Two weekends ago, our scheduled plans did not include a visit to the swimming pool. The wading in the water and the cannonballs that made a large splash were impromptu and spontaneous. This revelry was set into a motion with a simple request by my daughter, “Can we go swimming?” A free flow of laugher, many requests to “Look at what I can do, Momma,” and a game of Marco Polo on her father’s shoulders created a montage of several unexpected good surprises.

As I watched my daughter play in the water, I caught a glimmer of the sun illuminating her hands and the glee of her jumping up and down, without any thought to the past or the present. The seconds leading up to this particular moment were completely unscripted and unintended, but witnessing her satisfaction and freedom brought a smile to my face.

Veering from schedules, to-do lists and routines is not my natural tendency. I’ve always embraced control, but too much of it often leads to inflexibility in thought and action. These last few months, I’ve made an effort to say yes to opportunities not necessarily listed on a schedule or planner. It is a new and strange feeling – especially embracing this philosophy in midlife. Once I move past the uncertainty and stop overthinking, I adore how much spontaneity enriches my days and how I feel the texture of living a life. This particular sensation is often buried among the minutiae of lists and tasks and the act of crossing out items on a piece of paper.

In midlife, I’ve realized it is of paramount importance to place myself in the path of experiencing unscripted minutes.  I am lucky I don’t have to go far to seek these moments because my daughter often is the catalyst for interrupting what is scheduled (especially during the summertime). My default is usually no, but I am learning to say yes to bike rides around neighborhood, day trips to places like Flagstaff and Sedona, a middle-of-the day baking session in the kitchen, a pause to act silly with her, sleepovers in her room and afternoon movies.

Over this past weekend, we headed to Flagstaff, an excursion not listed on my paper calendar. Early in the morning my daughter asked whether we were planning to go and I responded with, “We will see. I have too much to do.” I caught myself mid-sentence and thought, well, what if I said yes? Would an overnight trip put me too behind on my work? I paused the overthinking part of my brain and told her, “You know what? We can go. It will be a fun road trip for us.” As we drove on the highway, my daughter took pictures of the mountains and admired the natural landscape. We visited a park and met up with friends. In the morning, we roamed the farmer’s market where we devoured fresh crepes, bought homemade bread, unfiltered honey and enjoyed cooler temperatures. While we walked around, I caught this view of the trees, clouds and the rays of sunshine sprouting from the sky.

I admired this view for several minutes – grateful that I said yes.