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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Musings of the Day: Reframing Life's Smaller Disappointments

A week or so ago, I was thinking about reframing how I see some of life's lesser disappointments. Sometimes we don't get what we want. For example, shopping a clothing store's clearance sale, finding the "perfect" top, only to not find it in my size. Or, planning for and prepping for a career change into a specific role, only to have circumstances prevent any of the plans from coming to fruition. Or, growing a garden, only to have it fail, big time. 

And sometimes we get what we want but in a different time frame. For example, putting high hopes into a home garden to have it fail one year, but the following year the garden does splendidly. Or more specifically, trying to grow a particular plant a couple of years in a row with no success. But then many years later to try again, this time producing a beautiful plant or set of plants. 

It often feels like there's no rhyme or reason for these less significant disappointments. We may be doing everything we can that is right. Yet still, our efforts are fruitless. Then another time, we put just a bit more effort in to our project and it does very well. It can feel discouraging to not understand why.

I don't believe life is so random. I feel things happen as they do and when they do by design. That's not to say that catastrophes are by design. But those little provisions or lack of provisions made on our behalf happen as they do in ways that benefit us or someone else. 

Where is the benefit? I was trying to reframe some disappointments. When I've been disappointed in trying to get a bargain on something I thought I wanted, I can see it as this "thing" isn't the right one for me.  My daughter bought an item on ebay that she really wanted. After her offer was accepted, the seller "lost" the item. My daughter was very disappointed in how this turned out. We talked about how sometimes that special thing isn't as special as we're thinking it is, when all is said and done. And perhaps there's an even better special thing that will pop up right around the corner. Or perhaps she'll discover that deep down, she's glad she was "saved" that money, so now she can afford something else.

I was picking the next round of apples off of an apple tree this afternoon. I was using my picking tool and being careful to not knock other apples off. However, I still managed to knock 6 apples off the tree and onto the brick walkway. I had wanted to harvest this batch of apples to save for October and November meals and snacks. These are long-keeping apples. As each hit the paved area, I felt my heart sink a bit. One more apple that won't keep. Then I tried to reframe this disappointment. So this is what I do when I knock and bruise apples. I bring them into the kitchen, wash, cut off bruises, cut into chunks, and freeze for making crisps, cobblers, and snack cakes in fall. Perhaps these bruised apples will provide variety for my family in how we eat apples -- some baked as treats in addition to eating fresh. Or perhaps I just need to find a better technique for harvesting apples in the future, which will save untold numbers of apples from bruising.

I had planned and prepped for a particular job in my field, awaiting an interview just after winter of 2020. I had taken courses to help me qualify. I had networked to land this interview. I had made a good connection with the recruiter. Then the pandemic shut everything down and kept it closed for a long time where I live. The recruiter was forced into early retirement. My connections evaporated. And I became a couple of years older. So yes, this is a disappointment for me. It's obviously a greater disappointment than not finding a sale shirt in my size or bruising some apples. But it is not the worst thing to happen in my life. So, I'm choosing to see this an an opportunity in disguise. Perhaps there would have been unknown-to-me-now complications in taking on this role at my age. Perhaps I would not have felt fulfilled by this job, but instead felt harried. Perhaps it would have been stressful in ways that I don't experience in my at-home role. Perhaps being at home opens additional doors and opportunities that fill a role that is greater than my life alone, instead serving a greater purpose. And that last "perhaps" is a bingo moment for me. The time I've had at home has opened spiritually fulfilling doors in my life. 

I can draw an example of a disappointment that was just a matter of when and not if in growing mâche in my garden. I did try to grow mâche (AKA corn salad) many, many years ago. I've since learned that germination can be tricky with these seeds. So I tweaked my seeding with this batch and, as a result, I have a lovely small patch of mâche growing now. For what purpose would this not have grown well for me all those years ago but now does grow. For one thing, my children were all young then, and unwilling to try new foods. The kids that are still at home now have much more sophisticated tastes and will appreciate this new-to-us green. Another garden item -- my pumpkin patch. I really worked hard at this new garden spot. And it has barely produced any pumpkins. I have one largish green pumpkin and a tiny almost orange one. I had dreamed of having a whole lotta pumpkins growing by now. It just wasn't to be. While it's a disappointment for this year's garden, that doesn't mean that next year I won't have a spectacular pumpkin patch. I can learn from this year's growing experience and make needed changes. Perhaps I was meant to have to work a bit more to make the pumpkins grow well. Perhaps if it had come too easily to me, I would not have appreciated the outcome. Alternatively, perhaps this year I am in a better financial position to buy pumpkins and squashes from the produce stand on the highway. Or perhaps, my purchase from the produce stand will benefit the employees and owners there. Whereas if my pumpkin patch had been successful, I'd have had no need to purchase any.

All of this makes me think about a quote that was once told to me -- "what is for you won't go past you." Those things, big and small, that are destined to be ours will become ours in the Creator's time. But if something is truly not for us, there may be a reason unknown to us. 

Just something on my mind.


  1. We as humans often do not have the ability to see the really big picture and find it hard to understand why something happens. But even from the worst of things, we can always learn from them. But boy, those lessons are hard sometimes.

    1. I agree, Live and Learn. The "why" is always hard to get past. If I can change my perspective and find how disappointments can actually provide opportunities, I don't need to understand why quite as much.

  2. I deal with my disappointments by always trying my best, at least then I can live with the outcome. I know this sounds strange but I look at life like a series of math problems. There is a right answer specific for me at my time and place, and my job is to figure it out. At least it puts the responsibility on me to do my due diligence and learn so I can have more tools in my tool bag (how I view math as a subject). My right answer may be puzzling to others but perfect for me. This teaches me to be more independent (as opposed to being codependent) .

    Have a good day,

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your thoughts. I agree, what is right for others may or may not be right for ourselves. I try to remember that.

  3. Thank you for writing so gracefully about disappointments. I think it's less challenging to handle these when people aren't involved. For example, I think we'd probably handle it better if we missed a job opportunity because of Covid vs if we missed a job opportunity because we went through a divorce or other difficult people situation. God continues to close some doors- temporarily or permanently and then He always opens some, we just have to keep shifting our focus on the open ones.

    1. Hi Farhana,
      Oh yes. I agree with you on this. It's so much easier to accept a disappointment when it's circumstances that prevent something and not an issue with other people. Thank you for pointing that out.


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