Why I’m Staying Open to the Unexpected

birthdaycake Why I’m Staying Open to the Unexpected

I've Been Thinking...

I celebrated my birthday on Wednesday. It was a beautiful, warm, meaningful, lovely, and easy day.

It started with one of my daughters bringing me coffee, and then I took an early morning walk with my elder son (who bought me another cup of coffee and a vegan scone!). My other daughter picked me up later and read me my horoscope for the year. And then, my youngest son (who is away at college) Facetimed with me.

If that wasn’t enough (and it was!) so many friends and family took a moment to text, e-mail, and call to let me know that they love me and that I matter to them. I’ve come to learn over the years that that’s what life is really about: having people around that love you, see you, make you laugh, and make a point to reach out to you.

Something else also happened on my birthday that made me take a step back. It made me reflect on how I approach my life and discover a theme for my new year ahead.

What happened was that I got a text from someone I met many years ago—someone I really don’t know at all. It was someone I would have never expected to reach out to me on my birthday, but lo and behold, they did. Their message, which came out of the blue, reminded me of our previous exchange and wished me a happy day.

I was touched and surprised that someone I only met in passing before would think to reach out to me on my birthday. Their gesture kicked off my goal for this new year of life, which is to be open to the unexpected visitor, open to changes of plans, and open to new adventures, new experiences, and new friendships. It also reminded me that even if you don’t know someone that well, you have nothing to lose by reaching out, reminding them of your past exchange, and encouraging them forward.

It’s made me think what else might come out of the blue, and how I might live a more unexpected life this year. Maybe I need to loosen my hold on my schedule so that when the unexpected visitor pops up with an invitation, I’m open to receiving it. Maybe I need to live a little more out of the blue. Maybe, just maybe, I need to loosen my hold on what’s expected of me (which is a lot in my own mind) and live more freely as myself. That thought actually excites me. It brings me a sense of adventure. And, as my kids will tell you, I love adventures—big ones and small everyday ones.

Let’s be honest. Life itself is an adventure, and one of the big blessings of getting to my age is embracing that truth. I’ve got nothing to lose at this age. I can speak my truth, dress the way I want, and keep company with whomever I choose. I can wear my hair as wild as I want and be brave and reach out to someone I used to know, or someone I would like to get to know better.

Growing one year older is an opportunity that I know not everyone gets, so I want to view it as a gift and use it wisely. I want this year to matter. I want it to be special. I want it to be my best year yet.

This year, I’m going to be open to the unexpected. I’m going to act on the unexpected. I’m going to push myself to live out the unexpected, and maybe just be an unexpected visitor in someone else’s life.

After all, I’m assuming I didn’t get the gift of this new year of life just to live it the old, expected way. That would defy my expectations of myself. So, here’s to living out of the blue. Here’s to being open, not to what is, but to what can be. Here’s to the unexpected.

That what I’m expecting this year.


P.S. After I wrote my essay, a friend sent me this article about a Yale alum who made an offer out of the blue to a fellow graduate who ended up homeless. Unexpected visitors may be even more prevalent than I thought. Oh, and what about Michael Bloomberg's decision to run for president? I'm sure that was unexpected to everyone else running, for sure.


Dear God, please help me embrace life’s unexpected moments and surprises. Remind me to live in the present and be open to new experiences and people who enter my life. Amen.

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