Unexpected inspiration


Wet glasses on a log

OK, dear blog readers, inspiration hath struck like lightning in the rain.  I am tingling with the sense of new possibilities, new directions, new visions.

Would you like to tingle, too?  For those who haven’t already–pick up a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC.  (Don’t react all ho-hum like I did and think, yeah, right, just another inspiring book that will rock your socks for five minutes before you shelve it and continue on to your usual predictable behavior and responses for the rest of your life.)

I am not going to provide a book review about this marvelous creation because that would be, well, expected.  Instead I am going to tell you what is exciting me.

First, let’s set the stage.  Here is something that happened last night, after a magic day of reading BIG MAGIC.  Barry and I visited the Vertin Gallery in Calumet with friends Deb and Chuck (after a short hike at the Paavola Wetlands and before dinner at the Michigan House).

The Vertin Gallery sells all sorts of eclectic items like ancient strollers, modern art and everything imaginable.  It’s a consignment shop where folks attempt to lure other folks into purchasing items, with sellers hoping an unknown visitor will fall head-over-heels in love with, say, rickety old theater seats.  (These things do happen, reader.)

We strolled through the shop and I noted big books of artists like Gauguin, marveling that such artists existed.  Thinking how little I know of art and artists.  Thinking–wouldn’t it be nice to buy that clunky coffee-table book and simply leaf through it because, well, just because it’s new and different and unexpected and you might learn something?

But what do we often do when these thoughts visit us?  Our minds come up with reasons why this simply won’t DO.  My mind said:  Oh, no, too expensive.  (Even though the books were 1/2 price.)  Oh, no, you don’t even LIKE art that much.  (What do you mean?)  Oh, no, I’m a minimalist, I hate to buy THINGS.  (Boring, boring, boring, you’re so darn predictable!)

So we continued on to dinner, sans Gauguin.


Wet glasses atop an old tractor

This morning I awoke and suddenly–just like that–inspiration struck!

I finally figured out why I liked Opening the door, Walking outside–the outdoor commitment and blog I wrote back in 2008-2009.  It was because the practice of going outside every day (and writing about it) broke through the rut of ho-hum everyday.  It encouraged finding inspiration, opening the eyes a little wider, doing the unexpected.  It was an entire year of enticing the unexpected.  It felt like BIG MAGIC.

Thus, instead of shelving BIG MAGIC and refusing to take the challenge, I’m grabbing hold of the mystery and dedicating some time & space to cherishing the unexpected.  (Seriously folks, I don’t know about you, but I can get into some awful ruts of doing the SAME darn thing every SINGLE day.)

So what are you doing? you may be wondering.

I am going to do something unexpected every single day.

Yes.  There you have it.

Something creative, something appealing, something that the mind is already trying to figure out how to prevent happening.

Then I am going to write it in a little notebook, documenting it.


“Unexpected” notebook

What is unexpected today, April 24, 2016?

Well, it’s raining here in the northwoods.  So I pulled on jogging pants, old green shirt, jacket and ancient sneakers and trotted off into the rain.  Walked and ran up the road before 7:30 a.m., listening to bird song and feeling this heart delight with a cascade of inspiring ideas.

How often do we talk ourselves out of ideas!  My mind said, oh no, it’s raining.  Oh no, you need to eat breakfast.  Oh no, the glasses will get wet and you won’t be able to see.  Oh, no, no, no, don’t you dare go for a walk/run in the rain.

And, as you can imagine, it turned out to feel utterly exhiliarating and nourishing.

One of the ideas that blitzes through this mind right now is:  Write a blog everyday about what unexpected thing you do!

But I am not going to be that expected.  Experience has shown that the inner rebel does not want the pressure of writing a blog every day.  It gets too weighty, too much of an obligation.  (Maybe I WILL write a blog every day, but only if it’s unexpected.)  Otherwise will keep you updated on this project every now-and-then.

Can’t wait to see what the prompt “Unexpected” will reveal, and whether it will enrich and inspire in the days to come.

P.S.  Whenever I post an “Unexpected” blog, feel free to share something unexpected you did during your day or week.


Today’s entry

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in Unexpected and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

76 Responses to Unexpected inspiration

  1. Brenda says:

    Dear Kathy,
    I love your first entry in the “unexpected notebook”! Beautiful artwork! I will anticipate your unexpected adventures up there in the northwoods. If I could still walk, it would be a glorious treat to walk in the early morning rain through the woods. ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Brenda, I’ll bet you would love to walk in the rain in the woods, and I wish that some day you’ll be able to get help for your knees. In the meantime will be interested to hear any unexpected adventures in your little home. I am discovering that so many “unexpected” adventures are very ordinary and don’t require much.

  2. john k. says:

    What a fine idea! Hmmm … do I detect a little Suzi Banks Baum influence here?

    • Kathy says:

      Hi John–I never even thought of Suzi until yesterday afternoon! But she’s always been a true inspiration to me…she’s a whirlwind of creativity, that one.

  3. Dawn says:

    Love the art with your first entry. Fabric? Paint? Or….something unexpected?

    This is a good idea. I know I struggle with getting out for a run/walk. But after I’m out there I’m always, 100% glad I went. Of course, now the getting out there is less unexpected…so would have to find new stuff…and that’s the point. Right? Headed now to “vegifest” at a convention center in Novi with a running friend. Checking out a different way to eat. That’s sort of unexpected, even though we planned it last weekend!

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Dawn, the art with the first entry in the journal came from a post card–which I do believe advertised some sort of fabric show. But it’s simply a post card cut into an irregular shape because it looked so cool.

      As for you and the unexpected, you really already do a lot of it–heading off into the unknown with your tent and Katie, looking at new and different angles. Checking out a new way to eat is definitely a foray into the unknown. Go for it!

  4. I also wasn’t expecting too much from Big Magic. I was one of the [rare] people that was not so enamored with Eat, Pray, Love, and was not familiar with anything else Gilbert had written. I had a big stack of self-help books to work through already. It was recommended by a friend, though, so I got it. I’m so glad I did! Rarely does a book hit me with such truth and wonder! It’s one of those that I know I will pick up again and again, to remind me to seek out the magic. I’m off to work today…nothing unexpected there…but I’m going to keep my eyes open!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, glad to hear you liked the book as much as I do. (Am still reading it so haven’t yet approached the end.) YES–truth and wonder! It zings with that. I also love stories of synchronicities and it has been fun to compare her life/truths with the ones I’ve learned. Since yesterday have discovered how much I love to cultivate the unexpected, but also have much to learn. It feels so inspiring!

  5. sybil says:

    Looking out the window at a Purple Finch on my feeder. Oh look, here’s comes his drabber, stripy “wife” … It’s the little things Kathy — isn’t it ?

    Love your images of the glasses.

    Hugs, Sybil

    • debyemm says:

      I caught my husband looking out a picture window today and asked what he was looking at. It was a Turkey Gobbler down in the pasture and as I looked, he spread his fan, only momentarily. It was unexpected to see him or that display. Nature does not ever disappoint me – there is always something “unexpected’ to see if I keep my eyes open.

      • Kathy says:

        Deb, I think nature’s unexpected surprises are some of the best. I would have been awed completely by a turkey gobbler. (Very few wild turkeys have ventured this far north, but they are approaching as the earth warms.) That display would have been amazing.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, yes, yes, Sybil, it’s so often the little things! So unexpected and rare and precious. In fact, in my now nearly-constant keeping eyes open for the unexpected, I just watched finches get all puffed up and pecky and annoyed at other finches in the feeder. So unexpected and fun! (I think it may be Spring Behavior, you know, all wild & crazy.)

  6. Barb Brock says:

    I believe I am going to look for a new book, maybe this one! I could use a little magic here…but off to the garden for now!

    • Kathy says:

      Barb Brock, it’s good strong magic. I have really liked this book! And I’ll bet there’s a lot of unexpected magic going on in your garden now. 🙂

  7. Janet says:

    Great idea. I look forward to reading when you post about what you’ve done. Walking in the rain is a fantastic start.

    • Kathy says:

      It was a great start, Janet, and I’m noticing how so many unexpected events are really quite small and ordinary. But they are a movement out of the routine, a way for the eyes to open a little wider. This is feeling so good.

  8. Fountainpenmlk says:

    I like the woven piece
    In the last picture!
    Is it too a picture or
    A woven piece of art !?

  9. Carol says:

    I’m sitting here thinking about what might be unexpected for me. Oh my, how said that my rut is so deep nothing comes to mind. I’d better go check out Big Magic.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, I’ve been in quite a rut lately, as well, and it feels soooo good to be coming out of it. Will use all the magic that can be found! (Have you discovered anything unexpected since you wrote this? The intent itself seems to be part of the magic.)

  10. jeffstroud says:

    I unexpectedly read this right away! and for two days I have set my morning regular morning ritual aside to do something else.

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, I am grinning about you unexpectedly reading this. How fun! Are you feeling a blast of energy by varying from your morning routine? You and I both have loved the Artist Way, and I think Big Magic is another one of those inspiring ways of thinking outside the box.

  11. I am so ready for this. Whatever “this” is…the ruts are getting deep and too much is passing me by.

    • Kathy says:

      Joining you and calling in inspiration, Esther. We can do it! (And I am so surprised how quickly the rut packed its bags and headed north. Now, just to see if he stays north and doesn’t come back to visit…)

  12. Barbara Kass says:

    I couldn’t get past the first page of Eat, Pray, Love and the other things Gilbert has written leave me yawning. You, however, Kathy, tend to inspire me, so I have taken up the challenge. I am a minimalist at heart these days (that fire back in 2012 losing 95% of everything I ever owned taught me a lot) so I bought it for $5.00 on my Kindle. My first unexpected inspiration is to journal the unexpected in a sketchbook — that is how much you have inspired me since I haven’t drawn a single stroke since that fire (all my works of art went up in flames, too). I may or may not blog about this . . . I will keep you unexpectedly notified.

    • jeffstroud says:

      I put Eat Pray Love down too after a few pages or a chapter ! I still use The Artist’s Way to keep me inspired and usually write my morning pages everyday, well type them. Life is full of unexpected moments, it is how we receive them that is the awareness.

    • debyemm says:

      My condolences, Barbara, on the loss of so much personal content. It certainly teaches non-attachment and is a good reminder to me this day. I was carrying a backpack on hikes with me back in 2009 after my MIL passed away. I would stop and draw some little trifle that caught my eye. Some were passably good, others horrendous. However, what I did find is that I noticed little details much more when I was drawing, than when I have just been hiking. I quit when I threw my back out. Maybe I should start that practice back up again . . . I did buy that other book of Gilbert’s EPL but never could get really into it either and have also pretty much ended the spiritual “seeking” phase of my own life and have shed some of those books, need to shed more of them still.

      • Barbara Kass says:

        Hi, Deb – yes, I keep looking for spirituality in other people’s words instead of finding it in my own self, but I am currently working on something to remedy that. Making the transition from spiritual seeking to spiritual living . . .

        • jeffstroud says:

          Yes Barbara,

          There comes a point or it has for me when reading and or even practicing spiritual words and guides is not enough. When I had to go out and live a spiritual life, however that presented itself. The books and training are great reminders and shine a light on the path but no one can walk and or live that path but ourselves! We walk together with encouragement and support.

        • debyemm says:

          That is where I find myself as well, Barbara, after many years of looking for spirituality in other people’s words. I am filled to overflowing with that and have fallen into simply living it. Not that I don’t still share my own perspectives on the matter for those perspectives have made all the difference in my own ability to be “contented” with my life and that does not necessarily equate to my life being “easy”, for actually over the last 6 mos or more, it has been exceedingly difficult and often vexing.

          But that is another story entirely !!

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara Kass, I can’t believe that you have lived through a fire that took most of what you’ve owned. Hats off to you for learning to live a simpler life. Oh do let me know how your unexpected journal goes. I am having a blast with mine! I am also writing down lots of notes–in another notebook–about what derails our inspiration, our unexpected happenings–and what gets us back on the Ferris Wheel of routine. DO let me know if you blog about this. I do NOT want to miss what you share.

  13. debyemm says:

    So on your strong recommendation, I have gone and purchased Big Magic for my Kindle and will read it on my next long flight to NM !! Anyway, I have been a lover of “natural” magic since my late teens and won’t ever give up that love of “magic” because it is what makes living interesting and well, “unexpected” for me. I delight in unexpected stuff popping up in my life all the time !!

    I have been doing “creative” recipes for my family 2-3 times a week because the “usual” does get boring and hum-drum. My family is grateful that because there is such a plenitude of recipes on the internet, if some meal turned out to be not to their liking, they won’t ever have to eat it again !!

    They need help breaking out of their own “ruts” because they really don’t like herbs and spices and like very plain and boring foods for the most part and I am good a whipping up such meals. However, being adventurous and experimental in my cooking is what I do that is “unexpected” for all of us. It does “spice” up our lives just a tiny bit with unexpected flavors and therefore “family” experiences, whether good or not so good.

    • Kathy says:

      I will be very interested hearing what you think of the book, Deb. I hope I made it clear in this blog–am not sure now–that the whole “unexpected” inspiration didn’t really come from the Big Magic book. It was the RESULT of the book, but not the topic of the book.

      Good luck with that unexpected cooking challenge. We just tried the spice garam masala for the first time last night. Of course we no longer have kids around so it’s a bit easier to be culinarily unexpected!

  14. Elisa says:

    I LOVE IT!! I just checked out the large print version of Big Magic again!
    Reminds me where the ground is 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Hey, Elisa, I am glad you loved it. Trying to imagine what you mean by the reminder where the “ground” is. For me it reminds me where the sky is!

  15. Heather says:

    This is so much fun Kathy! I can’t wait to read about the adventures that are sure to unfold with this inspiration 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Heather, I have been so pumped with fun! I have also realized what prevents us–or, rather, me–from living this all the time. Perhaps the subject of a future blog.

  16. When I think “unexpected” I always think “unpredictable,” which describes my husband. He is forever surprising me by what he does next, which is one reason I fell in love with him. I am usually the one stuck deep in the rut.

    The consignment shop you visited sounds great. We went through a spell of going to estate sales every Friday, first thing, very early in the morning. We didn’t always buy anything but did find some real treasures now and then.

    Looking forward to seeing where the quest for the unexpected takes you!

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, Barry and I kinda have the opposite situation going. When I told him–excitedly–about this new unexpected passion he said oh-so-seriously, “I LIKE the expected.” I think it’s important not to frame this in a duality (expected vs. unexpected) but rather to learn to deeper appreciate and see the value of both.

      PS Having a blast writing in my notebook every day!

  17. I Wilkerson says:

    Oh dear, I can’t even think of something unexpected that I could do today. But I will be keeping my eyes open!

    • Kathy says:

      I hope something found you, Inger. After a few days of doing this I am discovering that the unexpected likes popping out from behind the refrigerator and shouting “Here I am!” (But I’ve also learned that he unexpected so often wears ‘ordinary’ faces like suddenly seeing a white tail deer, or thinking of something really intriguing for dinner, or suddenly having an inspiration to invite a friend out for a birthday luncheon.)

  18. Thanks Kathy! You always inspire……I will seek out this book on my Kindle. I did do the unexpected today and even before reading this….. We own a simple vacation rental home down the road from us with AMAZING views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Our home is down the road and surrounded by the woods, so no view there of the gorgeous mountains (sigh). So today after the weekend renters had checked out (and left the place super clean, thank you!!) I opened the sliding doors and let in the cool spring breeze, I reclined on the sofa and laid back and let myself take in the deep blue sky, the greening mountains, the gentle wind on my face, the sound of birds chirping in the trees…..and I was off to sleep. If you know me, you would know afternoon naps are not something I do, especially with a whole house to clean and laundry to do!! But I don’t have renter’s coming in until next Friday so I let myself just be and rest. And oh what a glorious rest it was…..74 here today, sunny skies, spring perfection. Blessing to you always! Gay

  19. Carol Ferenc says:

    What an awesome idea, Kathy! I plan on reading Big Magic soon and maybe it will get my creativity going again. Can’t wait to read about your new adventures.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, how fun that you’re going to read the book, too. It was interesting where creativity started taking me–into that arena of the Unexpected. That wasn’t really where Elizabeth Gilbert was going with her book, but that’s what lit an internal spark here. And still having fun with it a few days later!

  20. Well you ran in the rain expectantly but I bet you came back to the house looking like a wet chicken. Did you cross the road to run in the rain? 🙂 I don’t do much un-expected unless I am more or less forced.

    Keep up the jogging/blogging and all good things that are not expected.

    • Kathy says:

      Ha ha, yep, a wet chicken in the rain exactly describes it! My husband declares he LOVES the expected. I do, too, in moderate doses. Because otherwise those ruts can get so darn deep.

  21. What a great and inspired theme for blogging, Kathy! Definitely unlimited possibilities. Looking forward to more!

  22. Connie T says:

    I came across colored carrots with the green leaves on them. They were yellow, purple, white ones. I bought them and made them for dinner. They taste a lot like orange carrots. The white ones were a little more firm and did not taste real carrot tasting. I don’t think I will buy them again because I like the orange ones, but it was fun trying them.

    • Kathy says:

      Now that sounds like an unexpected encounter of the vegetable variety, Connie. (I love food unexpectedness!) So glad that you experimented with the unknown.

  23. lisaspiral says:

    my blog today references my weekend adventure. What was unexpected is that I walked all the way around the bass pond at the park. Everytime I do something like that I’m still amazed and grateful that I can, there were so many years when I couldn’t.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, I enjoyed reading your blog. And am thinking of the joy that walking around the bass pond gave you. It’s the small things that we do like that which so often inspire us. Thank you for sharing that.

  24. After reading this, I popped upstairs to my guy, who is working at his desk, and gave him a big fat unexpected kiss. He is very happy with your blog right now. 😘

    • Kathy says:

      As I wrote elsewhere (i.e. Facebook) your comment was so unexpected in made me laugh with joy! (I ate a smoked oyster that my husband offered last night–which he was convinced I would not touch–and he was utterly shocked. Which probably doesn’t have much to do with kissing…lol…)

  25. Nice one, Kathy. I felt a little guilty for not walking in the rain yesterday. I did think about it:)

    • Kathy says:

      Ha, Sherry, I didn’t walk in the rain yesterday either! It was pouring TOO hard. Now that would have really been unexpected. Sunday’s light drizzle was a little easier. Thank you for reading, that makes me happy.

  26. Well this post is serendipitous! I just started reading Big Magic last night and feel it will fire up my creativity. I look forward to reading about your discoveries and finding my own. Thank you!

  27. Barb says:

    Unexpected – that’s what I always think of when I read one of your posts. I am so inward sometimes that I have to force my way out. I don’t mean outside to exercise – I mean just outside my head! I like the vividness of the postcard that you chose for your day of running in the rain. I got the sample of Big Magic when you mentioned it on Facebook. Haven’t started it yet.

    • Kathy says:

      Why, thank you, Barb,I love that you said that–about finding unexpected nuggets over here at Lake Superior Spirit. I do think my love of the unexpected is a strength, it’s just not nurtured at times. Or, as you say, things go so far inward that they sometimes need a nudge to turn outward. Let me know what you think of the book. It’s a lot about writing and creativity, but love some of her ideas about ideas.

  28. lisakunk says:

    I agree with the idea that pledging to blog daily is not a great idea for some of us. Too much pressure. I too enjoy morning nature sounds and the feeling I get being outside bright and early. However, the thing that has inhibited that behavior I enjoy is the rut I’ve gotten in, watching the news in the morning. I get sucked in and spend too much time waiting for teasers to actually become segments of GMA for example. I’m trying to use my senses for inspiration and let the news wait (I record it on DVR) in case I get to watch it at some other time of day and fast forward to where I want to watch. This blog reminds me of The Artists’ Way, by Julia Cameron. Another wonderful inspirational book for creative souls.
    Glad I came upon your blog.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, welcome to this blog. It’s good to hear you share of your experience. Watching the news can be a BIG rut for me, too. Luckily, we can’t get TV service here in the woods anymore, so we got rid of it several years back. Now I just peruse the news headlines on-line and that seems to work better. BTW, my friends and I did the Artists’ Way a few years ago. That was a fascinating journey. Have you ever done that?

      • lisakunk says:

        Yes I have done Artists’ Way. Loved it. Book is filled with highlights and notes. It happened at just the right time to get me writing more regularly with the morning pages.

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  30. christinelaennec says:

    Such an interesting post. I had wondered if Big Magic would be a good read, so I’m glad to have your recommendation. I laughed when you said how you need to introduce the unexpected into your life, because my own challenge is to cope with the great amount of unpredictability in my own life from day to day. I relish the expected! At the same time, there are uncanny things that happen and I am always on the lookout for that kind of unexpected.

    • Kathy says:

      Christine, your comment felt so interesting to me. I’ll bet you DO have more unexpected in your life than most people! My husband, too, says he loves the expected. I have had the best week in a long time after this experience (and the experience of delving deeply into fear and what kills inspiration) and am thinking that keeping my eyes open for the “uncanny” is still my biggest inspiration right now.

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  32. Dawn says:

    I’m not sure yet what unexpected thing I might do today. But I’m mulling it over. xoxox

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, I imagine you doing unexpected things everyday. I am not sure, but do you know how much you inspire random people like me?

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