From People Watching to Smiling

Now, don’t take it the wrong way, but one of my favorite hobbies that has developed over the years has been people watching. I find people fascinating, intriguing. Every single person is different in their own way. Eyes, hair, shapes, height, skin color and the list goes on.

Off topic:  I’ve been an official employed college graduate for almost 2 months now, and with my job I get to talk to guests on the phone, not necessarily interact with them one-on-one. So, it’s been a little hard for me personally to interact with them because I am an inter actor via motion, not voice. By this I mean that I base what I do off of body cues not tone of voice, because to me tone of voice can be very misleading. I hear another one of my coworkers on the phone and sometimes I think she sounds annoyed when that’s just how she talks in general (and maybe she is annoyed). I always think I sound too fake happy when I’m talking to a guest because if I just talked in my ‘normal’ voice I probably would sound sarcastic or bored, when I am fairly monotone in how I talk. 

Tonight at work:  I got a little worked up tonight as I was trying to figure out some math for a guest, and I started crying (yes, again for the upteenth time…) and no, praise God, it wasn’t while I was on the phone, it was as one of my supervisors, Kirk*, was trying to help me with math (my Calculus teacher in high school always said calculus is the easy part, the algebra is the hard part). After I breathed in to calm myself, I finished speaking with the guest and afterwards Kirk said, “Hey, let’s go get a cup of coffee and take a mental break from all of this.” I hesitated thinking I was going to be in trouble, but the manager jokingly said, “If you take a call you will be in trouble.” So off I went with Kirk down to the coffee shop, and to talk and appreciate about who we are as a company whole.

I marvel as I walk down the hall admiring the paintings that have been so uniquely designed. Kirk and I pass many guests, and greet them, and he mentions a few times “This is what we are about. Do you hear those children laughing? Do you see how happy that child is (he references to the one in front of us hopping as her dad is walking).” I smiled. It’s not about the money, it’s about how are we showing the quality of a 5-star resort. It’s about allowing families to come, be happy, and make some memories. It’s not about how “Gee, I’ve had 10 guests complain about ‘how expensive’ we are” it’s about the excitement of “I’ve stayed there before, and I wanna come back because you make my child so excited.”
I had nearly forgotten how ‘bad’ that last call with a guest was.

As we neared the lobby, people trafficed their way around other people. Kirk and I just stood there, watching the people. Some were wet from the waterpark. Some headed to the waterpark. Some were Pokemon Go players. Some were coworkers. And some looked a little worn from a long day. It’s interesting to see how people carry themselves when they walk. Some walk with their heads up while others watch their toes. I told Kirk how I like to actually make up fake stories for people, like what they did, or what they are going to do, and sometimes even where they came from. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of this hobby.

Alas I was able to get a good cup of coffee, go back to my work spot, and enjoy my last hour of work with a smile on my face because I know that I’ll always have a good day as long as I make it that way. No grumpy guest is going to bring me down. I say this entire long story about my day at work to come to this conclusion: don’t give up who you are and strive to be because one person gets you down or hinders your pathway to success. Take a deep breath and try to get past the obstacle or shove it out of your way and know that you are the champion. Just like frosted flakes is the breakfast of champions, a smile is the world champion because it is the one thing that can make a difference: the way one perceives how I am, the way that it can make someone’s day, the way it can change the tone of voice.

So smile.

*indicates name change


Waiting for the Sweet Tea

Tonight I was really thirsty. Thirsty enough that I had a headache, thirsty enough my mouth was dry. And sweet tea sounded really good. So I put my kettle on the stove to heat the water, and I pulled out my black tea. “Oh how thirsty I am…maybe I should just get a glass of water.” But my thought was, if I get a glass of water, then I won’t be thirsty for my sweet tea that I’m making. So I waited. Longest 20 minutes of my life. I waited for that water to heat up. I waited for my tea to brew. Then I had to prepare my tea with sugar, add some ice to a glass. Pour. Sip. Two glasses later, I was satisfied with my drink. And had I just grabbed a glass of water, that sweet tea probably would not have tasted as good, because I already had a different taste in my mouth, and my thirst would have already been partially quenched.

Now I went on about that story to bring it back to the other night…

I had went out with a few of my girlfriends for a late night dinner date after work. Maxine* and I have been best friends since we both were wee toddlers, and I befriended Bailey* in high school. Bailey had just broken up with her boyfriend, so she needed to be out. I was full of several emotions upon hearing about this breakup, one of which was saddness because I knew she was dating this lad for a few years, but I was also full of excitement because I know she has a bright future ahead of her.

The night my ex and I had a talk before we decided to go our separate ways, I was torn. I hate hurting people. But I knew deep in my heart that our relationship wasn’t right, that something about it just wasn’t settling my stomach. And it seemed that we both were so unhappy. When I opened my mouth, all I could muster out was “I think we need a break,” and the look in his eyes was gut wrenching. We stayed friends for several months (and we still talk to each other once in a blue moon), but the hardest time came when my car broke down, and I had to rely heavily on him to take me to work, and ultimately a ride back home for the summer once the school semester was over. Watching him leave after we unloaded my car, felt like a jabbing metal wire twisting inside of my stomach. There was a brief hug, but that really pulled the trigger inside my brain that we were truly over. And I missed him. It took me all summer to work on getting out of the habit of wanting to text him. One long summer. But eventually God healed my broken heart, and I realized that I need Him more than a man.

Now, I can’t say that my relationship was a mistake, because had we not dated, I wouldn’t have gone to school at UWGB, where I met many dear friends that I have now. And I wouldn’t have befriended several great families from the church up there. But, as I was waiting for that sweet tea, it got me to thinking about relationships, and how so many young women and men are so thirsty that they grab the first glass of water they can get to without really realizing that it wasn’t water that they wanted, but maybe it was a glass of sweet tea that they wanted in the long run. Why do so many young people settle for something that won’t satisfy them? It could be perhaps that they are impatient to wait for the water to boil and the tea to brew, or possibly, young ones feel that drinking that glass of water first won’t affect how they handle the sweet tea after.

Unfortunately, it does make a difference. A young person waiting for the water to boil and the tea to brew, means that they will be way more satisfied once it turns out to be delicious, ice cold sweetness in the mouth. They aren’t hesitant in wanting more, until that tea is completely finished. Think about it this way. When anyone has leftovers of anything, they typically put it in the fridge. Sometimes, though things get moved and shoved allllllll the way to the back of the fridge, on the bottom shelf. Then it begins to stink. If one doesn’t fully wait for the sweet tea, and just fills up on water until the sweet tea is done brewing, then that person will  just bottle up what’s leftover and put it in the fridge, and possibly that sweet tea will get shoved in the back on the bottom. Sometimes, if one isn’t careful and patient enough to wait for their sweet tea, they don’t always treat it like it’s the most satisfying drink around. And really, is sweet tea completely satisfying, when the taste of water was there first?

Bailey* although she is probably not the happiest in the present time (or maybe she is, I don’t know how her relationship was), I know that if she continues to wait, that her drink will come around. Maybe he’ll be sweet tea, maybe he’ll be a hot coffee Boston style, but ultimately I know that she’ll find hers. I know that I look forward to seeing who/what God is brewing for me. And for every young person out there, stop grabbing the first drink you see, wait for the sweet tea, because it’ll be worth that quenching wait.


*indicates name change

Hungry for Food, [Un]satisfied with Dessert

Scenario: Bar, club, some place with semi-loud music

Girl sits alone at a table, drinking some sort of soda, reading on her phone or perhaps an actual book (reading is still a thing…). Boy sits at a table a few seconds worth of a distance from girl, eyes her, waits a few minutes looking suspiciously for her boyfriend to appear. When it’s apparent she doesn’t have one, or at least not one present with her, he casually walks up with a sly grin on his face, and pride thumb-tacked to his chest.
Boy: Hiya, chicky. You are beautiful.
Girl: *Not enthusiastically takes a few seconds to actually acknowledge his presence; looks up* Hi. Can I help you?
Boy: *baffled and thrown back because usually his smile makes girls at least smile* Uhhh
Girl: *raises eyebrows* Can I help you?
Boy: Um yes. I’d like to just say you’re very beautiful. Would you like to dance?
Girl: No thanks. *goes back to her phone*
Boy: *very baffled at this point* I don’t get it. Why not?
Girl: *continues reading* I’m not interested
Boy: Oh, you have a boyfriend, don’t you?
Girl: *looks up, a slight irritation on her face* No. I don’t. I’m just not interested.
Boy: Are you into ladies?
Girl: No. *goes back to phone*
Boy: Are you like just a prude?
Girl: *looks up, irritation written all over her face* Does it matter?
Boy: Well…no…but
Girl: But what? I’m not interested. Why do I have to justify my reasoning?
Boy: Well…um…but….
Girl: Because your ego is hurt? Seriously? I don’t have to tell you why I’m not interested. It doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of telling a guy ‘no’ and be worried about telling him why. Now please, don’t harass me anymore. *goes back to phone*
Boy: Wow…you are a stuck up prude. *turns around and walks away*

This scenario, although not completely exact, is the basic gist of what a conversation may look like between a girl and a guy who either wants to date her or maybe just “see where it goes.” Now, I had to reenact this scene various times, both in my head and talking aloud, (it’s not talking to myself if my dog is next to me, right?!) . I’ve also found myself faced with similar scenarios various times, so that also helped in trying to type this fake conversation up. And no matter how often I tell a guy no the first time, he usually takes that as a “please keep badgering me about it” sort of thing. I’m actually kind of sick of it.

For one, why should a girl HAVE to justify her reasoning of saying no? She shouldn’t have to feel like she has to lie and say that she does have a boyfriend, when in reality she might not. She shouldn’t have to take a designated friend with her to be her “lesbian lover” in order to cover her from awkward moment with telling a guy no. Why can’t a “no” be the signal of “this conversation is over, now please go away?”

Okay, so maybe some girls do enjoy the constant attention, I get it. Fine. Second, just because one girl reacts one way to this scenario, doesn’t mean that ALL girls will act this way. Okay, how many of y’all will actually dance with the guy, raise your hand! Put your hand down, ya silly kipper! No, for cereal, stick it in your pocket, and if you have fake pockets, then tuck it in your back pockets…and if you’re wearing leggings, then just…I don’t know, keep it down at your side.

And yes, side note, I do put a lot of quotations around everything…

A girl shouldn’t be pressured into something because she’s “obligated” too. She’s obviously not obligated to anything, especially if the conversation is going like that. See, there’s a thing called a standard. Girls, allow the boy to show you he’s worth your time. If his starting line is “Wow, you’re beautiful” it’s just too boring and too typical. What about, “Hello. I couldn’t help but notice you. Would you mind if I sat here?” Conversation proceed. Woo hoo!

But in all seriousness, a girl shouldn’t have to be forced to justify her no. She should feel special like she’s worth the extra time to get to know. Let’s face it, who wants a guy that just wants one thing. So don’t waste a girl’s time, Boys.

Now let’s talk about being single.

Girls, it’s okay to wait it out for the right guy. I was just reading an inspirational post by  Jordan Lee that says it all:

“….We were so hungry that we decided to get dessert first. Just to keep our blood sugar up. As we finished our ice cream, we were still hungry. It helped, but didn’t quite do the trick. Thankfully, our table was ready and we sat down to eat a completely satisfying meal. I fell asleep as he drove me home, so obviously it was good.
So what’s my point? I think sometimes we turn people into ice cream cones. Like our hearts are so hungry as we wait and wait, as place after place we seek satisfaction from fails, that we settle. And that’s just it. Sometimes, we chase after a man, or run into an ice cream shop, for that quick little fix. Funny though, how we still feel hungry, or lonely, still. It’s not quiet enough…So if you’re feeling lonely, look at what you’re filling yourself up with. Is it an ice cream cone, or in other words, a romance? OR is it the real meal? I’ll bet if you wait and seek a little longer, your table will be ready. And He will satisfy your hunger…”

I really couldn’t have said it better. And I just want to add that this can apply to men as well. I have several guy friends who are so fixated on finding the right one that they’re not focusing on making themselves the perfect man for the future woman. Seriously. There is no, I repeat NO shame in waiting around and passing by all those yuckies to simply fill oneself with a temporary fix.

Upon being asked out all too many times, I’ve learned that I don’t have to lie to a guy to get out of going on a date with him. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not, just so he’ll quit pestering me. Stop allowing the “why” to surpass that “no.” Don’t let that simple, unoriginal man allow you to be swept up. Don’t settle for a lesser value than you’re worth. Because in the long run, you’ll still be hungry.

To Dad: Love, me

Growing up, one of the faint memories of my father that I could recall was him being lugged away in handcuffs by two tall, strong looking police officers, because he was so intoxicated that he started fighting with Linda, his girlfriend at the time. I don’t remember much of that day except that earlier that evening I was riding on Brownie (not the horse’s real name, but I called any brown horse “Brownie,” Black horses “Blackie” etc…). Brownie was one of the many trail horses that was at the stables that my dad and Linda managed [or something like that], and every day Junior or Marco (Linda’s sons) would take me out on the trail rides. It was always a highlight of my day, and at the end of every ride I was given some money to buy myself a grape soda from the vending machine that was placed by the stables

Obvious to say, my dad wasn’t a huge part of my life after that incident. Once in awhile I’d see him, and say “Hi Dad” really enthusiastically, because I was starving for him to accept me into his life and treat me like I was his. I could never comprehend why he didn’t live with my mom like everyone else’s parents did. I could never understand why he didn’t say “I love you” back. And most of all, I couldn’t understand as to why I wasn’t allowed to ever stay with him again. I didn’t know the term alcohol and what it sometimes did to people.

Feeding the Pigeons, Puerto Rico August 2012

Eventually I just grew numb to the fact that my father wasn’t a part of my life. I didn’t care too much. But I was a rather bitter child towards men. My mom would date a few guys throughout the years, many of which expected me to follow their authority, while not handing out any form of love or warmth towards me or my brother.

Let’s fast forward now.

Puerto Rico Trip 2014 017It was sometime after I started working at McDonald’s that my dad was all of a sudden in my life again. I can’t picture the exact day it happened, but it suddenly did. He was stopping my fairly regularly at McDonald’s to get coffee or a Big Mac meal, all to say “Hi” to me or to ask me how my day was going. I never ignored him. I just accepted him that he was back in my life. I never held a grudge over him, but I finally was able to forgive him for dis-including himself in the early years of my life (if that makes sense).

Third time in Puerto Rico, June 2015

Suddenly I found myself making plans to go to Puerto Rico with him: this was one of his promises he always made to me when I was a kid, that he would take me to Puerto Rico.

To Dad: I know you weren’t on board at first, but I thank you for coming back into my life again. I know life wasn’t always easy for you, but I’m glad that God had his hand on you.
To Dad: I know you’re getting old, but I still hope that you can walk me down the aisle someday and give me away to a man. But if that never happens, I’ll still think of you on that day. Thanks for having two older sons, and teaching them what it is to be a hardworking man, and showing me that with dedication I can accomplish anything.
To Dad: I’ve forgiven you for everything of our past, and I hope you can forgive me for not loving you at times. I still pray that someday you will find another woman, but if not, I hope you live the last of your days content.
To Dad: I wish you would come to church with me, maybe just maybe, you could overcome your addiction to alcohol and cigarettes. I dislike that you hack up a long from your constant chain smoking.
To Dad: Thanks for teaching me Spanish and speaking to my family members that didn’t speak much English.
To Dad: I wish you could have taught me how to fish or fix a car. I learned from my mom, which I still appreciate, but I wish we could have spent some father-daughter time together. But thanks for fulfilling your promise to me and taking me to meet my other half of the family. I love them all.
To Dad: most of all, thanks for being more than just a biological donor. Thanks for stepping up and taking that role of fatherhood, sometimes it’s better late than never.
To Dad: Happy Father’s Day. Feliz dia de los Padres. Te amo mucho.

Love, me


Job-ortunity Awaits

Gray Days

The first time I took my driver’s test I failed automatically five minutes in. Of course, I didn’t know I had failed until the very end. My heart sank when I heard the words, “You’ve not passed…” but then it was like my heart was jabbed when she said, “…because you were impeding traffic.” Yes. You heard right. I was going too slow. “You were going 17 miles-an-hour in a twenty-five mile-an-hour zone!”

The second time I took my test, guess what! I failed again, but this time because I was speeding. I’ll skip the long story on that, because honestly it’s not interesting. The guy was very old, didn’t smile, and was very intimidating. Then the third time came around. I was defeated. I didn’t care at this point if I passed or not. And what do you know? I passed. with only 3 points off! “Third times the charm,” I said to my mom all proud of my newest accomplishment.

I say this small tidbit of information to talk about my newest big accomplishment: I finally got a post-graduation job! After three interviews, yes three, of “Oh nice to meet you, Angel. Please tell me about yourself. Why did you want this position?” etcetera etcetera,  I am an employed post-graduate student. It was scary not knowing how long it would be until I found a job that fit exactly what I was looking for: decent paying and allowing me to be off on Sunday. The Sunday thing was the biggest thing for me. Granted, the job is not in my field, and honestly, I could do this job without a college degree, but hopefully *prayers* I’ll find a job within my field in a year or so. But it’s a God-given, prayer-answered, blessing.

The Sky Turned Color

I walked into the big scary building and was greeted with, “Hi. You must be Angelica, or Angel as Margaret tells me you like to be called.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied with a smile.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Tara.” She walked me down a long windy hallway into the work area, asking me some small-talk questions. “She is really nice,” I think to myself.
“Now. We’ll have you watch a little bit as to what this job is all about. Then we’ll conduct your interview.”

So I watched with a lady as to what I would potentially be doing. Interesting. I gaze around the bright, large room. So much noise and chattering going on. I’ve never been in an office type setting before. During my interview, it was just the basic questions I’ve answered before. Then all of a sudden I’m being offered the job. “What? No waiting around to see if I got it? Thank you, Jesus!” I say inside my head (all this internal talking I do probably makes me sound crazy, I can attest I’m not).

I wanted to weep with joy. This reaction might sound ludicrous, but you don’t know how big of a blessing a job is until you’re down to your last dollars. That morning I had just checked my bank account: $21. My gas tank: 1/4 of a tank. Granted I won’t have my first paycheck probably for awhile, but that $21 will be enough until then, God willing. I serve a God who is always faithful. It’s not about “free handouts,” it’s about trusting in Him to provide for me. That same day I went out with a very good, long-term friend of mine, and he refused to let me deny him in putting some gas in my car. He didn’t have to, but I’m very thankful he did. He blesses me more than he realizes, and more than I’ll ever be able to explain to him.

Waiting Out the Storm

Sometimes, it takes more than once to accomplish something big. Look at my driving test and my job situation. I’ve always had a summer job lined up in the past, this was the first summer I chose to not work in food service, and the first summer I had to wait a whole month of being home before I could start working (for those who don’t know, I find it hard to just sit around the house and do nothing). I was fortunate that it took me only three times to get my license, and only 4 times to find the perfect job.

For many folks it can take a lot longer than what it did for me. And not just in finding a job, for other things too: having a baby, buying a car, writing a book, finding a spouse, making the perfect cup of coffee…sometimes it might take 3 times, sometimes 7, and sometimes it might never happen in the way that it “should.” Just because it does take longer for somethings, doesn’t mean that you should give up though. Never give up. On anything. And if it doesn’t work one way, figure out another way to do it. Maybe you’re meant to adopt a child instead of having your own. Maybe you’re not meant to have a new car just yet. Maybe you have to fail a few more times at writing before you can get the knack for it. Maybe you’re called to be single because you’re too independent or you aren’t ready for a spouse at that time in your life. And maybe, just maybe you should try a different brand of coffee (go Dunkin Donuts brand coffee!). Just because something doesn’t happen the first time, doesn’t give you the right to give up! Let me repeat that…for the third time! You cannot give up just because life isn’t going your way the first time. You. Have. To. Keep. Going.

As I go on my third run tomorrow, I pray that it doesn’t kill me. I’m not giving up yet on attempting to get into better shape. And you shouldn’t give up on your trials either, wait out that storm, and when it eases up, get back out on the waters and sail! God Bless you.


Four Paws and Two Feet: Running with a Victory in Mind

It was run number two today. It wasn’t terrible, but still, it was breathtaking    literally.

DSCF4709My dog has a habit, that when he sees me slip on a pair of shoes, he will start whining and pacing from me to the door and back to me. Then when I grab his leash, he will divebomb onto me, and nearly knock me over (he is, after all 58.2 pounds). My other two dogs, a big German Shepard and a Five-pound Yorkie, also get very antsy and start whining and getting excited at the prospect of going out. It does break my heart a little when I tell them to go lay down, but running with more than one dog is very difficult*…and they can’t be trusted off leashes (especially Buddy, the German Shepard, he will take off for hours and come back smelling like the pond). Buddy will slump back as if to say, “It’s not fair that Chief can go but I can’t.” The little Yorkie thinks she’s sneaky and will go to the side where she doesn’t think I can’t see her so that she can potentially take off (don’t worry, I make it up to the other dogs, but taking them for a walk on the days I don’t run).

As I managed to get Chief out the door and no other dogs sneaking out, I turned on my phone to the Nike+ app to track my run.

“Ahh, what a wonderful evening for a run.” Chief turns around and does a hop as if to respond, “Will you hurry up! I want to go!”
“Okay okay. Will you keep your tail on.” Yes. I know. I talk to my dog. I’m not the ONLY one, right?

We get to the starting point. Ready? About as ready as I’ll ever be. Set! Ugh…do I even enjoy running? Go! Pace. Breathe. Run. Keep going.

I managed to keep an even pace for about twice the length I did on our first run (woot!). Chief was helping with that since he was pulling me. When I did stop, I let him off the leash. (Chief is the only one that will actually come back when called…as long as no other dogs are by nearby). He immediately set off to sniff out any new scents.

In that moment, as we were out in the fields, it took me back to when I was a teen and I could run this trail nonstop. The entire trail. Granted it’s only about a mile length start-t0-finish. The memories of how I ran or walked these trails and the deer paths through the woods every day. I knew the woods better than my own bedroom. If I wasn’t running or walking, sometimes I could be found reading under my favorite Pine Tree tucked away from any path. More often than not, I’d be running the path with my horse Savory, venting to her about all my troubles with school or work (I talk to animals a lot). If these trails could talk, they would say a lot.

Throughout our adventure, we saw several deer, and heard numerous squirrels chattering and birds chirping. When we neared the end of it all, I realized just how fortunate Chief and I are.

Chief lives a very carefree life: he has food and unconditional love.

Chief gets a lot of unconditional love from both my brother and I: He likes giving it back!

Despite all of his wrongdoings, I can never stay mad at him. His face brightens my day. He has a comfy bed to sleep on, and he is given the necessary vaccinations to keep him healthy. And all he does is rely on me (or my mom) to feed him and take care of him. He probably doesn’t worry about whether he’ll get food in his bowl  or not, or if he’ll get left outside all night.

My life is testing me: I’m a recent college graduate, with no luck in finding a decent job. Not only decent in pay, but decent in allowing me the one day of the week I need off    Sunday. But despite all of this, I have a bed I can sleep on, I have a family that loves me, and I have the companionship of a dog. Sometimes I question why things don’t work out in my favor, but I’m trying to focus on letting God work it out for me. I’m focusing on trying to live carefree life like Chief. Chief has a master that will take care of him, much like I have a God that will take care of me.

We have four paws, two feet, and one mission: strive to be successful in all of our runs by always running with the victory in mind. 


*side note: I wrote a blog about a year ago about running with two dogs. Read: Running Like a Winner

How a Child showed me less is more


You probably can’t see what that little girl is holding, but it’s an old plastic bottle that she picked up on the side of the road. She picked it up, showed it to her brother, and they both got very excited and began tossing it back and forth to each other. Then she threw it to their Uncle. Then to me     their aunt.

As a smile full of excitement spread across her face, I could see that her two front baby teeth were missing. She is probably around 8. She is simple. And it seemed to me that she liked not only throwing the plastic bottle like a baseball, but she liked kicking it around like a soccer ball as well. So we kicked it back and forth. She wore no shoes, and I cringed every time she would go to kick the bottle because I kept thinking she would scuff her foot on the road. But she never did. As I would kick it back to her, it seemed like her smile grew bigger. She was content.

If one was to journey up the road a few feet and look into their yard, you’d see a bike hanging on a fence, a tiny red scooter that was faded and scuffed up from constant use, and a tiny plastic dump truck that also looked well played with. A white cat and her kitten and a tiny dog no bigger than a rat often times will follow the children around and play “tag” with them. One of the kids will chase the dog, the dog will will make a circle around the house, and then turn around and chase the kids. At one point or another, the kitten will ambush the dog, and attack. They continue on with that game maybe for hours. A walk in the house proves to be as simple and little as the outside. No toys lie about the house, a few chairs circle around the small, old TV, and only two coffee cups (out of many that shattered) remained on the kitchen counter.

As this girl, my niece, and I kicked a “soccer ball” back and forth, I realized how she and her brother truly didn’t have that much. They had each other, three toys, two cats, and a dog. But compared to many children I know, they have a lot. They don’t have material things, like many children of this generation have. They don’t have Ipods, phones, game systems, or a computer. They probably don’t watch endless hours of mind numbing television. They most likely spend more hours outside, barefoot, than they do inside, and they obey the rule of staying out of the street. They know life to be simple. One truck is enough for the boy. They both know that they have to share the scooter because having individual scooters really isn’t in their parent’s budget.

I took an art class in college this past year, and my teacher was telling a story to the class about her observation of a child at an airport. A young boy of about five was making all these “fighting” noises. You know, those noises that occur when a superhero is beating up a villain. Pow pow…pop…wop wop! But as my professor was looking for the little action figure he was playing with she realized that he only had a leg of whatever superhero action figure it belonged to. The little boy didn’t need the entire toy to make it a superhero, he just needed the leg and a lot of imagination.

Like that little boy, my niece took a simple piece of plastic and made it into a toy. With her imagination it was as round as a ball would be, because it was a ball. The saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Whoever decided that plastic bottle was garbage made one little girl and boy very happy.

Unfortunately, many children I know often times rule the house, even if they parents don’t quite realize it.
“Have a toy.”
“Have another toy.”
“Here have an Iphone.”

This girl taught me something in the time I got to play with her. She taught me that life doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be quite simple if we make it to be. With a little imagination and TLC something can become anything. Where there is hope, there is away. And less is often times more.