Great Expectations

bbc.co.uk

A therapist I knew once mentioned a client who kept her Christmas tree up all year because it made her feel good. The woman brings to mind Miss Haversham from Dickens’ Great Expectations who from the moment of her abandonment at the altar does the rest of her life in a wedding dress. But whether it’s the holiday or our grief we might strive to embalm, time will not yield. A steadfast river, it carries us through cycles that exact change in all its stages. Trees surrender in dormancy against winter’s crush, the dazzling death of leaves feeds the earth for rebirth, a wild chorus of bloom that must fade so it can return. Cycles command nature and our own bodies in countless ways, sustaining an invisible orchestra of functions, but time adds guideposts to our journey, inviting our mental and emotional participation in inevitable change.

Temporal landmarks, says motivational podcaster Mel Robbins in relaying the work of researchers, is a date, experience, or physical thing that triggers motivation for a fresh start as it marks the passing of time: birthdays, the birth of a child, divorce, the new year. When you make that birthday wish over the candle, you break—in Mel’s words—from your past self for a moment, feeling bigger and more hopeful. Bringing a child into the world means the birth of a parent, in it a new identification. Divorce also impacts your identity in its breach from the life you had as a couple. The separation pulls you from the past you and, if you allow it, from the things you’ve judged in yourself. January 1st hands you a blank slate where something ends and something else begins. It’s another mile in the road of your life.

While our Christmas Lady blissfully ignored the parade of seasons outside her window, and Miss Haversham plastered herself into the temporal landmark of an aborted wedding, most of us welcome the opportunities for pause and refueling that nature and time afford us. Though I’ve found that I white-knuckle the mere thought of change, the shifts in my life—and more importantly, in my thinking—have virtually always wrought better things, the mind-bending upheavals in particular. Cornered on the precipice, I’ve had little choice but to contrive a way down before I would somehow find myself on higher ground.

On the edge of a new year that had brought apprehension of change, I choose to flip that fear into anticipation of possibilities. My problem has been my hard-headed attempt to understand my life. In conversation with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman, Former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink has said, “Often the best way to contend with adversity is by taking action. The more you sit with the adversity with the upper hand inside your head, the worst it’s gonna get.” I need to get out of my head and act, physically step into small adjustments in my day that will revise my life in the coming year. I start by feeding myself doses of happiness, soaking in the sun-bathed breath of trees, tidying my desk so it invites clarity and creativity, writing against the groanings of a brain that’s begged oiling. Will I find my words again? Oh, enough. Enough self-doubt and naysaying.

I will fall away from this year. And meet myself high on the other side.

86 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. I’m delighted you’re back writing, blogging, and facing your fears Diana. It seems you are making a conscious choice to let go of the past to allow room for the new to enter and flourish. Kudos. Too often I get stuck in decisions, analysis, and fear while my life withers away. May you thrive in 2023.

  2. I’ve entered already the third year of widowhood after a marriage that lasted 64 years.
    I feel I live very much on bonus time. But I want to try to put it to good use by writing, and
    even still enjoying life as much as possible! 🙂

    Dear Diana, I am very much looking forward to read a lot more of your writing!
    And may you experience great joy in the coming years! 🙂
    Stay safe! HUGS from Uta in Australia

    💓🍀🌺

    • Hello, Aunty!!

      Though belated, my deepest condolences. That is an amazing gift, accomplishment (because love is skill), and loss. You shine with verve and wisdom, and I am glad you are making the most out of life. I do not know how often obligations will allow me my joy here in the coming year, and while I will honor that desire as best I can, I also will not allow guilt or frustration to hold me down when I can’t. I am done whipping myself. At least, I’m trying. Stay strong in the love of family and friends.

      Love and light to you.

      • Right, Diana, but 88 is quite old, isn’t it?

        Never mind being very old, I still feel young
        enough to live a bit more, one day at a time! 🙂

        Happy New Year 2023, Diana!

        🎈🎆🧨✨🍀

      • You prove my point. Your mind tells you you SHOULD be feeling older, but the rest of you rides a higher plane. The video ought to jump-start your new year. Compared to the centenarian, you are both a lot younger and still have plenty of room on your runway for your flight:

  3. Yoh, life takes us on a ride. Grabs us by the short and curlies sometimes. However life enfolds or upends, just know that you can do it, be it. Embrace whatever comes your way.
    Good luck Diana in 2023. Georgia sounds wonderful 🦋💥

    • Life pulled no punches these few years. Though the bruises remain, the blogging means my heart beats again. I shall embrace but also pave my path. Quite the dedicated blogging with an arm out, by the way. =) Heal up and rock on, Susan. Big hug.

  4. Enjoyed hearing from you again. And reading your words – beautiful writing there and I love that last sentence in the first paragraph. Good on you for making a choice, to flip fear into anticipation. A challenge is always an opportunity, and you can create that opportunity with time. Good luck with writing again. I also find myself thinking, ‘Will I find my words again?’ whenever I get stuck with writing. Sometimes all it takes is just to keep going. Best wishes for the year ahead.

  5. What beautiful writing. Yes, flip that fear and embrace those new opportunities. I wish you nothing but the best as we enter a new year. Sending love from down under. 💗

    • How nice to hear from you, Miriam. I appreciate the faithful support and encouragement. Every day is a tussle to get out of my own way. Keep the joy and take every bit of the best in the new year.

      Love and light.

  6. Dear Diana,

    Hello! I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful festive season as you enjoy a Happy New Year!

    May you find your new voice and resolutions in 2023, which will hopefully turn out to be very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, reading, thinking and publishing whatever topics that take your intellectual fancy and creative whim!

    Take care and prosper!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

      • Dear Diana,

        You are very welcome! I have joined the festive spirit and previously published one year ago a special post entitled “🎊 Season’s Greetings: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year 🎄🎅☃️” to celebrate the festive season. The post combines art, graphics, poems, music and animations. May you relish my post to your heart’s content, as I have yours. After all, it is the time of the year to send you some mellifluous text, glorious images and eye-catching animations presented in the following post:

        https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2021/12/25/seasons-greetings-merry-christmas-happy-holidays-and-happy-new-year/

        I hope that you will thoroughly enjoy the animations featured at my said post. In addition, please turn on your finest speakers or headphones, as my aforementioned festive post will be playing music to you automatically for about two minutes. May this post cheer you up too!

        Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

  7. One of the things that I love about the New Year is that it feels like a clean slate in some ways. It’s also a great way to create goals for yourself. Wishing you all the best in the New Year. Take care. Linda

  8. Hello my old friend! Thanks for visiting me, a lovely sign you are back in blogland. Your post so resonated with me, fitting perfectly into my life. You are so right, getting productive instead of wallowing is the right step forward. The first steps are always challenging, but finally finding a rhythm and beginning to move forward is like new breath moving toward new possibilities. Hugs D ❤

  9. How I have missed your writing, Diana. 🙂 So nice to hear from you again; your words and thoughts always leave me a bit reflective and excited with new thoughts and ideas. The beginning of a new year is a cycle I always enjoyed, a time think of adjustments to make in my life… and reading your words, I wonder if instead of carefully dancing around and avoiding falling over the precipice, taking a deep breath and jumping in head first may be the awakening a soul needs 🙂 Wishing the best for you, and I look forward to reading more in the coming year. Take care ~

    • Hi Randall! Thank you for the faithful time here, a treat for my new year. You have shown us you are plenty adventuresome for that plunge. =) I have been eyeing a chance to see where your wanderlust has taken you of late. It warms my heart to hear that thoughtful voice again. Stay healthy and joyful in the coming year, my friend. xoxo

  10. Diana,
    Where the heck have you been? Wonderful blog. Too often we hold back for fear of what might await us around the next bend. And in so doing we find ourselves rearended by a worse reality in our stagnant presumed secure state.
    As regards the birthday transition. I find it difficult to look ahead with an optimistic vision when one of my required b-day guests is the fire marshal to confirm that the number of candles on my cake is not in some way a violation of law.
    Please, keep writing kiddo, miss your excellent writing and viewpoint.
    -Alan

    • Ha ha ha, love the kiddo. I appreciate the sweet welcome, Alan.

      Each birthday of yours only proves you’re still going strong, capable of causing trouble. 😛 You’d better stay optimistic, or you’ll have to change your blog heading.

      My life upended and brought me across the country. I missed writing terribly and can only hope for the luxury of blogging again in the months ahead.

      Love and light,
      D.

    • I appreciate your connecting, Evelyn. Mel’s a bit too much for me, but I had to credit my sources. You have to hand it to her, the way she hits you between the eyes sometimes just when you need it. And though I don’t share Dr. AH’s worldview, I think he’s a treasure in cyberspace, a gust of fresh air with those smarts of his. And he’s such a modest man. Thank you for the feedback.

  11. I really need to give Dickens a second chance. Never could finish Little Dorritt. That sort of barred me from Dickens. 😉
    Best wishes for this year 2023 and the year of the Rabbit.

  12. Loved this post. The concept of temporal landmarks is fascinating, and if I sat down to think about it I’d likely find a bunch, repeating the process of hitting a “reset” button of sorts. It is both acknowledging the current moment and creating hope for future, better ones. Thanks for stopping by my site, and glad I stopped by here as well.

  13. Nice to meet you, sorry you’ve had a pause and praying that you are getting back into the groove! Never give up, if the words aren’t coming try another form of creativity … exercise, gardening, sewing, take care 🙂

      • Absolutely. He said it the other way just because the top-down effect has been the common focus, to say that it works the other way too when, stuck, we find ourselves unable to reprogram our mind.

      • but our mind is our most powerful tool so training that is our first requirement 🙂 Then we can reprogram it at will … gratitude and optimism make it more agile 🙂

      • No kidding on the first sentence. I appreciate your practiced wisdom in nurturing and guarding your mind. That we can reprogram it AT WILL I am not sure I agree with 100%. I can go almost to the end but allow for extenuating and trying circumstances as well as neurochemical imbalances that can make it very challenging to reroute your thoughts. That’s where Huberman and podcasters like Rich Roll come in. RR likes to say mood follows action, that sometimes we just have to DO even if we’re not emotionally or mentally there, only to find our brain will catch on. Amen on the gratitude and optimism.

      • yes when there is neurochemical imbalance I have seen my Teachers make someone ‘pretend’ laugh for hours … eventually they did laugh [at how stupid it seemed] and their endorphins kicked in. Meds help quicker but deeds can help 🙂

  14. Wow; I love that mindset shift. Endless possibilities await for us; the key is to shift the inner world to see, seize and use ’em to help all. Thanks for the inspired post.

    Ryan

  15. First of all, it’s so good to be reading your words again! I find that I no longer manage to keep up with this blogosphere as much as I would like to, but every time that I dive back in, I’m rewarded.
    “Expectations” can really be our enemies, can’t they? But letting go of them is easier said than done. I wish you many open-ended, curious days and moments this year, and many small, new (and perhaps surprising) actions.

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