Michelle Comes to Visit the Workplace

In walks Michelle. His grey hair curling under the bandanna he always wears on his head. I notice he still carries around his backpack with him everywhere. I’ve only seen him twice before but he still looks the same as the other times. He’s wearing a pullover sweater and another sweater, jacket type thing around his waist. His face is covered with freckles that could possibly be age spots. I’m not sure. As his smile lights up his face, I notice a few teeth missing.

I know the moment he spots me and know what he is going to ask me first.

“Where’s my Muslim sister?” he asks with a French lilt to his speech.

Yup, I knew that was what he was going to ask me.

I stay calm and answer his question. “She’s not here. She’s never here on Mondays.”

I see he’s disappointed. “Oh, she’s never here Mondays? But tomorrow, she’ll be here tomorrow?”

“Yes, she will be here tomorrow.”

“I need to use your phone.”

He always seem to need to use our phone. I grab the phone from behind the computer and hand it to him.

“Can you dial this number for me,” he says, showing me a number on a piece of paper he pulled out of his pocket.

I agree. Looking at the number on the paper, I punch in the numbers and hand him the phone. I hear it beep and know it is a long distance number. He gives me back the phone and I punch in the number 1 before pressing the numbers again.

This time when I hand him the phone, it goes through and he talks to the person on the other end. I turn away from his conversation and continue what I was doing before Michelle walked in. Meanwhile, I still hear everything on his side of the conversation. Sounds like the woman on the other end won’t pick him up and he’s headed to Steinbach for some reason.

After his phone call, he looks frustrated and he lets me know why. “She has a headache. She told me to call back at 3:30 to see if she’ll pick me up but she wants me to hitchhike to Rosenfeld but I’m not going there. I’m going to Steinbach.”

I smile and say a few okay’s and other short words to pretend like I care as he continues on.

The phone rings and I go to answer it, secretly happy for the interruption. “Valley Regional Library,” I say.

“I was just wondering how long you’re open today.”

“We’re open until 4 today,” I answer.

“Okay, thank you.”

When the woman hangs up, I press end on the phone and put it back in its stand.

“Oh, you close at four?” Michelle asks, still standing where I left him.

I respond and continues on with his stories. He once again tells me that he’s going to Steinbach.

“Why are you going to Steinbach?” I ask. I know he wants me to respond more than I have been.

He goes on to tell me that he has a friend there who is from Belgium who is working at the thrift store there. Eventually he asks me what’s new with me and I tell him not a lot except working and finding things to do. He jokingly asks for 700 dollars and I secretly hope he won’t ask for money seriously as he normally does when he shows up.

“Did you give my Muslim sister my message last time?” Michelle asks me.

“No, I forgot,” I tell him. I remember last time he told me to tell her he visited but I honestly had forgotten to tell her. “You could write her a note,” I suggest so I won’t have to tell her.

He tells me, I should write one. I get a piece of paper out and grab a pen. “Are you sure, you don’t want to write it.”

“I’m too tired,” he says as he leans on the counter where he’s standing.

I scribble away on the paper, writing what he dictates. He has me write, Hello my Muslim sister. This is Michelle. I was here to see you the other day but my Mennonite sister said Mondays you’re never here. I’m on my way to Steinbach. Whatever you do, don’t forget about Michelle. Dankeschein.’

He grabs the piece of paper once I’m done writing. “I will sign it and put a smiley face on it.”

I have seen children draw better smiley faces than Michelle but I don’t say anything.

He asks to use the phone again. He grabs the paper from his pocket and I dial the number for him again. He tells the woman she doesn’t need to come.

He asks me to photocopy more pages from the book, I photocopied pages from last time he showed up. I say sure. Maybe I’ll be able to get rid of him faster if I do what he wants.

After photocopying the pages for him, he asks me the question I dreaded but knew was most likely coming.

“Can you give me $10?”

Normally I wouldn’t give money to people who ask me of money. This time I agree though but wouldn’t have if he had asked for more.

I head to the back where I keep my purse and take out a $10 bill. I walk back to the front where Michelle is still standing. I hand him the bill.

“Would you like a Mexican flag?”

I am a little taken aback. “Sure.”

He makes some joke I don’t catch but he laughing. I decide to laugh as well.

He takes backpack off. He surprises me by not opening his backpack but rather takes his sweater, jacket type thing off his waist and reaches into the pocket in it. He takes out a folded up flag and hands it to me. I reach out my hand and take it from him when he holds it in my direction.

A few seconds later, he asks me if I’m married. I tell him no. He then asks me if I have a boyfriend. I once again tell him no. He proceeds to ask me how old I am. I’m confused about where he’s going with his questions but I answer him. “21.”

“I guess God doesn’t have the one for you, yet.”


“Well, I’d better go. Goodbye.”

He turns to walk away. I’m relieved. He stops and turns around. He holds out his hand. He must want a handshake or something. I put my hand in his but instead of shaking it, he holds it and starts praying. This is awkward. I don’t know what to do. Am I supposed to close my eyes? That’s what I normally do when I pray but he has his open. So instead, I decide to look down at the counter.

The corners of my mouth, turn up in a smile and I bite my lips to keep the smile from being too obvious. I feel like laughing at him and I don’t know why. I don’t completely pay attention to what he’s praying about but I hear him say something about us not dying alone or something like that.

“Now you pray something. Pray for me.”

“Okay.” I start praying but have no idea what he wants me to pray about. He occasionally interrupts to say what I should pray.

I go silent once I’m done and he ends up praying again but shorter this time. He lets go of my hand and says goodbye again. He wiggles his fingers in a wave and I wave back. Once he finally leaves, the laughter bubbles up and out of my mouth. There’s never a dull moment when Michelle comes to visit.


Book Giveaway – Love Unrealized

I am running a book giveaway on Goodreads.com. Unfortunately, because of shipping costs, the entries are limited to residents of Canada. I would love to have it open to residents of more countries but due to shipping costs, I am unable to do so. However, you may still buy the book on Amazon.

The giveaway only runs until August 21, 2013 so enter if you wish to win a FREE copy of my book Love Unrealized. You do have to be a member of Goodreads to enter but it is free to sign up for Goodreads if you wish to do so.

One of my friends, who bought the book from me, said the following of Love Unrealized.

“It beautifully portrayed God’s love for us, regardless of what we feel. And Christ’s love and sacrifice.”

If you want, you can read the first chapter of the book here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Love Unrealized by Angela Suzanne

Love Unrealized

by Angela Suzanne

Giveaway ends August 21, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Problems Galore in Myself and Others


I am a glazomaniac. I am sure most people probably don’t know what this is. I had never even heard about until a few days ago. Glazomania is a passion for list-making.

I make lists like crazy. Sometimes I do it without even realizing I’m doing it. I would probably average writing 1 list a day if I were to try to figure it out.

to do

to do (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

If you were to go through my bag, my room, and my phone, you would find tons of lists.

In my room, I have two calendars on my wall, plus a calendar on my phone. I have a list of fiction books I want to read that I do not own, a list of non-fiction books I do not own but want to read as well as a list of all the books I own with the ones I’ve read crossed off.

I also have a list of blog ideas, long-term projects I want to do, possible book ideas, shopping lists and numerous to-do lists. I also have tons of lists that involve the book I’m currently working on as well as about my already published book.

I love making lists! Often when I’m bored, especially at work, I make lists. I sometimes try to think of something I can write down to make into a list.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Mexico: Monopoly Deal at Hotel La Siesta in Ma...

Mexico: Monopoly Deal at Hotel La Siesta in Mazatlan (Photo credit: eliduke)

I am also slightly obsessive-compulsive. When I went on my trip to Mexico in January, I told people in my group I am borderline OCD and there was one guy in particular who liked to use that against me and annoy me. The game of the trip was Monopoly Deal and I would always hold my cards a certain way and have them the right side up. I would not hold them upside down. A guy in our group would constantly mess around with the piles of cards so they were not straight. It bothered me and he knew it.

I like things in order and like them to be a certain way. Sometimes I contribute this to my perfectionism, although I’m not a perfectionist about everything.

Social Anxiety

I also have social anxiety, which anyone who read my old blog would know as I talked about it many times on there. I fear what people think of me and fear messing up. I have gotten better in regards to my social anxiety but I still need to work on it. I won’t bore you too much with my social anxiety but you can check out my old blog angeladueck.wordpress.com if you want to read more about it.

Everyone Has Problems

As you can see, I have problems. But that doesn’t make me different. Everyone has problems. No one is unique in this way. We all have problems of some sort. I may be more aware of mine or admit them more readily than some people but I am still a human being.

I sometimes make myself appear more troublesome on here than I am. It’s not that I necessarily try to but I find it easier to write about my problems and I’m constantly aware of them.

Most people won’t recognize our problems if we don’t tell them. I’ve been told by someone they wouldn’t have taken me as an anxious person. Numerous people have also told me I’m a people person which almost contradicts my social anxiety.

Problems are Opportunities

Problems are Opportunities (Photo credit: DonnaGrayson)

The same probably goes for you. You may have a problem with depression, anxiety or something else that people don’t realize but rather see you as what appears opposite of it. People may say you always appear so happy, yet you struggle with depression. They don’t know your inner struggles unless you’ve told them about it.

You may not want to talk about your inner struggles with people because it’s hard and you fear they will judge you for it. I know I’ve feared what people would think of me if they knew about my inner struggles.

However, I think talking about our struggles allows us to know we’re not alone in our struggles and allows us to seek help if we need it. It also helps people to understand us better. People don’t judge us as much as we think they will when they hear what we struggle with. They may just surprise you in a good way.

Author Travis Thrasher

Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?
Daniel and Casey were an unlikely couple back in high school when they came together to write music for a school event. Struggling against their differences, they dated during college, but their relationship never seemed quite right. Yet despite their personal conflict, as songwriters they had undeniable chemistry—and several hit songs. Eventually they went their own ways, both trying to make it in the music world and find true love.
Years later, both Daniel and Casey are at rock bottom, still trying to find success. But when they connect again as old friends, they realize that what they needed was right in front of them all along: each other.
From Thompson Square, a married twosome who knows a little something about what it’s like to overcome years of struggle in the music business and find love, ARE YOU GONNA KISS ME OR NOT? is a charming and humorous love story about coming of age, knowing where you belong, and finding the perfect person to share life with.

I haven’t actually read this book by Travis Thrasher but it intrigues me. I’ve heard this song by Thompson Square on the radio many times and I’m intrigued by a book based on this song. I’ve read other books by Travis Thrasher and I’ve enjoyed them.

I had the privilege of asking him some questions about writing and he graciously answered them even with his busy schedule.

If you want to check out his books or read more about him, head over to his website TravisThrasher.com.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Travis Thrasher: No. An author simply needs to read a lot and write a lot. Formal training is great, but there’s a very long list of talented and amazing writers who didn’t have much of an education. Writing is a craft you can become better at. Sometimes you can’t become a better singer or basketball player, but for writing you can become a better writer.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Travis Thrasher:Develop habits and routines. Know what works for you. You don’t try to run a marathon the first time out. You have to train and build up your stamina. Write and love writing.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Travis Thrasher:When you’re a fulltime writer who has three young children and your wife is a stay-at-home mom, you don’t ever get writer’s block.

Here’s another way I look at writer’s block. Do you ever have worker’s block? Do you ever just wake up and go “Nah, I can’t go in to work today.” That never happens because you’d be fired. View writing like this. There are days when everything I write is crap, but I still write. I don’t believe in writer’s block because I think it can be one of the many things that writers use to prevent themselves from writing.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Travis Thrasher:The longest time it’s taken to write a novel was over six years. The shortest time was three weeks. Both of those are a bit extreme. Typically I’d love to spend about six months working on a project.

How often do you publish a book?

Travis Thrasher:These days, as often as possible.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Travis Thrasher:From songs. From the smiles of my daughters. From the sun streaking in my office windows. From memories that suddenly show up out of nowhere like shells on a beach. From amazing stories I might hear about. From awful books or movies I want to redo. From my own failures and my many questions. From the mysteries of life and from the breathless hours that fill it. The world is an open book and each day I try to fill up some more pages in some way.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Travis Thrasher:I’ve built my voice from simply writing over and over again. I think I really am finding my voice as a writer. As far as brand goes – my brand is having no brand. I’m a chameleon and I love it.

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Travis Thrasher:I live in a world of deadlines so usually I’m all about meeting them. Sometimes a manuscript could use another go through, but it always depends on the schedule. I think my stories are getting tighter and stronger, but thankfully I’ve had wonderful editors who make me look better than I am.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Travis Thrasher:All the time. From Facebook to Twitter to my website to doing stuff like this, I’m always talking about my writing and promoting my stories. I’m a bit tired of myself. But until you become a brand name, you have to do it. I love getting out and meeting readers and signing books. I try to still do that all the time. I also love book clubs. I have a couple this month. I’ll go and visit the book club, we’ll talk about my book, and then I’ll sell some more copies of my books. I enjoy things like this.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Travis Thrasher:I was in third grade, heard my teacher read the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis, then was encouraged by the teacher in my writing. That did it. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since.


The Possibility of Meeting with an Anxiety Group

Anxiety - Stress ... Time management vital for...

Anxiety – Stress … Time management vital for finals — cancel your Netflix subscription (7:45 PM, Nov. 28, 2012) …item 2b.. Muddy Waters – After The Rain – Full Album (1969) … (Photo credit: marsmet481)

The other day, I received a letter from a hospital in downtown Winnipeg about partaking in one of their anxiety groups. At the beginning of last summer, I attended two sessions of a quick start to overcoming anxiety program at the hospital I had been referred for by the psychiatrist who works with my mental health worker that I had been seeing last year. The letter I received from the hospital said I should contact them if I want an appointment to see if I would be a fit for one of their anxiety groups. Part of me wants to just let the deadline they set for contacting them pass without calling them so I don’t have to go.

I mean, I’ll have to meet with people I don’t know, which I don’t enjoy doing. I’ll have to go to downtown Winnipeg, either by driving or by taking the bus. Both don’t excite me and I can’t always have my mom come with me which is what I normally do in these types of situations. I’ll have to go downtown by myself and I could totally make a fool of myself at any time.

I’ll have to talk about my problems face-to-face with people I don’t know which scares me. I will undoubtedly feel anxious and may even throw up because of it. (Nausea is one of the symptoms I get when I am anxious and I have thrown up numerous times because of it.)

English: Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

English: Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t need to go, right? I’ve improved enough in my anxiety disorder I don’t need to go, right? I can handle this on my own. It may be beneficial but I don’t need to go.

Oh, who am I kidding. The very fact that I don’t want to go should be evidence enough I should go. Anyone could read what I’ve written here and know that I should probably go.

But it’s so scary. I know a lot of people won’t understand this. Making the phone call itself scares me.

Why can’t I be like most of the people I know? They seem so sure of themselves. They do new things all the time without a second thought.

Why can’t I strike up conversations with people and make it look easy? Why can’t I make and answer phone calls without dreading them? Why can’t I do things without worrying about everything?

Why do I have to get anxious and feel like I’m going to implode? Why do I have to get nauseous, light-headed, sweaty, have difficulty breathing because of rapid breathing and my heart’s beating a mile a minute?

Why can’t I be like the normal people I see around me?

Because I’m not. I wish I was but I’m not. I’m the loner who stays to herself because it’s safer (although I do also enjoy, sometimes). I don’t feel like my body’s going to implode when I stay in my bubble. I may occasionally get depressed because of it but that’s still better than the feelings of discomfort and panic that occur when I try to step out of my bubble.

Maybe I will not contact the anxiety program at the hospital. My body will most likely thank me for not putting it through the symptoms that come with my anxiety. I know my heart-rate and breathing are already slowing down just thinking about not phoning them.

Besides, when I am at work, I see the growth I have accomplished with my anxiety disorder and maybe, just maybe that growth is enough I don’t need to call them and can continue to grow in it by myself.

Need to Make a Difference

My greatest desire in life is to make a difference in someone’s life. It was the motivation behind writing The Killer No One Wants to Talk About. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life and possibly pull them away from committing suicide.

My desire to make a difference was part of the reason I have a fascination for psychology and counseling and why I started researching and studying it. It’s the very reason I now have a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with a peer Counseling focus.

I wrote my self-published book, Love Unrealized because I hoped someone could take something away from it and be impacted by it.

It’s the main reason I started my blog. I wanted to tell my story about my struggles, hoping to make a difference in people’s lives by telling it.

Wanting to make a difference in someone’s life is the main reason why I’m writing my next novel. It’s the motivation behind the story line and is on a topic that may be a touchy topic for many people because it deals with some cultural prejudices very prevalent in our culture, at least here in Canada.

I’ve wanted for so long to help people. I’ve wanted to help people who struggle with various things so badly for so long.

My desire to make a difference in someone’s life has become so great it is almost like a need.

Maybe this is why I feel depressed when I feel like I’m not helping anyone. This may be why I question what I’m doing when no one seems to read what I write.

This is not a bad desire to have but I’ve taken it to the extreme like I normally do. It’s the underlying reason why I do a lot of what I do, or at least the stuff people see and read.

I desire…no, I NEED to make a difference in someone else’s life. Otherwise the reason I am living is lost and everything I’ve written will be in vain.

Only now did I realize my subconscious underlying need behind my writing.

I write because of my need to make a difference in someone’s life.

Author Lynn Austin

Though born the second son of King Ahaz, Hezekiah is not protected from his father’s perverted attempts to gain the favor of the idol Molech. Terrified and powerless at the foot of Molech’s altar, Hezekiah encounters for the first time the one true God of his royal ancestry, Yahweh.But his journey to the Holy One is riddled by influence from an assortment of men: Zechariah, a grandfather of noble standing who has fallen into drunkenness; Uriah, the High Priest whose lust for power forces him to gamble the faith he proclaims; and Shebna, the Egyptian intellectual who guides Hezekiah’s instruction.For the two women who love Hezekiah, the meaning of love – and its sacrificial essence – will direct the course of their lives and help shape the young prince’s future.

This is the first book in the Chronicles of Kings series by Lynn Austin. This was the first book I ever read by Lynn Austin and I enjoyed the series very much. It was also the first book I read of a fictionalization of Biblical stories. This book along with the rest of the series made the story of King Hezekiah as well as his son King Manasseh come alive to me and it has also helped me in remembering the Biblical account as well. The Chronicles of Kings series made me interested in reading books based on Biblical events and I’ve read many since reading this book quite a few years ago.

Not all her books are based on Biblical events but rather she is a historical fiction author. Her books take place in historical times and encompass what life was like back then.

I had the privilege of asking her questions about her writing as well as writing in general. She was gracious enough to answer my questions and here I will be sharing them with you.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Lynn Austin: I don’t think this is necessary, I would let your writing speak for itself. Although something that has helped me tremendously over the years has been being a part of a writer’s group. We meet about once a month and read portions of our work to each other to critique and encourage. It’s always good to have a trusted friend or fellow author look at your work but I don’t think formal training is necessary.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Lynn Austin:I would recommend writing every day. It does become more of a “job” this way and it can often be difficult for me to force myself to write. But the more you write the more practice you get and the better you become.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Lynn Austin:I highly recommend “The Artist’s Way” and other books by Julia Cameron. This book has exercises to help work through these blocks and let your inspiration flow. I also try to take small trips that help get my creative juices flowing and to get a fresh perspective, such as a trip to the botanical gardens, a quiet walk through the forest, visiting an art museum or going to a concert. I recommend finding places that inspire you, I always come home from one of these trips feeling ready to sit down and write.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Lynn Austin:It takes me a full year to write a book, I know a lot of authors that can write a book in less time so it is possible but it takes me a year.

How often do you publish a book?

Lynn Austin:Once a year. Although I also have a non-fiction book coming out this year in addition to my Biblical fiction book. I have been working on this non-fiction book for a couple of years.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Lynn Austin:Much of my inspiration comes from talking to people and hearing their stories. I also get inspired by studying history and visiting historical sites for research.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Lynn Austin:I believe that your voice comes after writing as much as you can. The more you practice the more your voice will come through in your writing. I let my publisher worry about “brand.” 🙂

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Lynn Austin:I edit and rewrite hundreds of times! I would 80% of my time is re-writing.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Lynn Austin:Marketing is not my strong suit, luckily my publisher suggest things for me to do. The world of marketing has changed so much since I started writing, with the advent of social media. I’ve been trying to keep up with it all and I’m now seeing how helpful social media is not only for reaching your fan base but for marketing as well.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Lynn Austin:As a young girl I was always making up stories and I’ve always had a wild imagination, but I never knew I wanted to be a writer until I decided to try writing a book. Once I started writing I discovered that I really love it.

If you would like to read more about Lynn Austin and check out her books, you can visit her at lynnaustin.org.