Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Unplanned Greatness

My friends and I have a concept we refer to as “unplanned greatness.”  The secret sauce is having just enough pre-planning to start the domino effect but not strangle the creativity and organic outcome.  A few examples of when we have successfully executed upon this concept and some tips are outlined below. 
Fight the urge to say no
Rule #32 for allowing unplanned greatness into your life: unplanned greatness cannot enter if you are not open to it.  If you get an invite, but you were planning on swiftly putting on sweats, grabbing your carton of cashew milk ice cream, and snuggling up for a Netflix marathon of GoT…. Reconsider.  However can you end up at Roxbury dancing to 90’s rap and r&b or belting out karaoke at Saeed’s with your best friends if you say no to that invite to grab a drink?  Think like Jim Carrey in Yes Man.  I went on my first inadvertent date with my partner in crime by accepting a last minute invite for a boat ride to the Port City Club.  Every time you leave the house think to yourself, this could be the best day of my life!  Ok if that’s too much…. This could be the day I meet my next good friend! 

An indicator that there is the potential for unplanned greatness is hearing the famous last words, “Let’s try to leave by early afternoon so we can get home and do some stuff.” or “let’s just grab one drink.”  Heading back last weekend from the Lake Chatuge, straight out of Narnia, my boyfriend Troy and I decided to stop and hike midway to break up the drive.  Then I remembered that New Belgium’s new brewery right on the river was nearby.  And with that, unplanned greatness was initiated. 
After doing a consult on the best hiking trail with my cousins, the Black Mountain locals, we picked Catawba Falls.  I am heavily reliant on The Google, but you can’t beat the local recommendations.  Is now a good time for my shameless plug for my cousin’s bed and breakfast, the Arbor House B&B at http://arborhousenc.com/?  It’s consistently rated the best B&B in Black Mountain.

Back to the hike.  There’s just something about a walk in the woods.  Troy exclaims, “Happy Amber is out!” when we start.  The hike to the second set of waterfalls is a tad grueling, but worth it.  I happened upon my own personal trail guide that was wearing jeans and cowboy boots on the 90+ degree day that gave me a hand and pointed out the best holds on the way up.  His wife was wearing flower strappy sandals.  We also encountered a couple walking their tabby cat.  I can't even make this stuff up if I tried. My only regret from the day is not taking a picture of the domestic tabby cat hiking.  Well that and not bring my bathing suit to swim in the cool mountain swimming holes.
The most memorable part of the exhilarating hike was when a butterfly followed us down the trail and then landed on Troy’s butt.  “There is a butterfly on your butt!  There’s a butterfly on your BUTT!!!” I shrieked like Nemo’s friends. 

Legend has it this is a great omen.  The butterfly started to make its way towards me and I stood primed and ready for its landing.  Another couple gruffly stormed around the trail and the butterfly promptly flutter away.  I glared accusingly at the couple and they trekked on, oblivious to their impact on my well-being.  When I shortly thereafter rolled my ankle, twice, clearly it was their fault.  I quickly forgot my misfortune as I sipped on a sour ale at New Belgium and we devoured food truck goodness.
Everyone has a story
If you’re shuffling along the sidewalk avoiding eye contact and staring at your phone, how the heck are you going to see your next good friend, much less initiate conversation!!  This could be “your person” and you are just letting them walk on by!  Think about all the interesting and random things you have experienced throughout your lifetime.  Every single person has a story and we can learn from them.  Take the time to get to know them.  When I vacation I always attack the locals with a barrage of questions.  Why don’t we do this in day to day life?  Check out the book One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern for more on this train of thought.  At a table with any of your friends or family members?  Be present and learn more about their story.  That text will still be there when you get back.  Our framily often times puts cell phones in the middle of the table to help.

Picking up strays to hear more story telling
When entering an establishment, it’s best to appear solo.  Walk in separately and have one person go to the bathroom, another go to the bar for drinks, and the most social of the group start the initiation.  Have the socialite sit just close enough at a long table where there are others that appear to be fun going and rambunctious.  Glance at your phone, glance up and try to make eye contact, smile and nod, and have a prepared entry question such as, “have you tried this ale yet?  It’s almost as good as Wicked Weed.”  My grandpa carries around a notecard with reminders of his favorite jokes to tell.  Appear very interested in what the person says in response and continue to pester them with questions.  Once everyone has validated the initiation is going well, they have clearance to approach the table.  The socialite can then introduce the others and next thing you know it is just one big boisterous group.  Four hours later you’ll have secured a free CD from the band after a member of your tribe dances on the nonexistent dance floor and made three new Facebook friends.  Score!  One of them just may be the “stray that got to stay.”   

Bring the celebration
If you aren’t that stoked for an event or you are at an event and thinking how bored you are… change it!  Be the kind of person you want to meet.  You can start or restart this at any point in time. 

Workplace in a lull?  Sounds like it’s time for a nerf gun or a good old fashioned prank.  For example, plant Fabio romance novels and the Dummy’s Guide to (insert profession) in their stack of books on their office bookshelf.  Sit back and watch.  Bring thundersticks. 

Costumes and embracing event themes are also a great way to kickstart unplanned greatness.  It’s impossible not to have a good time walking around uptown as the Power Rangers squad, in togas for no reason at all, or attending the Batman v. Superman movie dressed in your Wonder Woman costume.  Go to Jurassic Park dressed as a dinosaur and shout out, "Dinosaur hate crime! That's why we're extinct!" when someone accidentally runs into you.  I dressed up for a Madonna lookalike contest in Beach Mountain on a whim with what was in my closet and won a weekend long lift ticket!

Make every moment possible special and a new memory.  Your friends missing an event?  Make them feel special and missed!  Bring a cardboard cut out of them and take pictures.  Picking someone up from the airport?  Make an obnoxious sign!  It just may make their day.

Remember all the stuff you loved as a child or always wanted to do?  Start now.  Create a new tradition like a turkey bowl.  Have a pumpkin carving contest. Jump in puddles.  Get your mom to go rollerskating.  Get a crazy pool float...or two.

Find reasons to celebrate.  Einstein’s birthday?  Obviously a party is needed! 

Make a huge deal about birthdays.  Dress up like a robber and kidnap your friend to go to brunch. 

Be silly sometimes.

Go crazy!  Life is short, live loud.  Let more greatness begin.