Say it isn’t so! Little Foot has a foot odor problem! Will King Arthur defeat Little Foot’s crawly, stinky, creepy foot cooties just in time for the Yeti Snow Party? Join the adventure and find out in Little Foot 3!
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Little Foot 3 is a fun, family-friendly mystery – full of adventure and definitely grabs your attention… Something that I really enjoy about the movie is its adventurous storyline. Little Foot’s expedition is a constant process.” Avalon N. adds, “Little Foot 3 is one that I think younger kids would enjoy. The storyline is very unique, maybe a little repetitive. However, it is a funny story with many different and diverse characters.” KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer Elizabeth V. wraps it up with, “This film is all about how you should never give up. I really enjoyed the animation of this film and the vibrant colors for the characters. It is amazing that the film’s 14 voices are all made by five voice actors.” See their full reviews below.
Little Foot 3 By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, age 16
Little Foot 3 is a fun, family-friendly mystery – full of adventure and definitely grabs your attention.
Little Foot 3 follows Little Foot the Sasquatch who goes into space with his snowman friend. While he’s there, he visits Santa, who reveals to him that he’s suffering from something called shadow toes. This is when your feet have a terrible odor, making you, and every room you enter smell. Throughout the film we follow Little Foot as he undertakes a journey to end his shadow toes.
Something that I really enjoy about the movie is its adventurous storyline. Little Foot’s expedition is a constant process. He is always meeting fun new characters, some of which are helpful, and some — not so much. Either way, it’s entertaining to see Little Foot interact with all these different personalities. Additionally, the picture quality stands out. All the colors are very vibrant and fun. However, I will say that the audio track isn’t always in synch with the characters’ lip movement. At times it’s very noticeable and can be quite distracting. This takes away from enjoying the film, because viewers are distracted. Lastly the storyline has a lot of creativity. They take already well-established characters like Snow White and Santa Claus, and put their own twist on them, by giving them different personalities or traits.
The message of the film is to never lose hope in finding a solution.
Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars from me and I recommend it for ages 5 to 8. You can watch Little Foot 3 on DVD and VOD beginning December 6, 2022.
Little Foot 3 By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
Little Foot 3 is one that I think younger kids would enjoy. The storyline is very unique, maybe a little repetitive. However, it is a funny story with many different and diverse characters.
This storyline is about a Yeti named Little Foot (Simon Hill) who has a foot odor problem. He treks all over the galaxy in search of King Arthur (Kelsey Painter) who can cure his sickness. He needs his foot to be odor free for the Yeti Snow Party. On his way he meets many characters in faraway parts of the galaxy including Santa (KJ Schrock) and Mr. Fox (John Thompson) from Robin Hood. It is a standalone sequel to Little Foot 1 and 2.
Little Foot 3 has a very impressive cast of voice actors. One thing that is so amazing is that there are only five voice actors, yet there are 14 voice parts! However, until I watched the credits I had no idea some actors voice multiple characters. The storyline is quite repetitive; every scene mostly involves Little Foot meeting someone and finding out where King Arthur is. There is one character that simply made me laugh every time — Misty the Snowman; he never speaks and only makes sounds. Yet somehow Little Foot understands every sound he makes. The animation style is very unique; it uses a blurred background and the animated characters have very big heads.
The message of this film is to never give up and keep on searching as you may find what you are looking for.
Little Foot 3 gets 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8, plus adults. Little Foot 3 releases on DVD and VOD December 6 2022.
Little Foot 3 By Elizabeth V., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer
I found Little Foot 3 entertaining and designed well for its target age. It is a funny and heartfelt story about a Yeti named Little Foot who has a foot odor problem. He embarks on a journey to cure it in time for the Yeti Snow Party. This film is all about how you should never give up. I really enjoyed the animation of this film and the vibrant colors for the characters. It is amazing that the film’s 14 voices are all made by five voice actors.
Little Foot 3 gets 4 out of 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 5 to 8. It releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022. By Eglizabeth V., KIDS FIRST!
“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.”~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Message from founder/Executive Director, Cynthia Brian
Have you ever stopped to contemplate the importance of your smile? When we walk down the street and smile at a stranger, we give the gift of recognition. A smile says “I see you” and every person desires to be seen. As humans, we want to be appreciated and acknowledged. Smiling costs us nothing yet it offers innumerable value to the recipient. We never know what is transpiring in the life of another person. Your smile could be life saving.
This holiday season as we write checks to donate to causes dear to our heart, I encourage you to also give the gift of a smile to everyone you encounter. You will feel empowered and you will shine a light on the soul of another.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Folks, can you think of an entity that is both easy to come-by and very hard to find at the same time? It’s time, my friends. So why talk about time when talking about giving back to society? The answer lies in the inherent value of time. Time is the most precious resource that an individual can contribute to any worthy cause or person.
This philosophy of donating time to people in need forms the bedrock of human culture. Both in moments of joy and sorrow, we look to share our feelings with others.
Moreover, the scale does not matter. What matters is the gesture itself. Taking the time to listen to someone’s problems and offer a shoulder to cry on relieves some of their pain and replaces it with peace. If you manage to do this with just one person a day, you have made the world a little more emphatic. So, giving back to society does not have to involve grand gestures and major financial commitments; it can simply be achieved by devoting a little time and effort to being emotionally available.
Shubham Acharya is a Be the Star You Are!® volunteer in Mumbai, India who believes strongly in women’s empowerment and children’s literacy. Shubbam writes: “My mother was a teacher in a government sponsored school in one of the poorest localities in my area, so I grew up very aware of the importance of education and literacy in changing people’s lives. Having said this, I fell in love with the Be the Star You are!® motto ‘To be a leader, you must be a READER’.”
The Gift of Friendship
By Karen Kitchel
Not all gifts come wrapped in shiny paper with a bow on top. When we think about a time we’ve felt real joy or comfort, it was often because someone had given us the gift of friendship. It’s not the number of years we’ve known them. It’s the feeling we get when they cross our minds.
During the last year, many of us have turned to those special folks for both support and laughter. It would be easy to take these kind souls for granted, but they deserve so much more.
Let us all take a moment now to speak the names of those whom we consider to be our friend and give thanks for the gift of their presence in our life.
Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com
Santa Claus is Coming to Town!
Come celebrate the holidays as Be the Star You Are!® charity and 5 A Rent-A-Space bring the North Pole to Moraga. Children will write letters to Santa and talk to Jolly St. Nick. Buy gifts for the holidays with autographed copies of the new children’s book, No Barnyard Bullies while enjoying complimentary refreshments, music, and crafts for kids. The event is FREE! Lots of fun giveaways, too! Bring the family. BTSYA sponsored by Mark hoogs, State Farm Insurance, www.TeamHoogs.com. Thank you!
Location: 5 A Rent a Space, 455 Moraga Rd f, Moraga, CA 94556, USA
Make a Donation and Receive a Beautiful Dayspring Engraved Pen
Dayspring Pens is proud to partner with Be the Star You Are! through a donation of 50 engraved pens. With a donation of $250 to Be the Star You Are!®, the donor will receive a unique luxury gift pen with custom engraving. Dayspring is honored to be able to donate to an organization that works so diligently to produce positive media and encourage families through books to be what they are! Dayspring hopes that this donation of pens can show the respect and appreciation they hold for those who are vital to Be the Star You Are!’s work of empowering women, families, and youth through the power of positive role models. Visit Dayspring Pens @ https://www.dayspringpens.com
A young girl learns she may have to sell her beloved pet pig Elvis to a local farmer to save the family farm. Unbeknownst to her, the farmer is planning a pig roast and not a forever home. The whole family bands together to save Elvis, uniting to reclaim their farm, proving that love is worth more than money.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, “How far would you go to save something you love? Many people have been faced with a dilemma such as this and, no matter how old you are, your love for something can run so deep that your heart involuntarily leads the way. Elvis the Pig is a film that allows viewers to appreciate the concept of deep love for family, even if that member is not human.” Eunette C. adds, “Elvis The Pig is such an exciting film; it keeps you on your toes and puts you in a good mood as you watch the show. Elvis’ constant remarks lighten the mood of the film.” Anna Clara B. wraps it up with, “Elvis The Pig is an incredible film, full of life lessons that will influence audiences. I loved this beautiful story from beginning to end.” See their full reviews below.
Elvis the Pig By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
How far would you go to save something you love? Many people have been faced with a dilemma such as this and, no matter how old you are, your love for something can run so deep that your heart involuntarily leads the way. Elvis the Pig is a film that allows viewers to appreciate the concept of deep love for family, even if that member is not human.
This drama film is about a young girl named Riley (Aggie Bell) and her beloved pet pig, Elvis, who live a great life on the farm they love until the family is forced to sell their home due to financial hardship. Riley’s life is soon turned upside down when she learns that her best friend Elvis will not be moving to the city with their family. A local farmer makes a deal with the family to give Elvis a good home but his intentions are deceitful as his real plan for Elvis is to host a pig roast with Riley’s best friend as the main course. Riley and her older sister, Nylee (Camryn Macdonald) make it their mission to find their missing family member and reunite him at the farm.
What I really like most about this film is the dedication the family has for one another and their willingness to bond together when they need each other the most. Riley and Nylee don’t appear to have a close sister bond, but when Elvis’s life is in danger, Nylee is not going to let her sister’s best friend fall victim to a horrible fate. The film is very relatable as many families have pets which seem to be the glue holding families together. Elvis the Pig is a bit slow to get going and some of the scenes tend to be drawn out, but overall the storyline is enjoyable and it is a wonderful family movie. The set location of the family farm with its variety of animals is a dream come true for many kids and the talking animals give the film a special touch.
You don’t have to be a big animal lover to connect to this film’s message. Elvis the Pig is about love, friendship and special bonds. Love runs deep, no matter if that love is between family, friends, or pets; many people will go to great lengths to protect those bonds. Elvis isn’t your “usual” pet, but one thing is for certain, he has won the hearts of his family and their lives would not be the same without him in it.
I give Elvis the Pig 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Elvis the Pig releases on December 6, 2022 on DVD and video on demand.
Elvis The Pig By Eunnet C., KIDS FIRST!
Elvis The Pig is such an exciting film; it keeps you on your toes and puts you in a good mood as you watch the show. Elvis’ constant remarks lighten the mood of the film.
The film is about Elvis, a funny character with a good sense of humor that he portrays even in difficult moments. We witness quite a bizarre relationship between a young girl named Riley and Elvis the pig who are best friends. However, Riley’s family struggles financially and has to sell their family farm and leave Elvis behind. Little does the family know that the new owner has plans to roasting a pig (Elvis), but this leads to new adventures and a better understanding between all the family members.
The theme of the film revolves around family and friendship. I enjoyed seeing the quality time that the family spends together and how they are able to put aside their differences and come together solve the issue at hand. The story is really beautiful and demonstrates how unity can help overcome our difficult moments. Elvis captured my attention from the start, especially with his humorous comments. He motivated me to continue watching the film. What really stands out in this film is how involved the animals are and how they are personified they are in communicating their thoughts. It gives you an insight of how you will imagine animals talking. I particularly enjoyed the voice of Elvis, by Ryan Coates, which is brilliantly done. From the beginning of the film, through the end, you are drawn to Elvis’ comments.
The message assures kids that things always work out regardless of the situation you find yourself in. It also showcases the importance of family relationship. Lastly, it reminds you that “a man’s best friend” doesn’t only apply to dogs, but can be any pet.
I give Elvis The Pig 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. It releases December 6, 2022 on DVD and VOD.
Elvis the Pig By Anna Clara B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Elvis The Pig is an incredible film, full of life lessons that will influence audiences. I loved this beautiful story from beginning to end.
The storyline follows a little girl named Riley (Aggie Bell) who is unsatisfied with moving to another city and being away from her best friend, little Elvis, a pig. Something wrong happen and she and her sister help to rescue the pig from the hands of two silly bad guys.
The story is well written. I especially enjoyed the characters and their development during the film. They are special. My favorite parts are when the bad guys appear. Their scenes are so funny, because every time they plan to do something bad, they fail in a funny way. I also like the part when the parents are watching old family videos and they are emotional. I was emotional too during those scenes. The scene transitions are good and everything happens naturally. I love everything in this film. Congratulations to the production team!
The film’s message is that love is above everything and, with teamwork, we can do things easier.
I give Elvis The Pig 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. This film releases on DVD and VOD December 6, 2022.
The power of love shines in this heartwarming tale of friendship and inspiration between an unlikely duo. Cheryl inadvertently befriends a mourning goose, Honk, while recycling in the local park. As the budding friendship blossoms and Cheryl seeks Honk a new home, he becomes a viral sensation capturing the hearts and minds of millions.
KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “Honk is a heartwarming tale of a young goose and his journey through an unpredictable and dangerous time. The amazing Cheryl Alison truly brings the film to life, narrating with emotion and editing in news articles and interviews to help tell the story of the beloved Honk.” Eshaan M. adds, “Honk should be required watching for those who feel like they’re losing faith in the goodness of humanity and the beauty of companionship. Beautiful, raw emotion is captured in a mix of videos that were either collected from social media or filmed by the camera team, but beyond the technical bits of the film, the plot is what shines through.” Tiana S. adds, “Stop what you are doing and check out Honk, a powerful, heartwarming story about a loving friendship that developed between an unlikely duo! It’s a story about friendship, understanding and inspiration. Honk will make you see the world around you differently.” See their full reviews below.
Honk By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Honk is a heartwarming tale of a young goose and his journey through an unpredictable and dangerous time. The amazing Cheryl Alison truly brings the film to life, narrating with emotion and editing in news articles and interviews to help tell the story of the beloved Honk. This documentary will make everyone’s day and empower people to make the right decisions.
This film tells the story of Cheryl Allison’s caretaking of the young Honk through the COVID-19 pandemic. Cheryl portrays herself as a humble, average person who just needed somewhere to go, to escape quarantine’s limits. Along her journey, she discovers the adorable and energetic “Honk The Goose.” Honk forms an attachment to her, and she feels responsible for his well-being. Cheryl and Honk become internet famous, but face many obstacles throughout their time together.
Honk is one of the highest-quality documentaries I’ve seen. Not only is it entertaining and adorable, but it’s also educational. I’ve learned so much about how important each small decision can be. The balance between entertainment and education is excellent, never boring, and always provides the information necessary to understand the events of the documentary. Interviews with experts, shots of Honk and Cheryl’s friendship, and images of news articles help move Honk along. One of my favorite things about this documentary is how Cheryl is using the proceeds of everything she’s doing to raise awareness of geese like Honk and to support places that are making a difference. Honk and Cheryl’s story was, and still is, an inspiration to many. Honk’s Instagram account has over 77,000 followers. Through social media, and through this film, Cheryl hopes to support ducks, geese and other birds. By viewing Honk, you are supporting the Roger Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is where Cheryl relocated Honk.
The message of Honk is to realize the consequences of your actions. Leaving a bit of fishing line at a shore, or dropping a plastic bottle, is potentially the difference between life and death for geese, ducks or any other animals. Honk educates people about the difference each person can make in their community and demonstrates the importance of learning about different species and how they live. Friendship and finding ways to bounce back from tough times are displayed throughout the film. This sets a bright mood for the majority of Honk, despite there being some serious and sometimes sad moments. Honk is a perfect family film. In addition, animal lovers, particularly bird lovers, will enjoy this film.
I give Honk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Honk on major streaming platforms and DVD beginning November 15, 2022. Remember, every view counts!
Honk By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16
Such a wholesome joy of a film is hard to come by. Honk should be required watching for those who feel like they’re losing faith in the goodness of humanity and the beauty of companionship. Beautiful, raw emotion is captured in a mix of videos that were either collected from social media or filmed by the camera team, but beyond the technical bits of the film, the plot is what shines through. Especially for animal-lovers, this is a great watch.
Honk is a remarkable tale of unlikely companionship. Dallas native Cheryl Allison inadvertently befriends a loud, chatty goose she names Honk; she realizes he is mourning the loss of a loved one and their bond grows deeper. As the friendship blossoms, Cheryl seeks to find Honk a new home and he becomes a viral sensation across nations. The beautiful relationship between the two (not owner and pet but two equal friends) is wonderful to watch.
The direction and editing by Cheryl Allison are beautifully-executed. What’s really nice is that the subject of the documentary is the same person who directs and edits it; this means that she has been able to choose the most moving portions of footage and cut it together. I also love how the choice of music accentuates the mood of the more emotional scenes; the lyrics from the credits — “think about where we have been, the joy we shared with friends who cared, all the things we’ve seen” — were especially touching as they summarized the theme of the film. I like the contrast between the footage taken by the camera team and how formal and traditional it feels compared to the footage taken by Cheryl, which is more fun and informal.
Honk promotes finding those who support you and, in turn, helping others, whether animal or human, in times of difficulty. The compassion exhibited by Cheryl in this film also serves to push the message that we should care for animals, even those we wouldn’t consider domesticated or “pets,” because they too have highs and lows in their lives like we do.
I give Honk 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 7 to 18, plus adults. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital and DVD.
Honk By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
HONK! HONK! Stop what you are doing and check out Honk, a powerful, heartwarming story about a loving friendship that developed between an unlikely duo! It’s a story about friendship, understanding and inspiration. Honk will make you see the world around you differently.
Honk tells the story of Cheryl Allison, who was cleaning up a park during COVID restrictions in 2020, and encountered a friendly, but lonely goose suffering from a great loss, who started following her around. She realized she couldn’t leave him alone there, so she started visiting daily and eventually they became best friends. The goose loved to make loud noises that sounded like honking, so Cheryl named him “Honk.” Their encounters were so unique and such a breath of fresh air, that Honk became a famous internet sensation once Cheryl posted their videos on social media.
Honk highlights how we should be treating other species in our world today. I enjoyed how this documentary is told through real-life experiences, live streams, Zoom calls and TV broadcasts. It helps give a full picture of Cheryl and Honk’s journey. One unexpected concept in the film is how pollution affects animals and their environments. There is one emotional scene where, after Cheryl finds a fishing line around Honk’s foot, she immediately cleans up the park and Honk’s surroundings to protect him. People don’t consider what happens to litter and how it can affect animals. You will experience different emotions while enjoying this film. It is funny watching Cheryl honking at Honk when she is looking for him. Their bond is so charming that Honk became one of the world’s most famous geese. There should be more “Cheryls” and “Honks” in the world.
Honk starts off being just about the loving bond and companionship between Cheryl and Honk. However, it has so many hidden messages — animal cruelty, pollution, friendship and, of course, kindness. We all have to play a part in taking care of our animals, which includes proper treatment when we can longer take care of them and just taking care of the earth, which then helps protect animals. The film forces you to sit back and think, not just about your day-to-day relationships, but also how you treat the planet.
I Honk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Honk on major streaming and cable platforms, plus DVD, starting November 8, 2022.
Honk By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17
Honk is a heartwarming documentary that follows the friendship between director and editor, Cheryl Allison, and a lovable goose. She successfully shows viewers how her friendship with a goose impacted her life. At a time when everything was uncertain in the world, this goose was the “honk heard ‘round the world.” He was able to reach out, in spite of social distancing constraints, and spread happiness to others.
This documentary is set during the Covid pandemic, when social distancing regulations were in effect. While on a walk Cheryl notices a goose approaching her. She names him Honk and they become instant friends. Cheryl decides to record her time with Honk and her videos and posts with him go viral on social media. She receives word from her friend, Mary Beth Purdy that Honk is a domestic goose and is in danger. Now Cheryl is on a mission to help save her goose friend from a harmful environment, predators and the new risks that social media has brought to him.
This documentary is touching and beautiful. My favorite scene is when Cheryl goes back to the pond the day after she first meets Honk and records herself calling to him. Honk immediately recognizes her voice and swims to her. She talks to him and he responds with his honking sounds. This shows how attached Honk was to her from the start. The film is a mix of interviews, zoom meetings and videos of Cheryl with Honk. The added footage of her initial recordings with Honk are delightfully entertaining. It gives viewers a better understanding of Cheryl and Honk’s friendship and the bond they create with each other as time progresses. The information about animals in the film, by experts Mary Beth Purdy and Kathy Rogers, is insightful and adds depth to the understanding of caring for these types of animals. In addition, the music at the end of the documentary fits well with the theme.
The message of this film is about love and the connections you make with others. Love and a need for companionship is what drove Honk and Cheryl together. It then drove her to protect him. While watching, we also gain a better understanding of what animals need, the importance of protecting animals, and what we can contribute to help keep these animals safe.
I give Honk 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Honk releases November 15, 2022 on digital platforms and DVD.
an excerpt from How to Have A Match Made in Heaven
by Ariel & Shya Kane
It was still cool at 6:30 in the morning as we strolled barefoot with Susan down Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio beach. We were in the midst of one of our Costa Rican Self Discovery Adventures that we hold each winter. People come from all over the world to join us and use it as a time to get away from the normal routine of one’s life and relax. It is opportunity to look at the mechanics of your life in a gentle, lush environment without judging what you discover; a time to play and let your life unfold.
On this particular morning, Susan was talking with us about her relationships – or more accurately put, her lack of one. We have known Susan for years and she is such a lovely woman. Perhaps you know her or know someone just like her… She is a mover and shaker at work, well respected in her field, someone who people admire. Early 40’s she is pretty, slim, personable, smart, humble, and absolutely adores baseball. In short, she is a dream gal for most any man.
And yet, over the years we have known her, Susan has not had much luck in relationship. Traditionally she falls head over heals for a guy and eventually, after several months or occasionally a year or two, the relationship ends. Gradually Susan had stopped telling people when she really liked someone. It became embarrassing for her to admit when “things didn’t work out” and yet another one was over.
We asked her what was happening with dating. Grimacing, she replied, “I am taking a break. I just don’t see the point. I never have trouble attracting guys – it just never lasts. Something must be wrong with me.”
Discarding the idea that there was something “wrong” with her, we looked at her approach to dating. We encouraged her to take a transformational, anthropological approach – like a scientist, observing a culture of one – herself, looking non-judgmentally, with awareness. When you do this, the best place to start is where you are. Exactly where you are – in this moment.
“How are you approaching things right now?” we asked her. “Start to bring awareness to this moment, this instant, not someday.”
As we looked at her life in that moment, it became obvious that in her attempt to fix her “problem,” set things in order and make for a better future, Susan missed so much — The caress of the breeze as it tousled her hair, the sand between her toes, the steady lap of the surf.
As we conversed, it became apparent that Susan was rarely simply present to where she was. She was habitually driving forward for some desired result that was supposed to make her happy or fulfilled or better — in the future. It became apparent even in how she approached the conversation. For Susan it was a challenge simply to walk with us. She was so accomplished at thinking and strategizing that she kept losing sight of where she was. She missed the lovely shells, the sea foam and the way her muscles moved as she walked. She either charged ahead or got lost in thought and barely moved at all.
We asked her if she had ever dated more than one person at a time. She looked surprised by the question, as if we were suggesting that she was somehow “loose” or unwholesome. So we explained: “Do you ever meet one fellow for lunch on Tuesday and another for a movie on Friday night, etc. so that you can see who might really work for you before you jump ahead into a relationship? Sheepishly, she said “No.” That was when we suddenly realized that Susan had never actually “dated”. Instead, she automatically married: as soon as she went out with someone, she was trying to make him “the one.” Somewhere in the back of her mind he was already her mate – the perfect relationship.
We encouraged her to keep relaxing into herself and into her body for the next few days and forget about getting ahead. Let go of her plans to date or to not. Just be there and have fun.
Two days later during the course, Susan piped up with excitement about her first boogie boarding experience. As she spoke, we looked around and Ralf was beaming. Ralf is an actor who is gay and married. Due to their work schedules, he and his spouse had to come to separate courses, so he was there by himself. He is accomplished at riding waves and Susan had asked him to teach her. Here is what she said:
“I asked Ralf to teach me to boogie board because it looked like so much fun and it was obvious that he was really good at it. At lunch we went to the beach and waded out into the water. Although I was nervous, he made it OK. I hugged the board and the next thing I knew, the wave was coming. As I stood there, I realized that this was the one – the one where I could finally learn to boogie board. Much sooner than I expect Ralf said, “Jump” and I did. I made it all the way into shore! It was great.”
Ralf grinned, “Susan really listened! She timed it perfectly and caught the wave.”
Both Susan and Ralf were so happy. He felt smart, listened to and empowered and so did she. That was when the realization hit us. This was Susan’s first date. It was the first time she had ever “gone out” with a man without the mental computer casting forward to possible futures. She was simply being there enjoying the moment.
We realized that if Susan could bring that type of engagement to going on actual dates, where she was there simply to have fun and have that experience be complete in and of itself – not leading anywhere other than this moment, her life would transform. All it would take now is awareness. She habitually plans for the future. With awareness, Susan can now suspend that habit and be there. Who knows what will happen for her now – Having fun is a pretty powerful way to start any serious relationship.
Have you ever thought about the impact that a simple act of kindness can make, how being generous can ripple out in time and alter a personâs life forever? A young man and his buddy were incredibly kind to my wife Ariel and I and our lives have never been the same. In fact, his unhesitating willingness to be so unstinting with his knowledge, time and expertise became our springboard into the art of fly fishing and it has radically influenced our life paths.
Having grown up near the ocean in Far Rockaway, NY, I have always been drawn to fishing, but came to be a fly fisherman somewhat later in life. When I was about 50 years of age, a friend of mine mentioned in passing that I might really enjoy fly fishing and that I should look into it. Not long after, Ariel and I flew to Oregon to visit her family in her hometown of Gresham, a suburb of Portland. While there, Ariel and I borrowed her parentâs car and drove to a local sporting goods store, GI Joeâs. We walked in and saw an entire array of goods from balls and jerseys to hunting gear and guns, but right in the middle of the store there was a case that held fly fishing reels and a stand with fly rods, also. I immediately noticed that while there was at least some similarity to the spin fishing rods that I was familiar with, clearly they were different.
A young man stepped up behind the counter. He was medium tall, lean with thick dark hair, wearing a blue button down shirt and chinos. Although he was young, undoubtedly only a year or two out of high school, when he said, âCan I help you?â I thought it very likely that he could.
âWhatâs your name?â I asked.
âWell Gil, I am interested in fly fishing but really know nothing about it.â Looking at the rods, reels, lines and other gear displayed before me I said, âIf money wasnât an issue, what would you recommend I get to get started?â
âWhat do you want to fish for?â He asked.
âI donât know. What is there?â
âWell, there are trout and steelhead.â He replied.
âI guess trout then.â I said. âThat is what we have in upstate New York where I live.â
Gil was indeed extremely knowledgeable. He patiently explained some of the rudimentary differences between spin and fly fishing â such as when you use a spinning rod, the heft of the lure pulls the line out behind it. But with fly fishing, the fly, so called because they were originally constructed to imitate flying aquatic insects, has virtually no weight at all. The line itself, Gil explained, has the weight and by using the rod like a lever the weighted line draws the fly behind it.
I donât know what moved me to be so bold with this young stranger. Perhaps it was his innate kindness. Perhaps it was his experience that so outstripped mine. Perhaps it was his openness and patience. But whatever the inspiration, after I paid for and collected my exciting new purchase, I placed both hands on the edge of the counter and said, âWill you take me fishing?â
âYes!â Gil said. âIâd be happy to!â
I donât recall how we made all the detailed plans. I do know that Gil and his friend Rob were avid fly fisherman and that before I left that day I had Gilâs phone number and a promise for a trip to the Deschutes River in eastern Oregon.
The next day, Ariel and I flew back home to where we were living near Woodstock, New York overlooking the Ashokan reservoir. Inspired by my recent purchase, I drove to the nearest little fly fishing shop in Phoenicia. As I was standing there, looking over the confusing assortment flies one might need to fly fish in that area, a man hurried into the shop and said, âAm I too late to still take part in the fly casting class?â When the owner replied, âNo we havenât started yet.â I hastily said, âCan I come, too?â
On that day I cast a fly rod for the very first time. I then went down to the river and hooked and released my very first rainbow trout. But truth be told, that fish hooked me. Ariel soon took a class and also caught a little trout â although she and I still laugh that she caught her first fish behind her when her fly accidentally hit the water on a âbadâ cast and a fish grabbed it.
In a matter of a few short months Ariel and I flew back to Oregon for our trip with Gil and his buddy Rob. It turned out that Rob had won a Driftboat in a raffle and he and Gil were prepared to not only take us down the Deschutes River, but also to provide us with an overnight camping trip. Nervous but enthusiastic, with our brand new gear including waders, we were prepared to begin an adventure. We had no clue that it would be the beginning of a way of life that would eventually take us all over the world.
Perhaps Gil and Rob had excellent teachers themselves. But whatever the reason, they were extremely patient and kind with Ariel and me. Years later, I finally caught a 180 lb. blue marlin on a fly rod off the coast of Costa Rica and Ariel has caught multiple world records with the International Game Fish Association, including the largest pacific sailfish ever recorded caught by a woman. The things they taught us on that initial trip we had mastered. But we actually began to learn them and learn them correctly right from the beginning. For instance when a powerful fish grabs your fly, you canât immediately try to stop them as they race away or they will break off. It is true for trout and also true for a marlin or sailfish. If you want to hook a fish you canât have a lot of extra slack in your line or they will taste the fly and spit it out before you have a chance to draw the line tight. I actually remember Gil giving Ariel gentle instructions about this on that first trip.
âAriel, take a look at your flyline. If the fish were to hit now, would you be ready?â
She saw the big, wide and lazy S shapes of line scrolling out down the river and could see that she would have to take up the slack in order to be ready when the fish took the fly. Toward the end of the first day, not only did we catch trout, but when we got to our camping spot Gil and Rob encouraged us to keep fishing while they got out a tent and set it up for us, placing in sleeping bags they had brought for our use. Then they made us a meal over a campfire. At the end of the trip we were well satisfied, exhausted, and very grateful. Although we had paid for the food provisions, both Gil and Rob said that what they wanted in payment wasâ¦. absolutely nothing. At the end of our adventure, we asked once again to give the pair something but they said no, it wasnât legal. They werenât guides and said they couldnât accept payment for the trip â it had to be a trip between friends.
Over the last 20-some years Ariel and I have gone on to catch many fish both large and small. Weâve traveled from Alaska to the tip of South America, from a river in New Mexico to deep-sea fishing in Costa Rica, from the Seychelles off the coast of Africa to the fjords of Quebec. I lost touch with Gil for many years. I tried to track him down through his family but never managed to get in touch. I wanted him and Rob to know how grateful I was and still am for all they have given me. And I wanted them to know the difference they have made in my life. I was absolutely certain that they had no idea how their kindness would make an impact.
Recently I found Gil and Rob on Facebook. Rob now owns Water Time Outfitters and Gil works for him as a fishing guide. I must admit I was surprised when I saw a current picture of them to see them both as middle-age men with the families of their own. In my mindâs eye they are still barely out of school, wide eyed youths who had time, enthusiasm, and the willingness to so generously give us a gift. I am profoundly grateful for the kindness of two strangers.
September 7: True Friends
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