Expectations have set me up for more than a little suffering in life. This week I decided to give expectancy of good a try instead.
When I predict things will go badly, expectations leave me feeling blue in anticipation. When I predict events will unfold precisely as I’d planned, expectations inevitably leave me feeling disappointed.
I decided to set aside my Valentine’s Day expectations of happy or sad, of good or bad, and instead hold the expectancy of a good day. I used my analytical mind to protect my thin-skinned heart. I retrieved a favorite well-worn tool, list-making, and gathered my evidence.
By noon, the data showed nearly a dozen “goods” of the morning.
I awoke well-rested. (Never to be taken for granted)
The avocado for my morning toast was perfectly ripe.
A birthday gift I’d ordered three months prior finally arrived.
I saw the precious smile of my co-worker’s visiting toddler.
So far my experiment was yielding promising results.
As the day progressed, I felt the hearts of others also managing expectations of the day. One whose Facebook feed revealed the image from a Valentine’s Day gone by – champagne and roses from the husband who no longer was hers. Another whose beloved was on a Caribbean island without her. The opening of my heart to theirs consoled my own mildly aching heart.
By late afternoon I lost track of my list but the good kept coming. A valentine text from my son. (Okay, so it was in response to mine, but I still claim it as good.) A bit of blue sky peeking out after too many gray sky days. A surprise valentine with photos of the smiles of my two favorite little neighborhood girls.
In my happy married years, a valentine evening would have been preceded by detailed plans for everything from the red table linens to the red lingerie and all things lovely in between. Now,
being experienced at navigating my melancholy days, I had a plan for putting aside my gloom: Tuesday night dance class.
As most couples in the class opted in favor of private plans, only a half dozen students showed up to learn the mambo moves Elena had in store. I got paired with Arturo, a natural dancer who smiled at my clumsiness, counted the steps aloud for my benefit, and reminded me it was all about having fun. More evidence of my expectancy of a good day.
As I headed toward the door, a fellow classmate asked, “Say, didn’t you used to be married to John?” For all of my efforts to escape the feelings that days of meaningful memories can bring, here I was face to face with them. I surrendered to my sadness.
I took in the moment. I felt the longing of days gone by. I drove home on this winter night vowing to continue to seek more days of happy expectancy, some sadness and expectations notwithstanding. I was early to bed, looking forward to awaking well-rested.
I would like to acknowledge Coach Ingrid Martine for her contribution to this blog.
Very poignant, Susan. Cudos to you for being determined to have a good day! Not always an easy task.
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