Month: December 2013

Finding what you’re good at

The Potential by notgnoshi on
The Potential by

I love to doodle. Put me in a meeting without a computer, and I’ll walk out with a doodle filled notebook.

I even got in trouble in 3rd grade for doodling too much on my spelling tests. Even though all the words were spelled correctly, my teacher didn’t like the doodles.

I can’t really draw — especially people. I don’t get shading and shadow. And, when it comes to drawing faces I can get almost everything okay except for the lips. When it comes to drawing a person, I get stuck on the hands. Proportion is not my friend.

I never thought of doing anything with my doodles until recently seeing that people have done some beautiful things with doodles. So, maybe.

The other thing I’ve been struggling with is my writing.

I keep thinking I want to write something creative. I’ve been afraid to commit to a “novel” or anything like that, but I’ve been leaning in that direction.

There’s a major problem … I have a very hard time writing dialogue. Anytime I write dialogue it feels so inauthentic to me that I get annoyed and just want to trash everything I’ve done.

While driving around earlier tonight, I remembered a conversation I had with one of my writing professors at Northland College. We were discussing what type of writing I enjoyed reading and what type of writing I was interested in pursuing myself.

Poetry was quickly off the list. I don’t like reading poetry and I really don’t like writing poetry.

Blogs weren’t a think back in the early ’90s.

I had done some creative writing, but I had raised similar concerns to those I already mentioned about dialogue.

I really enjoyed journalist writing, but after college I learned that I didn’t want to pursue that as a career.

I remembered in this conversation that we had come around to the topic of essayists. I really enjoyed that, and I’m not sure why I stopped doing it.

I also really enjoy history and research, and I feel like I could combine the enjoyment of history, research and writing and start doing some really cool things.

We’ll see where this new revelation goes.

Six by Sondheim

As I got home from the gym and started flipping through the channels looking for something to watch I came across Six by Sondheim.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a ridiculous geek when it comes to musicals, and I love documentaries that talk about musicals. The fact that I just happened to catch this one right as it was starting was totally perfect.

If you like musical theatre, you should definitely try to catch this one either on HBO or when it hits Neflix or Hulu.

It does a really good job about being autobiographical without feeling too tethered to a timeline. It also does a really great job of mixing different interviews of Sondheim over the years together. So, it’s not just the contemporary Sondheim talking about his work but Sondheim talking about his work throughout many decades.

My favorite bit about Sondheim that I learned from this show was his relationship with Oscar Hammerstein and how that relationship influenced his own work.

Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome

I had a conversation the other day with a friend about Equality of Opportunity vs. Equality of Outcome. He’s a libertarian and believes in the former while I strongly believe in the latter.

I don’t believe in socialism or that there shouldn’t be an opportunity for folks to rise above and be wealthy. I do believe in two things:

a) If you work 40 hours a week, you should receive a minimum wage that allows you to live above the poverty line.

b) There should be a safety social net to help those that legitimately need it.

Today I watched a great documentary on HBO called American Winter. It highlights families facing severe financial troubles due to unemployment, underemployment trying to support a family on minimum wage, running the risk of foreclosure and eviction and having to rely on food banks and other services for basic needs.

These are families who aren’t lazy and are willing to work hard. Intermixed with the stories of the families are people talking about the financial crisis.

This was a great piece, but unfortunately I doubt it would sway those that are determined to subsidize businesses off the suffering of the lower and middle class.

All I Want for Christmas …


The day I turned 19 prepared me for the rest of my life and set up the expectations for all future birthdays and holidays.

For over a week, I had been checking my mailbox every day hoping for something … especially that awesome slip that said you had a package.

But nothing was there. No card. No package slip.

This was my first birthday away from home and no one had remembered it.

A few days after my birthday, I did get a card from my grandfather apologizing for being a few days late.

I don’t think I ever got anything from my mom for my birthday that year except for a half hearted apology.

That disappointing birthday started a trend that continues regarding Christmas and birthdays and my family. The one awesome exception has been my awesome sister Liz.

Seven or eight years ago, my sister bought me my favorite present I’ve ever received — an awesome tote bag that said Aunt Sue’s Bag and had pictures of all my nieces. I wore that bag out. Last year, my sister got me visors for my nephews’ sports teams so that I can wear them when I go to the boys’ games.

My other family has — for the most part — completely ignored me during the holidays and my birthdays.

And, I don’t want much. I’m a giver. I love to delight my nephews, nieces and others during the holidays. I would rather money be spent on the kids during the holidays. For my birthday, my two nephews made me cards. Those cards made me as happy as any expensive present.

I’m hoping through this Christmas season to find delight in all my relationships.

All I want for Christmas is peace. The peace that is talked about in Luke Chapter 2. I want to spend the holiday season rejoicing in the Lord and rejoicing in the relationships with those I love.

All the 2nd greats

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written blog posts about all of my 2nd great grandparents. There are 16 of them, and I’m excited that I have basic information on all 16.

I’m not quite as prepared to write posts on the 3rd greats. I have basic information for about 20 of the 32 3rd great grandparents. For some, of course, I have more information than others.

The most interesting thing is that apart from a few exceptions, most of my 3rd greats on the Phillips side were here in the US for most of their lives and most of my 3rd greats on the Berryman side were in England / Wales / Europe for most of their lives.

On the Phillips side, I have many 4th & 5th greats that were pre-Revolutionary in the United States — including a few that were patriots in the Revolutionary War.