What’s up with Fridays? or Friday, My New Teacher

I am trying to live my life following a simple yet sometimes difficult to follow principle: put my energy and creativity to do my part in everything I undertake and let go of the expectation of the result being as I wish it to be. This is a very nice way to focus my mind and energy in doing as good as I can and not wasting it in worrying about the outcome or getting all worked up by perceived failure.

This said, when things do go well or even better than I could imagine them to go, it kind of becomes addictive so when something doesn’t go as smoothly and well as the rest, the fall feels harder. This is quite funny when I think about it, but not that funny when I’m in the middle of it .

The last couple of weeks have been what I would call ‘good weeks’. I feel motivated, inspired and creative at work. My colleagues and I had been working on a couple of projects for our students, and they seem to have worked well. Students had fun, and we believe they also learned something.

I have been offered to teach two groups of ‘corporate yoga’ at a company where I have worked before and people seem to enjoy the classes. I have many ideas for these groups and I am so happy and grateful to get this opportunity.

I will start teaching two other evening yoga classes at a new place where I have been given the freedom to decide what to teach and how to teach it. I also have many ideas for these two classes, and I am super happy that the owners of this place asked me to join their team.

My kids and husband are doing well, everything is running more or less smoothly at home with daily routines, kids’ after school activities, and so on.

Happy days but busy days. So the past two weeks, when Friday comes, I kind of expect it to go as smoothly as the rest of the week only even better because IT IS FRIDAY. Finally the day to ‘relax’ has come.

To my big surprise and frustration, both Fridays have been the most challenging days in both weeks. Just when I am starting to let down my guard, one by one small challenges, like obstacles in a race, start appearing and I notice how little patience I have to deal with them. I experience a combination of frustration and amusement watching myself become more and more angry because the day of the week that should be the ‘best day’, turns out to be the least relaxing.

What happened? Nothing big actually, but combined with my expectations on how things should be, it can feel quite big.

Last week, I struggled to keep my cool when the lady at the drugstore behaved in a way that I perceived as condescending. The frustration was not just because of how I felt I was being treated, it was combined with frustration against the health system because I have been trying to get in contact with one of the specialists that see our daughter to renew a prescription and it felt like Mission Impossible. Then the pharmacist, who of course doesn’t know this, wasn’t being helpful. I was tired after a ‘good’ but busy week, and I noticed myself getting angrier and angrier. My dad has a say ‘el que se enoja pierde‘ , ‘the one who gets angry looses’ (I’m very bad at translating these proverbs, I hope you get the point). So, I lost it, and I just had to get out of the drugstore to not get even more angry and say something that I would regret afterwards. Did the problem get fixed? Nope. So I kind of lost.

This week, the same story repeated itself but instead of a tired pharmacist, I met my tired ten year old Kitchen Aid. I had the ambition of making bread buns for the yearly voluntary work to get the neighbourhood ready for winter tomorrow morning. I wanted to make two batches. It was going to be a ‘cozy moment’ between my oldest daughter and I. Half way through the process of kneading the first dough, the Kitchen Aid said ‘bye bye’ and stopped working, and not only that, I couldn’t get the bowl out of its base to take the dough out. After five minutes of ‘patiently’ wrestling with the machine, my daughter standing by my side looking more and more worried, I just had to stop and observe myself for a minute. The thing is that I wasn’t only frustrated because the machine stopped working, I had already started making many connections in my brain. First, ‘what am I going to do without my Kitchen Aid?’ Followed by, ‘some weeks ago the electric whisk died, then the blender, and now the Kitchen Aid? What is wrong with our house? What am I going to do? I don’t want to knead two doughs tonight. It is going to get late and we won’t have time to watch that series we like to watch all together?, Our youngest daughter is going to be so disappointed?’ , and so on.

I took a deep breath, and went to get a rubber hammer from the basement to ‘gently’ encourage the bowl to let go of the base. My daughter’s eyes were as big as plates but I managed. And we continued our ‘cozy’ evening with me getting some extra arm strength as a bonus.

To be honest, now that I think about it. I am happy these kitchen appliances have been one by one saying goodbye. My kitchen counter has more space, and I can still cook a decent meal without them. I believe in trying to repair things when possible, but these three were old and cranky, so we can say goodbye with good conscience. Plus, my husband had a good time dismantling the whole thing.

I take with me some reflections for next week, and hopefully when Friday comes, I will be ready for its challenges. One: keep my expectations in check to avoid unnecessary waste of energy in frustrations. Two: make sure I take time to rest and do nothing from time to time from Monday through Thursday so when Friday comes, I still have energy to deal with whatever is. Three: keep practicing detachment, especially when it comes to material things. I have so much more than I really need, it is maybe only a gift to be encouraged to live in a simpler way.

Luckily, the buns turned out quite good. My kitchen looks tidier, and I can now go to bed with a smile in my face.

What do you see?

When I was in my early twenties, I lived in France in a student city near the northwest coast.  During four years, my main means of transportation was the tramway.

I moved away from France, got married and had children. Some years after my youngest child was born, I took a housewife vacation to visit old friends in France. I remember so well taking the tramway the first day and being puzzled by the number of kids and young couples with strollers in the tram. I did wonder for a little while if the city had changed that much from having many students to having many young couples with small children…what happened?

I had changed! Not the city. I was now mum to three small kids, and my focus in life was completely different from when I used to take the tram back in my uni years. This really amused me back then. There most probably were children and strollers in the tram when I was a student, but I wasn’t paying attention to them. I was living in a completely different world.

Lately, I’ve been reflecting a lot about how we create our reality through our mind. Whatever it is that occupies our mind influences what we see around us.  We tend to see what we are looking for.

Our perceptions can influence the way we experience the world at different levels. My story about France talks about what was occupying my mind at two different stages in my life, but expectations can also affect the way we experience things.

I was born in a big city, and when I was six years old, my parents decided to move to a completely different place by the coast, about 1000km from the city. They had been there two weeks before on a work trip for my dad and fell in love with the place. My brother and I had no idea of where this was and how it looked like. All we could do to get an idea was to listen to my parents talk about it.

From what my mum said, and out of what my imagination was able to produce, for me, it sounded like we were moving to Disneyland – even though I had never been in Disneyland before.

We drove there, it took two days. For a six-year-old, that was a long road trip. In addition, the closer we got to the place, the hotter the weather, so I remember the last hours of the trip as a little torture.

When we finally arrived, I remember so well my mum being super excited in the car, and me being super disappointed. The place was a small town, the vegetation completely different from what I grew up with, and what is worse, it didn’t look like what I had imagined at all! I think I kept my disappointment to myself, but I remember it took a while before I understood why we had left our big beautiful house in the city for this.

My experience in this new place was affected by the idea I had created in my mind. I eventually came over it  because as it turns out, it was a great place to grow up in, but I often remember this episode in my life and I have to laugh because as an adult, I have experienced quite often the same. I create an idea of how things should be and struggle with the disappointment of how things actually are.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming and having objectives, I can almost hear some of you thinking as you read, and I agree, but we might want to be aware of the moments when our experience of reality is muddled by our expectations.

I don’t know how many times I have spoiled an experience for me and those around me because if this. Either because of too high expectations or because of my biased mind.

I once had a boyfriend with whom I was very very in love but I was sure he was going to end up leaving me for someone ‘better’ than me. I had convinced myself that he was with me to pass the time, and as soon as he discovered that I wasn’t that great, he would leave me for someone greater than me. I must specify that at that time, I wasn’t aware of this, this became clear to me later.

So, most of the time I was with him, I was interpreting all his actions and inactions as a sign of him soon dumping me. If he was kind, he was kind out of pity, if he has distant, he was distant because he was tired of me, or even worse, he had a better time with another woman. It was exhausting, mainly for me because I didn’t necessarily share these crazy thoughts with him.

My point here is, how many times I messed up the nice time spent with him because of my inability to be in the moment without interpreting every action, every word, every gesture?  I was so lost in my perceptions that I couldn’t open up to the here and now.

I have been having fun with these memories this week because, I now know how my perception affects what I experience and how I experience it. This can be a useful tool both to show more understanding of other people’s attitudes and actions and also to be more aware of my own attitudes and actions towards the world around me. Especially when experiencing challenges. Maybe the challenge doesn’t really come from the outer world after all!

This has also led to a mind game I’ve been playing recently. Imagine if we could wake up every day to a completely new day! We would never ever need to travel away to find new things because the reality before our own eyes would constantly be offering us the opportunity to be amazed, to be surprised, to see something new and refreshing. All that is required from us is to open our eyes and let the mind rest.