I am only one, but I am still one

“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

I first heard this quotation attributed to Helen Keller, but this Wikiquote page on Edward Everett Hale clarified the origin. The person who shared the quotation was Len Robertson, an inspiring keynote speaker at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Region IV conference in July 2018, encouraging attendees to involve themselves in leadership.

Len Robertson RID IV.jpg
Len Robertson presenting “LEADing from Within, LEADing for Tomorrow” in the ballroom of Hotel Albuquerque at the RID Region IV Conference in July 2018

Apparently, there was a strong connection between Edward Everett Hale and Helen Keller. On the same Wikiquote page there is this quotation:

“I have known him since I was eight, and my love for him has increased with my years.” —Helen Keller

“Dr. Edward Everett Hale is one of my very oldest friends. I have known him since I was eight, and my love for him has increased with my years. His wise, tender sympathy has been the support of Miss Sullivan and me in times of trial and sorrow, and his strong hand has helped us over many rough places; and what he has done for us he has done for thousands of those who have difficult tasks to accomplish. He has filled the old skins of dogma with the new wine of love, and shown men what it is to believe, live and be free. What he has taught we have seen beautifully expressed in his own life — love of country, kindness to the least of his brethren, and a sincere desire to live upward and onward. He has been a prophet and an inspirer of men, and a mighty doer of the Word, the friend of all his race — God bless him!” —Helen Keller, in The Story of My Life‎ (1904), p. 136

This year’s resolution: Don’t waste time

This year I resolve not to waste time: not to waste time doing things I don’t have to do, not to waste time wondering what people think about me, not to waste time feeling guilty about my errors, not to waste time making excuses not to do what I want to do. This from a man who agonizes over every little decision, from a man who spent an hour just yesterday agonizing over which liquid should go into which of the six travel bottles he bought (two sets of shampoo and conditioner, a conditioning shampoo, and a body wash in two pink, two blue, and two clear bottles), who spent a half-hour in the men’s section of Target yesterday agonizing over how to spend $35 worth of gift cards. Should I get these compression pants? Should I get these shorts to wear over these compression pants? Is it wrong for a man to wear compression pants without shorts on top? (A Google search taught me the term MAMILtoe.) If I get these shorts, what color shorts should I get to go over these compression pants of medium blue and black? Black? Medium blue? Or this contrasting maroon? This from a man who spent weeks over the summer hand-coding an XML database containing a listing of 115 interpreters to get the formatting out of tables within tables within tables and into a more moble-friendly format. Or does this look better? Or did that look better? Should all their degrees be abbreviated with or without periods? Or… Or… Or… until he spent his whole winter vacation not using a computer (nor using social media, thank-you-very-much) yet hurting in his shoulder from all the editing and re-editing over the summer. This from a man who just this morning spent 15 of his first minutes of the new year Googling whether it were true that Vera Ellen’s costumes in White Christmas all had high necklines to cover up a neck ravaged by anorexia (apparently not). This from a man who will spend too long writing this post and still publish it with errors, or at the very least feel a fool for publishing what was far less than his best work.

I will fail at my resolution. I will fail again and again. But I am more resolved than ever to try. God help me make progress! Or if there be no God, may my highest self pull my agonizing self, slave to its own tyranny, out of its misery. I have so much to give. I have so much time, really– time that I waste doing things I don’t have to do. I have a feeling I have a higher purpose than to waste minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of my life on things of no importance. I have things to do this year that will require that I make the best of my time, and I will do it. I have the will to do it. I will myself to do it.

Granted, the judgment of whether time is spent or wasted is a matter of perspective, and all is relative. Certainly there are worse things I could do with my time than decide how to use travel bottles or edit a database or choose an outfit. How long “should” it take to make a decision? How long “should” one take to get something right? How long is too long to lie in the grass watching the clouds drift by? I don’t know the answer, but I do know it shouldn’t take me as long as it does to do things other than relax. I need help. From without and within, I need help managing my time. It isn’t that I don’t get done what I need to get done; it’s that I do too many things I don’t have to do. It isn’t that I don’t meet deadlines; it’s that life has a deadline, and I deserve to enjoy what time I have left either creating or recreating, not demolishing myself with indecision.

Another of my resolutions is to have a buddy, a mate, a best friend– a “bromance,” if you will (I’m using “How to Start a Bromance” as a guide). Having a friendship in addition to a marriage will take time; that’s where the time for recreation comes in. It is already a challenge to limit the time I spend on work so I have enough time for family. It is going to be an additional challenge to limit the time I spend on work — and mindless minutiae — so I have time for friendship. I was taught when I was young that in order to have something you want you have to create a space for it. When I met my husband, I had done the internal work I needed to do to be ready. I had created space in my head, my heart, and my schedule for him before I met him, and when I met him, I was ready. Now I’m 50 — and oh, I am in the throes of a midlife crisis! — and I don’t even have a friend. Yes, I have colleagues, Friends, as Facebook calls them, and couples my husband and I occasionally have dinner with, but I do not have a friend. I do not have a person, as Merideth Grey would say. I do not have a mate, as the British would say. I need a friend, not just a husband. The idea that one’s spouse is one’s best friend is no longer real to me. I believe I need at least two significant others– a spouse and a friend. And for these and other priorities I am resolved to spend my time wisely.


If you want something you haven’t got, you’ve got to do something you haven’t done.

—My translation of the saying “Si quieres lo que no tienes, debes hacer lo que no haces.”

I looked up my translation on the Internet, and found some variations of the same saying in English, though none with quite my wording. Since I like my wording and the work I put into translating it from Spanish into English, I’m adding my rendition to the mix.

The photo in the poster is one of my most popular on Flickr. I created the poster with Big Huge Labs’ Motivator.

Refrán sabio

Si quieres lo que no tienes, debes hacer lo que no haces.

This really caught my attention in an article I read this morning at a Spanish conversation group.* My translation: If you want something you don’t have, you have to do something you’re not doing. Or… If you want something you haven’t got, you’ve got to do something you haven’t done.

Here’s an English quotation I found that is similar to my translation:

If you want something you’ve never had you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. —(some attribute this quote or something like it to Thomas Jefferson, but I looked it up, and it’s not)

En español:

Esta mañana, fui a un grupo de conversación en español. Leímos un artículo en español para practicar leyendo y hablando el idioma, y una oración me fascinó: “Si quieres lo que no tienes, debes hacer lo que no haces.” Me recordó de un aforismo, un refrán sabio. El artículo no tuve una nombre de escritor, desafortunadamente. Sin embargo, me gustó tratar de traducirlo. Lo busqué la atribución de la oración en español e ingles por el Internet, y no pude lo encontrar, pero lo importante es como me hace sentir. En cualquier idioma, voy a mantener este sentimiento en mi corazón.

* There was no attribution to the quotation nor to the author of the article, unfortunately.

Interpreter, appreciate thyself.

Physician, heal thyself.

–ancient proverb

Yesterday was Interpreter Appreciation Day. I’d like to propose the day after be dubbed Interpreter Self-Appreciation Day. It is reassuring to be appreciated, but our consumers and colleagues may not always take the time to express their appreciation. What is more, even when people express their appreciation, we may not absorb it, claim it, revel in it– unless we appreciate ourselves.

So, appreciate yourself, dear interpreter! Soak up all that appreciation you received yesterday–and any day of the year–and own it. Next time someone tells you you are good at something, say to yourself, “Yes, I am.” Next time someone tells you they appreciate you, say to yourself, “So do I.” After all, you have to believe you deserve appreciation in order to, well, appreciate it.