My husband Michael, who exceeds my expectations, often says “It’s never what you expect.”
It’s never what you expect on Twitter.
It’s never what you expect, and based on that last tweet, you wouldn’t expect that one of my most important posts of the last eight-and-a-half years (and I never expected I would blog for more than a year) is titled “Very Unique.”
Is it never what you expect when I share my photos from the day before?
It’s never what you expect, and I expected to see a photo of the amazing meal Michael prepared last night — delicious vegetarian meat loaf with mushroom sauce, couscous, and vegetables — but apparently I fucked that up.
Here’s what I find when I search YouTube for “it’s never what you expect”:
If you were expecting some music here today, it’s never what you expect.
When I taught at Boston University over thirty years ago, I never expected that one of my students from back then would ask to have lunch with me today. Just a few months ago, I never expected that I would be dining out in a restaurant again.
It’s never what you expect and who knows what comments I’ll find when I check back later?
It’s never what you expect and how do people expect me to end my posts?
As I am well into my seventh year creating and sharing this daily blog, my expectations are that I would have blogged about this important topic of expectations before (which I did, here, here, and here).
I have no expectations about whether you will read those previous blog posts.
Yesterday, in a Coping and Healing group, the chosen topic was expectations.
My expectation is that my drawing, above, needs some explanation: There were big black boxes (which contained stage lights) blocking our view of the dancers’ feet, which was not what I expected. At first I was disappointed (“So you thought you could see!”) , but then I let go of that expectation (“Okay. It is what it is.”) and thoroughly enjoyed the performances.
I wonder if people have any expectations about my other photos from yesterday?
If you attend your high school reunion wearing your old prom outfit, that will probably go against people’s expectations.
My expectations, here and now, include the following:
People will express thoughts and/or feelings in comments, below.
The United States of America will have a new President by 2021.
There are certain things I can control and other things I cannot control.
Letting go of expectations helps me be more committed to the present moment.
On Day 2525 of this blog I will include the song “In The Year 2525.”
It’s all good that yesterday’s birthday was my fourth birthday since I went all in for this all good daily blog on January 1, 2013. It’s all good that all my good readers can read all about all those birthdays here, here, here, and here.
It’s all good that yesterday I thought and said, several times
This may be my best birthday ever!
It’s all good that I felt, thought, and said that sincerely yesterday, despite not all good things going as planned for my all-good birthday. For example, my all good vocal coach had to postpone our good plans to record me singing another all good audition song for the all good TV show, “The Voice.” Also, all good me was a good ten minutes late for my good appointment with an all good tax preparer. And, I got temporarily locked out of my all-good new office in Newton. But, it was all good.
It’s all good that I made this all good promise to myself, on the all good day I turned an all good 63 years old:
From now on, if things don’t go as planned, I will judge neither myself nor anybody else!
That’s going to make all good things better, don’t you think?
It’s all good that I took all these good photographs yesterday. Which all good photo do you think is the best?
It’s all good that I get to share all good things with all my good readers.
All good thanks to all good people who helped me celebrate my birthday yesterday, including my great son Aaron and my great boyfriend Michael. And all good gratitude to you — of course! — for reading all good things I share, here at the Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.
I wonder why not knowing the answer to a question bothers me? I certainly don’t expect other people to know everything. Indeed, I like to pose questions I don’t expect other people to easily answer, like
What is enough?
because I believe that’s helpful.
Maybe my negative reaction to not knowing the answer to a question means that I can’t get enough … what? Credibility? Trust in my ability to know enough?
I can’t figure this all out, this morning.
Before I end this post, I’m wondering if I’ve given my readers enough. Specifically, I wonder if I’ve shown you enough visuals, for some previous posts.
Just in case you need more, here are some photos I took yesterday:
for the dozens of posts I’ve written during springtime (although I don’t think there’s enough focus in that photo);
Yesterday, my managers and I decided this: I won’t be returning to work for at least two more weeks. That is, I am committing completely to my not-so-secret identity of Super Recovery Woman,* as I continue to heal from pneumonia.
Looking ahead to that two weeks, I’m not sure what to expect.
But, that’s always true as we look into the near (and far) future, isn’t it?
As always, I will do my best to redirect my thoughts back to the present moment, as those thoughts go into the future and into the past.
In the here and now, I want to show you this:
I saw that yesterday. That felt like a first to me: to be offered such a beautiful and large range of choices, to take what I need.
As I took that all in, I also noticed the older, incomplete set of choices, sticking out below and behind.
Do you see that, now?
For whatever reasons, I chose from that smaller set, as follows:
Sometimes, even when we have limited options, we can still get what we need.
Thanks to kirstindudish.com; to all who offer hope, kindness, faith, strength, understanding, joy, peace, patience, healing, inspiration, courage, love, and other necessities; to those who accept those as best they can; and to you — of course! — for visiting with me today.
* I hereby offer a choice of past posts about “Super Recovery Woman” — here, here, here, here, and here — to partake of, as you please.
And I have photos! WordPress, the internet, the Powers that Be are all aligned, so I can bring them to you, without fuss or muss.
Why waste time? Here are some photos I took yesterday, as I strolled around my environs:
A Photo Essay (minus the essay)
Wait! I now realize that I have other photos of My Winter Vacation to Panama to show you, also. Let’s rewrite that title:
Panama City AND Boquete, Panama
A Photo Essay (minus the essay)
Part I: PANAMA CITY (and little bit before)
Wait! I have to say something about THAT photo. That’s Richard, who drove us to the airport, to catch the plane to Boquete. The tilt of the photo reflects hurry and … amazement, because check out the license plate, people. Richard’s hero is David Ortiz. Words exchanged during the trip to the airport included “Big Papi” and “Yay!”
Okay. Now I’m in a chatty mood. The above photo shows the size of the plane I thought we were taking to Boquete. There were many reasons for that assumption, including prior information and the evidence of my eyes.
This is the actual plane in our immediate future. I was informed as such by a woman named Connie, who was quite hilarious (and who will appear in a blog post after I get home and can access the photos on my iPhone without risking thousands of dollars in roaming charges) (it could happen, people!)
Part II: Boquete
Now that I’ve shown you some images, I think it’s about time that I explained the title. During my trip to Panama, I have encountered the usual and unusual, including:
taking two POUS (Planes of Usual Size)1 and getting to each destination, in one piece.
letting go of expectations (a usual thing for me to work on, every day).
unexpected obstacles (usual, when I travel outside my comfort zone).
encountering people who were unexpectedly impatient as well as those who were unexpectedly kind. (Also not unusual.)
So for me, dear readers, my time in Panama, already, has been both usual and unusual.
Okay! What do I need to do, before I end this post? Not unusually for me, I have yet to mention one of my main inspirations for today’s post.
So, before I go to breakfast and the adventures ahead of me today (including a tour of a coffee plantation and a “Mardi Gras Like Parade” through the center of Boquete!), I want to tell you this:
When I woke up this morning, around 5:30, here were my thoughts:
It’s time to start writing, and
OMG! I bet there are lots of stars outside!!!
You see, I have a long-time longing and wish to see a star-filled sky. This morning, I got my wish, so beautifully, that I was moved to tears.
That experience is also not unusual for me, these days.
Okay! Time for breakfast.
Thanks to the people of Panama, to ROUS2 everywhere and to you — of course!
1 This is a reference to one of my favorite movies, “The Princess Bride” and the ROUS — Rodents of Unusual Size.
2 Readers of Unusual Size AND Readers of Usual Size.
Before I get started on my usual ramblings about Whatever The Hell I Want To Write About Today, I’m noticing the number in my title.
Doesn’t 404 have a tinge of danger to it, dear readers? Unless I’m mistaken, I believe that “404” is a common way the internet tells us, “Somebody screwed up! And I’m not saying it’s me or you. However, I’m not taking responsibility for this, so WHO do YOU think is likely at fault?”
Let me check my numerical memory, there:
1. an error message displayed by a browser indicating that an Internet address cannot be found.
Thank you, Google, for your support, for classifying “404” as a noun, and for having the guts to have a list of just one item.
Already, I feel easier than I did before I began writing this post. Yes indeed, blogging is my personal medicine.
Oh, and one more thing, before I really get this post started. Isn’t it amazing how the automatic, human distortion of mind reading can easily attach itself to anything, including the “thoughts” of the friggin’ internet?
Hmmm. Getting started today is more difficult than I expected.
Hey! I’m back on topic!
Yes, my dear denizens of the internet, today I would like to expound, ramble, riff, and otherwise randomly write about the opposite concepts of Difficult and Easy.
Want to come along? Let’s go!
Random Thoughts about
My first thought about Difficult/Easy is that it represents a common cognitive distortion: Black and White (or All or Nothing) Thinking. Yes, fellow humans, we can easily classify things as All Bad or All Good, Perfect or Useless, All This or All That. However, most experiences, people, things, etc. are not in an either/or extreme. We live in a world of greys, where things shift and change, even if we naturally see things in absolutes.
Difficult and Easy are expressions of absolutes and extremes, aren’t they?
Let me take this opportunity to show you something in my office. In its first appearance in this blog (drum roll):
The Zero to 100 scale, on Ann’s whiteboard!!!
Wait. That’s too difficult to read and too difficult to decipher. Hold on, while I crop that photo:
Ah. That’s easier. So yes, that’s my all-or-nothing scale. It’s always there, on my whiteboard. While everything else you can see in that first photo is gone, that scale remains.
Why do I keep that there? Because it’s so handy, to have that Zero-to-100% scale, when people talk about all-or-nothing concepts, including:
Labeling themselves as worthless or any other negative extreme, losing sight of the positives.
Believing that some decision might be all good or all bad, and feeling paralyzed and afraid to make the wrong decision.
In general, seeing the OR’s in a situation instead of the AND’s.1
How do I use that scale, in my office? I’m very low-tech, people. When I hear an All-or-Nothing statement that isn’t helping somebody, I take this sophisticated instrument (of which I have two):
… and move my hand up and down that scale on my whiteboard, challenging the all-or-nothing thinking.
Here’s what I’m wondering right now:
Why didn’t I write about that 0-100 scale before? I mean, it’s been up on my white board since way before I started this blog, I use it quite frequently, and people seem to find it useful. So why did I wait?
I probably thought it would be too difficult to explain.
Okay, before I end this blog post, I want to check out my stash of photos on my iPhone, because I know I have at least one cool shot I want to share. So let’s see how difficult/easy it will be, to apply some photos to today’s topic.
Here’s another photo from my ride into work during Wednesday’s snowstorm (which I wrote about, here).
And, yes, I expected that drive to be difficult, but it was way down in the other direction, on the Difficult/Easy Scale.
Usually I have trouble finding straws in take-out places. Not here.
In other words, finding straws was in an unexpected place, on the Difficult/Easy scale.
Okay! Time to wrap up this post.
Thanks to you. Just you. That wasn’t so difficult, was it?
1 I’m not sure how I feel about the Ford Fusion car commercials — about OR’s and AND’s — which I’ve been seeing a lot lately, including:
Do I love or hate those commercials? Do I think they’re good or bad? Usually, somewhere in between, depending on my mood, my thoughts, and the day.
Coincidentally, when snow first appeared, two months ago, I was considering the Ford Fusion as my next car. Why? I had read that it would be easier to drive in the snow, compared to my current car. What does my mechanic think? He’s not so sure.
It’s snowing again, which might interfere with me getting to my yearly cardiology appointment (which I wrote about yesterday, which is not appearing as yesterday’s post, which I will attempt to explain in #2, directly below).
WordPress — out of nowhere, inexplicably, suddenly, unexpectedly (I wonder how many other ways I could express this) — changed the “published on” date of yesterday’s post, about my cardiologist, to two days earlier than it should be, which is Groundhog Day, which might be kind of a cool metaphor, now that I think of it, but still annoys the hell out of me, especially since the order of the posts is now screwed up, and linking to that post might get screwed up, too.
Doing footnotes (especially with superscripts) in these posts is a pain in the ass, and seems to invite all sorts of retribution from the WordPress Gods.
Short break, while I imagine what the WordPress Gods might look like. Let’s see what comes up in “Google Images” for “WordPress Gods.” Here’s the first image:
I wonder if Jenner Davis (a photographer whose WordPress blog yielded the above image) is having trouble with footnotes and inexplicable re-dating flukiness on WordPress? PROBABLY NOT!
Pardon me, while I have a brief tantrum:
Why don’t things work the way they’re SUPPOSED to????????????????????
AND why do these things happen to ME????????????????
Hmmmm. I do feel a little better, getting those questions out of my head.
However, I now have posed two questions in this post that ….
…. I really can NOT answer.
Now what do we do?
Sometimes posing questions helps me (and other people I’ve observed) work things out. Sometimes posing questions (like the question in today’s title) leads to identifying specifics, which can lead to problem solving.
For example, my specific answers to my title question — “What’s wrong? — will move me to solutions, such as:
Making decisions about my cardiology appointment today, focusing on safety and other possible options.
Sending a message to WordPress Support about that friggin’ re-dating phenomenon (which I can check off my to-do list … done!).
Switching my current footnote technique to something less “dangerous”.*
But questions like these:
Why don’t things work the way they’re SUPPOSED to?
Why do these things only happen to ME?
…. are unanswerable, if not imponderable. Sometimes I call those “rhetorical questions”:
I am going to use Ask.com to answer the question, “What is a rhetorical question?” for some one-stop shopping, as follows:
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected. The answer may be obvious or immediately provided by the questioner.
A rhetorical question can be “an effective persuasive device, subtly influencing the kind of response one wants to get from an audience” (Edward P.J. Corbett). See Examples and Observations, below.
Examples and Observations:
“Something [rhetorical] questions all have in common . . . is that they are not asked, and are not understood, as ordinary information-seeking questions, but as making some kind of claim, or assertion, an assertion of the opposite polarity to that of the question.”
(Irene Koshik, Beyond Rhetorical Questions. John Benjamins, 2005)
“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?”
(H. L. Mencken)
“It did not occur to me to call a doctor, because I knew none, and although it did occur to me to call the desk and ask that the air conditioner be turned off, I never called, because I did not know how much to tip whoever might come–was anyone ever so young?”
(Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 1968)
Here’s another question, from me:
Does it help to ask those rhetorical, unanswerable questions? I guess we all might answer that question, in our own way.
Is the last question I asked … a rhetorical question?
Hey! Fill in your own answer, why don’t you? I have to figure out a way to get to my cardiologist.
But before I end this post, I would like to pose one more question — imponderable, rhetorical, whatever:
Why do the guys I live with NEVER have a towel in the downstairs bathroom?
Thanks to the guys I live with, people who ask questions I can’t answer (which, as my son has pointed out, often annoys the hell out of me), Ask.com, Jenner Davis, Edward Corbett, Irene Koshik, John Benjamins, H. L. Mencken, Joan Didion (in order of appearance), and to you — of course! — for reading today.
* A safer, tried-and-true solution for footnotes would be these asterisks — or little stars — which (usually!) cause no problems in my posts, as long as I keep the list of footnotes short enough. Of course, there’s no guarantee of THAT. **
** But — at least — I have control over that problem.