5. You’re Not Good at Everything | 31 Days

This is post 5/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

One point. One measly, stinkin’ point. How in the world did I fail by one point?!?!

This wasn’t my first CLEP exam but it was my first fail.  Standing there with my score in hand, my fried brain feeling so utterly at sea, I had no idea what to do next. The worst part about the whole thing was I had to wait six months to retake the test. Stupid test.

It was my first attempt at the College Algebra CLEP exam. Math. The one subject that always been my arch nemesis in school. I don’t have a natural liking or ability for it so any good grades I managed to receive came from long hard hours of working at it. And I generally did not enjoy it. Math. The only subject I’ve ever been tutored in while in high school. And now, after all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into prepping for that exam, I failed. By one point.

Ugh.

I have a confession to make. I wasn’t going to share this but…I snoozed again this morning. Yeah, I know, Monday morning and I already fell off the wagon. Now I’m behind in my routine. Again. 

We all have a list of things we’re not particularly good at. Those things we can’t seem to conquer, master, or get over. Sometimes they’re such simple things and we don’t know why it’s so tough to just do it

I should be able to do this! My friends can do it, why is it so hard to get it done?!

We compare, we calculate, we reason, we make excuses. 

Stop it. Let me tell you something. 

You’re not good at everything.

You’re just not. And that’s okay, you don’t have to be. I think we all know this intellectually but then we face a task or situation that requires us to perform and we kick ourselves for not being able to deliver. It happens in school, on the job, in our families, with our friends. 

So I want you to say it. Go ahead and say it. 

I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be.

Now the pressure is off and you can focus on two things: 1. cultivating and capitalizing on the things you’re naturally good at, 2. searching out the help you need to work on the things you’re not good at but still need to get done or delegating the task to someone else who is actually good at it.   

Obviously, that College Algebra exam wasn’t something I could delegate, so I got a tutor to help me work through the material and prep for a re-take. I passed the second time around and washed my hands of math classes forever.

Until my final term at TESC when I had no choice but to fulfill a three-credit slot with a math class. Are you serious!?

Sometimes you don’t win. You have to grin and bare it.

I’m still not great at math. I still snooze in the morning and struggle with my routines despite my best intentions. I’m not good at everything and I don’t have to be. I do know what I want to be good at and I have to work hard at it until I am. However, I won’t kick myself when I fail at the things that don’t come naturally to me. I tried and I’m going to try again. I tried and I’m going to figure out what needs to change in order to get it right the next time around.

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The BF and I have this saying about knowing enough to figure out what we don’t know. And that’s education. You know that there are things that need to be done and knowledge and expertise that are required to accomplish them. So you figure out how to get it done, you don’t just leave it or do it halfway cause you’re not good at it.

You know you need those credits for school so figure out how to get it done. You may not like the subject and that class may not apply to anything in your real life but you have the satisfaction of figuring out a problem and doing your best.

You know that project needs to be done at work or in your home so you figure out how to get it done yourself or delegate it to someone who will do it for you. Now you have the satisfaction of a job well done and the added experience tucked in your pocket for next time.

You’re not good at everything. That doesn’t me you can’t or shouldn’t get it done, you just have to put in extra effort to make it happen.

I’m through with CLEP exams and I’ll never take another math class (fingers crossed) but that just leaves room for the million and one other things that I’m not good at but need to figure out a way to get done. So I’ll keep learning and growing so I can master and conquer.

I’m not good at everything but I’ll do my best to do my best at everything.

#write31days

3. The Truth About Wisdom | 31 Days

This is post 3/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’m what you call a book nerd. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child and now, as an adult, I love seeing my books lined up on my shelves. Kindles and Nooks have their place but real, physical books remain supreme.

Naturally, while I’ve always loved the written word, my appreciation for their power has grown as I’ve gotten older. I love words, spoken and written. They encourage thought, they broaden knowledge, they convey emotion, they allow us to connect.

But knowledge will only take you so far. The key is to know what to do with what you know. To know what thoughts to have, what knowledge is worth possessing, how to correctly understand and express my emotions, how to effectively connect with those around me. It’s not enough to know that something needs to be done. That’s knowledge and that’s good. But we need something more to carry it through.

That’s wisdom.

There are a lot of really smart people out there. But that doesn’t make them wise.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”

Psalm 111:10 KJV

That’s not what the dictionary says but as a Christian, how could I ignore such a clear definition?

Wisdom comes from God. Period. So now matter how many books I read, classes I take, conversations I take part in, credentials I collect, or experiences I have, true wisdom, the ability to discern between right and wrong can only come from God.

A complete lack of discernment is what makes smart people do really dumb things. For all I love my books and like to learn new things, I’d much rather be simple in my knowledge of the world and rich in the wisdom and knowledge of God. That’s almost a weird thing to say, like I don’t want book smarts or street smarts, which isn’t true, I do! But I also don’t want to be counted among those who consider lecture halls and letters after my name to be more important than the quiet moments I spend in the Word. Wisdom comes from those quiet moments because in those moments, the Creator of the universe speaks and my heart and mind feast on things that no other educational experience could ever hope to offer.

The truth is, I cannot ever hope to attain or cultivate real wisdom without a real reverence and deference of the Lord (that’s what fear of the Lord is). My pursuit of God heart must be first on my list of priorities. Then He can take my knowledge and turn it into something useful and meaningful for His purpose and glory.

I can safely assume that you’re a smart person 🙂 Are you seeking wisdom too? Are you actively seeking the heart of God so that you can discern between right and wrong and put all that knowledge and experience to good and proper use in the world?

#write31days

1. Speed Limits | 31 Days

This is post 1/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I was listening to The Music Makers podcast the other week and the host featured an article about this guy who got his degree at Berklee College of Music in two years. It wasn’t his plan. A former student/professor from Berklee told him “I’ll bet I can teach you two years’ of theory and arranging in only a few lessons. I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit.”

This 17-year-old student took the professor up on the offer. With his help, this young man did, indeed, get his degree in 2 years from the Berklee College of Music.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

I was about 17 when I started out on my path to college. Still finishing up my high school requirements, I was made aware of something very similar to the Berklee student.

You can get your degree in two years. CLEP tests, DSSTs,…transfer credits…work at your own pace. You can get it done fast. And you can do it debt free! 

A BA in two years. Yeah, I was up for that.

Yeeeeeah, that’s not at all what happened. It took me more like…*ahem* 8 years.

Total fail.

People pleasers don’t like letting other people down. I’m a people pleaser who told people I was going to get my degree in less than the standard 4 years. Cause I was going the unconventional route. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, with lots of grand notions about what my educational path was going to be, I was not ready for what was to come.

By the time I was 20, I knew I’d lost out on my window of time. Resigned to the notion that I needed something more substantial than the Communications degree I was pursuing, I went to medical assistant school. In 8 short months, I’d interned at a hospital, and landed a job in the front office of a dental clinic. Seventeen-year-old me was not looking for that.

But I had a job. And I was still pursuing my degree. And I hadn’t gotten sucked into the vortex of college debt yet.

The following year, after taking as many CLEP tests, DSST exams, and Straighterline courses I could possibly take, I transferred them to Thomas Edison State College. By that time I was working in a medical clinic. I had a job. And I was pursuing my degree. And I finally had my first college loan. Small vortex, but sucked in just the same.

Ugh.

“…there’s no speed limit.”

The Berklee professor-turned-music-studio-owner was completely right. There is no speed limit when it comes to education. That message resonated with me when I heard it but dug up a tinge of chagrin. My plan was that two-year degree. Homeschoolers are known for being unconventional and disregarding the standard pace. But my story didn’t go as planned.

Thankfully, the logic works both ways. No speed limits means that it’s okay when you have to slow down. No one is keeping track when there are detours and pit stops.

My story is my own, rich with experience that I am forever grateful for. My education was my own unconventional creation, done on my terms which was the point in the first place.

I’m in no way saying that college is wasted on the young but I will say that, as mature as I’m often told I am, I know that 24-year-old me appreciated some of those later classes more than 20-year-old me would have. I cranked out more seasoned work and the zillion papers I wrote came from a richer place. That’s a good feeling.

Now, 25, I sit in the open air of the early morning. The sun is waking up, my morning tea is getting cold in the delicious a.m. chill and I’m waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail. Lol. I’ve gotten other pieces of paper accolading my accomplishments but this one is different because I worked hardest for it. Like the tortoise in the story, I kept up my pace, slow as it was, and finished the race I’d set out to complete.

I am content with my story. It was not perfect. I would tweak it if I could. But I love the journey I took and I’m grateful for the experience I have now tucked into my pocket.

There is no speed limit. I will hang my diploma on the wall and continue with my unconventional life.

#write31days

 

31 Days of The Student Life

1 Big Idea + 31 Days of Blogging = one giant leap into the great unknown. 

Okay, maybe it’s not so dramatic as all that. 

Okay just kidding, yes it is. For me, anyway. I’ll give you the short version of the story.

I’ve been working on this really big project – a podcast called The Student Life. It’s set to launch on October 13th. While swimming through the quagmire that is the life of a newbie producer, I got this email reminding me that the 31 Days of Writing challenge is about to start. 

Whaaaa?? …Oh yeah! I remember signing up for that!

When I tell you I serve a God of impeccable timing, I so mean it.

This is THE perfect challenge to couple with my podcast launch. A good, strong, terrifying dose of accountability is just what I need to make this idea of mine actually see the light of day.

So I’m going to commit to 31 days of writing about this thing I call The Student Life. Yes me, the girl who has never finished a photo-a-day challenge on Instagram or stuck to a blog series of her own ever. I’m committing to 31 days of exploring the unconventional education I pursued in college and continue to pursue post-degree.

Here’s to one giant leap!

THE STUDENT LIFE 31 DAYS (1)

Here we go, October readers 🙂


31 Days of The Student Life

 

1

Day 1 | Speed Limits

2

Day 2 | Good Mornings

WRITE 31 DAYS

Day 3 | The Truth About Wisdom

WRITE 31 DAYS (1)

Day 4 | Snapshots

You're Not Good At Everything

Day 5 | You’re Not Good at Everything

WRITE 31 DAYS 6

Day 6 | Practice Not Included

WRITE 31 DAYS (3)

Day 7 | The Next Step

WRITE 31 DAYS (6)

Day 8 | My Writer’s Heart

drawing boards

Day 9 | Drawing Boards

WRITE 31 DAYS (8)

Day 10 | Forever in His Care

WRITE 31 DAYS (9)

Day 11 | The Dip

WRITE 31 DAYS (10)

Day 12 | Happiness

WRITE 31 DAYS (11)

Day 13 | Comparison Kills

WRITE 31 DAYS (12)

Day 14 | Do Not Hand Over the Mic

WRITE 31 DAYS (13)

Day 15 | Know Your MO

WRITE 31 DAYS (14)

Day 16 | Show Up

Space

Day 17 | Space

Childhood Speaks

Day 18 | Childhood Speaks

WRITE 31 DAYS (17)

Day 19 | Morning Song

The Slump

Day 20 | The Slump

WRITE 31 DAYS (19)

Day 21 | Dreamers

WRITE 31 DAYS (21)

Day 22 | If It Makes You Happy

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

WRITE 31 DAYS 26

Day 26 | Happens Every Time

self discovery

Day 27 | Self Discovery

Day 28 | Sometimes

Day 29

Day 30

Day 31

CLEP Prep Resource List

With the cost of education these days, students are looking for ways to get a quality learning experience without breaking the bank.

That’s where college level exams like CLEP & DSST come in.

I tested out of more than half of my college degree. It was tough and while I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, I wish I knew then what I know now.

If college level exams are something you want to pursue, let me give you what I wish someone had given me when I was starting out – a resource list. Whether you’re taking one or two tests or almost two dozen like me, CLEP prep should be painless because, after all, you’re trying to save time and money!

Maybe you’ve got a textbook or a study guide but you’re looking for something else to shake things up and give you some variety.

These resources are all available online, you don’t have to go anywhere to access them. All but two of them are free or have free versions but those two that have fees are well worth checking out. I’ve used all the resources myself and many of them have just gotten more awesome since my testing days.

PINTEREST CLEP-DSST Resource List Cover

Fill out the form below to get your free copy of my resource list! 

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If you have any questions about CLEP, DSST, or how I tested out of half of my college degree, you can leave a comment below or drop me an email at elyssanalani@purpleinkstudios.net.

Happy Tuesday!

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

(This post contains affiliate links)

The last paper I wrote in college was a 20-something page piece on the reading brain and why it matters. I did 12 weeks of research only to barely cover the surface of a subject that I grew to love more as the term progressed.  I’ve always been a bookworm and writing a paper on why it’s so important to read was extremely fun ( I know, really nerdy).

This blog is hardly the place for such a long paper but I do want to share some things I found out while researching this project. So, lister that I am, I came up with 7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading Books

1. Reading strengthens your brain.

According to Rita Carter, science writer and presenter of BBC’s documentary, Why Reading Matters, the brain doesn’t have a central reading system. Reading happens in, what she calls, a “cerebral internet”.  In other words, it takes several regions in different areas of the brain to make reading possible. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squidsays that, unlike all other human behaviors such as vision or speech, reading has no direct genetic program that is passed from parent to child. We’re not born with neurological ‘reading tools’. Our brains form connections between regions designed to perform other functions in order to process and understand written language. Rita Carter interviewed Dr. Cathy Price of University College in London who gave a simplified explanation of how this works:
“There are no areas of the brain that only respond to reading. All the areas that are involved in reading are also involved in recognizing objects, in speaking. In order to read, it’s the connections between the visual inputs and the component sounds that need to be linked together. So this doesn’t involve any new brain regions. What it involves is stronger and more efficient links.”
Our brains possess what is called neuroplasticity, which means it is capable of learning new things and forming new habits by making and strengthening new connections. Reading is one of the best examples of this. The more you read and deepen those connections, the more you’re exercising and strengthening your brain.

2. Reading boosts your empathy.

BBC’s Rita Carter also brought up the fact that stories can help us become more empathetic. According to an article in Psychology Today, we were meant to tell stories, they provide order, and they connect us with others. Stories give us space to exercise our emotional responses to other people’s situations. John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns talks about this in an episode of Crash Course

“By understanding language, you will, 1). have a fuller understanding of lives other than your own, 2). will help you be more empathetic…Reading critically and attentively can give you the linguistic tools to share your own story with more precision. Reading critically gives us better tools to explain corporate profits and broken hearts and it also connects us to each other.”

3. Reading increases your vocabulary.

I especially like this one cause I love trying out new words that I find in books.  It is true that we pick up words from television and conversation but the truth is, we don’t speak the way we write. Written word is much richer lexically than spoken word. In other words, we use better and more varied words when we write than when we speak. The same goes for syntax–we structure sentences better when we write.  A great study done by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith Stanovich explains that children who read will have a richer vocabulary and better grasp of syntactical structure than their peers who watch television.  Reading enhances their ability to process language, both written and spoken. And because our brains are plastic, it doesn’t matter what your performance was like in school, the same can be true for adults as well. 

4. Reading makes you a better communicator.

This is points 2 & 3 at their best. A rich vocabulary isn’t the only pre-requisite of good communication. Effective communication is a two way street where both parties must take turns at being sender and receiver. Understanding and sympathizing with another person’s situation (empathy) and the ability to effectively express yourself verbally makes for a great communicator. Why? Because it’s not only about having something to say but also ensuring that what you’re saying is of value and how you’re saying it is thoughtful and appropriate. Because there is order, logic, brain connectivity, and emotion at play when we read, we are strengthening those areas that make us effective communicators.     

5. Reading actual books is a unique experience.

This isn’t something I was able to add to my final paper but I still find it important so I’ll include it here.

I have a Kindle and I think it’s a great way to consume material on the go but there is something about reading an actual book that is unique and beneficial in ways that cannot be recreated by any other medium.  An article in Medical Daily says that the tactile experience of holding a book, turning the pages, and moving from left to right aids in the ability to comprehend and remember the text. E-books, with often fragmented text and links to the net also disrupt focus and concentration. Your brain is going through a very complicated process in order to read and actual books facilitate this process better than e-readers.   

6. Reading is the best way to relax.

I didn’t include this in my paper either but I think it’s also important. One article I came across in my research explained that a study showed that reading is a more effective stress reliever than taking a walk, listening to music, or drinking a hot cup of tea. Subjects of the research experienced lowered heart rate and decreased muscle tension.  Reading helps us relax, and takes our minds off the day’s commotion which makes it the perfect thing to do before going to sleep. 

7. Reading is super attractive.  

Lastly, this also didn’t make it my paper but as much as this is my nerdy opinion, I’m not the only one who thinks this. You’ve heard it said intelligence is sexy? It’s so true. Why? Because readers are more emotionally and cognitively intelligent.  A well-read person bolsters their knowledge base and that makes them better conversationalists. When you read broadly and smartly, you have more to offer in your relationships, your families, your careers, and your communities making you more interesting, useful, and, well yeah, sexy.

If you don’t consider yourself much of a reader, then I challenge you to change that. Reading is a privilege and something we shouldn’t take for granted. History tells us that the number one way people kept control of others was by keeping back the written word (think Dark Ages and American slavery). We know knowledge is power; take advantage of it.

In my opinion, I think a good percentage of the mischief people get into would vanish if they would just read good books. And while I’m all for good literature, I’m also an advocate for great non-fiction. If you currently read mostly novels, re-consider your book list and add a healthy dose of spiritual growth, history, social science, biographies, art, business and other subjects that will give you insight and help shape a healthy, well-informed worldview. It’s a part of good maturity which this generation could use more of.

There’s a lot to learn and even more books to learn from. Pick up a book and see what wonderful things you’ll discover within the pages!

Happy reading!
 
 

Confessions of a Homeschool Veteran: Would I Do It Over Again?

I’m a homeschool veteran.

Almost two decades after my parents took me out of the traditional, private school system, I can look back and say that I’m blessed with a great academic story.
CONFESSIONS OF A Homeschool Veteran 2

In my last post, I addressed the myth of socialization when it comes to homeschooling. As an adult, rarely ever get the socialization question anymore (thank goodness!) but I do get this question quite often:

Did you like being homeschooled?

In a word – yes.

I’m so glad my parents decided to homeschool the Bro and me. In my opinion, I think it’s one of the best things they did for us and I am forever grateful!

However…

there were days when I hated it ><.

Oh my goodness, there were days when my Bro got on my nerves, my parents got on my nerves, and when I most certainly got on all of theirs. Days weren’t perfect, circumstances weren’t always ideal, there were annoyances, irritations, and messes. It’s the stuff of life and we certainly had our share.

I’m not completely sure but I feel like there may be a misconception that if a family is homeschooling then they must have their act together and get along all the time. This is simply not the case. I don’t know every homeschool family but I’ll bet you that even though they most definitely love each other, there are Mondays, late days, rainy days, sick days, grumpy days, won’t-shut-up days, bad hair days, and every other day in-between. Every family has their struggles, pet peeves, arguments, and challenges, and homeschooling families are right there in the trenches with everyone else. The difference with homeschooling families is that they have to figure out how to spend a whole lot of time learning, playing, and working together through the messy stuff that is called family life. There isn’t an escape to traditional school or day job – you’re stuck with one another all day long. I’m not going to lie, it was a drag sometimes.

BUT! There were so many more wonderful days! Lots of experimenting in the kitchen, inventing games, dressing up and putting on shows, reading stacks of library books, bike riding, painting, sewing, music lessons, story writing…. these were sweet, sweet years. I’m not saying that traditionally schooled kids don’t get to do fun stuff, but I will argue that homeschooled kids have more time to dig into their hobbies and passions – a fact for which I am grateful!

Of course, homeschooling isn’t all fun and games. We had to work hard too. And here’s where the essence of home education comes out. Everybody learns differently, no two students are alike. When done right, homeschooling gives students the freedom to work at their own pace, excel in the subjects they are naturally good at and hone in on those they find more challenging. I’ll talk about this a little more in my next post.    


So, if given the chance, I would do it all over again. Are there things we wish we had done better? Of course! Who doesn’t wish that? No one can look back and say that they’re satisfied with every single thing they’ve done, that they handled every situation well, that they made all the right decisions or took advantage of every opportunity. Homeschoolers are no exception.

I’m thankful to have been homeschooled with all the ups, downs, twists, turns, and bad days. It’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade for the world and it’s given me the freedom to grow into the person I am today.

If you homeschooled your kids or were homeschooled yourself, would you do it over again? What would you have done differently? Leave a comment below and let me know!