What I’m learning from an astronaut and my hula hoop


My husband is a big fan of all things space and has recently been digging into Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth,” and when something particularly catches his fancy, he reads it to me, as we sit reading for a bit before turning in. He recently read this passage out to me:


When we got back to Earth, a lot of people asked whether everything had gone the way we’d planned. The truth is that nothing went as we’d planned, but everything was within the scope of what we prepared for. That was one of the fundamental lessons of STS-74; don’t assume you know everything and try to be ready for anything. 

                                                                                                                 Chris Hadfield

The “planners” among us like to plan ahead and have a plan B for good measure. The danger is that we can be disappointed, or even broken, if our plans don’t work out. While it’s important to plan, its equally important to be flexible about our plans. The problem is that while we get it, we don’t know what to do about it.

How do I become more flexible in my approach to life? Telling my brain to plan less or worry less won’t work. I’ve learned in recent years, that I need to get out of my head, and into my body and my intuition to live like I want to live. I can be more flexible in the way I live my life, flexible about goals, flexible about paths, if I can be more flexible in my body.

And so I hoop, on the weekends, with my hula hoop teacher, little kids, newly weds, older women with empty nests. In the Delhi winter afternoons, we get together for an hour and we hoop. And as I learn to hoop, I move from my head, into my body; hooping sometimes clumsily, sometimes in flow; with the hoop around my waist, or my hips; walking in with the hoop, in front, sideways, and back. Sometimes the hoop falls and I pick it up and start right over. I stand on the green grass in the afternoon sun of a waning winter. Inside me is the little girl who thought she always needed to plan, the teenager who lived by the plan, the woman who’s examining this all and trying to fuse planning and flexibility, and the hint of a wiser woman with a plan, but more importantly, with faith, flexibility, and resilience.

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