Story: You Can’t Protect Yourself Against Everything.

This week’s video story: You can’t protect yourself against everything.


This reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from Dwight D. Eisenhower:  “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

How about you? Have you ever taken elaborate precautions — only to be foiled by some unforeseen eventuality?

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  • Penelope Schmitt

    Long ago, I was a victim of a serious crime when I thought that I was in the safest spot ever–home asleep. One valuable lesson I took from that experience was to be willing to travel. The following year I had an opportunity to go to Ecuador and report on a National Guard Detachment doing some construction engineering in the upper Amazon basin. That was an experience I will always treasure! There is nowhere to hide from the unexpected and unpleasant, whether it is funny like the incident on the steps in Italy, or more serious. LIVE your life!

    • BKF

      Penelope, so sorry about your bad experience. Glad you got through it and seem to be thriving now. A big, warm hug!

    • Penelope Schmitt


  • youonlylawonce

    I agree, it is important to be vulnerable. I only choose to be vulnerable around people who have earned my trust and respect, though.

  • BKF

    “From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse:

    But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]

    In proving foresight may be vain:

    The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

    Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]

    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

    For promised joy.

    …The poem is of course the source for the title of John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel – Of Mice and Men.” (

    Gretchen, your book so far sounds fascinating, well-researched and full of great ideas and advice. I’m sure it will be charmingly well-written too like your past work. So hang in there and keep at it! 🙂

  • Penelope Schmitt

    Oh my! I was driving to a meeting this afternoon and thinking of your funny story Gretchen . . . DRUM ROLL . . .

    The man was attacked by none other that THE PIGEON OF DISCONTENT!!!!!!!!!!

    • gretchenrubin


      • Penelope Schmitt


    • Lynn

      🙂 not only do I look forward to what Gretchen posts each day, but also to your insights. And in this case, humor.

      • Penelope Schmitt

        Thanks! I chuckled all the way to my meeting about that (-:

  • Peter Alfred

    Wow!! What a great writing, really I appreciate such kind of topics. It will be very helpful for us
    Bin Boxes


  • Msconduct

    This is so true. I’m an extremely organised person and always like to prepare very carefully for things and know what I might do if something goes wrong (and a backup plan for that as well!). But valuing security so much also brings with it a lot of worry. is there something more I could do? Is there something I’ve forgotten? It’s like no matter how much preparation you do you can never prepare enough to feel completely secure.

    Then in 2011 I was taught a very big lesson. I live in New Zealand, and that year there was a terrible earthquake here two weeks before the one in Japan. Not as many people died as in the Japan one, but the groundspeed of the earthquake was the highest ever measured and it absolutely destroyed the central city area of Christchurch, New Zealand’s third largest city. More than 50% of the buildings have had to be demolished, and because of liquefaction some suburbs have had to be completely abandoned. It’s been three years now and Christchurch is nowhere near recovering from it.

    The earthquake didn’t affect me personally, as I live in another part of New Zealand, but we are a small country and it hit us all hard. I have friends who lost their houses, and know of one couple who had devoted their entire adult lives to restoring and maintaining their hundred and fifty year old historic house, which is now a heap of rubble.

    No matter how much preparation anyone could have done, they couldn’t have avoided what happened. Although New Zealand is on the Pacific Ring Of Fire, Christchurch was not
    considered in particular danger of an earthquake at all. The earthquake
    happened on a faultline that until then was unknown.

    That’s when I realised at a deep level: life is change. Life is the unexpected. Constantly grasping after security will never work, because there’s no such thing. Now, I still prepare carefully, but I no longer worry about whether I’ve covered every eventuality, because that’s impossible. So I do what I can, and then let the chips fall where they may.