Often times in yoga my instructors will have a theme for class. Last night Ashley had two coinciding themes: gratitude and letting go of expectations. Even in the midst of my pain and sadness I find gratitude something I practice most days. When I first lay down my head at night, I think back through my day and remind myself of all the good things that happened. When it’s hard to come up with events, I can always fall back on the basics of shelter, food and clothing. However, I rarely do that because so many wonderful people surround me in my life – most of my reflections of the day are about people and nature. I have much to be grateful for.
Expectations, however, get me every time. Recently I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls. I’ve heard a lot of talk about the new episodes coming out and since I never watched the show I thought I’d give it a try. I love it! In one episode I saw in the last week or so, Luke was ranting about plans and expectations (Luke rants a lot!). “When you make plans, then you have expectations, and when you have expectations, then…you will get disappointed.” He’s not wrong.
My life is filled with plans and therefore lots of expectations. It doesn’t have to be big things…it can be something as simple as planning errands and then the store doesn’t have what I need, or the line is longer than I expected or whatever. I like to plan things and then, I like things to go the way I planned.
I’m not completely inflexible. I do work in a church…with live people…many whom are still growing their brains. It’s not possible to work under these conditions and not be flexible. I get that things change; plans have to be altered. I understand that. However, I would really prefer if those plans went the way I expected!
This time of year is hard for me because I have so many expectations around holidays. I have created ideas about how family functions should go or what the meal should taste like or how the weather will be. (My mind still wants us to all cram inside my grandparent’s ranch house with her cooking and everyone smiling and happy. The reality is there is no way we’d all fit anymore, meaning there would be less smiles and more frustration. Not to mention the small detail of both my grandparents being dead. Details!) In creating these expectations I often set myself up for disappointment.
Two years ago we hosted Thanksgiving at our home – our first holiday in our new house. It was going to be perfect. And then…the oven caught on fire. The house was filled with smoke. The babies were all sick (thankfully most of the sickness took place at my mom’s house). We didn’t have enough charcoal to finish cooking the turkey on the grill so I had to run to the store. The house smelled. People were being people and dogs were being dogs. It wasn’t how I pictured it…at all.
However, in the end we had a delicious meal in our new house with all of my family present and accounted for. No one went hungry. No one was missing. Without any expectations this would have been a perfect first Thanksgiving in our new home, not to mention a great story to go with it!
I can’t not plan. I can’t not have any expectations for my life. I know me. It’s just not possible. However, maybe I can practice letting up on some of those plans and expectations just a little bit. Maybe I can try to be more present and less future-oriented. Maybe I can work on being in the moment just a little more.
One of the blessings that has come out of the last several weeks is just that – I’m in the moment. It’s hard for me to plan too far in advance because I don’t know what will feel right to me then. I can do what feels right in this moment and that seems to be the best plan right now. Do the next right thing. In doing so, my expectations have dropped. Because of that, I feel lost – how can I reach a goal if I don’t have an expectation? Maybe the only goal for now is to be here.
I’ve thought about what the next several days might be like – days filled with my brothers and sister in law and nieces and parents and husband. I know it won’t be perfect according to any expectations I might have. So, I’m going to do my best to let those expectations go and then, I suspect, it will be perfect – it will be the way it’s meant to be.