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Stopping on a Dime

I believe in omens. Now, before you start leaning back and checking your watch and - oh my gosh! - exclaiming about how you forgot that thing, that thing you have to do right now - let me explain a little bit.

I think that there are things out in the world that, if we're aware, our brains can sometimes use to deliver us a bit of a message.  I have two, relating to the same day, that immediately sprang to mind when I saw Huntington's discussion topic of "The Best Thing You Have Found."

When I moved into the bachelor apartment in which I lived for the longest amount of time I've lived anywhere, I was not a happy fellow. I'll allow myself a touch of drama, and point out that if you've ever been asked to move out and then introduced to the more handsome and blonder fellow about to take your spot, then you might well have permission to enter a bit of a funk.  I certainly did. The apartment I could afford on my retail salary was this dingy bachelor pad. It had a good layout, but very little else.  

I mean that literally, since all of my belongings I'd gathered throughout my life prior to moving in with my ex had been deemed not as good as his (which was true) and sold, given away, or tossed out.  The end result? I had a bachelor apartment, and not even a bed.

I bought a few things right off: the bare basics with which to cook and eat a meal, a tea kettle - this is an absolute necessity in my life - and because beds are expensive, I bought myself a cot instead, as I worked out my budget and tried to figure out how many months it would take before I could visit Ikea and start over.

The apartment looked horrible.  I washed the walls - it didn't help much.  It was empty, and for such a tiny place, it sure managed to echo.  I had CDs and some VHS cassettes, but no way to play them; my clothes, but no way to hang them; and books; but nowhere to shelve them.  I could fix all these problems one at a time - coat-hangers were cheap enough, certainly - but it meant sandwich lunches and rice dinners pretty much nonstop for the next six months or so.

On my first day of in the bachelor pad, when I figured all of this out, I was overwhelmed with the empty of it all and the bathroom mirror was reporting that I looked like hell.  I felt worthless - something I'm happy to say is pretty damn rare these days - but at that moment, back then, I was well and truly done in.   So I went for a walk in my new neighborhood.

The first of the two "omens" that greeted me did so right out my front door.  A bird swooped by me, landed in the giant flower box outside - which was full of dried out dirt and weeds - and tugged out some twigs or some such, then shot past my head again to the corner of my new ugly building, where it was building a nest in a nook formed by the light fixtures and the brickwork.  I watched it for a bit, and I realized that - one little piece at a time - the bird was making a home.

I sighed, rolled my eyes at the sky as if to say, message received, and then went for my walk.  I was mulling finances, trying to figure out the order of importance of what I needed, and thinking that it was going to be a lean year.  I'd recently gotten my yearly raise - it wasn't much - and knew that at what I was worth an hour, it was definitely going to take a while to gather my twigs.  

Which is when I saw the dime.  I picked it up, popped it in my pocket, and had a brief smirk over having begun my new home improvement savings plan project.

That dime moved from pocket to pocket as I went to work the next few days, and it wasn't until about a week later that I pulled it out when I was doing laundry in the dank basement of my new building.  I noticed something. It wasn't a dime. It turned out to be a pre-confederation nickel from Newfoundland - the last province to join Canada in 1949.  On a whim, I checked one of the coin books at work, and learned that it was valued at about $25 in mint condition, or something like that.  I remember looking at it, and thinking suddenly that it was worth more than it looked like - in fact, it was worth more than it actually said it was worth, right on the face of the coin.

There were many times during that first year when trading in that nickel for even $20 would have been a godsend.  But it's still sitting in my library in the home I share with my husband today.  Every time I notice it, I smile.

It's a physical reminder that I - and everyone I know - is worth more than you'd think at a quick glance.  

Well.  Maybe not that more handsome blonder guy.

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Hello Nathan

Such a subtly uplifting story...omens are all around us and I do so believe in the 'magnetic field' that attracts us to so many things in uncanny ways. Your message at the end is true (even for the more handsome blonder guy!)...for we can only see one facet at a given time. There is no stopping at a dime, any dime, really.


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Thank you!

For both the visit and the thoughts - I admit that I do believe that the more handsome blonder guy is probably worth more than one would imagine.  Sometimes. ;)

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Signs, Et Al


I have a coin collection my father gave me when I was a little girl. He died five years ago but I still pick coins up off the ground and glance at my change, searching for the elusive pennies and nickels needed to complete the collection books: Jefferson Nickels 1938-1967,Lincoln Cents, 1909-1940,and Indian Head Pennies 1882-1909.

It's been a long time since I found an old or rare coin but when I do, I consider it a lucky sign. My father is watching over me.

Humans interact on many levels with their environment but most are unaware of the complexities of their interactions.

Thank you for your heartwarming blog, Nathan. It reminded me to expect good things and watch for their signs.


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I'm sure it's wonderful to have that connection to your father - it sounds like a wonderful way to remember him.  My father passed away six years ago and our common ground was books - I have a few of his books that I react to the same way, and seeing a new book by one of his favorite authors never fails to give me pause.

Thank you for your lovely thoughts.

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lost and found omens

Thank you Nathan, I love stories of omens, and especially when the ever after is positive outcome. Your story of the nesting bird and found money is something we can all learn from, and even the sad bits of loss. I think we all know in our hearts that the hardest experiences can still open doors to move onward and upward, and nothing is ever really lost, it eventually gets found again.

As a quick aside, Nfld joined Canada in 1949; 1967 marked Canada's centenary for confederation.

All the best, Wen

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I knew that - I don't know why I typed '67.  Eep.  I'll go edit that - thanks for catching it.

 I'm glad you enjoyed the tale - error notwithstanding - and although I've never been one to follow the "that which does not kill us" philosophy, I do think there's almost always something to learn.