Tuesday, September 30, 2008

the $700 billion bailout

I'm just now starting to get in touch with the western world as I read this article. It's so strange not being in the US to hear an American perspective on it all. At the same time, it makes our economic situation that much more of a global issue as I sit here in Budapest reading about what's happening in the US and the world.


Monday, September 29, 2008

banana muffins and cinnamon

I just made THE most PERFECT banana muffins I've made in a long time. I'm going on my 3rd one right now and I feel very little shame about it. Actually, I'm even debating a 4th. These suckers are so good and they are beautiful. I had to capture it for you so you'd have a mental picture. :D

Anyways, the recipe I semi-follow is Bree's Banana bread recipe and it calls for cinnamon. I ended up putting way too much in there but they turned out great. And then I just learned there are medicinal properties to cinnamon. Did you know that ---

Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.

Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.

In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.

In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.

When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.

One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.

Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

So, I think I'll be adding a bit more cinnamon in my food and I was thinking about it earlier today while sauteing veggies that I think I want to take a few professional cooking lessons. How cool would that be to learn how to cook a few really nice meals. I'd like to do that. I think I'm a fairly decent cook but I want to expand my horizons and learn a few cooking techniques. That would be so cool.

These are my thoughts -- all inspired by cinnamon.

Goodbye to Texas

Last night we said goodbye to the Texas team at Jeff's house. We had chili and cornbread and our new student friend in a red sweater from campus joined us too. He's a muslim and was observing Ramadan until the sun went down. He's a really great guy and I'm really hoping and praying that God does some amazing things in his life in the future. It got me thinking of how much dedication many muslims have and something was stirred inside of me. Where is my passion? Where is my dedication to Christ? I want a fresh passion, a fresh love, a fresh devotion to the greatest God and creator of all. As soon as that sun went down, he was chili chompin' with the rest of us. He told us he's not one to observe the meat restrictions.

Anyways, we had a great week. Lots of awesome things happened and I can't wait to see what takes place in the future here in Budapest. One of the songs that Tyler sang over and over again was a song by Chris Tomlin called "God of this city." So awesome. I'm going around singing it and when I think of any nation in trouble these days, this song comes to mind. Here's the you tube clip.

Can't wait to get back into a normal schedule. Hope you have a great week.

Coldplay in Budapest

A few months ago, I started making plans to see Coldplay in concert with some of the Hungarian students. About a month ago we went to the ticketing offices and there were no standing tickets left. I didn't care and I was more than willing to get a seated/assigned ticket but none of the students wanted it so they were going to check on iwiw (the Hungarian affiliate to facebook) and see if they could locate some extra tickets. It never happened and I figured since Coldplay was going to be here the week that the Texas team was here that maybe it just wasn't meant to happen and I'd have to catch them another time.

Well, Tuesday night, at the last minute, a handful of the Texas team really wanted to go see Coldplay. We finished the evening, were grabbing a bite to eat and then some people started talking about it. Of course I was all over that! But the question was whether we could get tickets. We were 10 minutes away by metro and the concert had started a half hour earlier. Seven of us took the chance and went for it. Here's a quick video shot and some great pictures! I LOVE the picture of Ali, Nathan and Andrew after we got tickets and were running to get in. I tried to upload a quick video from the camera, but it wasn't happenin'. You probably would have got sick by all the moving around I did in the first minute anyway. :D

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Listening to the Presidential Debate

So tonight I chose to stay behind and rest and not join up with the Texas team for a Hungarian pancake dinner. I've been at everything all week, so I figured it was fine to bail out tonight. I was exhausted and had the chance to sit in bed, read a bit, and listen to the presidential debate from last night.

All I have to say at this point is that I really like McCain. I like him a lot. He's the man. He's solid. I think my vote is starting to cement.

The week

It's been great to be in the city of Budapest with the Texas team. We've met so many interesting people and I truly believe that some of them are going to be around for awhile. I think one of my highlights was Tyler playing at Erzebet Ter where tons of kids- and street kids hang out. We were giving away free pepsis and waters and doing a survey. It was a lot of fun to engage with people and just enjoy the music in the background. We were going to try and set up Guitar Hero the last afternoon but I guess they were having technical difficulties. I had a chance to connect with some university girls and we had some great conversations. One girl lives in London and I'm going to try and connect her with another Hungarian girl I know there when I go to London next month.

It's interesting to me how universal music is and how it opens so many doors in life. We had a lot of fun with Tyler playing in a few pubs and a cafe and at one point we were the vagabonds because after Tyler played at one pub, the next band that followed had a cover charge so our group decided to walk the streets for a place to eat. We had some university students hanging out with us and I was amazed that after walking for 15 minutes, we still had a crowd. Finally, we settled on this pizza place and by that time only a few students remained, but we had a great time and some good relationships were created.

If you get a chance you can check out his music on my space (Tyler Dodds) and if you like it, download from itunes.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's 6:41 am

and I'm contemplating a quick run. I've got running earmuffs on, doubled up on the pants and I'm wearing a few layers. This would officially be my first run in the cold since I didn't make it out yesterday.

Had a great time with the Texas team. They are such a great mix of people and ages. I love having teams that are not just college aged. This is a good mix with a few couples too and they are great. We went to an italian restaurant last night called "Viapanos" where they have this really cool card they give you when you first walk in and that's your pay card. Then, they have three lines, one for pizzas, one for pasta and one for salads/antipasta dishes. Everything is fresh - all the pasta is made right there that day. You can see it happening. Same with pizzas. I want to open a few of these in the states. i really think it would do well. The tables are wooden blocks and in the middle of the table are small plants with baisley, parsley and other spices that you can pick off the tree and add to your food. They grow the mini-plants in the back of the restaurant in a greenhouse. It's soo cool.

Today is going to be a lot of fun. We're actually going to get out on the streets and meet people, do surveys, talk to students on campus and in some of the city center squares. Tyler Dodds is going to play his kickin' music and a few of us are going to share our stories of how we came to Christ -- on a loud speaker. Can't believe I'm actually doing it but I'm excited about it.

It's so good to have Jodi and Emery and Andrew and Ali back. They are such great people and I love getting to hear their stories of life, how they met their spouses, how they became Christians, etc, etc. The Texas team rocks. They are from the town that George Bush grew up in (Midland, TX) and apparently, his house where he grew up is a tourist attraction now.

I'm out the door for another eventful but fun day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

my goal

i can make it out the door and start running by 6 am tomorrow. it's my goal. i'm going to do it. training for the next event must start now.

music, guitars and Tyler

I had the strangest but coolest dream this morning. Don't know if I can fully describe it -- simple but powerfully encouraging.

My sister and I were laying on a bed, talking and singing. She was singing a worship song that, I could tell, was a song everyone knew. It was something I knew enough to sing along and as it came to one part, I sang the song so loud and so strong and then I began to sing words that were not part of the song but fit with the song very well. I woke up wanting to have my babysitting job back -- I miss the guitar and learning some chords. I want to write music that expresses my soul to God. I know SO little about it, it's ridiculous, but I want to develop it. This would take a lot of discipline. I don't know that I have what it takes or that I want it that bad. I sort of just want to piddle around on it and have fun.
Funny and revealing story. My friend Anna and I were talking yesterday about guitar. She's starting guitar lessons and I actually asked Renea to teach me guitar. Then Anna asked me about a picture I posted to facebook and she goes "So how did you play the guitar left handed?" I laughed so hard because although I have one picture of me playing normally -- which is right handed, I took a few of me playing but I just grabbed the guitar and wasn't playing----truth is, I'm a poser. I was posing. :D The truth is I had been playing earlier normally but at that brief moment I wanted a picture. I know....

We laughed so hard and then all night long while listening to music and talking we kept playing everything left handed. Yes, I'm a big dork and I have a lot to learn when it comes to guitar. Oh well.
Tonight the team arrived from Texas and we went for dinner and introductions. I got to talk to Tyler and Chris, who have been friends since college and used to play in a band together. More recently, Tyler is doing really well. It was great to hear how he writes music and how he had to be disciplined, practicing 6-8 hours a day at one point. Wow. That's discipline. He's going to be playing in some pubs and cafes here in Budapest and I'm really excited about it. All of this in light of my dream last night. I'm inspired, but I have no guitar to practice with. Bummer. Wish I could transport my guitar from Nevada over here to practice for awhile.

Check out Tyler's music. Should be great to mix it up on the streets of Budapest.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

today in Isaiah

I've been the biggest of slackers for working out this past week but I keep telling myself that the long walks I took last week to show Liz the city will have to make up for it. We did hike up Gellert Hill and walk ALL over the city.

Next week is going to be crazy walking and hosting and early mornings/late nights too. Not sure how many workouts I'll get in unfortunately. Now that I don't have a bike and finances are low making it difficult to get to the swimming pool, my training consists mainly of running. Have I mentioned it's my least favorite? But, stuck in this corner of only being able to run, maybe that's a good thing as the next few events I'm looking at are running events.

All this has shown me that there will always be seasons in life and sometimes you do better than others with different things. Right now I'm feeling unmotivated to run, run, run. I would much prefer to have a bike and mix it up on that or get to the pool. Well, enough complaining. For the next 5 months I just need to focus on running and quit complaining. I think I'll still be able to get a swim or spin class in here and there but it won't be consistent and I like consistency in training plans :D
This morning I read a scripture I’ve read a thousand times before in Isaiah 54:10-11.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed says the Lord who has compassion on you. Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels and all your walls of precious stones.”

What noteably struck was the strength and tone these words deposited in my soul.

Have you ever felt as though the mountains of life were shaking around you, things about to come tumbling down? Sometimes when you’re left with yourself, it looks a lot like an afflicted city. Houston comes to mind at the moment. In my soul, there are times that Hurricane Self reaks havoc inside and I realize what’s deep within.

William Law once wrote, “We may justly condemn ourselves as the greatest sinners we know because we know more of the folly of our own heart than we do of other people’s. Therefore every sinner knows more of the aggravations of his own guilt than he does of other people’s, and consequently may justly look upon himself to be the greatest sinner that he knows.”

I’d like to say that I experience more of these times of self-reflection because it always leads me back as part of life’s journey to a place of faith. I'm not one of those people who gets stuck in it all....I find my way back to a good place but the process of recognizing where I am and where I want to be is good for the soul and that’s where I came this morning.

“….yet my unfailing love.”

Unfailing – constant, reliable, dependable, steadfast, endless, undying, unfading, inexhaustible, indefatigable, boundless, tireless, ceaseless.

I realized how quickly I come to the end of my reserves on my own. I get frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed and tired. My love for others is not constant but actually quite particular and picky. I’m not reliably full of genuine concern for others 24/7.
The past two days I found myself absolutely exhausted. Fatigue was high and personal reserves were low. It's amazing how different the world looks in these moments. Everything becomes dark and you wonder, where is the light? Things that would normally not even rock you tend to set me into a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions. And then I get to this place.

What kind of love is this that actually strengthens my frame and builds me up? I can only imagine in a relationship when both people are really in tune to each other and "on it" -- there to encourage and build each other up. It's that kind of encouragement to the soul that I found this morning from God and His word to me. What I found particularly striking is that as much as I've tried in the past, I cannot get this fuel “within myself” or even from my greatest friends and family. God alone holds this unfailing love and its in the face of this relationship that I’m strengthened. He is the architect of my life, designing, creating, inventing and building my life as I let Him. He is my companion, my partner in life. And it’s his unfailing love that I’m anchored to deeply and knit to that place of strength. I cannot get away from it, as hard as I may try or as long as I may go from it. He is there. He is strong. And I’m thankful. I’m thankful for his constant, reliable, dependable, steadfast, endless attention and love. No one else could ever take His place but together we can walk towards Him in life and encourage one another to go to Him as the source of life. I am so thankful today and actually refreshed as I bathe even just an hour in these truths. Amazing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

today in pictures

A vehicle windscreen is left shattered after a grenade explosion in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Supporters want to save this giant oak chair in Dartmoor, England, which is under threat of demolition.
Paralympic marathon competitors race through the Chinese capital, Beijing.
Workers harvest grapes in the wine-producing district of Herault, southern France.
A group of anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a protest against Israel's construction of a separation barrier in the West Bank town of Nilin.
The largest power failure in Texas history continues to leave thousands without power thanks to Hurricane Ike.

the next prez

Dear Friend:

We don’t know who it will be, but I know one thing, in this, the greatest country in the world, whoever is elected President in November will need our prayers.

Shortly after taking office, President Harry Truman said to reporters: "Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now.” Truman understood the importance of prayer to the presidency.

Our new president will face a huge job and will bear the weight of incredible responsibilities including:

303,824,640 residents—each with an opinion
A budget of $2.568 trillion in revenuesand $2.73 trillion in expenditures
A debt of $ 9,697,453,381,850
3,537,438 square miles of land
12,380 miles of coastline and 7,476 miles of borders with Canada and Mexico
The world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India)
A government constituency of 50 states, over six time zones and an additional five territories, coordinating efforts with 55 governors
A Congress of 435 representatives and 100 senators, some members of his party, some not
1,436,642 members of the Armed Forces of which he is Commander-in-Chief
A workforce of 153.1 million
An unemployment rate of 6.1% and 12% of the population living below the poverty line
Don’t you agree—our new president will need prayer? We have an opportunity to give that support in prayer right now, knowing that God hears our prayers and will work, in His sovereignty, to prepare all things for the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Will you agree to pray for the next president in the coming days? There may be no greater act as a citizen that you could perform.

Sign up HERE, and join your efforts with millions of caring Americans.

Be sure to forward this email to as many people as you can. We want to build the committed group praying for the Oval Office’s next occupant. Thank you for your care, concern and for your prayers.


John Lind
The Presidential Prayer Team

I couldn't post the link but you can go to the Presidential Prayer Team website and sign up if you're interested.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the weather

Two days ago, there was a dramatic change in the weather. Cold rain and wind seemed to sweep through Budapest. It hasn't gone away and neither has the cloud cover. Fall/winter is here and although I don't mind it, it came on quite suddenly. A lot like all the things I keep reading about that are happening in the US right now -- from Houston's Hurricane Ike to the mortgage and financial markets. Like I said before, I'm a bit nervous that I'll be overseas while we elect a new president.

just peachy

Having lived overseas in Budapest for 2 years now, there are a number of words I've discovered along the way that mean things that are quite ironic. Other words sound terrible in Hungarian because the English counterpart is aweful.

This morning I learned that Barack means peach. Is Barack Obama a peach? I'm thinkin' NOT. The most frustrating story I recently heard and read about was when Obama wouldn't wear a pin with the American flag. That wasn't frustrating but his comments were something like "We show our patriotism with real actions, not by wearing a pin." Fine enough. Then, when he had the opportunity to visit troops, he opted instead to go where the press would follow which was him working out since they weren't going to film him with the troops. I find that ironic and not too peachy if you know what I mean.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hungarians try Mexican food

So after our high school events today, I made my way with laptop in hand to Arribas where there's free wireless and I can enjoy a bit of semi-American (albiet Mexican-American) culture while getting things done. It beats going home and getting distracted with the things I need to get done there especially when I had emails and posters and administrative details to catch up on this afternoon.

I'm such a people watcher and today it brought such a huge grin to my face as I watched an older Hungarian family make their way into Arribas. Two daughters (probably in their late 20's) were obviously treating their parents (in their early 60's) to a night of Mexican food. The girls introduced their parents to everything, including large horchata milks, the chips and salsa and the burritos. As they awkwardly looked at and ate the Mexican food, I heard "finom" "finom". This means "delicious." They were engrossed in the food and it was adorable.


Hungarian meets Mexican.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

House guests

This morning I said good-bye to Nona, my two week house guest who taught me everything there is to know about being a vegetarian, although this is something I could never do. I love meat too much. But, I did learn to cool lentils, and they are mighty tasty, I must say. As she left me this morning at 6:30 am, I told her i would carry on the tradition of healthy eating. I really do hope to do that. It was great to learn and watch her in the kitchen all the time. As we were leaving she said, "I'll miss you" to which I replied, "No you won't. You'll just miss my kitchen." I can see how rock stars kick their booties into shape. If you had a personal trainer aka personal chef aka personal Nona, you'd be doing just fine. Nona's the one who taught me some other things about Sprint Tris and bicycles. I still have a lot to learn. Wish her well and pray for her as she jumps back into the world of all things hard core in NYC. That lifestyle is DEFINITELY not appealing to me anymore. I once thought I wanted to live in New York. Now that Nona has informed me as an insider, no thanks.


My next house guest arrives in a little over two hours. Just enough time to clean up Nona's mess and get on with living. (If you're reading this Nona, don't kill me but you left a mess, especially in the juicer!!)

Liz is a girl from Carson City where I grew up. She's actually my little sisters age and went to school at St. Theresa's with her. I don't know her well at all but she asked to stay here and I feel so thankful and fortunate to have the place I do that it's no problem to give up my couch now and again. Although I must say I haven't had any "couchsurfers" I've definitely had a wide open door to friends and acquaintances recently.

Liz leaves on the 18th but promises to be self-entertained which is a good thing because this week will be busy. Then I have two days to rest before the Texas team arrives. That's going to be a week of non-stop awesomeness in Budapest.

I do love this city and the people. I wish I spoke the language more fluently but that will never happen. I've given up hope and lessons.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

confusion and irritation

Just the other day I was telling someone else about the ipersonic test and how fun it is. Well, after going through the four steps my results came back as a Laid-Back Doer. In an attempt to get back to the Groundbreaking Thinker I really thought I was, I took the test once again and my result was the Spontaneous Idealist.

I'm confused.....and irritated.

I'm glad I know who I am but come on people. These tests are supposed to give you a little more insight into your soul and apparently I have the soul of three. All three descriptions fit in their own ways. That's a bit confusing and irritating, actually.
Yesterday on my 4 mile run, I took in the beauty of the changing seasons. Leaves were scattered everywhere along the path and a cool breeze met me along the run. I love this change in weather.

learning English

I meet with a high school girl every week for an english lesson. She's preparing to take an intense intermediate course for English in November. She has to be prepared to talk on 26 different topics and she's not sure which one they will pick. As I'm correcting one of her essays on housing/living arrangements, two new English words appear. I've never heard or used either - masionette and larder. Before you look up their meanings, have you heard of these words? Can you guess what they mean?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh yeah! Let's Hear it for the Red Sox Nation.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Indian summer

Apparently, an Indian summer is "a period of unusually dry, warm weather occurring in late autumn" and that's exactly what's taking place here in Budapest at the moment.

The result is that the streets smell worse than normal, people are irritable, hot and sticky and all around it's miserable. I took a shower this morning before church and was out of the house until around 2 pm. When I got back to the flat, I felt like I smelled so bad and wanted another shower! My friend Anna has OCD because she won't touch anything and gets sort of freaky-deaky about touching things. I figure just always have hand sanitizer in your bag. Nona, the girl who is staying with me until Saturday, had the right idea and had the light off in the kitchen when I got back while checking internet. I moved my bed back up to the loft a week or so ago, thinking it was finally cooling off as there were a few cool mornings but it's not about to cool down. Apparently not. :D

I just took a shower again and I'm out the door to meet Nori and Dori. We are going to transition all the responsibilities Nori used to have for the Foundation to Dori. Dori just got back from working for the summer in Yellowstone Park and I'm looking forward to hearing about her adventures in the USA. But I'm not looking forward to stepping back outside into the hotness. I walk and take public transport so vehicles with air conditioning are not an option for me. Oh well. This is the price I pay. It's really not that bad. I just wanted to let you know we're experiencing a very hot Fall at the moment. Maybe it's global??? I'm ready for the cool Fall breezes to blow through Budapest.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The elections

Although we are not fully through the gauntlet of interesting political games, I got this sinking feeling in my stomach this afternoon as I started thinking that in less than two months the American people will have elected a new president. Less than two months! As the world looks on (and don't kid yourself people, they are looking), so much will be determined even on an international level through this.

On the one hand, why should we care what people think of Americans? On the other hand, we hold a certain level of responsibility -- first and foremost to our people -- and second to those places on the globe where our decisions influence regional societies and governments. Here in Europe recently, there has been quite a bit of talk about Americans, some positive and some not so positive.

I'm still quite undecided in all my thoughts on candidates for both major parties. And what if I just decide to vote independent? I've always felt that was throwing away a vote. Not exactly sure I want to do that either. It's tough thinking about who will be best on both a national and international level.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Tonight after teaching English to Lilli, I met Anna (aka village girl) in Ujipest and we tried to find a place to eat dinner. Other than the dirty gyro stand on the side of the street, things were looking pretty slim. Finally we asked a lady in a mini-mart and she recommended this place a few blocks away called the Old Fisherman in Hungarian. It was actually delicious food -- buttery potatoes and breaded fish. Something about village girl -- I always find myself laughing when I'm with her. This girl has pretty much mastered the Hungarian language, and is now talking about taking Russian and Italian while she's here in Budapest. Who is she? She's trying to rope me in as well, but I'm not convinced at this point in my life that I want to start studying a language I will probably never use, although Italian is sort of romantic and would at least be in step with my Italian roots.

Tomorrow morning I'm running the Breakfast Run on Margaret Island. Although I'm a bit disappointed in my lack of preparation for the half marathon I was planning to run on Sunday, I'm excited about the 5k. I actually roped a few others in with me. It will be nice to get out to Margaret Island again before the weather gets really bad.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This morning's musings

I woke an hour earlier than the alarm, which is a good thing as I am trying to get a lot done so I can go and enjoy some time with a few of the ladies on our team who have infants and wanted to hang out together today. Since my love language (Five Love Languages, Gary Smalley) is quality time, I enjoy being with people...period. So, I'm going to try and get a few things done and still enjoy time with them this afternoon.
I'm still a bit disappointed that I won't be doing the 1/2 marathon this Sunday but I just wasn't prepared. I didn't have the mileage I was expecting and I don't want to face injury. Instead, on Saturday morning I'll be running a 5 k and atleast I feel as though I'm getting out there and moving forward a bit.

I realized that I'm not as good at following the running plan as I was with the Sprint Tri plan. I much prefer training for a Sprint Tri but at this point I don't forsee myself doing another one on this side of the world anytime soon. Nothing is happening nearby and I think I'm going to wait. I'd like to get another one into my experience portfolio (hehe) before I see if I want to jump into Olympic distances.

One thing besides running that I dislike is strength training but I've been doing great with the strength training program that my friend Lisa developed for me. So, I'll just need to continue that. I also posted a full marathon training plan that would prepare me to be ready to do one (which I'm not planning to actually do, I just want to get my miles up there) by the Spring. I definitely need new tennis shoes but I'm waiting until I head back to the States in February before getting a new pair - if I can wait that long.

"Leprosy yielded to no human remedies but it fled at once at the Lord's "I will"' Sometimes there are things in my heart that feel a lot like leprosy and I am asking God to touch those places. He says, "I will" and they flee. Thank you Jesus for being such a real part of life.

Last night I found "Dan's Treehuggers" bookstore in Budapest and I met Dan. He is from the East Coast but has been living in Budapest for 16 years. He started his bookstore/organic cafe almost 3 years ago. I asked him how he got the idea and how it got started. He said that his girlfriend at the time wanted 4 kids so he realized he would need some income to sustain that. He said his girlfriend didn't survive the start up of the business, but now he has two bookstore/cafe's in Budapest and one in Vienna. I sold a bag full of books to him and then ended up purchasing a book later at another bookstore.

I ended up buying a paperback by the author Paulo Coelho called "Like the Flowing River." I've heard a lot about him recently and all of his books are here in Budapest in English. This story from his book caught my attention and I thought I'd share it with you.

"A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point, he asked:
"Are you writing a story about what we've done? Is it a story about me?"

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
"I AM writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I'm using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up."

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn't seem very special.

"But it's just like any other pencil I've ever seen!"

"That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world."

'First quality: you are capable of great things but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God and He always guides us according to His will.'

'Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he's much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.'

'Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.'

'Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.'

'Finally, the pencil's fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.'