Category Archives: Challenges

That’s a BIG breakfast!

  • 2 poached eggs
  • bacon
  • low-fat yogurt with berries and granola
  • muffin

“WOW!  OMG!  How do you eat that much!  That’s a HUMONGOUS Breakfast.”

What? No. Ultimate Skillet at Village Inn is a humongous breakfast. 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 sausages, grits, fried apples, 2 biscuits, gravy, and butter and jelly at Cracker Barrel is a big breakfast. I never have the ultimate skillet or the meat lover’s special. Why what do you eat for breakfast?

  • “1 tsp of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of almond milk”

Wait that’s it?

“I can barely finish it all.”

The guide says eggs are ok, whole-grain toast, fruit, and broccoli for breakfast. Broccoli? Really? Give up bacon and get broccoli. (By the way, that poached egg breakfast was 1186 calories. It is about 14 calories short of my whole day’s allowance!) Give up hamburger and only have chicken, fish or turkey. Never have sausage!  You can eat as much as you want…as long as it’s green. The “green” designation is food that has a low-calorie density. So 5 grapes and 5 raisins have the same calories, but 5 raisins would not make a dent in your hunger, and 5 grapes, due to the water, would.

I committed to this program. What a fool. I can’t commit to anything. 2k steps/day? Depends on the day. 1 day it’s 800, the next it’s 6000. 3 meals and 3 snacks? Today it was Breakfast (not chia seeds and almond milk I assure you!) and a peach.

I’m always Hangry. I’m also frustrated. My coach hasn’t met with me yet, and I don’t think she will. I asked a couple of questions…well, made a couple of observations and now she won’t talk to me. After 1 abysmal week…over and under my calorie count, completely the wrong foods, inconsistent walking or exercising ( they don’t give you credit for pulling staples out of the floor) and now a crappy attitude, I was UP 2 pounds. Diet, Exercise, Psychology. This really works! Except on me. But, the beginning of every day, I weigh in, beat myself up for weighing more or less exactly what I started, eat breakfast and discover I’ve used up all my calories for the week, and then listen to my tummy rumble for the rest of the day. But you’re supposed to count your foods and estimate your portions and only have what it says on the list. BUT with the exception of today’s breakfast, that is exactly what I’ve been doing. I find myself more tired and irritable after my nearly imperceptible lunch. A peanut butter sandwich is never to be eaten. Why? Because it’s a RED food, you are allowed 380 calories of red foods and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is 388… my whole allowance for the day. I can have one sandwich OR 2 pieces of bacon OR one hamburger patty, but not all of them. Actually, the sandwich is more high-calorie than the bacon or the hamburger.

If a typical breakfast is 1 tsp of chia seeds and 1 cup of almond milk, why bother? Drink a cup of weak tea and just call it. But don’t pour any milk into your weak tea. Milk is a red food too, btw, but almond milk is ok. (Ever try to milk an almond? Just about the time you’re on your 12,000th almond, it kicks the bucket over and you lose your whole cup of milk!)

Now go for your 10k step walk every morning, have a nice cup of salad with salmon slices on it. NO SUSHI!  There’s rice in them there rolls. NEVER rolls or muffins. No cheesecake, no pudding, no icecream.  AND YET, they say, “Oh it’s perfectly fine to go off script once in a while! You can’t deny yourself all the time.” And then they deny me all the time. But it’s insidious. “YAY!” my program gushes. “You logged all your foods and it’s under 1200 calories!” It makes no mention that though it’s under 1200 calories, I ATE ALL THE WRONG FOODS! 380 Cal of Red foods?  I had 888. 250-500 calories of Yellow foods? I ate 298. 0-800 calories of Green type foods? I had 58. Completely upside down. And I wonder why I’m 2 pounds heavier on less food and more exercise.  Silly me.

I think it’s hopeless.

 

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And…

I spent a good 2 1/2 hours pulling staples out of my floor from the carpet my son removed. I got a great deal of help with the staples in the stairs (there were tons!) from my youngest boy. Still working on the tacking strips. Mark is cleaning off the computer desk he had in his office, and we’re moving the one from the bedroom in there. We’re getting rid of the one in my office, just not sure how. Then I’ll move up my furniture from my old office.

floor under livingroom carpet 2019

Just get started

OMG. I have been cleaning and sorting and tossing and processing for DAYS. I have another 20 yd dumpster coming on Friday and I may need a 3rd one.

My problem comes up when I look at something that needs to be put away, and I don’t know where it goes. I can’t put that picture or postcard into a scrapbook because I don’t have a scrapbook. I do not want to go to JoAnn’s and buy a scrapbook and all the glue and glitter and cutesy stuff. For heaven’s sake, I threw out 3000 postcards I’d saved over the last 50 years! I hadn’t looked at them, I hadn’t processed them, I hadn’t organized them. They were pretty when I got them and I loved the sights and the insight into the culture they provided, but after that first glance, I never looked at them again.

I get an important notice from a bank or from my business and I know it’s important, and I need to take care of it, but I don’t know where it goes. If I put it into a folder, I have that and 50 other “important pieces of paper” in that same folder. I can’t find it when I need it–if I need it. In fact, I don’t remember where the folder is! I have obsessively taken notes on all the important phone calls I’ve made. They’re all on the same piece of paper until that one gets filled, then I put another on top of it. My keyboard legs no longer rest on my desk, they teeter on the pile of notes.

I have business cards from some very important people. I wonder who they are and why I have their cards. I have used up bank cards and store cards that I haven’t used in decades. I’m afraid to throw them out.

I have plaques and awards that are in a pile or in a box. No one ever sees them. I don’t need to look at them. The only time they were important was when I received them in front of people that knew and appreciated what they were. But who throws out trophies and plaques?

I have a dream board in my office. It has dust on it. It had a picture of my Senior Vice President sitting at his desk with a speaking bubble over his head saying, “Great job Becky!  I’m so proud of you!” Something to aspire to, right? He hasn’t been in the business for a decade. I did have a cut-up credit card as part of this dream board, and I did cut it up. But now I have another one. It’s strictly for things such as hotel reservations and travel costs that I don’t want to pay for in cash. It has a low balance on it. (YAY!)

I get completely addled when I tackle a large project…too many things to do and no clear-cut starting place. I started in my office. I’ve made some progress, but now I find myself moving a pile from this flat space to that flat space and then ADDING to it. Ooops.

Just get started doing something.

Ok, well, I signed up for Noom. It has nothing to do with cleaning. I guess the “something” has to be more specific, hmmm? I’ll keep you posted.

CW: …for ONE DAY

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/wishful-thinking/

Just for ONE DAY

No desperation

No anxiety

No disappointment.

I made my plans.

The time table worked.

There were no surprises.

There was no impact.

Everything worked but felt empty.

There were no challenges either.

I took no risks.

I allowed no one else to take risks.

We were all safe. I was exhausted.

IT. WAS. BORING.

There, I said it.

There was no triumph

no stories

nothing to overcome.

That single day without…

Desperation produces innovation.

Anxiety encourages alternatives.

Disappointment grounds you.

Reach for unrealistic, for risk, for something beyond your grasp.

A day without awakens.

 

CW: Life

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/life/

The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

It’s late in the day

The reds, reminiscent of fire and heat

The cool blues of contrast

The total shock on the face of the main figure

He’s almost home

He’s left his phone.

Hmmm. no that isn’t it. I have to dig a little deeper into this.  Why would he be screaming, eyes open and mouth agape? When people scream with frustration, their faces scrunch up in pain. They grit their teeth before they scream. Their eyes close. They grab their heads or their clothes, or they beat their chests or railings or steering wheels. Whatever caused this scream was something sudden. It was something that the retreating figures might have seen but were not affected. It was something that meant a great deal to the main figure. I see Shock in the face. He has come to a realization that is oblivious to all those around him. Was this a sudden perception of something in his life, in his own mind? Was this the juxtaposition of seeming normality in an abnormal circumstance? Is he crossing a bridge or walking near a fence? I get the impression that it’s a long drop from where he’s walking. Based on my thoughts here, this is my poem:

There it is!

Don’t you see it?!

I see it, whether my eyes are open or closed!

It’s so obvious!

LOOK AT IT!

Ah…wait…I understand.

Only an insane person would notice.

Does insanity run in families?

My sister was insane. Maybe just sick?

No, insane.

Am I?

Things that should not be together are side by side.

Things that make no sense together tell a story.

This doesn’t fit here!

It surprises me!

All I can think is “NO!”

I cannot show you what it is…it has to be obvious to you.

If it isn’t obvious, then…

then…

you are sane.

I would not wish this insanity on you.

If you could see what I see, you’d scream in surprise too.

If you cannot see what I see, you are fortunate.

The sight is with me always.

I scream but you cannot hear me.

I smile and you see me, but you note that there is no smile in my eyes.

They are furtive,

questioning, maybe?

Blank.

So I scream and you cannot help me

I scream and you cannot hear me

I scream and you cannot see.

I scream.

 

 

Oooh New Project!

Measurable Progress. Moving forward. Learning new things, and becoming a different person are lofty goals. Wait, becoming a different person? Why would you want to be a different person? Shouldn’t you like the person you are?

Let’s rephrase the question. Isn’t the person you currently are based on choices you’ve made and changes that resulted from those choices? If you had chosen to have a fruit smoothie for breakfast instead of an ultimate skillet, would that have affected the way you look and feel today? Well, of course. Would you be a different person?

What makes you you? Looking from the outside, the changes are microscopic, and we know from experience that microscopic changes become permanent and more noticeable when repeated every day. Looking from the heart, do you feel differently about yourself today than you did yesterday? Looking from the brain, how has your perspective of the world around you changed since yesterday? The real question, the one that makes you more like your ideal self, what did you put into your brain yesterday? When you were ordering your breakfast, how far ahead were you looking?

“Wow, I’m hungry!  That looks delicious!  I will have (make) that!” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! I’m hungry now because I ate late last night. It shouldn’t take much to fill me up now, so I’ll have just enough–something to tide me over to lunch.” or

“Wow, I’m hungry! What would be the healthiest thing to eat this morning? This will make me feel full, but won’t shoot all that sugar in, and that will be better than the caffeine that will make me hungry again before lunch. I will have (make) this.”

What did you read yesterday? What did you set out to learn yesterday? What ideas did you expose yourself to? What ideas were sparked from your conversations? What concepts did you explore? Do you think you built onto the self you were yesterday or did you add a branch? The only way you aren’t a different person today than you were yesterday is if you didn’t get up and do anything new. No, that’s not right. That would have been a choice and would have changed you the other way–made you less than you were the day before. In choosing not to expand, you shut down something in your head that looks for opportunities to grow. Your brain, desperate for something new, developed a slightly different perspective on the world, and because it was a microscopic change, you didn’t see it. I guess that regardless of what you do, you cannot be the same person you were yesterday. To put it bluntly, the only way you don’t change the person you were yesterday is if you freeze that moment when you are the person you choose to be and die in that precise moment.

Since this is MY blog, let me tell you what I did.

I wrote about the Rat Race concept because I’d been thinking of it all night. I went to have an adjustment to help me walk without a limp. I went to breakfast and worked on some puzzles so I don’t lose my marbles. I came home and started to learn French! (That’s a rant by the way.) I went to meet a friend of mine who’s collaborating with me on a manual that helps people plan conferences. I had Soul Food! (An Italian sausage with mustard and fried onions on a toasted bun, and some coleslaw.) I started sifting through ideas for an international speech to give for the Toastmasters Contest next spring. I gave a French Horn lesson. Then I watched some TV.

I am following “Criminal Minds” and the geek on the show has been thrown in prison pending his trial. Due to the machinations of the villain, instead of being put into protective custody (as an FBI agent, he’d be in mortal danger) he’s been put in General Population, and he’s not emotionally or physically equipped to handle this situation. So as I’m watching the episodes, I am noting the changes in his character. He has pitted his mind against so many clever serial killers; he has been exposed to many techniques that allow him to go undiscovered as a criminal; he has the IQ of over 150. I have noted his change in stance and the look in his eyes. He’s been bullied all his life, and his mother’s schizophrenic and has developed Alzheimer’s. Had he made one choice in his youth, he might have been one of the serial killers instead of the FBI agent that has caught them. He was tortured and drugged in one episode by a criminal who had a disassociative personality disorder, so he has some lingering PTSD. Will he become the killer he has chased? Will he defeat the villain that has put him into this situation, or will he kill him?

What fascinates me is how well the profilers read the people around them.  They’d be like wizards to normal people. They read micro-expressions, they are hyper-aware of their surroundings when confronting a criminal and can interpret unconscious behavioral traits like how the subjects arrange the pictures of their children or what clothes they like to wear. And yet…the members of this team are constantly flummoxed by newer and scarier criminals. They MUST grow and become different people in order to capture the bad guy.

The top people in industry and education and any other field you wish to examine are becoming, not static. Put something new into your brain every day, then ruminate on it and create some new idea, new thought, new action that will enhance what you put into your brain. It may change the way you feel about yourself and/or how you perceive the people and the world around you. Then you can choose to keep the information or discard it.

But you cannot remain the same person you were yesterday. You will be different tomorrow. The good news is that you are in complete control of who you choose to be.

Through the Keyhole CW cue

“What do you see on the other side of the door when you look through a keyhole?
 a prompt for this week’s CW piece.
[Source: @DailyPrompt]

“What do you see?!”

“It’s dark, but it kinda looks like a library. There is some light in there though.”

“There has to be more to it than that!”

“Because…”

“Because they won’t unlock it. Let me look.”

“I’m going to look under the door.”

“Never seen a keyhole like this. It’s BIG!”

“Nothing but dust bunnies down here. Ya, it’s an old house. It’s like the old movies where they carry an enormous key ring.”

“Shhhh! I just heard something inside!”

“What? There are people in there?!”

“Shhh! They’re talking.”

“What are they saying?”

“There’s music coming from behind the wall. He’s knocking on the bookcases.”

“Do you hear any music? Can you See anything?”

“Nope…wait, the light is moving around.”

“Is it a flashlight then?”

“What was that? It sounded like furniture moving. They seem to be talking.”

“More than one person?”

“Yes, a man and a woman.”

“And…?”

“It makes no sense.  ‘Put the candle beck?’

https://dailyflabbergast.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/cw-its-not-what-you-think/#comment-10553

HOW DO YOU TURN IT OFF?!!!!

I am co-writing a book:  “Spotlight on the Art of Generating Energy.”  I am also editing said book which means I have to read all the contributions.  One of the chapters is about the interplay of all the energies–intellectual, creative, and emotional.  Fascinating theories!  If any one aspect of energy takes control to the exclusion of all others, your brain may be overwhelmed, your body might be compromised, or you could spiral emotionally (either up or down by the way!)

Unfortunately, I have experienced what happens when two of the energy sources conspire against me.  Yup…  In addition to editing this book, I am running for a district office within an organization to which I belong.  I am actively marketing my skills and my qualifications and vision for the organization so I am making use of both my intellectual and creative energy sources.  You may or may not have read my stuff in either this blog or my other one.  You know how creative and intellectual I can get.  Let me put it in perspective.

I had coffee with dinner, a couple of cups, about 8:00 last night.  Then I watched NCIS, 3 episodes in a row.  I was nodding off during the last one.  I thought, “I’ll just head upstairs and check the weather and go to bed.”  3 hours later…

Creative energy Creature: “Hey!  That’s a great idea for promotion!  Let’s go to all the contests and provide a one-sheet and meet the folks at the contest so they get to know you.”

Intellectual energy Imp:  “Ya!  Did you see your competition’s flyer?  She listed her grandkids by name as part of her qualifications for the position!”

CC: “How does that help?  She procreated kids that were also able to procreate and she remembers their names…so she doesn’t have memory problems?”

II: “Our stuff is better.”

CC: “We could add all the Girl Scout information…We could name all our students…we could perform the Bach Prelude that we learned at age 9 to prove our memory capacity!”

II: “We have plenty of good stuff in our flyer.  We’re good.”

Me:  “Ok, good.  We have that settled, let’s go to sleep.”

II: “Did you hear about the guy that felt so bad about the Girl Scouts standing out in the cold selling cookies at their booth that he bought them all? $500 worth!  Then he was arrested for drug trafficking!”

CC:  “Hahaha!  It makes perfect sense!  You KNOW how addictive those cookies can be!  He was shipping the cookies back to the Cartel!”

II:  “You mean…trading one addiction for another!  Oh wait!  Maybe the cookies were how he was getting drugs into the country!  He ships them down, they alter them and ship them back!  Hey Kid!  you want some peanut butter patties?”

CC:  “Well that would explain why you can’t have just one box of Thin Mints!”

II:  “I had two boxes of Thin Mints and I’m still 50 pounds overweight.  Is that false advertising?”

Physical Energy Phiend (Fiend see?): “Shut UP!  I’m tired!  I want to sleep!”

Emotional Energy Elf: “I don’t know how I feel about that: forcibly shutting down two other energy sources to serve your needs.”

PP: “Well if you want to get UP in the morning, we have to turn them off!”

EE: “I’m still not convinced.  Some of our best ideas happen when those two pull an all-nighter.”

PP: “Do we ever remember what they did overnight?”

II and CC:  “Hey!”

EE: “Ok, I see your point.  Could you two tone it down a bit?”

II: “I will if she will.”

CC: “I can be totally silent.  How well do you sign?”

PP: “Her eyes are closed, idiot.  II can’t see a thing if her eyes are closed.”

EE: “Please try to be civil.”

PP: “I’M TIRED!  I’M TRYING TO SLEEP!”

II: whispers “Remember to get the flyers from the printer and stop by the college to get the Speaker’s and the Conference ads for tonight.”

CC: whispers “I really don’t think the Conference advert is very good–too busy and too much information.”

II: low voice “And the wrong information…it doesn’t have start times.  We could redesign it…”

EE: low voice “But how would Colleen feel about our stepping in and fixing it?”

PP: low voice “So tomorrow, breakfast, Bible study, pick up flyers from college, go to printers and pick up personal flyers, deliver print instructions for conference flyers…100 enough?”

II: normal voice “to start with I think.  It will cost more due to having to print both sides.  And don’t forget we need to stop at Wally World to get frames.”

PP:  “Yup.  Then drive to contest…Says it’s a little over an hour’s drive, but with traffic, could be longer than that.”

II: “Take the Prairie View Road instead of the interstate, less traffic that way, and it’s prettier country.”

PP: “Contest starts at 5:30, and since it’s Area level, only 4-6 contestants in either contest.  Figure we’ll be done by 8:30 by the time we get our glad-handing and clean-up done, then an hour home.  Figure 314 Joules.”

II: “That would convert to 75 calories.”

PP: “So the minimum amount of sleep would be…”

II: “Figure about 6-7 hours.”

Me, still awake, and I check the clock.  “Guys, it’s 1:30 AM.  We get up in 5 hours.”

PP and II stare at each other.  CC jumps in to the rescue.

CC: “We can take a nap after we get home!”

EE: “Um wha?  Did somebody say something?  Weren’t you complaining about all the noise, PP?”

PP blushes.

Momentary silence.  I drift off to sleep…

II: “Did you see that snow forecast?  It just went around our city!”

CC:  “Gandalf was standing on the interstate saying, ‘You SHALL NOT PASS!'”

II: giggles “Maybe one of the wind turbines got turned on and blew it away!”

CC:  “I wonder if they’re maneuverable remotely.  Hey!  It’s Hot over there!  Aim them that way!”

II: “I heard that they tell the wind farm tourists in Texas precisely that!  *with a Texas drawl* ‘Yep, gets up to 110 we turn them puppies on and they’ll pretty much cool Austin and Fort Worth.  Dallas is a whole nuther story though.'”

PP: “HEY!!!”

EE: “What?  What’s going on?  Why is PP yelling?”

Me:  It’s 3 AM!  Go to sleep!

CC, II, PP, and EE, ashamed, do not answer.

II:  whispers, “Did you know her husband snores?”

CC, PP, EE and I shout: SHUT UP!

Husband wakes and turns on the reading lamp just as the alarm goes off.  It’s going to be a long day.

 

You need HELP!

So I have heard this 3 times in the last week.

Here’s the problem: I am simultaneously the smartest person in the room, and the least equipped to handle anything.  The first thing people notice about me is that I’m not very bright, but I am very loud and annoying.  No, the first thing people notice about me is my size, and they are shocked to find out I taught ballet.  No, the first thing they notice about me is that I’m always talking.  No the first thing they notice about me is I stand in a corner just watching.  I am a dichotomy.

I agree with the person that said I needed help with the house and recommended a cleaning company.  I think I’m going to do that.

I agree that I have a bad self image.  I don’t know how to fix that, so I would need to find someone to help me with that.  But see above…I’m always the smartest person in the room, even if I’m not.  When my boy was having problems in school, we went to a therapist, and he learned how to say exactly what she wanted him to say.  He thought it amusing.  One of the sessions, I was required to go with him.  She diagnosed me as Obsessive/Compulsive, Anal Retentive, and manic/depressive.  This is after talking with me for about 20 min.  I was shaking my head in disbelief.  Then she sent him out and told me in no uncertain terms, “No wonder your kids are all messed up!  You shouldn’t have had any!  You should have been in therapy for decades before you had kids.  It’s all your fault that your kids are useless.”  Remember, smartest person in the room…  I believed she was so set in blaming someone for the fact that she couldn’t figure out how my boy thought (because he was so much smarter than she).  I met a family therapist that thought he could solve our family’s problems with 3 sessions.  Tada!!! You’re normal!  Well, if we were normal, why were we required to have therapy?  Yes, again it was a requirement by the CPS.  I must have rose-colored glasses and be completely deluded about the mental health of my kids.  I couldn’t think of any kids that were as smiley and engaged as mine.  I have since been informed that all of them were extremely depressed and couldn’t wait to get out of the house.  (Oh?  then why is one of them still in my basement?)

As you may have guessed, I do not like being categorized.  I may have stressed this fact in this blog, and this one.  Never-the-less, I know from working all the myriads of jobs I’ve done that most of the people will take the easiest, least complicated path in solving a problem and then blame you if it’s more complex than they can handle.  I am fortunate to belong to a group of people who are very smart and in different ways.  One has 2 PHD’s in  the Sciences, and one in has a PHD in Human resources.  One is gifted in the emotional arena, and one in the ability to read and understand people.  3 are amazing in computer programming.  2 of them are wise on the spiritual level.  1 is exceptional in communication.  (That is good since we’re in the book writing business…)  Where does that put me?  I guess I connect all these various and sundry interests together.  So when I need some advice in my psychological state, and I talk to a psychiatrist and this person doesn’t measure up to this level of intelligence and takes short cuts–putting me into a box that is entirely too small and ill-fitting, I get discouraged.  I’m tempted to have a cattle call and have all the psychiatrists come to my office and give me their best shot so I can eliminate 3/4 of the incompetent people right off the bat.  Ya, right.

As for the 3rd time someone told me I needed help, I have been on this stupid diet/exercise/pill/herbs/mental trip for 4 years and I’m about 5 pounds heavier than when I started and that’s when I thought I was 45 pounds too heavy.  I’m going to try the Kathy Diet…forget to eat for a year.

New year’s resolutions?  Stuff I can handle, 1 more DTM, done with 1 full path in Toastmasters, read 10 more books, work out 3 times a week for an hour, replace the front door and the bathroom, hire a cleaning service, find my office and change it into a real library so all our books are in the same room instead of scattered all over the house, and dispose of the bunk beds…my grand kids will never use them.

Everyone Dabbles

They dabble at playing guitar or piano or maybe they have dreams of fronting a band.  They dabble in crafts, papier-mache, needlework or yarn work, maybe painting cute little sayings on distressed wood.  They dabble in art, in web design, in programming, in psychology.  My Facebook is jammed up with people dabbling in Philosophy and Politics.  Seth Godin categorizes these as “Non-Dentist” jobs.  To be a dentist or someone in the law profession or medical profession, or in finance, you have to have passed a rigorous test and gotten certified by the state or the bar association.  Nobody dabbles in dentistry, yet, people still dabble in law, medicine, and finance!  REALLY????!!!!  C’mon!

I see it though.  You’re a parent and little Billy has fallen off his bike again.  You got this.  A little antibiotic ointment on the scratch and a band-aid, and he’s fine.  Your sister is married to a jerk and you tell her about her legal choices.  “No thanks, we’re fine, we do our own investing.”  Of course, they’re $20k in debt, upside down in their house, just bought a car and are wondering why they’re paying 21% on their loan.

I do not have a law degree, but I read legal documents for financial contracts.  I have a degree in finance, certified and licensed in insurance, and licensed as an Investment Adviser Representative.  I’m also certified as a John Maxwell Speaker/Trainer/Coach.  I’m a Distinguished Toastmaster.  I have a degree in Music…and 160 college hours in music and music education.  It only takes 60 college hours to get a bachelor’s in Math.  It only takes 120 hours of college credits to graduate,  I had 147.  Of those 147 hours, 80 of them were in music.  I clocked in an additional 80 hours since my BME degree.  Then, I got a 2nd degree in finance.  I’ve gotten lots of hours outside a degree program, obviously.

I’m not trying to be braggadocious, but I ask you:  How many people have that much intensive study in anything?  Why do I bring this up?  I am not a dentist.  To quote Mr. Godin again, “If you’re doing one of these non-dentist jobs, the best approach is to be extraordinarily good at it. So much better than an amateur that there’s really no room for discussion. You don’t have to justify yourself. Your work justifies you.” I am extraordinarily good at what I do.  The feeling I get from most people is that if I can do it, it must be easy.  Nobody can have that much talent, and nobody can really get that much education in multiple areas.  It must not be that hard.  

NEWS FLASH!  It is that hard.  If you are getting an education in something that people perceive as unimportant, then they will downgrade the difficulty.  We can agree that finance is important, but most people do not believe they need a degree in finance to balance their checkbook.  Most will not do enough loans to understand the nuances of those contracts.  A majority will not consider that life insurance is a priority and since it is all gobbledygook in the contract, they’ll just sign on the bottom line and trust the salesman and hope to GOD that they’ll never see the bugger again.  Since everyone lives paycheck to paycheck, and they hate the rich, and the rich are the only ones in the stock market which people regard as gambling writ large, these people that really and truly need some financial education will not seek it.

Everyone knows that music is unimportant.  It is only the background for movies and TV where the emotion is amplified by the score.  It is only the jingle you can’t get out of your head.  It is only the music that makes you want to buy more ugly sweaters at the store.  It is only one of the largest sectors in the entertainment industry.  It permeates every single second of your day whether you turn on the radio when you jump in your car or while you are on interminable hold on the phone.  If someone happens to be good at music, it’s because they have “talent.”  Talent gets your toe in the door.  It takes enormous amounts of work to be good as a teacher or performer.  It’s like the duck parable:  calm and serene on the surface and pedaling like crazy underneath.  People who are really good at music have to make an effort to make what they do look effortless.

Do you know scales?  There are 12 major scales.  There are 3 minor scales associated with each major scale (Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors).  You have to be able to play or sing any of these without having to concentrate.  That’s 48 scales.  There is a chord that is associated with each pitch in the scale, and inversions of each chord.  Then there are augmentations such as adding a 7th degree, or a 9th degree, or up to or even beyond a 13th degree, and then there are alterations like flatting or sharping one or more of the degrees of the scale, and not only do you have to be able to play them, you must recognize them when you see them in the music and know what they sound like before you hear them.  That’s just the reading part.  Oh, and there are various voicings to each chord too.

Can you match a pitch regardless of the instrument you’re playing?  Oh, and by the way, oboe, bassoon, flute, trombone and tuba read C in music and it sounds C when they play.  French horn reads C and it sounds like F, Saxophone reads C and it sounds either Eb or Bb,  as does Clarinet.  And the fingerings for low register clarinet are different than the upper register.  Trumpet and Clarinet read C and it sounds Bb.  Given this diversity in pitch and fingerings, can you improvise a counter melody or a harmony without seeing the music?  Can you tell the difference between Frank Zappa and Tchaikovsky by sound?  If you are in a group, can you tell which individual is singing or playing out of tune and whether they are sharp or flat–high or low?  Can you tell, if they sound sharp, if it is the actual pitch or the pronunciation of the vowel and the timbre that makes it sound out of tune?  Can you apply the awareness you have gained in listening and performing music to any other area of life?  Of COURSE!  So do all musicians have that awareness outside of music?  OF COURSE NOT!!

It is assumed that if you are majoring in music, you take Algebra I in math and very basic English classes.  You are a musician after all, and these things are beyond you.  You have more important things to do…like practice and study your scales!  People always assume that if you’re a musician, you don’t have any interests outside of music.  In fact, most musicians couldn’t give a flying…well fill in your own word here…about math or English.  And yet, the awareness I transfer from music to the world around me connects dots that no one else can connect.  I can see the Stock Market as a large orchestra.  I see the study of sociology as a macro of a choir.  I see composition as an allegory to metaphysics.  Am I now interested in sociology (and therefore statistics), investment in both the technical analysis and the trend marketing, and the study of physics and religion as extensions of my music studies?  Of Course!  So yes, I have studied all those things.  Would being a musician be helpful if I wanted to be a dentist?  or an architect? or a rocket scientist?  More than you’d think!

But music is not important.  Therefore none of the information I have gathered and synthesized is of any use, so I am dismissed as just a musician.  I guess you could say that I’m extraordinarily good at things everyone else dabbles in.  Being extraordinarily good at something that is unimportant is not an advantage.  Truth be told, if you were to ask anyone, it is a useless thing to be good at.