Making plans, defiantly, amid the chaos and madness

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This April 3, 2020 photo shows realtor Michelle Bushe posing at her desk while working from her home in Pittsburgh, Pa. Bushee has always been an avid planner. Her weeks used to be very busy but now the entire month of April is empty. (Nick Bushe via AP)

As owners of a wedding and event-planning business, Karina Lopez and Curtis Rogers have always known how the best-laid plans can go awry. But there’s no way they could have imagined just a few weeks ago what would happen to their very own wedding plans.

First, the joyous bash they’d been meticulously planning for many months — a three-day celebration for 200 guests — was thrown into indefinite limbo. Then they both tested positive for coronavirus.

Yet now, as they recover in quarantine and try to keep their distance from each other in a one-bedroom New York City apartment, Lopez and Rogers are still making wedding plans — methodically and, indeed, defiantly. After all, they’re planners. It’s what keeps them going.

“I definitely had one or two meltdowns,” says Lopez, 32, who is still experiencing symptoms but feels she's on the mend. "Which I look back and realize is so silly, considering what people are going through.” But now, she says, wedding planning has become therapy: “It went from making me insane, to keeping me sane.”

Making plans. In normal times, it’s a process we don’t really think about. But during this pandemic, the process of planning — be it a short-term grocery list or organizing an entire summer wedding — has taken on an entirely different meaning, serving for some as a life preserver amid all the fear and uncertainty.

It depends on the personality. Some people thrive by living in the moment. But others really need their plans.

“For many, having schedules and structure and timelines and things they can count on is important. Knowing they can count on something happening gives them security, some stability, some purpose," says Helen Park, a family therapist, social worker and specialist in mindfulness.

In current conditions, Park notes, even non-planner types are seeking ways to organize their lives. If you're hunkered down at home, suddenly Friday doesn’t seem like Friday because the weekend hardly feels different. Monday morning carries little of that back-to-the trenches feeling, even if a Zoom call is waiting at the kitchen table.