Heather’s blog: ExpectationsOctober 28, 2014
Last month, I climbed a mountain, and the word “expectations” was the weight I carried up with me. This word was my mountain.
For a long time now, I have been holding back making the changes I need or desire in certain areas of my life because of expectations — listening too closely to others, and not being honest about my own. Let me tell you, there is a lot of time to be honest with yourself while you are hiking up craggy masses of rock, anticipating the summit with each step, and challenging not just your physical limitations, but your mental and emotional ones as well. This burden of expectation has been a heavy one for me, and one that I felt the weight of with each step I took up that mountain.
As was I continuing my trek forward through the gulley, I also had a lot of time to think back and consider the times in my life when I felt the happiest: when I lived overseas, both in the United Kingdom and South Africa; when I met my husband; when my daughter was born. What was it about these times that had made me so happy?
As I placed my foot on the rock below me, concentrating each moment on where my feet were right then, in that moment, my anxiety started to ease, and the load that I carried started to lighten. That was it! I realized that in all the happiest points of my life, I was doing exactly the same as I was doing on that mountain: I was taking a risk, focused on where I was in that moment, living my life one day at a time, and doing always what felt right to me. I lived according to my own expectations. Then I reached the summit.
A lot of people have been asking what I yelled when I got to the top of Gros Morne (see last month’s blog post, “Moving on from cancer“). If I’m continuing to be honest here, it would not be appropriate for me to write what I yelled, but I will assure you it was said with great exuberance! I can tell you that as I celebrated the view from the top, caught my breath, and just took that moment to myself, two other words came to light that were just for me: LET GO.
And with those two words, I did. My fellow retreaters can confirm that the five and half hour descent down Gros Morne was nearly as — if not more — difficult than the two hour hike uphill. I am being truthful with myself, and realizing that even though I let go, and despite the fact that I reached the summit, my journey is not over; it has just changed direction.
I am making the effort to live my life much like I did on that mountain as I step down this new path; taking risks, knowing my feet are exactly where they are supposed to be in this moment, taking things one day at a time, and doing what feels right for me.
It’s said that the important thing in life isn’t the destination, it’s the journey, the challenges you face along the way, the unexpected twists and turns, the disappointments you overcome. Here’s what I have learned, and what I encourage all of you to remember when pursuing your own path:
1) Don’t be afraid to change the things that make you unhappy;
2) Live according to your own expectations;
3) Live life on purpose.