Monthly Archives: May 2012

Kind Strangers I Have Met: #1 Ulsan, South Korea


Korean children, photo by
Ellie Kuykendall

From an early age Korean children are taught to follow directions and respect their elders. However, there are always those who would rather play than wait patiently. I smiled as I walked by these kids that bright spring day in 2008. I was on my way to my new job; it was only my second day, but already I knew I would love it.  Not only was I teaching ESL, but I was also editing students’ papers, so it was a nice mix of my talents.

Two minutes after walking by the children, I was on the ground because I tripped on an uneven pavement. I knew that one ankle was sprained, but when I tried to get up, I couldn’t support weight on either leg. “Now what?” I asked myself.

Thirty seconds later a man came out of nowhere. There were other people walking around, but I hadn’t seen him. He lifted my right foot up and massaged it. One of the things I love about South Korea is that people try natural remedies first. The massage hurt me, so I let him know. He disappeared for a moment and came back with a chair. He lifted me up and helped me sit down. Then he walked out onto the street to hail a cab.

If you’ve ever paid outrageous prices for taxis in the United States, you’d adore the fact that cabs are really cheap in some other parts of the world. The cost of the cab from where I was to my school was about $1.50 for the trip of about 2 miles. I arrived at the school, having called both the director of the school and my minister. My minister was going to pick me up at the school and take me to the doctor.

My director looked at me skeptically, as if I were lying about not being able to walk. I told him I would be fine. He allowed me to go to the doctor with my minister. After we left, we drove down the street where I had hurt myself. We looked for the man who helped me, but we couldn’t find him.

Maybe he wasn’t a man after all. Maybe he was one of my guardian angels. You have them too, you know. They’re everywhere and nowhere.

And the next time you meet a stranger, don’t think of him or her as a stranger. Think, “S/he is just a friend I hadn’t met yet.” That’s what I do. Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Friendship, Helping Others, People Who Have Impressed Me, Travel

Don’t Fence Me In


My neighbor’s poor dog…

This poor dog is fenced in 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. His owners never take him for a walk, pet him or snuggle with him. He just looks so pitiful. He used to bark when I walked by, now he just looks at me as if to say, “Please take me away from here. I’m so unhappy.”

That’s what fencing in does to animals. It also does it to human. Though most of us will never  be fenced in literally, we fence ourselves in and we fence others in behind the fences we build in our hearts, our minds and our souls.

So, you know how it feels to be fenced in. I’m sure everyone has felt that way at some point or another in their lives. Maybe the pit of your stomach gets knots in it. Perhaps you get a massive headache. It could be that you can’t sleep, are eating obsessively or snap at your family every chance you get.

Maybe it’s your boss fencing your in or just your job in general. Marriage can feel like one is behind an iron curtain. Children sometimes think that they just can’t wait to get away from their parents and be on their own. And then again, maybe you’re the one that’s building walls, not bridges.

For a long time I took hostages when I was in a relationship. It didn’t really matter what was going on with others, as long as I got my own needs and wants fulfilled. I’m not saying I treated everyone very poorly, but I am saying that I know I wasn’t happy if I didn’t get what I wanted when I wanted it. On top of that, though I did good deeds and helped others, I made people uncomfortable by what I said, when I said it and how I said it. I’m a work in progress. Though I still have a long way to go, today I work at taking how other people feel into consideration. There are times, of course, when my  needs clash with others’ needs. If I feel my needs are healthy, then I go with them and try to back out as gently as possible. If I think I’m truly just being selfish in a negative way, then I do my best to go along with what others want.

“Life is difficult,” said Scott Peck in the first line of his famous book, “The Road Less Traveled.” And indeed it is. However, I truly believe that if we keep trying to be better people, we will achieve that goal.

For me right now, there are reasons I have to mostly stay put where I am. Travel calls me to all the exotic places I’ve always dreamed of going. So, I feel a little fenced in. On the other hand, though, I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted, to plant flowers to brighten my days, and to leave the fence-building to someone else. Give me the Golden Gate Bridge over the “privacy” fence any day of the week.

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Ahhhh – Comfort Food


Okay, this was our first meal in Costa Rica in 2009. What does this have to do with comfort food? Everything, because eating foreign food in a foreign land is like having comfort food every day. Photo taken by my talented daughter, Molly Jones.

Well, shucks. I’ve gained a bit of weight this week. Why? Because I’ve been eating comfort food. After working so hard to lose weight over the last few months, I thought I was done with obsessive, unhealthy eating. But no, I guess I wasn’t. I know some of you have suffered through these similar bouts yourselves because we’ve talked about it.

Comfort food – what are your favorites? Mine are Walker’s Shortbread cookies, Cheez-its, Anna’s Ginger cookies (available now at Big Lots and Ikea), and well, you get the picture. Things that go crunch in the night, usually.

If I would eat them during the day, I probably wouldn’t have gained any weight. But no, I ate them at night, which is often when we all eat comfort food.

I know why I did this last week (not so much this week, though this blog was actually started last week). It’s because I went away on a wonderful trip (on which I lost weight, by the way – just a couple of pounds, but hey – a couple of pounds is a couple of pounds, right? 🙂

I came back and started eating because I didn’t want to come back. It’s spring. Flowers are blooming all over the country, the weather is balmy and beautiful, and I don’t want to be here. I want to be there, wherever there is.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about moving to a foreign country. To live, not just to visit. Which one? Well, probably Uruguay, Costa Rica or Ecuador. Why? Because I love being an expat. Why not? Because I think maybe if I did that I might decide to move again in a couple of years or more. Seems kind of to be my portion in life (moving every couple of years or so). So, why give everything up here and move there  instead of just staying here and visiting there? I don’t know. Do you?

Back to comfort food. Krispy Kreme donuts fit the bill as well. It’s nice to know others in various parts of the country can now experience these delights. They just melt in your mouth and before you know it — you’ve eaten four or five of them. I didn’t buy any donuts last week. It’s a good thing, or I would have gained more.

I think everyone should go on a comfort food kick for a couple of days each month. And they should do it without the guilt. Guilt is awful. It eats away at your mind, body and spirit. So screw guilt, I say. What do you say? lol

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