My mentor, Norman Cousins, used to tell me, “We head in the direction of our expectations.” Never have I felt the need for these words more than now. As my husband, Paul, and I head to the clinic for his heart surgery – (we’ll be there by the time you are reading this) – I am setting my sights on his eyes opening afterwards and breathing easily.  I anticipate a positive outcome because statistics are on our side, and Paul is very fit. But there are times when I worry. Conflicting feelings are familiar to all of us, whether we’re anticipating a test for school, a job interview, a tough conversation with an employer, friend or beloved partner, or our own determination to lose those five pounds we gained over the holidays.  “We head in the direction of our expectations.” 

Eileen and Rusty

Sometimes I wish I was my cat. Rusty anticipates his food, purrs when I scratch his chin, and leaves the room when he sees my suitcase. That’s the extent of his anticipation! He doesn’t spend time worrying about whether I’m coming back, where I am, or whether I had a car accident. Nor does he send me annoying text messages saying, “Where r u? When r u coming home?” Humans are different this way. We all have our moments of anticipating either the worst or the best outcome.

The key is, we can choose. Empowerment means taking hold of the voices inside us and turning them in the direction of our goal.

Norman Cousins knew how to focus his mind on the positive. In his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient, he attributed laughter and Vitamin C to his remarkable recovery from a disease of the connective tissues. He watched funny movies or thought up pranks to stimulate his endorphins, those natural pain and stress fighters that send signals to our brain and nervous system. Norman called laughter a form of “internal jogging.”

When I get scared, I tend to outpace myself in anticipation of what might go wrong.  As I head out of town towards the day of Paul’s surgery, I’m filling my mind with images of healing, and soothing my heart by listening to Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

May you find whatever you need in anticipation of your next challenge. I will share the song with you here for inspiration:

What challenge are you facing right now?

How can you empower yourself to anticipate the best possible outcome?

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4 Responses to Anticipation

  1. Alice says:

    Thinking of you and Paul, I hope everything goes smoothly! (I’m sure it will.)

    My challenge – life change/taking risks. I’m at a point where staying ‘safe’ is doing me more damage than taking a risk and getting it wrong. I’m thinking positive, affirming thoughts, because it is so easy to over-think yourself into despair.

  2. Judith A. Meyncke says:

    Dear Eileen,

    “Faith” and “Trust” in the Lord. I have been praying for both of you. You could not have been more accurate and eloquent on how you described “Anticipation” and its effects on ones mind. A wave of emotions and fear can edge their way in. Please push them back. Remember to have” Faith” and “Trust”. The photo of Kitty and yourself is so sweet. Will be praying tonight and tomorrow. Please keep us posted. Blessings and Love from Vermont, Judy

    My challenege- To be perfectly honest, trusting and sharing from my heart. Seven years ago, my husband of 24 plus 2 years divorced me to marry his mistress. I gave all that I had to love, support and serve. With a special devotion to assist him with his lifes work.

  3. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Eileen, Thank you for the update on Paul’s anticipated surgery. My prayers are with all of you. I do hope you have asked the doctor’s to provide enough information to reduce your fears. Patience. I remember reading Norman Cousins and Depra Chopra, too about the importance of positive thinking. I guess it all boils down to what “plane” in life do you choose to adopt– practical, creative, impulsive, logical, etc… Positive thinking works ! Your writing expresses the positives, even when the negatives are part of the equation. Keep on writing and being who you are. I think you have found yourself. Paul will win because you have it!!! I love your kitty, your beautiful snowflake blanket and the easy propped up slouch you practice with the window and light behind
    you. Challenges for me seem to be to stay healthy in mind and body and to try to understand Kent and my sons. I try and retreat– back off to keep the discussions going. My son Charlie is excellent and William is great, too. Kent bucks his day too much… Keep us in touch with Paul’s progress. Elaine

  4. Susan Cobb says:

    May you both find Peace Eileen with what your life has to bring. As you know I have been fighting a challenge for my son since November. Three operations and trips to Duke University every 2 weeks . (that’s a 2 hour drive) The operations consist of pig bladder powder xenograft, with a total of 3 procedures doing this every 2 weeks. I was informed this week that Anthem Blue cross will NOT pay. Cry, cry ,cry, I have tried to stay so positive, but human weakness has entered with depression. My son is exhausted and so are his parents. But I still try to see the positive. We don’t qualify for financial aid by making 3,000 to much but yearly only make 44,000. We live pay check to pay check with 150.00 for gas and food to last every 2 weeks. Positive is hard to find but my son is alive and has a hand not functional but has it in tacked. It all boils down to the FDA who I don’t have much faith in when it comes to stem cell. This procedure is working very well, but they would rather him be cut in several areas to skin graft his own skin. Its all I can do to keep the hand infection free could not imagine 6 other spots to deal with as well? The positive here, is Skin is growing back. This will take another 5 procedures every 2 weeks. Monday is my Birthday, the big 48 and we go back to Duke, so I’m trying to find the positive on that ? 🙂 Thanks to a mutual friend she helped me with the deductible, (positive) now all I have to do is pay on the 50,000, (negative) I don’t think I’ll live that long to pay it off. Remember my turnip saying 🙂 But don’t want our credit ruined so I just cry, cry cry for now. My words everyday are let me have Peace with what ever happens and to show love and project love.
    Best possible out come, I don’t have a nervous break down and some one finds it in there heart to help the helpless ?
    Please keep us up to date on Paul he is in my thoughts daily as are you, with love !

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