How Do You Show Up When Life Hands Over The Unexpected?

Nicole Beaudin sits with her dog
Nicole Beaudin

Recently a group of us planned on surprising a gal pal for her 40th birthday. Yes, it’s true, 40! Her husband initiated it. He would take care of their 2 year old, and we would kidnap her up to a cabin in Nederland. A few days prior to our unexpected arrival, we were all hit with the kind of news you never want to hear: her husband was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Stopped in our tracks, we were ready for anything, whatever she and he needed. Her husband emailed, urging that the show must go on, she needed this weekend now more than ever, her tank needed to be filled. Our surprise was one for the record books, she thought none of us had remembered her big day and tears rushed forth, from all of us, not just the birthday girl. Our cozy cabin in the mountains surrounded by trees and a babbling brook was exactly the environment she needed to be taken care of, space held, for whatever emotion arose at whatever time.

As many of you may have experienced in your own life, this way to happy is a winding path with many twists and turns. It’s really more how we show up that dictates the outcomes and our level of happiness. We showed up. Her husband’s and her bravery still has me in awe. Her vulnerability and sharing of fears paired with hopes all weekend was warrior-like in scope. And our group’s ability to truly hold space with curiosity and no need to control or fix was something I will be proud of forever. Yes, it would’ve been easier for each of us to provide the answer, but not only did we not have any, that’s not what our friend needed most.

In coaching we are taught to lead with curiosity and not answers, to hold space for rather than force a solution, and that letting all the emotions out is a critical part of the healing process. I might also add, a critical part in finding the way back to happy. Not only are these great coach traits but human ones, too. The unexpected made its way to us, and we showed up, all of us with our be-our-best-human hats on, ready to ride the waves. We left our friend with her tank full, warrior ready for what’s to come.

Where in your life were you ready for one thing but were forced to jump and ride the wave of the unexpected? How did you feel you showed up? I’d love to celebrate you, showing up is always the hardest part.

Please feel free to share your story with me by emailing

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