Rolling (and Running) With Unexpected Surprises

“Right now, gate C12 in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport is my ticket home to surprise my Dad.”

The minute I wrote that line at about 9:45pm on Thursday, July 19, 2011, I looked up at the monitor and it said, “DELAYED”.  I inquire for further details.  It turns out that although the plane for my short flight from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, South Dakota is at the gate, our crew is en route from a city on the East Coast.  And it’s unknown what time they will arrive.

OH NO!  Now suddenly, I’M the one surprised.

Have you ever had an unexpected surprise when you were the one planning to do all the surprising?

This simple delay gets complicated because my Mom and I had planned an elaborate story that would allow her to be at the Sioux Falls airport as 11:30 pm.  Now it doesn’t appear that my plane will leave until at least midnight, if then…

When you have something planned out perfectly, this is the kind of uncertainty that you least want.  At times like this, LIFE IS SUPPOSED TO GO PRECISELY AS PLANNED WITH NO DEVIATIONS.

And now I had a MAJOR DEVIATION on my hands.

What to do next?  Be frustrated?  Think, “Why me?” Or get angry?  Get Angry over the unfairness of it all? 

These are approaches that I have often used the past.  Luckily, this time I realized immediately that getting frustrated and angry would take me further away from my intent of creating a joyful surprise for my dad.

So instead, I hatched a plan.  I would rent a car, drive the four hours to my parent’s house, and surprise my Dad when he woke-up.

I checked with the gate agent who said I could get a refund for the unused portion of my trip.  Then, I sent my Mom a text.  She replied that the new idea was fine with her.

I thought, “Wow, that didn’t take long to solve that problem.  I’m getting good!”

Yes! I had stayed calm and hatched a new brilliant plan within a few minutes.  I felt so proud of myself.

Except…

As I quickly found out at the rental car desk, agencies don’t typically rent cars for one-way travel to towns four hours away.  In fact, only one place agreed to and this agent said the price would be at least$350 dollars.  My new plan suddenly got really expensive really fast and much less appealing.

Another Surprise!

Luckily, the airline gate agent had told me that I could still use my ticket for the flight if things didn’t work out for a car rental places.

So on the spot, I created a new simple and straightforward plan – go back through security, reclaim my ticket and fly home.  Not quite what I wanted, but still fairly easy.

Except…

1.      The security gate near the rental gate is closed for the night.  Surprise! 

2.      A maintenance worker tells me I have to walk downstairs and then take a tram to another part of the airport to find an open security gate.  Surprise! 

3.      When I get to this part of the airport all the security gates look closed.  Surprise!

4.      I finally see a security gate that says it is open for Staff OnlySurprise!

Luckily the security guy lets me through anyway.  So I get through security and run back to Gate C12, which is a long trip (the Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport is Massive!).  I run because it’s getting towards midnight and I have some concern that the crew arrived while I was on my rental car adventure, that they had filled the plane really fast and were already gone, which would be Quite the Surprise.

Luckily, I get down to the gate and get rechecked in.  No problem!

AND the gate agent still doesn’t know when the crew will arrive.  Which is “Not the Best” as my Dad likes to say.  Our plane is still sitting faithfully right outside as if everything was going as planned, EXCEPT WE STILL HAVE NO CREW! 

Sometimes half a plan seems to work perfectly and the other half just doesn’t, AT ALL.

AND now I’m hungry but everything in the C terminal is closed for the night.  Surprise! 

However, there are vending machines, BUT I have no change and the smallest bill I have is a ten. Surprise!

(Who is supposed to be surprised here?  I thought it was my Dad.)

So I ask some construction workers where the closest open restaurant is.  And, it turns out that at this hour, there is only one 24-hour Subway open, In Another Terminal.  Our crew still hasn’t come so I set off running again.  (Who knew that waiting in an airport could be such an aerobic work out.)

1.      Half way through the C terminal (which by now I know very well), I think “Wow I’m running very fast,” then shortly there after I think,  “Oh NO! I don’t have my carry-on suitcase.”  Surprise!

2.      How does one lose a whole suitcase? Surprise!

3.      I run back to look around the gate, and see no sign of my bag.  I ask the agent for help.  She calls the security gate I went through and doesn’t get an answer. Surprise!

3.  So she gives me a 1-800 number to call the next day from Sioux Falls, which

seems like a very bad sign.  Surprise!

4.  Finally over the intercom, there is an announcement that my bag is at security     checkpoint.  Finally, A Nice Surprise!

 But now the crew has at last arrived and the plane is about to board!  Surprise!

 1. So I make a mad dash to checkpoint 3.   And then a lady happens to be right there with a courtesy cart.  Great Surprise!

2. She agrees to take me immediately to back to my gate.  Amazing Surprise.

3. She drives fast.  Fun Surprise!

4. I arrive back in time to board.  Best Surprise!

5. I arrive safely in Sioux Falls, suitcase in hand.  My Mom picks me up.  And when we get home my Dad is Really Surprised. 

(But I don’t think quite as surprised as I had been by the night).

Game of the Day

How do you deal with surprise?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

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Keep Discovering More Things You Love To Do

My name used to be “HAVE TO” Freeman.  In junior high and high school, I lived my life in a way I thought I SHOULD to be well-liked, to be successful, to be one of the cool kids and, as I grew up, to be one of the cool adults.  I had a long “SHOULD LIST”for being a highly successful man and was determined to follow it.  (I still have this “SHOULD LIST” in the back of my mind.  But am much less determined to follow it these days.)

What is on your SHOULD LISTfor being a highly successful adult?

As I love to say in this blog, (along with the love and teachings of my parents and many others), Laughter Yoga, hatha yoga, creative writing, and countless miles of walking are some of the miracles that have allowed me to move from experiencing a life of disability to experiencing a life of radiant ability.

Part of the miracle of these activities is that I Love To Do Them.  However, none of these activities were on my “SHOULD LIST” for being a highly successful adult.

For example, I have been known to take fourteen hatha yoga classes a week at Pilgrimage of the Heart, the studio where I’m a member.

Do I do this because I wake-up in the morning and think, “Oh there are so many things I would rather be doing, but I better go to two yoga classes today because people say it’s supposed to be good for me.  I SHOULD REALLY GO!”

No, not at all!  I go to two yoga classes a day because I LOVE yoga, I LOVE the benefits I see from yoga, I LOVE the studio I go to, and I LOVE my teachers and my fellow students.

Yoga has become a miracle in my life because I have done it over and over again.  IN A WAY YOU COULD SAY I’VE ALLOWED YOGA TO BE A MIRACLE IN MY LIFE BECAUSE of MY PARTICIPATION IN IT

Another part of this miracle is that yoga brings me JOY AS I DO IT.

We can work hard at achieving health and achieving our dreams by doing things we think we SHOULD do.  The world is full of endless ideas, and endless things that have worked for other people.  People might tell us that we SHOULD do such and such to achieve such and such result.  But the only SHOULD that actually makes us do something is the SHOULD we tell ourselves.

Each one of us is ultimately responsible for finding the activities that we love to do, the activities that bring us both joy and the results we want.

I’ve found that it can be unsettling to pursue the things we love to do because it often challenges and can change our definition of what it is to be a highly successful adult.

As you move from your “SHOULD LIST”to your “THINGS I LOVE TO DO LIST,” I found that life can change and expand in unpredictable ways.  These changes can be exciting and at the same time occasionally daunting.

To keep in mind the direction I want to go, rather than “No Pain, No Gain”, my motto has become “FIND JOY, FIND GAIN.”

The journey from “No Pain, No Gain” to “FIND JOY, FIND GAIN.” is the journey from “I’m doing this because I SHOULD” to “I’m doing this because I LOVE TO,” the journey from struggling with your life to loving your life, the journey from being your own SHOULD-maker, to being your own MIRACLE-maker.

This journey can be a life-long adventure.

Have fun!

Game of the Day

What’s currently on your “THINGS I LOVE TO DO LIST?”

What is your next step to finding more of “THE THINGS YOU LOVE TO DO?”

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com

Make It Easy

Imagine a person trying to do yoga while wearing boots, snow pants, a heavy winter coat, a stocking cap, mitts, and a scarf.   In addition, imagine that he or she is carrying a backpack full of fifty pounds of canned food.

This person would definitely be choosing to do HOT YOGA!

He or she would be exceedingly well PROTECTED AND PREPARED if a very sudden deep freeze and food shortage were to occur at the same time.

However, in the mean time, this person might well feel frustrated, awkward, and, quite possibly, even downright miserable.  Not to mention much of the benefit of doing yoga would be utterly lost because this person had chosen to artificially limit his or her flexibility.  And to make matters even more painful, this person would see the rest of the class doing yoga in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.

This is an outrageous example, but how often do we limit our flexibility and joy in life because we are scared of being vulnerable?

All the winter gear this person is wearing could symbolize the extra layers of negative emotions and complexity that we sometimes carry around.  And the backpack of canned soup could symbolize our fears that there won’t be enough in the future to make our lives abundant.

My yoga teacher Brenna recently read a quote during class by an unknown author.  Part of the quote says, “…vulnerability…opens the door to love, grace, and the deepest forms of healing.  Your vulnerability, scary as it can be, is inseparable from your capacity for intimacy, creativity and love.”

This quote is at once challenging and wise.

I have metaphorically been the person I described at the beginning of this post more often than I care to think about.  I can tell you without a doubt that wearing all those extra layers leads to struggle and is just plain not fun.

But the goodness of this story is that we can gradually become aware of when we are metaphorically wearing extra layers.  Then we can search for ways to shed these extra layers so that we are free to enjoy life more fully. 

As we grow, we can learn to make our lives easier (and less sweaty).

Game of the Day

Think of a time when you noticed that you were metaphorically wearing extra layers and found a way to shed some or all of them.

How do you feel once you had shed the extra layers?

Where in you life might you be metaphorically wearing extra layers now?

What might it be like to shed these extra layers?

How might you go about shedding these layers?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

This Election Year Vote Yes!

I noticed this week that at the same time I started thinking about which presidential candidate I will vote for in November, I also started getting upset and putting down the other presidential candidate in my mind.  So then I started thinking about how the wisdom people exhibit when they use toothpaste could be of use to us in an election year.  (If you have no idea how toothpaste relates to picking our candidate, I will expand.)

This is what I mean.  Think about the toothpaste a guy named Jake chooses to use each morning.  Jake already has the tube of toothpaste, so this means he has weighed the pros and cons of this toothpaste versus other brands of toothpaste and chosen to pick this one.

Each morning Jake simply says, “YES” to the toothpaste he has chosen.   As he brushes his teeth, he doesn’t spend time thinking about why he said “NO” to other the brands of toothpaste.  Jake doesn’t spend his morning getting frustrated and angry at the other brands of toothpaste for not being good toothpaste.  Rather, Jake simply brushes his teeth with the toothpaste he has chosen and then goes on with his day.

The brands of toothpaste that we CHOOSE NOT to buy won’t get our teeth clean.  Only the toothpaste we purchase and brush with will.

In the same way, once we’ve weighed the pros and cons and chosen our candidate, further thinking about the reasons we dislike the other candidate is like spending time each morning contemplating why we dislike the brands of toothpaste we are NOT using.  Such thoughts don’t help us feel good.

Further, such thoughts may even make it more difficult for us to be of support to our candidate.  Can you imagine if you asked someone why she liked her toothpaste and she spent the next hour telling you why she disliked another brand of toothpaste?  At the end of the hour, you might have literally forgotten which brand of toothpaste she actually liked.  You might even be inclined to go out and buy the brand she disliked because after listening for an hour you feel that you at least know something about that brand.

This election year, may you weigh the pros and cons, and then really choose to focus on casting a confident and positive YES vote for whichever presidential candidate you have chosen.

Game of the Day

How can the ideas in this blog be of use to you during this election year?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

Choose Your Level of Participation With Your Cravings

So often when I’m in the midst of one of my cookie cravings, I have such a strong desire for that next bite that I feel powerless not to take that next bite.  For example, there are these monster cookies at a local bakery that I often (read ALMOST DAILY) have a strong craving for.  When I bite into these soft, perfectly sugary cookies, it’s as if CRAVING MOMENTUM has over-taken me.

At times, we feel that we have no other options than to give into our cravings.  This can be an overwhelming feeling because we feel trapped in acting a certain way, trapped in giving into CRAVING MOMENTUM.

I’m prone to eat two cookies really fast without much thought, losing sight of the fact that I’m CHOOSING to take THE NEXT BITE and then CHOOSING to take THE NEXT BITE and then CHOOSING to take THE NEXT BITE.

When I stop to think about it I realize that in fact I’M CHOOSING to take many consecutive bites.

NOW recognizing that I’m choosing to take the next bite of cookie doesn’t automatically mean that I will choose to stop taking bites of cookie.  I might still CHOOSE to take bite after bite of cookie.   But if before each bite, I discipline myself just enough to pause for a second to recognize that I CHOOSE to take that next bite, suddenly I have more control and power over what I’m doing.

We feel powerless around our cravings whereas our CHOICES give us freedom.  Once we realize our cravings are in fact a collection of many CHOICES, we can CHOOSE to engage in the activity we had called a craving or we can CHOOSE not to engage in this activity.  The CHOICE is suddenly up to us because WE HAVE GIVEN OURSELVES THE POWER to CHOOSE.

When we put ourselves in charge of our lives, we give ourselves the opportunity to make CHOICES  I’m not saying that giving yourself a CHOICE automatically makes it easy to quit a habit you have wanted to quit.

(In fact, I’m still CHOOSING to participate with my craving for those monster cookies.)

But realizing that you have a CHOICE suddenly puts you in the driver’s seat of your CRAVING MOMENTUM TRAIN. You put yourself in the position where you can realize that you have the freedom to make decisions about your level of participation with your craving.

This realization gives you the option of eventually CHOOSING to no longer participate in your craving.

My level of participation with my monster cookie craving is my CHOICE.  Your level of participation with your craving is your CHOICE.  We are THAT POWERFUL!

Game of the Day

How will you CHOOSE to use the ideas in this post?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com. 

When Too Many People Offer You Too Many Good Opportunities All At Once: Five Tips For Turning OPPORTUNITY OVERWHELM Into OPPORTUNITY EASE

Realize That The Opportunities You Are Offered Are A Good Sign

Opportunities are exciting and a sign you are on the right track.

But sometimes there’s so much going on we start to feel short of breath and we begin to struggle with our opportunities and push them aside, almost as if our opportunities are our enemies.  At these times, it’s worthwhile to remember that opportunities are what we want.  We want to embrace our opportunities while, at the same time, managing them.

Appreciate All The Opportunities You Are Given (Even If You Decide Not To Take Some Of Them)

Let the people giving you opportunities know how grateful you are.  This is as simple as saying “I really appreciate your offer and I look forward to having a chance to think it over.”

Decide Which Opportunities Are A Good Fit For You

The opportunities that people offer you will likely require your time, energy and money.  Before taking someone up on an opportunity, really think about if you are interested in it; if it is in-line with your goals and dreams; and if you want to devote your time and resources to it.  If the answer is “Yes,” proceed with confidence.  If the answer is “No,” find a way to say a polite and definite “No Thank You.”  This “No Thank You” frees you from your obligation to engage in the opportunity.  And just as importantly, your “No” frees the person who asked you to find someone who is truly interested in his or her opportunity.

Schedule So That Not Everything Needs To Happen All At Once

If you decide to take an opportunity, schedule with the person offering you the opportunity so that the opportunity is manageable For You.  You are doing yourself a great service, as well as the person offering you the opportunity, because if you are overwhelmed it will be much harder for you to give their opportunity your full attention.

Write Opportunities You Decline Down To Give You More Choices Later

If you choose to express appreciation for an opportunity someone has given you while, at the same time, declining it by giving them a polite and definite, “No Thank You,” you might consider making note of the opportunity and then making a notation on your calendar to reconsider it in a month or two.  When you reconsider it, you may just reconfirm that you are glad you said, “No.”  Or you may realize that while you are glad you said “No” the first time, the opportunity now sounds good to you.  In this case, you have the information to contact the person and tell them that you rethought his or her offer.

Game of the Day

The next time you experience OPPORTUNITY OVERWHELM how will you use these tips to turn your overwhelm into OPPORTUNITY EASE?

What To Do About The Things You Don’t Want To Do?

In high school, I had a chemistry teacher named Sister Silvis.  She was hard.   She was tough.  At times, I even felt that she was MEAN.  Chemistry was difficult and distressing.  I DIDN’T GET IT.  The homework took hours, excruciating hours of studying for tests, completing assignments and muddling through lab reports.  Yuck!!!

Did you ever have a teacher or a class, which you initially felt this way about?

As long as I felt incapable and powerless as I sat in Sister Silvis’s class, I despised chemistry.  As long as I felt angry about the injustice of having to take such a class, I was miserable. As long as I lived in fear of what chemistry grade would show up on my report card, I was scared of Sister Silvis.

I’ve found that every circumstance can be a teacher.  Sometimes when we are dealing with a really challenging circumstance, it feels like we definitely didn’t sign-up for this circumstance’s class.  Sometimes we definitely feel we don’t have any interest in learning what our challenging circumstance has to teach us.  In the middle of this process of struggling with our circumstance, there is often a learning curve, which may involve us being angry, frustrated, depressed, thinking “Why me?”, and feeling generally miserable.

Sometimes the best thing we learn from a challenging circumstance is to take steps that shorten the duration of the circumstance and to focus on choosing different circumstances in the future.

If I hadn’t had concern about what my parents and my classmates would say, I probably would have dropped Sister Silvis’s class in the first week.

On the other hand, sometimes we learn not to judge the worth of a situation by how we initially feel about it.

If I had dropped Sister Silvis’s class, I would have missed out on exploring chemistry, which to my great surprise, I eventually found to be  a fascinating subject.  And I would have missed out on learning from a very wise woman who I discovered to be an outstanding teacher.

Once I started understanding chemistry and being in awe that I could understand chemistry, I began to feel appreciation for this class.  On some days I almost even liked chemistry.  Through this learning process, I came to deeply respect and love Sister Silvis.

Bless the Memory of Sister Silvis

Game of the Day

Have you ever felt angry and depressed as you dealt with a challenging circumstance, and decided to take steps to shorten the duration of this circumstance?

Have you ever at first felt angry and depressed as you dealt with a challenging circumstance, only to later learn to deal with this circumstance in a way that gave you a sense of confidence and even joy?

How do you decide when to take steps to shorten the duration of a challenging circumstance?

How do you decide when to stick a tough circumstance out with the intention of learning what it has to teach and maybe even learning to find joy within it?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.