Delighting in Disappointment

My life has been filled with disappointment. I’m sure that you have experienced a lot of disappointment as well. We all experience times when things don’t work out quite the way we expect or would like them to happen, like relationships that end unexpectedly, project proposals that are unfunded, job opportunities that are offered to another candidate, and betrayals of our trust. There are many, many more things that can potentially cause us disappointment in any given day.

Disappointment usually occurs when we give our power away to other people and plan our lives around an outcome over which we have little to no control. This is something we do because it makes intuitive sense to expect the best, or at least for things to continue as they always have. Disappointment is a part of life. If we fail to experience disappointment, we have probably also failed to push ourselves hard enough to explore new opportunities that could potentially infuse our lives with more meaning and joy.

Disappointment is an opportunity for learning and growth in disguise. But too often we react to disappointment with self-indulgent reeling rather than radical self-healing. Dismissal by others can be interpreted as rejection of our ideas, our projects, our work, or even the core of who we are. It hurts our feelings, and makes us question our value. Maybe we think that we are all that when we really just plain old suck.

But maybe other people are not yet ready to cross the boundaries that we find beautifully exhilarating. Maybe the world needs what we have to offer, but not the whole entire world and everyone in it. Maybe there are better opportunities waiting for us. Maybe there are people counting on us to continue on and come forward with whatever it is that we have to offer that could dramatically improve their lives. Disappointment reminds us that we have the freedom to organize our lives around those things that are most closely aligned with our hearts’ desire. One no means one million possible yeses.

40 for 40 #6: Sourdough

I have always been curious about sourdough, but when I recently read that it both had a lower glycemic index than other breads and offered beneficial bacteria I decided to give it a try. I promptly ordered a starter that originated in the 1700s and a nice airy jar in which my starter would reside.

If you haven’t worked with sourdough before, it requires a bit of TLC. If it is kept on the counter, it needs to be fed with water and flour every day. If it is kept in the refrigerator, which is what I do, it only needs to be fed once a week. Each time it is fed, half of the starter needs to be used or thrown away. As a Pennsylvania Dutch person raised with the motto of “waste not, want not,” I of course need to fund a use for my starter each week. I have been eating a lot of blueberry pancakes.

I’m one of those people who tends to go overboard as soon as I latch on to sometime. I had an idea about how I could travel throughout the world with my sourdough starter — incorporating bacteria from every state, and finally every country, so that I could bake peace bread to provided sustenance to people in need. While I haven’t yet started this project, I am tempted to put my starter in the backseat of my car, neatly tucked in a seatbelt with a pillow for support, the next time I cross over into the nearby New Jersey border.

40 for 40 #5: Hat’s On

I bought myself my first big fancy hat. Not only is it de rigueur for the Devon Horse Show, the event at which I first wore it, it protected me from the lobster-like sunburn which I involuntarily acquired while sitting and walking out in the sun for hours on end at last year’s show. Hat shopping wasn’t fun; after more than six months of searching I finally found something that looked fabulous in a sea of mediocrity. I felt very self-conscious while wearing the hat at the show since it is not something I have ever done before. But I did receive two unsolicited compliments, and I think it put me among the better, though not necessarily the best, dressed ladies at the event.

I almost bought a hat at last year’s show. It was very pretty, but a hairy black spider took up residence inside and I decided not to disturb her habitat. At this year’s show, the usual array of hats were available for sale, but prices tripled since last year. And that does not include the big fancy hat shop, where I didn’t even look at the prices lest I drop over dead from not shock but sheer jealousy over the fact that what is to some a casual hat purchase is to me a mortgage payment (or two).

This is just be beginning of my big fancy hat odyssey. Perhaps I will purchase one new hat every year, to mark the occasion of my birthday — or to wear to a horse show.