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.



Exercise Woes

I have to tell you that exercise is not my friend.

It is said that exercise is great for increasing your energy levels, making you “feel better”,  as well as decreasing your stress.

Ah, the “magic pill”. . .that does not, in any of those categories, work for me.

Exercise leaves me feeling insanely exhausted.  At the end of any given workout I feel like death warmed over, and hubby pretty much verifies that is what I look like too.  As for decreasing stress?  Let me just say any time you have something on your daily to-do list that you dread. . .it is a major stress inducer.

Oh, and during any workout (I do exercise videos), the nutty, smiling leader is always talking about all these stupendous benefits while also proclaiming the wonders of “endorphins”.  Let me just say, for me, those little buggers exist on the same mythical playing field as Pegasus.

I think the worst thing is the number of people that state these things as FACT.   Sort of like those who declared for decades, that you know you are having a heart attack if you have pain in your left arm; or the whole “flight or fight” theory.  Course, recently it has been shown that both of those aren’t true for the majority of the population because the studies that came up with that bunk only used male test subjects.

Not that I’m suggesting this exercise hocus-pocus is false, or that it only applies to men.  I am merely stating it does not apply to me; and I’m willing to bet I am not the only one.  Because, it stands to reason, should exercise be as wonderful as exercise gurus claim it to be, we would not be a nation of obese people.

All that said, you will find me up at 0500 nearly every morning for my daily workout.  (I have very low energy levels and they are at their highest in the morning; otherwise, I would try to figure out how to workout at night, as my most favorite thing to do after working out is to go to sleep.)  Also, given the dread I have for working out, I reduce my stress by not being completely awake when I’m prepping to cross  it off my to-do list.

I do not work out for any benefits other than the fact that it does help my clothes fit better and, possibly, because it will keep me healthier.  (I’m not holding my breathe.)

So, it should not surprise you that in the midst of my workouts my thought processes are. . .grumpy?

I do a different workout every day, on a rotating weekly schedule.  This keeps me from getting bored and plateauing.  Just this week I switched to a new, more “difficult” routine.

Wednesday is yoga day.  I think the routine I did yesterday is headed for the trash.  Not only did I have to hear the bunk about all the great benefits I was NOT going to be feeling, but  I had to listen to the dude’s idiocy.

I mean, at one point we are doing breathing exercises.  (And literally, we are sitting in the “ohm” pose — modified criss-cross applesauce, with wrists on your knees and your thumb and middle finger touching in a circle.)

Just to interrupt my own train of thought here:  Why???  What does that pose do for you?  How does holding your fingers in such a way do anything for breathing or relaxing?  I just don’t get it!

Anyway, the guy wants us to think about “absorbing energy”.  And to help us do this we are to “visualize a sun or a star above your head”.

What?  Does the man not know that a sun is a star?  I mean if he doesn’t that could explain a lot.  Wait a second!  What if he thinks WE don’t know that the sun is a star?  (offense taken)  And, that retard, if the sun and / or star was above my head I’d have “absorbed so much energy” I’d be burnt to non-existence.  Like that will do me a fat lot of good.

You know, I thought of one other benefit I gain from these terrible torture sessions.  Normally, my natural aggressions are completely expelled by the end of the workouts so that my family doesn’t have to deal with such a cantankerous me.  I would suppose there is a great blessing in that.

My Pal, Insecurity

I’d like to introduce you to a very close friend of mine, Insecurity.  We have a knot that ties us together that is the result of a life-long bond.  Through thick and thin, Insecurity has always been here with me.

My husband has been known to tell me on occasion that Insecurity plays with him also.  This is akin to the puddle saying to the ocean, “Look, we are both bodies of water!”  True, yet so vastly different as to be laughable.

It is interesting, because I am forever telling my children that they need to exude confidence.  Mind you, I don’t tell them they need confidence, just that others need to perceive that they have it.  Personally, I don’t believe that you can “create” confidence where none exists, but I do believe that you can fake it really well.

I also believe it is incredibly important to be able to fake it.  People who appear confident are leaders.  Others will listen, and follow, those that appear confident.  And, regardless of whether or not confidence is a friend of yours, it is easy to fake.

So, I tell my children,

  • “Stand up straight.”
  • “Speak strongly and clearly.”
  • “Look people in the eye.”
  • “Give a firm handshake.”

This list seems overly simple, doesn’t it?  Mmm-hmm.  Take a look at all the leaders you know, and tell me in which of those areas they falter.  And what’s amazing is that they could totally be faking it.

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a book:

I picked it up to read it shortly after receiving it, but then put it quickly back down.  The thing is, I don’t know that I want to be rid of insecurity; nor, do I necessarily feel that it has been “a bad friend”.  In fact, I would argue that I am a better person because of my insecurities, not in spite of it.

Think about it for a minute.  Because I am fellows with insecurity I question how I do things, I am constantly striving to improve.  I question relationships and whether they will make me stronger.  I question all the whys and hows and wherefores in an effort to excel.  (The trick, I will readily admit, is knowing when to stop.)

Go a step further:  How many “naturally confident” people do you know that need a book entitled, “Lose your confidence, because you have no reason to believe you’re that good.”

I seem to know a number of people like that. . .   Personally, I think they lack something that allows them to feel the insecurity they should.


Insecurity and I are off to play today.  We are going to try something new and different in our school day and I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out.  I’ve already picked my pen so I can write notes on how to improve in the margins.


Some of my very favorite books are full of intrigue, suspense, and obscure meanings, (like one would see in diplomatic speech).

For example:

“I hope you can appreciate the fact that I am really not in a position to make serious changes in the government at the moment.” Drop dead.

“Please, I wasn’t suggesting that. I fully appreciate your situation. My hope was to allay at least one supposed problem, to make your task easier.” Or I could make it harder.

-from Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

I truly appreciate when the intended meanings are put in italics too as they would otherwise, most likely, be lost on me. I simply don’t speak/think that way. It would require training for me to get to that level of understanding.

My speech (verbiage and understanding) is very much like my driving. I actually use turn signals, and such to signal my intent. There should, in my mind, be no doubt in another’s mind as to what I’m actually doing.

Not so, other drivers in our state! Therefore, when our kids turn about 15 I start instruction on “vehicle body language”.

It usually starts something like this:

“Just what do you think that idiot is about to attempt to do?”

Towards the end of the child’s “training” I can expect,

“Well, due to lack of any signals whatsoever, I couldn’t tell you. They are in the left-hand turn only lane (which, you would think, would mean something); yet, their wheels are cranked in the complete opposite direction, and they keep throwing up furtive looks in their review mirror every few seconds. Therefore, the nut-jobs are going to attempt to cross three lanes of moving traffic and make a right-hand turn.”

We learn similar skills in body language too.

“Posturing” sets the ground work for identifying the “path” or the direction one wishes to travel.

In case you don’t recall, I wrote this post about how difficult I was finding it to determine how I wanted to lead a unit study class.

Well, nearly half-way through the course, I have FINALLY figured out my “posture”.

It’s about time!

Finding the Yellow Brick Road

I am including this video clip as it is sort of related,

and because CERTAIN people say I “overthink” things I thought they would appreciate knowing my thoughts:

  • Where does the red-brick road lead?
  • Why does she have (or choose) to start at the very beginning of a spiral?  (Seriously, I’d skip that. . .straightest distance between two points and all.)  Maybe it’s a play on the tornado?

Anyway, I love the idea of traveling a path towards learning.  Honestly, what more can one ask on an educational journey than that of “courage”, “heart”, and “brains”?


So, when I am planning a unit study, I tend to seek out my Yellow Brick Road.  In reality, I merely try to find the path, for once I see the trailhead it has always seemed as if the way just fell into place.

Sometimes, this is very easy for me, for instance in geography.  Other times I struggle a bit, as in state studies.

It is interesting to note that regardless of how long it takes me to find the magical start point, I always enjoy it.  That is a whole route in and of itself.  I get to read, and study, and watch videos, and find interesting rabbit trails that may, or may not, qualify as bricks upon the path.

Not that I won’t gripe about it to my friends!  This process can be incredibly stressful, especially if there is a time crunch, or if the subject is too ambiguous or “large”.  Part of my griping though, is a vocalization of my brain’s scattered thoughts.  Sometimes, just saying things out-loud makes you realize their connection, or even if there is one.  Sometimes, in voicing my thoughts, a friend will pop off with some bit that was actually a piece of the puzzle I still had yet to realize was missing.  Many of my friends are brilliant and talented in areas where I am lacking and can offer an insight that I desperately need.  I greatly appreciate my friends!  (And, I’m truly sorry if I get a bit cranky sometimes.)

The unit study I’m currently obsessing over is money management / economics / and computers.  It’s HUGE.  I’m “talking” about it A LOT to my friends.  (My husband has already declared that his ears are off limits to this particular conversation. He suffers from a serious lack of stamina!)

I am starting to hit a point of panic, as I have yet to find my magical start point.  I’m beginning to feel that this may not be a “Yellow Brick Road”; rather, it may be a “Fieldstone Path” and the stones have been dumped at my doorstep awaiting me to piece them together.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I have the finesse required to construct a fieldstone path, so I am still desperately seeking my yellow brick road.

But, I know one thing, once I find that elusive yellow brick road; I’ll have a grand time traveling it!

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.)

Jam Sessions

Yesterday, I got a text from a friend declaring “free berries”.

You have to love those texts!

The thing was she was putting them out at 1100, and I was not planning to leave my house until 1230, and I have this thing about not driving somewhere unless I have to, and it’s always best to wrap your trips to places together.  (Saves on gas.)

And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t *need* any berries.  I had enough in the frig for my family for the week. . .

So, I spent the next period of time trying to get over my self-imposed gas / trip issues, and then I receive another text:

“Wanna make jam?”

For the record, I made jam last week.  Blueberry jam, and it was result of pretty much the same sort of texts.

“YES!”  (I had to erase the “duh” as I figured it would sound offensive.)

And lo and behold, between the efforts of four very good friends, three boxes of fruit wind up on my doorstep!

In point of fact, it was over 30 pints of blackberries, about 16 pounds of strawberries, and 10 pounds of apricots!

Now, my best friend had called to discuss best jam times with me, (her husband was one of the four) and we had decided on Monday; however, there was no way the fruit was going to last that long.  So schedules and situations were arranged and we were making jam yesterday afternoon.

July 6

Making jam is a hot business, and one would suppose that when temps reach well into the 90s and you haven’t A/C that this would be miserable.  However, it never seems so when you have a bestie to slave away with.  We could chatter and work, ponder and question, laugh. . .and stir.

By the way, waiting for fruit to boil. . .GAH!

We decided should we ever go into business making jam we would call ourselves “Toil and Trouble”, because the boiling issue is so infuriating, it made us feel “witch-y”.  (Or maybe because one of us is always causing trouble and the poor other one has to toil along after. . .)

You know, there is an odd thing about these types of jam sessions too.  It is the ONLY time a hostess NEVER feels guilty about offering their guest toast!  😀

We finished the strawberries and made a huge dent in the blackberries.  Today, I will finish those off, and then work on something “new”.

I am going to attempt to dehydrate the apricots.  THIS should be interesting!  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I know you are simply dying with anticipation!

ETA:  Apricots are having to wait till tomorrow, early a.m.