Mother taught me “if you cannot say something good, say nothing at all.” We went to an eighty-fifth birthday party of a friend’s husband. My friend and I had not seen each other for thirty-two years on May 20th, 1978. Somehow, we lost track of each other, actually we only live about ten minutes away. Our paths never crossed via the supermarket, the hair salon or just anywhere.

She went on Face book and saw my page and one day she left me a message. I never look at the message line and about four weeks later for some unknown reason I did I was thrilled beyond words and I am pretty eloquent most of the time with words since words are my life. So I answered her and we have been emailing for about five months now. She invited us to this birthday party and I looked forward to it for almost five weeks. 

When we got there it was thrilling to see her once again. The food was good and the people at our table quite friendly. None of us knew each other but we were all friends of the birthday person and his wife. The wife got up and spoke about her husband of fifty-five years and told of his young life and the hardships that he endured growing up in the Nazi horrific times then. He and his siblings and parents were lucky to leave Germany and lived in England for quite a while and then having a relative living here in Baltimore who sponsored the family, they were fortunate enough to come and start new lives here. 

She also mentioned her new found relationship with her new and again friend-me and she told the audience of about twenty-five, that I am a ballroom dancer, write articles on the websites and blogs and that I had in my time accumulated fifty-eight trophies, medals and certificates for my competition dancing with my professional teachers. That was nice of her to expound on my accomplishments because she was so happy to see me after such a long time.

After her endearing tribute to her husband and in a way to me her long found friend of thirty-two years ago, I left the room to make a visit to the restroom area. When I returned, one of her guests made this comment to me “I guess you do not dance anymore since I saw the way you walk.” Wow, what an obnoxious comment. I fell three months ago and hopefully my physical therapist and medical doctors say I should be dancing by the first of the year 2011.

This woman did not heed my mom’s advice, she just said what she thought and it proved her to be a person who says stupid things and does not think before she opens her big mouth. Instead of saying nothing, she proceeded to tell me that I walked way off and I guess you do not dance now. I did not need her comments though it is given me thoughts on this article. I know I am walking a bit out of the normal way; I did not need her discouragement at this time. I walk slowly, but I do persevere and I do get where I am going.

I met a young girl via calling a company on the phone. I always ask their names for later reference if I need to prove I called about the problem. Her name was  Amraris and she said it meant God given. A wonderful name and I am sure she lives up to it. We do not have to live up to the meaning of our names most of the time, but if we have a name that signifies a delightful event or  happening or thing; then it would be nice to live up to it and show others we are special people. My name happens to mean ‘little star, shining star.' 

I have tried to be somewhat like what it means. When I was in high school I was a fashion model at a prominent department store. I modeled clothing for young misses on Saturday mornings and then went to work behind the blouse counter. Every Thursday, I went downtown on the bus and got fitted for the modeling show. Then on my own at age 16.5 I got together at another department store a whole fashion show and I was in effect the producer of it. I gathered the models, other teens and a few older women, helped pick out the clothing and made sure everything went  correctly at the final happening. For this I got about ten dollars and that was in 1951 or so. When I look back, that was quite an accomplishment for a sixteen year old. 

When I was eighteen, I landed a job in a printing office and I rose from a secretary-bookkeeping person to become assistant to the CEO of the company and I worked there eight years. During my eight years, my final salary was ten thousand a year which was lots of money for a twenty something young lady in 1959-60. 

After marriage and taking up ballroom dancing, I went out at age forty-four and competed with my professional teacher and for the next ten years or so I earned fifty-eight trophies and medals for my competing days. Also at age thirty-three and a half, I went back to get a college degree and though it took me five years, I graduated with honors at age almost forty. 

So, I do not need a new acquaintance sitting at a dinner party to tell me that I walk badly. She does not know if God forbid I have a bad disease that causes this and her whole attitude about it was poorly shown. So when mom said if you cannot say something nice, say nothing at all, she was referring to people like this  person. It seems her accomplishments were probably minimal and when she heard my new found friend bragging about my dancing, something stirred in her to say that to a relative stranger. 

Better to be complimenting someone on an accomplishment whether you care about it or not than to be putting them down especially for a medical problem. I fell on July 2nd walking off a curb and all my doctors are predicting that after I get physical therapy for a few months, to go back and ballroom dance and believe me I will. I will and I can and as my first professor Dr. John Levay said to me on that first essay test way back in  1968 after having been out of high school for seventeen years and attempting to go to college as a wife, mother and daughter to my widowed mom  “ Mrs. Clayman, you can and will do better.” Wow, he even gave me a B on that first test. I still have it and framed it and have it hanging next to my fifty-eight trophies and medals. 

So always remember, say nothing at all to someone unless you can give admiration, encouragement and pride whether it be ballroom dancing applause, praise for anything else or even telling someone they really look attractive in their outfit. You will feel as good as they do upon hearing your remarks and believe me you will be like Amraris, you will be God given. It costs nothing of monetary currency and your rewards will be making someone you know or may have just met, to feel really important and special. Compliments are pats on the back and you will feel the pat yourself for showing kindness, compassion, sincerity and pleasantness.

Our children and if we have grandchildren are our jewels and we can give someone  what I call a 'saying jewel.' A saying jewel will uplift someone and make their day happier and sweeter. See if at least once every few days, you can give someone a saying jewel. Your life will sparkle from doing that, because saying something nice is a jewel moment. 

Elita Sohmer Clayman   December 2010

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Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL