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Definition of SERENDIPITY (from Merriam-Webster dictionary)

: the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this.


  1. We found each other by pure serendipity.
  2. As they leapfrog from South Africa to Singapore in search of local delicacies, the authors prove again and again that serendipity is the traveler’s strongest ally: many of their most memorable meals issue from the hands of generous strangers … —Sarah Karnasiewicz, Saveur, June/July 2008


from its possession by the heroes of the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip

First Known Use: 1754

This happens to be one of my favorite words in the English language. I like both the sound and the meaning of the noun and the adjective. Occasionally I will see serendipity defined as simply a fortunate accident, but for me it is much more an attitude than just than an accident! It certainly embraces the unexpected, but only for those whose hearts are open to seeing agreeable things and people wherever they go and taking advantage of the present moment. Being outside one’s normal daily routine always helps reopen one’s spirit to these moments. Inevitably most of my experiences when traveling are going to be new to me, so my eye is keenly looking for; agreeable and unexpected moments, warm encounters with strangers, having my worldview enlarged, making new friends, finding people welcoming and helpful, discovering folk who hold keys …. You know what? I am not disappointed because my heart is set on serendipity. Perspective is everything. As you reach out to share something of your authentic self in each new meeting, it feels like Life is on your side and responding with kindness. Your attitude of positive expectation has energy to create and you make room in your life for the new and change. As a writer I suspect many serendipitous moments can also be catalysts for our stories. Are you looking for those?

One special chance moment I had this week was in NY Public Library. I sat down in the children’s section with a pile of around 10 picture books. I was reading and smiling away and discovered I had a little curious audience, my librarian’s heart couldn’t hold back so I started reading to them from Karma Wilson’s Bear Snore’s On. It could be my awesome narration skills or my charismatic personality, but most likely it was the wonderful story and my strange accent which caused so much pleasure for these young kids.

It has been a while since I took more of an extended time to travel (my work opened up this for me in my 20’s and 30’s) and I am enjoying the opportunities to see serendipity at work: walking through Manhattan, for a story at a therapeutic riding center in Long Island, couchsurfing, helping and being helped by strangers, forced change of plans, meeting internet friends, encountering Counselor colleagues… already I feel my life has been bathed in serendipity these past two weeks and as I head to LA for my first writer’s conference (SCWBI11) you can bet that I am already excited about those fortuitous and agreeable encounters I will make there.

So for those of you going to the LA conference or simply on vacation next week, I hope you will walk under a rainbow of serendipity and then let me know the wonderful, unexpected adventures you have and how kind exchanges with strangers can warm up an entire day.

For those who are truly enlightened, they have but to open their eyes upon making a ‘wish,’ to see the entire Universe conspiring on their behalf. For those not so enlightened, it’s the exact same, except upon opening their eyes, they usually just see ‘stuff’… and so they lose faith, forget to give thanks, and are just too frightened to ‘buy the shoes.

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4 Responses to Serendipity

  1. Patricia Tilton says:

    Loved this blog. Everything that led to our attending the SCBWI conference, has been serendipity. And, I am grateful for that — especially in the opportunity of getting to know you even better and spending time together. I felt like I’ve always known you. What a joy!


  2. Hi again – just off the phone with you and wanted to re-read the Serendipity post. I particularly love these lines: “As you reach out to share something of your authentic self in each new meeting, it feels like Life is on your side and responding with kindness. Your attitude of positive expectation has energy to create and you make room in your life for the new and change.” You describe so beautifully that flow and exchange of energy – thanks!

    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, Rach. This was so my experience in the States this summer, I felt like Life was smiling upon me the entire time. 🙂

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