Life has been nomadic for over a month, and bizarrely, in the space of a few days, three dear people in my life have sent me brief messages asking the same question – Is it what you expected?
It is an interesting question, as it is one that requires you to go into your past to answer it.
The question is asking that you analyse your present life, from a past thought of what your future might be. To judge your past imagination against the reality of today.
I generally don’t have expectations. This way, I’m usually quite happy with how the future unfolds.
Is it what you expected?
I moved to a log cabin in the middle of a national park, in a small town of northern Wisconsin.
I expected it to be fun, cold, quiet, not many people. And it is all those things.
Does the yardstick of expectation only derive from past experiences, so our expectations are minimal or non-existent when we’re doing something for the first time?
To expect - There seems to be a sense of entitlement. That we did something, only because we assumed a particular result would happen.
Is it what you expected?
Or is the question deeper than that, does the question really ask - what have your struggles been?
That question is much easier to answer.
Uprooting the family to spend a year in another country was a huge change for the entire family. Our environment, our home, the climate, our community all changed. Surprisingly this large change was quite easy because everything was external.
The little, day-to-day smaller changes are much harder - as they are internal changes.
I’m with my curious four-year-old daughter for twelve hours a day in -25 degree snow. There are days when we go skiing, or into the library that is an hour away, into town to collect some groceries or wander through the woods. But there are also days when I’m in a two-bedroom log cabin, entertaining, educating, and attending to my daughter from 7am to 7pm.
I struggle when I expect her to eat her breakfast, lunch or dinner.
I struggle when I expect her to play with her toys so I can have a moment to myself.
I struggle when I expect her to know what I know and act accordingly.
I struggle when I expect myself to act a certain way but I get frustrated or angry.
I struggle when I expect to have all the answers but I don’t.
I struggle when I expect.
I looked at my struggles and the internal fight I kept having with myself about wanting to do something for me, but also wanting to be present for Andy. Internally, I felt pulled in all directions and I felt uneasy about how I was feeling inside.
I believe if you want something to change then you need to do something different. I decided to do two things;
- Wake up an hour before everyone else.
- Stop being controlled by time.
That hour before everyone wakes is priceless. It is my hour. It makes me feel like I’ve cheated the day and captured a little bit extra for myself. I meditate and exercise. It is my hour to start the day how I want to. It might sound selfish, but I have taken care of me first. Now I am ready to take care of others.
One of the reasons we wanted to embark on this adventure was to take ownership of our time, to be more deliberate with our actions, and to create freedom within our choices. To take the controlling powers away from time required a shift in mindset. Before this adventure we were all about chasing time to be on time – being at work, to that meeting, appointment, social engagement, all on time, and then there was the art of making time to fit everything in.
I stopped being controlled by time by not rushing Andy. I started to do things on Andy’s time. If I wanted her dressed but she wanted to play, I would let her play. If she wanted to walk around in the snow making footprints before we went into the shop, I would let her do it and join in. If she wanted to take 45min to eat breakfast, I would let her eat cold porridge.
What I noticed is that we didn’t clash as much and when I did ask her to do something she usually did it.
I wanted to take ownership of my time and by doing so, I allowed Andy to take ownership of hers too.
I wasn’t living in a state of rush anymore, but it took some time to realise this, get used to it, and adapt to it.
Did I expect it would be easy? No.
Did I expect I would need to dig as deep inside myself as I have? No.
It is what you expected?
I think this adventure is teaching me the opposite - to not expect, to be present with the now and not exist in future thoughts, to let things be, to live immediately.