High (or low) expectations

As usual, last night my beloved yogi had some words of inspiration for us as we laid in savasana. I love her words as we lay there. Always thought provoking. Sometimes they speak directly into my life, others just make me think. Last night was the latter.

She was discussing expectations and it made me think how often we have an expectation of how a situation will go, a movie will end, a conversation will be started, a day will turn out. We all have such expectations, but what happens when things don’t turn out as we thought they would? The situation went horribly wrong, the movie took an unexpected twist. How do you handle such things? (Ok, the movie isn’t exactly a life altering example, but I think you get my point.)

As I was thinking about all of this, two examples came to mind. Very high expectation and low(er) ones. When I was in high school, my best friend and I made a pact, which in hindsight was very stupid and set us both up for failure. We didn’t know it then though. We thought we were smart. (Don’t all high school kids do stupid things thinking they’re smart?) We said we going to set our expectations low. Very low. That way we would never be disappointed when it didn’t turn out as bad as we thought it would. Like we were cheating the system or something. Oh, we’re soooooooo smart.

The problem with that was, we found things that didn’t even meet up with our low expectations, so we lowered them even farther. Does he have a pulse? Check. Does he have his own car? No. Ok, well, can he at least drive? Yep, check. We both made some pretty bad choices that way. Instead of setting our expectations high and waiting for those to be met, we were impatient. Impulsive. And too damned proud to admit we were making huge mistakes. How many high school girls ADMIT to making a mistake with her choices? Not many I don’t think. I certainly wasn’t.

On the other hand though, raising them too high is almost unattainable. I’ll use my wonderful dad as this example. (Sorry Dad! I love you!!) I compare my dad to Clark Griswold all the time. This is going to be the best birthday/Christmas/picnic/whatever EVER! And it never turns out that way.

We go to our beach house every summer for vacation. It’s combining three families under one roof for an extended amount of time. There are kids running around, alcohol flowing (with an alcoholic thrown into the mix….not good), and with everyone’s best intentions, something (almost daily) doesn’t turn out the way everyone thought it would. And I don’t mean it is something huge or anything of the sort. Just a change. A storm blows in while we’re in the middle of a bocce tournament. Dinner reservations can’t be made on the night we planned to go out. The rum is gone. But the expectation of what we were going to do is altered. It can really bum my dad out who has this Clark Griswold vacation from beginning to end planned out in his head.

We had our own expectation this year of going deep sea fishing. We had talked about it for years, it’s expensive, but this year we were like YES! We’re going to do it no matter what. We called the Captain (no, not Captain Morgan!) and booked our date. We were very excited. Then my aunt got sick and my mom had to leave suddenly to go to her side. My dad was finishing his last round of treatment for his cancer. My brother and sister in law were in Florida looking at houses and 2 of their 3 kids were home with us. Do we cancel our trip? Do we still go? Dad insisted we go and he would be back from treatment before we had to leave. So we went. We cast off, and went flying out past some of the other smaller barrier islands. We were having a blast. After fishing in one spot for about 30 minutes, the Captain (Yes, I called him Captain Ron. I don’t think he appreciated it), he went to pull anchor so we could move to a different spot, and the damnest thing happened. The anchor chain broke and fell into the ocean. I’m not even kidding. Plop. Down it went. Captain Ron just stood there staring in disbelief. He says that has never ever happened before. And just like that, our trip was over. He wasn’t allowed to have us out there without an anchor. Plop. Over. Done.

So is it better to have low expectations or high ones? And what do you do when they aren’t met? Can you roll with it? Do you crumble to the ground? Do you brood and pout? I can say for me, I do all of those mentioned at one time or another. But I am honestly trying to roll with it more. I might not have control over the situation, but I have control over how I react to it. I can choose to let it devastate me or I can choose to take a moment, breathe, and move on. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. I just have to listen more.

Beach savasana

Missed Opportunities

The past few days I’ve noticed more than others how I’ve had things I wanted to say, but no opportunity to say them. I don’t mean huge conversations I wish I had, but more in passing comments. Comments to compliment someone, acknowledge what they were doing was great or just asking someone how they’re doing.

These comments have the ability to make someone feel better, or show them that what they are doing is appreciated, but the timing is just wrong. And I’m struggling with how I could do better in this.

Have you ever been to a wedding and the complete stranger in the row in front of you has a beautiful dress on? Or been in church and you see someone who has her hair looking like it should be in a magazine? Or even someone doing something that seems menial but is doing such a great job? We had a waitress over the weekend who was so busy. She had many customers and was running around non stop, filling drinks, replacing dropped silverware and offering suggestions but not one time did she make any of her customers feel that she was in a hurry or they were slowing her down.

The last example is easier because you can leave a nice tip, maybe even a note on a napkin and let her know what a great job she did. But the other examples aren’t so easy to remedy. Obviously during a wedding ceremony, it’s not appropriate to lean forward and compliment someone on her dress choice. But after the ceremony, when she is no where to be found, it feels like a missed opportunity.

What about the frazzled mom in the grocery store with her young children crying, demanding the box of cereal because of the toy inside? Any mom (or dad) has been there before. Do you offer a sympathetic smile? Do you avoid eye contact? Are you annoyed the kids are crying? Or can you simply say as you pass by “We’ve all been there. Hang in there. You’re doing great.” and keep walking by? If you are that frazzled mom, would you be insulted someone said that you or would you take it for what it was, a type of encouragement and acknowledgement?

I know I have been in situations lately where I’ve wanted to say “Wow, your purse is perfect for summer! I love it!” or encourage a friend going through a rough time with just a little “I’m here for you, whenever you need me, and you don’t have to be strong or put on a brave face for me.” Wouldn’t we all like to hear that when we feel our world is crumbling around us and beyond our control?

But when the circumstance isn’t the right time, what do you do? I like to think I could make a mental note of such a thing and tell that person at a later more appropriate time. First of all, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, so the chances of me remembering what someone was wearing, or their hair/handbag/sandals is slim to none. Second, and this is what I’m struggling with, is the universe trying to tell me to keep my mouth shut? I’m afraid that could be the case.

The stranger with the gorgeous hair is not going to know, or care, if I don’t say something. But what if it would make her day? Her daily journey could alter it’s course with a compliment from a unknown face who isn’t just giving her lip service. What about the friend who needs to hear “I love you and I’m here for you.” but finding the right time seems difficult?

I have a family member who was given a scary life threatening diagnosis. It makes me think about how blurting it out, not holding back, might be the better course. You never know when the opportunity, once missed, will ever present itself again. Why wait? Tapping someone on the shoulder in front of you and telling her that her dress is gorgeous, telling the mom to hang in there, letting your friends know you’ll be there even if they aren’t ready to hear from anyone yet, is a window I don’t want to close before I say something.

So I hope my compliment in the middle of the store, or at a wake, or when you’re having a horribly bad day, is taken for what it is. It’s just me trying to not let a moment escape that I might not get back.

Plus…..I might forget by the time I see you again.

missed opportunities