Unexpected Detour

bridge across river

I’ve come to rely on my GPS to get to my destination. It’s a safer way to navigate than the paper maps I used to use — looking down at the map, up at the road, down at the map — all the while losing my place amongst the list of turns.

When I would miss a turn, first I’d swear a lot, then hysterical call someone, expecting them to gather immediately where I was and be able to get me back on track.

Now I pull out my GPS, plug in an address and follow the route the electronic voice calls out to me. But sometimes the directive to “Take exit 35C” cannot be followed because the exit is blocked and some orange detour sign is telling me to keep going straight.

Those signs don’t tell me how much farther I’ll need to go to get back to my original route, if that’s even where they’re going to take me. And when I drive too long in one direction without seeing another detour sign, I wonder if I missed it and should turn around. I don’t have any idea where I am and just drive on blind faith that I’ll eventually find my way. What other choice do I have?

And the whole time I’m following the detour, the GPS keeps bellowing out directives to get me back to my original course because it’s unaware that such a route no longer exists.

I spent a great deal of the summer thinking about what I want more of in my life and what I want less of. From that, I was setting priorities on how I would spend my time and making sure I created enough space for the things that really matter to me. I was also working on a financial plan to pay down my mortgage and put more money away for my retirement.

Then Luke put his face in a bur bush. This has meant four vet visits, eye surgery, many tubes of eye antibiotic ointment and Banamine (horsey aspirin), switching from pasture to stall board and daily trips to the barn.

It appears my route has changed — both financially and in how I spend my time.

fat tire biking on trail

My initial reaction was to say that all that work on naming my priorities and looking for ways to live according to my values was pointless.

  • I haven’t written for weeks and I’m not sure when I’ll find time to write again (although I did eek out time for this post).
  • And I’ve gone from working on skills for the job I’d hoped to move towards (which would mean lower pay but more job satisfaction) to working on skills to up my value in the job I’m already in because it looks like I’ll be there much longer than I’d planned.

After having an internal (and sometimes external) tantrum over what, in my tantruming mind, is “unfair,” I am searching for what can be salvaged. In other words, can I find the gift in this?

I know, being Pollyanna is not like me. I’d rather rant.

But this hasn’t been all bad.

The lesson is this: caring trumps expertise. I have a tendency to pull back and trust other people’s knowledge, experience, opinions, and actions over my own. I’m afraid to say what I think or what I want because, in my mind, I don’t have the right. Because everyone is smarter than I am.

And then, totally unrelated to this situation, I started taking a course in Negotiation because I have some things I need to negotiate at work. And I got something unexpected out of the lecture videos…

You need to identify the pie.

The pie is what you are splitting up with someone else. What do you want? What is at stake?

fat bike


I’ve never been very clear about what I want. I rarely believe I have the right to “want” anything.

  • Wanting is selfish.
  • Wanting is thinking I’m more important than someone else.
  • Wanting leads to someone saying “No.”

You repeat those messages enough and it becomes very difficult to even allow yourself to think about or recognize what you want.

And you know what? That is really annoying to the people around you. No one likes a martyr or being forced to guess what someone else wants.

I’ve had to say what I want done with my horse. Yes, that means paying for it but that’s better than letting other people decide what’s necessary. It also means taking more responsibility for the outcome because I have asked for what I want. If I end up not being happy with what I get, I can’t blame someone else for the results, like I can if they have to guess or make decisions for me.

I still don’t know where this detour is taking me. And I don’t know if my rambling is making any sense to anyone but me. But I’m not feeling as lost today as I was yesterday or the day before that.

I expect that I won’t come out on the exact road I had planned on taking, but I’m learning a new way to travel.

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  1. How insightful, and an interesting perspective on things. I have been asking some of the same questions, and creating my own personal GPS for life. Subconscious, bad habits are sometimes hard to break because you don’t know it has become a way of life.


  2. Loved this post. Like you, I’ve been juggling learning new skills with making–and saving–money now. And sometimes feel that my destination is further away than when I started.

  3. Thanks for the comments! So good to be together in this “figuring things out” thing. 🙂

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