I grabbed the
shifter, threw the Jeep into drive and we were rolling down the
road again. But now the snow was rapidly covering the windshield,
especially due to our lack of a heater and defroster. Hesitant but
without choice, I tapped the windshield wiper only when absolutely
necessary to clear my view. It didn’t affect the engine. But the
windshield was slowly icing over. I didn’t know how far we’d
get before I couldn’t see at all.
threatened to stall when we stopped at a traffic light, but would
stay running while revving the engine in neutral. Melissa jumped
out and scrapped the ice off the windshield while I kept the
engine revving. Once the light changed, the Jeep drove just fine
until we arrived at the mechanic shop.
agreed that the Jeep likely needed a battery or alternator, but he
had no interest in standing out in the snow to take a look at it,
especially considering he only worked on Volvos. When I asked if
we could leave the Jeep in his parking lot overnight, he said we
couldn’t because the plows would be coming to clear it.
even if I leave it off to the side somewhere?” I begged.
“Sorry, I just
don’t want anything in the way of the plows,” he rebutted. And
that was it.
After paying for
the repairs, Melissa and I swept the snow off our Volvo, scraped
the windows, and devised a plan while it heated up. Her parents’
home was only a couple miles down the road. We decided that
Melissa would drive the Jeep while I drove behind her since the
Jeep drove better in the snow. Plus,
if it did stall again, I could swing the car around and jumpstart
the Jeep without her having to leave the vehicle.
concern was that it was getting dark soon and we knew the Jeep
wouldn’t run with the lights on. But thanks to the white snow
reflecting the remaining daylight, we believed we could get the
Jeep home before nightfall.
We scraped the
Jeep’s icy windows one last time and set off on our journey.
Halfway to Melissa’s parents’ house, the Jeep stalled again.
Melissa steered it into the nearest driveway, which belonged to a
woodworking shop that sold handmade furniture. She got it only a
few feet into the driveway before rolling to a stop.
behind her, I knew I needed the Volvo in front of the Jeep in
order to jumpstart it. So, in a split second decision, I tried
passing the Jeep in the narrow driveway. The snow made it
difficult to judge the width of the driveway, but I figured it
wouldn’t hurt to drive over the lawn a bit considering it was
covered with snow. Unfortunately, as I drove passed the Jeep, my
rear driver’s-side wheel slid off the driveway and became stuck.
I tried to back
the car up to renegotiate, yet the wheels just kept spinning.
Further inspection indicated the car was hung up on something.
Melissa switched vehicles so she could drive our car while I
pushed. With no heat in the Jeep (since the battery was now
completely dead), she was only too happy to get into the warm
Volvo. Regardless of our years of practice rocking the car with
her behind the wheel and me pushing the car, we couldn’t get a
rocking motion going. I was going to have to shovel the snow from
underneath the car.
I checked the
trunk for something I could use as a shovel, but there was
nothing. I checked the Jeep, still nothing. I needed to find a
shovel. I hoped I’d find one by the woodworking shop, which was
about a hundred yards away considering its long driveway.
inappropriately dressed for a snowstorm, I walked to the
woodworking shop in five inches of snow wearing only casual shoes
and a light jacket. My shoes would fill with snow; my foot would
melt it; and then it would fill with more snow several steps
later. My jacket, on the other hand, allowed the snow to pile up
behind my neck, melting the snow very slowly as it dripped down my
back. Having grown up in New England, you’d think I’d have
known better. But I wasn’t planning on being outside in the
snow. I was expecting to be inside a warm vehicle.
As most Maine
businesses do in a February whiteout, the woodworking shop had
closed early. I looked all around for a shovel, but there was none
to be found. However I found some scrap boards beside the
dumpster, one that looked like it might help me dig out the snow.
minutes of pointless shoveling with this useless piece of wood, I
decided to see if I could borrow a real shovel at a nearby house.
Unfortunately, the nearest house was a half-mile away. So I fought
the Nor’easter for the half-mile walk down the road, jumping in
the snowy embankment whenever a car or snowplow drove by me. It
was now completely dark, the road had no streetlights and, the way
things were going, I wasn’t feeling lucky.
I found an old
farmhouse and located the homeowner in the barn. She let me borrow
her shovel, though it was a flimsy, plastic one that she must have
bought at a pharmacy or convenience store. Nonetheless, it was
better than my piece of wood.
half-mile back to the car through what was now seven inches of
snow, my hair, eyebrows, shoes, socks, jacket and shirt were now
thoroughly frozen. I looked like a snowman.
With new determination, I returned
with my crappy shovel. It definitely worked better than the
board, although it did nothing to chop ice. After another twenty
minutes of shoveling on my knees to scoop the snow from under the
car, I could clearly see that the wheel had not just sunk into a
soft spot on the lawn—it had slid into a two-foot ditch on the
side of the driveway. The belly of the Volvo was actually sitting
on the top edge of the ditch.
defeated, I knew I was in trouble. I’d seen it before. When the
undercarriage of a car is resting on the edge of a ditch,
there’s only one way to get it out—a tow truck pulls it out,
almost always ripping the muffler, gas tank or whatever other
parts regrettably meet the ground as the car scrapes its way back
onto four wheels.
My mind searched
for ideas to avoid the litany of costly repairs that seemed
inevitable. Maybe a
helicopter could lift the car, I fantasized. Short of that
happening, I knew the Volvo was getting towed back to the
hope the tow truck drops it right in the middle of his parking lot,
I thought, still resentful that the mechanic wouldn’t let us
leave the Jeep there.
It wasn’t long
before my resentment toward the mechanic turned to anger at
myself, at which time I began with some constructive self-talk.
kind of dim-witted dumbass would attempt to pass the Jeep on this
narrow driveway? What am I, sixteen years old? Stupid, stupid,
After my minor
mental meltdown, I quickly went from anger at myself to bargaining
with God (“Oh God, not now; please, not now”) to surrendering
to the reality of my current circumstances. Once I landed on
acceptance, I knocked on Melissa’s window, told her the
predicament, and suggested she call for a tow.
Before she had a
chance to call Triple A, a car pulled over on the side of the
road. It was the first car to pull over in the 45 minutes we were
there since first getting stuck. And there must have been 30 cars
that passed. A stocky guy around my age (a young
early 40s) got out of the car and asked if I needed help.
“No, I don’t
think there’s anything that can be done,” I told him.
“There’s a ditch on the side of the driveway and my car’s
undercarriage is hung up on the edge.”
hesitation, the man walked into the snow, got down on his knees
and looked under my car. He asked me to hand him the shovel, then
began chopping away at the ice and snow.
At one point, he
stopped shoveling and looked up at me, “This isn’t a very good
shovel, is it?” I just shook my head and laughed.
When he stopped
shoveling, the man cocked his head to the side and began staring
at the car. Then he stood up and began walking toward the rear of
“I’ll bet we
can lift the car up and put it back on its wheels. The front
wheels are on the driveway. We only need to get this rear wheel
back up out of the ditch. Come on, we’ll lift on the count of
I wanted to tell
him that Volvos have three times the gauge steel as most cars,
making them a lot heavier than a Toyota or Honda. But before I
could say anything, we were already behind the Volvo and he was
bending down to try lifting it up.
two, three!” he said.
I wasn’t ready.
I didn’t have time to grab the rear bumper before he lifted the
car up and moved it over on his own.
the…? I was dumbfounded.
time,” he yelled. “One, two, three!”
This time I had a
grip. But he lifted the car so powerfully that I was of little if
any help at all. The Volvo lifted off the ground and back over
onto the driveway.
is this guy? I thought to myself.
“That ought to
do it,” he said. He dropped down on his knees again and looked
under the car. “Your car looks okay. I don’t think you have
He patted me on
the arm. “You okay from here?”
good. I can take it from here,” I told him, still blown away
that he just lifted my car. He was the helicopter in my fantasy
earlier. I thanked him for his help and asked his name.
As he walked
away, he yelled his name but I caught only the last name before he
hopped into his car and drove away. As he disappeared into the
snowstorm, another car then pulled over.
This time a young man in his twenties got out. He
approached me and held his hand out to shake mine.
He told me his
name followed by the nearby town where he lived—Sanford.
I responded with
“I’m Bob Olson from Kennebunkport.”
I thought it was
peculiar that he told me his name and
the town where he lived—peculiar but nice.
“Do you need
any help?” he asked.
“No, thank you.
That man who just drove off helped me. But I appreciate you
stopping. You’re only the second person in over an hour who
I told the young
man what had happened and how the other guy actually lifted my car
out of the ditch. We had a few laughs, then he said goodbye and
I managed to
jumpstart the Jeep after the young man left, Melissa and I got
home safely, and our day of adventure was over. The following
week, it turned out that the Jeep needed an alternator after all.
And I had my mechanic put our Volvo on a lift just to see if there
was any damage underneath. There wasn’t.
experience seemed miraculous, to say the least, especially
considering a superhero with herculean strength just happened to
be driving by during a blizzard. And he stopped to help us, too,
which now seems like a small miracle in itself.
But to add to the
bizarreness of it all, only a week after this incident, I saw a
picture in the newspaper of the young man who stopped to offer his
help. The article said that he was from Sanford, just as he had
told me. It added that he had returned from a tour in Iraq only a
week before I met him, which had me wondering if that’s why he
introduced himself by his name and his hometown. Perhaps,
I thought, that’s how
soldiers introduce themselves to one another. But what sent
chills down my spine more than all of this was that the young
man’s picture was in the newspaper because he had just died in a
happened several years ago and has always stayed with me, so I
thought I would share it with you.
+ Action + Enthusiasm = Inspired Gatherings
(2009), I wanted to begin working with individuals, one on one.
With two cats, a dog and a niece living with us, there was no
room, no privacy and too much noise to do it at our home. So I
knew I had to get myself an office.
Not being one to
procrastinate once I make up my mind on something, when Melissa
called me from her cell phone on the day I made the decision,
I told her about it. She immediately had some wonderful advice for
"Bob, set an
intention for exactly what you want with as many details as you
I liked the idea,
so I began describing the details to Melissa while we were still
on the phone.
“I want an
office where I can see clients privately. And I’d like it to be
just minutes from our home, but centrally located in
Kennebunkport” I began. “I also want a separate room off the
office that’s big enough for me to give workshops. Better yet, I
want other people to present workshops there, too. We know so many
authors and practitioners thanks to OfSpirit.com, it would be
wonderful to have some of them as guest speakers. So the space has
to be large enough to hold 50 people. And we can use the small
office area in the back as a green room for the guests. It also
needs it’s own bathroom, for sure.”
I went on to
describe a place that was private, clean, relatively new in
construction, and had a peaceful energy about it.
I told Melissa, “I want the workshop space to have an atmosphere
like that of a big, comfortable living room. I want the place to
be intimate, welcoming and peaceful.”
response was, "Wow! How long have you been thinking about
this, because that's a lot of detail?"
kicking it around in my mind for a while,” I said, “but some
of that just came to me as I was talking. Thanks for your
That was on a Monday and I thought about it for the rest of the
week. On Saturday, Melissa and I went out to dinner with her
brother in Kennebunkport. After dinner, as we were driving out of
the restaurant's parking lot, he asked if anything was new,
so I told him about my desire to find an office space. He
instantly said, "Take a left! I know of a great spot that
recently became available just down the street."
therapist had recently moved in with a chiropractor, so her rather
large office had just become available. By looking through the
windows of the vacant space, Melissa and I liked it. So we made an
appointment to see it the following week. Unfortunately, it only
had one large room for workshops, but no small room. It also
didn’t exude the “living room” atmosphere I was seeking. I
was just about to tell the building manager that I needed to think
about it, when he said, "You know what? I also have another
space that we just renovated on the other side of the building.
It's got more privacy, is a little larger in size and it has a
small office in the back. I think you'll like it."
The place was
beautiful--exactly what I was seeking. It had a big room that
could hold 50 people comfortably, a small room in the back, a
bathroom of its own, and it was private, clean, and quite new in
construction. It had a new ceiling, relatively new windows, a new
carpet, new toilet and new paint. Plus it had a wonderful,
peaceful energy about it.
The place had
just become available. The building manager himself had leased the
space for twelve years for his miniature furniture woodshop. And
he was a delightfully kind and peaceful man. Melissa and I were
sure that his positive energy was a big reason why the place felt
so soothing. I signed the lease that same week.
In no time, we
had a list of seminar presenters who were excited to teach there.
We called the place Inspired Gatherings with a tagline of
“events for transformation.” And we were pleasantly surprised
that InspiredGatherings.com was still available.
signed the lease in March, we had no idea how long it
would take to furnish it, get all the proper permits and
inspections, obtain insurance and accomplish all the other six
zillion tasks required to start a new business. Melissa says
it's perfect that we didn't know. If we had, we might have talked
ourselves right out of opening Inspired Gatherings. But now it is
opened and it was worth all the time, effort and expense it took
to make it happen.
Our first event
was with an amazing intuitive named Michael Gerrish. I handpicked
Michael for our first event in August because I really wanted to
share his gift with people. It was a bit stressful getting the
finishing touches to the space completed in the week prior to the
event, but it felt so good when it was all done. I have to give
Melissa most of the credit, since it was her creativity that chose
the plants and tree outside the door, the plants and flowers
inside, even the framed photographs were her own. She even made
sure there were fancy pitchers of water with fresh cut lemons,
baskets of chocolates for growling stomachs, and Kleenex tissues
for emotional moments.
We had a great
turnout for Michael’s event and an enthusiastic response from
the audience. But more important than anything, Melissa and I had
a blast. It just felt right, like we were having a gathering of
friends at our home. In fact, people came up to us after the event
and commented on how peaceful and soothing the place felt. That
was the best compliment we could hear.
We were then
honored to have four-time New York Times bestselling author and
life coach Cheryl Richardson present to a sold-out audience
on September 18th. To have her give a seminar for only 50 people
was incredibly rare, since Cheryl is used to speaking in front of
audiences in the hundreds and even thousands. Without any hint or
provocation from us, she actually opened the event by saying,
“This place is so peaceful and cozy. Don’t you just feel like
you’re in your living room?”
While most in
attendance that night came from New England, audience members had
traveled from as far as Colorado, Texas, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Being on the coast of
Southern Maine, we have gorgeous beaches, inns, shops and
restaurants all around, so it’s a fun and breathtaking town to
It was even more
amazing when, after her event, Cheryl liked Inspired Gatherings so
much that she quickly booked another event on October 28th
with the Britain’s top coach and bestselling author Robert
Holden. Once again, Robert is used to speaking in front of much
larger audiences. So to be able to offer both Robert and Cheryl
together in one event, well, let me just say that Melissa and I
are very proud to offer this opportunity to our community.
Our third event
(after Cheryl’s first event) was with Dr. Trish Whynot, a
holistic counselor who taught about the power of our thoughts and
feelings to deplete our energy. This was a smaller, more intimate
event that showed Melissa and I that smaller events have their own
charm and benefits.
For one, everyone
in attendance who wanted to be involved had the opportunity. Plus
Trish conveyed such valuable insights with her words and
demonstrations that everyone went home with new tools for healing
and transformation. And what Melissa and I enjoyed most was that
we got to take part more than usual since it was easier to attend
to our guests’ needs being a smaller event.
In the near
future, we have bestselling author and psychic medium John Holland
coming October 15th, which I’m sorry to say has
already sold out. There’s no medium who is more entertaining in
his presentation and accurate in his readings than John, which
I’m sure is why he sold out so quickly. So, with any luck,
we’ll get him to come again if you missed out. Here is a list of
some of our other upcoming workshops:
An Evening With Cheryl Richardson & Robert
Holden (October 28th)
Discovering Your Purpose (November 1st)
Marketing For Mind/Body/Spirit Practitioners
Intuitive Readings With Michael Gerrish (November 18th)
Supporting A Clinically Depressed Loved One During
The Holidays (December, exact date to be announced)
All in all,
it’s been a quite a kick-off for Inspired Gatherings, which is
why I wanted to utilize this blog to tell you about it. I
certainly hope you’ll check out the website and sign up for our
event updates by email. But, more importantly, I also feel the
story behind Inspired Gatherings is noteworthy because it
represents what can be accomplished when we set intentions with
details and enthusiasm. It really can be this simple. All I did
was say it out loud to Melissa on the phone and I was led to the
perfect space a week later. I then took action toward my desire.
And once the ball started rolling, it was unstoppable. It was as
if the Universe lined up to support us.
Visit our website
for event listings and to purchase tickets.
Friendships Have No
recently lost a friend, possibly the closest guy friend I’ll
ever have in my lifetime. So I thought I’d write about him today
for three reasons: One, because I like to share the special parts
of my life with my readers. Two, because he lived a lot of life in
his 38 years and, therefore, is an inspiration on how to make the
most of our brief time here on this planet. And, three, because
something special happened after his passing that I feel is
important to share with you.
was born in Massachusetts, but his parents divorced when he was
still a young boy, upon which his mother took him back to her home
country, England. So David grew up in England, and when he turned
18, he wanted to get to know his father. So he moved back to the
States, found himself an apartment, his father helped him get a
job, and he discovered what life is like in the USA.
a short time, David’s childhood sweetheart came over from
England—a beautiful, creative young lady named Phoebe—and they
got married. They lived simply and survived mostly on the love
they had for one another. They seemed the perfect match. She was
an artist and writer. He was a musician and singer.
met David because my wife, Melissa, had taken a new job at the
local courthouse where David had been working for only a few
months. They immediately bonded because he was kind enough to help
her avoid the many pitfalls he had experienced as a new employee.
From there, they quickly became one another’s support,
considering they were two hard-working, young recruits in a system
entrenched with older employees just counting the days until their
retirement, a hierarchy of cliques fueled by gossip, and a
festering do-as-little-as-possible work ethic.
also became a compassionate shoulder for Melissa to lean upon
because I was suffering from a chronic depression that promised no
end in sight. Any caregiver or supporter knows that it’s a
stressful and traumatic experience to take care of someone who is
sick—mentally or physically.
Supporters need their own support, and David was there for
Melissa when I was getting shock treatments, when Melissa worried
that I might take my own life, or when their coworkers were
spreading rumors that I was dying or we were splitting up.
who cares what they’re saying,” David would tell Melissa.
“It’s none of their business, anyway.”
other friends were confused by my clinical depression and
preferred to avoid Melissa and I rather than understand what we
were going through, David and Phoebe encouraged us to get out of
the house with them to go sit by the reservoir, play Frisbee in a
parking lot or watch band concerts on the common. David even read
the poetry I wrote at that time, which was my self-expression of
the horrors in my mind. He often took what I’d written and
turned it into song lyrics that took my despair and turned it into
a more palatable emotion such as anger or even laughter at the
nonsensicality of my distorted thinking. Aside from Melissa, he
was the only person who wasn’t afraid to talk with me about my
were all in the same income bracket, which was pretty broke
considering Melissa and David each earned an entry-level salary
and Phoebe and me were unemployed. So we did things that didn’t
cost much money, which ironically became some of the best memories
of our lives. We entertained ourselves by sitting around listening
to music, watching a movie or sharing a pizza. Yet even after my
depression lifted and our incomes grew, we still lived simply,
like going to the local livestock fair, shooting pool at the
bowling alley, eating at great but inexpensive restaurants, and
attending the gardening expo at the nearby convention center.
was 8 years my youth, but he showed me how life was meant to be
lived. He was unusually mature for his age, yet still young in
spirit. He was curious by nature. In fact, he was curious about
nature: animals, birds, flowers, plants and trees. And he loved
gardening. Imagine a twenty-something year old with his own
vegetable and herb garden. His father let him create a 20-foot by
20-foot garden in his back yard because David had no place for it
at his apartment house. He did a lot of research on hydroponics so
he could grow things at home with only water and no soil. But
hydroponics never replaced his love for planting, watering and
weeding in the earth.
think David felt a sense of peace growing vegetables and herbs,
but he also loved sharing the tomatoes, peppers, kale, cucumbers,
summer squash and collards with his friends and coworkers. He was
proud of his creations, and he loved eating fresh food right out
of the ground.
of course, led to his love for cooking. He knew everything about
the spices, broths, cheeses and meats that, when combined
correctly, created dishes that made my mouth water the moment I
walked into his apartment and smelled them simmering on the stove.
He, Phoebe and Melissa shared this love for the culinary arts, and
would spend hours mixing up a chili, bolognaise or inventing some
new dish. He and Phoebe’s favorite recipe was Chicken Curry.
don’t know from where his zest for life stemmed, but it seemed
ingrained in him from childhood. It must have been, as he was one
of those people who seemed to know a little about a lot of things.
He could read an article, watch a documentary or take a course and
he retained 90 percent of the information. I guess we call that a
photographic memory; yet he wasn’t an intellectual. Oh no, David
was a cigarette smoking, beer drinking, softball playing, fantasy
football kind of guy, but with a brain for knowledge.
his knowledge came from his willingness to learn. Phoebe recently
remarked that he was like one of those speed-dating services where
he would master some new skill or talent, then move on to another.
day he stopped by my house because he had just taken a stone wall
building course at the local botanical garden, a place he loved to
visit. He also took a course on making beer, then bought a
beer-making kit and used to brew up the best tasting beer I’ve
ever enjoyed. I was the bottle washer and capper while he did all
the technical stuff. After making a batch of beer, we’d kick
back while he played Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Black Sabbath or a lot
of songs from bands I’d never heard on his guitar for me,
Melissa and Phoebe.
was actually the lead singer of a band that played at some top
nightclubs in the city. Imagine, here’s this guy who moves here
from England knowing only his father, and, before a year has
passed, he’s joined a band that’s headlining in the most
popular clubs. Some souls just fit a lot more living into their
I reminisce, it seems we spent most of our weekends with David and
Phoebe, often hiking, picnicking, going to the zoo or having
cookouts. Even when they eventually had a baby girl, named Daisy,
we simply continued our weekend excursions with a new member to
great lesson I learned from David was to never let the weather
affect your plans. We went to an outdoor Cranberries concert in a
hammering rain, had cheese and wine in a field of wildflowers with
the blistering sun over our heads, and froze our feet ice fishing
in the dead of winter. David had never been ice fishing before,
but wanted to try it. So he borrowed his father’s ice drill and
fishing gear and we figured it out while the girls skated around
on their ice skates.
David seemed like the right-brained creative type, he was quick to
pick up technological skills, as well. I remember we purchased our
first computers at the same time, to which David then became a
technological whiz, so much that he filled the first IT position
at the courthouse where he worked and started his own computer
networking business on the side. Later, when I began creating my
first websites, David became my tech guy who helped me out with
all my computer and Internet problems.
for Melissa and me, when Daisy turned 5 years old, David and
Phoebe decided to move back to England where David’s mother and
Phoebe’s mother and sisters still lived. My heart was broken to
see them go and I felt a deep sense of grief knowing that the 8
plus years we had spent together had come to an end. But I knew it
was important that their loved ones see Daisy grow up, and Phoebe
really needed the family support since David worked long hours.
That was 9 years ago in the year 2000, yet I still feel them close
in my heart when I think of them.
Melissa had a dream about David, Phoebe and Daisy just two weeks
ago. In the dream, Melissa and I were visiting them in England and
having a wonderful time. According to Melissa, it was an unusually
vivid dream. She said it brought back all those tender moments and
loving feelings, as if we had really been reunited. Then, just
this past Friday night, she had another dream about them.
days later, we got the news. On Monday evening, we got the phone
call that David had passed away from cancer on Friday night around
midnight (EST). As I mentioned, he was 38 years old. Although
it’s always surprising when someone his ages dies, David had
contacted us a few months ago saying that he had a tumor in his
leg removed, had gone through radiation and was given the
“all-clear” from his doctor. It was just like him to inform us
after the fact. He wasn’t the type to parade around announcing
his drama. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to hear that he was
okay; and, as so many of us do, we thought we had years ahead for
lots of reunions. We didn’t.
David began experiencing symptoms only a few weeks after our last
contact that brought him back to the doctor. He discovered that
his body was suddenly riddled with tumors where it had been
totally clear just weeks prior. According to Phoebe, his health
failed quickly and he passed much sooner than anyone had expected.
we were unable to attend his services in England, Phoebe told us
that hundreds of people attended, so many that a line of people
were unable to fit inside the church and had to stand outside.
David accumulated friends easily, and not just in England. When
they lived in the States, he was the first to offer to help
someone move to a new home, fix their computer or give someone a
ride. He and Phoebe even let someone stay at their home
temporarily. It was this selfless generosity and compassion for
people that attracted people to him.
learned of David’s death Monday night, Melissa talked with David
in her mind most of the day Tuesday, asking him for a sign that
he’s okay. Although we know from our work in this field that
death is a doorway home, and that our loved ones are always in a
safe and loving place after their passing, it’s always nice to
get the confirmation. On her way home at the end of the day,
Melissa stopped off at a local sandwich shop. While waiting for
the sandwiches to be made, Melissa was standing by the cash
register when an employee suddenly picked something up from the
counter and handed it to her.
you want these?” said the girl.
held out her hand and asked, “What are they?”
the employee dropped something into Melissa’s hand, she said,
“They are two coins from England. Someone paid with them and
they’ve just been hanging around here.”
held the coins in her hand. One
for me and one for Bob, she thought to herself. Her eyes
instantly welled up with tears, confusing the girl behind the
have no idea what you just did,” Melissa told the girl. “We
just lost a friend from England and I was asking for a sign from
him. Thank you for this.”
the sandwiches now ready, Melissa grabbed the bag, thanked the
girl again and began to leave. That’s when the girl who gave her
the coins yelled, “Tell Bob I said hi.”
have no idea how the girl knew my name.
and I each took one of the English coins and are carrying them
around with us. Melissa’s coin is dated 1992, the year she first
Melissa talked with Phoebe by phone, she shared her story about
hearing from David at the sandwich shop. Phoebe loved her story
and had her own story to share, which she agreed that I could
share in this blog.
Tuesday, the same day that Melissa was given the English pence at
the sandwich shop, Phoebe had to register David’s death
certificate with the town. After returning home and going out for
a walk, she began talking with David, as she had been doing
regularly since his passing. This time, however, she felt as
though he was talking back. She was hearing his voice in her head.
Sure that it was likely just her imagination, Phoebe asked David
to give her some form of confirmation that she was actually
hearing him and not just her own imaginary voice. That’s when
she heard David say, “You mother wants to buy a blue dress.”
next day, Phoebe saw her mother, or her mum, as they say in
England. Although hesitant to ask her mum about what David told
her, she knew she needed to find out the truth. So she asked her,
“Mum, did you recently buy a blue dress?”
mother said, “No, Phoebe, I didn’t. But yesterday I saw a blue
dress that I wanted and went back to the shop 5 times but just
couldn’t get myself to spend the money.”
of time, distance or death, friendship has no barriers.
Pileup On The Universal Highway
A trusted colleague recently
submitted an article for OfSpirit.com Magazine. Oddly, as I was
reading through it, I kept getting an intuitive feeling that it
was plagiarized. It was like the word “plagiarism” repeatedly
entered my thoughts, which was a weird experience since I’m not
What made this more confusing
is that I knew this woman as a person of integrity. Because I
found it difficult to believe she would steal someone else’s
writing and present it as her own, I shook off the feeling,
convinced I had enjoyed one too many cups of coffee that morning.
As I continued reading the
article, my feeling that it had been plagiarized got stronger. But
when I began reading a section of the article that was about this
woman’s personal history, I thought to myself, “Aha! This
actually happened to her. It’s not plagiarized. I’m being
Despite my arguments against
it, when I finished reading the article, my intuitive feelings
persisted. So I decided to copy and paste just one simple sentence
into Google to nullify my concerns. Although I had reason to
dispute my sixth sense, I also wondered if she had never been
taught about plagiarism and had done it without realizing it was
wrong. So I pasted a line of the article into Google.
What resulted from my Google
search was a website with an article that not only had that exact
same sentence but also the same entire paragraph.
My heart sank.
Was my intuition right about
the plagiarism and wrong about this woman’s integrity? Or had
she merely never learned how to properly reference other
people’s writing when she used it? I didn’t know why she did
it, but there was no question in my mind that her words were not
I walked away from my desk and
told my wife, Melissa, what I had just uncovered.
“Well you’re going to have
to talk with her about it,” said Melissa.
I knew she was right, but I
wasn’t thrilled about having to do it. What if there was a
perfectly good excuse that I hadn’t considered, yet my
questioning her on it insulted her and damaged our relationship?
So I did what any person would do who prefers to avoid conflict: I
procrastinated the issue and moved on to something else.
Not 30 minutes later did the
phone ring and guess who was calling me? Melissa looked at the
Caller ID, smiled and said, “Well, there you go,” as she
handed me the phone.
The woman was calling me about
a completely random and minor question. I quickly answered her
question, after which I had to say, “Well, now that I have you
on the phone, I need to talk to you about your article.”
It turns out that this woman
had hired someone to help her write the article because she was
too busy to write it herself. This is a common practice known as
ghostwriting. My colleague, of course, thought she was paying the
writer to write the whole article. Instead, the writer wrote my
colleague’s personal history but chose to steal the words of
other writers to fill out the article.
In order to talk with the
writer about the issue, my colleague asked me to email her the
paragraph that was plagiarized and the website where I saw the
originating article. Before doing so, I pasted a different
sentence of the article into Google just for kicks. This time, I
found that two completely new paragraphs of her article had also
been copied—and from an entirely different writer’s article.
I couldn’t get myself to
test another sentence in the article. Three stolen paragraphs were
enough, and from two different writers and articles. However,
while doing this last Google search, I also noticed my colleague
had an article that was posted on another magazine’s website.
This was a different article than she had submitted to me. So, out
of curiosity, I took a line from it and pasted it into a Google
What came up was some guy’s
blog that had the exact same article—word for word, paragraph
for paragraph. There must have been 800 identical words.
I told my colleague about the
blog, to which she replied that she had actually written that
article herself. This meant that the blog writer had plagiarized
HER. All I could think to say was, “Wow, now you know how it
While this blog might appear
to be a lesson in plagiarism, it is not, although I certainly
think more people ought to know the proper way to steer clear of
copyright infringement (a vast problem on the Internet that few
people fully understand). With that said, what amazes me most
about this story are the ways that the Universe has weaved its web
using the magic of intuition, coincidence and spiritual guidance.
Let’s look at what took place:
1) My intuition screamed that
this article was plagiarized, so strongly that it overcame my
intellect’s arguments that it was not.
2) The very first sentence I
pasted into Google was one that had been stolen.
3) In less than 30 minutes, my
colleague was inspired to call me for a random, minor question
while I was procrastinating calling her.
4) I stumbled upon the blog of
some guy who had, in turn, plagiarized my colleague, helping her
to experience both sides of the intrusion.
Any one of these events could
surely be chalked up to random coincidence. But when a series of
coincidences pile up in a row, all leading toward a powerful lesson
in the end, I can’t help but to admire the intricate infinitude
of the Universe.
As Luck Would Have It: A Los
In 1990, my wife, Melissa, and
I lived in Los Angeles for a year. Being in our twenties and just
getting started in life, we decided to try city life for a change.
We had a Ford Bronco II that was constantly in the mechanic shop.
So, one day, after our little SUV was towed to the shop, I had to
rent a car.
Although I rented the cheapest
car the rental company offered, they upgraded me to a mid-size car
since they didn’t have any cheep cars left. They gave me a brand
new, red Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, which I thought was just the
coolest car in the world.
About 11:00 that night, it was
time to pick Melissa up from work, who was working at Pier One
Imports in Santa Monica. It was Christmas season, so they were
open later than normal, which meant I had to wait for her to close
up the store.
Melissa was the assistant
manager, so she was always the last one to leave. I was so used to
waiting for her that it wasn’t unusual for me to fall asleep in
the parking lot. And while I normally sat in my car with the
windows open (keeping in mind that this was Southern California),
this particular night was chilly, so I had the windows closed. The
truth is that I was sitting in the car playing with the electric
windows and door locks in my boredom. Not having these luxuries in
my own car, I had a slight fascination with them.
At one point, I noticed in my
rear-view mirror that five young guys were walking into the
parking lot. I didn’t think anything of it and assumed they were
just passing through. Then I noticed that one of them was standing
to my right by the passenger’s side door with a smile on his
Since I was used to people in
the city asking for spare change, I expected this was what he
wanted. After all, I was now sitting in a brand new sporty car, so
I probably looked like I had money to spare. As I was about to
roll down the window to talk to him, that’s when I noticed that
all five guys had surrounded my car. One stood in front of my car,
one behind it, two at the doors on my side of the car, and then
there was this guy who was smiling at me at the front
passenger’s side door.
Before I had a chance to
think, the three guys at the doors were attempting to open them.
Lucky for me, I had unknowingly left each of the car doors locked
when I was playing with the door lock button. Within seconds after
failing to open my doors, the guy standing beside me began to beat
on my window with his fist, which had absolutely no effect on the
glass. That’s when he pulled a gigantic screwdriver out of his
belt that must have been a foot-and-a-half long.
This was all happening so fast
that my brain hadn’t yet acknowledged that I was being
carjacked. Within seconds, however, my mind and body went into
flight or fight mode. I knew I had to get the heck out of there.
Unfortunately, because I was not used to this car, I faltered when
trying to get the car started and into gear.
As I stammered to get the car
going, the guy next to me began jamming the screwdriver into the
side of the window where it met the door and began prying it in an
attempt to buckle the glass and make it break. Instead of the
glass breaking, the molding around the window fell off. So the
carjacker turned the screwdriver around and started slamming it
like a hammer into my window, which was a strange sensation that
distracted me from finding the shifter. Instead, I was preparing
my body to protect myself from the broken glass. The glass still
did not break.
I finally got the car into
drive and hit the gas peddle. The guy’s eyes in front of the car
opened wide as he dove to the side. The Cutlass Supreme shot off
causing two of the guys who quickly jumped on the car to take to
the air. I drove behind Pier One Imports and arrived at an
adjacent street, thereby causing me to stop and wait for traffic.
In seconds, all five guys caught up to me and had surrounded my
car. They were now slamming my windows again; yet the windows
still would not break.
Once traffic allowed, I spun
into the street and drove down to a gas station about a
quarter-mile away. I jumped out of the car to a payphone (cell
phones were still a luxury at this time and we didn’t own one).
I immediately called Melissa at work and told her not to leave the
building. She told me that she had already heard noises like
someone was trying to break into the store, so she locked herself
in the back room office and called 911. But the 911 operator told
her to go into the store to see if anyone was there, which seemed
like ridiculous advice; so Melissa hung up on her and hid under
the desk. She was about to call 911 again when I called.
I hung up with Melissa and
called 911 myself, guiding the police to Pier One. I then drove
back there and waited. In minutes, the police arrived by car and
helicopter, but never caught the carjackers. Melissa was safe.
The police told me that I was
very lucky. Carjackers generally shoot through the window while
shooting the driver at the same time. That way they can just
unlock the door, pull out driver and take the car. They said that
the screwdriver was likely meant to stab me if they had got the
door open, but they never got that far.
In the days after this
happened, everyone who heard this story seemed to agree: I was
lucky. I was lucky that the windows did not break. I was lucky
that I coincidentally left the doors locked after playing with the
door lock button. I was lucky that it was unusually chilly this
night so that I had the windows closed instead of open as usual. I
was even lucky that I was awake instead of sleeping as usual. Just
imagine how long it would have taken me to react if I were
On the other hand, I also
recognize that I was unlucky that my car broke down, because that
led me to rent a car. Nobody would have wanted to carjack my
crappy car. I was also unlucky that the car rental company was out
of cheap rental cars, so they upgraded me to a mid-sized car, a
brand new Cutlass Supreme (a red one to boot), although that made
me feel lucky at the time. I was also unlucky that I was in the
wrong place at the wrong time, which means I was right in the
random path of these thugs who saw my fancy sports car as they
were walking down the street.
So was I lucky or unlucky? We
can ask ourselves these types of questions all day long. Was I
lucky that I beat my illness or unlucky that I got sick in the
first place? Was I lucky to have survived the plane crash or
unlucky that the plane crashed at all? Was I lucky that my team
won or was the other team unlucky and lost? And what does that
mean when my team loses tomorrow; does luck change from day to
day, hour to hour, or minute to minute?
What if this is not a matter
of luck at all? What if this is simply a matter of experiencing
life, having good and bad things happen, and then moving forward
in the best way possible without giving it a label and without
placing responsibility for it anywhere or on anyone?
I’m not trying to make a
statement or teach a lesson here. I just think this story incites
a great question, one to which we may never know the answer. Yet
we just can’t help wondering as we go through life, can we?
My new blogging site is: http://bobolson.wordpress.com
The Universe Creates Miracles To
I was talking with a friend the
other day who recently lost his job due to the new economy
layoffs. This all came rather unexpected since he had been in his
industry for 30 years and always considered his employment secure.
He now toyed with the idea of doing something completely different
for work, but lacked the confidence necessary to take this risky
leap of faith into the unknown. Knowing that I have been
self-employed since I was a teenager, he called me to talk about
where my confidence for risk-taking is found. He needed to chat in
hopes that he, too, might tap into such a mindset.
Without having any pep talk
planned, I met my friend at a local Starbucks and began talking
about my various entrepreneurial careers throughout my life. I
hoped that the answers he sought might show up in my stories. They
did. One story after another, it became clearly evident that I
have been supported by some unknown force in every venture I’ve
taken. Miracles occurred to help lead me toward my goal, usually
in the form of coincidence. The more memories I recalled, the more
evidence I acquired that I’ve been guided and supported.
For the sake of time and space,
I’ll give only one example. When I got out of college with a
degree in Criminology, a professor had encouraged me to become a
private investigator. So I became licensed and hit the streets as
a Private Eye, not really knowing how to drum up business or even
the proper way to investigate. After a few months of
struggle, a high school buddy of mine told his step-father about
what I was doing. The step-father was a lawyer who used a private
investigator now and then, so he offered to introduce me to him. I
instantly hit it off with the veteran P.I. and he let me hang with
him for a few days to see what he did for work. Coincidentally, he
was at a place in his life where he had become more interested in
his side business of repossessing cars for banks and his
investigations had piled up due to his lack of interest in them.
Long story short, I first began working with him to help him with
his case load and later took over his business and clients.
After discussing several stories
like this with my friend who had recently lost his job, I
recognized a pattern. Once I decided what I wanted in life, I
always took action very quickly. In metaphysical terms, I set an
intention and then followed that intention with action. My action
told the Universe what I wanted and often helped to put me in
touch with people who could help me. Sometimes, where I landed was
not exactly where I had originally taken action to go; it was even
better. And what I realized was that if not for my action, I might
have never got where I landed, because it was my action that put
me in the right place with the right people and at the right time
for the miracles to occur.
I encourage you to take some time
to think about and write down all the lucky breaks, divine
coincidences and miracles that have occurred in your life that
have allowed you to achieve your goals, meet the right people and
attract whatever you’ve needed to have, be and do in order to
meet your desires. These are not just random coincidences and
lucky breaks. These are examples of the Universe supporting you.
If you actually take the time to
write down all the evidence of this in your life, you will feel
immensely empowered. Knowing that the Universe/Spirit/Source/God
has got your back will help you to have the courage to take the
necessary risks, get through the tough times and feel the inner
peace amongst the chaos. Imagine knowing that you are not alone.
How would your life change if you felt supported in this way?
It’s certainly an exercise worth trying.
My new blogging site is: http://bobolson.wordpress.com
New Simpler Blog Style For A New Simpler Life
I started blogging February 11, 2006. My blogs began as 500 words or less.
They were simple comments about life, vignettes of lessons I’d learned.
At this early stage, blogging was fun because it was quick and easy to do;
it was an intimate way to communicate with my online audience. Yet the
problem began when my readers, including friends and family members, began
to comment on how much they enjoyed my latest blog entry, and the
feedback encouraged me to write more.
By September 2006, my blog entries began
to get longer, maybe 1000 words in length. I was now telling
complete stories, most of which landed with a lesson about life.
This only incited more praise from readers. The most common
comment, “I started to read your latest blog and found by myself
reading another one and another one. Two hours passed before I
realized I needed to get back to work…or get to sleep…or feed
By April 2007, my blog entries had become
full-length articles. Before I knew it, I was writing 3000-word
blogs and I was out of control. Still, the longer my blogs got,
the more positive feedback I received. A book publishing editor
even asked if I’d consider publishing a book of my blog
stories, though I didn’t have enough yet to complete a
book. Moreover, I now felt obligated to my blog readers to
continue with the more in-depth stories, despite feeling like I
was now writing book chapters rather than blog entries.
By early 2008, I told my wife, Melissa, who
posts my blogs on OfSpirit.com Magazine and in our
newsletter, that I was giving up the blog. I confessed that I
didn’t have time to write the stories anymore.
She understood but kept encouraging me to write a new story when
the next magazine and newsletter issue came around because she
knew how much creative satisfaction I gained from it. On
occasions when I absolutely couldn’t find the time, Melissa
merely posted an article I had previously written in its place.
Since my blog entries were already like articles, nobody cared. In
fact, according to reader feedback, some of my most popular blog
entries were articles I had written years prior.
With the New Year having arrived, it seems
appropriate that this is my last blog entry of length (though
still under 600 words). What’s happened is that something
that I love doing has become somewhat of a burden, and that’s
when I know it’s time to stop. So, rather than give up blogging
completely, I’ve decided to get back to basics. I’m going to
write blogs the way they were originally meant to be written: one to
three paragraphs at a shot. I’ll miss writing the stories, but
maybe there’ll be a book of stories someday.
So in the coming weeks and months, I’ll do my
best to pass along any helpful, interesting and potentially
life-changing information that crosses my path. It might be a
website, a YouTube video or a book. And if I learn any life lessons
along the way, I’ll just pass the lesson along in a brief post.
Already I have some lessons I’ve learned over the last few
months that I can’t wait to share with you, so please visit my
blog often. And if you like the new, simpler format, be sure to
let me know (comments are welcome on the blogging site), as it
will encourage me to keep it going and keep it simple.
My new blogging site is: http://bobolson.wordpress.com
Happy New Year,