Tag Archives: adventure

Adjusting to Change

“Just keep swimming!”

“To infinity and beyond!”

“Adventure is out there!”

“Keep moving forward!”

The words are different, but the message is the same. In order to be successful, you can’t be stagnate. You have to move, change, adapt, evolve. It’s a basic principle of life…so why are we so resistant to it?

Because change is scary. Unknown. Different.

It’s the same reason why things like discrimination and hate exist—humans, for some awful reason, are programmed to be terrified of anything that is different than what they are “used to”; what the “know”; what they think is “right”.

Personally I think it stems back to the Garden of Eden—instinct and reasoning, fear and hate, knowledge of good and evil—none of it was ever supposed to be a part of the equation. But once it was introduced—once it became a part of the equation, well, now we have to deal with it. Now we have to use it for good, and not evil.

Because change doesn’t have to be scary.

The unknown doesn’t have to euthanize common sense.

Differences can unite rather than divide us.

If we let them.

This is not a post crusading for a cause, it is simply a reflection—because recently I decided to move. To change everything I’ve known, uproot myself from one place and leave all my friends and most of my family and settle in another place. Granted, it’s not totally foreign—it’s closer to my sister and her family—but she’s all I have here. That’s different.

I thought I’d be more nervous about this change—but sometimes change is exactly what you need to move forward. And if you have stopped moving forward in your life…then what, exactly, are you doing?

That’s not to say that making changes is easy, (I’ve already Xena-ed a cockroach and sprinkled toxic holy water over a couple of ridiculous sized spiders for one thing) but as I continue down this path I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Living in fear of the unknown is not an option (In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be an option for anyone, but we’ve not achieve perfection, so I’ll just keep praying on that one). Living for a future where the possibilities are endless—well, that’s my kind of change.

So I guess I’ll keep swimming forward to infinity and adventure somewhere over that rainbow.


Ashley Carmichael is the author of Valerie’s Vow, a Christian Romance which can be purchased at www.secondwind.com or Amazon. Follow Ashley on twitter @amcarmichael13 and Facebook.

Local Paragons XII: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cake is a small locally-run company located off Jonestown Road in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Offering a wide variety of different types, sizes, and flavors of specialty Bundt cakes, you won’t be sorry if you visit this delicatessen. My personal favorite is the strawberries and cream (limited time only! Gone by the end of June), but you really can’t go wrong with any of the other flavors (white chocolate raspberry? Yum!) either.

Food:                                                  Local Color:

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                  <3 <3 <3

“I brought you something.”

Lucy looked up from her book and smiled at Chris who held up the familiar brown bag for her to see and appreciate.

“You should have!” Lucy declared, smiling even as she reached for the bag. “But I’m glad you did. Thanks.”

“So you find out your results yet?”

Lucy looked down at the Bundlet, perfectly baked and packaged. Nothing Bundt Cake had been one of her favorite dessert places since it opened a few years ago. Today, when her stomach was tied up in knots and her head swimming with an unknown future, it was not the perfect pick-me-up exactly, but it was an incredibly sweet gesture.

“Yeah.” Lucy watched her fork sink into the soft sides of the miniature Bundt cake. The perfectly moist inside sunk in as she pushed and then pulled away her first bite. “Mmm strawberries and cream.”

“A summer special,” Chris grinned, pleased with himself. “Katie said she is on her way, or she’d be here later, something like that.”

“On her way,” Lucy murmured around the bite. She took a sip of water and let a satisfied smile settled on her lips where one tiny pink crumb clung. Chris reached out and wiped it away with his thumb. Lucy’s bottom lip dropped open slightly.

“Lucy, I—“

“Luce!” Katie’s enthusiastic tenor interrupted the moment and he stepped back, almost blending into the corners of the room, whatever he’d been about to say forgotten—by Lucy at least.  “How are you feeling?”

“Ridiculous,” she cleared her throat and avoided eye contact, preferring instead to poke at the cake with her fork. “I don’t feel sick, so I don’t know why I’m still here.”

“You had two seizures,” Katie said. “So you need to rest up, and listen to the doctors, and mister hops a lot here.” She deposited the ridiculous kangaroo she was holding on the bedside table, the card he held going crooked as she did so.

“’Get hopping well soon.’ Where did you get that ridiculous thing?” Lucy asked as she read the card aloud.

“He was made just for you, Luce, so don’t mock him.”

Lucy shook her head.

“Bundlet! Excellent! Taste?” Katie asked, sitting on the end of the bed and grabbing a fork from the tray.

“Of course,” Lucy pushed the cake toward her friend. “Dig in.”

“Where’s Susie?” Katie asked between bites.

“Probably wrestling the kids into submission—she said she wanted to be here—“

“And she will!” Susie floated into the room, though her hair was somewhat disheveled and remnants of what Lucy guessed to be oatmeal were stuck to her t-shirt, she still looked as if she had energy to spare. Lucy wondered hwo she did it.

“When will the doctor be in?” Susie asked.

“Soon,” Lucy sighed. “But not soon enough.”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Katie said, shaking her head.

“Saul!” Lucy looked past her friend’s sympathetic shakes to the man who had just entered. Her face relaxed—Saul had been there for her over in ways she didn’t even know she needed someone. “I thought you had to work.”

“I’m on break,” he assured her, his dimpled grin warming her insides as he squeezed her hand. “The doctor was right behind me.”

Lucy nodded, but found that her mouth had gone dry.

A few moments, which felt like an eternity  even with her friends and family trying to distract her, finally passed and the doctor strode confidently into the room. Lucy couldn’t read his stoic express, but swallowed hard as she reminded herself to breathe deeply—in through the mouth and out through the nose.

“Ms. St. James,” he started as he placed the clipboard on the end of the bed. “I’ll be direct with you. We’ve found on the MRI what we believe to be a tumor.”

Lucy sucked in a breath, feeling as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. She wasn’t sure if the humming noise was a contrivance of her imagination or was an actual noise, but it made her head spin all the same.

“I believe it is what has caused the seizures,” the doctor continued. “And, of course, the other symptoms we discussed. However, just looking at the scan we cannot definitively determine if the tumor is malignant or benign. Because of its size, we believe a biopsy would be our next best course of action. If it is benign the location would allow complete removal and your life would essentially return to normal. If malignant, well, my suggestion is for you to take it one step at a time before you let it control your life—you start getting control of it.”

Lucy could feel herself nodding, but had no words. Her mouth was dry. Her head was spinning. Susie was firing off questions at the man left and right, but all Lucy could do was poke a hole in the top of her cake with the fork and wonder if the salt from her tears would make it more bitter or moist—and if that even mattered at all anymore.

Local Paragons XI: A Ripple in the Water (local Author review)

A Ripple in the Water by Donna Small

A summer fling turns into something more in this scandalous tale of age defying love. Touching on controversial themes, particularly that of women dating younger men and the stigma attached, Donna Small spins a fascinating narrative. Having been a lifeguard at a local pool, I could particularly relate to and connect with the culture Ms. Small describes so effectively in the novel to set up for this May-December, no more like May-Augustan romance. Though some of the scenes are a bit redundant and I would have liked to see the characters developed through actions and events more than descriptions and hind sights, overall I enjoyed the narrative. The themes were easy to connect to (though could have been explored more–and may still be), and the characters are realistic. The end leaves readers craving for another Kate Penner story, which hopefully Ms. Small will deliver soon.

Local Color:                        Readability:                      Plot development:

<3 <3 <3                             <3 <3 <3 <3                      <3 <3 <3

The flash of lights illuminated the darkened hallway. He didn’t know if the lights were from a patient’s monitor, or a crash cart, or something else but it didn’t matter. He maneuvered through the maze of sterile eggshell walls, one after the other, until he finally came to room 467. This is where they said Lucy was—for now anyway.

Chris raised his hand to knock on the door, but it opened before he was able and he stood, slackjawed, staring hard at the unfamiliar face of a man in a bleached white coat as he emerged from the room.

Doctor, his mind registered as he scanned, first the man’s face, then searched for a nametag.

“Hi,” he stuck his hand out, pulling the door shut behind him. “I’m Saul. Lucy’s sleeping, finally.”

“Chris.” He stuck out his hand to shake, feeling the grip tighten as their palms connected. Chris cleared his throat before letting his anxiety fuel the questions. “How is she? What’s wrong with her?”

“Are you family?” Saul’s eyebrow raised.

“Not technically,” Chris flinched. “But I’m her emergency contact—close as family.”

Saul crossed his arms over his chest and widened his stance. To Chris he seemed to be blocking the door to room 467 behind him. With ever-increasing adrenaline pumping in his veins, he felt the heat rise to his face as his muscles tensed.

Chris clinched his fingers together until he made a fist at his side. “Then get out of my way,” he muttered through clinched teeth. “I’ll ask Lucy myself.”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” Saul’s immovable frame blocked his entrance. “She’s resting now and visitor’s hours—“

“The hell you can’t,” Chris took a step forward, but the doors at the end of the hall flew open and his head jerked at the sound of his name on Susie St. James’ lips.

“Chris, thank God. How is she? What’s going on?” Lucy’s sister looked frantic; her eyes were filled with moisture and her hair was pulled into a mussed up, messy pony tail with a Cheerio stuck to the end of one strand.

“I don’t know,” Chris gritted as he pulled the Cheerio free. “They won’t tell me anything since I’m not family.” He glared at Saul, who still hadn’t moved from in front of the door.

“What,” Susie turned and faced Saul. “What’s going on? Where is Lucy?”

“She’s okay,” Saul said, tucking his clipboard under one arm now. “The doctor has been in to see her and she’s stable.”

“The doctor?” Chris looked at Saul, his eyes narrowing into slits. “But I thought—“

Saul didn’t wait for him to finish before continuing with, “She had two seizures. One while we were at dinner, then a second one on the way to the hospital. Although it is too soon to tell anything definitive yet—“

You were at dinner?” Chris parroted him, his hands now crossed over his chest as he began connecting the dots.

“The doctor suspects, based on preliminary scans only, a brain tumor. We’ll know more after the MRI.”

Susie’s legs nearly gave way beneath her, but Chris reached out to steady her. With one hand under her elbow she pulled in a shaky breath, closing her eyes against the overwhelming possibilities.

“Don’t panic,” Saul reached out and touched her arm consolingly. “We don’t know enough yet to even be sure it’s a tumor. You should take it one day at a time.”

“Have you told Lucy yet?” Susie asked, her voice shaking.

Saul nodded. “She’s resting now.”

“Can we see her?” Susie asked, standing up a little straighter. Saul cleared his throat, hesitated, then nodded as he stepped aside. Chris didn’t exactly push him out of the way, but he did brush shoulders with him as he followed Susie into the room.

Lucy wasn’t sleeping. She was sitting up in bed, staring at a novel. Chris didn’t think she was reading, her eyes looked blank as she stared at the pages.

“Hey Luce,” Susie came in, sliding up to the bed. Lucy started, but the second she locked eyes with her sister, tears filled her eyes and spilled over her lids. “Oh baby.” Susie rushed in and enfolded her baby sister in her arms, setting aside the novel—A Ripple in the Water as she did so.

Lucy sobbed into her sister’s shoulder and Chris stood awkwardly in the background as Susie murmured soothing words to band aid the gaping wound the word ‘tumor’ had left on the room.

“I’m okay,” Lucy said, pulling back. “Sorry I fell apart like that. I just—“ she hiccupped and Susie laughed.

“You never could cry without getting the hiccups, even when you were a baby.”

“I know,” Lucy hiccupped again. “I’ve been trying to find time to read this novel for weeks now—carrying it around in my purse. I read the back of it and it looks so good! Fascinating and like a real drama—but this isn’t how I wanted to make the time.”

“They don’t know anything really, yet, Lucy,” Susie said again. “No need for us to get worked up.”

Chris admired her strength. Susie had always been that for Lucy, and even though he knew she was panicking herself, she hid it well for her sister’s sake.

“I know, but—“

“No buts,” Susie patted her leg. “We’ll take it one day at a time. Okay?”

Lucy took a deep breath, focusing on the rippling water in the photograph on the front of her novel. “Okay,” she breathed out.

But unlike in the small ripples photograph, Chris knew this was a rock thrown into their lake—and the ripples had just begun.

Local Paragons IX: Fourth Street Filling Station

Fourth Street Filling Station is quintessential Winston Salem. Whenever someone comes to visit me from out of town. This is the first place I want to take them to eat. It captures the essence of Old Winston and the beauty of modern Winston. The food is just, well, wonderful. If you have a chance to eat on the patio, take it—it’s the way to experience Winston on a deeper and authentic level to which few places can stake a claim. Most recently I had a wrap which I couldn’t eat enough of (rarely do I eat every last bite of something—not even a church mouse would get a morsel off this plate!). But I have never eaten a single dish I didn’t love.

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                                      Local Color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Lucy settled in at the table across from Saul. They hadn’t been out in over a week, and when he had suggested meeting at Fourth Street Filling Station, she’d hesitated. Not because of the food—she loved the food, but because of what happened. She hadn’t been back since that night, and as she sat across from Saul watching  stray blossom fall from the tree overhead and land on the table between them, she wondered if it was a good idea.

A smile settled on her tight lips for the first time; she tried to relax though she could still feel her pulse coursing through her bottom lip as she chewed on the inside of it.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Luce?” Saul asked for the second time now.

Lucy was not okay. Her mouth was dry. Her eye had started to twitch.

“I’m fine,” she pulled the water across the table; the scraping sound sounded loud. She took a sip, and looked around the patio. Nothing had changed. The same bricks, unevenly lay across the ground. The koi pond was still stocked with fish fattened by ill-disciplined younger patrons constantly throwing bits of bread into the water in between courses. The trees forming a canopy over the wrought iron trellis deadened the noise from the street so Lucy could vaguely hear the fish splashing. Still, the street noise duly loomed in the back of her skull—beating a rhythm of underlying assault.

“Something is on your mind,” Saul stated. He buttered a piece of bread and handed it to her. She took it, staring at, but not really seeing it. Picking up another piece, Saul buttered another piece for himself, and chewed as he silently studied her from across the table.

“I haven’t been here since it happened.” Lucy’s voice sounded far off. She didn’t even feel like it belonged to her as she spoke.

The screeching on the pavement—tires, rubber burning—it all sounded so loud in her head. Lucy was holding on to his waist—then she wasn’t. Above her was the night sky, blinking back at her. Something wet, sticky and thick rolled down her face. Blood.

People shouted.

Lucy sat up. Her head protested. So did her arm, twisted unnaturally beneath her, but she ignored it as she saw him. Crushed. Bent beneath the twisted metal of the bike. He was motionless. So much blood.

And then the screaming started. It hurt her ears. Who was screaming?

“Lucy!” Saul was trying to get her attention, but Lucy was still screaming—the restaurant was now all staring, silent.

In the next moment, Luzy’s eyes rolled to the top of her head and she would have fallen out of her seat if Saul hadn’t acted quickly. His own chair hit the pavement behind him as he lunged for Lucy, catching and easing her to the ground as she began.

“She’s seizing,” he said, medical training overriding emotions. “Call 9-1-1.” He turned her slightly to the side, and supported her head. There was nothing else he could do.

“Should we do something to keep her from choking?” A waiter asked, squatting next to him, phone in hand.

“She’ll be fine. Just get her to Baptist,” Saul’s authoritative tone was all the man needed. He nodded, and dialed.

Saul looked down at Lucy, wondering what she’d seen in the moments before she’d had her seizure. Hallucinating? Maybe. Definitely not cognizant of her surroundings for three, maybe five minutes. He swallowed hard, looking down at his watch nervously, trying not to worry about the woman he was afraid he may be falling in love with.

The Artist’s Way Week 3: Grace, Ashley, it’s about Grace.

“It’s my experience that we’re much more afraid that there might be a God than we are that there might not be […] possibility is far more frightening than impossibility […]” (Julia Cameron)

Most people see faith and science as being mutually exclusive. They’re not. The more I think about it and the more I study, the more I see that science requires faith and vice versa in more ways than we really want to admit and maybe in more ways than we really see. And in a lot of ways this is absolutely terrifying. Why? Because science=fact. And faith being fact means that we are not as in control of our fate as we would like to be. It also means we have to get up off our asses and get something done, because there is actually more to life than just particles randomly floating in space. There is a design, a purpose, a reason. And, quite frankly, that is terrifying to a lot of people, myself included.

I can’t remember ever not believing in God—a creator. I may have questioned it, but to me it takes a lot more faith NOT to believe in God; however, being accountable to anything or anyone is downright terrifying (It’s why “I’m going to call your Mama/Daddy” can still strike fear in the heart of the even strongest teenagers…). Now consider idea of a Cosmic Critique—that’ll bring you down from narcissistic cloud nine and into the reality of having to deal with all your past—both good and bad.

But as Julia Cameron points out in The Artist’s Way, “We say we are scared of failure, but what frightens us more is the possibility of success.”

Why? Failure is what we expect—what we’ve been told to expect. What we think we deserve, and maybe what we’ve been told we deserve our entire lives. So it becomes our mantra. What it becomes is comfortable.

Success is unknown.

The fact of the matter is, failure is not what we are designed for despite what the world might hawk. We were actually created for perfection—for success. Genesis 1 details man’s purpose from the very beginning–“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them […] God saw all that he had made and it was very good […]”

God created us for success, but we began a pattern of self-sabotage early on. Now, we can debate the value of having introduced knowledge of good and evil into the society all day (and I have my senior English class do this—so fun), but this moment is when shame is first introduced into society. As a result, every day we battle recovering from shame and failure. But what if we understood that success is not to be feared, but embraced as our destiny? Shame is not—or at least should not be—the norm. Recovery is a long arduous process, but it is possible, and the outcome is beautiful.

“Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened to you…” These words are among the more unpleasant ones ascribed to Jesus Christ. They suggest to possibility of scientific method: ask (experiment) and see what happens (record the results). Is it any wonder we discount answered prayers?”(Julia Cameron)

But it’s not passive, it’s active. And it is a choice. As artists—as humans we have to take that step to recovery. I love what Julia Cameron says in week three: “Action has magic, grace and power in it.” Grace. Jesus has grace too, the ultimate grace and recovery is multifaceted, rooted in a deep seated need for grace.

But you have to want it. Seek, and ye shall find…

Just be prepared for what’s on the other side of grace, whatever it may be.