Tag Archives: #gratitude

Expectations

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‘Expectation’ by Gustav Klimt, 1905

Over the years, I’ve written about some of life’s certainties — birth, death, time and change. You can guarantee we will all experience those things.

Birth and death are at the centre of our existence. We are birthed onto this Earth, to leave it again. No matter where we’re from, how much material wealth we may accumulate or what colour our skin, the scent we exude. Us humans are birthed into this world to die. Animals and plants too.

Birth and death occur in tandem with time, which leads to change. Life is in a constant state of flux, sometimes deep and challenging, other times gloriously joyous and uplifting, tender and sensuous. Change happens as time passes, ticking over every minute, day and year. Tick, tick, tick …

Rushing, darting, dashing, being somewhere, anywhere, and nowhere. Time, there’s never enough, we always want more. Time to act and do. Time to be and play and have fun, time to walk and run.

Faster, quicker, need it yesterday … I don’t have time. More and more, more time to work and more work. Time’s ticking, always ticking.

Time to feel, time to heal. Time to see and be. Time to love and be loved, and feel the love. Time to feel sad and hurt and heal from the sad and hurt. Or, we can have too much time. To think, and do nothing. The trepidation in time.

Life’s certainties don’t stop there though because we also have the dreaded: Expectations. We all have them, no matter how hard we try not to.

Expectations come from the act of expecting, wanting, requiring. Demanding. They can be ego driven, selfish and ungracious, and can creep in like muted millipedes found curling in a corner of your home. Black, hard little critters. Or they can thrash in as a heavy, weighted monster that won’t budge.

The problem with expectations is when they aren’t met, they lead to all sorts of frustration and disappointment. I’d go so far as to say that unmet expectations can be killers. You set your mind to attaining something, and when you can’t achieve it, become disheartened.

It becomes doubly so, tripled and quadrupled even, when that something hindering your ability to reach your expectation is something you have no influence over. An expectation of a sound sleep can be lost to a neighbour playing loud music at 2 am; the expectation of juicy apricots in summer can be lost once insects bore into the 20-year-old apricot tree, and dies. Most obvious is COVID-19. Without banging on about the obvious impacts, the expectation of many to carry on with our ‘usual’ life has been quashed by the outside influence of COVID-19. Many expectations pre COVID-19 are today unmet, and the impact of that can be debilitating.

Unmet expectations aren’t necessarily in the extreme and can be as simple as expecting to walk your puppy around the block in 15 minutes, only to be gone double that time because your puppy wants to sit or chase a butterfly, or refuses to walk and instead wants to bite at the lead.

Of course, it can go the other way too. That rascally puppy who runs amuck in the backyard, chews the skirting board of your home, might be the epitome of the model walking dog. The expectation of mayhem and mischief on a walk is a pleasant surprise when the puppy walks tall.

The challenge is in managing those expectations, especially when they’re unmet, is letting go of them before they twist you into a tourniquet that’s too tight to untie.

Some say to have a goal and set a plan in action to achieve it, but be prepared to change the plan if it isn’t achieving your goal.

Perhaps it’s as a friend said to me the other day, who believes everything derives from and is love. Life is about ‘the love of the self, to become sovereign to the self.’ I liked that and took it to mean being respectful of one’s self in all one’s entirety, in all beauty and flaw. And to be grateful for what is, appreciate who you are and what you have and don’t have.

In our constant motion of time, look around and breathe in what we see, drink it in and savour it, whether bad, sad or positively blissful and everything in between.

Wonder at life. Be inspired by the expanse of red soil that meets a horizon of blue in the distance, find the awe in the incandescence of snow laden mountains illuminating at 2am in an Arctic winter. The natural world is full of marvel and being in awe of it puts expectations into perspective and can shrink them into a manageable insignificance.

Sit with a young child that’s waking in your arms, and appreciate their faith in your love and protection. Meditate with the birds calling in sunrise, or fall asleep to waves that never stop their rumble into shore. Take a three hour lunch with a friend on a sunny winter’s day, chat with someone who has known you over lifetimes; appreciate kindness.

I love this quote from Julia Baird in her book, Phosphorescence: on Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark, for it’s a reminder to take the time to appreciate:

We need to learn how to regard and pay attention, to mine our inner strength, and accept the possibility that we can emerge from pain and grow by moonlight — in times of darkness — that we can push ‘right back’ on winter and find inside a summer. We also need to seek and settle upon a purpose in life — something many people seem to discover once they fully open their eyes (Baird, 2020, p. 204).

Perhaps that’s another of life’s certainties: learning how to let go of, and manage expectations.

Maybe it’s a case of expect the imperfection in life, where expectations are one of them. And take note of those moments of satisfaction and fulfillment in simple pleasures.

 

 

The captivating soul

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‘Frau mit blauen Augen’, Kees van Dongen, 1955

Tall or short, thin or round. Blue-eyed, brown-eyed, maybe even one of each for a touch of the unique. Blonde hair, brunette, curly or shaved head, egg-shell or olive complexion, toned or not, big or small, great and immensely tremendous.

No, there’s got to be more, much more than the pink-iced façade studded in silver beads of sugar and laced in a string of fancy frosting.

Brash and brazen, shy and bashful … an observer, a chatterbox, a listener, a really good listener for sure. Now we’re getting somewhere. Accomplished in the art of listening is a necessity.

But more, there’s got to be more, something beyond the veneer of superficial.

A listener and conversationalist, the epitome of a good communicator who can express thoughts and ideas. And feelings. Justly and rationally, and with reason and a sense of justice and fairness. And with an ability to think on the philosophy of life and way up its nuances. Thoughtfully.

Someone that reads and can read to me and I to them. Head resting on lap, fingers twirling and swirling through hair. Sharing is caring after all.

Birds call, outside breezes through dreamy aqua sheers as a gentle confirmation.

Confident and self-assured, but positively not cocky. Not wanky or manky or any kind of minx … no thanks, that’s just not for me.

One who is considerate and gentle, understanding of others and shows compassion for their needs. It comes with a kindness, generous and selflessness spirit, a giving without expectation. That’s true nobility, in the giving. Now we’re forming a picture.

The ability to be vulnerable too, with the capacity to manage that vulnerability as that shows full disclosure. Honesty. It’s an imperative that goes to the top. Honesty is the sexy. But so is the glint of cheeky grin and sharp wit.

The fun, there’s got to be fun and joy and laughter, and a sharing in that. Time at the beach, for walking, swimming and lazing. Kayaking and snorkelling, sailing and wind surfing, the adventure in trying the new, seeing the new through eyes of awe.

A crack of thunder, a hint of coming rain wafts through the window.

Travelling, discovering new places, exploring cultures and all that makes up our world environment, the extremes of heat and ice cold, and those damn elusive Northern Lights! Riding through snow in little visibility, or motor cycling winding mountain roads lined in green terraces of water and rice and humidity. The chance for real breath, savouring it all until it seeps in and becomes part of you, forms you as an ever evolving you.

Art and music, good food and drinks. Dancing, theatre, the chance for creativity to infuse any part of life and thinking you so desire, even in the simplest of things. Gardening and weeding, especially of the inherent and intrinsic. We all need it in our own way, as an appreciation of what is, and without the gluttony of the selfish.

And in the experiencing of all that together.

But, there’s more. There’s the sharing of the emotional that’s so vital. An emotional intellect. A sharing and understanding of the highs and lows, the distresses and successes. The bolstering and support. Mustn’t forget that, especially on those solo quests.

Rain washes in to define a picture more rounded.

And an appreciation and encouragement of independence. Independence to think and do, be the individual with an identity. And an independence to be found in the sharing as well. There’s such freedom in that, as the outstretched wings of the Pegasus. Wings unclipped.

It’s the kiss though, that’s the real cherry on top of the icing studded in silver beads of sugar and laced in a string of fancy frosting. The kiss that can tell all, express a feeling that can’t be defined. And the embrace that can hold the weight of the world.

That’s the gold gilding the cherry in a picture that’s simple really, of a most captivating soul.

 

That black hole of love

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A gut in endless summersault, a head in spin … an attack is now. It’s personal. It’s senseless. Humans can be senseless, actions and words can be careless and pointless, even if they come from a place of  passion. Whether that’s misguided or not, whether I understand or not, is irrelevant.

Then from nowhere in this tumult that rages as a wild sea, mother instinct kicks in and big sister armour spikes out. The loyal friend shell hardens, ready for any skirmish that may come. Passion heats as a cauldron of boiling oil and the fierceness of the King of the Jungle emerges.

Yet underneath the layers of shields and barbs of thousands, a stomach still wrenches in subterranean caverns, over craggy mountains jagged that scrape any soul bare, through bogs of black and bracken that render all motion, motionless … those children, leave those children alone!

And suddenly, physical reactions to instincts that aren’t seen give way to a heart that needs no armour, a heart that is the core of existence. A heart knows the depths of love of family and friends where limits are non-existent. A heart knows that in the slightest breath of a whistle call, those hearts will come together to become a black hole of love with its own life force. It’s the black hole of love of the universal family where distance is no barrier and passion is its own entity that runs deep through a complex stratal network that can’t be unravelled.

It’s obvious as we stand to farewell one of our own, that we are who we are, in numbers that double and triple, as beings that reverberate beyond this space.

And in that moment, the first spike of armour retracts, the shell begins to soften. Fear starts to dissipate into that black hole of love of the universal family, a love that in times of farewell shines from crevices normally submerged. There’s no place for fear when a family unites in invisible armour. Our children are fine. Our armour together is invincible.

Mr Findlay

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All kinds of people and events help shape us through life. Births and deaths, loves and separations, friends … Some are more impacting than others. They can elate us or shatter the core of our foundations to move them distances away. Permanently. And sometimes to precariously balance on the edge of a drop the height of Mt Everest.

Sometimes, the impact of those ‘movers and shakers’ might not be seen for years, even though the reverberations of their influence can last a life time. It’s not until you take a sudden glance back over your shoulder one day that you see something entirely unrecognisable, a you of yesterday. It’s a stark reminder of what life is really all about.

Movers and shakers come and go without notice and can make repeat visits. I discovered this the other day when I turned around after checking my son in for his physiotherapist appointment.

‘Monika, it’s you,’ I heard a comforting voice say. It was the kind of voice your heart knows before your brain can register. It took little effort to see the same bushy-bearded man I met more than 35 years ago! Our eyes locked into recognition, my whole body relaxed into an auto pilot way before my brain understood.

‘Mr Findlay!’ was all I could say. A hearty cuddle and kiss took me immediately back to this wonderful, life-saving man’s office, even though we stood in the middle of a medical surgery. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in his very grey office as I grieved the loss of my father. I’d howl and sob and occasionally stare at the crinkled cream venetian blinds in his office when I didn’t want to listen to reason. And there was Mr Findlay, consoling me. Talking to me and listening to my every word. I could say anything and everything I said was okay.

I looked at Mr Findlay staring at me and smiling through that same bushy beard, although now grey. The same voice and demeanour, same body silhouette. It was like I’d been flung back in time.

But there was something else for beyond the surface, my heart knew his heart. All my facades fell away and even with my son beside me, I felt the vulnerable child again. Nothing mattered and I was safe.

We chatted about life, his life and family and mine. I hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years when I had written a dedication piece on my favourite teacher teaching me to grieve. For me, I couldn’t have written about any other school or life teacher but Mr Findlay. He was touched by that.

After a quick chat, we were called into our appointments. We cuddled and kissed again but it didn’t feel like a good bye that would be forever. It was more a, ‘see you next time’.
If it wasn’t for Mr Findlay’s care and time all those years ago, I may not be where I am today. I know I wouldn’t be. He guided me those next few years over that rocky road of grief, holding out his hand when I fell down, guiding me through the multitude of hair-raising forks in the road I had to decipher, and grabbing hold of me when I was about to fall to depths unseen.

You can’t live life without those movers and shakers and aside from my parents, Mr Findlay was probably my greatest life influencer. He was the mover and shaker that stabilised me. Although my grandfather lived beyond my father, he was my grandfather. Mr Findlay was the closest role model I had as a father.

Thanks Ray. If I created only a fraction of the influence you had on me, I’d be very humbled. X

Takeaway truth

Here’s a striking truth:

‘When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It’s not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It’s up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside.’ ~ Your Daily Woo

After reading that, I saw a feed on Twitter asking whether anyone knew of someone who had committed suicide and whether acceptance and unconditional love would have made a difference.

Pretty powerful question. I rarely respond to anything on Twitter but felt so compelled that I tweeted yes, but that it was far more complicated than having acceptance and unconditional love.

And yet within that complicated mix, something has to come from inside of us.

For me, that inside is about centring and sitting still to allow and feel all that is around me, to connect with my heart, myself as well as with others. In doing that, I feel gratitude for all that I have and experience, all that is around me. That wonderful grounding is something I’ve written about before in Keep It Simple Stupid.

Centring and connecting with my heart allows me to acknowledge and appreciate the love a teenage boy has for his younger brother while looking after him one night as he vomits into the toilet, and the love he has for me for not wanting to wake me. Connecting with my heart allows me to feel a passion and desire that can burst through me and remind me that I’m alive. It allows me to feel the deep, loving sentiment behind receiving flowers because I’ve had a battering week and not because it’s Valentines Day and that’s what you do on Valentines Day. And of course, it opens me up to feel my heart shatter.

Connecting with inside of ourselves means acknowledging that us humans are who we are with all our idiosynchronicities, it’s the real us without any outside influence.

When we can acknowledge that we can find love within us, we have what we need to live on this Earth. We find acceptance in that love and everything we need to survive and live, is inside of us.

There are no magic answers or solutions to life or living in this world. Sometimes we make it more complicated than it actually is and we can live a lifestyle that is so fast and materialistic, that we seek answers and expect them to be there instantly and without having to do anything for them.

But if we can simply connect to our centre, our heart, through meditation, exercise, sitting still or doing anything to help us stop and be grateful for all that is around us, we can learn to be in our own peace, to follow our heart in what makes us truly happy. We can find our self-love and with that, we will love beyond ourselves.

Our human spirit and soul naturally evolve and each day brings an element of evolution, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Some may evolve faster or slower than others, we’re all individual with our own paths to travel. That’s what makes the world so beautiful.

So if we connect with our heart, our inside, we have everything we need, and it comes effortlessly – love, hope, peace, faith, forgiveness, courage, gratitude, wisdom, and encouragement. We have divine love within us.

 

Takeaway truth | moni schott | Blog Post | Red Room

Takeaway truth | moni schott | Blog Post | Red Room.

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