Lesson One: Just ask!

“Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” ~Maya Angelou

It all started when a student of mine gave me three tortoises. 

Well, it actually all started when I mastered the art of using the potty on a toilet. The prize I chose for this feat was a tortoise stuffed animal. Maybe I’ll tell this story another time.
I live on the island of St Croix – home to the largest Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting site in the United States. It is also home to Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Sea Turtles, and Red-Footed Tortoises. I love all turtles – and I have for as long as I can remember. The Leatherback is the most unique, and it is my favorite. But, let’s get back to Torti Town.
Red-Footed Tortoises are a common pet on St Croix. After I had been here a year and a half – long enough to feel a bit settled – I knew I was ready to care for some tortoises of my own. Pet tortoises aren’t easily found at first. So how does one go about finding a pet tortoise?




Like everything else in life, often the best way to get what you want is to ask for it!

“You create your opportunities by asking for them.” ~Shakti Gawain
In early November, 2018, I wrote in large letters on the whiteboard of my classroom: Ms. Tracy wants 3 Tortoises!!

On our first day back to school after Christmas break, in early January, 2019 – just a couple months later – the student in the pic above brought me an amazing gift:img_20190107_074856

To get an idea of size, the blue lid in the picture is from a jar of peanut butter. The names of the tortoises, from left to right, top to bottom: Pfeiffer, Alex, and Calypso.
When I received the tortoises, Torti Town was not quite ready for them. They were too small for me to put them in the outdoor enclosure, anyway. But their arrival definitely sped up the completion of Torti Town.
Here is how Torti Town looked in January, 2019 (compared to now):

And that is how it all began – I asked for what I wanted.

Torti Town has grown a lot since then! But I am grateful for its beginning. And I am grateful that I had the courage to ask for what I wanted (then I quickly prepare to get it)!
I am not a psychologist or sociologist, so I haven’t done research on why people don’t ask for the things they want. But I have listened to friends who have been disappointed or have not gotten the things they desire, and often when I inquired if they asked for those very things, my question was met with silence.
I asked some friends why they think people hesitate to ask for what they want. Here are some thoughts (this is kind of like research, right?):
  • N (male): Because they don’t know what they want.
  • L (female): Fear. They think they are not worthy; rejection.
  • L (female): We live in a society where you have to ask permission for everything. So people feel they don’t deserve the thing they want, and they don’t have permission to ask for it.
  • D (male): Sometimes they’re afraid. Or don’t feel comfortable. Sometimes it truly isn’t appropriate. Depends on the situation.
  • p(female): One of my favorite scriptures and I quote it constantly to myself, “You have not, because you ask not.” James 4:2. To ask for something, we have to humble ourselves and pride gets in the way. Humility is not very popular in today’s society, where narcissism reins. To me it seems the root of all reasons we don’t ask can be traced back to pride.
  • E (male): Don’t believe in the power of the universe!
  • S (male): Cowardice. Afraid of being chastised for asking, maybe. I used to be this way btw.
  • D (female): Women (me) tend to be pleasers. We take pride in the joy of others, even if it means sacrificing our own needs. Definitely not right – but it happens.
  • S (male): I can only speak for myself and maybe for other men of my generation. I was raised to be chivalrous and to be a gentleman ( although I do fail a bit lol). Part of that is self denial, putting other people’s needs and desires above your own. It’s almost like praying for my own needs, I’ve never been comfortable with it. At this point its just part of who I am.

There were many more responses, with the most common being that the person is scared or afraid, fears rejection, or lacks confidence. Other common responses were they felt unworthy or undeserving, or their pride got in the way.

When I think about the description words used in the responses, these are not words I want written on my headstone – not the words I want to describe me or my life. They are not the words I want to hear people use to describe my friends or my family.
While doing a little searching on this topic, I found this article from Tiny Buddha, written by Alexandra Latos. Maybe there’s a tip in here that can help us figure out how to ask for what we want.
It’s ok to hear “no.” Let’s work on that. In my world, “no” usually means: “not this route.” It doesn’t mean that I can’t have the thing I want. It means I need to find another path. Of my 70-some students, only one said, “yes” to my plea for tortoises. And that’s all I needed.
Here’s a challenge for all of us: share something you want – then ask for it! I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
Stay tuned for more Tales from Torti Town.

2 thoughts on “Lesson One: Just ask!

  1. Firstly Tracy, congratulations on your new blog. It’s interesting and thought provoking, a welcome change to our fast paced lives. 😊To comment;I think the word “No” has gotten a bad rap because of misuse. I work with little people where the word no is extremely popular. We’ve all heard the phrases or grown up hearing, “ No means no, or one I particularly don’t like, “what part of no, did you not understand?” Both I feel are inappropriate for my still gentle natured little charges. But the word no must be taught and understood, not everything is good for you. I’ve taken my example from the story of Corrie Ten Boom when she asked her father a question about sex. He didn’t give her a no we will not talk about this response, yet he refused to answer her question, instead he listened and let her know that he would answer her at the appropriate time. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve had parents tell me, they do not use the word “no” in their home but only redirect the child to another interest. I’ve then asked “then how will they learn that the outlet, stove, fire etc.is dangerous and to not touch? They hadn’t really given it that much thought, just that they didn’t want to be known as the “no no” kind of parents. Accepting the word no is good for our character and our protection. But administering the word no can be done in a way that communicates that information. For instance (with toddlers), “no don’t touch its sharp, hot, can hurt” gives information, but also shows respect to that other human being no matter what age. Then the other person might accept this is good thing for me, this authority figure cares about me. ❤️


  2. Good morning! Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I agree that \”no\” has gotten a bad rap…in lots of ways. It's amazing to me the lengths to which people will go to keep from hearing that word. And when they do hear it, there is a tendency to take it very personally. I'm sure I have done the same. This avoidance of the word holds so many of us back – prevents us from going for that thing we want…for asking for the things we want. I have read lots of articles trying to help people be ok with saying no…but what about helping people be ok HEARING no? If we could view this as a reason to reroute rather than to stop all forward progress, it may help. Hope you had a wonderful holiday season! ~Tracy


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