My life’s purpose

Yesterday I was on a TED kick and somehow landed here:

Actually, I know I landed there because well over a decade ago someone told me that God gives everyone gifts (at least one), and that our purpose in life was to find out what it was and use it.

I have yet to discover what mine is; thus, how I came to watch this particular talk.

Not only does the man say he will help you realize your purpose in less than five minutes, but you will be happier for it.  How awesome is that!

Well, to be honest I was wary, but willing to give it the good ole 10 minute go.

Right, so question number 1, “Who are you?”

I hate that question with a passion.  I hate it because I don’t know the answer to it myself, but also because when I see / hear the responses of others I’m quite sure they don’t understand the question either.  In fact, I believe that most people answer the question with designators akin to stadium seating tickets, especially amongst those in the homeschool circles.

For example:

“I am a child of God.”    (Stadium Ticket would read the name of the stadium.)

“I am the offspring of loving parents.”  (Stadium ticket would read the section you are in.)

“I am the spouse of ___.”  (Stadium ticket would give your row.)

“And I am the proud parent of ___.” (Stadium ticket would give your seat number.)

Guess what?  I still haven’t the foggiest notion WHO you are!  I get it.  I truly do, because this dude asked the question, and I was sitting there combing my brain for the answer.

Turns out he just wanted your first name!

HA!  How awesome is that?!  Remind me when I go to apply for my next job that my resume merely needs to state only my first name!!!  Apparently, that best describes who I am.

The next question was the real kicker though.  I mean, I was honestly grateful that the man started out with something simple like “who” I was, because number two was a doozy.

“What are you passionate about?”

Yep, at that point in time it was time to just get up and walk away.

To be honest, the first time he asked the audience to answer I think I heard maybe 3 voices.  When he asked them to respond louder, I suspect most people said, “watermelon”.

(I suspect that because one of my friends who teaches drama and chorus would tell her students that if they forgot the words to the song, just to mouth the word, “watermelon” and no one in the audience would know any different.  Of course, that little trick would only work if it was a group song and most everyone else did remember the correct words.)

This guy was having everyone shout their answers to him, so I strongly suspect that most people just hollered “watermelon” and he was none the wiser.

At this point, I knew I was still screwed, but I watched the rest anyway.  I did like his final point on how only two of the questions were related to you, and the other 3 were determined with thought towards others.

Still left me clueless.

But, don’t worry, I’ll leave you with my first name and you’ll know.



Survey Says!

Recently, due to self-study for a course I’ll be teaching, I have had the occasion to take a number of surveys.  Surveys like “personality”, “career aptitude”, “career interest”, and even “spiritual gifts”.

This has been eye opening for me, because I CANNOT fill these out without feeling immensely guilty!

Most of these ask you to “quantify” the statement, with a 5 being the highest and a 1 being the lowest.

Here’s the thing:  I can NEVER put a 5 down.  I mean, certainly I “could”.  I am physically capable to write a 5, but the instant I do I feel as if I had just told the biggest lie EVER.

For example, a fairly simple and straightforward statement:

“I am good at scheduling.”

I put a 4.  Even if I knew I were better than everyone I personally know (and I’m not saying I am), I could not put a 5 because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, someone out *there* is much better than I.  Therefore the highest I can go is a 4.

The same is not true of the opposite end.

This following statement had me in fits:

“I am willing to talk to strangers (umm, NO!) about God (oh, HECK NO!).”

Obviously, the proper response there, for me, is a ZERO; yet, technically, that is not an option.  So, I write down the stupid “1” and feel like I’m sinning against everything I believe in.

Some of these statements I think they throw in there to purposefully trip you up.

“I can schedule an event and get everyone cheerfully working towards that goal.”

So, the first part is a 4 and the second part is. . .well “who” are the “everyone”?  What is the event / goal?  Does this involve young/hyper children?  Menopausal women?  Teens?  Why is there a CONJUNCTION thrown in there???  And why the adverb “cheerfully”? Seriously, can’t they work toward the goal without complaint and we call it good? (Now, if it was a water balloon fight, involving my family I could, with surety, put a . . .4.)

One would think the “middle-of-the-road” questions would be okay, but I tend to seriously question my answers there too.

“Well, if I’m not sure. . .am I over-estimating my abilities by putting a 3?  Or am I undervaluing myself by placing a 2?  Will a difference of one matter?  If I check to see what category this question will eventually fall under is that considered cheating?”

Some questions I honestly do not know the answer.  I mean, the situation is not one that I’ve experienced.  I may have a desire for a certain behavior in such a situation, but I honestly don’t know what would happen.

“If I were a bystander in a bank robbery, I would try to keep everyone safe.”

Well, yes!  Hello?  I would love to put a. . .well, a “4” there.  But, to be completely honest, I may be that person that sits in the corner whimpering and peeing their pants.  I DO NOT know!

Guess what. . .there’s no number for that response.

All of this angst results in the following response when you take a computer “graded” survey:

“Are you a real person?”

In response to which I write, “4”.  (I think.)

Career Aptitude Test

I took a career aptitude test last night. . .

I think I failed.

Anyway, I took it because I’m looking for one to give to my students.  I don’t want an interest inventory, which merely tells the kids what they have an interest in; I want an aptitude test which should help direct them to fields they are most suited for.

For example, you may be interested in a career in sales, but if you are a shy introvert you may not have the aptitude for it.  (Not that you can’t change, to a degree, but it would be something to consider.)

So, I took this test and the best it came up with was that I would be good in an analytical position. . .but that I didn’t show any greater than 20% aptitude in any one thing!

Honestly, I have decided that the questions were not suited for a homeschool mother who has done this for over 15 years!

For example:  Do you accomplish your plan every day?

Well, geez, I TRY!  I mean, each additional child adds their own chaos to my “regularly scheduled program”, but I do try.  Yet, how often do I succeed???  Hmmm. . .

Or this one:  “Do you allow yourself to be distracted?”

Okay, yesterday it took me over an hour to type a single, short email.  It was completely the kids’ fault; because they would come up to me and say, “Mom, could you please help me with this [insert school subject here]?  I don’t get it.”  Technically, school is the priority so I obviously stopped the email creation to help (multiple times).  Which begs the question, if school is the priority then is the email my distraction?  Because I started that first, and it was on my list to do first. . . but I wasn’t expecting the kids to require so much guidance. . .

One question was, “Do I automatically take charge?”

Well, no.  Personally, I prefer not to have any sort of leadership position, ever.  However, if I’m surrounded by a bunch of slackers and nincompoops then OF COURSE I do!  I mean, most people try to avoid their personal hades whenever possible.

There was a group of questions related to other people.  Those, were killer.  “Do I take time for others?”

Are you insane?  Seriously!  I’m a homeschool MOM, my entire life is devoted to others.  And I would take time if I weren’t in this position; however, I would not take near the time that some people I know would.  It would crush me.

Oh, and lots of questions about how well I empathize with others and how interested I am in others’ lives.  I don’t read People, and I generally follow a don’t ask / don’t tell policy.  But, if you up and decide to tell me things,I find that terribly interesting.

“Do I speak loudly?”

Well, I’ve never heard someone say they can’t hear me, but I don’t do it to attract attention.  In fact, if you speak loud enough for people to hear you the first time, they go away much faster.  (In fact, this one stupid question totally screwed my scores and the silly thing popped off with something about me being an attention glutton.)

“Do, I make rash decisions?”

Is getting married to a man after 8 weeks, rash?  I mean, what if you know in your heart it’s true?  What is the definition you would give to “rash”?  Most of my decisions are made quickly.  It’s the slow, “well-thought-out” ones that have been proven to be poor.

“Am I upset by disorder?”

Oh Lordy!  Whose disorder?  I mean mine I can live with perfectly fine; I know where things are (for the most part).  It’s just not neat and tidy.  But, my husband’s junk; although neatly stored, can drive me to distraction!

After talking to my husband this morning he said my score was due to my obviously over-analytical responses.  I told him it wasn’t my fault that the test creators failed to take into account that people have brains and will use that organ to think things through.

Yet, wouldn’t it be interesting to see how teens do on this exam?

The Value of Words

I think it was my last speech teacher (in a class entitled, “Business Communications”), that harped and harped and harped on the “value” of words.

“Do NOT ever use a 25 cent word when a dime word will do.  And, unless you want to seem a pompous arse, NEVER use a dollar word unless absolutely necessary.”

(This was her idea of excusing those in the scientific and medical communities.)

So, for example, you would opt for “sunroom” rather than “solarium”.

I have spent a good deal of time this weekend going over economic stuff.  Let me just say, to all economist authors that I have thus far come across, I happen to know a fantastic “Business Communications” course that you would be well-advised to take!

Because, honestly, if you can’t describe it simply I have a hard time believing that even you understand what you are saying!


There are different types of “collectors” in the world. . .and in all honesty, I am using that term so loosely I hope not to offend actual collectors.

I’m specifically referring to two types: hoarders, and pack rats.

There is a difference, at least in my mind.

The hoarders are those that collect just to have, or to conquer some silly need.  These are the people who you hear about on those coupon shows.  . . the ones that have 20 bottles of ketchup in their basement, and wouldn’t bat an eye at buying more as long as they get some mega deal.

Not that they will ever use that insane amount of ketchup.  But, by golly they got it for next to free!

Then there are the pack rats.  This is the variety that I am intimately familiar with, as they live in my household.  And, being so familiar with this species, I can tell you that they fall into two categories.

My husband is a huge pack rat.  He comes by it honestly, as his entire family seems to suffer from the syndrome.  They will honestly build other structures in order to place their crap memorable items.  (They call these structures “garages” but they rarely hold vehicles, and it is more along the lines of a very cluttered museum warehouse.)

Now, my husband (and, I believe, his family) are all of the more “respected” of the two types of pack rats, for they are the “sentimental pack rats”.

You can identify this variety when you try to toss some nasty, torn, rag away. and they rescue it from the trash can exclaiming, “You can’t throw this away!  This is the sock that I bought in 1993 at the farm show in Middletown, USA because the shoes that I had were rubbing blisters on my feet.”

You see, they have to hold onto their “memories”; and their memories are any tangible thing that has a story behind it.  The problem is EVERYTHING, has a story for them.

Of course, I deeply suspect, that as these people get older and their memories fade, they still tell stories about the things that desperately need to find a home in a landfill.  I, for example, was never at a farm show in Middletown, USA. . .so how did my husband buy socks there?

I have also discovered that my husband will try to hold onto items of mine that I’m trying to toss.  “Oh, but Christine, don’t you remember when. . . “

At which point, I run madly from the house, and gas the item in question and light it up.  Well, okay, not true.  But, I definitely pull the “it’s mine and I’ll do what I want to with it” trump card.

Then, there are my children, who are the second variety of pack rats.  They are like the carrion rats of the entire pack rat order.  They latch onto the whole “pack” idea, but don’t won’t to mess with the sentimentality of it.  You could also identify them as lazy pack rats.  (Those who are pack rats merely because they don’t want to take time to throw things away.)

There is one more thing about pack rats, regardless of their variety, that I find intriguing.  “Out of sight – out of mind” nearly always applies.


The other day the men of my family were all out for the ENTIRE day.  This is a rare event for me (not even annual), so I took full advantage of it.

Yes, indeedy, over 4 garbage bags worth of stuff disappeared from a single room in our house.

And, no one has yet to notice.

Smoke detectors

Hubby has a thing for smoke detectors.  We have no less than 13 in the house, and I may be forgetting a few.

The new fangled ones scream at you, “FIRE! FIRE!” or. . .(they do something else for carbon monoxide, but I don’t recall what). Course, high humidity sets the buggers off too. . .

And when their batteries are dying, they bleep.  First, it’s like every couple of weeks.  Then, every few days. . . Just one bleep.  Just one to say, “My battery is dying, come change it please.” And finding the one amidst 13 in a four-level house. . .

Until, one day, it decides it urgently needs to be changed (kinda like a squalling baby), and then it will bleep every 5 minutes. And, of course, that “day” will happen in the dead of night.

BTW, hubby can sleep through ANYTHING, except the sound of gushing water.  I think we have the wrong type of smoke detectors in our home.

Now I need to wait for a tall person to hurry and wake up so he can re-install all the smoke detectors I knocked off ceilings this dark a.m. trying to find the right one.

Who you callin’ stupid?!

I have had to deal, recently, with a person that drives me bonkers, makes me question my sanity, and truly makes me wonder what planet they came from.

Because I’m pretty sure it isn’t from here!

In one instance when I was talking to the person, I suddenly had the realization that I had on “the face”.

“The face” that I have seen on my father whenever he has determined that he is dealing with someone who has stepped off on the “stupid floor”.


It is funny, as I recognized that face as a young girl when I saw my father speaking to people who clearly weren’t understanding him – and not due to a language barrier.  I was always very thankful I was not the recipient of that face.

And, then, I became a teenager. . .and suddenly I was the recipient of that face.  You know, when I did something stupid and here I was trying to explain it all rational to him. . .  He never bought it, and that’s what made him the smart one, and me the one deserving the stupid face.

I was discussing this over dinner tonight — I mean, telling how I thought I had this “face” on whilst I was talking to this particular person, and where I got this face from.

Tyler started laughing, “Oh!  I’ve seen that face on Opa!”  “It was when I was doing math, and he was checking me.  He kept asking where I got my answer, and I kept saying 4+7=11.  It wasn’t till much later that I realized he wanted to know where I came up with the four and the seven.”

That, then, reminded me of this:

When I was a youngster we had to do a science project for school.  I did mine on cats, and I did quite a fair amount of work on it, seeing as I was trying to convince my parents at the time that I was deserving of a cat for a pet.

Well, my project did well enough that I went to the “next level” (county maybe?).  I remember being very nervous as there were so many kids in the gym where we had to set up our projects.  I had my project all set up behind me just waiting for the judges to come around so I could dash out of there.

Well, the judges finally made it, and they looked at me and smiled.  And then they asked, “What’s your project on?”

My response was, “Cats.”

There was a pause, and then another judge asked me, “So, what is your project on?”

This was not what I was expecting, so there was a short silence while I gathered my wits and remembered that the teacher was always telling us to speak up.


The judges were a bit surprised by this, I could tell.  So far, so good. . .

The third judge then looked at me intently and asked, “What is your project on?”


I mean, really!

I turned around and saw that my poster was still standing behind me, and it still had written upon it in big, bold, black 3-inch stenciled letters C-A-T-S.

So, I took a deep breath; I held out my arm in a perfect Vanna White pose, and I said,


There was a fourth judge in the group, and he said,

“Shall we move on?”