When Expectations Fail Us

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There is one way to guarantee disappointment. Expectations. We all have them. We have these grandiose ideas of how something will be and when the reality is much different than the ridiculous details we dream up in our head, the result is devastation. The aftershock of reality leaves us disappointed and drained and we are reminded again how dangerous expectations really can be. So how do we let go and let live? How do we just sit back and allow life to unfold without our preconceived notion of how it should be? 

I have no idea how to answer those questions. The reality of my own selfish, unrealistic expectations smacked me real hard this weekend. I still feel the sting of the blow and the exhaustion from fighting against what would inevitably be. We can choose to swim against the current but sooner or later we will be too tired to swim at all. Sometimes we need to ride the wave regardless of where it is taking us. I wasted precious hours feeling disappointment over a situation I had no control over. The problem wasn’t the situation. The problem was my expectation of how I thought the situation should be. Lesson learned? I guess we will see.

I’m Leaving This Behind in 2017

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I read somewhere that it is necessary to leave something behind in 2016 to make room for something new. I could spend hours making lists of useless things I would rather not carry into the new year but if I could only pick one, my answer would be simple. Expectations.

I fall for it everytime. I get this idea of how something is going to be. I fantasize about the perfect details as the smile spreads bigger across my face. Then reality comes along and slaps it right off of me. Christmas was a good example. I wait all year to finally go home and spend some quality time with my family. I am the only one living far away and I miss out on so many things that I often regret. This year I was excited for weeks in anticipation of what the holidays would bring. Two days after finally arriving, I collapsed. Not once but twice. I was so sick that I actually passed out at a rest area in between my brothers home and my moms. I don’t even remember it happening the second time. I remember waking up and hearing my son on the phone with 911 as I insisted I was okay. It was awful. I was staggering and slurring my words and just wanting to go to my childhood home and lay on the couch. Resting took up the whole next day. I was frustrated because I know it’s impossible to get even a second back. This was precious time wasted on feeling crappy on a couch instead of visiting with people I wait all year to see. Christmas finally came along and I still wasn’t feeling so great. I got through the day but was feeling quite exhausted. We all slept at my moms that night and then it hit. 8 out of 10 of us were stricken with a stomach virus in the middle of the night. At the same time, all four at my brothers house in addition to my sister were going through the same motions at their own houses. The fun was over. Everyone slept for 24 hours straight. I prayed all night that I would be spared. My body was already feeling so weak and my wish was granted. Out of 16 of us, only two of us escaped this nasty virus. Thank goodness I was one of them and able to take care of the ones who were in the same house.

Christmas was so far from what I expected it to be. Expectations are garbage and they set me up for disappointment every single time. In 2017, I am going to try and just let it be, whatever it is.  I still enjoyed my visit, it just didn’t come close to what I had planned. So, no more plans. No more regrets. No more I wish things were different. I need to embrace what is and make the most out of whatever circumstances I am given. Goodbye expectations. I won’t be taking you with me next year. What will you be leaving behind?

Let It Be

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If there is a one way ticket to disappointment, it is through our expectations. I do believe sometimes I think too much about how I want something to be instead of just allowing it to be. There is one thing I am certain of in 44 years, life is unpredictable. No matter how much I want something to go a certain way, it is simply going to play out with no narrative from me. Too much thinking can be a slow, debilitating, poison. Sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow and grab some popcorn for the front row ticket of your own show. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. Sometimes I dread something that turns out better than I even imagine. So as John Lennon so eloquently put it, Let It Be.

What Do You Do All Day?

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My daughters friend was hanging out at our house the other day. We talked life, politics, characteristics of good role models. It was nice to have a conversation with 16 year olds about topics with substance. They were really interested and had strong opinions of their own. As I was making dinner, the girl looked at me and said, “I don’t know how you stay home all day. I could never do it, I’d be so bored”. I took a deep breath and realized I had a choice. I could either sink back and feel bad about myself, I could just blow it off or I could educate her on the value of having one spouse/parent stay at home. I told her about the way things used to be when I was a kid and both parents were not outside the home working. I explained how the person at home kept everything, everyone connected. I explained that when less people were in the work force, there were more good paying jobs and opportunity. I believe families have to do what is right for them. For me, for my family, the choice to be home was the right one. I no longer feel the need to explain what exactly I do all day. I keep things ticking and moving like a CEO in a corporation. I oversee everyone and everything. I am here when someone forgot money for lunch or accidentally left a paper home. I am there to transport the basketball team when there is a mix up and the bus leaves without them. I Make sure the house is always clean, the clothes are always washed and most of the time there is dinner on the table. I am the rock that sits at that table and encourages family time and communication. I am the one who stays up worrying about my kids when I am sure that there is something wrong. AND, sometimes I admit, I do watch a soap opera or two. My value and worth does not reside in the position I have or the work that I do. Women and men need to understand that although a job is important, it is just a job and doesn’t define who we are. Young girls need to know that being a mom and raising kids and organizing the home is important too. It may not pay well but the sacrifice is worth the benefits in the end. There will be plenty of years to fit it all in, to create a home environment and to have a career. Volunteering at Hospice and making a difference is an important part of nursing as much as working on a floor in a hospital. People can use their education and their skill set to do so many things, open so many doors. I may not be technically working but I am applying and contributing to what I know. At the end of my life I won’t ask myself what did I do, how many years have I worked. I will ask myself, how have I served and did I use my gifts to make the world a better place. I do believe I have. I don’t have to hold a job to feel good about who I am. I know many people who do need that position to feel they have worth. What happens when they lose the job? What happens to the person then?

Who Defines You?

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What is life about? Who decides? Who determines the path you will walk and sets the standards of how you should walk it? There is one very obvious thing that sets me apart from other parents. Often, I see parents pushing and pushing for their kids to do sports. Not one sport but several sports. Not one day of sports but everyday. Today my daughter went to summer swim practice for the first time since it started back in May. I imagine some of the swimmers may be mortified that she dare take some time off. The coach even had a talk with her about how many practices a week she should attend. The reality is that swimming in the summer is optional. Years ago, sports were not year long. Athletes had adequate time to allow their bodies and their minds enough time to recuperate and come back to have another strong season. I know this for sure, anytime I do something over and over every single day, I lose the enjoyment out of it. Many times I become resentful I have to do that one thing and eventually start to dread it. The passion dies and I put in less and less effort until it becomes almost robotic. I admit, there was a time I had the dream for her to be the fastest, at least in fly. But that was my dream and not hers. She wanted to swim, be pretty good and still have fun. Now our goals have finally meshed someplace in the middle. I want her to be happy. I want her to feel a sense of passion for everything she decides to do. I want her to define her own life and live by her own standards and expectations and not by someone elses who doesn’t really give a damn. I want her to know her own limits and set her own boundaries and I never want to see her get bullied into a lifestyle that doesn’t feel like a comfortable fit. I’ve asked this before, when will good be good enough? Can we not be happy with who we are even if we aren’t the prettiest, the smartest, the fastest, the most talented? When do we stop thinking we are only worthy when we are number one? Out of all the people in the world, really, what are the odds I or anyone else could truly be the best at anything? Should I spend my life trying? Should I die trying? I guess we have all have to make that decision for ourselves.

What about YOU?

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We were asked to silently ask ourselves a question this morning in yoga. What is it that knocks you out of balance? Who knocks you out of balance? 

The list of people immediately came to mind. Silly as it seems, I never even considered the notion that regardless of how grounded I feel, there are certain people that set me off every single time. Why? I guess maybe because they have particular expectations of me. The problem is I am a people pleaser so when I think I am less than what someone expects, it causes an internal conflict that sends me into a tailspin. What choice do I have? There are certain people you have to interact with like it or not so how do you detatch from these people enough to stand firm on your two feet while they cause a storm of emotion all around you? Some feedback would be welcome and helpful. 

When Expectations Fall Short

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Don’t be mad at the situation, be mad at your expectations.  

I read this line somewhere today and it jumped off the page and poked me in the arm. It’s very consistent with many of my posts this weekend and this lesson wanted to kick me in the backside one more time to make sure I don’t forget. I thought it was worth sharing so here it is one more time.

Don’t be mad at the situation, be mad at your expectations.

Expectations

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How do we get so caught up in the way things are? Why do we believe we can control even the tiniest detail of anything that comes along? Why do we spend countless hours of energy fighting and complaining about what is when there is nothing we can actually do to change the circumstance we are in? At what point do we stop talking about the way we want something to be and find acceptance for what it is going to be? We all waste time rehashing things in our mind, it can literally suck out all our hope when at the end of the day, it will still be what it really is. There comes a time when we want to live better, when we don’t want to remain stuck in the things we do not have the power to change. Life becomes so painful that we just have to move on and leave our expectations behind. Expectations can rob us of happiness. Expectations paint a picture that can only be created by a paintbrush and paint. Expectations blind us from the love and beauty that is standing right in front of us that we never have the chance to feel or see. Expectations punish the people in our lives. Expectations put restrictions on the amount of love we can feel toward others. Expectations are like a prison that we build for ourselves while we try and convince ourselves we have no way out. Expectations suck and I really resent them.

Take It With You when You Go

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All my life I’ve been a perfectionist. It’s been a passion of mine to do things right and the best possible way I can. My mindset was do it perfect or don’t bother to do it at all. What I didn’t realize, was that I’ve been projecting that onto everyone around me. My poor kids. Grades need to be great, swim times need to be impressive, more shots should be making it into the basket. My poor husband. The lines in the carpet are not the way I like them from the vacuum cleaner, there are smudges on the counters because they haven’t been wiped off properly. Poor teachers and coaches. Why can’t they teach to the degree that I am able? Why can’t they put in the extra time or go the extra mile to put in the amount of effort as I do at home? Why can’t they do their job as well as I would and with the same amount of passion?

You get the picture. How in the world could anyone ever measure up? Who could possibly meet my ridiculous standards? None of that mattered. All that did matter was if I expect it from myself, than like it or not, I would expect it from others.

Today, as I was struggling on my yoga mat I realized something. I know without a doubt that yoga has transformed me but I could never put a finger on exactly how. But today, I had a revelation. My body and it’s tightness accompanied by injuries makes it difficult for me to do yoga, at least to perfect it. I have learned, that for me, yoga will never be perfection. It is something that will always be physically difficult and near impossible to ever progress past a certain physical level. That’s just the way it is, there is no amount of time of effort I could put in to change that because I will never risk pushing my body past what it is capable of doing. I am already injured enough and now I know part of the spiritual and mental side of yoga is not pushing my body more than what it is able to do.

That idea of perfectionism? Yep, I had to throw that old plan right out the window and start all over. I believe, truly believe, that since I started practicing yoga I have learned to be more gentle with myself and others. I expect less and I focus more on the effort and the mental attitude than I do the physical outcome or result. I have taken this new practice off my mat and extended patience and acceptance to others more than ever before. I have a long way to go but I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned in that dark little room. The fact that I can apply them to every aspect of my life has been the root of change and one that I am so thankful for. There is always something new to learn. Embrace the lessons, make them part of you and take them with you when you go out into the world. There is always an opportunity to grow who you are and that growth will have the power to grow others if you project that out instead of conditions and expectations.

What lessons have made the biggest difference in your life? How have they transformed the people around you? I’d love to hear about it or I even challenge you to write your own blog post to explore it. And don’t forget to link it back to my site so I can read about it too.