It’s a Sign!


This way!

Don’t you wish a handy sign would appear whenever you find yourself snarled in a conundrum and don’t know which way to turn? Generally speaking, I want this every time I drive in Asheville and that’s why I use the GPS. But what if there was a system of signage for all those difficult decisions we are forced to make. A sign which might appear at the very moment you need it (sort of like a mystical GPS, but without the annoying voice) and would point you in the best direction. Is there such a thing as a best direction? The Multiverse might say, “no,” just variations on the same theme depending on timing and luck. I do think though, that we sometimes are able to see beforehand what an overtly bad decision might lead to. Certain conditions lend themselves to a nasty outcome. Not waiting 30 minutes after a meal to go swimming. Leaving your parachute behind when you jump out of the plane. Refusing to wash your hands after using the toilet. There’s a reason why we have some commonsense rules. Predictability.

But what about all those other circumstances where the outcome is not so clear and there are no time-tested rules by which we might be guided? When my friend Suz lost her job in Virginia, her friend from Texas urged her to move to Houston. Suz considered her options and decided to go ahead and move. Some local friends were not so supportive which caused her to stop to consider if this was a good decision. While dithering over the wisdom of uprooting her young daughter and hauling all her belongings across the country, Suz stopped in at a Barnes and Noble café to have a cup of coffee and think about things. The café in this particular store was adjacent to the atlases and maps section of the bookstore. As Suz sat, her eyes caught the sight of a map which was improperly replaced into the shelving. It was a map of Texas staring her right in the face. She closed her eyes and thought, “You really want me to move to Texas.” Sitting quietly, she received the answer, “Yes.” Heard it in her head and felt an endorsement of her decision. Knowing it would not be an easy transition, she felt this was a positive sign by which she had been guided to change her life for the better. Suz finally got to become a local Texans football fan. Also, we met each other in Houston, so I’m thinking it all worked out well.

My friend Tee works for a charity which assists members of the local community in need. Sometimes, she says, donations are made at the exact moment they are needed. A suitcase might be donated just before a woman walks in with Helpmate, an NPO which assists people escaping domestic abuse. Very often, the woman must be relocated to another area with nothing more than what she is wearing. The just-donated suitcase and almost everything she needs are rounded up and packed for her. Tee believes each time this happens, the woman sees that suitcase and the people who care for her safety as a sign that she is making the right choice. Signs can bolster our courage and feel like a hug or a pat on the back.

friends and angels

Signs can pop up in the handiest moments to inform us and assure us one way or another. One of those signs showed up for me at a difficult time and I interpreted this visage as a message from whatever power rules the universe. I received this gift when I took responsibility for taking care of my aging mother, who lived in Maine. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I was in the position of having to help her find a safe place to live. After visiting a small, well-run unit connected to the local nursing home, we decided that this was the best place for her. Activities, safety, friends nearby. She agreed it was a nice place. On the day we arrived to move her in, she looked out the car window and asked, “What is this place?” When I told her, she expressed her outrage, jumped out of the car and ran off down the street. The staff who had come out to greet us was taken by surprise! The police were called. My mother, in her late seventies, managed to get pretty far down the road before the cops caught up with her. Sense of humor still intact, she held out her wrists to be cuffed. They gently got her into the car, brought her back to the unit and hovered nearby in case she was thinking of bolting again. She simply stood outside and refused to enter.

Of course, I was inside with the director of the unit, crying in frustration and doubting this ill-planned decision. Mom had to walk in of her own volition. If not, I would have to bring her home and file for custody through the legal system in order to force her into this place. Nothing felt good about the situation. I’d felt as though I had made the wrong choice, nothing would convince me otherwise…until a sign from on high came walking out of the building. It was my mother’s friend Peggy, who she had known since the third grade, leaving after visiting a friend in the nursing home. This sight certainly quashed all doubt, bolstered my confidence that this was the best place for my mom to be, where friends could visit and she was surrounded by caring people. I stopped crying and waited for the miracle. Peggy talked my mom into coming inside and getting settled. When next I visited, my mom was bubbly and flourishing in that safe environment,


Often a sign might come to us when we feel off balance or in need of comfort. My friend Gina was heading in her car to receive treatment for cancer. Naturally full of apprehension about the upcoming medical procedure, she felt tense and unsure. Then she spotted a rainbow from the car. This sight lifted her spirits and gave her a feeling of reassurance that everything would be okay. Receiving this sign helped Gina through her treatment and perhaps facilitated her full recovery.

Sometimes a sign is just an actual sign and we are left to interpret as needed. After I moved to Asheville, I decided to write a blog and mentally bumped around within the ol’ internal circus trying to come up with a theme and a name. My husband and I were driving home one afternoon traveling up Brevard Road back into our West Asheville hood when we had to stop for the light at Haywood Road. I casually glanced at the brick building beside the car and Lo! There it was. Spray painted way up at the top of this building were the words “Awake Ethel!” I had previously been in a band call Bad Ethel and for a long time had been missing this connection. Was this a sign meant to nudge me to resurrect some aspect of Ethel? I decided yes, it was. And so, Ethel returned to my life and here we are…due to a literal, yet mystical sign.

A sign

The signs are there. All you have to do is be open to them. It’s so exciting when one pops up at just the right moment. It feels so good to be validated or guided or just plain uplifted by whatever happens to come your way. Put away the skepticism, observe the world through your heart and allow yourself to be open to whatever gifts arrive at your doorstep. Whatever it is you are grappling with, may you be granted a sign.

Grab on and go for it!


Quote of the week. It just might be the sign you are looking for! In the menu above.


  1. I love this. Thank you! Our most recent sign that it was time to come home was the outrageous cost to change the fare. While I’m not happy, I know it’s the right decision, even though I thought we had all made the decision…. And then BOOM! The axe fell, and the plot twisted. I’m flying toward home tomorrow!!

  2. Cheryl, thank you for another outstanding blog. Well done!

  3. Oh Ethel! You hit the nail on the head! Having had many times when I’ve asked for “a sign”, and been open to receiving one, it has usually restored self confidence and validation. Also, when least expected, surprising opportunities. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I love this blog too. I am looking for a sign as my life is turning in all huge direction away from being a mom and a wife and all those other titles I had. Perhaps I will see one today to guide me out of this predicament

  5. Sherry Spendlove

    Where on earth did you find that fab sign? Love it. Well done. And, yes, I wish a very large, colorful sign would appear and tell me what to do, where to go ……… when i need it. Like all day, every day.

  6. Jennifer Bosch

    I like this story. I will ask the universe for signs. My mind is so often a blank, especially when I think about having to reduce the things in my house (to get ready to move in several years)

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