Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Truth/Lies...Accuracy, Honesty...Love

Welcome to the February 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Honesty This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through honesty. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Self-Expression and Conformity. ***  

I've lied a few times.  It hasn't ever felt good.  I can still think of the last time I really lied, the word "NO!" blurting out of my mouth faster than I had time to even process the question and think about the potential repercussions...and then feeling silly for having answered with a blurt instead of a simple and honest 'yes', feeling guilty and weak for never righting that lie.  

I don't lie to my kids.  It's really important to me that I make accurate statements, that my truth is portrayed as my truth and not THE truth, that I don't put words into other people's mouths and that I let my kids know when I plain and simple just don't know the answer.

They've been asking about fibbing.  We like a song from They Might Be Giants called 'Fibber Island', and the kids started asking what it meant.  We'd talked about lying (intentional deceit), tall tales (stories with exaggerations), pretend, imagination, fairy tales and fantasy, but we hadn't discussed fibbing.  Shoot.  How was I going to do this?  

I actually think lying is not a big deal.  It's a symptom of a greater problem, a disconnect, a desire to please a parent or whoever.  The fear of rejection for telling their truth, the fear of displeasing is greater than the desire to share one's own truth, and there grows the lie.  If we can address the fear, if there's no fear of love withdrawal or fear of repercussion, emotional trauma, rejection, physical harm, then there's no reason to lie.  My kids tell on themselves all the time; my mom thinks it's really funny, but I keep telling her they have no fear of my reaction, they never wonder if I'll love them less (even if I get angry), they never fear getting hit, they just know that I'll want to know so that we can take care of whatever the thing was, like drawing on the wall, putting stickers on the chairs, biting the other one, stepping on Dragon's hand, whatever it was.  One of my favorite parenting people, Scott Noelle, from explains it much better than I did or can.  I understand it can be tricky to know if a statement is a lie, but that's not what this post is about.

I've really tried to help instill in my children a desire to discern between accurate statements and statements that are not accurate.  I don't like the word 'truth', and it really bothers me when I hear kids other kids, "That's not the truth!" or something like that.  When one of my kids says something that's inaccurate, it goes something like this: Cloud might say "Rainbow's favorite color isn't pink, mine is"; I'll have Rainbow address the inaccuracy, let him know what is accurate, and if he chooses to keep on with it, I let her know she's said her piece, she doesn't need to change his mind, she doesn't need to listen to him, she doesn't need to engage, and I support her during the process (I mean, they're only 3 and 4 years old...)  My hope is that they will continue to think about what they hear and make a conscious decision about whether or not they will believe it, accept it.  

And when it comes to Truth...that's where the world turns gray for me.  To me, each person has her own truth.  It's like perception.  It's like that classic example about five people seeing a car accident and each of them having a different story about how it was caused and what the details were.  I wasn't able to really verbalize how I felt about this until I read "The Voice of Knowledge" by Don Miguel Ruiz.  After that book, I felt so settled, so calm.  I could look at a person and feel comfortable knowing that person had their truth, and that I didn't have to agree, I didn't have to like, I didn't have to argue about someone else's story--it's their story, and they are the main characters in their own books.  If I didn't like a story, I didn't have to be a part of that, I didn't have to lend my energy to it.  I found myself much less drained, way more emotionally charged, and much happier.  And I let my kids know that my truth doesn't have to be their truth, that their truths are important, they are their truths, and their truths can change and grow as they do.

I encourage my children to judge their actions for themselves based on how good their actions make them feel.  Rainbow told me sometimes she doesn't want to share her truth, she just wants it to be secret, so she just says something that's wrong.  I told her that was lying, because she was intentionally trying to get someone to believe something that she knew was wrong, and I asked her how she felt about it.  She said it didn't feel good, but she just wanted to keep some stuff a secret.  I asked her how she felt about secrets and she said, "Kind of awkward."  I told her secrets were important, special, and that everyone has them.  I told her she should feel comfortable keeping some stuff to herself and figure out a way to politely decline giving out any or all of the information asked of her.  She really lit up (happily) when I said that, and I felt like I had a real rock star parenting moment.  I view honesty as being really important when looking on the inside so that we're happy with what comes through to the outside.  If I'm honest with myself about x, y and z, and I know that I want to keep z a secret, then I can say x and y and honestly say I don't want to talk about anything else.  If it comes from my heart, then I have much less reason to give in and talk about z or get persuaded into talking about it, or just blurt it out without thinking about it--and I'll have no reason to lie about it.  One hope I have for my kids is just saying, straight up, when they don't feel like talking about something.  It's something I've learned to do as an adult that I wish I'd known how to do as a kid.

APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Picky, Picky...Pick, Pick, Pick

Welcome to the 30 Days of Change Blog Carnival hosted by Living Peacefully With Children and Hybrid Rasta Mama. In celebration of the New Year and forgotten resolutions , we're sharing the results of our 30 day commitment to addressing one habit the we either needed to eliminate, reframe, or include in our life. We hope you are inspired and energized to make one positive change in your own habits.

One of the first things I told my son Dragon when he was born was that I hoped he realized what he'd gotten into when he picked me, because I pick, pick, pick.  He might never get used to me pick, pick, picking, but he was at least fairly warned.

I started biting my nails when I was really young--really too young to remember.  When I joined the Army my nails were too nasty to put in my mouth, so I started picking my cuticles.  I HATE hangnails.  My nails started growing, which made my picking a little (a LOT) easier.  So I started cutting them, and filing them, because if there were any rough edges, I'd find myself picking, biting, scraping, rubbing, anything to get a smooth edge.  I didn't enjoy having to take care of my nails.  Didn't I just used to keep them short by biting them as they'd grow?  Jeesh, this was getting complicated.  Somehow in my laziness in clipping and having longer nails I started picking the skin off my lips.  I don't even remember when that started.  I'd peel the skin right off until my lips bled.  Yum.  My daughter Rainbow is now biting her nails at the ripe old age of almost five, and I'm terrified.  I really want to help her find ways to release that energy in a positive and constructive way.  I want her to believe what I tell her about picking like I never believed my mother.  I want her to feel confident in herself to take care of herself, in her beauty, in her life...of course.

So...before I even heard about this blog carnival topic, before Rainbow really got a grasp on biting her nails right off of her fingertips, I had decided to stop picking.  For myself.  Because I wanted to.  Because it had been long enough.  Because I wanted to address the underlying emotions.  Because I deserved it, darnit.

What do I deserve?  I often say, "Everyone has their vice" even though I don't like using superlatives.  I used to enjoy a cigarette here and there, I tried to be an alcoholic when I got back from being deployed to Iraq, but failed miserably.  Vice.  What's a vice?  Let's break it down: calls it "a failing or imperfection in character, conduct".  Hmmm...I like to think of all of us as perfect in our where and now and what, so I don't like this.  I don't like self-deprecation, only occasionally in humor (haha!!), and using the word 'vice' to me now seems like self-deprecating talk.  I guess I'm thinking more 'bad habit' than 'vice', then. So "Everyone has their bad habit" sounds funny, but I wanted mine, clung to it, defended it, hid it, bent the truth about it.  I used to get mad at my partner because he still enjoys a cigarette and he really can get rip-roaring drunk-ito and not have a care in the world.  So when I get antsy, nervous-y, restless, I start picking.  When I think uncomfortable thoughts, I pick.  When I watch intense, suspenseful, and scary things, I pick.  There are other times, too.  But the point is, I wanted my escape.  To me picking was like someone having a smoke.  My partner would say, "Your lips!" or my mom would say, "Picking!" or whatever, and I would just get SO irritated!  I was NOT telling them not to pick, drink, smoke, whatever.  I just wanted to pick in peace.

I don't know what changed, but something did.  Maybe it was a post I read a while back, and I can't even remember who wrote it or what it was about, but there was a quick line thrown in about deserving to live in an organized space.  And I thought, "You know, I spend all this time on keeping the kids' stuff tidy, and my stuff is always last to get attention.  I know I ought to model it, but I can't do that if I can't even get it to the point that it's all put away in the first place!  And I DO deserve to live in a tidy place, as do my children."  After that, I started thinking of all the good things I deserve, that all people deserve.  I don't love this word 'deserve', but it's the best I have right now.  Because I'm human, because humans have a need for some level of tidiness or organization (this level does vary individual to individual), I deserved it in my life.  So I started massive cleaning, throwing away, putting things where they belong, finding a home for things, organizing...and then I realized that that same concept applies to my whole life.  And BINGO!, in November and December, it just sort of clicked that I deserved to have clean, healthy hands that aren't bleeding at the cuticles, and smooth, pretty lips that aren't bleeding and scabbed, and I deserve to know what's bothering me and I deserve to put the time into myself to figure out what is going on and change it.

Which brings me to the actual journey of my 30 Days of Change.  I asked friends to ask me, if they saw me picking, what I was feeling.  I didn't want them to punch me or tell me not to do it or remind me I was doing it, just say, "Hey, what are you feeling right now?" I did such a great job stopping that I haven't come to a situation where that has happened or could happen yet.  A couple of weeks into the journey I broke a nail, legitimately, pretty low.  I chewed it off, and then picked a little, and I intentionally chose to give myself grace, a bit of a break, a guilt-free sort of good-bye to this old habit.  I chewed, picked...and didn't really enjoy the picking  I'd come pretty quickly to enjoy the smoothness that not picking had allowed to develop on my fingers and lips.  Then I started picking my lips last week.  I'm not sure what kicked it off, but I watched an intense TV show that made it worse.  And the one rough bit led to me wanting to smooth it out, creating another rough bit, and again I gave myself grace.  But then I got angry, like I was just trying to justify a little bit of picking, and I could end up doing that for the rest of my life!  So I kicked my butt into gear and decided I could have grace and be gentle (with the actual picking) in so much as I didn't hurt myself (no pulling off skin, but rubbing over spots while thinking and processing was ok).  When I'm nervous and when I have rough spots, I pick--the rough spots are spots on my body, but I think figuratively I could say I get nervous in my rough spots.  So...when I feel the need, I lightly rub my lips and try to figure out my source of nervousness.  Interestingly, breastfeeding is a time I get nervous, and as soon as I remind myself that I am doing something, I calm down and lose the urge to destroy myself for being unproductive.

I don't expect to have completely kicked a 30+year old habit in one month, but I have bid it farewell, and if I chance upon meeting it again, I'll greet it and send it on its way, try to figure out what I'm nervous about (I tap, and this helps me focus a lot), and address that.  And maybe not picking and having open, honest, and loving conversations with Rainbow will help her kick it out of her life, as well.

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other 30 Days of Change Blog Carnival participants. The links in this list will be updated by the end of the day.
  • Finishing off 2012 depressed and negative, Survivor decided to start 2013 off with positive actions and attitudes. In her blog Surviving Mexico, watch as she discovers how to overcome the disasters and find the adventures in living again.
  • Mrs Green from Little Green Blog spent her month not just meditating, but prioritizing it in her life ...
  • In The LoCo Locavore Takes OVER, our family went completely local for 30 days... IN JANUARY. Read about how we fared on our local fare. Spoiler alert! We didn't starve. You can also find Wide Awake, Half Asleep on Facebook.
  • Mari from Honey on the Bum relates how she came to the conclusion that she should stop picking apart her body, and figuratively, her life, and briefly discusses some challenges on the way.
  • Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she made two changes; stepping outside of her "comfort food shopping zone" and starting a food storage program. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook.
  • Mercedes at Project Procrastinot demonstrates new sticktoitiveness when she joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge in January. You can also find Project Procrastinot on Facebook.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy can be overwhelming. Join with Shannon at GrowingSlower as she takes back control of her health during her second pregnancy, all while parenting a toddler!You can also find Growing Slower on Facebook.
  • At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy has been working on making time every day just to breathe and be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Fun

This week has really been a week full of Valentine's fun.  I made up a game!!  I'm really excited about it.  I can see many future applications for this game idea.  This is what we did this week.  I cut out several different sizes of hearts, then traced each smaller heart in each next biggest heart (explaining things like this is not my strong point, I'm doing my best here.)  I wrote the message on it, one letter per piece, and then I cut each heart (except for the smallest one) into to pieces, except for the largest one, which I cut into four.  

I tried to make the pieces fun shapes rather than just a half a heart.

Then I hid the pieces, the kids searched for them, assembled them, and we had a treat!

Another thing we did this year, which may become tradition, is we made pocky sticks from scratch.  We used this recipe, but we modified it a bit.  I didn't have unsalted butter, but I love salt, so I just used the butter we had.  I didn't have ground cardamom and was too lazy to ground some from pods, and which part of the pod do you ground anyway, and I didn't feel like googling that... so I'm super curious about what that would add, but they were delicious without.  I followed the recipe for the sticks, but didn't use the recipe for the coating.  Instead we used almond bark flavored four ways: hazelnut extract (didn't come through), strawberry jam (Cloud's favorite), lemon extract (one of Rainbow's favorites), and chocolate chips, although I don't like sweet chocolate, so I took most of it out for the kids and made my own coating with dark chocolate chips and a bunch of salt, and it was amazing.  So I guess technically we had five dunkies.  The kids liked mine, too.  :)

We didn't exactly make only thin snakes.  And we didn't measure them to be about five inches.  I just filled one tray with snakes and we filled another with hearts (the kids thought this was FANTASTIC for Valentine's Day) and odd shapes.  

I salted half the sheet to see which we'd like better, so that's what those little white sprinkles on the silicone sheet are.  I saw a tip on another website to use a pizza cutter very lightly on the top to make those denty marks, but our sticks were so thin that they actually broke, even though I barely pressed and it didn't seem like it'd break them.  I actually doubled the batch and for the third and fourth cookie sheets of snakes I made them MUCH bigger, salted all of them, and should have done the pizza cutter thing, because they were very sturdy.

Melted a LOT of almond bark.

Forks were helpful in getting the coating on to the thinner ones.  The strawberry jam/almond bark combination was the best consistency.  The chocolate was second best.  The ones with extract got thick.

These were a huge hit with the kids.  We don't have much sugar, but I wanted to do something homemade for them that was special, that they'd remember, that would replace the commercial candy and stuff that yells at them every time we go to the grocery store.  They didn't even ask for any Valentine's Day candy.  They really seemed to be satisfied with this project.  And they're hopeful we'll do it again next year.  A couple of days after we did this we went over to some friends' house and they are gluten-free, so we picked up a bag of gluten-free pretzels, warmed up the dunkies in the microwave, and had a little dunky party.  It was really fun for the kids to be able to share these yummies with their friends.

We also did several homeschool activities.  Rainbow liked this activity, inspired by this activity best.  I just punched two holes in a heart cut from construction paper, wrote a number on the heart (1-10), slid a pipe cleaner through, twirled it at the top to keep it in, and put a bowl of beads with them on the tray.  I did count out the beads beforehand and told her if she did the activity correctly she wouldn't have any beads left, but I don't think she would have cared if I hadn't.

I found so many activities and printed and cut and put together, and Cloud just wanted to play with the geometric fractions puzzles we have.  After he was done with it as a puzzle, he started to play stacky, and then color stacky (he named the games himself.)  He had a great time.  

The night before I had soaked the red polymer water beads in water.  They were ready for scooping by morning.  We used the ice trays from Ikea and some scoops I found at Goodwill.  

Later in the day I put the beads in the bath and let the kids get naked and play with them, really get into the gelly texture of them. 

 I told them how the beads are used to water plants, and they decided they wanted to do an experiment to see if they could get seeds to sprout.  So we put some beads and some adzuki beans in some snack baggies and hung them up on the cork board.  We'll be watching to see if they sprout! 

We also put some in a glass that has a monkey on it, measure the beads against the monkey, and the kids are going to watch to see how long it takes them to shrink and to see how much they will shrink.  

Later in the day we read a really nice Valentine's book called "Valentine's Day" about a classroom of kids who make cards for a friend who lives in Japan (maybe she moved there after the whole class had known her already?), they share cards with each other and then they receive a package from Japan with origami cards from the friend.  It was very sweet.

Then we did an activity inspired by Lawteedah.  We sang a song to the tune of "Did You Ever See a Lassie?", but it was "Did You Ever See a Valentine?", we found a bear my mom had sent to me many years before for one of my deployed Valentine's Days, and put it on our pink scarf and bounced the bear around while singing the song.  The kids started giggling so hard!  I forget sometimes that it's not the activities that they want, it's the interaction.  I was laughing, too, and decided to have some fun with it.  We also bounced around an elephant with hearts on it.  Then Cloud bounced it too hard and I said, "UH OH!  Ouch!!" and they were just laughing and laughing, and we did it over and over, adding other stuffed animals.  After it got to where they couldn't even bounce it once, I just picked up the bear and threw it at the ceiling and sang, "Did you ever see a Valentine, hit the ceiling, hit the ceiling?  Did you ever see a Valentine hit the ceiling like that?"  And it just got more fun from there.  Rainbow told me to make song with the shark and the couch, so I sang, "Did you ever see a sharky hit the couchy and say 'ouchy!'" and so on.  We went through several rounds and ouchies before that lost its magic.  

Tomorrow morning I'll be trying some soaked pancakes that are pink.  I'll post if it works.  I'm going to use this idea since I don't have a heart pancake shaper, nor do I intend to get one.  I do have a heart-shaped cookie cutter, just picked one up the other day, so I can easily switch out a white for a red heart center and vice versa.  We're going to surprise Scotch with a special dinner:  homemade bread, homemade heart-shaped ravioli with a sausage and cheese filling, and salad with blackberry vinaigrette.  We also start ballet lessons tomorrow, from a friend, for both kids... it's a busy Valentine week!  We'll need a few down days next week to re-connect.  :)  

I hope you have a wonderfully deliciously full-of-love week this week and every week.  

Peek-a-boo, I love you!

Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. In celebration of Valentine's Day, we're sharing recipe ideas for "love foods" or foods to share with loved ones. Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below. ******

Well, I've misplaced my heart-shaped cookie cutter, so my pumpkin one will have to do.  This meal can change as the seasons and holidays do, as your cookie cutters permit.

My kids love what we call Peek-a-boo eggs, and they're made with love in several ways.  I choose the best ingredients I can, they're made for any meal (the kids are involved with meal-planning and they can choose so-called breakfast foods for dinner, if they want), and the kids help make them.  It's a simple recipe,  very similar to one-eyed jacks, but we put a fun little twist on them.

First the kids put butter on both sides of a piece of bread.  For several reasons I'm not going to go into here, I think butter is a healthy fat.  :)

Then they use a cookie-cutter that doesn't have too many corners and skinny bits (pumpkins, hearts, and ghosts work well; snowflakes do not) to cut out the center of the bread.

Both the outline and the cut-out bit go into a heated pan (medium heat works well for us, we like our eggs over-easy.)  Rainbow and Cloud have both been cooking near a hot stove for quite some time, so they place the bits in the pan and I'm not too concerned, although I'm still vigilant.  If Cloud starts to get rambunctious or if they start bickering, their involvement in the cooking part ends.

Each of them, for their own bread, cracks an egg and hands it to me.  I open the egg and put it into the center of the outline.  After a few moments we salt and pepper the egg.  It cooks for a bit.  Then the kids flip the outline-with-egg piece (with my help), and they use tongs to flip the cut-out bit.  Tongs are something we use regularly as part of our homeschool-preschool activities, fulfilling part of the manipulatives category, and I've found them and the kids' proficiency in using them to be quite helpful in the kitchen.  

Wow.  This picture really does not want to move to the center for me.  Oh, well.

Then the outline-and-egg bit goes onto a plate, the cut-out bit gets some jam, and the cut-out bit goes on top of the egg, like the egg is hiding.  Rainbow thinks it's great when a bit of the egg can be seen from under the cut-out.  After putting the meal on the plate, I just take care of the cast iron real quick.


We don't eat much sugar, so the jam is considered a special treat, and we only use about a teaspoon of jam. The kids love this meal, they love how involved they can be in its making, and they hate to jeopardize their involvement by fighting or being crazy around the stove.  I like using sprouted bread--I'm not sure if it's that much healthier, but we don't get hungry as quickly after eating it as we do when we eat regular flour bread and I don't get heartburn.  I think feeling that much better must mean something.  I love how excited the kids get when we make this meal.  We find locally-made and no-sugar-added jam.  We find the local-est eggs with the darkest yolks possible.  :)  I try.  I also have a budget and have never met the chickens to give me my eggs.

This meal drips love, explodes with love, leaks love in our house.  One time I quickly made myself a fried egg and ate some bread with it; the kids were so disappointed...I won't be doing that again.  I like participating, feeling their excitement, and sitting at the table, waiting for the inevitable, "Peek-a-boo!  I love you!"

Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.
Stay connected! Be sure to "Like" the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

That's Not My Specialty

Ok.  Really.  I don't know what my specialty is.  I'm definitely working on it.  And I'm working dang hard as a mother and housekeeper and lady-friend-partner.  :)

That's not the point of this post, though.  The point is what isn't my specialty.  See, a couple of years ago a friend of mine became a vegetarian.  I had some stimulating discussions with her, and one devil's advocate point I brought up in response to her statement that she didn't kill it herself, so she didn't think it was fair to eat it, was that she also didn't drill for oil, pipe it to a refinery, refine it, or ship it to gas stations, but she did use it, and a lot of destruction of life happened on the way.  The reason I brought up that is that she feels guilty about driving, about using fossil fuels, but she uses them anyway, and they're not even nourishing her body.  To her credit, she uses as little as she can get away with, buying locally and stuff like that.  But she still uses them.  I'm not holding judgment for her, it's just a simple fact.

I also don't kill the animals I eat.  I'm lucky enough to be in a situation where I know my cow and my pig, but we still hire a butcher to come kill them, hang them, chop them up, wrap them, and freeze them.  None of those things are my specialty.  I've watched them kill the cows, drag them into a line, skin them, pull out their innards, all that stuff.  It's hard work, and it may not appear to be, but it's specialized work.

Here's a thought:  Do you only listen to music written and performed by yourself?  Do you only hang art on your walls that you created?  Do you only read books you wrote?  Probably not.  Long, long ago, and this is put very simply, we were smart enough to put ourselves into a position where each individual in the group did not have to put their time into the procurement of food, so there was time left over in the day to branch out.  Sometime around when that happened specializing happened as well.  There was enough food for everyone, so some people...made bowls.  And clothing.  And art.  And musical instruments.  And others started focusing on remembering...they remembered stories...ways to heal...the lay of the land.  Eventually the arts were developed enough that a child could know that being an artist was an option for occupation, and that child could get her food from the food people and her clothes from clothes people and so on.  Like I said, this is really rudimentary stuff here, but the point is, we started specializing.

Fast forward a long time, and we have people that specialize in, among other things, drilling for oil, refining it, and getting it to our gas stations.  Whether we like it or not, we use them, and even while we try to find ways, in every aspect of our lives, to become less dependent on, and maybe eventually independent from fossil fuels, we are still using them.  We also have people that butcher, cut and wrap our animals.  My partner and I care for them the best we can while they are alive.  I'm really glad we have people that have specialized in that.  I'm glad we have people that have explored the arts.  I don't like all art, I don't like all music, but I'm glad it's there, and I have such a wide variety from which I can choose.  I'm glad I don't have to make my clothes, and in that line, I'm really glad my partner doesn't have to make his clothes.  He can go off and build some airplanes.  I don't know what my specialty is yet.  But I guess I know what it's not, and I'm pretty comfortable with that right now.  :)

Also--if we all had to kill our own food in order to be able to eat it, there would be so much waste.  A half a cow and a pig feeds my family of five for a year.  We don't raise our chickens, and we do eat a lot of chicken, but we're working on that.  But if I had to kill everything I ate...if we all did...nah.  I'd rather, if I had to kill it, share it, and let someone else do it next time.  And in the meantime, between my turns to kill an animal that will nourish my body and the bodies of my family and friends, I'd be working on figuring out my specialty.

Any thoughts on this?