What is your Passion?

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Mama Google defines passion as “a strong and barely controllable emotion.”  This definition sums up my personality. I don’t have to find my passion, because I was born with it. Sometimes I wish I would lose my passion. I have always admired people who are cool, calm, and collected. I have no chill. I cannot maintain a poker face.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have been an actress—if for no other reason than to find ways to channel the emotions constantly surging through me.  I suppose being an actress would take some discipline. And talent. Of which I have none.

But—besides the fact that I can barely contain myself in any given situation, whether I’m elated or angry, I thought I’d share some of the things that interest me enough to spend a lot of mental and physical energy on.

  • My family—of course. This seems like a given.  I’m SUPPOSED to be passionate about my family. It’s what the good Mormon women do—but, I am passionate about making sure the members of my family have their own things to be passionate about.  For Julio, it’s travel. For Ellen, it’s writing and reading fantasy novels. Calvin is really into history and politics. Gloria loves to dance and create comic strips. Blythe is obsessed with Star Wars. And Evelyn just wants mama’s attention right now.
  • Krav Maga—I love this military style hand-to-hand combat self defense system.  I have almost zero in common with other practitioners, who tend to be Spartan-esque warrior types.  I NEVER look for a fight.  But, once I’m in, I’m in all the way!
  • Cinema—I love movies. I love watching them, reading about them, finding out how they are made. One of my dreams is to collaborate on a film with Tim Burton. How and when this will happen? I dunno, but I’ll figure it out.  Maybe he and I will share the same nursing home somewhere and make stop-motion animation from our mashed potatoes and peas. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter can do the voices.
  • Social bridge-building—I like finding out what makes people tick and how to connect them to people who don’t understand them.  I like bringing people together and sharing ideas. I love to see that light bulb moment when people have a paradigm shift. I tend to get involved with unpopular, but critical social causes, because I want to be a voice for the voiceless.
  • Reading and writing. This stuff turns me on.
  • Homeschooling, my way—I am not the curriculum reviewer. I don’t have tips for folks on how to homeschool better or easier. I just love to learn and love taking my kids along with me.

These are all things that I could talk non-stop about—and often have.  I am finally learning to watch for signs that people are glazing over, because I really could go on forever. That said, I’ll stop here for now.

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My favorite affirmations

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The word “affirmation” makes me giggle. It sounds new-agey and kind of hokey, but there are certain things I tell myself (and my kids and husband) all the time. I suppose they are affirmations of a sort.

 

1. “It’ll turn up.”  I am hopelessly disorganized. No matter what organizational system I try to implement, within minutes, everything is lost again. I used to berate myself for this character flaw, but now I’ve just embraced it. Things get lost, but miraculously, they turn up again. It may not be until a year later, but—hey, it’s made me a very patient person.

 

2. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” I hate to be micromanaged, I hate to be told what to do and what not to do. I’m not very good with authority for that reason. I’m not belligerent; I will usually tell you exactly what you want to hear, but I will then go ahead and do whatever I want. Don’t take it personally.

 

3. “I will MAKE it fit.” My methods and actionable timeline may be vastly different than those of others, but whether it’s deadlines, moving house, or getting an 8 foot table to fit a 6 foot space, I will make it work.

Why I started blogging.

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I’ve always loved to write and I feel more at home writing to an “audience” than to myself. In fact, as a kid, I kept a diary and wrote each entry as a letter to my favorite actor at the time, Lou Diamond Phillips. Yes. Really. In my diary, we were besties and I could tell him anything (and also swoon over how amazing I thought he was.)

Lou Diamond Phillips

I spent hours gazing at this picture of LDP—from the cover of our VHS copy of Young Guns II. Such a tortured soul. Le sigh, le purr.

Eventually, I got over my infatuation with Lou Diamond Phillips, but I still kept a journal, and out of habit, I still wrote my entries in letter format, to LDP.  Then, I discovered Erma Bombeck, and although I was too young to truly appreciate the topics of her books and essays, I really liked her style—and I started mimicking it until I found my own voice.

Erma Bombeck

Odd combination of muses, I suppose, but whatever.

I started blogging, because I still like to write, and though I have always dreamed of writing the Great American Novel, I figured blogging was a faster and cheaper way to get my ideas out into the world. Also, instant gratification.

Thoughts on blogging

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I have been blogging off and on for a few years—I started with a food and recipe blog that I called Where’s the Beef, Baby? And I had some fun with it for awhile. Then I got bored and quit posting recipes.  I discovered that more than wanting to post fabulous recipes to share with the world, I wanted to tell the stories behind the food.  Also, I don’t really love cooking as much as I thought I did. So, the poor blog has been neglected, except when I can’t find the hard copy of one of the recipes I KNOW I posted over there and I go digging around to find it. I love that I started out with it—I was brand new to blogging and shamelessly shadowed my favorite food blogger, Mel, from www.melskitchencafe.com .  I learned a lot about personal voice and the importance of good photographs and compelling content. Not that I apply those lessons all the time, but I DID learn, okay?

Shortly after that, I began The Valiant Efforts of a Half-Arsed Homeschooler. This was my “I’m going to show the world that even though I homeschool my kids, we DON’T FIT THE STEREOTYPE!” I started out explaining why we began homeschooling and writing all kinds of defensive and homeschool apologetics types of posts. Then I grew out of that and started posting about life in general, rather than specific aspects of homeschooling.  I’ve gotten some good feedback from my few readers and decided I’d try to expand my audience through guest posting, but guess what? Most other homeschool bloggers didn’t appreciate my blog’s title—bordering on vulgarity—(no sense of humor, these folks!) and my guest post submissions were turned down because of my blog’s title and URL.  Womp, womp.

So—wanting to break into the guest post blogging world, I’ve created Talk Quirky to Me…and I joined all kinds of blogging groups on Facebook.  After spending some time in these groups, it seems that most bloggers are trying to build their audience in order to make money. I admit, that would be really nice—but so many of the questions are about the technical and business side of blogging for profit, and I realized—I just want to be an artist.  I just want to write stuff.

I asked a question in one of my blogging forums about a potential blog post title and was given some practical, but stinging advice.  I was told that my crazy title would not generate very many clicks, because it wasn’t something mainstream and immediately relatable.  I was directed to a “blog post title analyzer” where you could type in your title and find out how statistically likely it is that people will click on your post and read it. It was fascinating, and my “potential click” percentage was pretty low, based on factors like emotional pull, power words (whatever that means), and some other things.  It stung a little to see that my title was deemed too “out there” to possibly generate traffic to my blog. I played around on the analyzer, trying to hit the sweet spot with a title full of the right kinds of key words.  It was a good learning experience. If nothing else, it helped me get to the essence of what my post was going to be about, which helped me tighten up my writing about the subject, but it was still discouraging to think that my quirky (!) title was a probable dud, in the world of blogging for “traffic.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a huge audience and a great online community that I brought into being myself, but really, at THIS point, that’s all secondary.

What this all boils down to is: I just want to write–I write to process things. I write to gain perspective, to make myself laugh, to chronicle my experiences.  Maybe someday, it will really matter to me to have lots of readers. Right now, I just want to practice writing quality content—so this post is about giving myself permission to do just that.  To not fret over who’s reading, or how to go “pro” at this.  That will be a thing someday, but for now I’m talking quirky to myself.

Tell and Show

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A picture is worth a thousand words, but have you ever overheard something in a cafe or at work that made you rubber neck to find out if what you heard was actually what was said?  That seems to be a regular occurrence in my household, so we’ve started a list of the oddest things we’ve found ourselves saying:

 

“You can’t fold your clothes if you are in that cauldron with that hippo!”

 

“Be careful of  Johnny Depp in my bathtub!”

 

“Stop shedding deer hair on the counter!”

 

“Why is there an octopus in a snowflake mug?”

 

“I think you have an escaped alpaca!”

 

Of course, there are perfectly sensible explanations for all of these declarations, but taken out of context…they sound like bad middle school writing prompts…or blog post titles….

Welcome!

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Welcome to Talk Quirky to Me!

In the fifth grade, my teacher read a nature poem to the class that included the phrase “an egg yolk sun.”  This is the only line in the poem I remember, because after the teacher read it, we were tasked with drawing a picture to illustrate it and I had only one image in my head. 

I drew a frying pan on a stove, sizzling with bacon and eggs, sunny-side up. I penciled in some blue and white kitchen tile in the background because I thought it would look pretty.

The kid next to me glanced over at my drawing and said, “What is THAT? That’s not what the poem is about!” 

The kid on the other side of me leaned over and hissed, ‘That’s not right! You’re doing it wrong!”

When I looked at their drawings, I was surprised to see they had both drawn green trees and purple, snow-capped mountains. Yellow suns bulged from the top corners of their papers.  A furtive glance at other drawings revealed similar mountain landscapes. 

A third kid leaned over and sneered at my paper,  “Why did you draw breakfast?”

I panicked.  My picture was not representative of the class’s illustrative consensus.  Hastily, I crayoned in a kitchen window with a view: pointy mountains, shaggy tree, a speck of sun in the northwest corner.

“You’re going to get in trouble,” said the first kid. “That doesn’t look right.”

My picture had drawn a crowd now and my teacher came over. “What’s this?” he said, plucking my picture off the table. 

“Marissa did it wrong. She didn’t draw what was in the poem!” squealed one of the kids.

My teacher scrutinized my work, then me. I still recall his face—bristly blonde brows furrowed over pale blue eyes, his mustache twitching over down-pressed lips.  This was his expression whenever he scolded me for daydreaming or goofing off when I was supposed to be paying attention.  Hot with embarrassment, I slid down in my chair. Could I get away with hiding under the table?

Finally, my teacher’s face relaxed. He took a step backward, lifted my drawing high, and said, “This is a very interesting take on this poem. I’ve never seen anything like this before.” He smiled at me and handed my paper back. “Good work.”

This was the first time I realized I take the world at a bit of a slant.  Over time, I learned to trust my creative intuition and it’s led me in all kinds of crazy directions and off-center adventures. I created Talk Quirky to Me to share my oddball outlook. I hope my stories make you laugh, make you think, and inspire you to look at the world in a different way.

Love and breakfast,

Marissa