Embracing the Unexpected

What does volunteering, interpersonal communication, and being a loud talker have in common? For me, a great deal.


               At the end of last year, Dawn and I spent a cold December morning at a local cemetery for Wreaths Across America. Her dad was buried there last year and we were moved to volunteer for this event and the clean up a few months later. There was a glitch in logistics and second trailer of wreaths was going to be late. When it was due to arrive, the cemetery was going to be lined with all volunteers’ vehicles, making it difficult for the tractor trailer to navigate the narrow paths. This meant that wherever the truck was able to park, it was going to require a lot of walking or figuring out how to transport boxes of wreaths to volunteers in areas they were needed. I volunteered my truck (Char) to transport boxes and I must say it was a ton of fun. It has been years since I was able to hang off a trailer as it moved from location to location or have folks hop in the bed of my truck, jump, out and get to work. There was so much community and everywhere we looked, there were groups of people in the beds of trucks, pitching in to help. But every successful job needs a leader.


               All operations, large or small, need someone that is in charge who is also an experienced communicator. That is usually me, but on this day, Dawn and I chose to be minions, sorta.  As I was chatting up some folks, the person in charge over heard me talking about some of the work I do in leadership and development and my background in construction. She asked me a couple questions, I answered, and we may have spoken for a minute. In maybe 60 seconds, the conversation had been meaningful enough, authentic enough, that she let me know where her jeep was parked and we could expand our conversation. But first,,,,,,,

it was back to work. These wreaths were not going to place themselves.

               At the end, we chatted for about 15 more minutes. We briefly talked about life and family and our philosophy on coaching and mentoring. This went very well. So much so that we later met four additional hours, just chatting, and expanding on everything. It was very personal, very deep, very authentic, and a relief. Her and I aligned in so many ways. Mostly, how we approach life and working with people. You know, the most valuable resource in any organization. Yes, those people.

Blame it on the LOUD VOICE

It was a chance conversation, folks. Kindness matters as does being available to take in new experiences. The quality of our communication and how we treat others should never be turned off. She heard me talking and asked me about a conversation that she was not initially a part of. Now, for those of you who have not heard me speak, she was not being nosey. There is a certain amount of attention that my voice draws no matter what I am saying. I am also loud, deep-voiced, and articulate. When I whisper, Dawn says I am being loud. Sheesh. I could recite the ABC’s or Humpty Dumpty and people would turn their heads. True story, a citizen, working at a Mexican airport, asked me if I was on the radio after just a few words. She did not violate any rules of “mind your own business”, however, because she was listening, because I was being kind in my words, and because I talk really loudly, I could be heard above the crowd.

What does all this mean? Now, the WRAP UP

               In the end, a personal interaction has led to myself working as a member of her coaching group. Her reach, resources, and experience as an executive coach is going to provide an extended platform to reach folks with my message. My experiences are going to add value to what she is currently offering in the form of new and exciting products for mid-level and front-line managers and employees. For now, nothing here is going to change. I have struggled a bit with where to put this in my list of professional items. On one hand, I am sad that I was not able to expand on my own. At the same time, working with someone who has the resources and systems in place is an open door that I want to jump through and explore. Perhaps this is the expansion after all. I am excited to have the autonomy to weave both of our contents into an amazing series of programs for our clients.

“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” 

– Haruki Murakami

Change is tough, it is not always something that we expect. Some of the best change is unexpected. The quote above is part of my email signature and it speaks to me every time I read it. This experience is evidence that it is true, and that unexpected change can be good change. Still scary as hell, but potentially good if we have the space and patience for it to reveal itself and grow.

Now, I am off to practice whispering.

May y’all be happy, healthy, and safe.


5 thoughts on “Embracing the Unexpected

  1. Hooray Hooray! Tommy is back!!! So excited!!! I loved hearing about you guys volunteering to give out wreaths – were they huge or just small and easy to hand out? Your description of the trucks, cars and people involved make it sound like a huge operation. I haven’t heard of wreath-giving but it sounds wonderful and I bet you all blessed your community. I love things like that!

    How exciting that your loud voice drew someone of similar mind and goals over to you, eh? I can relate so much to drawing attention to myself without meaning to – I’m excited and when I am, my volume goes right up. I laughed when you said even your whispering makes Dawn say you’re being too loud. Hahahaha! Me too.

    Amazing that your chance encounter with that lady turned into a long chat (4 hours, eh?? you are giving Aurelie and I some competition there, my friend!) and then into a future of working together to speak to managers and businesses. This is SO COOL and I’m super stoked for you, Tommy.

    I liked your quote on what we’re seeking being something in a form we wouldn’t expect. I think a lot of the BEST things in life are like that. We seek love, for instance – and end up falling in love with a dear friend when we ARE NOT seeking it. We look for a great job – and in your case, it falls in your lap when you were giving of yourself and your time to help others. I love all of that. As a Christian, I believe that’s God’s mighty hand in your life and that is SO BLOODY AWESOME.

    I’m so glad you’re writing again, my friend, Keep ’em coming! Big hugs to you and Dawn xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much. It was great fun to be able to support this event. I can tell the bundle of energy that you are when you are excited. I get more excited just reading your response. Not only is the entire family loud but get us a couple of drinks as we celebrate something and it really pumps up the volume. The four hours went pretty quickly as well but your friend has me beat with the cannabis. HAHA.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Janet, I could literally feel your excitement coming off of the page! Haha
    Wreaths Across America – check it out, there may be an opportunity near you 🙂
    It is quite a significant undertaking – thousands of wreaths are laid on the gravestones of our fallen heroes. The wreaths are the typical “hang on your door” size, so must of us were able to scoop three or four onto each arm. Then you walk to the gravestones, speak some words of gratitude, state the soldier’s name out loud, and move to the next grave marker. This is truly a moving and humbling experience; hundreds of like-minded people gathering to share the common goal of paying our respects.
    One never knows when an opportunity will present itself, so best to be open to the experiences offered by chance encounters.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Dawn…tears unexpectedly came up at your beautiful description of honouring those who gave their lives for the freedom of others. That’s really heartfelt and what a lovely organisation to support. We have a slightly similar thing here where all of Australia gets the day off for “ANZAC day” – Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in the war so we could be free. We don’t have wreaths but we give out poppies or sprigs of fresh rosemary. On ANZAC day, it seems the whole of Australia is filled with bright red poppies. We have Dawn service and gather in parks or the beach to have a ceremony for the Anzacs. We have a minute of silence and all day people share stories of their Grandparents who served so bravely.

    I love the sound of a wreath, though. Next year (we’ve recently just had ANZAC day) I will make a few wreaths with Alun and we’ll give them out to our neighbours. This may be the start of a new tradition!!! So excited 😊 thank you for writing to me I AM SO STOKED to hear from both Thompsons!!! Yaaaaass!!!


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