Balm for the soul—Alessandra Olanow offers advice, inspiration, and encouragement for anyone who needs a shoulder to lean on during a difficult time.
“I Know This Too Shall Pass. (But It Would Be Helpful to Know When).”
After a series of events left her a divorced single mother questioning herself, her relationships, and basically, everything she thought was true about her “picture-perfect” life, Alessandra Olanow began drawing and posting illustrations on Instagram that reflected her feelings and struggles to right her life. She chronicled her journey of healing, expressing the shock, delusion, denial, self-pity, and self-doubt she experienced and the self-empathy and forgiveness that ultimately helped her regain a sense of self—but stronger, more fearless, and more hopeful than before. Her charming illustrations and keen, memorable observations—struck a chord. Within a year, her audience grew dramatically, from 9,500 to 157,000 followers, including celebrities Katie Couric, Jennifer Garner, Elise Loehnen (chief content officer at Goop), the poet Joao Doederlein, and Joanna Goddard (founder of A Cup of Jo).
I Used to Have a Plan brings Olanow’s soothing sensibility to a wider audience, featuring new drawings and ideas that touch upon the universal experiences of unexpected change and loss. Divided into five parts—“I Didn’t See That Coming,” “It’s OK That You’re Not OK,” “Where’d I Go,” “The Only Way Out Is Through,” and “I Like It Here, Can I Stay a While?”—the book beautifully encapsulates the experience of encountering difficulty, processing it and healing from it, and becoming stronger and with a better sense of self.
Full of advice, commiseration, empathy, and wit that is comforting, helpful, direct, and remarkable in its truth, I Used to Have a Plan helps everyone through the painful yet ultimately uplifting process of healing.
I Used to Have a Plan includes 75-100 illustrations.
Illustrator Olanow combines charming drawings with mild affirmations in these reflections on getting through times of loss. Olanow uses a light touch in both her illustrations and text to explain her mental state and coping mechanisms for letting go of anxiety. Lines of vague encouragement include a drawing of a note to oneself that reads, "I'm not where I want to be but at least I'm not where I used to be." On another page, the words "I'll just stay inside" float in the middle of an otherwise blank page. Some of the art, which alternates pages with Olanow's short observations, chart her feelings (such as a Venn diagram of "fear" and "faith," with "I'm somewhere in here" noted in the middle). Other drawings show a feminine figure in various states of repose and provide quiet bits of introspection: "I had to let go to realize there was nothing there to hold on to." A flip through the book is as soothing as a cup of chamomile tea, with results that last just as long.