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Anticipation. It’s a tricky word that sneaks its way into our lives in unsuspecting ways. All the worry and hope hiding beneath the surface consumes us. Or at least it does for me. I spend so much time living with an expectation for what is to come—good, bad, or indifferent—that it steals all the energy away from fully experiencing the present.

Even when I’m aware of my tendency to engage in this pattern of behavior, it’s so difficult to stop. I suppose that’s the nature of habits themselves, but that might be a story for another day. The mind is a powerful tool, and it can sometimes be used in unhealthy (or at least unproductive) ways. We worry intensely about what negative things might occur, and they’re rarely as bad as we imagine they could be. And on the flip side, we absolutely can’t wait for something we’ve looked forward to for eons, and the overall experience doesn’t meet the idealized image in our thoughts.

Yep, anticipation is a four-letter word. Fear. It gets under our skin. It messes with our minds. It makes us doubt whether something is going to be what we expect it to be. And that’s where it’s helpful to draw a parallel between two words, anticipation and expectation. They go hand in hand.

I had a meeting last week. It was an important one. High visibility. Immense opportunity. And I couldn’t stop myself from hyper-focusing on it. The lead up to said event was rife with anxiety and distraction and a lack of appreciation for what was happening around me. I was missing out on moments of my life for something that hadn’t even occurred yet. And in my mind, I knew that it probably wasn’t going to be as stressful as I was making it out to be, but oh how powerful that voice inside our heads can be at times.

And this is where, ironically, I take that thought and turn it on its head. We are the ones who control the tone of that voice in our heads. We have a choice. And we can decide to live in anticipation of the future, or we can immerse ourselves in the present moment. I make it sound like it’s a simple thing to do. It’s not. I struggle with it every moment of the day. But, alas, and even though it is utterly cliché, practice makes perfect.

I was watching the finale of American Idol not too long ago. I had a clear favorite, and it’s not lost on me that her name is Abi. It's the name of the female protagonist in my next novel, Chasing Light, even if my spelling is a bit different—Abbi. I came up with that name long before the show even began airing on television. It’s another one of those subtle signs from the universe that always makes me smile. Alas, I digress.

I was anticipating this show and its results for a full week. It was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating, because I was so invested in the outcome—for no good reason, I might add, other than Abi Carter’s voice and music connecting with me. But I made a conscious effort to remain present in the moment, both in the time leading up to the final episode of the season as well as while I was watching it. I fully immersed myself in all the emotions of each moment, and it provided me with a slightly new vantage point. There wasn’t some monumental shift or aha moment, but things did feel a bit different when encouraging myself to stay in the moment. Anticipation became a friend instead of a foe. I allowed myself to accept those feelings of worry and hope when they arrived. I recognized them, acknowledged them, and then returned to the present. I slipped up, letting myself get pulled down that metaphorical rabbit hole deeper than I’d wanted to, but as I’ve shared before, it’s a process.

It’s always enlightening to me when dots are connected in ways that just make sense, and with an element of timing that feels like another one of those signs from the universe. The sequence of events over the past several weeks complements my completion of Rebecca Serle’s novel, Expiration Dates. It’s a novel that shares how each of our stories impact others in sometimes unsuspecting ways. We each have a choice available to us, every moment of each day, to become the truest version of ourselves and who we want to be. I eagerly look forward to that next opportunity, as I hope you do too. Now, that’s a version of anticipation I can get behind.


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