willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs


Great… and Not So Great… Expectations



I open this post with a photo of a group of family and friends, doing headstands on the beach this past summer. I am not sure who brought the idea up but I am certain that my sister Wendy upon hearing the word headstand, was one of the first to join in. You see, growing up in an age where electronics were at a minimum, the ease of computer usage had not been developed and social media was a term that had not even been coined yet… we spent quite a bit of time creating our own entertainment. We rode bikes, we read books, we played with friends making up games and scenarios that we would then act out… we did headstands. My dad was a huge headstander, not sure what was behind it but he was, and he taught us to be that as well. I am not referencing a secret morse code here actually referring to some other much needed and well used life time attribute, but a simple headstand. He had mad skills in that department, and he would spend hours showing us how to do one, or anyone else for that matter who was willing to join in and then coach us in how to get the same form that he had, pointing toes to the sky while supporting oneself on ones head for minutes on end… a truly mad skill. 


When friends and family started joining in on the headstand antics at the beach this summer, I remained seated in my beach chair. Itching and yearning to plunk my head in the warm sand, perching first one knee on one elbow and then the other knee until both knees rested on my outstretched elbows that were attached to my arms that stretched from my hands that would have been planted on either side of my head. I could hear my dad’s voice in my ears as the waves hit the sand, ” Once your elbows are steady on your knees, hold that position for a minute to get your balance, then tuck your knees into your chest as you slowly lift your legs upwards, hold in your stomach, tuck, tuck, tuck… point those toes to the sky.”  I had one major issue keeping me from joining in and bringing those words that I was hearing in my head into action. That pesky brain surgery that I had back in January from which has sprung a whole new set of expectations. Ones that I am not familiar with, ones that I do not care for but nevertheless have to abide by. I utter a little epitaph under my breath and sit silently as I watch the beachgoers in the sand. Dang Chiari Malformation… for placing my head anywhere below my knees let alone standing on it causes incredible pressure and pain, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. As does singing at the top of my lungs in the shower, raising my voice,  coughing, lifting heavy objects, and a whole host of other things. All of which I have participated in for most of my life. Many times those feelings come just standing in place or getting out of bed in the morning. Why am I being this revealing with this? Upon sitting on the beach, my eyes had settled on my nephew Cade who has Cerebral Palsy who was tossing about the football with some of his cousins on the beach. Cade does not have full use of his left arm, hand and leg, yet he plays football with the boys never the less. It takes much more effort for him to do so but he does so anyway. This is where the word expectations popped into my head and how you can change your expectations.


The word expectations is one of those double entrerde words that can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. Your expectations can motivate you to do great things, to excel, to accomplish what is on your To Do List, they can motivate you to reach further, to do better. And that is all good. But be careful, they can also stymy you if they are not malleable. Expectations can be thwarted by a whole host of things, so they need to be flexible and changeable or they can often set you up for defeat. Expectations are motivators, they are barometers that can be positively used to propel you forward or hold you back if held steadfast and unchangeable. 


Shortly after looking at having to change some of my expectations… for now… on what I can and cannot do, we arrived back home from the beach to start planning my son’s High School Graduation and college send off party. We had two glorious weeks of a cooler August than usual and all sons at home had participated in cleaning up the weed infested gardens, walls and lawn of the farm. Aidan, the son who the party was in honor of, was stung by bees countless times while on a ladder trimming the ivy that had grown wild in the incredibly wet summer that we had had prior to leaving for the beach. We had Ben back for a few days, who the boys, especially Christopher, love to have around working on the farm. They did a whopping good job getting everything set up for the Graduation pool party we were to hold in a couple days. The small tent went up by the pool to only be taken down 2 days after the party, never having been used.  

Our expectations for a fun outdoor “use the farm” party, faded into a scramble to move everything inside the day of, due to the impending thunderstorm warnings that looked like they were not going to fade into oblivion without exerting their might.

In addition, The day before the party our beloved family pet, Willow, passed away after an accident. We expected her to have a longer life with our family.

Culminating this theme of expectations having to be adjusted, this topic formulated further as I was undergoing an MRI the weekend after the party.  I had been expecting to feel a heck of a lot better at this point in time post surgery, but was not. If you have ever had an hour long MRI, you are well aware that you do all that you can with your thoughts to distract yourself from the jack hammer like sounds that go on and the bad music that is being played louder than the hammering to distract you from the hammering sounds. All of that noise just creates more noise… so you try to think. 

I thought about how if one does not adjust their expectations, sometimes often, than one is doomed to a life of misery. Truly dramatic… but truly true. There are so many things that we have NO control over and those things when they cause things in your life to go awry, can cause you frustration and anguish and it may seem like you are continuously sent off your path. Keep on going… keep getting up… keep adjusting those expectations. Stay true to the ones that are non negotiable; manners and etiquette for example if they are part of your values.  Keep in mind that expecations are just that… they are what you expect to happen, what you expect to accomplish. Don’t confuse them with goals because those are measurable. They are built upon a plan on how to reach them. You want to be in a new position at work, you set a goal to take the steps to make that happen. You take the steps, you make it happen. You don’t expect to make it happen. You make it happen. Expectations are based on a want or a need without making a plan.

As we enter into this Holiday season, expectations are at their height. Visions of sugar plums are dancing in our heads. Know what I mean? If I pulled my list of expectations out for the Holidays this year, first Thanksgiving and then Christmas, I know that I most likely will fall short… for a variety of reasons… If I look at ALL of them. I just might want to concentrate on a couple of those expectations and change them into goals with measurable steps that make them realistically accomplishable based on what is important. Many of them will end up going to “you know where in a hand basket”, where many of my carefully laid out expectations in my mind go. That must be one heck of a hand basket to fit all that stuff in there! If I didn’t have to finish this post tonight… for that is my goal, than I might look up from whence that terminology came from but I always attribute it to my Auntie, Nana and Aunt Pearl, the three ladies as they were called, respectively, my great aunt, my great great grandmother and my other great aunt. Not to be confused with the ANTS as the ladies would say, for they crawl on the ground. They most likely set me up for these grandiose visions of the holidays that I have and of life for that matter, along with my grandmother Nan and my parents. 

Whatever expectations you face, keep them in their place, don’t let them control who you are and what you do. If you do not reach them, you have not failed.  Live with the ones you cannot change for you have no control, make peace with them but make attainable goals on how you plan on making the most of them. Our Holiday Barn Sale is opening next week and of course I expected to be much further along in the preparations for it, but that always seems to happen. Late shipments, backordered items that come in dribs and drabs so all of the merchandise is not in at the same time, Halloween, family obligations, college visits, an opportunity to see Dear Evan Hanson, ( I mean, how could I pass that up?)… LIFE happens… and this will all fall into place with some long hours, a steady stream of Christmas music and goals… barring the expectations. We so look forward to ringing in the beginning of the holiday season with all of you and the organization that we are supporting during this Holiday Sale is Dysautonomia International. An organization near and dear to our hearts for as many of you know, our son Shane has lived with a subset of this called POTS for seven years now and we need some advancement in treatment let alone a cure! Talk about expectations… way too many of those afflicted have to deal with thwarted expectations and goals on a daily basis due to their bodies not physically supporting them. We need a cure!  A portion of all proceeds from the 3 day Barn Sale and Preview Brunch will go towards Dysautonimia International. To learn more about our upcoming Holiday Sale and Dysautonomia International, click below…

Holiday Preview Brunch

Holiday Barn Sale

Dysautonomia International


 To standing on our feet… and our heads again with no expectations!




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  1. Helen roberts says:

    as I said …u r in my mind again! Expectations( esp for us decorating types) can be as u say disabling or inspiring. this year I’m giving up (mostly) the whole shopping , wrapping etc thing. I’m asking for everyones fav charity( it can be themselves) haha, and donating to that. Already I feel unburdened, and ready to use the time for different , newer things. thx for always putting it in your lovely words. Also, once again, Kim Fellows, mean handstander!! xoxox, h

    • Meg Veno says:

      Helen, you are so very right that us decorating types can take it a little bit too far… I think the key is to do what makes YOU happy! IF asking for everyone’s favorite charity makes you happy when do it! IF searching for the perfect gift makes you happy than do it. IF standing on your head makes you happy, than do it! I love that you feel unburdened by your choice and can use that time for other things that again make you happy… I am happy for you! I Truly feel that we each have to make those decisions based on your own expectations and not what other expect of you! Thanks again for commenting Helen! and for letting me know that Kim is a mean handstander! xoxo Meg

  2. Jamie says:

    Beautiful, thought-provoking blog, Meg! Wishing for you that your expectations guide you happily through the season. In my mind, expectations are like vision, we can create them in our minds, but we usually never are able to control all the various pieces that are required to fall into place in order to arrive at that vision. But at least I need that vision in order to keep moving forward… and at some point in time, I’ll arrive there – or close to there – and it’s never quite as expected it to be, but I’m generally grateful for both the journey (bumps and all) and the outcome when I arrive.

    • Meg Veno says:

      I love the words that you just expressed Jamie! The journey is the best part, bumps, lessons and all! I search for things that I love to do for others over the Holidays and then set my expectations and goals based on those things. Happy! Happy! Thanksgiving to all of you! Love~ Meg

  3. Alison m says:

    Managing expectations also means facing reality as it pertains to the our own limitations. Not meaning to state the obvious, but we cannot help others if we don’t first attend to our own health issues. I’m worried about you, Meg. Your incredible drive might be your best advantage, but it can also be your worst enemy if it causes you to ignore the messages coming from your own body. The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is that getting older or having health problems means accepting that our limits have shrunk, and insisting on pushing the envelope when we should take a moment and dial back can lead to devastating consequences. As Dr. Corazon Aquino cautioned me several years ago: “Learn to work within your capacity.” I admit I’m still learning…we all have to. God only gave you one brain – please take care of it. I have heard so much about you – I am determined to come down to see your barn and hopefully, meet you, this season!