Managing Expectations; Week 25 in the Time of Coronavirus

I have to admit, I usually get disappointed on my birthday.  I make lofty plans and then things don’t go as planned and it saddens me.  Not this year.  My birthday was this past week.  The days leading up to my birthday were terrific.  I got good news from a friend.  Larry and Alex cooked beautiful meals. I was able to take a scenic bike ride on Randall’s Island.  Since it was humid the weather kept people indoors.  And, because I rode close to the river there were breezes coming and going.  I found work inspiring.  And, I had little planned for my birthday.  I was not anxious that my plans needed to turn out.  I took care of myself, as best I could, miscommunicating at times, or forgetting commitments I made.  But I was not hard on myself.  Heck, we’re living through a pandemic.  

And, when my birthday came, I was able to go to Central Park for an early morning run before starting work.  I was in a good mood, so I didn’t tally the runners without masks.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel unsafe.  Then I made myself breakfast and went to work.  I enjoyed my frozen latte thanks to my blender.  And, when work was finished, I wrote briefly, met Larry and we kept our dinner plans even though rain was predicted.  Just in case I was armed with a rain poncho and umbrella.  

Ever since March, when Covid-19 limited New York businesses, we have eaten at home or in the garden on occasion. So this was our first time in the pandemic we were dining out in the city.  Hesitant at first, we went anyway.  It was lovely.  Dinner was delicious, it was a short walk home, and the rain came well after we were enjoying cake in our apartment.  Thank you Caroline’s Cakes and Gold Belly.  And, I remain so grateful for the birthday wishes I received on social media.  I’m not on the platforms often given my schedule.  Yet, the love and power of these days gives me a great appreciation for connecting with family and friends.  It’s a remarkable reminder of all the good out in our world.  

I know I’ve been told that letting go is the way to go.  It’s a central premise of all mindfulness practices.  But we cannot “do” letting go.  I certainly can’t.  It’s a state of being that comes following clinging onto beliefs too hard and for too long. Behavior that is all too familiar.   I don’t know why it took the Coronavirus to stop trying so hard to have things go right.  But the pandemic and all that goes with it has allowed me to enjoy simple pleasures that have been deeply meaningful.  Lowering my expectations this past week brought about unexpected gifts.  The challenge now is to manage my expectations on keeping this up.  Because holding on to letting go is a sure way to perpetuate that old, unworkable cycle.  I’ll let you know how it goes. 

 

Self-Care Tips:  

  • Ask yourself what it would take to let go of something that isn’t working for you.  Just ask the question.  No need to do anything yet.  
  • When looking in the mirror, smile at yourself.  And, you’ll see that you’re smiling back.
  • Remember an act of kindness and remember how it felt to be the recipient or the giver of that act.  Find an opportunity to give of yourself in an unexpected way.
  • Take a walk in nature, if you can.  And, if you can’t, see if you can find nature in your environment.  
  • Use pen and paper to write a note, a journal entry, a letter, etc.  See if it changes how you think and how you write.  

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