My friend Robindra promised he’d show me some DJ ropes (because I wanna spin and mix and stuff when I grow up). He got a gig in North Van and said I could tag along for the night. So I Facebook’d about it, mentioned the locale, said it was a great way to kick off my birthday week, and I put on my black high tops to head out.

Jump cut to an hour into my shadow DJ lesson, skimming playlists and learning about bass lines, when a woman who’d been sitting at the bar the whole time tapped me on the shoulder. She handed me the most incredible bouquet of peonies and a card. “Hi Danielle, Happy Birthday,” she said. “You inspire me. That’s all I came to say really.” I was blown away. It was so random and beautiful. I don’t think anyone else in the place knew me. Just her. Waiting. (Sweet woman, I REALLY hope you’re reading this.)

Brave Peony Lady told me which city she’d driven in from — about an hour away. I had posted location details just a few hours before. “You know,” she said, “I figured it was really time to get out of my comfort zone and just come. So I told my husband I was going and he said, ‘Do it!’ So I did.” We hugged and high five’d. I wanted to cry because well, I cry at everything, but I could feel how big of a deal it was to just get in the car, on a week night, and go somewhere unknown, alone, with a big bouquet of flowers for someone you might not even meet, and to sit at the bar gnoshing on appies until the right moment to say, “I’m me, and I came to see you.”

I know that moment. Big small incidental feeling monumental kind of moments. Going to my first 5 Rhythms class, my first tango lesson. Pitching myself to Gayle King at a party, in gold pants. Asking Deepak Chopra if he ever needed to rest, “…because, dude, you are the hardest working man in the New Age.” The first time I rode my bike through a big city – in cwazy twaffic with my new shiny helmet! The first time I went to group therapy (first and last time, thank you very much). Alone. Not knowing. Just willing enough to get over it being a big deal.

Because there are a lot of times I just… don’t go. You know. I choose no big deal over New Little Big Deal. But it’s the New Little Big Deals that bring you alive.

The beautiful irony is that when we step into the unfamiliar, we reclaim ourselves.

Brave Peony Lady inspired me. I don’t think she heard me, but I told her just that before she made the commute home, in between a wicked Californication re-mix. I looked at those peonies all week and thought, “Damn, maybe doing that New Little Big Deal set off a happy chain reaction for her.” It did for me.