Embracing Detours

Praia Telheiro, Algarve, Portugal (August 2013)

Praia Telheiro, Algarve, Portugal (August 2013)

I remember a conversation I had with my good friend Kate this summer prior to my trip to Portugal, and telling her about how stressed I was about driving into downtown Lisbon for the weekend in the middle of our 2-week holiday. I was afraid of getting lost, of what might happen if we missed a turn. I had the notion that all would be good if we made it from point A to point B just as outlined in the great driving directions my husband Jim had prepared. The story playing in my head involved getting off course, driving in endless circles, wasting valuable time. Well, Kate, in her graceful, brilliant way offered me another possibility. She shared with me that the most exciting moments of her vacations had been when she’d gotten lost – how not knowing where she was offered her surprises, new insights, unexpected joy. Could it be that the way to move from feeling afraid and uncertain was to be present in the moment, being where I was, not where I thought I should or ought to be?

Kate was right.  This beach you see in the photo was an unexpected delight on this summer’s vacation, after my husband Jim and I had opened to a sense of adventure in finding a beach for the day (so many to choose from!). We drove some 6 miles through the country, not sure if we were going in the right direction, or what we’d find at the end of the road. Ultimately dirt roads and a steep cliff led us to this amazing vista

Today I’m wondering how I might navigate through life with that kind of adventure-some perspective. How might I embrace detours along the path and open to the unexpected. What if I trusted that I would arrive at a destination far more wonderful than I could ever imagine? Maybe knowing exactly where I am are going is like thinking I have the answers – it prevents me from asking questions, from being curious, being playful, creative, open…

Try This!

On a cold, gray day last month, I was hungry for inspiration to move through my day and turned to my journals. I ended up reading through my October entries from the past 5 years. Below are the ideas that I distilled from my writings and that have reaffirmed the map I want to use to navigate through life. Maybe there are some ideas that feel right for you to embrace?

  1. The key to loving life-as-it-is is to love myself as I am.
  2. I can find myself when I notice when something feels good, when I lose track of time, when my heart is calm, when my mind is present now.
  3. I am the one to stand up for me.
  4. I don’t have to try so hard.
  5. Sometimes just sitting and breathing is enough.
  6. Don’t move so fast through my experiences that I am left empty.
  7. It feels good to take care of myself.
  8. Nature is an invitation to connect with what matters, freeing my spirit, getting my energy moving, and opening my creativity.
  9. Perfection is a broken belief–striving for it only creates things I don’t want in my life, like fear and resistance.
  10. Clinging to being responsible, organized, and practical deludes me into thinking I’m in control and blocks my ability to be in powerful action.
  11. Determining what I want involves thinking different thoughts than I’ve never thought before.
  12. My intentions create my future reality—be conscious about what I wish for.
  13. When I bend to the energy of the moment, I receive what the experience of now has to offer.
  14. Life is beautiful when I find a place of balance between being gentle with myself and challenging myself beyond my limits.
  15. There is power in accepting both the good and the bad, the positive and the negative – to opening to the AND of life and the wholeness, roundness of it.
  16. It is OK to not know – it’s a great invitation to listen, ask questions, invite others into dialogue, and create understanding.
  17. It’s possible to find solid ground in the midst of a groundless, chaotic, evolving and uncertain environment.
  18. Life is not about being brilliant enough to make sure nothing bad happens but about how we respond to the inevitable curve balls.
  19. The best way to get somewhere is to BE somewhere.

DEtours2Quotes to Contemplate

  • We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.  ~Anais Nin
  • What we see depends on what we look for. ~John Lubbock
  • Our imaginations are like swollen rivers flooded with falsehoods of the ages as they have been passed on to us across the generations. ~Rolf Gates
  • Having the composure to sit down and be still is considered utterly dignified and profoundly human. ~Michael Carroll
  • In some basic way it is our imperfections and even our pain that draws others close to us. ~Rachel Naomi Remen
  • We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better me who one day will emerge. ~Pema Chodron
  • What you seek is camouflaged in what you fear. Every story of an obstacle has a shadow story of desire. The obstacle contains yet conceals the desire. ~Coaching Compass
  • In our deepest moments of struggle, frustration, fear, and confusion, we are being called up on to reach in and touch our hearts. ~Ruth Fishel
  • Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. ~Ronald Dahl


Click on the link below to access the November calendar featuring highlights from this post.

Try This! Embracing Detours_Nov2013 Calendar

Photo by Vicki L. Flaherty, 2013.

© copyright Vicki L. Flaherty, Leading With Intention, 2013


14 thoughts on “Embracing Detours

  1. Another great post, Vicki!

    I embraced an unexpected detour just this past Monday, and I had a job interview yesterday. This was certainly unexpected and not planned at all.

    Hope everything is well with you and Jim.

    Best regards,



  2. Vicki,
    Thank you. I really appreciate your gift of writing. This blog really allowed me to get a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to be present. It reminds me of this quote by Nora Ephron in her commencement speech to the 1996 graduates of Wellesley. ” It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: You can always change your mind.”


  3. Love it, so true, and yet so difficult sometimes, huh? But the universe will help us switch directions, choose a fork in the road (or as Yogi Berra would say, if you see a fork in the road, take it!) I love the work and time and thought and craft you put into your posts.

    • yes, i am not sayingn embracingn detours is easy! tough work, for sure. and, aren’t I lucky? i have warriors like you on the journey! thanks for your encouragement my friend. oh that i could blog as consistently as you – love maureenmonte.com!

      • That’s actually a great point, Vicki – we have warriors – spiritual warriors!- with us on the path. You do blog consistently, my friend. Thanks for the plug and look forward to having you as my guest blogger!!!

  4. Vicki – As you know, I’ve lived much of my life embracing detours. A while back though, I locked-in a course for myself which I struggled for years to stay on. That struggle took its toll on me. I’ve made changes over the last year and I’m now embracing the unexpected detours again. The possibilities and enthusiasm I’m waking up to every morning now far out weigh the insecurity of not having a locked-in path. I keep a mental picture of my goals, but I’m way more in the moment. I’m focused on the step I’m taking now with a renewed excitement of where it will lead me. Thanks for the post. I feel even more invigorated now.

    • You, my amazing brother, are the rock star of embracing detours! For all of my adult life, I have admired your ability to go with the flow. I am so proud of you and feel so blessed to have you in my life. Love that you have made changes that you find invigorating. Sending hugs and love…Vic

  5. Hi Vicky!
    I just love your post. It feels as if you are speaking from my heart 😉
    I was always embracing detours during vacation but now I am consciously learning to do the same with work projects. I realized that by staying open, listening and not setting a too hard plan the outcome can be so much more than original design… Same approach, but it gets difficult sometimes when our reputation (or ego?) is involved… Still finetuning it 😉
    I am so grateful for meeting such a soul mate! Your wisdom is inspiring…

    • Jana…I feel so fortunate that our paths have crossed as well. I was so delighted to BE with you when we were together in Armonk. I appreciate your friendship and agree we are kindred spirits!

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