Life is full of surprises each and every day. Some are happy surprises that put a smile on your face and a pep in your step. Others…not so much. A few years ago, a very real, literal life-or-death lesson was solidified for me in the Caribbean. At that time, Grant and I were living on a boat, hopping from one island to the next. Living an absolute dream, yes. But at the same time, the sea can be unpredictable and capricious. 

I quickly discovered how important it was to be prepared for…well, anything. Preparedness was the difference between sinking or swimming when conditions suddenly took a turn — literally! I saw how my greatest strength as a lawyer translated to ocean survival skills: the ability to look ahead and anticipate any and all problems that might pop up. 

That foresight and anticipation will be your road map when you’re faced with life’s worst surprises. As I often say, “The only thing worse than a disaster is a disaster without a plan.”

This has been a season of many unexpected surprises — both the happy and the challenging kind. It has been a season of leaning on my disaster plan, and also one filled with stunning beauty. 

Last year, Grant and I made the monumental decision to put down roots in Hawaii. We bought our dream house and have been knee deep in renovations to truly make it our own. Our new home has been the source of so many amazing surprises.

Soon after moving in, seemingly out of nowhere, an entire symphony of beautiful, vibrant orchids popped up along the rock wall in our garden. They have been putting on a display of such brilliance each day that I can’t wait to go outside each morning to see what they have in store for us. Each day, new ones bloom, old ones get bigger, more petals open or close. 

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It’s nothing short of stunning.

But those aren’t the only surprises the garden had in store for us. To my absolute delight, I discovered tons and tons of beautiful, perfectly juicy baby tomatoes. Just right there for the taking! Belonging to us, totally out of the blue! 


I lean on these beautiful surprises when the not-so-welcome ones pop up, as they have been doing with more frequency than I’d like lately. 

Starting with perhaps the unhappiest surprise of all. After two years of separation due to COVID-19, two years of worry and stress and collective family efforts to keep my mother safe from the virus, she was finally set to visit me here in Hawaii. Two full years without seeing one another! To say the anticipation was all-consuming would be an understatement!!

Then it happened. Life threw one of those curveballs again. Three days before her flight, my mother got COVID. Cue the panic and the worry and the fear and the canceled plans. Cue the complete and utter disappointment. 

Thankfully, after a very rough couple of weeks, my mother was on the mend and has since visited a couple of times!

Life happens, and it almost never asks for permission to proceed. Whether we like it or not, conditions and circumstances can change so fast, we get whiplash. Without the right mindset, the right “plan B” or the right awareness, surprises of any kind can be overwhelming. 

This is why I am so passionate about helping women anticipate unwelcome surprises - those little hiccups, roadblocks and obstacles that can, at best, throw you off your game for a bit, and at worse, wreak havoc on your business and your life. 

Have you had any unexpected surprises pop up in your life or business lately? Comment below and let me know. I’d be honored to laugh (or cry) with you. 

Here’s to nothing but happy surprises and smooth sailing ahead!

April 12, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff