Lowering my expectations

Granny’s response to a lot of things was, “I ain’t getting my hopes up.”

I thought this was kind of morose and sad – we’re supposed to be hopeful, aren’t we?

“Why?” was her response. “When I do, I always get disappointed.”

Mama, on the other hand, tries to see the good in things and when stuff doesn’t work out, she tries to come up with some kind of divine reasoning.

“When something doesn’t happen the way you want it to, it’s just because something better is on its way,” Mama will say.

Being reared by both of these redheads has caused me to fluctuate between the extremes.

On one hand, I am always looking for the positive; on the other, I have started to understand Granny’s mantra.

And let me tell you, 2017 has been a year of disappointment.

I tend to do a lot of reflecting this time of the year and think about the past 12 months and how I want the coming year to be.

I hoped – no, make that knew – that 2017 was going to be amazing.

And it hasn’t.

Far from it.

As this year has gone by, I have realized some cold, hard truths about a few friends, making my circle even smaller.

Instead of trying to hold on to these outgrown relationships, I remembered Granny’s words.

“Not everyone will do for you the way you do for them,” she told me more than once, probably after she had experienced a personal lesson. “If you expect them to do what you would do, you gonna be sorely disappointed. They won’t. But they will be there on your doorstep whenever they need you.”

She was right. This year has shown me, yet again, the friends that only were around when they needed me and when I needed them, they dismissed me.

Boy, did it hurt.

“Ain’t no need for it to hurt,” Granny foretold. “Better to know what you’re dealing with upfront than not. I ain’t got time for people like that.”

A few opportunities I had been excited about turned out to be huge disappointments this year.

More than a few.

Some came to an end and some never really worked out the way they were supposed to.

“Look for the things that went right,” Mama gently reminded me.

It was an impossible task.

Mama didn’t believe me. I assured her it was.

So, in the coming year, I am lowering my expectations.

It’s not that I am being a Negative Nellie.

Like Granny, I am not going to get my hopes up about things; again, not trying to be negative.

Just go with me on this for a second.

I am actually going to look at things from a realistic standpoint.

I am not going to project my personal attitudes and ways of doing things on others. Other people may have their own thing going on that has nothing to do with me.

I am going to be a bit more grounded in my approach.

Instead of thinking one event was going to be so life-changing, I was going to put the focus on me and what I can do to change my life.

I think we tend to build things up in our minds sometimes where we make them so much bigger and grander than what they are.

We think that one job, that one person, that one something is going to make all these changes in our lives and when it doesn’t, we feel like Granny often did.

“Nothing goes the way I want, so why should I get excited about this?” she said more than once.

Mama countered with, “Because sometimes you have to be excited about something, Mama. It’s good for our souls to get our hopes up and be excited. We have to have hope to hold on to.”

Maybe that was just it.

Granny had gotten her hopes up so many times and it didn’t happen the way she wanted.

I know. I’ve been there. Heck, I am wallowing in the shallow end of the pool right now.

But I am trying, with all I’ve got, to find that hope my sweet yet crazy Mama preaches about.

So, I am setting the bar just a tiny bit lower.

I think lowering my expectations may be the answer.

Not that I am thinking I will be disappointed.

But maybe so I can be happily amazed.

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The first ever non-diet resolution (1/6/2016)

This is maybe the first ever time I have not started the New Year with some grand resolution of losing at least 10 pounds.

It’s not because I didn’t really make “resolutions” this year, but because I discovered the other definition of resolution was “contentious matter” and that’s what they seemed like to me.

No, I decided I wasn’t going to mention a diet at all this year.

Do I need to lose weight?

Oh, my thighs yes –I need to lose weight.

I always think I need to lose weight, even when I didn’t but this time, I did.

But this year, I wanted to be more mindful in attacking the objective instead of just writing at the top of a list “Lose weight.”

I wanted to figure out why I had gained weight to begin with.

There’s some behavior involved that if I don’t deal with it, will only keep recurring.

I knew my behaviors too well.

I am an emotional eater, which means if I am happy I eat; if I am sad, I eat; if I am nervous, I eat. Whatever the emotion – I eat. It’s much better than addressing the real cause behind the emotion, at least temporarily.

Add to that food allergies/intolerances and sensitivities and I have a perfect storm to be chubby.

I can eat something and blow up like a puffer fish.

I know this and I eat a piece of cheesecake anyway.

Then I spend days in agonizing pain, angry at myself for eating something I shouldn’t anyway.

Focusing on a diet that promises I will lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not going to help me.

“I don’t think you need to lose weight,” Mama said on New Year’s Day.

“Mama, the only female in this house who likes being chubby is Doodle,” was my reply. It was true. The pittie mix was proud of her curves. As a matter of fact, I need to get some of Doodle’s attitude. “I am going to get back to my normal weight but I am not setting it as a resolution. If I do I’ll give up by the third week of January along with everyone else.”
And then, when Valentine’s Day hits, I will just pig out on candy in red foil hearts because hey, I had already failed at my resolution, so I may as well eat 37 pieces of chocolate.

So this year, instead of trying to do some crazy crash diet and getting mad at myself because I broke down and had a spoon of Nutella at 10 a.m., I am going to be mindful.

I am going to listen to my body and myself – if I am eating out of an emotional response, what is the emotion?

I will be mindful in how I feel and respond to those feelings.

What do I need to deal with?

Is there a better way I can process the issue besides eating?

None of the stuff I know I can’t have, either.

My health needs to be a priority. Pain can be well, crippling. I have hurt so badly I could barely move. It’s not fun. My husband will tell me if something hurt him that bad, he wouldn’t eat it; I tell him I wish it were that easy. It’s not.

Probably most importantly, I am also going to stop hating myself.

Instead of beating myself up when I do need a spoon of Nutella – who doesn’t? – I will process it and move on.

I am not going to associate guilt and shame with food any more.

I’ve done it long enough and it’s probably a huge part of the problem.

So no more of that nonsense.

If I eat a piece of cheesecake knowing I will hurt for three days and be puffy, I am just going to eat the dang cheesecake.

Even more so, I am going to enjoy it.

Nope, I told everyone, I was not going to list ‘lose weight’ as my resolution this year.

Instead, I am going to take control of this whole torment with food once and for all.

It’s one resolution I can stick to.

 

happy new year 2015

My year-end wrap up (12/31/2014)

happy new year 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is well, over.

This year has flown by – but every year has gone by at warp speed since I have officially become an adult.

Officially being an adult means, I have to pay for, hide and wrap presents for a child.

The rest of the year seems to be divided amongst the two seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

I don’t know what 2015 will hold – with the exception Marty McFly will arrive at some point in October in a DeLorean (someone may want to tell him to tell the Doc to ditch the car when he returns to 1985) – but I know 2014 was nothing like I expected.

This year showed me how things can change so suddenly. I lost Granny in March, after just seeing her a few weeks earlier. I had no idea that day in February would be the last time I would see her. Had I known, I would have talked to her more, had one last argument between our stubborn, too familiar selves.

A few months later, the world lost Robin Williams. I was greatly saddened by his death, growing up with “Mork & Mindy,” complete with Mork’s rainbow striped suspenders. I wore them with my “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt when I was younger. I apparently wanted to support my favorite television shows in one fell swoop of branding failure.

Then, Joan Rivers passed away. I wasn’t a huge fan of Joan Rivers – if anyone remembers the huge long distance wars of the ‘80’s, they remember Rivers’ commercials, with her saying, “Can we talk?” as she belittled AT&T and hawked Sprint. Well, guess who Mama worked for? And as a card-toting member of the union, she was loyal to the core for whoever gave her a paycheck and helped her dress her baby in tacky t.v. themed clothing.

Posthumously, to Mama’s chagrin, I found myself liking the comedienne after hearing more about her life.

“She still promoted the competition,” Mama said, not as quick to forgive in death.

Some celebrities had their private photos hacked and leaked without their permission. People were quick to say how they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place; but mostly, people were wanting to know where to see them for free.

While the privacy and rights of some celebrities was horribly violated, the Internet came under attack when Kim Kardashian attempted to break it.

As we know, naked and nekkid are two different things – and she was, well, nekkid.

“Why? Oh, my Lord, why?” was all I heard as my child ran into my office.

“I saw a nekkid woman on the computer,” he cried. “Why?! Does she not have clothes? Please, tell me someone set a timer on the camera and was not standing there, taking a picture of that!”

My 10-year-old has seen a lot of unintentional nekkidness this year – first, when a news clip showed Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, and then when he was on a news site that had a link about Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet.

“Mama, I hate to say this,” he said moments later. “About that picture, of the naked woman…”
I waited for him to finish.

“I’m craving Krispy Kreme donuts now….”

I could see his point. There was a whole lot of glaze going on. We later found out that her posing nude helped Kardashian’s self-confidence. If the last few years have been her with low self-confidence, can you imagine what she’s going to do now?

2014 told me I was all about that bass, “‘bout that bass, no treble,” which is fine, but I don’t think I am shakin’, shakin’, like I’m supposed to.

Aside from pop culture happenings, I saw a lot of changes in myself.

I tried to release my vise-like grip and let my child take swimming lessons over the summer, convinced I didn’t want him to be like me and not learn to swim until nearly 20.

I was informed by Cole he wasn’t entirely too sure about the cleanliness of the water with so many strange bottoms in it. Did they bathe before swimming?

I decided to homeschool my child, which has been a challenge but worth it. He has told me he wasn’t sure he was getting the ‘full learning package’ so I went out and bought him four workbooks to enjoy.

It is also the end of 2014 and I still have yet to use algebra. But more than algebra, I found I hate Common Core math.

2014 gave us ice bucket challenges as a way to raise money and awareness. v

And selfies became an everyday – almost every hour – occurrence for some. Hashtagging also didn’t make things trend just because of the symbol formally known as the pound sign.

“Did you have a good year?” Granny would ask as the year would wind down. I told her once, no, I hadn’t and was ready to tell her all the things bad that had happened.

Instead, the old gal looked at me and snorted.

“Well, what did you do about it? If you didn’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t focus on what was wrong – look at what went right.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of your generation. Y’all a bunch of spoiled young’uns. I blame MTV. Y’all think everything is supposed to be flashy and exciting like one of them music videos. It’s not. Life ain’t pretty. It’s real. And it’s supposed to be lived to the fullest.”

With that perspective in mind, 2014 was lived to the fullest – full of love, learning and embracing change.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.

New Year’s Resolution: Baby Steps (12/31/2013)

     
 
 

I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions the last few weeks. I normally don’t make any – instead, I probably make ‘resolutions’ weekly or monthly, depending on what bad habits I need to break.

I decided I wanted 2014 to be the best year I have had in a while so I thought of what I wanted to change. And there’s plenty – I am the first to admit that I am fraught with neuroses, have the ability to nurse a grudge for decades and am just a mess all around.

The things I needed to change, to improve went beyond the usual “lose 15 pounds” and “get organized” resolutions.

But a girl has to take baby steps.

To start with, even though I am terribly superstitious, I think I am going to forego the collard greens. I have been eating those putrid things for 40 years and have yet to see an increase in my bank account.

“Just think how bad it may be if you don’t eat them,” is Mama’s dire warning. Maybe so. But the smell reminds me of desperation and the taste isn’t much better.

That was baby step No. 1. I went deeper with my thoughts, but that’s pretty big for a girl to ditch a Southern tradition.

My friend Renee has been urging me for years to find an intention word for the year, a word to focus on that defines my year. Some years, I think my word, even though not intentional, is a cuss word that is muttered under my breath. Pick any of your favorite here – in fact, probably the worse it is, the more likely that is what I said. But I thought I really needed to find me a focus word.

“Allow,” “acceptance” and “forgiveness” all came to mind. I thought of the things I wanted to cultivate in myself the coming year. The things that needed some work.

“I think I need to quit imposing my expectations on others,” I commented to Lamar.

He didn’t respond so I continued.

“I think one of my problems, the reason I get so irritated with people, is they don’t do what I would do or what I think they should do. It makes me angry and I get all upset and disappointed. I need to stop doing that.”

Again, nothing.

I thought he should have at least said something to acknowledge that I wanted to make this change but he didn’t; and it irritated me, but I decided to let this one slide. I counted this as baby step No. 2. It would be good practice for New Year’s.

Another resolution was harder to define – how did I put into words that I wanted to learn how to react better to things. “To not freak out” sounded like a good resolution. So did “not over-react about things and have existential breakdowns.”

I would love to react from a place of centered calmness instead of the usual place of panic. Could I resolve to do that? Again, baby steps.

Did winning the lottery count as a resolution?

“I quit making them a long time ago,” a friend said when I asked her what she had listed. “They never stuck so why waste the time?”

Surely we didn’t go into our resolutions thinking we’d fail. Or did we? Maybe that was why we saw dozens of dozens of treadmills for sale on Craigslist by February.

We tend to think of the new year as a clean slate, a brand new start when really, we get that chance every day. I don’t know why we think we have to wait until Jan. 1 to make these changes, to take these baby steps, but we do.

Maybe it gives us that fresh calendar and marks a new beginning so we can feel confident.

Maybe it’s because we still have two months to hide under sweaters if we don’t hit the treadmill like we promise.

Maybe it’s so we have 12 whole months to make those changes.

But we have to start somewhere, sometime and Jan. 1 seems like the best day. And it has to start with me.

Baby steps, all the way.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/13694/