I had hoped to make it to my mat earlier, but it wasn’t until 9:00 rolled around that I was able to get there. Practicing to the rhythm of the washing machine, sharing my class with my favorite student, there was nowhere else I’d rather be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations lately. It turns out I, like many of us, have very high expectations of myself and others when it comes to work. And while on many levels, I think it can be a positive thing to have high expectations, it can also be a dangerous thing. Sometimes, I find myself so attached to the expectations of how I want things to go or how I perceive others expect things to go that I can miss out on the beauty of what is actually happening.
When the studio first opened in my home and then in its new home in Kensington, I had a very clear idea of the “vibe” I intended. I wanted it to feel laid back, welcoming and safe. A place to explore without judgment or feeling judged. In some ways, a place without expectations, but simply a place to go and be. I think on some level, we’ve achieved this, but on another level, this is something impossible to achieve. Each day it becomes increasingly clear to me that I can’t control how everyone is going to feel when they walk through our doors. I can’t control others’ expectations of themselves or of the studio. And ironically, I find that as time moves forward, I want even more to control these things. Often, so much of what we are trying to do is in fact anticipate and then meet these expectations that we can’t control.
The constraint of expectations doesn’t just influence me as a business owner. I’m finding in my other work life, as a struggling doctoral student, I can be paralyzed by my expectations of myself , many of which I know, deep down, are not even based in reality. Some of the expectations I feel myself constrained by are thoughts, twice, three times removed from an actual situations; they are stories my mind has created about how the process is supposed to go and what it means that it’s not going that way. And yet, even though I know they are (to my embarrassment) figments of my imagination, there they are.
Whether you own your own business, work for one or many bosses, are in the process of searching for work , a student, working to meet the needs of your family, or some combination of the above, I’m sure that you too are always dealing with the pressure of your expectations and the expectations you perceive from others. I don’t have a magic answer for how to deal with them, because I don’t think there is one. On one level we may need expectations for growth and development or just simply to get things done. On the other, our expectations may hold us back from growth and development or paralyze us. I think the secret is recognizing that our thoughts have both of these powers and to do our best to continue creating awareness around them.
So, next time you have a strong reaction at work, either toward yourself or others maybe try taking a few moments to pause and breathe. When your mind has settled a bit, ask yourself: What expectation am I reacting to? Is it one that serves me? If it is an expectation that is meaningful for you, maybe repeating the following mantra: be (on each inhale) here (on each exhale) for a few minutes so that you can separate the expectation from reality and approach it productively. If it is an expectation that doesn’t serve you, maybe try: let (on each inhale) go (on each exhale) for a few breaths.
And know that you are not alone! Even the most perfect work situation gets bogged down in expectations once in a while!
Over the last few months I’ve been experiencing some pretty big “life stuff.” You know, those life-altering events that fundamentally change who you are and how you look at the world. You know what I mean.
I find that during these times the past somehow always becomes a little bit clearer. What’s that saying? Something about having 20/20 vision when you look back? Anyway, during these times, I often feel a strong connection with the universe. I am not talking religion here, as I am not particularly religious, but I mean a strong connection to the idea that life is bigger than just my day to day, that things have a way of working out just as they should, even if the outcome is not always pleasant. I can look back at some of the things I’ve gone through previously and say, “oh, now I understand why I had to go through that,” even though at the time “that” most likely caused me tremendous anxiety, among other things.
The interesting thing is, when I feel this connection with the universe, with this trust in how it all unfolds, it always feels like it is going to last forever. There is a sense that now I understand and I’ll never go back. But, of course, I always go back. Not in a depressing “nothing ever changes” kind of way, but that strong connection simply cannot last. And, while it’s hard to go back to a place of ambiguity, of confusion and frustration on a day-to-day basis, I know deep down it’s best that it doesn’t last, because then I wouldn’t recognize and appreciate when it surfaced.
When I put together the idea for this blog I was feeling that strong connection. So, it seemed only natural that every Friday I would have something important to write about, some lesson the universe taught me about life. As today wore on, I realized I didn’t have a big lesson to share, the universe has been unsurprisingly quiet this week. And then I realized, that’s the lesson. The wheels are still turning, life is still moving forward, day by day. I don’t need to see the big picture on a regular basis, I just need to trust that when I need to see it and understand it, I will.
We often have an idea of how things are supposed to be. We have expectations for every facet of our lives: work, family, self, etc. Rarely does the real thing live up to these expectations. And, in many cases, these expectations only change when we go through a big life shift, or when we feel a strong connection to the bigger picture. I think what I’m realizing today is that even though my expectations may not shift on a daily basis, life is still happening, I am shifting in small ways. Even though we can’t always see it, the universe is always turning. I don’t have to run to keep up or to try to force myself to move in a different direction, against the weight of gravity. I just need to stand, balanced, strong and stable and ride the ride.
Hello Again! It’s been a while! But, I’m back! During my hiatus from blogging, I’ve been giving some serious thought to what I’d like to put out into the world. In truth, this question isn’t just about my blog, but about my business and my research as well. It’s been quite a wild ride over the last few years. Pounding through the coursework and early research requirements of my sociology doctorate only to realize (after spending months collecting data for my dissertation) that I wasn’t sure what I would do with this degree once I obtained it. Then taking a bit of a break–you know, a relaxing breather– I started my own business, growing it first out of my home and then moving it to a wonderful retail space last September. And, now, here I am again.
I love running this business, but I also love the research that initially inspired me to go for my doctorate in sociology–research investigating gender, work, and family issues both domestically and abroad. Luckily, what I’ve come to realize is this: this dilemma can have a happy ending. Whew! Although I’m still figuring out the details, it is clear that there is plenty of room to marry my passions, hopefully helping to bring peace and balance to men and women struggling to deal with the competing demands of work, family, and their own personal needs along the way.
Here’s where this blog comes in! Each week, I’ll explore different facets of these larger categories. Hopefully with your help, we can look at the changing shape of our work, family, and personal lives, accept them while remaining open to their change and growth, and find ways to develop and maintain peace and happiness amidst the craziness!
Here’s my weekly agenda:
Monday: Lessons From Work
Tuesday: Lessons From Home
Wednesday: Lessons From Family
Thursday: Lessons From Lola
Friday: Lessons From the Universe
Weekend: Integrating This Week’s Lessons
Please feel free to share your own insights and lessons along the way!