expectations and hopes

hopes + expectations

Hopes and expectations are topics I love digging into with clients, especially those looking to make mindset shifts part of their health journey.

And they’ve been on my mind a lot recently on my own journey.

If you have been keeping tabs on me through the podcast and/or my blog, you know I’m back living in Vermont after 35 years living all over the country, from Colorado to Massachusetts back to Colorado to Illinois to California to Michigan.

Perhaps because my visits back to Vermont in the past decades have mostly been in the late summer or fall, I’d forgotten how incredible spring is here.

Yes, it’s mud season—and it’s also the season of a parade of flowering plants: the crocuses give way to daffodils to tulips to lilacs to honeysuckles. And the air smells divine!

there are no coincidences

I moved back in mid-March and spent time in an Airbnb while I waited to close on my condo, then moved back in with my mother while the condo is under renovation.

The timing of both moves—first back to Vermont, then back into the house where I grew up—couldn’t have been more perfect.

My stepfather, who would have turned 97 in June, had been failing steadily over the past few months, and he passed away the day before I had planned to move back into the house.

He landed in the hospital for observation after a fainting episode, and the next day, my mother and I had a wonderful visit with him. His mind was as sharp as ever, and his sense of humor had obviously won the nurses over.

The visit was full of love and light and laughter as we talked about him coming home the following day, what spring was doing outside, and what was happening in the condo—he was always concerned that I get my nickel’s worth in every transaction!

Forty minutes after we left, the hospital called to say he was gone—his heart just stopped.

There are no coincidences—only miracles.

expectations and renovations

I was always telling Ken that the hope that he would die in his own bed was lovely—and could we please have a plan B?

But Ken lived life and passed away very much on his own terms. In the last weeks, he had started to mutter about maybe getting to know what the nursing home could offer, but he always held onto the hope that it wouldn’t come to that.

It sounds strange to put it this way, but he made a really beautiful transition, which has helped balance out the grief a fair bit.

As renovations at the condo drag on, I’ve been thinking a lot about hopes and expectations.

I know that renovations—especially in this day and age of overscheduled contractors—usually take longer than projected. And I was fully ready to wait a few weeks.

It’s looking more like a month or more—and I’m okay with that for a few reasons:

  • First, I want the condo to be a place I love—not a place I’ve settled for.
  • Second, the extra weeks at my mom’s are giving me time to support her through the myriad tasks that follow a death.
  • And finally—my husband will be home for the summer, arriving just in time to help me buy new furniture, a task I really dread.

Brené Brown says that expectations are resentments waiting to happen—I talk about this a lot with my clients.

If I had expected the renovations to be done by the end of May, I would be pretty resentful by now. I’m still living in limbo, my son even more so after his first year of college with no home to return to. My movers got off lightly because they simply put everything in the garage rather than hauling it upstairs. And on and on.

hopes + expectations

Leo Buscaglia wrote that there is a difference between hope and expectations—the difference being in whether or not we are attached to the outcome: expectations invest in the outcome going our way; hopes do not invest in the outcome.

I posted about this topic on LinkedIn recently, and I got two very insightful comments about making a mindset shift from expectation to hope:

  • The first said, “I now never experience disappointment in outcomes, and am often pleasantly surprised.”
  • And the second commenter noted that she’s “noticing small gifts day to day rather than the big finish.”

It’s a great reminder of what I invite my clients to do: pay attention to and celebrate even the smallest positive changes. Every one of them moves you toward the bigger objectives and goals.

So if expectations are resentments waiting to happen, what are hopes?

Maybe hopes are miracles waiting to happen.


  1. Marjorie Uren

    I collect sayings like this:

    Hope is pretending to believe in something until one day you don’t have to pretend anymore. — Harry Miller

    1. Elizabeth Baker

      A much nicer way of saying, “Fake it ’til you make it?” I like your version MUCH better.

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