Our Stories


March 19, 2018

“The morning that Dickon—

after they had been enjoying themselves in the garden for about two hours—

went behind a big rosebush and brought forth two tin pails

and revealed that one was full of rich new milk with cream on the top of it,

and that the other held cottage-made currant buns folded in a clean blue and white napkin,

buns so carefully tucked in that they were still hot,

there was a Riot of Surprised Joyfulness.

Excerpt From: Frances Hodgson Burnett, “The Secret Garden

Can’t you just imagine them in the garden…hooping, hollering, and doing a silly happy dance about this yummy surprise from Mrs. Sowerby! And I love FHB’s choice of words here too: Surprised Joyfulness. She recognized that there is a difference between expected joy…and unexpected or surprised joy.

You expect to be joyful: at celebrations, Christmas morning, and on your birthday. But JOY is at it’s  best when it sneaks up on you when you least expect it! I started pondering this idea after noticing what seemed like waves of Unexpected Joy being purposefully planted all around me.

  • One person was painting rocks with positive messages and hiding them all around town.
  • Another was writing encouraging messages on sticky notes and then placing them on public bathroom mirrors.
  • And another was organizing a Kindness Club, where members were pooling their money and then taking turns using the cash for their own versions of Random Acts of Kindness.

I thought to myself, “What are you leaving behind Keri?

Are you creating WAKES OF UNEXPECTED JOY for others to experience?”

Just as I was letting these questions settle in my heart…out of nowhere, I was actually hit by a rouge wave of surprised joyfulness, similar to the one in The Secret Garden scene quoted above.

This is the beautiful baby scone that made my heart leap with SURPRISED JOYFULNESS!

You see, I had been eyeing these amazing blueberry scones in the pastry case at the local coffee shop as I sat working diligently on today’s blog at my corner table. After much internal debate and drooling, I decided they were just too big…knowing I wouldn’t have the self discipline to just eat half. Resigned and back to writing, I was giddy with excitement when the barista stopped by my table and others to give away some FREE baby scones she made with the last bits of the batter.

When she placed the fresh from the oven scone on my table I squealed, “I can’t believe this! You just caused some serious UNEXPECTED JOY!”

She looked at me a bit confused until I showed her my screen and told her what I was writing about.

I licked the frosting off my fingers, (don’t judge me) but I couldn’t wipe that grin off my face for days!

UNEXPECTED JOY: The barista MADE it happen.

There is something about UNEXPECTED JOY

that makes it SWEETER than expected joy.

Don’t you think?

Because surprises are the best! And my mother is the queen of surprises, which she calls “sussies”.  “Sussies,” she says, “Are little gifts to let you know I was thinking of you.”  There is never a rhyme or a reason…she just pops in with one just because. 

NOTE: All my life I thought sussie was a word that she had made up. (If you know me and how I make up my own words…you would understand why I made this assumption of her…but that is a blog/therapy session for another day) While the regular dictionary does not acknowledge this word’s existence, the Urban Dictionary does and defines it as:

SUSSIE (noun) : A small, inexpensive gift, chosen specifically because it has relevance to the intended recipient.

UNEXPECTED JOY: My mom MADE it happen.

The reality is, so much of our lives is expected…so any chance I get to do or experience something UNEXPECTED…I am ALL IN!

The two biggest gifts of “surprised joyfulness” came at the births of our two children.  You see, we did NOT find out ahead of time…opting to make our own UNEXPECTED JOY happen this time. Nothing will ever top the moments that Dr. Griggs said the words…”It’s a BOY”…and then 3 years later said “It’s a Girl!”

The first time I cried tears of joy…the second I asked her if she was sure…because I was fully convinced I would be the mother of two boys. She giggled and said, “I’m pretty sure it’s a girl Keri…you know I have done this a few times before.”

This picture says it all. This was snapped in the waiting room by my mother as my husband tried to contain himself before blurting out…”It’s a boy!” to the waiting room crowd…who sprang to their feet with joy!



You see…UNEXPECTED JOY is caused by someone…so why not YOU or Me? While it is fun being on the receiving end…I would argue that it is even better on the SURPRISE making and creating end.

This past summer, inspired by some joy spreading Book Fairies on Instagram, I decided to get in on the action, create some unexpected joy and hide in plain sight a few FREE copies of what else…but The Secret Garden. 

Nothing could have prepared me though for the unexpected surprise and joy that I FELT when leaving behind my first FHB and Me Book Fairy book at a pastry shop in San Francisco.

I got more joy out of making it pretty and anticipating the “find” and then when it came time to actually leave it behind…I was bursting! My husband commented as we walked briskly away with both of our hearts racing but full, trying not to look suspicious in our get-away, “It a book for goodness sakes…not a bomb. I feel like I just did something wrong…but it felt so good.”


As I found or experienced things that created UNEXPECTED JOY in my heart and a smile on my face, I realized that they seemed to fall into three categories: Random Silliness, Planted Seeds, and Community Action. I have shared a few of them with you here below in hopes that they will inspire you to find your own unique way to leave a wake of unexpected joy wherever you go.

“To the unknown person who does this to the 4th floor bathroom sink: I LOVE YOU.”

RANDOM SILLINESS: sometimes planned, but often spur of the moment joy creators.

These are people who seize the opportunity to make others smile with unexpected joy inducers.

-There is a big tough-looking guy who drives his motorcycle around with a GIANT Teddy bear strapped in the backseat…creating waves of joy wherever he roams. HE made that happen!

-I recently came around the corner to find a dead armadillo who someone had created a shrine for on the side of the road with a candle, a get well card, and a pack of cigarettes. Someone (with a sick but funny sense of humor) made that happen…and made me smile.

-And I would love to meet the person who added the hat and googly eyes to the sink faucet in this office building.

PLANTED SEEDS: creators of things to be planted purposefully to bloom into big smiles on unsuspecting finders.  

Poem found in a cart at Michael’s by www.randomactsofpoetry.com

These are the people who have thought ahead, diligently planned, and execute a purposeful planting of JOY around them. 

-Love notes, inspirational quotes, free art, books, painted rocks or poetry left behind in public places. Someone created those…why not you?

-The kids and I become “Sunshine Ninjas” each spring, cutting flowers from our garden and filling jars full of the colorful blooms. We then take to social media to ask friends for a list of people who might be in need of a little sunshine. We drop them at their doors with no more than, “someone thought you could use some sunshine today”…and head off into the sunset.

-What’s your thing, your gift, your talent? Use that to find a unique way to plant some joy around you!

COMMUNITY ACTION: when more than one person gets together to cause Unexpected Joy. 

-I have friends who have created a Kindness Club: meeting monthly to be intentional about giving in a way that is UNEXPECTED.

-Create or Participate in a Flashmob: A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

Get together…plant some joy…because TOGETHER, we can create even BIGGER waves of JOY!


Did you ever watch the TV show Perfect Strangers? It was a favorite of mine in the late 80’s and early 90’s and the main character Balki’s signature was his “Dance of Joy”, a cross between the do-si-do and the hokey pokey that he performed (with his cousin Larry) to celebrate good fortune.

My hope is that the unexpected joy that we create together…will cause this kind of joy in others.

Happy Dancing and Joy Spreading,

FHB and an Especially JOYFUL Me