Reflection: Expectations VS. Reality

Beauty surrounds us.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The air is crisp; the trees are in brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellows.  This time of year is the perfect time to sit out on my deck in the early morning with that first cup of coffee, watching the sunrise and breathing in the smell of fallen leaves on the ground.

It also begins my time of reflection for the year. Reflecting on what my expectations were for the year vs. the state of things as they exist today — reality, those things that we can and cannot see. 

As I reflect on the past year and the expectations, I set for myself; I found a valuable lesson.  Always expect the unexpected.  I am retired, enjoying the quiet days to myself while the hubby is at work.  I joined a writer’s group, belong to a social women’s group and love to spend the early morning hours on my deck starting my day journaling, then moving to spend the day working on my Ignited Secrets Trilogy.  I enjoy the fact the children are doing well; the grandchildren are all now in college and life is good.  My expectation?  I am going to become a full-time author.  What better way to spend retirement, right?

Then life happens.  As we age, our parents get older, and we must ensure they safe, healthy, and happy.  My siblings and I did for our mother, who passed nine years ago.  I had lost my dad when I was twenty-one.  My mother in law suffers from mid-stage Alzheimer’s.  She had been living with her daughter for the past four years.  Life changed for them.  Her husband took a new job in another State.  Therefore, our life changed; someone needed to step up and care for mom full time.  Mom has moved in permanently until which time she needs twenty-four-hour care. 

Expectations vs. Reality.  I still take the time to journal early each morning, but most of my writing is now happening on my kitchen table, rather than my sacred space in the garage.  Yes, I had my hubby build me an office/quilting room in the garage.  What was once a two-car garage, became a one-car garage.  By writing at my kitchen table, I can answer the multitude of questions my mother in law has throughout the day. 

It amazes me to watch her, realizing she is in the moment.  A place most of us strive to be.  Though for her, that moment is all she has.  No five-minute past, no one-minute future.  Yesterday while the President was on every channel of the television for most of the day, she was trying to figure out what he was talking about and why he seemed angry.  Mom is 87, and her generation listened when the President talked.  Then she wanted to know why someone didn’t fix the lighting. He looked orange.  I covered these questions a hundred different times yesterday as if it was the first time she had asked.  I became creative; how do you explain today’s world? 

Here I am in my season of reflection, adjusting my expectations, and making new expectations for the year to come.  I write out my hopes, beliefs, and my dreams for the future.  Similar to New Year’s resolutions, though I learned long ago I do not stick to resolutions.  Hence the new word expectations. 

I split them out in three categories, my hopes for my grandchildren and how I can assist them in their direction.  That can be anywhere from financially to embroidering them a new set of dish towels for their new apartments as they start their life path.  I reflect on my written life mission and vision statement, making the changes needed to stay current.

 I then spell out my dreams for the year, what do I want to accomplish as a writer, how many quilts do I want to make this year or finish, and what growth do I want to see in my self for the year.  These are my goals.  Simple right? 

My signal for reflection is the changing of the leaves, my sign for setting expectations is the first snowfall and breaking my goals down to achieve success begins December first to be prepared to start the New Year with a bang.

Everyone has different ways of continuing their journey through life.  I find mine works for me.  I encourage everyone to find their way to make each new year the best year of their life.  For mom, I fully intend to make this next year a year of feeling safe, happy and fresh-baked cookies on the counter every day. 


Everyone has a story.  Life is a journey, and each new day begins a new chapter for each of us. How are you telling your story?  Keeping a journal allows us to write down our experiences, our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams for the future.

 I have been journaling for over the last fifty-plus years, and I still have every one of those journals.  I recently took the time to look back at the journals I kept as a teenager.  I must be honest here and admit I am in my mid-sixties today.  Looking back on my teen years, I would have to say in all honesty; I am lucky to be alive.  I was a wild child, though it was a different time in the late sixties and early seventies. 

Those journals are jam-packed full of poems, drawings, trials, and tribulations, all of which have brought me into what is I believe is called the golden years of my life.  Looking back, I understand how those years have shaped the woman I have become today.

One of the things I found in reviewing those journals of my life is that I could carry on a complete conversation with myself.  I would ask myself a boatload of questions or complain about my parents, fights with girlfriends, and that description of my first kiss left me holding my stomach. I was laughing so hard.  The point is, I was spending a lot of time self-dialoguing with myself.  Did I answer the boatload of questions?  Not always at that particular time, but looking ahead in years, I found they pretty much answered themselves.  Oh, and by the way, I got over the traumatic experience of French kissing. 

What I did find interesting is when I would come across a problem I needed to solve, I always asked the same four questions.  To this day, I still use those, but the wordage is a bit different.  Any life problem I have had, I asked my self the following questions for many years:

  • What is the purpose of my having experienced this the last (timeline)?
  • What am I trying to do here?
  • What lesson am I supposed to learn from this experience?
  • What’s the real issue of personal growth for me in this experience?

It is important to note that these questions are not easy to answer in the throws of chaos.  The last time I used them, it took almost a year to work through the issues.  However, it will help you work through the experience and come out on top of it, with a clear understanding of why this what meant to happen.  As I said, the last time I answered these, I came to understand one of the many valuable lessons.  If you don’t listen to your guides, they will pick you up and throw you on the floor.

Another factor I recognized was that I was establishing future goals, whether it be New Year’s resolutions, or a daily, weekly, or monthly goal.  By writing out my goals, I was able to write out a plan on how to achieve them and identify any obstacles that stood in my way.

Another realization I had, with goal setting, is that I found the way I dealt with the goals when they didn’t look like I was going to reach them was to write out the problem and readjust the aim to bring it to reality.  Similar to a Plan B strategy, though sometimes I made it to Plan W.  We all take different paths in life.  Often those paths reached a crossroads, and it’s then I would have to choose to go left or right.  When I was making those choices, it was interesting to see I eventually reached my goals, though the journey could sometimes be challenging, sometimes risky, but fun.

Through the twists and turns in my life journey through the years, came personal growth.  That’s the thing with journaling; you can go back and reflect on where you have been and how much you have grown. I worked through so many issues along that journey in my notebooks that it was interesting to read on how my analytical skills evolved in handling life challenges, how I wrote out each twist and came up with a way to move past the turns. 

The other surprising aspect was how my creativity opened.  I would use colored pens, draw, glued or taped in pictures of my friends and I going to concerts, or hanging out at Cherokee Park, pictures from magazines, right down to my favorite cookie recipes. News flash, I still do that today.  I have a giant bucket of gel pens and even to this day tape in exciting things I find. I also have been known to dry flower petals I have grown and glue them in as well. 

If you’re not journaling today, you should consider doing so.  Your life is extraordinary, and your journey is meaningful.  Every experience brings a lesson, joy, and success in your life.  It will bring you to your authentic self, open your consciousness and bring transformation to your life.  So, start recording your life today, I promise when you look back in your journal five years from now, you will be amazed how far you have come.

I have designed a journal that you can use to start recording your journey.  Yes, I had that creative idea of making my own journal’s.  You can find “The Journey to Enlightenment” on Amazon.