Wearing my Heart on my Sleeve

It wasn’t until we welcomed Pedro, a Spanish young man, into our home for a short term exchange program two summers ago, that I started to notice how much I use idioms in my language.   At first, I just took for granted that he knew what I meant.  I began catching myself immediately after I said one, identified it as an idiom and explained the meaning. 
Pedro loved learning the idioms.  It was educational for both of us.  I had to think about how to explain the meanings of these strange American phrases and it became part of his immersion in the English language. 
After Pedro’s first summer with us, he was hooked on American idioms.  His first year favorites were ‘6 of one, half dozen of another’ and ‘it’s a piece of cake.’  A few months later back in Spain, Pedro reported that when his teacher asked the class the meaning of ‘6 of one, half dozen of another,’ he was the only student who did.  Score some ‘brownie points’ for Pedro.  (That’s a new one I haven’t shared yet.)
When we found out Pedro would return the next summer, we prepared for his return by making a list of idioms to teach him.  It became a family game as we all started to notice our idiom usage. 
Pedro returned to Spain after his second summer with a much larger vocabulary of American idioms.  His new favorites were ‘in the doghouse,’ ‘not my cup of tea,’ ‘don’t rain on my parade,’ ‘too many irons in the fire,’ and I’m embarrassed to acknowledge that he also learned ‘who cut the cheese?’—but not from me.  Whenever we Skype with Pedro, he always reminds us of his idioms—which is always good for a chuckle or two. 
Although this is all lighthearted banter between us, we really did aid Pedro with his educational pursuit of learning the English language.  In fact, when Pedro sat for the Cambridge Exam to receive his certificate to teach English as a second language, the test even had some questions about English idioms.  We just found out he passed the exam with ‘flying colors.’  (Oops, there’s another one.)
Unfortunately, Pedro will not be returning this summer to our home.  That hasn’t stopped our cultural exchange or communications though.  A few weeks ago while at a scrapbooking retreat, I created a calendar filled with photos from his last stay in our home.  Each month, I inserted text boxes on the calendar with American idioms so he can continue his love of learning idioms all year long.
As I researched the idioms online, I again was surprised how often I use them in my language.  I carefully selected the idioms because I knew I might eventually end up explaining them to him.  In the process, one particular idiom stood out as soon as I saw it—one I knew I had to send him.  It perfectly described a trait that Pedro and Rosa, his mother, have accepted in me over this past year as we grieved the loss of our mothers (Pedro’s grandmother).  It is ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve.’ 
‘Wearing your heart on your sleeve’ means to express your emotions freely and openly.  It is a trait that I have become very proud of.  As I have worked through the loss of my mother, I have embraced the more sensitive side of myself.  It was a part of me that I had stuffed for years.  Now I realize that God gifted me with my emotions and sensitivity for a reason.  It is the way I give back to others—through compassion and empathy.  So my exercise in educating Pedro on American idioms turned into a life lesson for myself.  I found an idiom that describes me perfectly. 
But don’t think this idiom exchange is all one sided.  I am pleased to note that I finally learned a Spanish idiom from Pedro a few weeks ago.  The English translation is ‘I woke the bear.’  It means to get someone’s attention or interest.  I’m not sure if it is a compliment, but I think it applies to Pedro’s love of idioms (although that was not the context he used it).  I’ll have to wait until my next Skype with Pedro to get clarification.  Until that time, I think I’m going to ‘stick my neck out on a limb’ and say that I’m ‘on the right track.’
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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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