The final day of an incredible year and I was given a small test to see if I was truly committed to standing for what I believe in.
I was joining a friend for a pre-New Year’s Eve afternoon conversation over tea. I consciously put extra money in the parking ticket machine knowing it might be a long meeting. I took the ticket from the machine, walked back to my car and placed it squarely in view, displaying that I had paid for several hours.
Something Totally Unexpected
After an interesting and engaging visit, I returned to my car and saw a yellow parking violation smack dab in the middle of my windshield. My immediate reaction was surprise and confusion. I’d returned to my car in plenty of time and as I took the violation off my windshield I tried to imagine the “why.” Wow, a $30 fine and I’d already paid more than $6 to park! Then I looked at the explanation. The parking voucher I’d purchased was placed upside down on the dashboard of my car. The officer had recorded the ticket number of the voucher, which was all he could see beside the description of the violation.
I was upset, mostly at myself I realized. I found myself questioning how it happened and then wondered why his system couldn’t read the ticket number and confirm how much time I had actually purchased. I immediately weighed my possibilities. I could accept the penalty, pay it in the allotted time, and the whole thing would be over. That was the easy thing to do. Hey, it was only $30. But in that moment the part of me that longs for fairness and justice made an agreement with myself to challenge it.
A Lesson From Mother Nature
It was the weekend, so I sat with it for a few days. On a windy Monday, I parked in yet another metered area of downtown. I bought a ticket good for three hours, placed it on my dashboard face-up, bent over to get something off the floor of my car and when I stood up, the ticket was gone. I searched the car and visually scanned the street, checking to see if the ticket was literally blowing in the wind. The ticket appeared to have disappeared into thin air!
Looking for meaning in all things, I wondered what Mother Nature was trying to have me see here. I realized the wind plays with parking tickets and now understood, that is most likely what had happened in my upside-down violation incident. The wind had flipped the ticket over.
Challenging What I Believe In
Committed again, I was determined to challenge the system and willing to go to court. I checked online to see if there were any similar reports from other frustrated drivers. Nothing definitive. I had already written on my week’s to-do list: Secure a court date to challenge my parking ticket. On the third day, I made my way to the midtown parking violation office, parked my car and bought a ticket. (Yes, I made sure it was face up before I left the car this time).
I took what seemed like a long walk to the office, joined the line of other protestors and stood smiling as I listened to the snippets of stories I was able to hear and imagine. I had no idea what to expect, but it honestly felt good as I realized that I was committed to honoring what I believe in. It’s that simple. I had taken the necessary action and was prepared for whatever the outcome or consequences.
After not too long, I was called to a half-open window, as the previous person was lingering to fill out some paperwork. I approached the window, smiled at the lady and said, “I bet you hear some wild stories at this window, so here’s mine.” I handed her my violation slip and the parking ticket that had been turned upside down. She smiled back and replied, “You should sit where I sit for a couple of hours. You can’t imagine the stories I hear.”
What a Great Story This Would Be
I smiled and, as a writer, thought what a great story this was just by virtue of itself. Every one of us has a story—all the time. We spin them, create them, sometimes I realize out of nothing, and we charge them with so much emotion that they often become larger than life.
She acknowledged that I had a valid parking ticket and proceeded to do some administrative magic. She told me the police officer had done me a favor. Hmm. Funny how when I first got the violation slip I certainly wouldn’t have ever considered it that. Because he had chosen to write the number of the purchased ticket on the violation, he’d confirmed that I actually had one. Apparently, he could have charged me with having no parking ticket at all. I laughed and said, “Then for sure I would have fought it, because I actually did have one.”
Instead, the officer literally gave me an invitation. To examine if what I believe in was strong enough to step in and take action. Would it become yet another story I chose to tell people about, or would I do something about it? I had taken the invitation and danced with it.
I asked her, “What happens next?” She said, “That’s it.” She had pulled the ticket, kept all my paperwork and the matter was closed. No fine and no court date. A moot incident. Just a little bit of my time and a few extra dollars to park and it was over. I thanked her and told her it was a lesson learned.
As I drove home, kind of smiling ear-to-ear I admit, I felt really good. Not because I won or was right, but because I chose to honor what is important to me. I formally thank the police officer for the invitation and of course, Mother Nature for the gentle windy nudges to challenge myself and see what I really am willing to take a stand for.
Every Day is an Opportunity
We have the opportunity every day to create these possibilities in our lives. To take a stand, commit to something that matters to us and when necessary, to take an action. It is that simple. I’m personally committed to making 2016 a year of standing for all the things I believe in every single day. To be lighter, with less unnecessary drama and fewer overblown stories. To be true and authentic, with both my words and my actions in all areas of my life.
What are you committed to stand for this year? What are you no longer committed to stand for?
Postscript: This post was originally written in 2012. The message was so apropos, it felt worth sharing again. Wonderful life lessons, I believe, are evergreen.
Photo Credit: Joshua Oluwagbemiga
Beverley, what a great story. I love stories. My Dad could sit for hours in a shopping mall talking to people who sat next to him and then he would tell us on our way home. Every day is a story. I am reading this on January 1st and I usually have a word for my year by now, but nothing was feeling right. As soon as I read this, I knew my word is Story. This year is going to be filled with story. Thank you.
Thanks so much for reading this Karen. As you can tell I love stories. My father was also a master storyteller, and I like to believe I inherited a bit of that from him. I thought for sure your word would be “commitment” and I am absolutely delighted to hear it is “Story”. May your 2016 be filled with an amazing wealth of rich stories you get to share with others. Happy 2016!
I love stories and have always enjoyed sharing my life experiences. Writing about them in an interesting way is quite a skill. I relate completely to this experience as I had a similar expensive ticket in NYC because I had not placed my receipt facing out. I fought it thru the mail & did not win. The next time I documented with photos of the street signs on the surrounding blocks & the block I parked on. Again did not win. Years ago I would have taken the easy route & just paid, but like you, I felt committed to presenting the complete facts. & would be ok with the outcome.
What I am taking on in 2016 is being sensitive to excellence instead of racing to the next task. An example is: I write a reply & hit enter. Sometimes I see a typo & edit. Sometimes I don’t see it until a day later.What if I stopped, got present to my reply? Is it exactly what I want to say, without typos & then hit enter?
This is a very new concept for me & I believe will stretch me in many ways.
Thanks for sharing your parking ticket stories, Roslyn. Yes, the easy way out is to just pay the ticket and yet I believe taking on something you believe in, shows our true character and sends an energy out to the Universe which speaks to who we are. I absolutely love what you are taking on for 2016 and know you will really benefit from the results. Being a big stickler for excellence myself, I find myself even correcting other people’s comments, whenever I can. I think speeding forward to the next thing and the next thing, takes some of the joy out of the moment. I wish you every success with practicing this in your life! Happy 2016!
I really enjoy your posts but this took it farther let me say it was very interesting your life. We all have a story to tell and I can relate to you in many ways as far as struggle with health issues. I enjoy your honesty, but most of all the way you keep my attention. Our life is a story and I am excited to know more about you and connect.
Lori English, MSW
Thanks so much for reading this and for commenting, Lori. It is always wonderful when someone relates to my stories and as you know, like you, I believe that we all do have interesting stories to share. The key is the willingness to tell them and for some people who aren’t writers, I understand the dilemma, which is why I love helping others write and share their story. I appreciate your support and thank you again!
I just love how you take an occurrence such as this and tell a great story ~ with an evergreen life lesson!
Thanks so much Cheryl! I sincerely appreciate you reading my stories and letting me know how much you enjoy them too! Yes, always an evergreen life lesson in most experiences. Happy they read that way to you too!
Looks like the Parking Ticket experience also demonstrates that the system does work even if it fails other times, Beverley. 🙂
I believe in standing up for what I believe is in alignment with my core values and what defines me as being me. It keeps me in integrity and even if I don’t win a skirmish or two, my voice is heard when it really matters because people know that I am speaking from a place of authenticity. For me, that means I am on the right path, even if the path has a few shoe breaking pebbles strewn on it.
Love how you are also a person who stands for what is important to them in their lives, Vatsala. Yes, if we don’t use our voice, no-one will hear us. This means taking the system to task at times and also just being willing to be vocal about things that matter. Usually they are important to other people as well as to us.
Yes, this parking ticket experience was a great lesson that we can trust things do unfold perfectly regardless of whether they result in a positive outcome. The easy way out is often to do nothing. The key is to be in action around the things or causes most dear to our hearts.
Beverley, thanks for sharing. I’m debating on standing up for something that I know is owed to me, but I know will be a huge fight and your story makes me one step closer to going for it!
The key is always how important it is to us Colleen. Sounds like this one is very important to you and I am happy to hear this story inspired you to keep moving towards it. All the best! It is always worth it to stand for something that is really important to you.
Great story Beverley! Love that you took long road to justice instead of the short road to acceptance. Bravo for you!
Thanks so much for reading this piece, Sonya. Yes, I did choose to take the longer path, although it would have been easy to just accept it. The key is to challenge yourself at times, to see what you are really passionate about and what matters to you. Thanks again!
I love your story, Beverley. I do think they are the best way to make a point and I know that most people are more likely to read a post that includes a story. How neat that you did what you felt was right AND had a very happy ending to it. Let’s hope for more of this kind of commitment in 2016!
Thanks so much for your thumbs-up for this story, Beth. As you know, I love telling stories, and I also think people relate to stories that resonate with them. This one did have a happy ending and yet going into it, I knew it could go either way. The key is always to take a stand regardless of the outcome, and follow through with what is important to you. To happy endings coming from commitments for 2016!
Bev – great article! Until very recently, I tended to overlook quandaries, conflicts, hassles, challenges, etc. In my mind, I passed them off as trivial or not worth my time & effort, when really, I was letting people walk all over me. The ironic things are that the more I FACE conflicts, the fewer I have, and also that a greater number of people ultimately become satisfied. I’ll bet when you were through with your ticket challenge, you and the lady at the ticket office were happy with your prospective parts in the story – and perhaps even the person who issued the ticket to begin with!
It’s so wonderful to hear how actually standing up for what you believe in, has ultimately led to less of those kinds of things to stand up for in your life, Joan. I am known for taking even the smallest thing to task, and sometimes wonder where do you draw the line on time and energy expended. That’s the wealth that comes from living many kinds of life experiences and ultimately choosing which “battles” you want to fight. Yes, I think the three of us who played a part in this story, (even the police officer who did so without knowing the outcome), definitely had our own happy endings!
This is such a cool post, Beverley! I LOVE how you find meaning in what may seem small day-to-day events (or even aggravations!). It speaks to mindfulness, which is the key to being in the Present.
That you honored what was important to you warms my heart! The Universe is always giving us signposts . . .
Thanks so much Susan, as often people find I ask too many questions and find too much meaning in even the smallest of things. It’s great to hear that it resonates positively with others. And, although I don’t consider myself as someone who practices “mindfulness” per se, I am highly conscious and do follow my intuition on which things to pursue, and which ones to let slide. I’m all about “fairness” and often that is a challenge in a world that isn’t always fair. And yes indeed, the Universe is ALWAYS, giving us signals, if we choose to follow them.
Beverley, great story! It reminds me of the choice I made in a criminal court case 10 years ago. I had been in and out of court so many times that year between divorce court and the criminal court case. I had a difficult choice to make. My husband (now ex) was allowing the district attorney to put our 12 year old daughter on the stand to testify against me. It was causing so much anguish for her, and she regressed back to 4 or 5 year old behavior, talking like a little girl, and wetting her bed. My gut told me to accept an Alford Plea, which would let her off the hook, and I would have a minor assault record that I could manage without any major damage to my reputation. It was a win win, and my ex didn’t get to rub my face in anything. It’s hard to stand up for what you believe in sometimes, but in the end I know my choice was the right choice for me.
That must have been a challenging choice to make, Melanie, however, I love that you thought of your daughter first and made a choice that would positively impact both her and you. Sometimes following our gut is really the only way to go. Sounds like your choice resulted in a perfect outcome all around and the healthier one as well!
Great story! This year, I am committed to honoring myself. For me this means focusing on what is important to me without pushing and forcing things to happen. It also means letting go of things that do not make me happy. I am committed to JOY in my life.
How beautiful Kris! Committing to JOY is so wonderful and from that commitment, I believe all kinds of magical and unexpected things will unfold. Enjoy your 2016 and may it be filled with all the joy you wish for yourself!
It really is important to stand up for what you believe in and in doing what is right not just for others but for yourself as well, as in your ticket incident. In the 5 years, I sold 3 studios. One of which I allowed the buyer to take out a promissory note, held by me. Unfortunately, they were unable to run the business as successfully as I had and were having a hard time making ends meet. Long story short. they asked me to forgive their debt, as the studio clearly couldn’t earn what I said it earned. After blowing up, and being told by my lawyer that these guys don’t have money, take XX amount of dollars as a settlement and be done with it. I have to say, just the thought of doing that made me feel sick. What was happening to me wasn’t right and I’d bet if I were a man, it wouldn’t even have been brought up. I didn’t listen to anyone except my intuition, did all my own negotiating and walked away paid in full for the full note. Less learned. Stick up for yourself; respectfully.
Loved your story of standing for what you believed was right for you Lisa, and having such an amazing outcome. It is easy for other people to give us advice and make suggestions, yet in life I have learned to follow what my intuition is telling me, regardless of whether others agree or not. Lessons learned the way you learned yours is a powerful one and I agree that it is always important to stand up for yourself, with respect and dignity.
What a great story and lesson, Beverley. Good for you for standing up for something that was important to you – yes, it would actually have been easier to pay the $30, but sometimes doing the right thing is time consuming. If we start letting the little things go, the big things slide right along with them. Glad to see you pointing out how important it is for us to stand up for what’s important to us. Looking forward to following your adventures in 2016. You’ll see on my blog post this week that I’ve also written about intentions for the new year – three words will guide my actions: focus. finish. follow-up. Cheers!
Thanks so much Deb, as you’ve read many of my stories and hopefully by now you know that when I feel strongly about something, I will take a firm stand for it. Yes, the easy way out would have been to pay the ticket and walk away grumbling, however, the lesson in it for me and for others, is to trust your instinct and go the distance to see what you really believe in. I love your three words that you’ve committed to for yourself this year…here’s to focus, finish and follow-up unfolding smoothly and to the max for you in 2016!
So good you stood up for yourself Beverley. The hassle and waiting vs $30 is well worth it when you consider you are standing up for what you believe in and what is fair. If you hadn’t done that it is possible there would have been more time spent resenting the situation than there was waiting for a good result.
I think your point is perfect for this scenario, Tami! Yes, the easy way out would be to pay the fine and walk away. The challenge to ourselves is to see what we truly do believe in and follow that through regardless of the outcome. This one had a happy ending, which makes the effort all the more rewarding!
I love your commitment to yourself for 2016, Beverley. I am committed to stay true to myself and to believe that I am able to accomplish what I set out to do. I hope you have a wonderful year! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much Sabrina! I love your own commitment to stay true to what is important to you in your life. Wishing you every success in 2016 as well!
What a wonderful story about perseverance and taking a stand for what believes. I’m so glad to hear that it had a happy outcome! You have such a gift with words and I look forward to every piece you share.
As for what I am committed to stand for this year, on the top of my list is making better use of my time. Working smarter.
I so appreciate your support of my writing and storytelling, Robin. It really means a lot to me. Yes, I think in life we are often asked to test our own perseverance, to see what we really will take a stand for. I love your own commitment to worker smarter and hopefully that means you free up more time for your personal interests too! All the best in 2016!
You are such a gifted storyteller, Beverley! I let out a big chuckle during your story as if I were standing next to you when you stood up and your ticket was gone. Exasperation…I felt it! haha Life is always teaching us lessons, and it’s pleasant to hear about you standing up for your beliefs. I would have paid the ticket, I just know it! I’m trying to approach people this year knowing that they have their own story/stories and that their life experiences have made them who they are and how they interact. I’ve been quite surprised in the past when my assumptions have been dead wrong, so I’m taking a lesson from those moments. Less judgement, more love. I always enjoy your articles.
Thanks so much for your ongoing support in my storytelling Meghan, as I sincerely appreciate it knowing your own background is in the writing arena too! It’s interesting to hear how well you know yourself and what you would have done in a similar circumstance. I love the idea of taking an objective and non-assumptive approach to others this year too. It’s easy to “jump” to conclusions and like you’ve found out, often we are not even close to being correct. Enjoy your year!
Thanks for sharing Beverley. It is really amazing of the opportunities we encounter each day..to learn, to grow, to stand up or shut up, :). Bravo to you.
Thanks so much Teresa! Appreciate how wonderfully you expressed the essence of life. Yes, we can learn and grow and stand up and at times shut up. It’s all a matter of our choices! Thanks again. 🙂
Beverley, you took the words right outa’ my mouth 😉 I too would have challenged such a parking ticket. It sure is nice to know that the officer was sweet enough to make sure you were “righted” once you challenged it.
It’s always interesting to hear who would, and who wouldn’t challenge something like this in their lives, Trish. It is half and half so far. Yes, I am one of those who often goes the distance when I am very sure of what is right. Even when I am not actually. And in this case the officer was very sweet to offer me the opportunity to see what I stood for.
Whoa, such a great story. Bev! I am the master of not sweating small stuff, so yes, my first thought would have been to just let it be.
However, sometimes you need to really stick up for what you believe in, because what would happen if nobody did?
This year, that I want to stand up for is being stronger in saying “no” when I feel I have to. It’s something really important to me and I want to model it for my daughters too 🙂
Thanks Delia. Yes, I do believe we have to stand up for what is important to us, even when it is easier to do nothing. I love that you are committed to standing for yourself and saying “no” more often. It is a tough one for many of us, and your daughters will learn a great lesson by just watching you. Have a great 2016!
What a great story and how amazing the way the circumstances turned things around. I have a situation going on now where I’ve been questioning the rationale behind something, and discovered I’m right. Like you said, it feels good!
Unless we challenge ourselves, we just don’t know how far we are willing to go and what is most important to us, Karen. Happy to hear your own situation turned out so well for you too. It always feels good, mostly I think because we took the stand for ourselves
Fabulous story with lessons and good news Beverley. Storytelling is certainly one of the best ways to communicate a message like this one. It’s more meaningful to follow someone in their steps as the story unwinds. Thanks!
Glad you enjoyed the storytelling aspect of this piece, Patricia. Yes, we all are very enamoured by story and I believe it helps others know us and relate to us. Appreciate your kind words!
Awesome writing Beverley. I know it certainly took some careful thought on your part to add this incredible lesson for us. I read somewhere the other day that challenges are always communicating something to us. For so long I have ignored what I could learn through them because of fear or frustration and even selfishness. This year like you I’m committed to learning and growing through challenges.
So happy this story resonated with you Vernelle. Yes, unless we take ourselves to task, we don’t really know what is most important to us. I also believe we stop ourselves and it is important to challenge ourselves if we want to grow. Enjoy your year of learning and growing!
Happy New Year to you 🙂
Really enjoyed your post and what a way to start the new year then to think about what it is that you will take a stand for in your life and what it is that you will commit too, everyday to become a better person!
I am 100% committed to ALWAYS stand up for what I believe is right, even if some disagree 😉
You must be true to yourself and in this new year, what better time to stay on that path of just being the best you that you can be!
Thanks for sharing!!
Love hearing that you also are a person who will stand up for yourself and what you believe in Joan! It is such an empowering way to be and for sure it means you are taking responsibility for yourself and not blaming others. Have a fabulous 2016 and wishing you amazing things to get behind and be passionate about in your life!
Wow.. interesting… in the states, or at least the ones I have been in, they don’t write tickets and nothing comes out of them… you pay or you sit for hours waiting for a judge (alpha order, I’m screwed) to tell you to pay it.. or let it go, but you still pay court fees. However, I hear you… we all have the choice to fight or roll over, so to speak.
That’s surprising to hear that you have such a black or white choice in the states, Kristen. I didn’t know that. So much for freedom of speech and action. 😉 Yes, we all have a choice and often it is truly a matter of which battles we chose to fight and which we chose to let go. Happy 2016!
Beverley, Happy New Year! This is a great post … it’s so true. We are tested daily to be sure we do believe our beliefs. Your post reminded me of a quote I heard that we have 365 days to change a life, if we choose; meaning we can all change 365 lives each year. Sometimes it’s a simple thing – like smiling and saying hello – over tipping your friendly waitress or simply letting a child know you believe in them and their dreams. Thank you for starting our New Year out on the right foot – to stand strong in your beliefs.
Thanks so much Tamara. And Happy 2016 to you as well! Yes, we are tested each day and our action or inaction, often shows us what is most important to us. I love that idea of choosing something each day of the year to take action on, whether it is something as simple as a smile or a kind word to others. So often we get caught up in our own “stuff” and neglect to look at the bigger world around us. Have a wonderful year standing strong in your beliefs too!
Excellent post Beverley! We are often faced with situations that will challenge our value systems. I have recently taken the time out to develop a value structure to help guide me when faced with tough situations. You made a great point at the end of the article. .it’s about making the BEST decision in given situations. Kudos to you for staying true to you!
I so appreciate hearing how you are so committed to refining and reassessing your own values ongoing Sharise. Life changes constantly so of course we change and things that used to be important to us, may not be any more. And vice versa, new things show up and we are “tested” to see how strongly it is a part of who we are. Glad you enjoyed this article and have a wonderful year of growth in all areas of your life!
Funny story — I had a similar experience, but on the other side of the fence. I was ticketed for going 80 in a 60 mph speed zone on the turnpike and when my friends encouraged me to fight it (with the attendant time and expense), I honored what was important to me: Taking the punishment I deserved. I told myself I’d gotten by for 20 years without a speeding ticket and this one was “earned” fair and square.
That’s an interesting twist on what most people would do Jackie. Congrats on being in integrity and accepting the fine. Most people are trying to beat the system, even when they are in the wrong. Appreciate you sharing your experience and how you owned up and cleared your 20 year speeding karma.