I flew to Chicago Wednesday morning to meet the floral team we chose for our wedding.
Our florist, Nichole, who I’m convinced turns a single stemmed rose into a wand and then proceeds to make magic out of green foam blocks and a bunch of flowers, had put together a floral sample of the displays we’ve been dreaming up for the wedding.
When we were wrapping up at the venue, Nichole casually asked if I wanted to take one of the arrangements home.
My brain froze for a second. “How would I fly with it?” I asked her.
It wasn’t immediately apparent to me that I could fly with it in my lap.
(TSA once took away a peanut butter snack I was traveling with, so I’m never sure what liquid level they’ll be persnickety about. Would they care that the core block holding the arrangement was soaked in water?)
Not to mention, the arrangement was the size of an overfed cat.
Not wanting to let something so beautiful go to waste, I decided to risk it.
At the airport, snaking my way through a sea of backpacks, I caught the eyes of passersby, followed by whispers of, “Did you see those flowers?” or “Wow, those are pretty!”
By the time I had made my way to the gate, my arms had gotten quite the toning workout, and I had learned three things:
- Flowers can be deceptively heavy.
- People really love flowers.
- Carrying flowers through the airport is a great pattern interrupt.
Rather than walking with their heads down, avoiding eye contact at all costs, people looked up.
I saw substantially more smiles than I ever have walking through an airport.
Curiosity has a way of sparking connection in a way judgment isn’t capable of.
It gave them something to look at—something rare to be curious about.
Seeing flowers in the grocery store? No big deal. But how often do you see a 5’8” woman (6’ in the taupe boots I was wearing) carrying a gigantic floral arrangement through the airport?
I’m going to go with almost never.
It interrupted the predictable pattern of going through security, fighting the crowd to get to the gate, and the monotonous sitting while waiting for boarding.
The flowers were just as unexpected as the number of smiles I saw because of them.
I like to call moments like this Pattern Interrupts.
If you’re stuck in a rut, interrupting your normal routine is one of the most powerful things you can do.
It’s so easy to feel stuck, flowing with the status quo instead of defining what we want and acting on our desires.
But possibility is sparked when something makes us look up and see things in a new way (like potentially meeting your future spouse).
So many things in life are prescribed to us. It’s a radical act to reclaim our agency and make active choices about what we want and what’s good for us.
But we have to be willing to interrupt our patterns and permanently delete the phrase “because we’ve always done it that way,” from our brains.
While random pattern interrupts, like seeing floral bouquets in the airport, can sometimes show up unprompted, we can’t always expect them to show up in our lives at just the right time.
Fortunately, we can intentionally play with pattern interrupts on our own.
- We can walk (or drive) a new way to the grocery store.
- We can listen to a different music genre all day.
- We can wear a bright color instead of our normal black.
- We can prepare a fun question before heading out to drinks with the same group of friends.
By carrying flowers through the airport this week, I got to experience moments of micro-connection with strangers that would never have happened if I was just walking to the gate empty-handed as I normally do.
And the flowers served as a pattern interrupt for the people I passed who weren’t expecting to see something beautiful amidst the sea of boring gray airport decor.
What pattern interrupt can you intentionally place in your life this week? What’s something unexpected that has interrupted your normal flow recently? What did you notice?
If you want to share, I love hearing from you. Drop a comment below.