JUST ASK

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in life so far as a twenty something year old (and still learning) is the power the following phrase has: JUST ASK 

How many times do we analyze, ponder, worry our brains out for hours…days…months…even years because of situations that have happened in our lives? A friend turning suddenly distant, never getting the promotion, that relationship we want to happen never happening…

We rack our brains trying to handle these situations…figure them out–but we never dare ask. 

We end up wondering around for far too long in a gray space of uncertainty and often insecurity. And if it goes on for too long we get bitter.

But what if we just had asked? 

Just asking can be scary–It is absolutely scary because the answer will leave you no longer hovering in the gray area. The answer is black and white…it has the potential to fulfill your dreams or take them away. Out of fear we often tell ourselves we like the gray area because at least there’s hope there. We tell ourselves things will sort themselves out!

Let me tell you from experience the gray area of unasked questions is an exhausting area to be. It steals your energy, joy and confidence. It robs you of your own potential and growth in life. The gray area is a thief of dreams, and we don’t even realize it. The gray area is a life of what ifs. 

Just asking opens doors, windows, those dusty old closets and let’s the fresh air of certainty in. 

Just asking also closes doors, sometimes with a painful slam that leaves us reeling for days. But after that door closes and we pick ourselves up, something amazing happens: We start to search for a new door or we finally see the door right next to the one that is locked for eternity, wide open with sunlight streaming through it. 

Just asking will lead you to new friendships, amazing adventures and to where you are supposed to be in life. It will lead you to moving on to something better for you or will show you how to unlock that door you so badly want to open. 

Kiss the gray area of uncertainty and what ifs goodbye and JUST ASK. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday! 😀

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Dogs, mailmen and mysteries of the universe

The universe contains many mysteries.

One such mystery is the hatred dogs have for mailmen. It’s not all dogs of course, for instance I imagine a mailman’s dog doesn’t hold these prejudices. But the undeniable fact is that there are a good number of dogs who turn practically werewolf at the sight of a mail delivering vehicle. And it’s not just the US Post Office anymore… it’s FedEx…it’s UPS…it’s any form of parcel delivery.

When I was a child I witnessed this…this fury first hand. One of my Mom’s best friends had a German shepherd who probably held meetings with the local neighborhood dogs on how to rid the world of mailmen. I remember watching this German shepherd one particular day barrel through the front door….leap over the fence…and chase down the mail truck as if the entire future of the world depended on this one moment. The spit was flying. Her legs were flying. Her fangs gleamed in the sunlight. Thank goodness those Postal cars have a little more power in it than appears. (They remind me of a carton of milk. Doesn’t exactly scream speed demon.) The point is…the mailman got away…unscathed. The dog, however…got in a lot of trouble.

usps

For many years, the attacks on mailmen ceased (in my part of the world). The world was at last at peace.

Until…

I was at my parent’s house. Alone. Well, not exactly alone. They have four dogs.

There is one little Rat Terrier, Joey. Two words to describe Joey: boundless energy. He doesn’t even drink coffee…fancy that.

Then there’s Ginger. She’s a Jack Russel lab mix. Ginger knows one word in the English Language: BALL. At 12 years old, she’s a lot slower and more rickety, but say the word “ball” and a newer, younger dog emerges.

Cooper. Cooper is my baby. He is a fluffy husky mix, with a curly tail and the sweetest eyes you ever saw. Cooper has moments of insecurity (also known as keep away from small children).

And lastly, there is Hachi. Hachi is just…the PERFECT dog. Some things he does seem slightly human….weirdly human. He LIVES for making friends with all people and dogs alike.

All in all they are a good pack of dogs. Who have no issues or hold no grievances against the postman.

DING-DONG!

The ring from the doorbell echoes throughout the house. And so ensues barking from all corners…

I notice the barking isn’t just “there’s someone here” barking. It’s wild…uncontrolled. Hmmmm….

Then comes the growling.

GULP. Who is at the door? Images flood my mind. Darn you Criminal Minds! I tell myself I am never watching that show again as I head towards the door where all four dogs have formed a group– barking wildly, snarling at the unknown object on the other side of the door.

Should I have grabbed the baseball bat?

I tip toe towards the door, I can still pull off the there’s no one home trick if necessary. I clutch the handle and hesitate. The dogs are geared up, ready to pounce–ready to lunge and devour whatever is on the other side of the door.

Then it hits me. Autumn…it’s in the middle of the day; it’s probably just the postman or FedEx guy or something. I beg the dogs to calm down and squeeze in between them, opening the door just a crack. Just as I suspected there is a box lying on the porch. I sigh and relax my grip on the door.

BIG MISTAKE. Had I not noticed the dogs were still on the verge of transforming into werewolves? Had I not felt them pressing against the door…trying at anything to burst outside? APPARENTLY NOT.

Just as I notice the departing image of man in a brown uniform, I am thrown forward….and the door flown wide open.

Out burst four dogs…fangs ready.

“NOOOOO!”

I reach out and manage to grab Hachi’s tail but it’s no use. The next thing I see is the UPS guy’s face fill with shock and horror as the beasts are closing in on him. It looked like one of those National Geographic Documentaries where the lions close in on a gazelle. “And so the lionesses’ hunting ends in a smaller meal, but they are grateful. It is enough to keep the pack alive during this retched drought,” -said in a British Man Voice.

cheeta

The UPS man wasn’t ready to give up. He must have grown wings and flew–somehow…he escaped. He leaped into his truck….cursing up a storm. Not that I blame him. He almost became a chew toy.

At this point I managed to pick myself up and chase after the dogs. “Get over hear now! Stop it! Stop it!” Of course, it was all futile.

The dogs were now circling the UPS truck. They looked like vultures. It was ridiculous.

How I wrangled all of the dogs together…I don’t know. But what I did know was that the UPS guy was FURIOUS. Once again…not that I blame him.

Through the swirl of curses he hurled out at me, I made out three words…wait, four. “Control your dogs, lady!”

YES SIR. I’M SO SORRY SIR.

Please, God let me never see that man again.

Life is always full of surprises.

And months and months later, I DID see the UPS guy again. He of course never came back to our house, he appeared elsewhere. Yes, at my work.

I worked as a teller at a bank. And guess who our UPS delivery guy was? That’s right! The UPS guy…the very one. I remember walking to the front and freezing when I saw him. (And the color draining from my face.)

Please, God let him not remember me…or my dogs.

He walked up to the counter, eyeing me.

I plastered on a smile and said, “Hello!” Gosh! It was a bit too cheerful sounding.

He grinned, but was still studying me. “You look so familiar. Like I swear I’ve seen you before.”

You have….just as you saw your life flashing before your eyes. “Oh, I get that a lot. Apparently I just have one of those faces.” Please don’t remember!

He just stared.

Oh no!

Then he shrugged his shoulders and grinned once again. “I-guess you do!”

Whew!

He ended up being the nicest UPS guy ever but I could never ever confess to him the truth. And so this story is just another case file put in storage under the unsolved mysteries of the universe: Why Dogs Hate Mailmen.

Does anyone out there have a theory to why dogs hate mailmen? Or do you have a story on what your dog has done to a mailman?

The little seed that sprouted into a book

I was thinking today about the first little thought I had that led to the creation of my book. What was it? Where did it all begin? What was that one little seed of an idea that led to something huge–hopefully really huge, as in published huge–?

The idea of my book literally came from a dream I had a long time ago, when I was in my teens. 

Several types of people show up in dreams…there’s you, the main character; then sometimes, many times your best friends, they are the side kicks or the Robin to you, Batman; then there’s the people you think about ALOT, the Prince Charming of your dream. Of course you have your dream villains who come out in every shape and form (cafeteria lady, random customer, your arch nemesis, a cupcake….etc.). Beyond these main players in a dream you also have random people–the fillers; they make up the backdrop. I don’t know about you but half of the time I am like “who are these people?!?!” I don’t recognize them at all…not a bit! I’ve told myself they come from images my mind retained but I don’t remember at all. For example–the people you pass by in Walmart. 

Getting to the point, one of these filler people appeared more and more in my dreams….slowly working up to becoming Robin status. And I wondered if the person really existed out there somewhere. 

There was the idea. 

My book is about a girl who in her dreams is madly in love with a guy who in real life doesn’t exist….or does he? I threw in a murder and a wedding, to spice it up. 

So that’s my story on how a little thought sprouted into the creation of my book. 😀

What about you? What was the idea, life moment that led to your book? 

The Lady with the Purple Streak in her Hair – True Story

Today I was going to write an entirely different blog post….about writing and love triangles…but I heard this true story today and felt I had to share it instead.


When she first walked into my office, I noticed she had silver hair….and a streak of it was dyed purple. Yes, purple. Not very common in most of the folks I’ve met over 50. This lady has a story to tell, I thought.

Her name often confused people. Lacy. It spoke of doilies, tea cups, frolicking in a field of daisies. People who knew her would often chuckle about the irony of her (of all people) owning such a name. She wasn’t dainty…and certainly never wore, never owned an article of clothing even touched with lace.

She was fire…ice…sharp…and when you weren’t ready for it that mouth of her’s would have you about crying your eyes out. Lacy would tell anyone exactly what she thought. There was no softening with her. If you asked her opinion (or didn’t ask), boy you’d get it and another thing coming.

Lacy was also known for something else. The way Micheal Phelps was created for swimming–a body literally made to slice through the water– she was made to make ivory keys sing. Music touches most of us and reaches to the deepest places in our hearts. But for Lacy, music–the piano, those black and white keys, were apart of her. Living without the piano was unimaginable. And gosh, was she a good pianist. Her fingers glided over those keys, and created music that would have you about crying your eyes out. (Lacy was good at making people come to tears one way or another…)

Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

The words just about knocked the wind out of her. But she was so young? Lacy studied the watery blue eyes of Doctor Paul, eyes hidden behind glasses so immense, so thick, she was sure he would be blind the moment he took them off. They held a look of pity which made a flash of anger shoot through her body. He reached out his hand and touched her shoulder, another gesture of pity. The shot of anger now become more of a steady stream pulsing through her body. She whipped her shoulder out of his clutches and stood up. “No, you’re wrong.”

“I’m so sorry, Lacy. Truly, I am from the bottom of my heart,” Dr. Paul said, his usually calm voice near cracking.

“I’m only 30 years old! You have made a mistake!” She could fill the anger flooding her cheeks, turning them red.

Dr. Paul looked down, shaking his head.

“You know what? I think I need to see another doctor, who ain’t as blind as a bat!” She grabbed her jacket while stomping towards the door. “You and those big, thick old glasses need to retire. But then you may need a job after how much you’ll be paying me when I sue you for giving me the wrong diagnosis!” Her anger fueled her out the door, past the shocked looks of nurses and patients who felt the floor tremble with how hard she slammed the door, and all the way through the parking lot of people who seemed to have made it their life’s mission to get in the way.

She sat in her car, her heart pounding. She turned on the ignition and gripped the steering wheel. “You’re gonna be fine, just fine. That old bag has no idea what he was talking about,” she told herself out loud. A twinge of guilt surfaced at the look on Dr. Paul’s face. He had been her doctor since she was little girl. She closed her eyes, forcing the vision out.

“You’ll be fine,” she whispered again, her eyes fixing to her hands as they gripped the steering wheel. She imagined the ivory keys of her baby grand, the cool feel of them beneath her fingers. “Just…fine.” She burst into tears.

Lacy, now 30 years later, said this was the moment where things got dark. For months and months she wallowed, despairing at the cruel dish life had given her to eat.

Then something happened. It was like a light shone into the blackness. She had a choice. “I was could crawl deeper into this black hole and die, or I was going to make the most of it.”

She chose to make the most of it. She said, “One thing I got from my father is determination. I couldn’t quit.”

Today, she dyes one streak of her hair purple for fun, she played the piano, and still played it beautifully (and still made people cry). In September she is moving to Africa for six months! She didn’t let the bad things in her life take charge of it. She also said her disease has made her more compassionate than she ever thought she could be, and in doing so perhaps saved many relationships she may have lost.

Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…we are in charge of our attitudes.” 

The Shot

He lived for a sound. The sound of a leather ball dropping through a net.

Swoosh. 

It was the sound of perfection.

Johnny practiced every day, every chance he got. Black cracked asphalt, a ratty torn net, a backboard with chipping paint and splintering wood were his home, his safe place. He was the master here. When everything in his life was spinning, here it was still. He was in charge of that 10 foot basket, he controlled that ball.

Swoosh. 

The three point shot was his box of gold, his fountain of youth, his trophy, his blue ribbon. He had one focus, one goal. Swoosh. And he never missed.

2.34 seconds. The numbers glowed in the clock, a silent challenge; they were daring him. All he needed was one shot, one basket and he would bring the team to victory. All he needed to do was make the shot he never missed. He was the golden boy. Practically invincible on the courts. He stood waiting, ready for his teammates to get him the ball. He was in charge of that 10 foot basket, he controlled that ball.

The timer rang out, splitting the hot air. In a flash, the ball was in his hands. He aimed, time seemed to freeze. The basket suddenly looked unfamiliar, far away. It was no longer a 10 foot challenge, it had grown 20 feet, 30 feet over his head. The roar of the crowds sounded in his ears.

“Boo!” Someone screamed. “You’re not gonna make it!”

The basket now stood 50 feet over his head. The other team rushed towards him like a tidal wave, ready to consume him. Boom, boom–it was the sound of his heart pounding against his rib cage. Sweat dripped down the sides of his face. The ball suddenly felt foreign, as if he had just felt a basketball for the first time. The clock on the wall was merciless. He had to shoot.

The ball left his hands. The entire room held their breath as the it sailed through the air.

But he never heard that swoosh.

Johnny, the golden boy, had missed.

Back in the locker room Johnny confessed to his coach how in those last 2.34 seconds of the game the basket had grown taller and taller right before his eyes. How suddenly a ball that he knew like his own hand felt like nothing he had ever touched before.

“Why did I miss, Coach, why?” It was a feeling he’d never felt, It was a feeling he didn’t understand.

His coach gripped his shoulder and said, “Son, you didn’t see the basket anymore…you saw everything standing in the way.”

Do you have a dream? That one goal you’re determined to reach? You started off strong, believing you could reach your dream, nothing could stand in your way. And then something happened…you saw all of the obstacles. They were menacing beasts, telling you your dream was too far, too hard, unreachable….they told you were going to fail. And you believed them. Slowly, your dreams drifted farther and farther out of reach.

But, you know what…they weren’t actually out of reach…you just thought they were.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, You do not change your decision to get there.” -Zig Ziglar 

Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep your eyes on the prize…not on everything standing in your way.

Writing (such an original title, I know)

I think one thing that makes someone a writer is not just the urge to write…but the NEED.

I had a long weekend spent in Virginia…a weekend without a piece of paper or keyboard or a pen–not really, all of these objects were available–the real problem was my inability to steal away and write. I think getting away from it all is always a good thing. Breaks work wonders for the mind and body! However, I had that itch. You know that feeling…where you have got to write (or it could get ugly…;) ). I made it back late Monday night, surviving with the knowledge I could write to my hearts desire after I got off of work the next day. Then I checked my email. It’s past 1:00AM, I am lying in my bed, I have to work in the morning…and (after of course the habitual checking of other social media sites) I check my email.

One new message.

I bolt up to sitting position. It’s from a job I applied to. I have an interview! Then I realize the interview will take place…on Tuesday. What was then just about 16 hours away. If you have ever read my post about what happens to me during an interview (mind goes blank…panic mode turns on….etc.) you know I have to give interviews a lot of prep time so I am completely ready for anything blown my way. Thank goodness it was a phone interview…but still….the writing would have to wait.

I’ve heard people say writing can be therapeutic. I think that’s for me it’s absolutely true. After the interview I realized a move literally across the country to Seattle might be in my future (I couldn’t believe I actually heard back from a job so far away). Was this what I really wanted? Seattle? The same day I found out my best friend is moving…OUT OF THE COUNTRY. =(  Life can change so quickly. The good news was my dreams of visiting Europe felt more like a reality. We decided we would meet up in Europe, (I threw out that we’d meet in Greece, I’ve always wanted to see the Mediterranean ) when I finally have enough saved up to go. After the interview, after talking to my best friend…I felt I don’t know…sad and heavy. I had the weight of making a huge decision on my shoulders and was already missing my friend (kindred spirits don’t come around every day!). Writing seemed like the last thing I should do when I had a lot to think (worry…analyze) about.

Yesterday I brewed up some coffee….and instead of pondering life… I just wrote. And gosh, I felt so much better! Writing sometimes helps us focus on something different, helps us get our emotions out and share our hearts. Long story short, I got some of that novel done (and wrote a poem!)….and felt refreshed and renewed. Writing was able to bring me that feeling you have on a really hot day, when your throat is parched and finally take that first sip of ice cold water. AAAHHH.

They Never Knew, A poem

They Never Knew

Her heels click across the floor

Pausing, she opens the old church door.

Heads across the room turn

Making her hands tremble and her cheeks burn.

Then it comes–

That quiet rush

That gentle hum

The deafening hush–

The sound of 1,000 words spoken

The silent looks seeing the 1,000 rules she’d broken.

Tears sting her eyes

And she puts her head down

A baby cries,

And an old woman frowns.

The preacher’s voice rises and falls

The whispers echo across the walls;

She sinks silently into a pew

And thinks, “If only they knew.”

They saw a girl in a short red dress

Sky-high heels, her hair a mess.

What they didn’t see

Was a silent plea;

Eyes puffy from how much she’d cried

A heart broken from watching her Father die.

She’d become an orphan the night before

She had no place to call home anymore.

When the service was over

She left the church pew

Her heart breaking,

And no one ever knew.

-AK

This doesn’t just happen in churches…it happens in schools…at work….everywhere. We are so fast to judge people without bothering to actually care about them. Gosh…we’ve got to stop!