Thursday, April 28, 2011


We've all heard it said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." But I think the opposite is equally important and bears saying as well. "If you have something nice to say, SAY IT!"

I started reflecting on this last night on my drive home from one of my performances at the Bay Village Library. The reason for that was this -- at the conclusion of the performance, a mother who had been sitting in the front row with her son, who I'm guessing was about five years old, approached me. She told me that she wanted to share something that her son had said when the story ended. Apparently, he turned to his mom and said, "Mom, you know what I wish? I wish that the story didn't have to be over." She then proceeded to tell me that her son had always been shy and that his participation in today's story was the first time that he'd gotten up to do something in front of people. He'd really enjoyed it, and so she was thinking about seeing what theatre classes might be available for him at the local theater.

All of this really meant a lot to me. To know that a child is so engaged in the story that he doesn't want it to be over -- what better compliment could I receive? And yet, I thought that it would have been so easy for this mother to just walk out the door after the performance without ever sharing that with me. She didn't have to take the time to seek me out and to share her son's words, but in doing so, she blessed me immeasurably and gave me so much encouragement. I wonder if even she knows how much those words meant and how it is just these sorts of moments and experiences that keep me going on the days that work gets tough.

And so I started thinking, how often do we think something nice about someone and then just fail to share it with them? Oftentimes, we are quite vocal with the things that annoy or irritate us. We are quick to point out when someone does something wrong. But what about the good things? Do we share those too or do we just keep them to ourselves?

I've heard a lot of people say, "Well, they know how I feel about them." These people use this as an excuse for keeping quiet. But do they really know how you feel? And even if they do, does it matter? What would it hurt to say it again? And who knows what encouragement that might bring to their day, their work, their life?!

I'm grateful that many people have taken the time to encourage me. I want to do the same for others, and I hope you do too! So, if you have something nice to say, you know what to do, SAY IT!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I Still Lived in Spain. . .

Lest any of you think that I all I do is sit around comparing my life here in the states to my life in Spain, let me explain. It's not like that at all. It's more like this. . . I'll be driving along and all of a sudden, something will hit me -- some way that my life would be very different if I lived in Spain.

For example, last week as I was driving along I passed the Strip here in Canton, and I thought it would be nice to stop at Panera and pick up my husband's favorite pastry. But the traffic was wild and I'd already passed the entrance, so I missed my chance. But if I lived in Spain, I would pretty much have to walk by a bakery at every corner and it would be so easy to pass by and pick up one for him every day -- along with a fresh baked loaf of bread for only 40 cents.

The same is true when I'm at home and realize I need one little ingredient for something I'm cooking. In Spain, when you realize that you need to pick up some milk or fruit, you don't have to get into your car and drive off to the grocery store. No, instead, every neighborhood has their own grocery and fresh market within walking distance. How convenient that was -- especially for someone who has now sworn off of processed foods as much as possible. These are some of the simple things I miss. Now here's a list of a few others.

If I still lived in Spain. . .

- I wouldn't need a car. I'd take the metro or the bus everywhere, and because of that, I'd have a chance to read a lot more books during my long commutes. (And I'd only pay about $40 for an unlimited monthly pass -- about the same price for one tank of gas here!)

- My husband wouldn't have to work on weekends and he'd have more than a mere week of paid vacation. This is probably one of the hardest ones of all for me. In Spain, workers of all types have a month or more of paid vacation, along with plenty of other holiday days throughout the year.

-- Estith and I would most likely be on vacation right now. This is of course, Semana Santa, or Holy Week; however, that doesn't seem to mean much here in the US. Estith has to work Good Friday and Saturday of this week. I suppose I should be thankful that he has Easter Sunday off, and I am. But come on, is it too much to ask for even a few days during the most important Christian holiday of the year? I guess so.

But before you think I hate my life here, I better switch gears for a moment.

If I lived in Spain, there are some things I couldn't do. For example, I wouldn't be able to see my family very often (and I'm very happy to have them close by.) I also probably wouldn't have been able to start World of Difference, or else, it probably would have taken a lot longer to build it being in another culture. Also, I love all of the greenery -- the trees and grass that are everywhere here in Ohio -- you certainly don't see that much in Madrid (although maybe in other parts of Spain I could find that).

So it's not that I begrudge everything about my life here. . . but I'm telling you, when it's a Saturday or a Sunday and my husband is working an 18 hour day, it's not hard for me to remember the numerous weekends we spent in Spain, visiting different cities because it was just that easy to hop on the train and get lost in places filled with history and fascinating architecture. It was easy because Spanish culture values time in a different way than we do.

When I think about that, it makes me think about all of the time we Americans spend working, and at what cost. Sometimes it makes me want to do something rash . . . like really live in Spain again.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Dancing Pig: A story from Kenya

I feel compelled to share a story told to me by my new Kenyan friend, Marion, whom I met at the Writer's Conference I've been attending in NY. Whenever I meet people from other countries and cultures, the storyteller in me can't help but ask if they don't have some little folktale or anecdote they can share with me. Below is a version of the Kenyan story she told me.

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At one time the animals in Africa decided they would hold a party. Of course, what party would be complete without a feast? And what would be better to feast upon than a roast pig? So all of the animals set out to find one. However, no matter where they looked they couldn't find even one little porker. It appeared that the animals would have to do without roast pig for their main course. Instead, they set about making preparations for the music and dancing, an essential part of any African party.

Well, when Pig got word that a party was being held, he could hardly contain his excitement. He loved music! He loved dancing! He didn't want to miss all of the fun. So on the day of the party, Pig went to visit a squirrel who lived in his village and said, "I want to go to the party, but I don't want to be eaten! Maybe you can help me."

"Sure," said Squirrel. "I'd be happy to help. I'll sneak you into the party and find a place for you to hide."

"Great!" said Pig. "I'll see you tonight!"

That evening, true to his word, Squirrel took Pig to the party and found him a hiding place. From his safe spot, Pig could smell the rice and ugali cooking. Yum! But he didn't come out to have a plate -- it was too dangerous. And contrary to popular belief, he wasn't such a pig that he couldn't hold his appetite.

Then the music started. The beat of the drum moved the dancers to the floor where their legs leaped, their arms swung and their bodies swayed with the rhythm. Pig watched the spectacle in delight from the safety of his hiding spot. But suddenly, Pig began to feel the beat at the tip of his corkscrew tail. He tried to hold it in, but soon his tail started to wiggle. That wiggle worked itself from the tip of his tail all the way to his backside, which started to shake. Suddenly, he could hold it back no longer. Forgetting the danger, he jumped from his hiding spot and began to dance for all he was worth! He was having such a wonderful time that he didn't notice that the other animals had stopped dancing. He didn't notice until they came and pounced on him, sinking their claws into soft pink flesh. They threw poor Pig into their soup pot and served him for dinner -- all because he couldn't keep the rhythm out of his tail.
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I will refrain from giving my interpretation of the story. I'm far more interested in hearing yours. Please comment and share your thoughts!