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!

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.