockies. (Who are in first place at the time of this hacking, I might add.)  It’s also, then, a time of renewal, right? If we’re looking with a positive light?

On Easter, when I’m writing this? (What a cosmic convergence.)

I’d noticed the posts I’d been writing this time last year were tinged with pain. You know how you can tell if what comes out of the kitchen was or wasn’t made with love? The same goes for writing, only you can see if there’s a hurt heart behind it.

A Trill AF turning point

Then, suddenly, almost exactly a year ago, I became Trill AF – my boss said so.

Grace hates when I used the term, cool words from an uncool dad (at my age, that’s an oxymoron.) But the Trill AF post (letter M in the A to Z Challenge last year) signaled a turning point, that time when you toss off that blanket of wallow and say, “hell with it.”

I’d read a post about The New Plan, a poignant piece by a woman named Ashley Gulla, on a blog called Along Came a Dog.

Wonder how Ashley’s doing. She faced the uncertainty of an expiring apartment lease and limited funds for food. She wrote of adapting and enduring, about second chances, an effort to detach, a bit, from expectation. She ends with the line, “what’s the new plan?”

For me, the New Plan begins every day.

During the day, at times. It’s recognizing what we need when we need it, what we lack when we lack it and possessing the clarity of mind and the soulful agility to change course. For example, every month at a former job, I cleaned and rearranged my desk.

I positioned my monitor to the right or left, shook a trail mix of whatever I’d eaten in the past month out of my keyboard, and switched around the Darth Vaders and pictures of my kids.

Your New Plan, too

That shakedown gave me renewed perspective, even a different view when my eyes wandered off the computer screen for the next four weeks. Unless you’re steadfastly fastened to your perspective and routine, I’d venture to say you have a New Plan, too.

You just might not know it. But right now, I bet you could rattle off a few things you’d like to see start happening in your world.

Stuff you can – or maybe already are – taking the reins on.

My list might look something like this:

  • Write 750 words a day – early in the day as possible
  • Keep drinking that tall glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Take the trash in from the car every time you get out
  • Keep closing your laptop when someone you love – or like, or tolerate, which should be the lowest of these categories here if you’re living right – talks to you
  • Get to meditations on Sundays! Every time you can.
  • Enjoy the moments during and between soccer matches your girls are in, during a couple of upcoming travel weekends
  • Breathe
  • Keep breathing
  • Take that deep breath when someone tailgates you or that rowdy kid in the next row talks at 237 decibels or Walmart’s all out of ginger snaps
  • Call the doctor
  • Make time for disc golf
  • Don’t be afraid to open a window, put soccer on the TV, watch with the kids and read and write or do nothing at all on a free Saturday afternoon
  • Check your blood every single day
  • Don’t rush, but move with purpose
  • Be comfortable in my own skin on the sideline. Teach, remain patient.
  • Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.

It could go on and on.

‘You look so different’

Lots can happen in a year. Grace looked through photos on her mom’s digital camera and found one of me, from two years ago. You look so different now, she was saying as she spun around the camera to show me. Yeah? I said. It’s what happens when you get old.

She corrected me.

You look thinner, now, dad. Look at your face. I did. I was rounder then, on the edges. Huh. Can’t say it was Jenny Craig or anything, but the evidence was there. Despite quesadillas. So many quesadillas. Kinda made me feel trill AF.

Shh. Don’t tell Grace.

The rest of the A to Z to this point:

A is for Addiction to Devices

B is for Burgers (3 Lessons I learned During a Month Without Them) Plus 3 Random Smartphone Pics

C is for Interview with a Cat

D is for Do What I Do and Eat What I Eat

E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind

F is for  Foods That Bring Me Comfort

G is for #GirlsRock: An Interview Mental Health Care Advocate Kitt O’Malley

H is for Halfway There

I is for Ice Cream

J is for Justification for the Blog Life

K is for 7 Women I’d Sing Karaoke With

L is for Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)

M is for Men I Forgot to Be

plan quote


  1. What a beautiful post. I have been working on this very thing, myself. It used to bother me, to “start over” every week, every day, several times a day…but, somewhere along the line, I realized that that is life. By starting over, I keep going. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Thanks. I will be catching up on your A-Z. Hugs.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks! It’s a constant battle, isn’t it? Life is a bit of stopping and starting. If it weren’t, we’d just head down one path without the opportunity to shift when better things come into view.

      I’m honored to have you here!

  2. ksbeth says:

    what a good new plan, to have a new plan. me too. happy easter yesterday )

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      always renewable, too, beth. it’s how you and i have made it this far. happy belated easter your way, too.

  3. hilarymb says:

    Hi Eli – I keep myself flexible to life going on around me – I think I’m fairly lucky that it’s something I do anyway … and have done fairly successfully through life … and I keep positive – life isn’t easy at the moment … but it’ll come back to being right again … but it’s something people need to be aware of and awake for, in case … cheers Hilary


    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If we go in with such a narrow perspective, we miss out on the great stuff that comes along we couldn’t have anticipated, right?

      I like the path you’re on.

  4. stomperdad says:

    And thanks to #TBT Facebook is now showing me photos that were taken LONG before Facebook ever existed that I posted LONG after the photos were taken. My “N” might be “no plan”. I just roll with it. That’s Trill AF, right?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You really get the nostalgic route, don’t you Eric? Just to roll with it works, too. I have some framework, stuff I need to work toward. How I get there, though? If I can adjust on the fly, that’s hella Trill AF.

      1. stomperdad says:

        Love that… adjust on the fly.

  5. New plans are good. I often find myself not having a plan at all.
    Maybe it’s a definition thing. Taking the trash out of the car is part of an ongoing to-do list: “get sh** done right away” it says.
    Today’s Facebook memory is a picture of the cookies we made for (Swiss) hockey play-off finals back then. Lions vs Bears. Tonight we’ll be cheering for MY team. Yes, for the first time in 19 yeas they made it back to the finals. Game 6 tonight. We need to win, otherwise we’re out. you’re cheering for us, too, aren’t you, being trill and cool and all?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They work for me, Tamara. Sometimes, the plan is to stay relatively plan-free. I agree with the definition thing – answering email, folding clothes, anything that takes care of it in the instant, and keeps the backlog from piling up.

      I remember that picture of the cookies! Of course I’m rooting for your team, even though I don’t have a sweater. I’ll become an honorary fan for the day.

      1. For what it’s worth, I don’t have a sweater either, and that’s probably why we lost.
        Yeah, well, it was an honor to make it that far. Did I tell you Colin made the youth team? I’m going to be such a busy Hockey Mom 🏒🥅. Summer training starts next week! 😳

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        You need to get one! I don’t have a Rockies jersey, and need to remedy that given their start.

        I’m not a bit surprised Colin made the youth team. He’s on the Avs’ radar! This will give you even more fuel for posts, won’t it?

  6. vicki says:

    Great ideas for a new plan whenever needed. Seems my life is always in a new plan… but we roll with things don’t we?? I love your idea of shifting your desk areas around each month. Kind of why I rearrange my house every so often.. keeps people guessing..

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Keeps us mobile, right Vicki? New plans can be good. Even if it’s just to change our perspective slightly.

  7. Court says:

    I mostly love the “on this day” from fb, but sometimes it throws me a zinger I’m not ready for yet.
    It’s sort of insane to think about how different things are today than a year ago.
    The other day I saw a pic of F and I in Key West and we look tired but happy. What no one really knows is that I was faking it. I don’t know about him.

    You know, a long time ago I decided that each day was a new opportunity to try again, to redo what you maybe got wrong the day before (or the one before that too), to be kind to yourself and others, and to annoy your arch nemeses (plural, probably). Yeah stuff sticks with you, but you can’t get it right if you don’t know what you did wrong and can do better.

    I look forward to seeing what the next year has in store and what the next year brings Eli and Court.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I have mostly good stuff on reminders from Facebook, but it’s the tone I can immediately recognize, Court.

      It shows you the stark differences that can emerge in a year – and also how far we can go with small, incremental changes over time.

      I tend to leave the arch nemeses alone, although I’ve been known to purposefully get stuck in a craw or two. No regrets.

      I look forward to the day, and the one after that.

      1. Court says:

        There’s a few I purposely mess with because it keeps my game strong 😉

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        You’re like a cat playing with your prey, Court. This too could be a post.

      3. Court says:

        Eli, that makes me sound evil…

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Not evil … just evil-esque. We all have this side.

  8. I do like the memories piece on FB, sometimes I forget the things we’ve done or places we visited. And I think it’s good to see how much we’ve changed, sometimes we don’t even realize it. Hooray for a new plan. And belated Easter greetings!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Memories on Facebook are good and decent reminders, aren’t they, Beth? A decent check-in, at least.

      Happy late Easter to you too. Here’s to evolving plans.

  9. Kim Airhart says:

    Water, breathe and clean my car. Those are things I need to add to my list.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Little things that make a huge difference, Kim. For what they do and for what they represent, I suspect.

  10. Louise says:

    Ok – so first I had to hop over to Urban Dictionary. Now that I’m back, what a lovely post from a truly Trill AF guy 🙂 If necessary, we can just keep that between you, me and the Internet.

    And that’s a fine list. Do make time for disc golf 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Urban Dictionary has bailed me out 37 times, Louise. I’m flattered that your endeavor there led you to such a conclusion about me.

      Yes, it’s probably best not broadcast, the meaning of that term.

      I will make time for disc golf, even with pollen and canker worms about, it’s still worth it.

      1. Louise says:

        37 is wonderfully specific. Are you now so with it that searches are no longer required. If so, I aspire to Eli status – disc golfing through whatever life throws my way!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        (37 is also wonderfully prime, Louise.) I’ll never reach a true state of Trill AF, although we all aspire to, right? Maybe that’s a post – a melding of Urban Dictionary and meditation.

        My disc golf game counteracts any peace I create in the universe by battering poor tree trunks everywhere.

      3. Louise says:

        Yes, making nature angry is very not Zen. But I wonder if the trees are really all that bothered by it. Perhaps you should meditate on that?

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I think they high-five each other, the trees, after I pass, because it’s like they’ve blocked my shot.

  11. Nice. A positive change in your life can do so much. I just got a new job and I have started to lose weight and I have started to get more personal on my blog. I am also a huge fan of making plans and taking things one step at a time. Awesome!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks. It’s just a shift in perception. I think that the good things you’re seeing in your life fuel each other. Glad I found your blog through the challenge.

  12. Eli, I’m so thrilled for you, I’m in tears. You are walking the walk. And noticing the wonderful change. In my experience, the weight has everything to do with what we carry on our shoulders, how we handle things in life, whether we can walk our walk, and standing tall in our own authenticity. You are taking yourself off the cross!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      A good friend once told me life is a journey, not a guided tour. To be true to one’s self is enlightening – although doing so with a mindful intention means so much more.

      I’ve found that the more I left slip from my shoulders, the tougher it is for things to get stuck there at all.

  13. messymimi says:

    Every day a bit of a new plan, i like that idea. Some things do need to change around here.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Little things become huge changes, right? What’s one thing that needs to change for you?

  14. Lyn says:

    LOL when I close the lid of my laptop, I usually get, “What are you hiding?” or “I’m not trying to see what you’ve written.” So I just take my earbuds out and eyeball them 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You conceal such mystery in your habits, Lyn. I think you have the right move for the occasion!

      1. Lyn says:

        It’s interesting when my granddaughter leans over the top of my computer to look cross-eyed at me and kiss me – especially when I’m sitting in the recliner 😀

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d stay in that chair for hours if I were you, just on the chance that might happen, Lyn!

  15. Nice post! I don’t really have a new plan … but I would like to have one. Also, I don’t like facebook memories it reminds me how lame I was. Uggh! past self can be pretty dramatic on a few posts.
    Best Wishes!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Karnika! A plan to have a plan is actually a plan. The goal can be to eradicate the lameness in the coming year, even.

      Past self can also tell us how far we’ve come.

  16. Beautiful post, Eli. Spring is a melancholy time for me too. This year I’m caught in a conflict..again. Same person, same sh*t. Those who should support me, are not, again. But I’m handling it differently. I’m resigned to stepping back, not fight back. I need to rest beside still waters – I’ve forgotten how refreshing it can be out of the fray! Maybe that’s my new plan? 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Jenn. I think history just associates events and feelings with seasons. I’m sorry to hear of your current conflict.

      It’s not comfortable nor natural to take the passive approach, but I trust you’ll see the benefit of staying out of the fray, as you put it.

      I like that plan. A lot.

      1. Thanks for the “plan” idea – I made a plan and I’m happy with it! https://jennsmidlifecrisis.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/i-quit/

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Is it going according to plan, Jenn?

  17. Great plan! I will be able to put a new plan into place on May 13th… the day after graduation with Associates but I have already lined up what I am doing this fall. Talked to adviser at new University I will attend in August. A little daunting but I will be the same age in two and a half years WITHOUT a degree also. Sooooo.. next step Bachelor’s.. YAH! *I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….* 😉

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Courtney. What about all summer, though? Nice job on the academics, by the way.

      You’ve got this.

      1. Thanks, it has taken a lot of hard work but I am plugging along. The time will go by one way or the other. I can either have a degree in 2 more years… or just be 2 more years older without a degree. It will be loads of fun to walk across that stage in a couple of weeks though! 😀

  18. mividaocupada says:

    Breathe and keep breathing. Good advice!! LOL.
    School me…. what does TRILL mean??!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s a mashup of “true” and “real.” If you’re breathing good, you’re definitely trill. Kinda hip hop meets Buddha.

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