Tag Archives: expectations

Live Simply in 2019, July Mantra: Release Expectations

Monday, July 1, 2019

Live Simply in 2019, July mantra: Release Expectations

We’re a demanding group of people; have you noticed? We want precisely what we want at the moment we desire it, hold strongly preconceived notions about how long getting what we want should take, how much it will cost, and how much effort it will require.

These expectations are so often fulfilled according to our exact wishes (hello, Prime shipping, GPS, et al.), causing us to treat expectations as guarantees.

But the world doesn’t run on Prime. The timelines for projects can–and usually do–shift. Unforeseen obstacles arise. Traffic happens. And if we have not consciously cultivated an ability to cope with things not panning out as we initially expected, we are doomed to be brought down by those changes.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t be allowed to hold reasonable expectations for the people in our lives. In fact, being able to rely on those we work or live with, in some capacity or other, is essential to healthy relationships.

Nor is it unreasonable to figure that our daily commutes will take as long as they normally do, that mailing a letter across the country will take as long as the USPS prescribes that it will, that hitting a career groove will tend to happen in one’s 20’s and 30’s, or that the watermelon, so carefully chosen at optimal ripeness, won’t be full of crumbly, mealy bits.

The key is to hold all of those, first and foremost, as desired outcomes. We can look forward to a given result occurring in a preferred amount of time. But we would be wise to consider such wishes as best-case-scenario, most favorable possibilities that the world may generously provide to us, but does not owe us.

Everything beyond that, hard as it may seem to a society of fortunate, spoiled, hopeful, humans, we leave to the universe to control. We acknowledge, even through gritted teeth, that life is unfolding at a perfectly synced pace, and that every moment is ripe with opportunity from which we can learn and grow.

The Possible Pitfalls Of Giving Things Away To Friends & Family & How To Avoid Them

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It wasn’t that long ago that we discussed the dos and don’ts of decluttering as concerns giving things away to friends and family. That post was important, and this one, equally so.

Let’s establish the known: when you can give things away to people you know, whom you know would appreciate them, that feels marvelous. As in, feels better to most of you than parting with your belongings to strangers.

There are, however, 3 reasons why this habit can become problematic, and we should positively delve into those now.

A must read for anyone trying to declutter and simplify their lives. Great motivation & advice about what to do with what you no longer need.


Reason # 1

It is chiefly important to develop and refine your relationship with stuff, and to get to a place where you can–with clarity of perspective and priorities–part with things no longer serving you freely and easily.

That means: giving things away without being overly concerned as to their ultimate fate (a desire to recycle what you can, or to seek out stellar charitable organizations for your goods not included).

Your giving things away to friends and family may merely be a mechanism for you to avoid the reality of really letting things go. In that case, it is even more imperative that you do donate your goods anonymously to the world, rather than to your loved ones. 

Only when you have gained the skills needed to release your attachments to stuff can you be trusted to make decisions about where to allocate your goods.


A must read for anyone trying to declutter and simplify their lives. Great motivation & advice about what to do with what you no longer need.


Reason # 2

It’s one thing if you know someone who is legitimately struggling financially, or whom you know has specific need of the thing or kinds of things you’re getting rid of.

But you know what? If your aunt or granny or best friend forever or husband’s colleague’s wife or mailman is like most people–I promise you–they have enough stuff of their own already.

It is essential that in your quest to simplify you remember that pretty much everyone else is aimed at doing the same. Don’t be responsible for setting anyone else back in their progress.


A must read for anyone trying to declutter and simplify their lives. Great motivation & advice about what to do with what you no longer need.


Reason # 3 

Giving once-prized, especially valuable things away to friends and family can ultimately damage your relationships. That assertion sounds like a bit of local nightly news melodrama (Brushing your teeth is actually giving you cancer! Your children’s playground is leaching toxic chemicals especially the slide your kid slid down earlier this afternoon the yellow one he might die! Plus, why water is worse for us than we all ever thought! Tonight at 11.) but it’s absolutely true.

When you give things away to the larger world through charities etc., you also release your attachments to them. You might think of them once in the week afterwards, but most likely, never again. You won’t spend your time thinking, “That person who bought my globe from the Salvation Army better be taking good care of it.” If you do, we’ve got some other conversations that need having. 

On the other hand, when you give things away to people you know, those items remain in your life. You haven’t actually carried out a break up, but entered a joint custody situation.

You aren’t necessarily saying, “Goodbye, and whatever shall happen to you shall happen,” but rather passing something along to someone else with an unspoken expectation of how that person should receive and integrate the thing into their lives.

This is where the trouble ensues. If that item is not cared for or utilized in the manner or extent to which you deem appropriate, you may begin to resent your loved one. 

I see and hear about this every day:

Do you know I gave that person a motorcycle and she never rides it?

I once gave her a gorgeous antique side table and it’s in shambles now because her dog’s chewed on it.

Even my first-grade client the other day told me with all the seriousness in the world: “Mummy wants me to give the clothes that don’t fit me to my friend but I’ve given her things before and she never even said thank you.”


A must read for anyone trying to declutter and simplify their lives. Great motivation & advice about what to do with what you no longer need.


So what’s a person to do?

1. Get good at giving things away period. Get comfortable with the idea that you as soon as you relinquish a thing you cannot control it or anything about it.

2. Get better at ascertaining whether people or in your life actually need what you have to give. Get better at recognizing when your wanting to pass various things to loved ones is more about you than it is about them (i.e. more about your inability to let something go/desire to appear generous or abundant than it is about their need for it).

Ask them more than just “do you want this?”

Ask them:

“Can you really see yourself using this? If not, I know a fantastic charity that I know would desperately love to have it.”

Take care of them by taking the time to find out whether your giving things to them is more helpful or more burdensome.

3. Do not give anything away to anyone you know unless you mentally sever all ties to that thing.

Accept that you have no way of predicting how another person will care for or value an item.

Feel free to inform the person you’re gifting an item to of the item’s notable value (if it has one), in order to suggest that if and when they don’t want or need it they may want to consider selling it. Feel free to convey the history an item has had with you or your family, or relay the story of its procurement.

Then release any expectation for that person to abide by or consider a single thing you’ve told them. Everyone has unique priorities and that is the bottom line to just about every plausible resulting scenario.


Image credits: Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier via Vogue, Anthropologie catalogue July 2011, LoveJoyCreate, via Elements

Monday’s Meditation: On Form Vs. Content

Monday, October 7, 2013

One of the things that trips us up most in life is our expectations–we are told we need a vision in order to move forward, to bring it to fruition. And so we go ahead and hatch one.

But while the universe always manages to provide us with some version of what we want or need, it has been known to, on occasion, tamper with the specifics. At its base level, the content of whatever we need or desire will be given to us, that much is certain. The form in which it arrives, however, will almost always veer from our initial conception of it.  

And this is what trips us up; too often we remain hung up on that initial form, thinking incorrectly that our mental picture will incarnate precisely, dismissing, meanwhile, what’s presented to us that appears differently. 

For the longest time, I imagined that my professional life would revolve around employment at a publication–a magazine, a newspaper, or something of the sort. From the age of six, I told my parents I wanted to be an author. And yet, when I began looking for writing jobs, there seemed to be none. The few highly covetable positions at the prestigious publications were gobbled up by eager applicants who had already interned at Vogue and The Times three summers in a row. And the positions themselves were in cities in which I had no desire to reside.

It was a depressing couple of months, scrolling those job sites, sending over well-intentioned, if despondent, cover letters.

Of course, now I see that the supposed absence of writing jobs was what opened up the possibility for me to pursue Live Simply. That the universe had slightly different plans for me, which, ironically, ultimately provide me what exactly what I had been seeking all along: a happy, fulfilling life, in which I am able to express myself creatively, to help and care for others, and to spread my Simple love.

While I was chasing the vision I had created for myself, the universe was sending me the message that what I wanted I could have–I would have–but it would arrive in a form which allowed me to do the most good in the world. Thankfully, I heeded the message. 

And this is what I think we can have faith in above all: the universe will always help us to achieve what we wish for, but, being the universe, it will all be slightly altered, so as to fit perfectly into the bigger picture of What Is.

Our challenge is to define what we want down to the deepest levels of what that thing is– whether it’s a job, a place to live, a relationship–so that when it is presented to us, we can recognize it, regardless of the exterior form it may take. 

That it doesn’t look exactly as we’d pictured it is usually more, not less, of a sign that we’re on the right track.


Have you experienced a differentiation in form vs. content in your own life? What were you expecting and what did the universe provide you with instead? I would love to hear; plop it in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. Thank you so much for reading and have a great week.