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.

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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!

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? 

When life doesn’t do as we say…thoughts on waiting

Sometimes, dreams don’t come true when we want them to. Sometimes, waiting can be the most impossible feeling. Sometimes, we wonder if life will ever take us where we want to be. Sometimes, life takes us where we need to be.

I have had an interesting month…full of potentially life changing decisions. At the start of the month I have to admit, I looked at the lives of my friends around me from college and turned green with envy. Among all of our lives, I felt least successful and sort of trapped. When I was little and thought about being 26, I imagined myself traveling the world, married, having a successful career, and of course at least one book published. I was a big dreamer!  As we grow up, we realize that certain dreams can’t come true as fast as you hope and life doesn’t exactly “do as we say”.

So what do we do in the middle of waiting for our dreams to come true? A thought hit me last week. I had made the decision to turn down a job offer where I saw certain dreams of mine suddenly in reach. After my decision, of course I was like, “Crap! I totally threw my chance away!” And I really wondered if I had made the right decision. I thought to myself, Autumn, true, you may have been unhappy at work, but you would have had this…and that…you wouldn’t have been in this horrible phase of constant waiting.

stuck in traffic

We humans are impatient creatures. I mean…we LOATHE waiting for things. Take being stuck in traffic, for example. No one in their right mind says, “I LOVE traffic jams!” We all hate them! We left the house a happy and kind person and then suddenly turn into a roaring (green) beast, waving our arms, shouting, honking, about to mash things hulk. Most technology these days all has the same goal: to be faster.

I was hit with the thought, life will be full of waiting…no matter what we can invent…we will have to wait…it is just life. So what do we do, while we wait? Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are…be a good one.” No matter what phase you are in life, be good one, strive to give your best. No matter what job you have, find what little ways you can excel and even learn. No matter if you are married, engaged, single, or dating be the best one…be the type of person who you would want. No matter if you are a national best seller or a writer which whom no one knows your name…don’t make any excuses, give it all you got. Waiting for things can actually be a gift. Maybe we aren’t given things now because now we aren’t ready for them as a person. Maybe if we got all of our dreams at the snap of our fingers we wouldn’t have the experience, the growth to succeed with them. Learn to take the wait and do all you can in that time so when your dreams come true, you’ll be ready. You’ll take those dreams and fly.