advent of surprise


 happy december friends,

at the beginning of the month, i headed back to my home state of indiana to celebrate my father as he rang in his 70th year. it was a surprise party that he knew nothing about, including the fact that my husband and i were coming from california for it. i’m happy to say – it worked! he was surprised indeed, and the whole night was a magical time of his family, friends and colleagues affirming his life so far and life to come.

the look on his face when he walked in, despite seven decades of life, was pure childlike wonder and awe. it was clear his brain was doing it’s best to integrate and catch up with what was happening, while his heart was bursting open and receiving the love. and the joy pulsed through my whole being as well, after seeing the vision realized. there was total and pure presence, the kind that comes effortlessly at these heightened moments.

and yet, unique circumstances like this that create heightened moments aren’t the only portals into energized aliveness and presence. within each moment lies the potential to be engaged, awakened and even amazed. the key is staying open to, and intentionally seeing life through this lens.

in the christian tradition which i was raised, december is the season of advent – a four week period focused on building anticipation toward a miracle.

for me as a kid this meant daily chocolate from my advent calendar, tearing off loops from the paper chains, lighting one more candle each week, and watching presents, containing unknown treasures, slowly gather under the tree. this coupled with the fact that my own birthday lay in the middle of advent, meant the whole month of december was laced with expectant anticipation that created a ripe field for magic to grow.

the latin root word in advent literally means “to arrive.” and operate in a state of advent — means holding space for the possibility that something miraculous is always on the verge of arriving.

our brains go partially to sleep when things feels monotonous and predictable. when we fall under the spell that we know what’s coming or at least the nature of what’s coming, energy floods out of life, and we live with our primary attention caught in the ongoing chatter of our thoughts.

however, we can choose to wake up and tune into the unknowable mysteries of the universe, understanding that within this moment – and every single moment – lies unlimited potential for change, magic and awe inspiring love. in this state our black and white life becomes technicolor… the once predictable day becomes fertile for new seeing.

but many times we don’t want to be surprised. the infinite nature of each moment include lots of frightening storylines and our brains evolved to live under a false sense that we can know – and even control – what’s coming. but although certainly not all surprises are welcome ones, living this way –  boxed into routines and life as we think we know it – doesn’t actually protect us from any potential pain, and ultimately disconnects us from thriving.

even momentary investigation reveals the truth that ultimately, the only thing we can truly control is where we put our focused attention. our souls are hungry to be fully alive, enraptured by the awake, engaged and unpredictable nature of our journey. ultimately, we long to be joyfully surrendered to the current of our life, wherever it flows.

this does not make us victims, with life happening *to* us… but participants in the fabric of life, that is happening *through* us. we are life itself, mysteriously living.

are you willing to be surprised? are you open to releasing your stories about people and situations and enter into real time, present relationships? are you able to humbly admit that most of life is beyond knowable reality? are you interested in reclaiming some of the awe and wonder you had as a child?

if so, you may want to try some of the following, to put this willingness into practice this season.

*start each day with the expectation that you will be shown an aspect of your life that you’ve never had conscious awareness of.

*when you are with a family member, partner, child or close friend, open yourself up to notice three things that you’ve never noticed about them before. (especially good for the people you feel you have totally figured out and don’t think ever change)

*start intentionally bringing novelty into your life in the meals you choose to eat, routes you take to familiar destinations, ways you wear your clothes, hair, etc.

*be on the lookout for static stories about how yourself, others or the world “just are” — when you catch one that feels limiting or draining, pause and ask yourself “what if it wasn’t true?” and “how might i contribute to a new story?”

*if there are situations you feel stuck in, zoom out and imagine you were looking at the situation as an impartial observer – what do you notice now that wasn’t there before?

hope you find these surprisingly helpful! and here’s to the advent of your next adventure – unknowable as it finds you in this moment.

with love,


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