It’s the beginning of the year. It’s also been more than 13 months since we moved across a continent and an ocean. It should be a time for reflections but I’ve been refusing to do it. So many friends and family have been asking for updates and I don’t want to disappoint them, but mainly, I don’t want to disappoint myself. I refuse to stop, think and evaluate this year because it’s been much harder than anticipated. To be fair, the last two months of various illnesses have definitely contributed to this discouraging feeling and easily convinced me to procrastinate. But the time has arrived, so I’ll just write down three thoughts that were “given” to me (not necessarily consciously) and that will be food for reflections for the next little while…
1) I was raised within a family with very high expectations and I still have them, expecting a lot from myself and my loved ones. I also learned, through rough experiences and incredibly loving people, that every time I set some fixed expectations (high, of course!), there is no doubt I’m going to be disappointed. Not too long ago I came across an article about expectations: “Until we stop with pre-established expectations about how we think things should go, we will be aimed at getting a bigger pain in the search for a greater pleasure. In order to live in a healthy condition and steady growth, we should learn how to let go of expectations. It’s silly thinking that we will find lasting happiness trying to change things to make them conform to our desires.”
2) I was recently reading a post from a pregnant friend. She is listing almost every day all the activities she does and her accomplishments on top of “gestating a fetus”. It really made me think of how much I focus on what I’m not able to accomplish at the end of the day, how much of what I would have liked to do, all the negative talk in my mind…instead of the positive sense of fulfillment. (Just to be clear, I’m not pregnant). Is it a matter of high expectations or a “push” from this society that expects people to multitask 24-7? Probably both…
3) A few weeks ago we had a friend visiting. We’ve kept in touch here and there in the last 10 years but haven’t seen each other in a very long time. We updated her about the last couple of years, our big dreams, and the challenge of constantly having to recalibrate our expectations. She was pretty astonished: “Wow! You two are remarkably resilient! You changed your life completely within a very short time and haven’t given yourself any credit. You deserve to take a breath and rethink all the accomplishments you achieve!”
There are times when the difficulties, unmet expectations, internal and external conflicts, misunderstandings and fears, make me question the choices of which I was firmly convinced, and in fact it is very useful to me. It helps me to understand if my choices and my behaviors are in line with my values and correct them, if necessary.
Enough of my random thoughts on a cold January day. I want to leave this prayer for 2017 to you all, may it become true for everybody:
“Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good
and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil,
but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments,
nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy,
and to be able to share it with others.” (Prayer for Good Humor by St.Thomas More)