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Ask Yourself, “Am I Feeling Lucky?”

It’s Friday the 13th, and depending on your outlook, it’s either a lucky day or an unlucky day. I grew up in a household where there was a superstition for just about everything. Needless to say, I become overly cautious and terrified to do anything that would attract bad luck. I’m much more balanced now, thank you. Balanced enough to share some of these superstitions without fear.

  • If a bird poops on you, that’s good luck. See, this has happened to me twice and I think it’s rotten luck. Especially when you’re on your way to the office and are wearing an immaculate white dress. Did I win the lottery after being anointed with pigeon poo? Twice? No and no.
  • If you accidentally wear your shirt inside out, that’s good luck! (Bonus points if it’s also back to front.) The key word is “accidentally.” The luck will not be good if the wardrobe malfunction is intentional. Do not turn your shirt right side out before noon, because then the good luck will be forfeited.
  •  If you see a crow in your yard, someone you know is going to die soon. Cheerful, huh? As we lived in an area where crows were as common as cars with wheels, this superstition had the potential to turn me into a basket case. This is one superstition I viewed with suspicion.
  •  Have a dream about losing a tooth? That’s another indicator of someone’s impending death. Do not tell anybody about the dream until after 12 noon. Otherwise… Well, you don’t want to think about what could happen.
  •  If you’re very ill and you dream of clear water, it means you will soon get better. Actually, I have to hand it to my mother — this comes true for me every time. I had an awful flu earlier this year. I was too sick to celebrate a milestone birthday. Very unlucky. One night I dreamed of Pacific-blue water and, hey-presto, my fever broke. I recovered quickly after that.

What do I think is good luck? Random things that bring me immense joy. I was terribly lost in London recently. I turned a corner and found Mr Hugh Jackman at a premiere right in front of me. Talk about a sight for sore eyes…

It's a fuzzy photo of his fuzzy face, but that is indeed Hugh Jackman in London, July 2013.

It’s a fuzzy photo of his fuzzy face, but that is indeed Hugh ‘Wolverine’ Jackman in London, July 2013.

Last year, I decided to see a Chris Isaak show at the last minute. The only seat available was in the very front row. I worked up the courage to talk to his guitar tech before the gig and then stared into Chris’s blue, blue eyes all night. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

The charming Chris Isaak in Saratoga last year.

The charming Chris Isaak
in Saratoga last year.

Of course, there are other, more profound, forms of good luck. Like avoiding an accident because you were in the right place at the right time. Back in 1991, I was sitting on a plane at LAX. We were told there was going to be a slight delay before take-off. I didn’t think anything of it, until I overhead a whispered conversation between the off-duty flight attendant sitting next to me and a crew member. Two planes had just collided on the runway. Later, I learned more than 30 people perished in that accident. What if my flight had been scheduled to leave just twenty minutes earlier? I thanked my lucky stars all the way back to Australia.

Are you very superstitious? Tell me your tales of stupendous good (or bad) luck. One lucky commenter will win a $13 Amazon gift card.

50 responses to “Ask Yourself, “Am I Feeling Lucky?””

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by, but I had to share this story since I’m about to blog about it.

    I’ve always considered 13 unlucky. At work, when I’m adjusting the contrast/brightness on photos, I NEVER let it settle on 13 because I figure it’ll foul up the whole system. (Our system has gone down for less …)

    But I’m going to have to rethink my stance now that 2013 is the year my debut novel comes out. I’ve sold not one but THREE manuscripts this year.

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    • Always a pleasure to see you here, Arlene! I’m glad you’re our number one commenter today and not number 13! But considering your huge success in selling three books this year — CONGRATS!! — it’s definitely time to rethink your aversion to 13. I’ll keep an eye out out for your blog post. 🙂

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    • June Love says:

      Arlene, hi! Wow!! Congratulations!! Yes, I’m using a lot of exclamations, but it is so totally worth it. I’m happy for you and glad 13 is turning out to be a good number for you

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Arlene: 13 has always been my lucky number!

      You know the yin/yang symbols (the black and white ones, and how the black has a dot of white in it, and the white has a dot of black)? I figure even the supposedly unluckiest has a dash of luck, and if everybody else is busy focusing on the bad, I can snag that wonderful lucky bit and run with it.

      Works for me!

      Congrats on the THREE sales!!!! You rock!

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      • Ooh, Elisa, I like that about the yin-yang symbol — thanks for sharing!

        And three cheers to Arlene for the three sales! I’m hoping for three sales too. 🙂 Three is a significant number in my life. I was born on 23rd day of the third month. I won’t say what year, but there’s a three in it! Plus, I’m the third daughter in my family. That’s gotta mean something, right???

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  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    A few days before my wedding, someone told me that… tearing the hem of your wedding gown means good luck for your marriage.

    I didn’t think anything about it because I wore my mother’s wedding gown–from 1957–and it’s ballerina length. It can’t be stepped on.

    Wedding day dawns. There’s a piece of lint on my gorgeous, dyed-to-match heels. I lift the shoe ever so gracefully, remove the piece of lint, catch the heel in my gown, and rip the hem.

    My mother says: Oh, no.
    I say: Yay, long and happy marriage!

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    • That’s a great story, Elizabeth! Congratulations.

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    • Ohhh, how lucky, Beth! Most brides would think tearing your dress was the stuff of nightmares, but it’s nice to know there’s a silver lining. 🙂

      I’d *love* to see a picture of your dress. It sounds like something I had in mind for my wedding. It rained that day, by the way. My mother says that’s bad luck, too, but others say the opposite. Anyway, it stopped raining for exactly 30 minutes during the ceremony.

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      • June Love says:

        Vanessa, that happened to me on my wedding day. Major flooding. Naturally, I was disappointed until people began telling me it was good luck. It stopped raining five minutes before the ceremony to allow me to walk into the church and didn’t start back until Mark and I drove away. Next year will be 25 years. 🙂

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        My husband and I had a rainy wedding day too (which was a bummer since we had planned to have everyone walk through a meadow from my house to the church, following a bagpiper).

        But everyone says it’s good luck, especially for having children–and ours are awesome.

        And the rain did stop and the sun shone just long enough at the end of the ceremony for us to hold our receiving line outdoors in the fresh-washed church garden.

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        • Aww, what a fabulous wedding story, Elisa. I’m thinking the rain washes away any bad luck and ushers in lots of good fortune for your new lives together. That’s my rationale and I’m sticking to it!

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  3. I’ve always thought of myself as down to earth and not superstitious in the least until recently I did a short story for a conference program. The conference theme was superstitions and I had to really think long and hard about mine. Wow! Am I a superstitious person! It’s ridiculous!

    For example:
    The #13 is considered very lucky in my family. I was on a super tight deadline and running very behind when a blog I’m on did a giveaway of one of my books. When the final count came in one night at 13513 entries, I knew I was going to finish the book. I knew it! All my stress just faded away. I did finish it and it was the first time I’d written an entire book, cover to cover, in two weeks. I know, right? What the heck does that have to do with anything? But it worked for me.

    I have more. Way more. Some are so bizarre it’s embarrassing. And some are just embarrassing all by themselves. Let’s just say on the nights I won a Golden Heart then, three years later, won a RITA, I was wearing the same pair of underwear. I”d washed it, though! Promise.

    I’m just really disappointed at how superstitious I am. It’s all so ridiculous and yet I can’t stop! Superstitions are like Lay’s Potato Chips!

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    • Ha! I just saw the $13 gift card!!! I love that!

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    • Oh, Darynda, don’t be disappointed in yourself about being superstitious! In my family, that’s perfectly normal.

      Thank you for adding that you washed your lucky Golden Heart underwear. Had me worried for a second! You so often hear about people who claim they’ll never wash their face again after kissing someone like, say, Hugh Jackman.

      Love how the number 13 got you through that crazy two-week deadline! Did you wear the lucky undies then as well? I always pick 13 as a lucky number. I don’t know why, since nothing fabulous ever happens as a result.

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      • LOL, the number 13 is a fickle beast. I did wear my lucky underwear, but only once because I was on that deadline and couldn’t take the time to wash them. Hehehe. Too funny on the 13 99-cent books!

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  4. V, what a great post! Wow, some of those superstitions are seriously bizarre! We had a few in our family too. I had an aunty who was a bit loony about all this stuff. At her husband’s funeral, she tore all the green ribbons off the wreaths because green is unlucky. And I once made the mistake of putting some shoes on the table. Oh, my! World War III nearly broke out. Apparently that one causes a death in the family. Another cheerful example for your list.

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    • Oh, my gosh to your aunt ripping those unlucky green ribbons off wreaths! I wonder what the Irish would say to green being unlucky.

      Yes, my family superstitions are definitely weird. And I believed them for so long! What a sucker.You know, I think my mum also told me not to put shoes on the table. I don’t think it had anything to do with hygiene or death — it was just baaaaad luck.

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    • My grandma had a superstition about rocking an empty rocking chair. She hated it when I’d lie (lay?) on the floor and rock the chair with my foot because an empty rocking chair moving supposedly signaled death.

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      • Arlene, I’m taking a big risk here and posting the 13th comment on today’s post! I do wonder how on earth these superstitions come about. But there is something terrifying about empty rocking chairs, to me. I wish I could explain it!

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  5. Vanessa, I come from a long line of superstitious women and the early childhood training still sticks – though I do try to be a bit discreet about it! Though the other day, a pair of boots arrived in the mail for my dh. I got home to see the package sitting on the table unopened! I had to whisk it off immediately!

    And there’s opening an umbrella inside, spilling salt, walking under a ladder (common sense though surely! LOL), red and white flowers together in a bunch… oooo, and another one, a bird flying into the window – very bad luck.

    Goodness I did get a shiver about your plane being delayed! Thank goodness you weren’t on an earlier flight!

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    • Ahh, so you know about the shoes-on-the-table thing too? I’m wondering if this is a case where you could have thrown salt over your shoulder to counteract any bad luck incurred.

      I hadn’t heard of red and white flowers together bringing bad luck! Gosh, the things I’m learning today… My mum did tell me to never send anybody yellow flowers.

      A bird flying into the window — that’s most definitely bad luck for the bird and for the person charged with cleaning the window!

      It was awful hearing about that runway collision. My dad, who lives in LA, was driving home on the freeway after dropping me off at the airport. He heard a news report about it on the car radio and went straight back to LAX. It must have been horrible for him in those minutes when he didn’t know whether my plane was involved or not.

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  6. Annie West says:

    Hi Vanessa,

    What a fascinating post. I’d never heard that about crows or dreams of clear water.

    I don’t think I’m particularly superstitious. The number 13 doesn’t bother me for instance (though I have to say my family just experienced an amazing run of bad luck today). On the other hand I still find myself touching wood for luck and occasionally preferring not to blurt something out loud because of the fear if I put it into words it’ll happen (or not)! That’s a very, very old superstition.

    Hope your Friday 13th was fab.

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    • Oh, Annie, I’m sorry to hear about your family’s run of bad luck. I hope you’ll all get a clean slate from right now. Friday the 13th is almost over in our part of the world.

      I know exactly what you mean about keeping mum just in case you jinx yourself. I’ve learned to do that too. 🙂

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  7. Laurie Kellogg says:

    I have deep faith in God’s influence in life, so I’m not really a superstitious person. I do, however, believe things happen for a reason. Why didn’t a lot of the people who were normally in the Twin Trade Towers every day fail to make it to work on time that morning? Why were some people who’d never been there before present that day? I think when it’s your time, it’s your time, whether it’s to get published or whatever.

    I’m making a lot more money as an Indie author than I ever would have if I’d landed a New York contract, so I believe there was a reason I didn’t sell. I have faith that God is ALWAYS doing what’s best–not necessarily for me, but in the big picture. Sometimes what seems like BAD luck, like your flight being delayed, is GOOD luck, and very often we never even know it.

    So when I get held up in traffic or whatever, I try to remind myself that it may be because I’m being spared something bad if I arrive on time. And I TRY to thank God for the delay. Of course, that’s sometimes tough to remember to do when I’m impatiently drumming my fingers on the steering wheel. 🙂

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    • Laurie, how very true that delays in traffic, while annoying, can sometimes save you from even greater trouble. Like you said, there’s a bigger picture to think about. I’m so glad to hear you’re doing brilliantly as an indie author. You’re in full control and you’ve worked very hard to get where you are now!

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  8. Jenn! says:

    I’m not especially superstitious. I’ve stepped on a gazillion cracks at not once broke my mother’s back. 😉 Of course, I’m not one to tempt fate, either. I will avoid walking under a ladder – just makes sense. And sometimes, I will knock on wood. That seems to keep the bad luck at bay, because, frankly, bad luck is bad luck. You don’t need to be superstitious for it to happen.

    That said, I do wish upon falling stars.

    Great post, Vanessa. Love the $13 gift card giveaway and the picture of Hugh.

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    • Jenn, it was such a treat to see a star like Hugh Jackman. We live in the same country and I never see him here. Lol!

      I reckon some superstitions are based on common sense, like not walking under ladders. I can’t explain my mother’s superstitions. She probably makes them up! When I was at primary and high school, stepping on cracks was a big no-no. I’ve not known of one documented case where stepping a crack has broken a mother’s back. Also, there was a “rule” where if you walk with a friend, you can’t split up and walk on either side of a pole or a tree that may be in your path. (Does that make sense?) If you do that, your friendship is doomed to split.

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  9. Vanessa,

    What a great post! We are all superstitious in our own ways.

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  10. June Love says:

    Seeing as I was born on the 13th and my husband was born on the 13th, we tend to think 13 is a lucky number. 🙂

    As for all the other superstitions, I play “at” them, but not with a full belief in the them…if that makes sense. I might knock on wood, but I don’t honestly expect it to make a difference. The way my mind works, it’s probably better I don’t dwell on superstitions. I could drive myself crazy with worry. In fact, as a child, I probably did. 🙂

    This is a great post, Vanessa. And, Hugh? Wow!

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    • How about that Hugh, eh, June? He really tempted fate a few years ago when Oprah Winfrey was here. He ziplined from the top of the Sydney Oprah House to the stage. Instead of falling into Oprah’s arms, he flew into a lighting rig. Ouch!

      How cool that you and Mark both have birthdays on the 13th. I know what you mean about dwelling on superstitions, especially when you’re young and impressionable. I remember the first time I broke a mirror when I was a kid — what a burden to think that would cause seven years bad luck!

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  11. Maggie Kelley says:

    I am a mad wood knocker (yes, amusing in the context of a romance novelist), but FOR REAL. If a less-than-happy thought pops into my head, I MUST knock on wood – especially before I fall sleep at night.

    I’m also superstitious of that whole Bloody Mary in the mirror thing…I think it could maybe happen, which is crazy. Really. Crazytown.

    What can I say? Here’s to Friday, the 13th.

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  12. Gwyn says:

    My Irish gram was born on the 13th (I’m pretty sure it was a Friday, too, but not positive), so I’ve always considered the day “lucky”, although I don’t believe much in luck. I believe in blessings and favor, neither of which is either accidental or coincidental. Almost ever cat I’ve ever owned has been black, ladders are tools and walking under one is only dangerous if it’s not firmly situated or the person using it is fumble-fingered. For me, each day brings its own blessings. Since that’s what I’m anticipating, that’s what I tend to get. 😉

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    • Gwyn, I always thought being born on a Friday brought extra special good luck. But maybe that’s because I’m a Friday baby, too. 🙂 I love what you said each day bringing its own blessings. To touch on what Laurie said earlier, even the bad things that happen serve a purpose — maybe they save us from something even worse.

      I don’t believe in black cats being bad luck, either. We’ve had one for 15 years, and for the most part we’ve been very fortunate!

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  13. Tina Ferraro says:

    Happy Friday the 13th, Vanessa! 🙂

    When I was about to walk down the aisle, my matron of honor had me scotch tape a penny inside my shoe. She told me it was good luck for a long marriage. I went on to wear those shoes very occasionally for many years, penny included. Finally, it was time to toss them, but it became a dilemma to me of superstitious proportions: pull out and keep the lucky penny or toss them as-is? Which way extended the good luck???

    Ultimately, after many years of indecision, I did neither: I pulled out the penny and tossed it in a change jar, which I imagine went to the bank. Must have been good luck, though, because my husband and I have kept going strong!

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    • Tina! Fabulous to see you here! Happy Friday the 13th to you, too.

      I didn’t know about putting pennies in your wedding shoes. They obviously brought you and your hubby good luck! If I were in your shoes (heheh), I wouldn’t have had the courage to let go of the shoes or the pennies. That’s how sadly superstitious I am! I still have the “something borrowed” item that I used on my wedding day. I’m only just now wondering if I should have given it back to the person who loaned it to me. Oh, no! I’d better throw some salt over my shoulder to ward off any bad luck!

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  14. Haha – LOVE the $13 Amazon card idea. 🙂

    I’ve always thought of the number 13 as lucky. I think I had a couple very good Friday the 13ths in a row or something.

    As for superstitions – I don’t really think I have any, but I do kinda-sorta believe in the astrology stuff. Like, when certain planets are visible or aligned or whatever, it pulls on energy in different people in different ways. I’ve noticed that with myself, anyway. Is that superstition, science, or imagination? Who knows! 😀

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    • Anne Marie, I only believe astrology forecasts when they’ve got good news — lol! I have a fantastic iPhone app called SkyView. It shows you the position of the planets, constellations and satellites at any given time. One night I turned it on and saw five planets in a straight line. Mind. Blown.

      I hope this Friday the 13th was super lucky for you!

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  15. Elisa Beatty says:

    Hey! I once had an exotic Chinese rooster poop on me from up in a tree at the Philadelphia Zoo. That must be extra lucky!

    And I’m very superstitious about picking up pennies: head side up, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck. If it’s head’s down, I flip it over but leave it there, so someone else gets the good luck (and good karma for me).

    Love the $13 gift card idea!!

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    • Oh, wow, Elisa! Exotic rooster poop has got to be extra special. Maybe that was my problem — I had run-of-the-mill city pigeons poop on me.

      I think it’s a lovely idea to leave those pennies for someone else to pick up! You must have an awesome amount of karma built up.

      If I ever find money and there’s no way of locating the owner, I spend it on other people or donate it. $20 is the most I’ve found lying around. The first time I went to the Netherlands, I was very young and a bit broke. I went for a long bike ride and found a 10-guilder note on the footpath. (This was before the euro.) I have to admit I bought some yummy Dutch cheese with this bounty, though!

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  16. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your superstitions on Friday the 13th.

    With the help of my black cat, Pinklepurr, a random lucky winner of the $13 Amazon gift card has been chosen:

    ***Arlene Hittle!***

    Congrats, Arlene! 13’s not such a bad number now, hey? I’ll be in touch about your prize shortly. 🙂

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  17. Tina Beckett says:

    Ha, Vanessa, loved these. I got pelted with liquid poo on the head and shoulder by a very large bird at a bird park a couple of years ago. I didn’t think it was particularly lucky at the time since I had on a thick, dry-clean-only BLACK wool sweater (and it was freezing that day–so I had to keep wearing it, even after he got me). However, if the amount luck is proportional to the size of the spatter…I think I’m due for something big–really big. 😉

    This was great for a smile. Thanks!

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    • Oh, nooooo, Tina! That’s really yucky. My mother and I think you are owed a proportional amount of good luck. More so, because liquid poo…? Ugh. No. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. 🙂

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