Posts Tagged ‘Peace Corps Honduras’

Always Say “Yes”

Sunday, March 25th, 2018


“The way for a man to rise, is to improve himself in every way he can.” Abraham Lincoln

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Say “‘yes,’ because you never know what an opportunity, no wonder how odd, might bring. ‘No’ closes doors. ‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” William Shatner, Shatner Rules


Always say “yes” to every opportunity, regardless of how preposterous it may seem. Saying “yes’ always leads to new connections and adventures. New doors fly open. New people are met. New ideas are discovered.

Abe says “Yes”

I believe there were two early incidents in Lincoln’s early life, where he said “yes” to

Lincoln as Lawyer

opportunity that set the course for his life. These decisions enabled him to learn to adapt to the vicissitudes of life and to fearlessly push the envelope of his comfort zone.

1) At the age of 19, Lincoln said “yes,” when asked to take a raft full of goods down the Mississippi to be sold in New Orleans. This was the first and longest trip that Lincoln had ever taken. From his experience operating the boat through obstacles, selling merchandise, and fighting off thieves, he developed a strong sense of self-reliance (Herndon and Weik, Life of Lincoln).

2) Lincoln said “yes” when presented with the opportunity to study law. In learning to defend clients in court, he developed the mental strength, to match the physical skills that he possessed.

“Yes” to Peace Corps

I said ‘yes’ in 1985, and became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. I quickly learned to adapt to change, especially the first time I felt army ants crawling up my pajama legs. Honduras had its ups and downs. I embraced my teaching job with passion, loved my students, and my experience working in Honduras opened up doors for me later for even more interesting work in other Latin American countries. It even inspired me to write my first book.

“Yes” to Marriage

As an older college student, I said “yes’ to a summer internship at an agricultural research station in central Mexico. At 37 years old, I thought I was the kind of guy who would never get married. I was nervous around women. I thought my ears were too big. But one day, I asked a Mexican secretary for some directions. I mustered up the courage to introduce myself, I said, “Hi. I’m Terry Sprouse and these are my ears.” Unlike me, she was an exceptional conversationalist. A year later, we both said “yes” to matrimony, and embarked on a thrilling adventure together.

“Yes” to Toastmasters

Saying ‘yes’ to join Toastmasters super charged my aspirations to be a writer and speaker. I have published 5 books, each one based on speeches that I gave at Toastmasters meetings and the invaluable feedback that I received from fellow Toastmasters.

Captain Kirk Connects the Dots

To quote William Shatner, the venerable Captain of the Starship Enterprise,

 I nearly always say “yes.”

“Yes” makes the dots in your life appear. And if you’re willing and open, you can

William Shatner

connect these dots. You don’t know where these dots are going to lead, and if you don’t invest yourself fully, the dots don’t won’t connect. The lines you make with these dots always lead to interesting places. (Shatner Rules, 2011.)

Phoenix or Bust

Just a few weeks ago, my wife wanted to go to Phoenix to hear the Mexican female band, Flans. The performance was

scheduled for Saturday at 8:00 pm. I generally don’t like sprawling cities like Phoenix, much less at night. Phoenix is congested, polluted and crime infested, just like in the movie Blade Runner, at least in my own caffeinated mind. I felt queasy about going to Phoenix.

“I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, to go with you to the concert,.” I said to Angy.

“That’s great, O self-inflated one. Bring ear plugs and steel-tipped shoes, because I’ll be doing a lot of screaming and jumping up and down,” she said.

“And I will be the one sitting, quiet as a mouse, next to you, emitting positive

Foreboding Phoenix

vibrations,” I said.

Even though it was outside my comfort zone, I went. And guess what? My ears are still ringing.

Yet, I met some extremely interesting people, I never ever would have met otherwise. I even met an old Peace Corps friend, and most importantly my wife was happier than a tornado in a toupee factory.

I said “yes,” and the dots connected.

Is it just me, or is someone’s phone ringing?


Upcoming Pesentations:

April 14, 2018. “Publish or Perish.” Pen to Podium Toastmasters. Hardesty Center, 1100 S. Alvernon. Tucson, AZ, 9:00 am.

June 5, 2018. “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” Arizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesPrescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.


Amazon Link


Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture


Angry Cow! (video)

Monday, October 9th, 2017


I never saw a Purple Cow,

I never hope to see one,

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one!


Most people have a favorable view of cows. We make light of them in poetry, as in the famous “Purple Cow” poem. We even joke about them.

I remember my father telling me, “Terry, you haven’t finished your milk. We can’t put it back in the cow, you know.”

In 1985, I became a Pearce Corps Volunteer in Honduras and that forever changed my point of view of the seemingly humble cow.

My assignment in the Peace Corps was to work with small farmers (5’ 5” tall or shorter) in a small village in northern Honduras. The crops they grew were corn and beans.

My work routine in Honduras consisted of getting up early in the morning, with the chickens, and walk out to farms to collaborate with the farmers. I had to cross the river to reach the fields. There was a large tree trunk laying across the river that served as a bridge.

On either side of the road was tall grass infested with voracious, industrial sized insects that were ready to suck the blood out of my body.

I walked my usual route out of the village. As I approached the river, I hear screaming and shouting up ahead. Then 4 or 5 people from the village were running back towards me shouting “vaca loca” “vaca loca.” “Correle.” “Crazy cow. Crazy cow. Run away.”

One man told me “Mr. Terry, you cannot cross the river today. There is a cow blocking the road.”

I said, “I’ll take care of that cow. I will just shoo him away.”

“Mr. Terry, for the sake of the entire village do not anger the cow.”

“Pfffft! Have no fear, Terry is here.”

I boldly march over to the river. I turn the corner around some trees and my eyes locked on an enormous Arnold Schwatzenegger-sized cow. As big as a house. He had enormous horns. He scraped the ground with his massive hoof! Steam came out of his nostrils as breathes.

I looked into the eyes of the cow and we had a “mind meld.” I could feel his fury and his desire to flip me like a pancake if I tried to cross that stream.

Immediately, my family jewels rose up to my Adam’s apple and my ignorant bravado about ‘shooing’ away the cow, gave way to a feeling of stark raving terror. I stood there trying not to look too horrified. I inched my way back to the villagers.

“Did you shoo the cow away, Mr. Terry?” one villager asked.

“No. for the good of the village, I have revised my plan. Now, I think we need to just give the cow his personal space,”

Just then the cow came around the corner moving towards us. “AAgggh!” we screamed in unison.

The villagers bolted back to the village so fast that they left a vapor trail.

I jumped over a fence on the side of the road, still thinking I had to see the farmers, and I walked through the insect infected plants. The voracious bugs feasted on my body like a ravished high school football team at an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut buffet.

I knew these were tough mosquitoes. When I slapped them, they slapped me back.

I managed to circle around behind the cow and limped out to see the farmers.

Later, when I dragged myself back home. The last few feet I was actually crawling back into my house.

Long after I returned home to the United States, I still harbored a fear of cows. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat. How long will I have these horrible memories? Yes, you guessed it, until the cows come home.

Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.





The Keys to Success on the Road Less Traveled

Edited by Terry Sprouse


The 15 authors of The Keys to Success on the Path Less Traveled, illustrate the different shades and colors of the word ‘success.’ We view success as:  realigning one’s life following the death of a loved one; channeling the energy of rejection into writing comic books; recognizing the daunting sacrifices of one’s mother; finding inspiration in working with disadvantaged youth; recognizing the trials of being teacher; celebrating the nobility of ‘man’s best friend;’ capturing the essence of life through the lens of poetry; overcoming the past and finding ways to love yourself; among many other intriguing ways.

The title of this book, The Keys to Success on the Road Less Traveled, refers to the subtle insight that we glean from reflecting on the experiences of life, and embracing the nuances of meaning that life presents to us.

As Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the Hero’s Journey as a life-altering quest where, after passing through trials, the hero is transformed to a higher level of consciousness.

The stages of the journey are:cave

1) The “call.” The hero sets off on a quest.

2) The journey into unknown territory.

3) The supreme ordeal. As Campbell puts it, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

4) Sharing the wisdom gained.

Being on a Hero’s Journey enhances the hero’s perception. They feel like unseen forces are intervening to protect and guide them. The hero has a sense that everything happens for a reason.

The Hero’s Journey of Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was on a Hero’s Journey in his life long quest to become president. In Lincoln’s case, his Hero’s Journey made him aware of the lessons and stories in every day experiences. Life had meaning and seemingly random incidents held significance. He could draw out the deeper gist that existed just below the surface of most people’s perception.

Clip 1:

Clip 2:


Grasping “The Big Picture”

Several years ago, when I worked in Honduras, I came across two stonecutters.

“What are you doing?” I asked the first stonecutter.

“Squaring the stone,” the man replied.

“What are you doing?” I asked the second stonecutter.

“I am building a cathedral,” the man replied.

Okay. The second guy was a little presumptuous, but he still gets points for seeing the big picture.

Your Hero’s JourneyHerosJourney41

I believe that we are all on a Hero’s Journey, and like Lincoln, we are endowed with the ability to discern the profound stories and parables that unfold before our eyes every day. We have only to be prepared to see them.

Convert Affliction to Anecdote (Activity)

Put yourself in the right perspective to capture the stories of your daily life.

Write down the significant bad things that have happened to you in life. Then, as bad and unfair as these incidents might have seemed at the time, identify some lessons you learned from them, or how you became a better person as a result.

Here are some examples (based on personal experience):

1) How missing a flight and having to spend the night in a strange city with your kids became a treasured memory.

2) How an illness indicated you that you needed to make changes in your unhealthy life style.

3) How being replaced by a chimpanzee at your job led you down the challenging path to work that was closer to your heart.

4). How you looked deep inside yourself for the fortitude to bounce back from a dismal failure.

Are the catastrophes of life bad, or is life just trying to teach us a lesson?

The Hero’s Perspective: Change Your Unholy Mess to Unparalleled the-wicked-witch-of-the-west-ozMetaphor

You show me someone who is on a Hero’s Journey and I’ll show you a resilient, unflinching individual who converts life’s challenges into stories of inspiration, strength and humor.

To paraphrase author Norman Maclean, from A River Runs Through It,

“In the end, all our failures and successes merge into one, and a story runs through it.”

Upcoming Presentations:

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

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A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Sunday, November 1st, 2015


three stooges auto mechanics

An Unexepected Twist at the Walmart Auto Shop

I went to get the oil changed in Wal-Mart on my 1989 JEEP.

After changing the oil, in a maneuver that reminded me of a Three Stooges short, the technicians “bumped” some wires and the car wouldn’t start.

“Look, I brought my car in here to get it fixed and now it’s in worse condition,” I said to the department manager.

“I’m not sure what happened. Some wires came loose durning the procedure,” he replied.

“That’s funny because there are not even any wires near the oil drain or where you pour it in.”

“”There’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll push your car outside.”


I called AAA for a tow truck to haul the JEEP back home.

My Image of a Tow Truck Driver – Revised

My mental image of tow truck driver is a guy with grease on his clothes, reeks of cigarettes smoke, and spews f-bombs. I expected to see Jonathan Winters from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World.

jonathon winters

Notwithstanding my stereotype, the AAA tow truck driver turned out to be a clean-cut guy named Steve.

I sat in the cab as he towed my car away.

“How’s it going?”  I asked.

“Not bad, except I got four jobs just before I got off work at 5:00. I guess I’ll be working late again. It doesn’t bother me though because when I work these extra hours, I feel like I’m building up a lot of good karma.

Yesterday they sent me to west Ajo Road instead of east Ajo Road, so I had to travel an extra 15 miles to get to the right place. That’s why they pay me the big bucks.”

He stretched out his words in a slow-burn, mock-angry way. He smiled as he spoke. He didn’t seem to take his predicament too seriously.


The Impersonal Observer

I was struck by how Steve accepted adversity without allowing it to penetrate his cheerful personality. He took the attitude that, yes, bad things were  happening to him, but he was like an impersonal observer watching the action from a distance. This let him to take a philosophical perspective and to transform his misery into humor, not unlike Larry Talbot/The Wolf Man on a full moon.

Giant Sea Turtles


Punta Raton, Honduras 1987

Steve’s’ attitude reminded me of an experience I had as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. One time, I took a group of kids from my school to watch the giant sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs in the sand. It was the wee hours of the morning and we got lost on the way to the beach. Yet, I just acted like it was a fun educational side trip that I had planned all along.

And, guess what?

That’s what it turned out to be.


When things don’t go the way I expect, I’ll take it with a smile and I’ll remember that “a light heart lives long.”


Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.


Related Posts

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Upcoming Presentations

Nov. 13, 2015. “Once Upon A Time: Inspire and engage your audience with stories.” Present Like a Pro Conference. Desert Diamond Casino. Tucson, Arizona.

Nov. 24th, 2015. “Abraham Lincoln: Stories and Humor.” Cholla High School. Tucson, Arizona.

Dec. 15, 2015, 12:40 to 1:00 pm. “Abe Lincoln: The Greatest Storytelling President.” Old Pueblo Rotary Club. Hotel Tucson. Tucson, Arizona.

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