Tag Archives: chicken soup for the soul

Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

liz

Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

mePatty

Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

meLenny

This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

meLenny3

Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

meLenny2

Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage

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…You Lose Some

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll

I’m a Loser.

loserThat’s right.  Capital “L” and all.  La-hooooo-za-heeer. (Said in my best Jim Carrey/Ace Ventura voice.)

I often blog about my writing successes on here.  Last year, I wrote about winning first place in the essay category at the Chautauqua Festival Creative Writing Competition.  Then, I went on to tell you about my first published work appearing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and now I have a second story appearing in another Chicken Soup for the Soul book, which will be available in August of this year.  Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

But you know what I don’t often blog about?  All the other submissions I’ve sent in.  Or better yet, all the rejections I’ve received.  And trust me, there are PLENTY of them.

Yesterday, in fact, I received two rejections in one day.  That contest I won first place in last year?  Didn’t even place this year.  The next Chicken Soup for the Soul book that’s coming out after the one in August?  My story wasn’t chosen.  These are just two loser-ish examples (did I mention they happened in ONE DAY?) but there are many more where those came from.  I sent my boyfriend Richard a message yesterday saying “Okay, I’ve received two writing rejections in one day. Tell me I’m pretty.”  (Yeah, I probably won’t be winning any awards for my sense of humor anytime soon either…)

Why am I telling you this?  Well, after my rejection-filled day yesterday, something dawned on me.  I had some pretty good luck straight out of the gate last year.  Now, mind you, I’ve written all my life – as early as I can remember I was giving poems to people as Christmas gifts (did I mention that I’m also cheap?…)  But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started sharing my writing publicly- starting with this very blog site you’re looking at now.  After the positive feedback I received on my blog posts, I decided to take a chance at submissions.  Lo and behold, I won that essay contest (my first submission EVER!) and then it was shortly followed by a call from Chicken Soup asking to print the story I submitted to them. Whoa! Talk about your beginner’s luck! But soon after those first boosts to the ego, the rejections started coming in.  Magazines didn’t want my essays. I didn’t place in other local writing contests. My blog stats started dropping. And for a brief moment, I sort of felt like giving up.  But you know what?

I didn’t.

And why didn’t I?  Well, I was one of the lucky ones who had been blessed with the feeling of winning.  I knew that just because I “lost” a few times, that doesn’t mean that my stuff wasn’t “good.” It just didn’t get chosen this time.

I kind of have this theory.  I think every life is filled with a certain pre-destined number of wins and losses. And I’m not just talking about writing submissions here.  I’m talking about all that life has to offer – in your professional life, your creative life, your personal life – all of it. They’re not all going to be losses, but they’re not all going to be wins either.  As far as this writing thing is concerned, I was honored with a few of those wins upfront. But in other aspects of my life?  Those wins took a little while longer. I had to go through quite a few defeats before I got to the winning portion. In fact, I’m in the middle of a few defeats now.  But you know what gives me hope?

I know that my time to shine is coming.  I just haven’t gotten to the winning portion yet.

You get it?  You buying what I’m selling here?

We don’t always get the wins up front. But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. It’s so tempting to give up, isn’t it?  It’s so hard to believe that the good stuff really is out there somewhere.  But it is.

It is.

A few years ago, after my second divorce, I had pretty much decided that a “win” in the love department wasn’t possible.  And then, out of the blue, I met Richard.  And you know what?  That wasn’t a “win” either.  Oh, it is now, don’t get me wrong.  But at first?  Phew.  Let’s just say ours isn’t your typical “their eyes met and it was love at first sight” story.  (Well, it was for one of us…but I won’t get into that right now…)  I could’ve given up on this too.  And trust me, I wanted to. But somewhere deep down, I had a feeling that a win was coming. And you know what?

I was right.

us3Richard and I have what I’ve only dreamed about in the past. I honestly had no idea that a relationship could be this good.  This sweet. This tender.  This supportive.  (WINNING!)  But believe me when I tell you this – it was NOT easy.  I had to take the losses before the win.  Sometimes that’s just how these things work.

I’m so very glad I didn’t give up.  Look at all the love I’d have missed.

Are you going through a loser phase right now?  Hang in there, my friend. I have a feeling a win may be just around the corner.  Just don’t give up before it gets here.

***

“Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
– Richard M. Nixon

What A Novel Idea

“I like the challenge of trying different things and wondering whether it’s going to work or whether I’m going to fall flat on my face.”
– Johnny Depp

chapteroneSo, have I mentioned that I’m writing a novel?

Finally.  After all of these years of writing poetry and essays, I finally decided to bite the bullet and give a novel a try.  I never thought I could do this.  First of all, I have never been the greatest at that whole “follow through” thing.  Oh you know how it is – you get these great big grandiose ideas in your mind, and maybe you even actually start on them, but to follow through?  Ok, I’m out.  That follow through thing takes too much work.  On to the next great idea…

You feel me?  Been there yourself?  Oh yeah – when it comes to follow through, jumping ship has always been my superpower.

And another reason I’ve been hesitant to write a novel?  Well, I’m not exactly a ‘fiction’ writer.  Most everything I’ve written over the years has just been observations of the world around me, not something that I  made up in my mind.  Yes, yes, I know all books don’t have to be fiction.  There are plenty of great non-fiction books out there in the world.  But something I came across once in some “how to be a writer” article or another was this piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten.  It said that there is something important that you need to remember when you are ready to take on the challenge of writing a novel.

“Write something that you would like to read.”

Although at first glance that seems pretty obvious, there’s actually much more wisdom to that than you might think.  While I have always written poetry and essays, when I go to a bookstore, are the poetry and essay books the first ones I head to?  Nope.  I like novels.  Fiction.  I love them.  I eat them up.  I love the ones about family connections, the ones about mysteries, the ones with a strong, likeable heroine as the main character….all that stuff.

So, why am I not writing that?

Well, other than the reasons I’ve mentioned before, there’s also the big reason.  The reason that we all have whenever we’re afraid to rise to any challenge in our lives.  What’s that reason, you ask?  Well, I think you know.

I’m afraid I’ll fail.

What if I spend all this time writing a fiction novel…and it blows?  You know?  I mean, it’s highly likely for that to be the case.  I’m not a novelist.  I’m a beginner.  It may never get read by anyone except my boyfriend Richard.  (You know he’ll be forced to read it. I’m sure he already thinks I’m a little crazy for talking about these characters as if they were real people as it is…)  It may never get published and may just remain a pile of words sitting on a computer hard drive somewhere for the rest of my life.

Or.

Or…maybe someone will like it.  Maybe it will get published.  And read.  And (as is the most important thing to me…), identified with.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Eh.  Either way.  It’s time to try, right?

I compare it to when I first started running.  I remember the absolute glee I felt the first time I ran one mile without stopping.  (Quotes?)  And then the first time I ran an actual 5K.  (Poetry?)  And then the pride and accomplishment I felt when I ran my first half marathon.  (Essays?).  Well, now it’s time to rise to the challenge and take it a step further.  Just as I never thought I’d be able to get this far with my running, I also thought I’d never get this far with my writing.  I have an essay published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, for Heaven’s sakes!  That’s a big deal.  And I’ve ran not one, but two half marathons.  The lesson to be learned is that I can do things that I never thought possible.

Maybe it’s time to step up my game?

So here’s to the future.  Here’s to a finished novel (good or bad) and to a full marathon one of these days.  It doesn’t have to be the best – it just has to get done.  It just has to.

Bucket list, make room.  A few more things are about to join the ranks…

***

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone.  You have so much incredible potential on the inside.  God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.”
– Joel Osteen

V-Day Giveaway

“A bell is no bell ’til you ring it,
A song is no song ’til you sing it,
And love in your heart
Wasn’t put there to stay –
Love isn’t love
‘Til you give it away.”
~Oscar Hammerstein, Sound of Music, “You Are Sixteen (Reprise)”

Ahhhh.  ‘Tis the season for romance, right?  Chocolate hearts, teddy bears, lovey-dovey sweet nothings….

Blech.

I know, I know…I’m very happily in love and should be happy about Valentine’s Day, right?  Well, I am happy that I’m in a relationship with such a wonderful, amazing man.  Don’t get me wrong.  But the idea that it should all be centered around one day?  Eh.  Pardon my French here, but I just think that’s a bunch of BS.

And besides, I haven’t always been deliriously happy on Valentine’s Day.  As some of you may remember, this wasn’t the case for me last year.  Richard and I had split up.  (And, believe me, Richard just loooooves when I bring this up….).  I wrote a blog (a year ago today actually) about how I had attempted to see Valentine’s Day in a different light that year.  And it worked for a while.  It really did.  But then, a few days later, you’ll see the blog I wrote on the day after Valentine’s Day.  (Aptly titled “The Day After Valentine’s Day…” Man, I was creative back in the old days…)  I had psyched myself to get through that day, and then felt the sadness all over again once it was over.

So, again, yes, I am much much happier this year.  I’m so grateful that Richard and I made it through the hurt and sadness and found our way back to each other.  But regardless of my status this or any year, I still hate the thought of the turmoil that Valentine’s Day puts people through.  I know many people who are recently single who are bracing themselves for the dreaded V-Day just as I had to do last year.  And why is that?  Isn’t every day hard enough on the brokenhearted as it is without having to rub their faces in it once a year?  And if you’re not amongst the brokenhearted and are in a loving relationship now like I am, should you really need one particular day a year to remind you to be good to the one you love?  And do you really need to be pressured into buying expensive gifts to prove said love?

Well, I certainly don’t think so.

So…with that rant out of the way…let’s get to the point of this particular blog.  I decided that maybe I should do a Valentine’s Day give-away of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book that my story is in.  While, yes, it is a book filled with happy love stories, it’s also a book filled with real love stories.  And some of them, just like real life, don’t necessarily have such happy endings.  The book is divided into subject headings and one of them is entitled “Let’s Forget this Ever Happened.”  Another is called “It’s Not Me, It’s You” and contains a story called “Worst Date Ever.”  Anyway, you catch my drift right?  These stories are real.  And I think it’s important for us all to remember that there are a variety of “statuses” out there on stupid stinky ole Valentine’s Day.  If you’re not one of the ones in a happy relationship, don’t sweat it.  When we’re in a place of sadness, it’s easy to get it into our head that we’re the only one feeling this way.  That everyone out there has a partner and we’re the only one who is alone.  Well, you’re not alone.  Ever.  And here’s how I want to show you that.

If you read this blog, I want you to comment below.  (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’re welcome to comment there too if you can’t figure out how to comment on the actual blog site).  I want you to tell me what your relationship status is, and how you plan to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.  And I want all the stories.  From the good to the bad to the ugly.  If you’re happily in love and plan the sweetest V-Day on the planet, go ahead and tell us about it.  We’ll try not to gag.  And if you’re miserable and hateful and spiteful and grumpy – I want to hear your thoughts too.  Really.

Why am I doing this?  I want people to read the variety of answers that I hope to get.  I want people to see that in the answers to this question, there probably lies someone out there in the same position you’re in…as is always the case, no matter the circumstance.  We are just never ever alone.  Really.  We’re not.  Will my plan work?  Eh, I don’t know.  But I’m willing to bet that if people participate, it’s at least going to be entertaining to read, don’t ya think!?  And keep in mind, I don’t want an essay or anything.  Just one sentence will do.  Whether it’s “I’m single and I plan to curl in a ball and cry into the wee hours of the morn,” or “I’m deliriously in love and plan to chronicle ever single moment of my dinner/dancing/smooching lovefest on Facebook for all the world to see,” we want to read them all.  Well.  Sort of.  😉

Chicken Soup Dating GameAnd, then, on the dreaded V-Day, I will put all of the commenters names in a hat (or bowl or scattered all the floor, whatever) and I will draw a name at random at 3:00 p.m. and will send the winner an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game.  Check back here on my blog for the winner’s name and instructions on how to claim your prize.  If you’ve already purchased a book from me, enter anyway!  You can give it as a gift, maybe even with a copy of this blog so they know why you’re giving it to them.  Or, you may even opt to participate but not accept the prize and allow me to draw another name.  Either way – you’re a winner.  Right?  Let’s spread the love, people.  (And if I wasn’t a struggling, broke wannabe writer, I’d give you something better than a book, but hey – you can only give what ya got, right?…)

So.  We good?  You understand the rules?  Ok, then.  Let’s do this.  Ready, set….comment.

Seriously.  Show someone they’re not alone this Valentine’s Day.  That may just be all one person out there needs to know.

***

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”
– Maya Angelou

2014

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

I sit here overwhelmed with the feeling of joy and happiness that this first day of the New Year has brought me.

kiddos1I rang in the New Year with a group of friends that I am blessed and privileged to have come to know in the past few years.  We have shared a stage together, and now, we share our homes and our lives.  Our children have become friends, which warms my heart to no end.  In fact, after ringing in the New Year, we brought a group of them home with us for a sleepover.  As I type this, four teenagers are playing outside in the vast backyard of our new home (after promptly informing me, mind you, that my breakfast was awesome because they had to eat ‘healthy stuff’ at their homes.  Heh.  Oops.)  I finally live in a community where I actually know people well enough for our kids to have sleepovers together.  This may not sound like that big of a deal, but to a roaming nomad Army brat such as myself, finding a place that feels like ‘home’ is no small feat.  I have found it.

I also woke up to this email this morning:

email

My heart is full as I realize that something I wrote touched a heart in Saudia Arabia.  Saudia Arabia!  This world just isn’t as small as we think it is, is it?  Months ago, I sat with a cat curled on my lap and the man I love made a comment about it.  And now, because I took the time to turn that into written word, it has touched a heart across the world.

Wow.

Really.  That’s all I know to say about that.  Just…wow.

Tomorrow, I will head in to a wonderful good-paying job that I worked hard to work my way up to.  I will then leave work, and I will come home to a man who loves me with all of his heart, and I’ll know that just by looking at his adorable little dimpled face and seeing that smile that lights it up when I get home.  I’ll also know it by watching him chop wood to bring in to build a fire in our wood stove.  I’ll know it by watching him tinker with my car to make sure everything is in working condition.  singing1I’ll know it each time he picks up a guitar and asks me to sing with him, and making me feel like I’m good enough to do it.  I’ll know it by accepting the glass of wine he hands me after a long, stressful day, or by sitting down to the wonderful meal that he has cooked for me.  I’ll know it by feeling his hand reach out across the table and slip into mine and squeeze it before we begin to eat.  I’ll know it by the kiss he plants on my forehead before we slip off to sleep in our big, warm bed.  I’ll know it because…well.  I’ll just know it.  Because I pay attention.  Because I look for it.  Because I believe it.

I am a blessed, happy, healthy woman.  And I intend to spend 2014 continuing to see and appreciate those blessings that surround me, and will try my best to not take a single moment of this precious life for granted.

Won’t you join me?

Happy New Year, my friends.

***

“Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mike

“We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power.  We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Calvin Coolidge

So, as most of you know, one of my stories was just published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.  Now, once you’ve been published for the first time, this strange thing happens.  It sparks this urge inside of you to do more…to write more, to submit more.  In other words, I’m addicted.  Yep, I admit it.  Addicted.  So, with this being the case, I have been unashamedly scouring the Chicken Soup website keeping an eye on their “upcoming topics” list to see if I have anything new to submit in whatever particular category pops up.

Well, one such category that has been sitting there for a while has been the one called “My Guardian Angel.”  Each time I come to that one, I quickly scroll past it looking for something else…anything else.  Why?  Well, this one deals with spiritualism.  Mysticism.  All of that stuff that makes me…well…uncomfortable.  Let me write about the everyday, realistic events and I’m a happy camper.  But tell me to write about anything that delves into the unexplainable?  Nope.  You lost me.  Can’t do it.

angelsAnd yet….

Yet, this story just kept popping into my mind.  This memory of an unexplained event from when I was 18-years-old.  Each time I scrolled across that “Angel” category, this memory nagged at me.  Should I write about it?   *sigh*  How could I write about something that even I didn’t understand?  Something that very well could have been just a coincidence.  Ya know, just one of those things.

But finally, I figured it had gnawed at me long enough.  I was going to do it.  I was going to sit down, start typing, and just see where it went.  And before I knew it, the story had told itself.  I really didn’t have much of a say in how it came out – that’s kind of how this writing thing works for me.  Somewhere down in there I already know what I think and what I feel.  I just don’t realize it until I see the finished product on the page before me.  And this was one of those times.

So, with the Christmas season upon us, I have decided to share what I submitted.  Hey, who knows?  Maybe some of my fellow skeptics could use a story like this once in a while.  Maybe you’re like me and a little dose of spiritualism could be just what the doctor ordered  to get you out of this real world funk right about now.

And so, without further adieu, here’s my story about Mike.

Mike

Stop worrying, Dad!  The car is FINE.  I’m going!”

These are those ‘famous last words’ that you’ve heard tell of.  They were being uttered by the stubborn 18-year-old version of myself as I was flying out the door to head to my first college party.  The year was 1996 and I was just finishing up my first semester of community college.  Being the frugal person that I was, I had opted to get the first two years of general education classes under my belt at the more affordable community college before transferring to a university in my junior year.  The closest community college was thirty minutes away, so I lived at home with my dad and commuted.  Thus, since a commute was going to be involved, I had to have a car.  After a few months of borrowing my dad’s vehicle, we had finally – much to my delight and glee – decided it was time for me to own my very first car.

Now, again, I was frugal (and so was my family) so we headed straight to the used car section.  I found what I thought was a great deal on a cute little car, but my dad had his doubts from the start.  He wanted to get it thoroughly checked out before we agreed to purchase it, but not me.  I was in a hurry.

“Daaaad.  We can’t give every car the third degree.  Let’s just pick one already.  I want THIS one…”

So, he gave in.  Yes!   The cute little car was mine!

And pretty much no sooner than we had driven off the lot – the problems started.  First, the constant overheating.  Next, the ‘knocking’ sound coming from the engine.  But oh no – I was not to be deterred.   Not Miss Fancy Pants College Girl.  I had my own car!  So, the needle went to the “H” every now then?  Big deal!  I just wouldn’t look at it.  So, there was a pesky little sound coming from the engine?  Hey – I could just turn up the radio.  Problem solved!

So, here I was, smack in the middle of this multitude of warning signs screaming for my attention, preparing to head out the door to a Friday night party in my college town.  I had been looking forward to it for weeks and had been shocked that my dad was going to allow me to go without much whining and cajoling from my end.  But as the night arrived, along with an unexpected winter snow storm to boot, my dad started having hesitations.  The snowy roads combined with the problems that were plaguing my car were enough to make him speak up.  But I was not listening.  I was an ADULT, thank you very much.  I was not about to miss that party.

So, off I went.

I swung by and picked up my friend Carrie and the two of us started on our thirty-minute drive in the snow.  Just as we hit a long stretch of somewhat deserted highway, the evitable finally happened.  My precious little cute car spit and sputtered its final breath…and died.  Luckily, I had just enough time to allow it to coast to the side of the highway, just barely over the line onto the shoulder, before it came to a complete stop.  And there we were.  Two 18-year-old girls stranded on the side of the road on a snowy dark night.  Now, remember, this was 1996 – this was before the time of cell phones.  There was no whipping out the cell and calling my dad for help.  No, we were stuck.  Really, really stuck.

We started looking around to see if we could tell if there were any houses nearby.  Of course it was too dark to see anyway, but having driven this stretch of road so many times in the past few months, we knew that we had managed to break down in the least inhabited portion of the drive.  (Murphy’s Law, of course.)  Walking to get help was evidently not going to be an option. So, we decided to do the only thing we knew to do.  We got out of the car and started trying to wave down passing cars.

snowyhwy2As the snow grew heavier, the cars on the interstate starting becoming few and further between.  The few cars that we did see pass either didn’t see us, or were too worried about their own safety to try to stop on snowy roads to pick up two strangers.  After having no luck whatsoever, and starting to freeze in the frigid temperatures, we piled back into the car.  We hadn’t sat there long before – oddly – a truck pulled over to the side of the road in front of us.  Looking back, it never occurred to me how strange it was that he knew to stop.  We were no longer standing outside of the car and there were obviously no lights on inside in the car since everything had stopped working, so how did he even know there were people in the car needing help?  Regardless, there he was.  And boy, were we grateful.

Of course, we were hesitant at first to climb into a stranger’s truck.  At this point, however, we were cold and desperate.  The warmth of the truck was too inviting to pass up.  As we climbed inside, the first thing we noticed was a picture of what we assumed to be his beautiful wife and two smiling kids taped to his dashboard.  He introduced himself as “Mike” and asked where we were headed.  We explained our situation and where we were headed and, as luck would have it, he was heading that very way and would be glad to drop us off.  We felt an immediate ease with Mike.  He had a jolly laugh and had us giggling along with his family stories by the time we arrived at our destination.  As we piled out of the car, we asked Mike if there was anything we could do to repay him.  His only answer?  “Just be careful, girls.  Listen to your dad next time.”  And with a wink, he drove away.

Had I told him that my dad had told me not to drive that night?  I couldn’t remember.  I didn’t think I had…but surely I must’ve.  How else would he have known?  I shook off the thought, and headed in to the party.  I made the dreaded call to my father to explain the situation.  Since it was so late and travel was so treacherous, we made the decision to stay at the party host’s house for the night and allow my dad to come pick us up in the morning when the weather had cleared.  In the meantime, he would call the tow truck and have the car removed from the highway.

The next morning, my dad arrived to pick us up and told us where the tow truck had taken the vehicle.  We made a pit stop on the way home to drop by where the car was stored so that Carrie and I could pick up some personal belongings we had left behind in the car.  As we pulled into the snow-covered lot and rounded a curve, my jaw dropped open.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  There, under a thin layer of new snow, sat my car.

Demolished.

I was floored.  What?!  What had happened?  My father gave me ‘the look,’ to which I immediately responded, “I didn’t do that, daddy!  It didn’t look like that when I left it, I promise!”  Of course, I was wasting my breath telling him that.  Obviously, anyone could plainly see that I hadn’t been in the car.  Why is that?  Well, for one thing, the driver’s side was smashed in.  You couldn’t even see the steering wheel anymore – it was hidden beneath a mangled pile of metal that used to be my precious little cute car.

After a few phone calls and info from the tow truck driver, we soon discovered that after Mike picked us up off of the side of the road, a driver had fallen asleep behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck, veered off the road, and smashed into my car, totaling it.  The U-Haul driver, seeing that no one was in the car and realizing that his own vehicle was still in good driving condition, drove on and stopped later down the road to call in the incident.  And here’s the kicker.  After a review of the police report and the U-Haul driver’s statement, the estimated time of impact was able to be determined.  The time?  Approximately two minutes after Mike had picked us up off the highway.

Two minutes.

A mere two minutes later and my friend and I would have been sitting huddled in that car trying to keep warm as the U-Haul plowed into us.  There is no doubt in my mind that we would have not survived the impact.

After discovering what happened, Carrie and I asked around to try to find Mike.  We described his vehicle to everyone we knew.  We even paid for a small ad to be placed in the newspaper asking him to come forward so that we could give him our proper thanks.  No one ever turned up.  No one had ever heard of Mike.

Was Mike an angel?

I sit here eighteen years later reflecting on that night and I wonder.  Yes, maybe he was just a mortal man who somehow sensed that someone needed help inside a dark car on the side of the interstate in a winter storm.  Maybe that’s just all there was to it.  But somehow, somewhere deep inside me, I just don’t think that is the whole story.  Yes, I’m eighteen years older now.  I’m a rational, practical adult who no longer has her head in the clouds.

Yet still.  Still, down there deep inside of me, lies the part of me that still believes.  That still believes in things that are unseen.  Things that are unexplainable, mystical, spiritual.  Things that are beyond the capabilities of my tiny human mind to comprehend.  Somewhere down deep inside, maybe I do believe in angels.

And Mike?  Well, I’m certain he was one of them.

***

“Believers, look up – take courage.  The angels are nearer than you think.”
– Billy Graham

Books

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.”
– Vera Nazarian

booksOk, I’m bustin out the geek card for this blog.

I’m going to talk about how much I love books.  And, holy crap, do I love books!  I mean, I really really love books.

I saw the picture to the right on Facebook the other day, and I felt a little tingle in my stomach.  Seriously, I’m that big of a nerd!  I know that feeling of ‘magic’ that it’s referring to….the feeling of holding a book in your hand, smelling the pages, wondering what other life is waiting inside for you to slip into.  It’s addictive, man, I’m tellin’ ya.

And, admittedly, I do have a slight problem when it comes to that kind of addiction.  I’m obsessed with buying and owning these books, but I don’t exactly always get around to reading them.  You know what I mean?  It’s like the food thing – you know how when someone thinks they’re crazy hungry so they pile their plate with food and then they’re not quite able to finish it?  You call that your eyes being bigger than your stomach, right?  Or something like that.  Well, I have that problem with books.  My eyes are bigger than the amount of free hours I have in a day.  So, with that being the case, I own a huge bookshelf, overflowing with books, and I could honestly bet you that there are about 1/3 of them sitting there unread.

Eh.  Oh well.  I’m sure there are worse addictions to have.

librarySo, with this book addiction of mine comes another addiction.  The library.  Holy cow, the library is the greatest thing ever invented.  EVER.  I mean, hello?  There are thousands of books just sitting there waiting for you to borrow them and read them. For free!  What kind of person doesn’t take advantage of that?  Books.  For you to read.  For free.  Duuuuh!  Ok, am I the only person that gets this excited about books?  Please tell me I’m not.  Please?  Anybody?

I’m lucky enough to work right down the road from the local library.  And, apparently, I spend quite a bit of time there.  Just yesterday when I went by to check out a book, one of the librarians said, “I haven’t seen your name on the ‘hold’ list in a while.  Everything ok?”  Heh.  Um, wow.  Ok, first of all, I don’t even know this lady.  I’ve seen her quite a few times, of course, but there are many librarians that file in and out and I didn’t recall having seen her any more often than anyone else.  But apparently, she remembers me.  Strangely, that made me kind of proud.  See?  Nerd.

I have turned to that library so many times over the years.  Problems with the kids?  Head to the library.  There’s a parenting book for that.  Stressful day at work?  Head to the library at lunch.  Grab an easy read and sit in the stillness for an hour before you have to jump back into reality.  Relationship problems?  Head to the library.  Breathe in the quiet and calm and check out a book about relationship issues and find out where you’re going wrong.  [Funny tidbit on that topic: a friend of mine was going through a rough time in a relationship recently, so I went to the library and checked out my ‘go-to’ relationship book for her to read.  When I gave her my precious breakup bible, she realized there was a piece of paper stuck in it.  What was it, you ask?  A receipt.  My receipt.  The receipt from the last time I checked the book out was still in it.  Ha!  Apparently I’m the only one who reads that thing.  Isn’t it time for them to just give it to me??  By the way, the book is called “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” by the author of “He’s Just Not That Into You,” Greg Behrendt and his wife, Amiira.  It rocks.]

chickensoupAnd now that you know what a nerd I am about books, you’ll have a better understanding for why I’m so incredibly excited about what is getting ready to happen to me.  One of these days over the next few weeks, I’m going to get home from work and there is going to be a box waiting at my door.  And inside this box is going to be ten brand new books that haven’t even been released in the stores yet.  And you know why I’m getting that box of books?  Because my name is listed in them as an author.

My name is listed as an author.

Holy crap, just typing that sentence gave me goose bumps.  This silly blog that I started just nine short months ago, and that now is bordering on 13,000 views, has led me to this.  Because I took the chance that someone might like something that I had written, I am going to be a published author.  A published author!  The closer it gets, the more real it becomes.  My name is going to be listed among other writers in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game.  Me!  The lover of the written word, the nerd who can’t stay out of bookstores, the girl who is known on a first name basis by the librarian…I am now going to walk into these places knowing that somewhere within them lies a book that has my name in it.

Somebody pinch me!

Kind of strange how life works out sometimes, isn’t it?  I am so grateful to all of the authors that have come before me.  The ones who have written the many books that I have read and have shown me what pleasure can come from reading someone else’s story.  It blows my mind to think that I am going to be sitting on their side of the table now.  Somewhere someone will be in my place – they will be the nerd sitting at the bookstore or at the library or on their couch with their cat.  They will pick up this book and start reading a story that touches them in some way, and they’ll look to the name of the author, and it will be mine.  Mine.

Full circle, people.  Life always finds a way to come back full circle.

This is the stuff dreams are made of.

***

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.”
– Isaac Asimov