I went to a workshop led by storyteller Fran Stallings years ago, in which she told about teachers who attended her in-service trainings over and over in order to "get their buckets filled." Under the lower arches is a trough, flowing with mountain spring water at Rila Monastery in Bulgaria, one place where I always feel refreshed and renewed. 

I'm heading back to Bulgaria in 2015, to get my buckets filled. In case you hadn't yet heard me doing a happy dance, I've just been accepted as a Fulbright Scholar for five months in Sofia, where I'll do research in the archives of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum (under the aegis of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). I'm also planning to go to the House of Humor and Satire in Gabrovo. My goal is to find animal folktales and trickster tales and to perform these in Bulgaria and in the US. For those of you who don't know, I lived in Bulgaria in 1983-84, where I studied the language. I've been back three times since.

Five months! I get to have a sabbatical, time for research and reflection. I've been making my living as a storyteller since 1993 and never dreamed that I'd ever have a sabbatical. Two years ago I went to a lecture for artists about the Fulbright Scholar Program, at which I learned that even those not affiliated with a university can apply. The first year, I got as close as being an alternate, so I resubmitted.

There are still some hoops to jump through before I go, like paperwork and medical exams, but I'll keep doing my happy dance all the way through them. Then I'll stop, take a breath and start to fill my buckets (apologies to any Bulgarians reading this--I took the next picture in Turkey).