Friday, June 1, 2018

5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 5

Can a person learn a foreign language in just 5 days?

After one week in Spanish immersion school in Valencia, Spain, I can officially tell you the answer is yes, but not very well.

I just completed my last 5-hour day with 4 incredible professors and 2 adorable classmates.

I am wiped.

I am thrilled it is Friday.

And I am so darn happy I gave it my best shot.

I feel a bit like I did at my high school graduation, knowing I will miss Jules and Louis now that school is over.

I snap some cute photos and shoot some quick video of our crazy conversation instructor, Professora Goretti. I don't want to forget these faces and the laughs we had making up words and putting sentences together.

I struggle today with my recall ability. I keep using Italian words.

I blame it on the fun conversation with the Italian family in the bike shop yesterday. However, I'm quite sure I hit a wall concentrating so hard for so many hours on such little sleep.

On this final day I realize I am not going to use the Spanish word for bath mat anytime soon. (It's la alfombrilla, in case you're wondering.) So I let myself off the hook on the note-taking and try to just LISTEN, soaking it all in, appreciating these final minutes of class.
My favorite part of today: learning social media terms used in Spain

Twitter is pronounced "tweet-er"
To text is "chat-ee-ar" (to chat)
WhatsApp is used as a verb here and pronounced "whas-app-eh-ar"
To google something is also a verb, pronounced "goog-leh-ar"
So was this an effective experience in learning Spanish?
I truly believe I can now read and understand the present tense, that is!

Hey. That's more than I knew last week!

I will leave you with a portion of my Murrow-worthy composition of "What's in My House." (Please pardon the lack of accent marks; can't figure out how to type those yet.)

En mi casa hay 3 habitaciones:
Un dormitorio grande y dos habitaciones de invitations.
En mi cocina nosotros camemos en la barra. No hay un salon-comedor y no hay un studio.
En mi casa tambien hay un salon con paredes blancas, tres banos, y una terraza
Hasta La Vista, Valencia!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 4

I turn the corner in downtown Valencia and run into two classmates.

The city's clean, empty streets feel like a Hollywood movie lot...or maybe Disney World..when you run into the same people at dinner with whom you waited in line at Space Mountain.

Yet people live and work here. With their families. And they have for generations.

What an incredible day!

Class whizzes by, as usual. I never check the time. 5 hours of fun, lively, practical instruction.

Today the words seem to be soaking in. Everything sounds familiar. I realize I'm catching on to vocabulary and verbs with much less effort. I still struggle to form sentences, but I am not needing to write down every tiny detail.

Here's a sentence to razzle dazzle you:
Cerca de mi calle, hay parques, una fuente, y un salon de manicura.
(Near my street there are parks, a foundation, and a nail salon.)

Hold onto your hats. Here's another:
A mis hijos les gusta ire a la Iglesia.
(My kids like to go to church.)

Progress, baby!

Our 2nd teacher Laura is sick today, so the school director fills in. She is smart and outgoing and effervescent, like everyone who works at Don Quixote language school.

I am incredibly impressed with this school. Highly, highly recommend it!
My favorite part of the day: bike tour of Valencia.

This time I do not get lost!

My friend Tricia and I book a tour through Rent Bike Virgen (, the most adorable, family-owned bike shop near Plaza de la Virgen.

Christoph ( is our guide. He spends more than 4 hours showing us around this magnificent city, dishing history and humorous anecdotes along the way.

At the end of the tour, Christoph treats us to drinks at a super cool local bar close to the beach.  We learn this 30-something year old who speaks 4 languages is a former addiction specialist who treated heroin addicts for 10 years in his home country of Belgium. He is now a graffiti artist (a major attraction in this town) and independent tour guide.

I now love him even more!
I can't imagine what it would be like to study for an entire summer. Jules and Luis are soooo lucky!
No doubt they will be fluent in 3 months.

The camaraderie learning and interacting with fellow classmates is so special.

I could get addicted to this.

I will be truly sad to leave.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 2

Jet lag just hit me.
It's almost midnight.
I'm forcing myself to write this post before the day slips by.

I had intended to spend a least an hour studying verb conjugations from this morning's class (mirar=to eat, hablar=to speak, soy & estar=to be, creer=to think, tener=to have, vivir=to live).
But after class I decided to rent a bike and explore Valencia.
I was clearly feeling overconfident in my navigation skills, because I took off for the sea and got lost for at least an hour out of town.
I mean really, really lost.
I seriously wondered if I would ever find the bike store and my poor friend Tricia who was sitting there waiting for me.

I am now keenly aware of how much Spanish I don't know and that I must study how to ask for directions tomorrow.
Class starts at 9am.
It is clear 22-year-old Luis got some sleep.
He is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and conjugating the verb "comer" (to eat) like a wild man.
He and 19-year-old Jules, who is wearing a crisp, pink t-shirt today, say the meals in Spain are too small, and they are both hungry.
(I find myself wanting to meet Jules' mom and tell her how darling, respectful, and intelligent her son is.)

I struggle recalling the vocabulary we learned yesterday.
I keep telling myself it's okay. I will NOT be tested on this.
I totally slay a couple of worksheets and know I'm making progress, even though I don't really feel like I am.
My favorite part of the day is the 5th hour of class.
My teacher, probably in her 60s, is super spunky with died reddish hair.
She has vibrant eyes, a hearty laugh, and the most generous spirit.
She is a former anthropologist and seems to have taken Luis, the broke, anthropologist graduate, under her wing.
She has the dark-haired Brit and I join her at the white board in the front of the classroom and sing into colored markers "Sub-ma-ri-no Am-a-rill-o Es" the tune of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

We must sing this line 15 times.
I am cracking up at the scene.
She calls up Jules to join us and tries to add dance moves.
He thinks this is simply too ridiculous and can't play along.

I picture my boys being forced to sing with 2 old ladies in Spain and don't blame him one bit.
I feel an extra dose of affection for Luis for engaging in this fun yet humiliating exercise.

Class flies by.

I pray I can keep up the enthusiasm for 3 more days!

Monday, May 28, 2018

5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 1

My first day of school is already so much fun!
I've been placed with two college boys on "gap years" from Britain and Switzerland, neither of whom speaks Spanish.
So we're starting from scratch together.
This school is stunning. Looks and feels like a 5-star hotel.
Don Quijote has schools all over Spain and Mexico.
And the whole week of instruction (5 days, 5 hours/day) costs 285 euro ($334 US).
I think that's a deal, especially considering a semester of this in college would have cost at least $15K!
Ooops, it's 9am.
Off to class!
Okay, this is so fun!
First, let me remind you, I am starting with absolutely no basic knowledge of Spanish.
Zip. Nada.
Our 5-hour sessions are broken down into 3 segments, each with a different teacher.
They are not to speak any English at all, but every now and then they slip in an English phrase to explain tricky concepts.
We do a combination of grammar instruction, oral question and answer to build vocabulary, and a tiny bit of workbook exercises to cement concepts.
We change classrooms with each teacher rotation, with 10 minute breaks between sessions.
My classmates are adorable!
Luis is 22 and from the UK, and Jules is 19 and from the French part of Switzerland.
Luis graduated college with a degree in anthropology and owes $50,000 in student loans.
He stayed out till 5am partying, is starving, and has the shakes.

Jules is just 19 and from the French part of Switzerland. He speaks French, German, English and is learning Spanich here in Valencia before he begins his veterinarian studies. He will study medicine for the first 18 months in English; the latter 3 in Spanish. The kid is brilliant!
My favorite part of Day One is standing at the front of the class, trying to write/spell out what the teacher asks.
It feels like learning music by ear.
We three students take turns.
I love how the teachers use practical conversation to build oral comprehension.

I WISH I had a photo from my proudest moment: after filling up two massive white boards with Spanish words with fancy accents and punctuation,  I turn to my classmates and declare, "anything else I can teach you boys?!"

We all laugh.
I think they would hate me except for the fact I am a "periodista de televisione" and they think I'm famous!

Seriously, this is a BLAST! All 3 of us struggle a ton, but we try our best to compose sentences and help each other when we're stuck. We keep recalling French words instead of Spanish, but we're quickly catching on.

The 5 hours flies by!
Jules stays for a 6th hour. ( His mom made him.)
Luis, who is ready to pass out, heads home for nap.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Old Dog New Tricks: 5 Days to Learn Spanish

I'm about to board a plane to Spain for 5 days of Spanish Immersion school.

I've never had a day of Spanish class in my life.

I took French in high school and college.

I tried a Spanish lingo app for a few weeks to help me prepare for this trip and can barely remember the word for apple.

I wonder if I'm even capable of learning a new language at this age?

My short-term memory is decent from memorizing scripts at work, but long-term it's the pits.

Just ask my high school friends whom I count on regularly to remind me of crazy stories I've forgotten.

So I'm meeting one of them in Valencia, Spain to give my aging brain a chance.

Studying abroad in France is something I was registered to do in college...twice.

Last-minute job opportunities got in the way.

So in the spirit of my "no regrets" philosophy, I'm giving this much more useful language a try, in a time window my news job will allow.

I hope you'll follow this blog--and come along with me.

Class starts Monday!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Feed Joy

I rarely make phone calls anymore.

So last week when I was stirred to call a girlfriend, I obeyed my nudge and called.

It was short and sweet and in the first 3 minutes she blurted out in sobs, "I don't feel joy anymore!"

Oh girl. How many times have I blurted out the exact same words!

I was able to return her cries with some wisdom I had JUST read that morning from one of my long-time favorite teachers, Beth Moore.

We're not meant to live stuck. Bored. Uninspired. Joyless.

We're called to abound, "more and more."

Human emotions have an inherent propensity to grow. 
We can hate more and more or we can love more and more.
Knowing the propensity of things to grow, which way do I want to go?
"More and more" one direction will force its antithesis into "less and less."
We get to decide which we want to feed and which we want to starve.

I just returned from four joyful days with my two younger children in New York City.

And I mean JOY FUL. Like every single second. Like there is nothing that makes me happier in the whole wide world than being around these people.

Pre-show brunch at Blue Dog Kitchen Bar, NY
Thanks to the magic of that city, the excitement of Broadway cancellation lines, and the added bonus of Luke now living a 36-minute train ride away, this trip was truly special. (Johnny, you must join us next trip.)

Hello Dolly cancellation line. Yes, we got in! Front row & Bette touched my hand!

I sat on my bed this morning and cried, thanking God for the love I feel for them... and for the gift of being a mother.

For the opportunity to hold Nicole's throw-up pan at 2am in a White Plains, NY hospital.

For grocery shopping, cooking (at least trying to), and the joy of witnessing my son fall in love with Broadway the way his sister and I have.

Our Elphaba was AWESOME! 

Then I sat on my bed and cried even more, thinking my love for them doesn't even compare to how much God loves us. (And how grateful I am to have known this fact my whole life. Thank you, mom and Grandma Motz.)

The threats of nuclear war from North Korea. Our internal political climate. 24-7 news coverage. It all sparks and enflames so much fear these days.

If something is going to grow, I want to feed the love--and starve the fear.

I want to feed joy.

One of the reasons I got into television in the first place was the to use the platform as a way to spread good in the world...and to be a "companion" to people (transplants, new moms, elderly) who might be watching tv alone at home.

Since news is news and that's my job, I can at least spread joy by writing about it, right?

Feed it. And it will grow.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse Epiphany

Why Everyone Should Write

"Because everyone is full of ideas they're not aware of. Gut feelings. Intuition.

"Writing crystallizes ideas in a way thinking on its own will never accomplish."

Thank you, Morgan Housel @2017, for inspiring my first blog post in 7 months!

I won't lie. It's been a stressful, emotional, hard-to-divulge-the-truth time period.

I haven't had the heart or patience or confidence to put it all down in print.

These last 7 months encompassed two college graduations (happy, fun, expensive)...a super quick trip to Barcelona and Italy (deliriously reinvigorating, can cry just thinking about it)...the NBA Draft (oh my gosh...can I just tell you...that was the most stressful, emotionally heavy event of my life...which, thank the dear Lord, ended wonderfully. Thank you, Jesus!); moving --twice; and helping my daughter navigate her future (still a work in progress but why I believe was put on this earth!).

The bad news: these 7 months also included saying goodbye and hello to so many precious people, my heart has exploded and imploded at least a dozen times.

The good news: it has brought me here, to a new revelation.

I am, like Mufasa said to Simba, remembering who I am--giving myself permission to put my guard down, and stop hiding or stuffing my emotions.

For almost 3 years, I've been playing a bit of a role. 

I've felt forced to keep so much inside because I've been the, I wanted to protect my son's private ups and downs/perceived demands and expectations.

I have juggled some "unique" personalities at work, while working to develop new skills and hone others.

I've felt the need to "blend in" and not step on toes, while still trying to be my bold, emotional self who often feels the stories I report. 

(As someone given a double dose of empathy, this can be a tricky task.)

One of News 4 reporter Terry Bulger's eclipse stories this week, encourages us to use this once-in-a-lifetime event as a second chance at a New Years Resolution.


I want to start sharing my heart again. My challenges and insecurities and questions and a professional yet personal way.

The stuff that connects us to each other as women. As friends. As parents. As humans.

I need more honesty and laughter and connection in my life. 

And I need to write more.

When's the last time you poured your heart onto paper?

Perhaps the eclipse will inspire you, too. 


5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 5

Can a person learn a foreign language in just 5 days? After one week in Spanish immersion school in Valencia, Spain, I can officially tell...