Fiction Friday: The Gut Feeling

This week I responded to a prompt from The Writing Reader. Liz’s suggested prompt was 499 Intuition and Bias. I didn’t exactly follow the rules for the fiction piece, but here’s my story about intuition.

Callie’s basketball game went to overtime. They’d be late, which meant taking the county road. Sharon began to sweat. She could have pushed her daughter to leave, but this was Callie’s last basketball game. She would graduate this year. There were signs everywhere congratulating the 1989 seniors, even in the gymnasium.

When the celebration finally wrapped up, Sharon motioned to Callie it was time to go. Her eldest daughter climbed into the stands and gave Sharon a big hug. With her face pink from running and her ponytail sideways, she begged,“Please, can I stay longer?”

Sharon regretfully shook her head. “Sweetie, it’s late. We have to take the county road to get home in time.You know I don’t like that road.”

“You say this every time and we’re perfectly fine, Mom. It’s just a road.” Callie’s face reflected her disappointment.

Sharon sighed. She hadn’t told her daughter she’d always felt something bad would happen when she drove the county road. She avoided it, but couldn’t tonight. It was the fastest way home and the babysitter needed to leave on time.

After Callie collected her gym bag, they hurried outside. It was cold, almost freezing. They ran to the car. Callie tossed her bag in the back and got in front with her mom. Her request to drive was denied. She pouted.

Ignoring the pout, Sharon started the car and said, “Call your dad. He’ll want to know about the game.”

Callie pulled the large cell phone from her big purse. “Mom, you’ve got to get with the times. Buy a cellphone.”

While she was glad Callie had the phone, Sharon didn’t want to carry that clunky thing in her purse. In addition, it wouldn’t help on the county road; cell service was nonexistent there.

Callie left her father a message and announced, “Dad’s not home, yet.” She switched on the radio and sang along with the new Madonna song, “Like a Prayer.” Sharon groaned. She didn’t think Madonna was a good example for her daughter, but she let it go.

Dark clouds hunkered down on the horizon, promising rain. Sure enough, the rain fell hard and fast just as they turned on the county road. Sharon’s stomach clinched.

Rain drummed on the roof as she concentrated on driving, keeping both hands tightly on the wheel. The wipers struggled to keep up.

“Mom, if you grip that steering wheel any harder, your fingers are going to stick to it.” Callie teased. She meant to help. Sharon said, “I’m fine, Callie. The rain makes me nervous.”

Callie sighed. “It’s not the rain; it’s the road.”

Darkness surrounded them; the road had no street lights. As they rounded a curve, their headlights lit up a car parked at an angle on the side of road. Sharon’s heart began to race.

She slowed down. The car looked empty. A shiver went up her spine; she pushed her foot on the gas pedal, wanting to get past the car. That’s when she heard the voice say, “Please stop.”

She turned to her daughter. “Did you hear that?”

Callie shook her head. “I didn’t hear anything.”

Sharon swallowed. Her mouth felt dry. She heard the words again, “Please stop.” She wanted to ignore them, but couldn’t. She slowly pulled off the road in front of the other car. Callie’s eyes flew to her face, “Why are you stopping?”

“I can’t explain it, Callie, but something’s wrong with that car. I have to check it out.”

“What? You always told me never to stop. It’s not safe.” Anxiety made Callie’s words tumble out.

“I know, but this time we’re stopping.” Sharon spoke with a certainty she didn’t feel. Callie was right. It probably wasn’t safe, but she couldn’t ignore the voice.

She forced away her fear by grabbing the flashlight from the glove compartment and her raincoat from the backseat. She told Callie to lock the doors and not open them until she returned. Then she ran through the rain to the parked car.

The window was cracked open. She shined her light inside. Not expecting anyone, she jumped when a young woman’s face appeared. Sharon yelled over the rain, “Are you okay?” The door opened. Sharon climbed in, dripping water.

A young woman holding an infant scooted over to make room. She didn’t look much older than Callie. She grabbed Sharon’s hand and said, “I’m Evie and this is Caleb. Thank you so much for stopping.”

“I don’t usually stop…” Sharon started to say, but Evie continued to talk as if she hadn’t heard her.

“I didn’t think anyone would ever stop. Caleb’s three months old. I was afraid to leave him and then the rain came. My car’s dead, even the horn. I got so desperate every time a car drew near; I’d call out, ‘Please stop.’ I knew no one could hear me, but I didn’t know what else to do.” Evie quit talking as if she’d run out of air.

Sharon leaned back. Those were the exact words she’d heard, clear as day. But she couldn’t have heard Evie, not with the windows closed, the radio on and the heavy rain. Astonished, she looked at Evie and said, “I heard you.”

Evie seemed to realize the impossibility of this and asked, “How?”

Caleb started to cry; Evie rocked him. Sharon shook her head. “I don’t know, Evie. Let’s worry about it later. I think we should get you and Caleb warm and home first. My name is Sharon, by the way.”

Evie smiled and said, “Sharon, I’m really glad you heard me.”

Sharon and Callie got Evie and Caleb safely home. They never figured out how she heard Evie’s voice that night. Maybe it was a gift from God. Whatever it was, Sharon never again felt afraid when she drove the county road. It became exactly what it was – a way to get from one place to another.

*****

This story was based on something that actually happened to me. It’s not quite the same as this story, which is why I chose fiction. However, it is close and taught me to value my own intuition.

The Online Test

Talk to the Mirror

Counter-Intuitive

The other day, I was playing on the Internet and found a test for determining intuitive skills. While thinking of myself as being intuitive, I immediately clicked on the link for the online test and proceeded through the questions, believing the test would confirm my intuitive abilities.

When I read the last question, I found myself laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes. The question was: Would you rather decide for yourself how intuitive you really are, as opposed to have a test tell you?

This made me stop and think. It is counter-intuitive to look outside of myself for confirmation about something I already believe.

Trust Yourself

We all have talents and gifts. Most of the time we KNOW in our hearts what they are, but we’re hesitant to declare them as facts. Just like I did, we seek other sources — friends, family, spouses, or even online tests to confirm what we already know.

Think about it. What does it matter whether or not someone or something confirms what you already believe about yourself? If you trust yourself, then it’s true. Searching for outside confirmation is only a gremlin of doubt testing you.

Look in the Mirror

I am grateful for this intuitive test and, by the way, I didn’t complete that last question or receive a score. I realized it was unnecessary because I already knew the answer.

We learn life lessons in the oddest moments. This one reminded me that the next time I’m seeking confirmation on something I believe about myself, I should talk to my mirror. Then I can tell myself, “Yes, you are intuitive! And this is why you don’t need someone or something to confirm this:~)

What about you?

I enjoy it when you participate and therefore give you a variety of questions. This doesn’t mean you have to answer all of them. Feel free to answer one, two or more of the following questions:

  • What abilities do you automatically accept and trust about yourself?
  • In what areas of your life do you seek confirmation about your abilities?
  • When is it helpful to use outside sources to confirm an ability you have?
  • How can we help children avoid doubting their abilities?
  • Would you have wanted to answer that last test question? If so, here’s the online test.

The Still Small Voice Was Right

Intuitive-Sara2Stop and listen

I imagine all of us have had times when we had a chance to do something, go someplace, be with someone…but we just couldn’t do it. Somewhere inside us, a small voice kept saying, “Something’s not right.” Our intuition is speaking.

Sometimes it can be hard to STOP and listen to that voice. Quite recently I almost didn’t, and would have been making a big mistake.

I had contacted 99designs.com to have a header designed for my blog. After a rather overwhelming process, I eventually found a design I liked and one that the majority of my mini-focus group also liked.

Things got a bit rough however, when the negotiation process began. There are certain things that 99designs.com recommends clients find out from the designers, specifically dealing with legal rights. Here’s what they say:

“We strongly recommend that you only award prizes to designs based solely on original work. Original designs should not include stock photography or clip art images, and the designers should not need to supply any fonts – text should be rasterized or saved as an outline. Check with your short-listed designers that:

  • The design is 100% original and therefore won’t attract any further license fees.
  • Rights to any non-original components of the design (such as clip art, stock imagery or fonts) are available to you. The specific costs and rights available vary greatly, so it’s important to check this with the rights holder.”

Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it wasn’t in my case.

The designer I liked told me his work was 100% original and that the photo was his own. However, another designer in the contest informed me that not only had this designer used a stock photo, he had also modified it; a very big NO-NO in the stock photo industry. So began my drama.

I wasn’t opposed to using a stock photo as long as I had the license. I had done this before in an earlier version of my site without problems. But still, I couldn’t press the YOU ARE THE WINNER button for this designer.

Truth revealed

The small voice inside my head continued to say… “Something’s not right.”

Let me tell you, I didn’t want to listen to this voice. I wanted everything to be okay. I wanted to award the prize and finally get my header design. I really did. But I couldn’t – because of that small voice.

I started wondering if this designer was indeed the copyright holder for the stock photo he was using. But his profile did not use his real name and I had no way of checking this.

I contacted the support services offered by 99designs.com to try to find out what the story was. They kept sending me to their FAQ section. After awhile I got frustrated and asked for a refund, which changed things.

I kept at it because that small voice was still telling me, “Something’s not right.”

I’m not sure when they finally realized that we BOTH had a problem. I had a designer claiming something I couldn’t prove or verify, and they had a slightly bigger problem – one of their designers could have blatantly lied.

I eventually got my refund. An investigation determined that the designer HAD lied and is now suspended from 99designs.com.

Hopefully, this company will review how they select designers in the future and how they respond to customers needing advice. I like to think they just hadn’t encountered this type of problem before.

So, my design contest is closed and I still don’t have a header for my blog. While I could complain about all the things that went wrong, instead I want to appreciate that small voice in my head that kept saying over and over again, “Something’s not right.”

My intuition did not lead me astray. Thank you for being there and for being persistent. I’m ever so grateful that I did hear you!

*  *  *  *  *  *

What about you?

Have there been times when you’ve listened to your intuition?

Have there been times when you didn’t listen and wished you had?

How does the small voice in your head get you to listen?

Jedi Master Yoda Sara

yoda-sara1

There is an explanation of this picture.  Just keep reading…

When I was studying to be a coach, I frequently struggled to use my intuition effectively with clients.

Intuition, or what your “gut” tells you about a person or their situation, is a very important coaching skill.

Even though it has saved my butt numerous times in my life, I had a hard time acknowledging my intuition. In my more logical family, “going by your gut” was not exactly a good thing. So, I learned to hide my intuitive side.

During a coaching homework, I was given the challenge to write a letter to myself about my intuitive side.

That same weekend, The Empire Strikes Back was playing on TV. This is my favorite Star Wars movie because of Jedi Master Yoda. I’ve always thought he was the best Star Wars character. Not only is he cute with his magnificently huge ears and enigmatic smile, but he also has an unusual way of speaking!

After the movie, I knew the letter honoring my intuitive self had to come from Jedi Master “Yoda Sara.”  I even found a site that helped me write in Yoda-Speak.  Here’s the letter:

Pleased you ask me, I am.  Yeesssssss. Still much to learn, there is. You good advice, I give when you listen. Trouble you get into, when you ignore me. Hmmmmmm. Of your inner child, I carry the wisdom. Learn to honor this child, you will. Protected and guarded your spirit for many years, she has. Herh herh herh.

When small and lost in your family, you were, whisper in your ear I did.  Always believe my voice, you did not. Silenced, your voice was, understand you people not.  Still whisper to you, I do. Listen more closely, now you do!  Pleased, I am.  Soon discover the power of intuitive voice, you will. Yes, hmmm. Become one body and spirit, Jedi Master Yoda and Sara will. You I do I love, Yoda Sara.  Herh herh herh

It’s probably not an easy letter to read, but it was a lot of fun and it did what it was supposed to do.  It reminded me to let go and trust my intuitive self.

It was also an act of self-respect. By writing this letter, I was reclaiming my intuition. The more I’ve used it, the more I realize it

What about you?

Is there something you loved about yourself, but hid because it didn’t quite fit?

p.s. In case you can’t tell, the picture is a merge of Master Jedi Yoda and me.  I thank him and his creators for allowing me to step inside the face of Master Yoda!