What It Is

No one ever promised us that life would always be easy.  Or if someone did, they lied.  Because sometimes, no matter what we do, life is just plain hard.  And the older I get, the more I believe that the wisest thing to do is to simply accept that fact.

I read recently (I’d quote the source, but of course I can’t remember it) that one of the main sources of our frustration is the difference between what we expected and what we actually get.  That really resonated with me, because I’ve found that almost every time I’m frustrated and upset, it’s because the situation I find myself in is not the situation I was hoping for or expecting.  And it’s the gap between what I had anticipated and the reality of what actually occurred that often makes me feel so upset.  In other words, the more I think about “what should have been,” the more disappointed and bitter I become.

One way to ward off that frustration would be to simply stop planning or hoping for good things in our lives, because then we wouldn’t be disappointed when those good things didn’t actually materialize.  That philosophy might guarantee we’re never going to be disappointed again, (if you don’t ever plan that dream vacation, you never have to worry about it getting cancelled) but who wants to live like that?  I sure don’t.

I think, perhaps, that the key is to simply remember that nothing in this world is ever guaranteed, and that sometimes even our best-laid plans are going to veer wildly off course.  Challenges we never saw coming are going to pop up when we least expect them, and often when we’re least prepared to cope with them.  And when that happens, it’s natural to be upset and disappointed, at least for a while.  But eventually, we have to let go of our frustration and focus on dealing with the situation at hand.

My husband and I didn’t plan on spending our anniversary at the Emergency Room a mere five days after what was supposed to be a simple surgery, but we did.  And I didn’t plan on sitting at his bedside in the hospital for nine days after that either.  At first, I was bitter because this was not “how things were supposed to be.”  But eventually, I managed to let go of my frustration and simply accept what was.  My husband was in a good hospital, getting good medical care, and he was slowly but surely improving.  I was allowed to be with him, which wasn’t the case for hospital patients when the pandemic first hit.  I was even allowed to bring him food, which tasted a lot better than what the hospital cafeteria sent up.  In other words, I had reasons to be grateful, once I was willing to let go of my expectations and actually see them.

5oNQQuOjR1SkDZ6qfXaozAAnd the fact that life can be unexpectedly hard isn’t the only thing I accept.  I also accept, and even plan on, the fact that life can also be quite good.  Which is why I have every intention of making a dinner reservation at a very nice restaurant when next year’s anniversary rolls around, and I might even look into booking a weekend getaway as well.  That celebration may not actually happen, but I’m hoping it will, and that hope is enough for me.

91 thoughts on “What It Is

  1. Good post Ann. None of us should ever take anything for granted to the point that we do not appreciate the small things that come our way. Expect the worst, hope for the best and appreciate every moment. We recently had a chance to sit down for a long conversation with our young son. The question he asked floored us…When was the last time the good news outpaced the bad? He was right of course. These are tough times, made tougher by the pandemic. We did our best to boost him up, telling him things will get better, but, the truth is, we are not as optimistic as we appeared. Every day and in every way, Gratitude is the Attitude. Hope your husband is getting better every day Ann. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right, Allan. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best is the best motto, and we do need to let go of our expectation that things will always work out for us. They don’t. But that doesn’t mean life is bad, or that we can’t find the gifts when we look for them. As you say, we just need to be grateful for what we do have, as that lifts our spirits so much. This pandemic has dragged on far too long, but we will get through it. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! And I’m glad you were able to help your son during these trying times!

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  2. Hi Ann, it’s normal and human nature to feel upset and frustrated when things go pair shaped and I can totally understand how you must have felt. Looking at the bigger picture and being grateful for those small moments is key and it sounds like you’re doing that. Accepting how things are but always hoping for better is too. I have an idea. Once your hubby is all better you should reschedule that special dinner out. Why wait for next years anniversary! Make the most of every day. Sending you both lots of love and warmest wishes. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a good point! He’s getting better each day, and although he’s still on a restricted diet right now, we’re hoping he’ll be released from that next week. If so, then yeah, we absolutely should have a belated anniversary dinner at a nice restaurant. Thanks for that!!! And I also love how you always make the most of each day, and then share your adventures with the rest of us on your blog!

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  3. Wise words. I have wasted many hours trying to figure out what I want to happen, what “should” happen in the future, or the “perfect” scenario, when there was actually no way I could have anticipated how things have played out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t if funny how often we wait to enjoy life until everything is “right?” And we just don’t quite figure out that everything is never all right, and never has been? The key is just to enjoy what we do have, and to hope for better, but accept that sometimes things will be hard. “This, too, shall pass” became my mantra during those hospital stays!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s good to acknowledge the frustration, then vent it healthily or eat chocolate. Then try our darndest to view a situation in a positive light. Not always easy, then I think life was never meant to be easy, just very interesting and challenging with belly laughs in-between.

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  5. I think flexibility and resilience are two of the most important qualities we can nurture in ourselves. That, of course, doesn’t mean that we also can’t feel a bit sorry for ourselves when things don’t go as planned. It sounds like, despite it all, you know that you have much to be grateful for. Here’s hoping your next year’s celebration doesn’t involve a hospital room.

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    • I agree completely about resilience and flexibility, and share you hope that next year’s anniversary isn’t spent at the hospital. I mean, it was a nice hospital full of good people, but it didn’t hold a candle to a fancy restaurant! LOL….

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  6. Here’s a thought Ann, why not book a table in a nice restaurant as soon as COVID rules allow and celebration your relationship? A special day next year would also be nice, but you have no idea what could happen between now and then so …. while special dates are wonderful opportunities, don’t wait until then. Celebrate now, because “now” is the only guarantee that you have. 🙂

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    • I agree, Colin! As soon as my husband is up for it, we’re going to celebrate this year’s anniversary properly. (If we have to do it on an outside restaurant patio due to Covid, that’s fine.) We’ll celebrate next year’s anniversary next year. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, no! I hope that Dave is doing better and things are starting to feel more normal again. Health issues can sure upend your lives, making you wonder what IS normal. Lots of positive energy your way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joanna! He is finally doing better. The surgery went well, but we have discovered that his intestines really don’t like to be operated on, and make their point by going “on strike.” Which causes all sorts of problems that keep him in the hospital far too long. SO glad to have him home!

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  8. So true that life is hard and unpredictable. I think being able to “roll with the punches” is a life skill that is overlooked but very necessary. I learned early that I would not always get my way and that I could mope and make myself and everyone around me miserable or change my plans and adapt to the situation. Glad to hear your husband is doing better and that hope lives!

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    • Thank you so much! Honestly, one of the main criticism I have of parents today (and my own parenting of my children) is that we do too much to smooth over life’s rough edges for them. Resilience is so important, and I think it’s better to simply support our kids through the tough times rather than try to eliminate them. But I can’t really criticize, because I did the same thing myself!

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  9. First, it helps to accept that we have limited control. Do what you can, and then take a deep breath and let things unfurl. Often, though not always, if you do your best at your part, the ultimate outcome is better–whether it’s what you wanted, or otherwise. Second, the secret is to savor every moment that is good. You gave the perfect example–you were able to bring good food to your sweetie in the hospital. So your efforts make his life more comfortable under difficult circumstances. That is within your control and enriches both of you–affirming your bond. Savor those great moments when the two of you can do for each other. Savor the truly wonderful times, when you can enjoy making and implementing wonderful plans. And savor the simple moments–a hard day, but you get to sit quietly in the warm sun for a few moments while you gather your thoughts, the taste of a particularly good tomato, or a flash of unexpected humor and the ability to laugh together.

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    • Thank you for those wise words! You’re right, we do need to plan and work as much as we can toward the outcome we want, but we also need to recognize that there are many times when we are simply not in control at all. It’s a matter of discernment, I guess, in learning to tell the difference between the two. And as you say, even on the toughest days we can find a moment or two of goodness, and that helps.

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  10. “Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams die
    Life is as broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.”
    Langston Hughes

    “You can’t always get
    What you wa-ant
    But if you try sometimes
    You get what you need”
    Mick

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann, live on and rejoice in having hope. Our lives would be so much harder without hope. I for one cannot imagine a life without hope. But being an inveterate hope-r and one that just cannot temper hope with some commonsense also means that simple disappointments can really crush my spirit. As a result, I’ve gone through periods of times when due to the pain of not seeing things work out as I had envisioned, I’ve tried to quell hope within me – but such times never last. I’m wired to hope, I guess. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know of people within my circle who are unhealthily cautious about life – and in some ways, I find them pretty difficult. They always seem to be in the business of pulling me down and poking holes in my day. I’m sure from their point of view they think they are doing me a favour by keeping me grounded – but it somehow annoys me immensely. I’d much rather have someone who sings hope with me because when I have need of being cautioned, I’m more likely to listen to them than to those treat hope like it’s some kind of enemy.

    I’m so with you on making plans for fun and celebrations. If there’s one thing this terrible pandemic has taught me, it is to seize every moment to celebrate. The old saying goes, Never put of till tomorrow what can be done today. I daresay the same applies to celebrations. Never put off celebrating what should be celebrated now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hang on to that hope! Because you’re right, it is what makes life worth living and is as necessary as breathing, I believe. I also know people who seem to enjoy pointing out how hard things are, and how hard they’re always going to be, and I also find it difficult to be around them. I know they’re just trying to be realistic, but in my opinion, hope is also realistic and a much better way to move forward. Thank you for your comment!

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  12. This year my birthday, our anniversary and my husbands birthday will be spent in a hospital oncology center. My husband is in the oncology center and because of Covid, I kiss him goodbye through a mask and leave for four hours. I had a melt down on my birthday which is weird because I’m not even a birthday celebration kind of person. I peeled back the layers and examined a lot of things only to learn I have a lot of unresolved feelings about this whole mess, which I discussed with my husband. It was a good reminder that we need to talk about all things, even the hard things. Yesterday he had chemo #5 (of 12). Friday is our anniversary, and he will not only be back in the oncology center, it begins the start of what I call “the dark days” of the treatment. So on 8/3-before another chemo when he was feeling good-we had a big celebration for our anniversary. I picked up the food and we celebrated at our own dining table. We had also finally gotten a good report from a scan that day which we had been waiting on for over a week. Best. Gift. Ever! We made a mistake on my birthday and forgot it’s not the day, it’s the time we have together to celebrate, so celebrate! It doesn’t have to be fancy, but uniquely special for both of you. I’m glad you are going to re-schedule that anniversary event as soon as your husband feels better! It might not be typical, but it may be the best celebration you’ve ever had! Praying for you both right now. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad he’s almost half way through his chemo treatments! And I know how hard it is to say goodby and leave a loved one to get the treatment alone. I was allowed to stay with my husband for his first treatment, but after that, he had to do it alone. (I hate few things, but I do hate Covid.)
      And thank you for your example of how the important thing is to celebrate how we can, when we can. You’re right, the date doesn’t matter at all. When my husband is up for it, we’re still going to celebrate this year’s anniversary some way or another. Finally, congrats on the good news on the scan!!! That is huge news and I’m sure it will lighten your hearts! I am keeping you both in my prayers too!

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  13. Oh, I’m right there with you! Some people do decide to not have expectations (or even desires, or goals) because they’re sure they will be scuddled or ruined. I tend to be an optimist, which has helped me through life, except when one of our loved ones gets sick/injured/hurt. Then my optimism can go out the window. A year ago I went through what you and your guy are going through. My guy’s sudden burst appendix, life-saving surgery BUT sepsis and six months of infection. So scary, and so hard to be optimistic, But then I realized (with the help of comments from doctors and specialists) that we were lucky he SURVIVED. That he’s healing and still standing. Oh. Well then. Life is good, right? 🙂 Life can be rainy, but there is that sunshine behind the clouds. Wonderful post, Ann. Hope your guy continues to improve quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing that, Pam! Because even though I’m a first-class worrier, I’m also a closet optimist. Yes, I tend to envision the worst case scenario and prepare for it, but deep in my heart, I also tend to believe that things will ultimately work out. Until it comes to the health of a loved one, in which case I live with a constant knot of fear in my stomach and am sure that the worst is on it’s way, and at great speed. So I can imagine your fear when your husband had an infection for so long! I’m glad he’s doing better, and glad my husband is too. Hang in there, and thanks again!

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  14. I like your take on how to navigate life’s ups and downs. I used to be more negative refusing to have any expectations, but I’ve mellowed over the years. I now feel like you do, accept what is, but go ahead and plan a little for something better. I hope your husband is feeling better and that next year’s anniversary celebration is over-the-top fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ally! I really do think the key is to plan, but not to be overly surprised if the plans don’t always work out. And to appreciate it all the more when they do! Thankfully, my husband is feeling better and getting better, and I am definitely planning on a big anniversary celebration next year. We’re also going to have a little celebration this year when he’s up for it, as some of my readers have suggested. (That’s the good part of blogging, sometimes the comment section offers up very good suggestions!)

      Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s understandable that you’d be disappointed (bet your husband was, too) when your carefully-laid-out plans didn’t materialize; however, what a GOOD thing (miraculous, even) that your hubby got the care he needed, that you were able to be with him, and that you can now concentrate on planning an even more spectacular event! (I know, I tend to be “Debbie Sunshine,” but it’s just my nature!). I’m glad you’re coming around to looking on the bright side, too!

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    • Honestly, I very much appreciate the “Debbie Sunshine” attitude! It’s what people who are struggling with difficult things need to hear. And I’m so happy to report that he is doing better every day. Sometimes we really do just need to count our blessings, I think.

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  16. This reminds me again of that famous quote from Bruce Lee, “Be like water”. Being liquid when boulders stand in the way of your flow, can ease the resistance felt when pushing against the object. I hope he is healing up and on the mending way. God’s grip, Ann – Alan

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    • Yes, that was so hard! I knew of a woman whose husband had heart surgery when the pandemic first hit, and she couldn’t be with him at all. I can’t think how hard that must have been. I’m so glad they have relaxed the rules a bit and I was able to be with him when he needed me!

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  17. You are so right, our expectations are letting us down. A bit of remembering to put things into perspective is very helpful and healthy too.
    I hope your husband is much better now.

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  18. Ann, best wishes for you and your husband’s recovery! I know how crazy busy it is in your local hospitals right now just with COVID so I hope he is released soon!!!
    We all have been in those shoes of things not going our way and then having to change or recover our plans. Being disappointed is understandable but the extreme of angry at the world is not helpful to the situation or to those around us also dealing with issues. Hang in there.

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  19. A very thought-provoking post, Ann. I can’t begin to imagine what you and your husband went through during that time, but I can understand the bitterness of having things happen that you didn’t plan for and certainly would never hope for. It’s good to appreciate the positives in such situations, like being able to bring him in food and such, but it’s hard to see those silver linings when you’re in deep. I suppose a lot of the time such things only appear to us later, and hindsight is always a bugger.

    I agree on the gap between hopes and expectations, vs unexpected reality to be a cause for frustration and bitterness and resentment. I’ve found myself feeling like that plenty, too. I get it as well when not realising I’d hoped for more, like when a friend doesn’t even wish you happy birthday – you might know it sounds silly, and you might have told yourself you wouldn’t care if they forgot, but there’s a subconscious part of you hanging all your hope on them not only remembering your birthday but planning you a surprise party (bad example, but hopefully you get what I mean!). We might not always we aware of our expectations and hopes until they’re dashed.

    I’d also still want to be that person that hopes, that looks for the best in things, that puts my faith in the good, even if it means being let down or blindsided by life sometimes. I love your idea for a super duper restaurant and maybe a weekend getaway. 100%!

    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Caz! And your example is a good one and I understood it perfectly. We do have our expectations, both big and small, and it hurts when they’re not met. Letting go of that hurt can be hard, but it does help when we just accept what is and move on. (sometimes easier than others for sure!) And I’m not surprised you also hang on to hope, even at the risk of disappointment. I think it’s a much better way to live!

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  20. I am sorry for what you both had to experience. Wishing your husband a speedy recovery.

    While reading the first two paragraphs I thought we are talking about my Mum. I know it’s hard to believe but for some people life is really difficult and staying strong after every event is even more difficult. I know there are reasons for be grateful but it’s really hard to wait for better days. But let’s hope for better days ahead.

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  21. Accepting the present is one of the hardest lessons ever, but you’re right…if we can just be grateful for what we have (and also try not to have expectations of people an events), then we’ll be okay. So much easier said that done 😉

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  22. I needed to read this today. I’ll be facing a time this week where I have high hopes that things will go in the way that I want but deep down I know they probably won’t. I get tired of that, and then it’s easy to become angry and sad. I know better, but matters that are tender to my heart, and fall apart, tend to do that to me. So what you shared in this blog touched and encouraged me – have me another weapon in my arsenal of how to handle disappointments. Thank you, Ann. And I hope that your husband continues to improve. Blessings!

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  23. Great post! I often get frustrated too when the my expectations don’t get met. The best advice is to accept it and deal with it the best you can. I catch myself upset about something I can no way change. I think it is the inner child in me thinking that if I pout long enough, I can get my way.

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    • I understand, and I think that my inner child often feels the same way. Our adult self knows we must accept what is, but our inner child believes otherwise. Thanks for the sweet comment!

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  24. Such a good post! I continue to pray for your husband…I hope your anniversary wishes will come true in the future. Our expectations and reality often do not collide. Perhaps, all we can do is what you yourself have done…make the best of the situation at hand. It always amazes me that even in the worst of times, there are these incredible blessings…like when you observed how wonderful the nursing staff was to your husband in the hospital. We are often able to cope because so many people are ‘lifting us up’ with prayers and good deeds. God’s love shines through in all of this, and we are able to make it…

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  25. ” They plan and God plan and God is the best planner” our plans don’t work sometimes accordingly but we must not be disappointed with it cause we don’t know how will be outcome of our plans. It may seem very joyful to us but result in bitter. Anyway we must be optimistic to enjoy and ease our lives. Hope your spouse recover soon.

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