Do you ever feel that despite how hard you work your life is still lacking something? Something that is keeping you from reaching your full potential? I struggle a lot with feeling unappreciated and unloved for all that I have to give, especially lately. I’m always questioning myself if going back to school is the right thing, if writing is the right thing or do I feel that I have to work extra hard to make up for failing my kids at holding together a complete family. It’s very frustrating to feel this way because every day I work my butt off to make a great life for my kids and I and yet for some reason I still go to bed at night feeling like I’m not doing enough. But it’s like I tell my kids “If you’re not happy about the way things are, there’s always something you can do to change it”. So what can I do? It’s not that the people in my life don’t make me feel appreciated and loved. I have come to the conclusion that it’s me! I’m the one who who’s keeping me from feeling appreciated and loved and I am the only one who can change that! If you can take responsibility for your happiness, then you can change it when it’s not enough too.
One important lesson that I’ve learned from being a single mother is that expectations can really hinder your ability to be happy and carefree. When we expect things to go a certain way and they don’t then we get mad, frustrated, stressed or sad because we feel justified that things should’ve gone the way we expected. But the world is full of beautiful things meant just for you! It’s just that you can’t see them because they aren’t what you expect them to be. You can have everything you want and make the world revolve around you but only if your mind is open and you can change how you see the world. I was reminded of this yesterday so let me tell you the story and you will understand better.
The other night I was really struggling with feeling happy and content and I was definitely feeling unappreciated. After thinking for a while, I decided the only immediate thing I could do to help myself is change my perception. I need to change the way I see things internally and externally. So I told myself that I deserved to see a big beautiful red flower because the sight of beautiful red flowers always makes me smile. I kept that in my head all night and honestly expected to wake up to roses on my front porch or a mysterious red flower growing in my back yard (expectations). I laughed to myself but still kept my wish to see some red flowers and went about my day. Well there’s a woman who moved across the street that I met the night before when my kids and I went over to introduce ourselves. This woman is suffering metastatic cancer, lost her husband of thirty six years just a year ago and after trying to let her family take care of her for a while her stubborn dependent nature got the best of her and she decided to move across the country to the condo directly across from me. As she’s telling me her story, I want to ask her Why?! Why would you move so far away from your family and be all alone when you’re going through cancer? Well she answered my question without me even having to ask! She braced herself against her brick wall as she told me that she misses her husband so much and that she needed time to mourn him but that she couldn’t because her family was constantly doting on her. She decided that she needed to be alone so that she could mourn him and fight her cancer the way she wanted… by living. Wow! What an amazing woman! I wanted to hug her when I noticed she had a few tears forming in the corners of her eyes but I thought to myself, this is not the kind of person who wants people to feel sorry for them, so I didn’t. We talked a little more and I asked her if it’d be okay if my son and daughter (recently turned inspiring bakers) could make her cookies. I smiled when she got excited and exclaimed “Oh, that would be wonderful. I love sweets!” She went on to tell me that she used to cook and bake all the time but now that it’s just her, she no longer has the motivation. So we said our goodbyes and my kids and I were off with our new mission.
So we made our new friend some fudge brownies and cookie cupcakes and my kids, so pleased with their gift, ran over to her house and rang the doorbell before I could even remind them to put their shoes on. Our new friend answered the door and at the sight of the brownies and cupcakes insisted that we come inside. She excitedly showed me around her condo and we talked about our common love for red wine. My kids played with her little teacup Yorkie as she showed me her garden full of beautiful flowers out back. Nope, no red flowers. Then we went back in and as we sat on her couch, she began to tearfully talk about her beloved husband again. She talked so willfully about him and I couldn’t help but feel that what this woman really wanted is a friend, someone she can tell her story to and talk about her life with. And that’s exactly what I was being to her, a new friend just sitting there silently listening as she reminisced about her life. I glanced around as she talked taking in the very well put together decorations and design of her spacious condo. Then my kids who had made their way upstairs peered over the foyer calling down to me. As I looked above my head to see them, there it was! A huge metal sculpture of three beautiful red roses hung confidently all alone on the wall connecting the foyer. Their brilliantly bright red color drew me in and I couldn’t help but smile and just stare for a few seconds. My red flowers!
The old me would’ve seen this and completely dismissed it because I wasn’t expecting it but because I went into my search for red flowers with an open mind, I was able to see this picture in a whole new way. Not only did I see red flowers but I saw them as a sign of appreciation for befriending this woman. Not only were they not in a random place but they were in a place where my presence is appreciated. I saw those red flowers in such a way that I felt so appreciated and loved after because I allowed myself to feel appreciated and loved. I didn’t get caught up in my expectations and I saw something even more amazing than what I could’ve expected. What I expected was so much less than what I deserve! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me because honestly, what if this is what I’ve been missing for so long. What if I haven’t felt fulfilled because I’ve been searching for my expectations but what I really deserve, what my life really has in store for me is so much better and bigger than my expectations. I’ve just been blind to it.
End your suffering by opening your mind. We suffer a lot because we think we know exactly what we want and who we are but in truth, we don’t. Life is about learning who you are and it’s a lifelong lesson but how can you learn about yourself when you think you already know what it is you want and need? What if you don’t know? What if you could walk through the world with a completely open mind and no inhibitions? Isn’t this what children do? They are so in awe of simple things because they see these things with an open mind and they don’t doubt them just because they don’t look the way they expected. See the world around you with no expectations and the belief that you deserve to have whatever it is that you want. Let go of your expectations of how what it is that you want should look and feel and chances are it’ll come to you in a way that looks and feels even better than what you expected!
See the world with a self-serving perception. Do you ever look around you and think yep, same shit different day? Well I’m challenging you to start seeing everything around you in a completely different way; in a way that serves to support and inspire you. Everything around you is there to somehow support you but you have to be willing to see it that way. For example, you’re walking down a quiet empty street feeling alone and unseen because no one is around you. But then you notice the asphalt that you’re walking on sparkling under the sun and you realize that this street is there for you, it’s hard steady surface supporting you so that you can take yet another step forward. Most people don’t even think about the street that they’re walking on. We take the things in our daily life for granted and we make happiness so much more difficult than it has to be. What about the bird singing? Some people may get annoyed, most won’t notice but you can hear the simplistic beauty in it and when you smile be reminded that happiness is simple. Whatever it is that you want to feel, open your mind, think about that feeling and look at the things around you in a way that serves that feeling. For me, I want to feel more appreciated so when I look around, I notice things in a way that appreciate me. If my cat walks up to me, it’s because he appreciates my love for him, the sun is there to warm me when I step outside because it appreciates my existence. I can even make my bills appreciate me! They are there to remind me of how independent I am.
So what is it that you want in your life? Love? Happiness? Purpose? Laughter? All of the above? You can have all of these things right now if you allow it. All you have to do is open your mind and your eyes. The universe is full of gifts for you because you deserve them.