The Voice of the Office, story of inspiration

There are a lot of us who feel or realize maybe our job isn’t anything special– we aren’t preforming surgeries on a day to day basis that save lives, we aren’t flying jets, manning businesses that literally make the world go round. We are the people that maybe sit in an office or flip burgers, cut trees–whatever our occupation is, it isn’t quite our dream job and it doesn’t really feel like it is that big a deal to the world.


 

Her name was Bev, short for Beverly. She had been 25 for exactly 1 month. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century. Five years until thirty. Barely managing to cling onto being able to say, “I’m in my early twenties.” Bev was an average girl, with brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. Bev was also a girl who at one time believed she was going to be one of those people who change the world.

Bev stood in the small office of her job as of a week ago, glancing around the room.  The walls were made of giant bricks which had been painted the exact color of gray which brings to mind a day filled with endless rain. In the small room there were two windows draped with  sun-dyed green curtains, providing an excellent view of the dumpster below. She turned to face her desk where a phone, computer and key board sat, letting out a long sigh. The sigh of a person who realized life was no where near she imagined. The sign of a person who realized her dreams might not come true. She felt the tears rush in, threatening to spill out. She took a deep breath, holding her head slightly back attempting to somehow send the tears back where they came from. She inwardly reminded herself of how when she cried even just a couple drops her nose, eyes–face would be swollen and red as a beet for a the rest of the day. What if someone would stop by? Then she remembered her bosses’ words, “Yeah, at this job you’ll sooner see a cow walk through those doors than another person!”

Bev burst into tears, letting them spill freely down her cheeks.


Boom-boom. Boom-boom. Boom-boom. 

“You here it?” Bev’s Dad asked, his coppery colored eyes crinkling at the corners like they always did when he smiled.

Six-year old Bev nodded, her brown curls swishing. “What is that, Daddy?” Her blue eyes where wide with curiosity.

Her Dad touched the round, metal object pushing it along his chest.

Bev’s eyes got bigger. “Boom-boom, boom-boom….Daddy what is it?!” She clutched the tubes of the stethoscope which were lodged into her ears, trying to figure out where exactly the boom-boom was coming from.

Her Daddy smiled, eyes crinkling, dimples carving alongside the corners of his mouth. “That’s your Daddy’s heart beating,” he said softly.

Bev’s mouth dropped open as she stared at her Dad in stunned silence.

Boom-boom. Boom-boom. Boom-boom.

“That’s your heart, Daddy?”

He nodded.

Bev smiled, pushing the tubes deeper into her ears in an attempt to hear the beat better. Her eyes ran over the purple scars barely inching out of the neck of his button-up shirt. “That’s your new heart beating, Daddy isn’t it?”

Tears were touching his eyes, but she didn’t notice. “Mmmhmm.”

“I can tell it’s BIG and HAPPY–and it’s not gonna get tired like your last one. It’s strong– just like you, Daddy.”


 

Bev had wanted to be a doctor. Since the day she heard her Dad’s new heart beat, since the day she discovered how her Dad’s life had been saved by a heart transplant, since the day she received her first stethoscope, since for as long as she could remember. Bev wanted to save lives. Bev wanted to give people the gift her family had been given. Bev wanted to make a difference in the world.

And here she was sitting at a small office, her stethoscope buried in the back of her closet at home; buried under piles of bills, back luck, her Dad’s death, and the resentment and pain she felt from dropping out of medical school from grief.

What would her Dad think of her? She was working somewhere where she saw more walls than she saw people. Where her boss called her the “voice-literally” of the company because her duty was to manage the phone lines and any other form of communication, yet no one saw or would see her face.

She turned on her computer, and flung herself in the chair feeling hollow and missing her Dad more than ever.

She pulled up her personal email account, breathing heavily. Her eyes fixed onto the last email from him. The last email her dad had sent before he died. She let out a deep breath and clicked onto it, reading over words she had nearly memorized by now. He had spent the last two years before he died traveling, volunteering with mission groups that brought food and medical supplies to children. He had been at a remote village in the Amazon Basin, his email filled with the story of his struggle to communicate with the locals in the village. “After hand motions…talking louder and louder and slower and slower (why we do we automatically do that? Hah! NEVER, EVER WORKS but we still give it a go anyway)…the whole nine yards–The chief smiled. And I smiled. He laughed. I laughed. Smiling–it was just about the only thing we understood. I tell ya…if you wanna make a difference, make someone smile.

At the end he had put the quote, “Everyone smiles in the same language”-don’t you forget it, Love Dad =)

Bev read the quote again and again.  Could she ever really have an impact on someone’s life when her career involved practically zero human contact when it did not involve the phone or email?

She read it again.

smile

 

Bev logged out of her personal account and signed into the office email. As she was replying about a client’s question, she decided send out a smiley face next to her name. Before long, Bev decided to send out a smiley face with as much communication as possible, when appropriate. Whether it was through email or by her personal signature, she always sent out a little smile. She didn’t really think it would make a huge difference, but she felt like maybe she was at least sending a little happiness someone’s way.


 

Two years later…

Bev looked into the tiny office with it’s gray brick walls, sagging curtains, and old computer one last time, her heart swelling with happiness and sadness all at once. She had just learned what a difference that smile made. She received hundreds of calls, emails, gifts, and notes of gratitude from so many people she never even met. Hundreds of people had flooded her with gifts, memories of small conversations or shared laughs, saying they would miss “the girl who sent smiles”. Notes which said, “I will never forget the girl who made people smile.” “I know we never met, but we became friends, how amazing is that.” “Bev, you made me feel like I mattered,  you are an amazing young girl.”

Apparently that smile mattered to some people a lot, a lot more than Bev realized.

Today Bev is a cardiologist, making her dreams a reality, and signing her name with a smile.

Wherever you are you can touch someone else’s life. If you can brighten someone else’s day or make them laugh or smile, or complement them in some way, you are a world changer. Even if it was just for a moment, you made someone feel like they mattered or that they were special. We need more of that in the world.

Wherever you are…whoever you are…you can make a difference!

Happy Wednesday!

NEVER Underestimate…new post series!

NEVERUNDERESTIMATE

I am so excited to announce a series of blog posts I’m calling “NEVER Underestimate.” What does underestimate mean? It means not realizing or seeing the true value or importance of something. There are many things, people, places (?), and practices which in our initial evaluation we underestimate. These posts will be short, fun, serious, meaningful, random and hopefully inspiring!

That being said, I will be trying to be a more faithful blogger– things have been busy! I started a second job (I call my Euro-trip fund) working as a Barista (bright and early mornings…eessh! But making coffee and tea specialty drinks is awesome!), and I have been editing, writing and rewriting my novel series. WHEW! It’s been crazy!

Without further ado…

Never underestimate the power of YOU, and what you can accomplish.

It seems fitting way to start. We underestimate ourselves and what we can accomplish all the time. Some of the most amazing people in the world that I have such respect and admiration for are people who have disabilities and become athletes or achieve some other great accomplishment. These people are living, breathing proof that with hard work, a good attitude, and refusing to quit, we can accomplish things said to be impossible.

Accomplishing anything great takes hard work…so the road ahead is going to be tuff, but YOU can do it. You can accomplish that thing that you were meant to do.

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 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.” 

Persistent

Things happen when you are persistent.

I was reading success stories this weekend, in particular author success stories..the stories of those lucky souls who have gotten their books published. To tell the truth at first I was discouraged. It seemed like the book publishing dream was all up to chance…a 1 in a 1,000,000 shot. Then I saw the light…the key…the common link. The people who have gotten their book published wrote, rewrote, sent in submissions, got rejected ….over and over again. But they never gave up. They were persistent and it paid off.

Persistence is hard because it means facing failure …it means being patient …it means knowing results may not come right away…it means work. Three years ago I lost 30 pounds–thirty pounds I had been trying to lose for years. What changed is I realized the workouts..the healthy eating had to be day in..day out…for many many days. Change wasn’t going to happen unless I determined each day to work out and to eat right. What is crazy after a few weeks, eating healthy got easier…and easier…now it’s habit. (But I still enjoy cheese covered fries every now and then…gotta live a little! =) )

The BEST things in life usually don’t happen overnight. They are grown, cultivated, worked for. It has been said that the harder the work, the sweeter the victory. Some of the people I admire the most are people who don’t give up easily…who are persistent. Being persistent can change your body, your job, your relationships…and your life.

DON’T QUIT!

Coffee House Insider, New Oxford Coffee Co.

Coffee House Insider, New Oxford Coffee Co. 

Location: New Oxford, PA

The New Oxford Coffee Co. is one of those places you just dive past over and over again if you aren’t looking for it. IMG_20150421_180339Have you ever driven through a roundabout? If not, it’s typically a four way intersection with no stop signs or lights, just yield signs and a giant circle you drive through around to get to your destination. (I love and hate roundabouts; nearly every job I’ve ever had I have always ended up driving through one of these to get to and from work. They are great if everyone knows how to use them. If not, well let’s just say I’ve almost been side swiped one too many times.) New Oxford Coffee Co. is set on the side of one of these roundabouts, as if it is almost part of it. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven past this place before that one magical night I made out the word “COFFEE” glowing in neon glory. BRAKE! Not really…I just circled the roundabout again (btw it’s kinda fun circling the roundabout over and over again) and pulled in.

Right when I stepped through the old French style doors, my heart just melted. This place was old; at one time I imagine it might have been a drug store or soda shop. One of the first things I noticed was the tin ceiling with little designs in it(Love these!) and that the dark wood floors creak under your feet. Little round tables, stuffy chairs, bar stools and a leather couch provide lots of seating. The smell of fresh ground coffee hit my nose, pulling me further in. The menu isn’t enormous, but provides all of the essentials: espresso, coffee, tea, tea latte, iced coffee, frappes etc. and of course features a glass case filled with desserts–desserts dusted with sugar, filled with chocolate, covered in crumble.

IMG_20150421_173602My favorite drink: When I go to coffee places I usually, nine times out of ten, get tea. I LOVE TEA! There is just so much variety when it comes to teas and so far I have liked most of everything I have tried (except Earl Gray…bleh). They had a tea blend, I can’t remember the official name of it, but I saw it contained strawberries. OH MY WORD…divine goodness! The tea definitely was harvested from some kind of strawberry heaven.

Extra features: I noticed the shop had a doorway which led to another room, it was already a decent sized coffee place so I was thinking, “Wow, there’s more? Impressive…” I walked through to discover this isn’t just a coffee house. It is actually a bakery; you can get wedding cakes, desserts that are more than brownies and scones, breads all fresh baked. If this wasn’t enough, connected also to the coffee house through the bakery is a doughnut and sandwich shop called “Holey Joe’s”. It is pretty much the Marble Slab of the doughnut world. You can create your own doughnut. You pile on the toppings (there were a ton of options–bacon the real deal, chocolate chips, crushed waffle cone, etc.), pour on the glaze (once again, lots of options); you could add ice cream, whipped cream, frosting, etc. AWESOME! I haven’t gotten a sandwich there, but the menu looked mouthwatering.

The last thing which makes this coffee shop extra special is they give proceeds to and support different areas around the world where disasters have happened or where poverty is prevalent. A corner of the shop has jewelry, handbags, scarves, etc. which are products all made from mothers, fathers, children from around the world and directly support them. New Oxford Coffee Co. is doing more than just providing eats and treats; it’s trying to make a difference in the world…even if it is just a small way.

Ever in New Oxford, PA? CHECK IT OUT! 

I just want to travel the world…

I feel like I go through phases where I just want to drive (or fly) off into the sunset and arrive in a different part of the world. I have always wanted to travel the world (I’m pretty sure many people have this dream =) ). But traveling the world takes time…and money. Lately I have been thinking…pondering…trying to figure out how I can make this dream a reality. There is no time like the present!

If possible I would love to be able to spend more than a few days in a place. One friend of mine was stationed in Germany for over a year; in that year she traveled all over Europe (Me: “I want to be you!”) and got to spend a good amount of time at each place. As I am not in the military, I came up with a plan to accomplish my world travel goals while I was in college. I was going to become a History/Geography teacher, and each summer I would travel to a new place. I still think this is a good plan…I have the degree…I just have to get over one fear, one big fear: TEENAGERS. I find myself looking at jobs at schools and telling myself, “Autumn, you can do it! You can handle the teenagers, you can!”  (I think…I hope…maybe not…)

Yesterday I came up with a possible plan two. A plan which would not only help me get over my fears of teaching, but put me in a new adventure, and give me lots to write about I’m sure! Plan two: become an ESL teacher.

Has anyone out there been an ESL teacher or is currently an ESL teacher? Any advice, suggestions, thoughts about being an ESL teacher?