The first play I ever did was a community theatre production of Hans Christian Andersen in my hometown. I was five years old, and my role was “Anna,” the smallest girl in the town and the inspiration for Hans’ story of Thumbelina. I got to ad-lib my own dance as Hans sang a song that included these lyrics:

Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing
Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing,
Thumbelina, what’s the difference if you’re very small?
When your heart is full of love, you’re nine feet tall!

As “Anna” (Thumbelina) in 1985

Though I didn’t know it at the time, that song would end up shaping me and my personality as I grew up. I remained the smallest kid in all of my classes, but I didn’t resent it. If anything, I grew up relishing the fact that I was smaller than everyone else. It made me different, it made me special, and really, I didn’t see what the “big” deal was about being tall. I could curl up in small spaces, when I danced or played people could throw me in the air, and the best part was, in pictures or choirs or plays I always got to be in the front row.

Sure, there are downsides too; I got teased sometimes, and there would be times when I’d need someone bigger to help me with things I couldn’t manage on my own, but that taught me that it was OK to ask for help when I needed it.  And that’s a valuable skill to have in the grown-up world, where as much as self-reliance and independence are needed, the ability and will to help others, and ask for help too, is just as important.

But the long and short (ha) of it is, I love being small, and naming my website after Thumbelina seemed a fun way to embrace it. Besides, “you gotta have a gimmick,” don’t you?