Monday, September 10, 2012

Serendipity


Barbara: We’ve chatted here about coincidences and miracles and what is “meant to be” and all kinds of lovely things like that. I thought I’d share my daughter’s recent experience because it is so in this vein—and really makes me think about all the wonderful things that have coalesced at the perfect time in the perfect way to my wonderment and awe.

My older daughter, as many of you know, is in Paris right now. Well, let me let you in on the secret of how that came to be. She’s a recently graduated fashion design student who’s been working for a local designer for a few years already. But it was time to branch out and head into the greater world. She was all set to go to New York City and just let whatever might happen happen. There were impediments and frustrations along the way in planning this trip, but she was excited and ready to take them on. Then, at the 11th hour, she got an offer to work in Paris. A design internship with a couturier. As money most definitely was an object, her first reaction—as honoured as she was—was to say no. She didn’t have a place to live and rent in Paris is astronomical. She couldn’t afford it. But before she could give her great offer a polite and disappointed “no”, Phil remembered that we have friends with an empty… get this… fully furnished flat in Paris. Rent? A perfectly affordable amount. When our daughter realized that there were no practical impediments to her going (we won’t get into all the emotional ones), she took a huge leap of faith and made the move. Now, the truly—for me, her mother—serendipitous part of this experience is that it turns out this affordable, sweet, and perfect flat is also a two-minute walk from the studio where she works! You guys know how vast Paris is, right? It is vaaaaaaaast. Nothing is a two-minute walk from anything. The subway system is excellent over there, so getting around wasn’t really a concern, but how amazing is it that she doesn’t have to face a long commute every day? How … serendipitous!

As I said, perfect confluence like this made me ruminate on my own experience with serendipity. I have stories too numerous to share here, but perhaps my greatest encounter with it is when Phil and I decided to go to university. We’d met and fallen in love while attending CEGEP—a post-secondary, pre-college school system unique to Quebec. It was our intention to go on to university. It was our hope to do so together. After researching and auditioning for a number of universities, we knew which one was our number one choice … but they only accepted 25 students each year. We knew our chances might be slim to none that we would both get accepted into our top choice. But we did! And so ensued an amazing four years of study, discovery, and bonding.

Ironically, this form of serendipity didn’t grace this same daughter’s romantic experience. Her longtime boyfriend studied and now works in …. New York City. Interestingly, they are learning a whole unique way of dealing with the distance, which includes being utterly true to themselves while still supporting and nurturing each other. Maybe there is serendipity in everything!

Has serendipity played a part in some wonderful experience in your life?

Deb: I often think of the story Colin tells of his Mom and Dad when they came to Canada from Scotland. They moved first to Montreal and then moved to Edmonton and then to Vancouver. My father-in-law tried and tried to get work and finally had to admit that his family was going to starve if he did not get them back to Scotland. They had moved out of their rented house for the last time and they were in a motel awaiting their flight. My father-in-law at the last minute asked for a reprieve. He asked my mother-in-law to give him one more day, just one more day. This story always strikes an emotional chord in me because I think, “Wow, he must have known in his heart, prayed in his soul that this was going to work”. And it did. And my husband grew up in Canada and came to Toronto.

49 comments:

  1. Great stories for a Monday! :] God knew right what He was doing in those moments! PARIS!!! Oh my goodness. Not my first choice of a new job (Scotland in a heartbeat) but I'm sure she'll do splendidly there! How long is she there till?

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    1. Kelly, she's there for 3 months, then we'll see...

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    2. Wow!! 3 months in PARIS......*dreamy sigh*

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    3. C'est magnifique! Je l'ai dit, "Les anges tiennent nos mains!" :)

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    4. Love it, Rigel! Thanks everyone!! xoxo

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  2. Hmmm.....Has Serendipity played a part in some wonderful experience in my life......Thats an interesting question.........Where do I start??? :D
    I could write a BOOK. You know that. lol.
    Love to read about this wonderful experience you guys had. Its feels really miraculous doesnt it? Like How wonderfully universe works everything out and you get to watch it! And Well, Create it ;)

    Right now I'm in the process of such a serendipitous experience. The moment I decided to Move everything just started coming to me. The wheres, the hows, the whens...and the most important with whom? Coz its the first time I'm moving out of the country...probably long term So its good to have someone you know with you. And a couple of weeks ago I met an Old friend, we got to talking and turns out she had a similar desire and when I told her about everything I researched she made a decision of moving with me. And we connect so much. It took us two weeks to realize we are soul sisters!

    And these kinda things happen everyday for me. Small things. But they do. Maybe its as small at checking the time and its 11.11. But things happen! And Something new is clicking into place. I know it is. I know things are working out. I can FEEL it. I'll have a story for you soon I promise!

    Deb, that story is sooo touching! He really mustve had very strong desire and determination..Most importantly like you said he mustve known in his heart that it would work.

    P.S. Barb....HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! (Please...please tell me I'm wishing on the right day! Oh god please!)

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    1. Yes, Shalaka, you are!! 24 happy (married) years!! Thank you!

      You are so keyed into these kinds of things, Shalaka, I knew you'd have lovely things to say on the subject. We can't wait to hear all the developing -- serendipitous -- details of your big new adventure. So so exciting!

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    2. Aww... I will sistah' !!! I am so on a roll here... I'll keep ya'll updated about this awesome journey!

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    3. Shalaka, I too love to find the time to be 11:11 or 2:22...
      I always make a wish.

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  3. Yay! I LOVE these stories. They are my favorite kind.

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  4. serendipity does'nt always happen with good things either . as i mentioned here at the time it happened , my mom's fall and brake of her collar bone last January ended up with a diagnosis of bone marrow cancer . it was a good thing she fell otherwise she would not have known she had cancer and she might never have found out about it . lord knowns what the outcome would have been .

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    1. Linda, this is an EXCELLENT point -- and one I've seen (and heard) happen on many an occasion. Truly boggles the mind!

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    2. I'm contining to send best wishes for your mom Linda! This kind of story had me freaking out last week when my oldest broke her hip. I couldn't help but think a healthy 13 year old doesn't just break a hip without something being underlying. Turns out they do, it's called an avulsion fracture and is apparently common for higher calibee athletes of her age, so phew. Does go to show how common these type of things happen though when your mind can jump to it so quickly.

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    3. Along a similar vein, my mom ended up in the hospital because of abdominal pain. Turns out it was her appendix. But the serendipitous thing was when the surgeons removed the appendix, a mass was there - which turned out to be cancerous. Fortunately, the cancer didn't spread; Mom got treatment, and is a cancer survivor...

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    4. Erin and Jo, thank goodness your events had some good news attached to the original shock. Erin, I wish your daughter a speedy recovery! And Jo, that your mom continues to rally. Linda, you know we're always thinking of you and your parents. xoxo

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    5. Erin i hope my story did'nt scare you too badly . mom is 77 and the type of cancer she has is very rare in people under 65 . i am sorry to hear about your daughter's hip fracture , i hope she gets better soon . i can imagine as a mom it is very easy to get frightened when you hear your daughter is hurt like that .

      Jo this is mom's second time with cancer she survived breast cancer back in 2001 . i am glad to hear your mom's cancer was found and she , like my mom , survived the illness .

      speaking of serendipity when my mom told her doctor about having 2 different unrelated cancers in in 11 years , he told my mom she would have had more chance of winning the Irish national lottery . considering the chance of wining it are millions to one against this was one set of odds mom did'nt want to defy but has .

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  5. Happens all the time to me. Great stories filled with adventure and love.

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  6. Serendipity seemed to play a hand in throwing my husband and I together, we met and lost touch 3 or 4 times from when we first met. We first met at only 14 and 15 respectively and clearly too young to consider each other as future spouses. Each time we met again over the years it was a little different until eventually a deep friendship became something more. For a country girl and a city boy to keep becoming entangled in each other’s lives seems a little serendipitous to me.

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    1. What a lovely story, Erin! So romantic!

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    2. Oh, that IS romantic, Erin!! I also love the symmetry of the city boy/country girl theme :)

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  7. A lovely story and horray for your daughter! Things seemed to have worked out so lovely for her. Deb, I hope your family party went well over the weekend.

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  8. Okay, I tried to post a comment earlier from my phone, yet my phone refused. So here we go...
    Congrats to Stef! I hope she has a wonderful experience in Paris!
    I have been thinking about this for a while. Serendipity. Trying to think...
    Well, finding all of you here at the time that I did was serendipity. I was going through a lot and you all were willing to listen.
    I think that I may have experienced a bit of serendipity this past weekend. I mentioned last week that I was going to have a birthday celebration this weekend and I did. I went to see Whose Live Anyway. It was great, as usual! Before the show, I was walking around the buildling, just looking around. I noticed a girl with her dadstanding near the stage door. I walked over toward them and waited. Finally the dad asked me about the guys and if they were in the right spot to see them come in. I said yes and filled them in on what I knew. He told me that I spoke like I had a lot of experience seeing these guys, which I do. His daughter, who I would guess to be about 16, asked me a few things and said she was excited. We talked for a while and watched the guys go into the theater. I had great seats and I checked when I got to my seat to see where they were sitting. They had good seats, which I was happy for them about. I was truly happy for her. After the show, I asked how she liked it and of course she loved it. She was really nervous about meeting the guys, which i was too the first time I met them. It was sweet. I also had a lovely special moment with Jeff Davis (not that talking to all of the guys wasn't special) thanks to something my mother mentioned to him. So I had a bit of luck too!
    Anyway, my point is that I felt that it was serendipity that I met this girl and her dad and was able to provide some insight. It's always nice to be able to share your experiences with others and give advice when they need it.
    Great post to start off the week!

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    1. Steph, that is one of my favourite occurrences -- when you meet someone out of the blue and you have this serendipitous, interesting and real connection. It makes everyone feel so good, doesn't it?! I'm also thrilled you had such a great time at the show. You deserve your treats and pleasures!! Happy happy birthday!!! xoxo

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    2. Steph, I've had a couple of experiences like yours. I talked to one gal for a while before a show. She'd never seen Whose Live, but she WAS at a Whose Line convention several years ago. Colin had shown up and it was amazing.
      We each had experiences because of Whose Line and it was SO much fun to talk with each other about them. That's one of the best fan encounters I've ever had, and she's the only person I've met so far who'd been to this convention-ish event. SO random!

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    3. Thanks, Barbara. I've got 2 weeks to wait for my actual birthday, but I celebrated a little early since I will be in class/at work on my actual birthday!
      Dawn, I totally agree! Love those experiences. Love meeting others who love Whose Line as much as I do and having a real conversation with them. I never heard of this convention; if I had I would have been there! Love the random connections too. Finding people that I've seen on Twitter or other sites that talk about Whose Line and the boys. It's so interesting to see them in person.
      I have to say that Whose Line has the most interesting group of followers/fans (of course, as a fan/follower, I may be slightly bias!)

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    4. The conventions were in the late '90s and early 00s. I prefer to meet fans at the shows. That way, we get to see shows, too. :D
      I've made several good friends purely through fandom. And I've seen so many people tell the guys how watching Whose Line made them laugh during tough times in their lives. Timing is STILL everything.

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  9. Oh, and Happy Anniversary to you, Barbara and Phil! So happy for you two! xoxo
    "Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved." Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

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  10. One of my absolute faves!! Thank you!!!! xoxo

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  11. Barb--Happy Anniversary!! Much luck and love to your daughter on her amazing adventure. Wow. How many people have that kind of connection in Paris? Serendipity, indeed!

    The first time I went to Vegas (and a few times after that), I was there to see Drew Carey and the Improv All-Stars. I was hoping I'd meet some or all of them. I was able to meet everyone except for Ryan.

    I was scheduled to leave Sunday morning, skipping Sunday night's show. As I sat in the MGM lobby saying good-bye to it, I got this "You're not finished" feeling in my gut. The message was so strong I switched my flight, got a room in NYNY, and got a show ticket.

    I had managed to see Greg a LOT over the weekend, and we chatted enough for me to make some sort of impression on him.

    By Sunday night's show, he knew I hadn't met Ryan yet. After the show, Greg came out with Ryan. He says to me, "Look, there he is! Go over to him!" I said, "He looks PISSED!" And Greg literally shoved me towards Ryan going, "GO!" I caught up with him, and that's how I got my first picture with Ryan.

    Does anyone else notice that the RIGHT song will come on the radio at the RIGHT time, when you're looking for a sign about a decision you're trying to make? I usually listen to my iPod when I'm driving, but every now and then, I'll shut it off and switch to the radio. Almost ALWAYS, the song that's playing at that moment, either on the exact station or one of the other five (I channel surf on the radio, too), will fit my circumstance PERFECTLY. Amazing how frequently it happens.

    Timing truly is everything.

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    1. Dawn, I so love these stories of the moment you feel you NEED to do something and so do it and it turns into a wonderful opportunity/experience. Like our subconscious has some higher knowledge and is guiding us. Love this! Thank you!

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    2. Dawn, what a story! I am SO jealous that you saw them in Vegas!! I would have loved that! And that was such a great thing that Greg did. Such a sweetie.

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  12. happy anniversary Phill and Barbara .

    by the way tell your daughter you can have a long distance relationship and make it work . i know this because i am involved in one . i live in Ireland and my boyfriend lives in the UK . e-mail , Skype , yahoo or hotmail messengers are good ways to keep in touch . I am sure she knows that already though . just remind stephaine forget the time differences . in Ireland we are about 5 hours ahead of you guys according to the clock on my i pod and i think Paris is one hour ahead of us in Ireland !

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    1. ops that should read not to forget the time differences !

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  13. I just thought of something that happened a couple of weeks ago. I needed to get my oil changed, so I went to a Valvoline place. (It used to be Jiffy Lube, but changed hands a few years back. Shows you how much attention I paid to that.)

    While the guy was changing the oil, he noticed one of my tires had a small multi-layered chunk missing. It looked like someone had bit the tire.

    The oil change turned out to be expensive, but if this tire hadn't landed in the EXACT rotation to see it, and this guy had NOT seen it, I'd have been in trouble in the not-too-distant future.

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    1. Oh, Dawn, this is a big PHEW!!! xoxo

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  14. OMG the internet here at school is slower than a snail race!!! GRRRRR
    I have been trying all day to log in here and comment. But I finally made it.
    I was struggling on what to say at first, but then again I had all day to try and figure it out. Thank you crappy WiFi. I swear if I had a car I would just go sit at a Starbucks or somewhere with free wifi. ugh
    anyway I have never been good with vocabulary so I had to look up serendipity. The definition I got stil confuses me a bit but I think I got it. My dictionary app says that serendipity is 'finding something valuable or agreeable not sought for'
    So with that in mind I think my response is that recently my great aunt died. She had cancer.She was diagnosed in May and died late august. I was struggling with who to talk to and how to cope because my great aunt and her family, and my family for that matter , are very very religious. Every time I wanted to talk to someone the only answer I got was based in god. So I didnt want to go to the services. Churches make me rather uncomfortable on their own, never mind the sermons and preaching. Plus someone had to stay home to watch the dog. (Great aunt lived in PA about 3 hrs from us so the family would be gone for the weekend for services)
    Although I wanted to grieve, I wasn't sure how. That sounds stupid but is the best explanation I can put into words. So I turned to a book.

    So I guess you can say that this was my way of finding a non-religious way to grieve and deal with death and a great book in the process, that I found without looking for it.

    Just for curious people I was reading The Origin of Species by Darwin. This has nothing to do with coping with grief but it was a read that needed me to focus and really think, which in turn (and after a long good cry) made me move on and get back to life.

    Happy anniversary Barbara : )

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    1. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother in March and I am still trying to cope. Even though I turned to God for comfort, i understand turning to a book, any book, for comfort. I too turned to books. Books have helped me through a lot in my life, which may be one of the reasons that I am studying literature at university. I think that no matter what each person believes, we have to be able to throw ourselves into something to get our minds off of the loss for a while.
      Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

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    2. Hey ladies, my own internet issues prevented me from getting these last comments. But so glad I checked in here because these are so amazing. Kelly, thanks so much for sharing this story. It was exactly what you needed at a terrible time. much love to both of you!! xoxo

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  15. I love the serendipity stories. It is just so marvelous to hear how people have good luck. I would love to have some serendipity right about now or any signs at all. Just gave up my lease today and will be moving in with my sister in the end of next month. I'd like to get some validation that the plans that I have made will work. Really not good at just waiting for things to happen.

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    1. Keep us posted, Kasku. I'd love to hear how things work out!

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  16. Your stories are so sweet! :)

    Best feeling ever to be at the right place at the right time with the right persons (sometimes it's just: If I hadn't taken that train, or if I came home five minutes later, or if I walked another way today...).
    I cannot recall a "huge" story, but a lot of small moments, where I just felt so happy and lucky.

    Example? Uh...
    One that really made my day.
    This was two years ago, right after my Mom had to be taken to the hospital, because she couldn't feel her legs anymore. (We had been on vacation at my Aunt's house on that little island I went to last week).
    It was my Mom's birthday, and we took the ferry to visit her (the hospital was - of course - on the mainland).

    It was one night after the performance of that German comedian I adore so much (the one I saw this year, too ;). We talked to him the night before (because he's a geocacher, and you can always talk to a geocacher :P).

    Anyway...we had my Uncle's car (it was cheaper, because he lived on the island, blabla), and as we came to the pier, there were two ferries. The first one was almost full. And then I saw my comedian. He was on that first ferry.
    And because we had my Uncle's car, we were allowed (local license plate) to drive on that ferry, too (Sorry, if that story is confusing).

    There is a restaurant, where you can sit and eat something, and we had breakfast there. Right next to the comedian, and his friends/manager. We said hello to him (while everyone else was staring at him...he's famous, but not that famous, and he's the most natural and lovely guy), and I told him that there is a geocache on that ship. They didn't believe me, but then I searched for it, and brought it to them.
    They were happy and thanked me, and we talked a little bit more.

    So...
    this day was like one of the saddest days in my life (because of my Mom being so helpless and frightened), but these 45 minutes in the morning on that ferry helped a lot!

    I was so happy to a, find that geocache (yes, I'm always happy, when I find a cache :P), and b, to meet and chat with the comedian again.

    BTW, I've uploaded the pictures of my vacation on my blog. http://2handwonderland.blogspot.de/

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    1. That is so nice, that you had that time with him and found the cache. That comedian sounds like a really nice guy.

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    2. Wonderful story, Becki!! sorry it took me so long to get to it -- argh to my email snafus!! But this is such a sweetly lovely story for all its serendipitous details :)

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  17. This is great! I actually just posted today on facebook about a blog post I read that talks about manufacturing serendipity. It's written by Rand Fishkin. http://moz.com/rand/manufacturing-serendipity/ It talks about how all the seemingly random acts of kindness, coffees with friends, and willingness to help others with no thought of getting anything in return pays off for us, sometimes years down the road, in ways we may never know.

    It seems like the universe is trying to get that message through loud and clear today. Guess I otta take note and listen close.

    Thanks for posting!

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    1. Thanks for this, Ryan! I hope you know that I didn't get this response until now! But I love the idea of "manufacturing" serendipity. I will definitely check this out. Funny how even messages about serendipity can be ... serendipitous!

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