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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(*Shh…everyone, SHHH! Ok, wait, no…shhh…wait…Ok!....)

SURPRISE - A sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment; to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly. [Surprise week starts here. Click for this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

Starting the week off with Lisa over at LifeUnity's take on the topic! Enjoy!!!

(*Shh…everyone, SHHH! Ok, wait, no…shhh…wait…Ok!....)

Glitter Graphics -

I’d be willing to guess you’ve never had a surprise party like that, but seriously – how cool would that be? To be going about your normal business, the mundane madness of life, and to be pleasantly surprised by being invited to celebrate Right Now?

Or, perhaps, to be joyfully floating along in Blog-land to be pleasantly surprised by being asked to do a guest post by an admired blogger? Oh yeah. Life CAN be like that.

Kathy did a beautiful post here a few months ago introducing the concept of Surprise and I must admit – I’m having trouble contemplating anything beyond what she mentioned!

Kathy’s intro: “Surprise : A sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment; to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly.” I did a Google search as well (and did you know, the first thing that came up is “Surprise, AZ”! Oh my, if anyone lives there or has visited, you have GOT to tell me what that place is like. How fun would it be if someone asked you where you lived and you got to say, “Surprise!”! Hah….). Back to the Google search:

There are a lot of definitions for Surprise. A few examples, “to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment” (there are those words again!) and “to lead or bring unawares, as into doing something not intended”. I don’t know about you, but contemplating those leads me to feelings of both desire and excitement…and deep terror.

What is it about surprise, about the unexpected, that has us on such edge? A few wild individuals seem to thrive on it. I’ll admit to having voluntarily jumped out of a plane several times, but I consider myself quite mild. I have a friend who has done thousands of jumps, including off of a bridge where you have about 18 seconds from “whee!” to “uh oh.”.

And there are those “good” surprises which we all long for: the lottery win, the unexpected compliment, the act of kindness from a stranger.

But what about surprise that throws us off of the path on which we so confidently sleepwalk? That which leads us “into doing something not intended”? From the mild surprises such as that which the dog left on the carpet or the phone call from your child’s principal to the ones we don’t even want to think about – like the phone call about what has befallen a loved one. What to do with those?

There are disciplines that I weave into my life – yoga, creative expression, running, humor – that help remind me that every moment of our lives is a surprise. Whether posing as a tree, figuring out how to draw a tree with chalk pastels, or running past a tree sadly out of breath and cursing the very legs that got me to this point, these practices demand surprise. They require that I let go of what I expect in order to find out what the next moment truly has to offer.

I cannot tell you what will work for you. What surprises me – and how I handle those surprises – are completely different from what shakes your tree. But here are a few things that work every now and again for me – why not try one? Who knows – you may surprise yourself.

Lisa's beautiful daughter Dilana

Be divine in a human body. What if you are? I blogged about this before, but what if we are divine beings who decided to be born in a human body just to play? (If your religious beliefs contradict this, try to just envision this as a story with a lesson for the moment.)

When we are faced with a surprise, what would it be like to consider it nothing more than an invitation to move back into the form we’ve forgotten?

If we get surprised with a mundane slap in the face – a loss of a job, a hateful remark from our child, an overdrawn account, writers block – could we slip back into our divine selves? Can we exhale the worries that will disappear anyway when our bodies pass on and remember the love that is behind Every. Single. Moment.? Can we let ourselves be light and fly around to check out the whole picture?

Or if we are surprised with a tidal wave – being overwhelmed by issues that sometimes have no words, (like pain from death or positively, being in love), feeling like life is whisking by – can we bring ourselves back into our human bodies? Delight in the silky feel of a rose petal, the touch of the base of our feet on the bare ground, the warm breath that tickles the edge of the nostril?

Live the story. Stories aren’t interesting unless they have a few surprises. If you always know what to expect or don’t enjoy it unless you have full control (“Choose Your Own Ending books? Anyone remember those?!) or get so bored with the story that you zone out, you’ll inevitably be disappointed.

I recall a story – and oh how I do wish I remember where I found this – about living life without being attached to your expectations. (Embracing those surprises) Say you had been invited to a private dinner with one of the greatest hero/ines or role models in your life. You planned for months, sharing your excitement with friends and family, purchasing and returning dozens of outfits, staying up late at night to rehearse conversations. The day finally arrives and after a sleepless night of excitement and hours of getting ready, you finally arrive at the gates…only to be informed that you host/ess regrettably has to cancel and doesn’t know when or if it will be possible to reschedule. Surprise!

In the story I read, the guest was the epitome of letting go of attachment (to what is expected) and walked away not disappointed and bitter, but with a smile on the face and honest joy in the heart for what may come next.

Obviously the changes in every moment of our life may not be as drastic, but the question arises: How would you live this story? Would it wind into a tale of bitter resentment and revenge or into an inspirational tale of joyful strength? Can we both let go of even the judgment that one story is “better” than another? After all, both carry lessons…and portray a life lived.

Release judgment. Next time you are surprised – when the lights are flipped on and friends are crowded in your home, or when the bottom falls out from under your feet – try taking a deep breath and releasing the flood of thoughts that it is a “good” or “bad” situation. Feel the feelings that arise, honor them, and gently smile.

“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” –Anias Nin

Next time you are surprised, try being pleasantly balanced. You might just find that things start to reflect your view.

Remember that it is all a practice, all a journey. Living with the beauty of surprise…and sometimes even inviting it’s exhilarating energy into our lives…keeps us on our toes, keeps us from falling asleep and waking up 20 years later to wonder where life has gone. Living mindfully – making each choice consciously – can sometimes help us avoid those surprises that may not be so desirable.

Comic from Gary Larson, “The Far Side”

Here’s to joyfully embracing the next surprise around the corner!

My deepest thanks again to Kathy for allowing me to share my story on this lovely blog!

You are much more then welcome!! Thank you for taking the time to get this week started!
If you don't know Lisa click here or visit her blog. Oh what surprises await you... do it now!

Next Post: More surprises! (And if you like giveaways you will REALLY like it!!!)

My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise


  1. Kathy - THANK YOU so much again for letting me guest post on your beautiful blog! Can't wait to see what surprises are ahead this's making it quite the fun week!! :)

  2. Fabulous!!! This is just a wonderful post! Thanks for a great Surprise!!!

  3. Nice post with great food for thought.

    Trudy Callan
    Coordinator for The Artistic Mother's Art Group

  4. I'd love for you to add this post to my linky today for Mom Tip Tuesdays. I think moms often forget to take time to focus on themselves in this way. I know I rarely take time to enjoy the surprises of daily life so thank you for reminding me that I should! Soon as this kidney stone works its way out I'll try to do that! Now that was a surprise I don't want to relive again!

  5. Kathy, thank you so much for having another fabulous guest blog post! I follow Lisa's blog and always find much great food for thought. This post was no exception. I'm now a happy follower. :) Theresa

  6. Happy Friday to all ~ Didn't see where your Aloha Friday was - sorry! :)


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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