Be careful what you want, you just might get it.

“Be careful what you want you just might get it”. Mum frequently said this as we were growing up and as children my sisters and I probably didn’t really understand it. I want an ice cream. I want a new dress. I want to go to my friends to play. What could possibly be wrong with wanting something?

I was intrigued to look for the saying online and find out the original goes like this, ‘Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true’ and is attributed to Aesop, the legendary Greek author of moral fables.

In my adult life I understand the saying, all too well, especially right now. In recent years, each time I’ve returned home from holidays I set myself the task of noting down, while my shift in perspective is fresh, and before I’m on the treadmill of routine, what would  I like to do differently in my day-to-day regime?  One of the repeated themes is less rushing, especially in the mornings. My favourite way to greet the day is with some movement, journaling, and quiet time of spirit led reflection and mindfulness. Unplanned, I now find myself with a few weeks of slow mornings. How did this happen? Rushing around, trying to do three things at once. I slipped at home, landed heavily on my outstretched arm which went crunch. I knew instantly it was serious. Sure enough I fractured my forearm near my wrist. It was unstable and required surgery, and with my wrist and lower arm restrained in first a plaster cast, and now in a splint with very limited weight-bearing capacity my clinical practice is out of the question for a few weeks. Do I miss it? Absolutely. Am I determined to use this time productively? Yes.

Ironically, my theme word, for this year is embrace. I envisaged myself, embracing possibilities along with family and friends. Little did I know I’d be embracing, slow mornings. It’s challenging to accept this though, and there’s a sense of worthlessness because I’m not contributing to my community in the way that I’m doing accustomed to. Again it comes to mind that I wrote earlier about not just setting goals for what we want to achieve, but setting goals for what we want to let go of and I’m finding this letting go process much more difficult than imagined.

I recognise that a big part of this is about identity, and my identity is firmly wrapped up in being a health professional who makes a difference in other people’s lives. Right now I need to focus on healing myself. Plus this vitality blog. I’m learning that part of living with vitality is about the capacity to heal – because illness and adversity is not 100 percent preventable. A lovely client commented to me, on learning of this injury “I thought you were indestructible”. I just erased that from my identity!

More than two weeks into this experience I can chuckle now as I look back in my journal and see where I wrote I will change the saying “it’s no use crying over spilt milk to “it’s no use crying over broken bones”.  In reality tears are often an essential component of healing, which is where self compassion becomes necessary.

This post would not be complete without commenting on the deep gratitude I have for family, friends and work colleagues who have all stepped up and been here for me in this unexpected experience. An experience that I didn’t wish for even though one of the beneficial outcomes is slow mornings.

In the bigger scheme of things, this is a small blip, and yet an invaluable lesson in understanding the pain and frustration of others.

I’ve been inspired by these words of Adam Grant “Resilience is not about being invulnerable to hardship. It’s about accepting adversity as part of life. Some struggles are challenges to conquer. Others are weights to carry. Strength doesn’t come from avoiding setbacks. It comes from refusing to be defined by suffering.”

Thinking about your life’s experience you might like to ponder the following prompts,

What, in your life’s experience have you wanted, then when you’ve received it discovered you didn’t actually want it at all?

What is your preferred way to start the day?

What could you let go of to achieve greater ease and vitality?

I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Wishing you vitality, even in adversity.


PS Recently I relished the opportunity to collaborate with a highly regarded naturopath and author Anthia Koullourus on healing back pain holistically. Here is the link

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