“Expect Delays”

Saturday, July 7th, 2012
Twenty-Two Months After the Fire

Hello Dear Friends,

Well, the new house is not quite finished. Since the lease ran out on Rental Number Four,  Nellie and I are spending the week in a hotel here in town.  It’s only a week, so in the grand scheme of things, no big deal, but I find it funny that after writing “Sliding Into Home” I am still “stuck on third.”

A friend of mine once told me a great story about an experience she had with delays. She was driving home late one night on a two-lane country road, way out in rural Ohio. She’d just come from a long series of meetings about a big project she was working on, and was frantically worrying about all the tasks she had to accomplish. Suddenly, she saw a huge construction sign loom out of the dark, flashing, “EXPECT DELAYS.”  She slowed down and kept looking around in the darkness for equipment or road construction, but never saw anything out of the ordinary, just the lone sign in the middle of nowhere, flashing out its message.  She realized it had probably been left behind accidentally by construction workers, but being a contemplative person, she decided to take it as a sign from the Universe  – “Expect Delays.” She decided, as an experiment,  to consciously practice giving up expecting anything to happen on time. It turned into a wonderful practice.

During the course of her project at work, each time they got behind schedule, the rest of the team would freak out, but she would smile and think, “Ah! Expect Delays.” Eventually, of course, the project was completed, only a bit behind schedule in the end, and she had learned a great lesson about expectations and serenity. She said the experience changed her life; all because of a flashing sign in the middle of nowhere.

In our culture, we love deadlines and timelines, and we love to chop time up into little pieces that we think we can parcel out and control. We take a complex process like building a house and try to put in on a schedule. We wonder, “How long will it take to finish the house?” So we come up with an arbitrary number of months and then try to make reality match our expectations.  And all the while, the Universe chuckles, and flashes its little sign, “Expect Delays.”

I, of course, have been chomping at the bit to get home for the past two years, and have badgered my poor contractor incessantly. “When are they pouring the foundation? How long will it take to dry? When do the framers start? How long will that take? When does the drywall go up? How come we’re behind schedule? Is there anything I can do to move things along?”  Jerry, with infinite patience, replies, “Nope. This is just the nature of construction. Things happen.” And, of course, things do happen. And that is not only the nature of construction, but of life.

In spite of my fussing, this whole burning-down-the-house experience has taught me so much about letting go, not only of “stuff,” but of expectations. It has taught me to focus less on  the future (What if…?)  and more on the present (What IS.) It has taught me to be more spontaneous, and it has shown me that in many ways, for many years, I have been a prisoner of my own expectations.  It has taught me to not only expect delays, but to roll with them, and to look for the hidden blessings in each one. It has shown me, ultimately, how to be more free.

So this week, instead of being home, I’m in a cute little hotel suite in town, where it is pouring, pouring rain. Nellie is sitting at the window, watching the world go by, and I have some quiet time to sit and reflect on the last two years, and rest a bit. Just one more bend in this long road. I wonder what’s around the next corner…

Enjoy the week and all it has to offer,


Curt and his son, Connor, measure for blinds

Construction cleaners get the house ready for move-in

Barbara organizes the window covering order

Jerry keeps calm...

... and carries on.

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7 Responses to “Expect Delays”

  1. Another new mantra for me…Expect delays. How true!

  2. Andi,

    You have integrated some things that often take people a lifetime to understand . . . if they ever do come to that understanding. The fire has clearly seasoned you. It is apparent when one is with you, as well as when one reads your words. Having your house burn down is a tough one to come to such beauty, but come to it you have.

  3. Andi, I love this post about expectations and delays. So excited that soon – very soon – your hurry-up-and-wait-days will be happening from your new home base.

  4. Mary O'Conor Rosenfeld says:

    Marvelous insights, beautifully expressed. Blessings and best wishes as you are ’rounding third base’ ~ home is within view! Cousin Mary

  5. Mandy says:

    When I listened to the news on Friday night about flash floods in Four Mile Canyon and groaned thinking what an awful homecoming it would be for you. So I’m relieved to read that all is well.

    I learned about “Expect Delays” during the divorce process. Life is much less stressful when you can accept those delays and realize that there are things in this life that you can’t control …

  6. This is gorgeously written and such a great message for all of us. I especially resonated because I lived in rural Ohio growing up and for five years in the early 2000s. That’s when I went through my house-building phase. What an amazing process it is, bringing together so many people with so many different useful skills. I really loved it, but I didn’t have any deadlines to contend with.

  7. Gail Storey says:

    Andi, I loved your interview and the showing of the house on Fox News, as well as this post! What an exciting, redemptive time! And Nellie does so well in all her photo-ops, including on TV.

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