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Diane Hyzy: Spontaneous vacation didn’t go as feared

My closest family and friends would probably describe me as an organized, schedule-driven person. I thrive on routine and like knowing exactly what is ahead of me. I know that change is a part of everyone’s life. I don’t mind change as long as I can plan for it.

One would think that my entrance into the world would have given me a hint of the spontaneous gene. In 1964, women had babies without knowing if they were going to be boys or girls or, in my mother’s case, how many. Anticipating and planning for one baby and ending up with twin girls was as unplanned as it gets. Spontaneous, I am not. Planned, I am.

I am a teacher, so this personality trait meshes very well into my chosen profession. Preplanned lessons and units, timelines and deadlines for required paperwork and organized preparation are part of my daily life. Having a plan A, as well as a B or C, makes student success more likely.

I certainly enjoy some time off in the summer. But every August, I secretly look forward to school beginning and a return to a scheduled routine.

I relish being creative in my free time, although this also has a degree of planned research. I use a specific pattern for a sewing project, need to know all of the needed supplies ahead of time for a painting task and spend a good deal of time watching YouTube videos when teaching myself a new crocheting technique. The more organized I am, the better chance for a fruitful outcome.

I would also not fall under the heading of a spontaneous spender. I’ve always had goals and had a plan to reach them, whether it be saving for those Bastad clogs in high school or banking funds for my sons’ college education accounts. Spontaneous expenditures always took a back seat to the predesigned saving plan.

I often wonder how many people fantasize about getting in the car and driving to nowhere in particular. Or better yet, driving to the airport and hopping on the first plane on a spur-of-the moment vacation. Of course, a far-fetched dream is all this ever is. Perhaps knowing that I would never do it made the dream that much easier to have.

Recently, I was encouraged to put this fantasy to the test. My husband surprised me with a birthday vacation of a lifetime. Four weeks before the big 5-0, he told me we would be going to Paris for my birthday weekend. Fly in, spend four days, fly out! For someone as structured as I am, this seemed impossible. But my decades-long dream trumped my anxiety and I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

I guess a part of me always believed that a non-structured trip would be fraught with disasters and a level of time mismanagement, aka not getting the biggest bang for the buck. I was completely wrong.

So 8,000 air miles, a dozen famous sites and countless French delicacies later, I’m a true believer in spontaneity. Letting go of the organizer in me was truly liberating. We literally woke up every morning, walked out onto the streets and winged it. No plan, no set itinerary and no pressure. The goal was simple – have a memorable and fun time.

Although I have returned to work and have assimilated back into my old routine, there is something that has changed. I’m living in the present, but dreaming of our next spontaneous adventure. Alaska, anyone?