Level setting

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Level setting


I joined a local Toastmasters group after seeing my son and his peers speak in a High School Homeschool Speech and Debate tournament. Because it looks so easy and fun I thought I would try. Public Speaking isn’t as easy as it may appear. It looks so simple when you are inspired by that speaker who motivates you to change your world, try a new skill or develop a deeper skill set. Yes, I actually thought that when I started Toastmasters. In my mind, my first speech would sound like a finely tuned TED talk. If the first few speeches didn’t turn out so great then the 4th, 5th and so on would be profound.  When you join Toastmasters there is a level setting with reality because you hear yourself make mistakes and feel powerless to change midstream.


To truly change and grow you need an accurate idea, picture or assessment of where you are, today. This can be very painful if you’ve had or have an elevated sense of what your skills really are but once you have this information you can stop looking backward and fretting about where you are today. You can take this snapshot and map out where you want to go.


Maps tell us where we are and help plot us to what roads, mountains, seas, lakes, ponds or creeks that we need to travel, climb, or cross to reach our destination. Those destinations can be small stops to spend the night or have lunch just off the interstate. They can be several days of sightseeing before we continue our journey. With a map we can plan or estimate how long it will take us to get to our intermediate destinations or final goals.  As with all travel the more you stop and see the sights the longer it takes you to get to your main destination.

Road Trips

I hate driving for more than 5 hours a day. If I’m going to travel at 60-70 miles per hour and hope to reach a destination that takes 20 hours I have to decide how many days I want to travel. This usually is the deciding factor. One day, two days, three days or more to travel 20 hours at 60-70 miles per hour. Your road trip can be spent in the car, at a hotel or at a friend’s home. These ideas seem so simple don’t they? They are simple till we apply them to ourselves because it’s so much harder to take a road trip and try new things when it’s our lives, goals and interests. It’s easy to drive through a town as your grabbing a burger at the drive through right off of the interstate but it’s hard to incorporate ideas from random sources because we don’t know who to easily incorporate them into our thinking.

Cars, Planes & Trains

Does it matter what type of transportation you use to reach your goals? While you’re traveling it makes a huge deal. If you take 5-7 days to drive or 5 hours to fly across the United States will make a huge difference to how you arrive but will it change your destination, maybe or maybe not. I do know that you will feel differently after being in the car for 5-7 days driving with your family. I know this for a fact. When you are in compact places for prolonged periods of time with your family your journey will change. If I arrive at my destination via an airplane in 5-7 hours and have time to read and nap I will arrive refreshed and energetic for the next leg of my journey.

Journeys & Goals

Does the journey change the destination or goal? I don’t know. The phrase “hindsight is 20 20” means you usually get clarity when the event or situation is past. I would add that the farther the event is in the past the more you can see it realistically or without emotion. Planning during the journey is hard because of the emotions that we connected with the event. If we didn’t have these emotions it would be as easy as pulling out a map and setting a plot and then systematically taking steps to arrive at our destination.


To achieve goals we need to define them. Those beautifully polished TED talks didn’t just happen. They were written, rewritten and polished before the speaker took the stage. We must have courage and endurance for our journey to achieve our goals in public speaking and other areas of our lives.

Female Mallard - I'm watching you

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Millennium Park

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Trip to the Art Institute of Chicago

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More pictures from the Art Institute two weeks ago. :p


Yellow and Red Maple Leaf

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Jeremiah 8:7

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.


A beautiful crisp morning

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Fall Rain on the Nature Trail

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After two to three days of constant rain most of the yellow leaves are off the trees and shrubs and are on the path.

Winged Migration by Sony

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Link: http://www.sonyclassics.com/wingedmigration/index_flash.html

I've watched Winged Migration again. I love to watch it each fall because the scenery is so beautiful. The movie moves from following geese and mallards from Western Europe to Greenland.

The most beautiful in my opinion are the summer scenes inside the Artic Circle.


The Great Blue Heron

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Link: http://www.audubon.org/bird/boa/F38_G1g.html

Text from

John James Audubon's 1840 Birds of America

Extremely suspicious and shy, this bird is ever on the look-out. Its sight is as acute as that of any Falcon, and it can hear at a considerable distance, so that it is enabled to mark with precision the different objects it sees, and to judge with accuracy of the sounds which it hears. Unless under very favourable circumstances, it is almost hopeless to attempt to approach it. You may now and then surprise one feeding under the bank of a deep creek or bayou, or obtain a shot as he passes unawares over you on wing; but to walk up towards one would be a fruitless adventure.


I have seen many so wary, that, on seeing a man at any distance within half a mile, they would take to wing; and the report of a gun forces one off his grounds from a distance at which you would think be could not be alarmed. When in close woods, however, and perched on a tree, they can be approached with a good chance of success.


Art Institute of Chicago

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Link: http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/exhibition/Caravaggio'sSupper

Wednesday we visited the Art Institute of Chicago and had a docent tour through their Middles Ages to Renaissance European collections.

The last painting on the tour was Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus. It is on loan from National Gallery of London. We were not allowed to photograph it, so the following picture is from the Art Institute of Chicago's web site.

Below are a few more beautiful images we saw while at the Art Institute.

These lovely ladies were in the garden outside.

The new Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Education Center is a beautiful facility. Our docent enriched our field trip experience at the Art Institute. She was professional, kind and very informative. The students and parents really enjoyed the tour so much more because of the details about the paintings and artists.

Female Duck on Blue Green Water

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