I am not an airplane. This is something of a revelation to me. It happened while I was listening to Tsh Oxenreider’s first podcast, The Art of Simple.

She was talking with Emily Freeman, and Emily said one of her least favorite sayings is “the sky is the limit.”

“The sky is only the limit if you are an airplane. You’re not. You’re a human person,” she said.

I had to stop what I was doing to think about that.

How often do I live as though the sky is the limit?

Every time I sit down to plan a new homeschool year, I make a list of all the things I’d like to cover- all the subjects, all the books, all the resources.

It lives quite beautifully and impressively in my head, and as it spills onto paper, I ought to tell myself: I am not an airplane.

I am a “yes” person. Full to the brim with ideas for projects and websites and books and programs, I’m always at the yes, ready to run with it. I let those ideas spill onto paper so I can begin to put them into action, and I ought to tell myself:

I am not an airplane.


I wish I was a better housekeeper. I see piles of clean laundry ready to be folded and put away, a bare wall in need of pictures (I’ve needed to do that for a solid year, actually), notice dishes from last night’s chocolate-and-wine event with friends still in the sink. There are bathrooms that need cleaning and my bed is a mess of unmade sheets up in my room.

And when those thoughts of, “I need to be better at this, I’m a terrible housekeeper” start creeping in, I would do well to think: I am not an airplane.

I should work out more, I tell myself. Be skinnier. Wear hipper clothes. I am not an airplane.

I want to live big and full and far-reaching.

I want to do things that are just beyond my grasp. I want to be challenged every day, I want to be learning every day, I want to be soaring to heights every day.

But I am not an airplane. 

I am a human person, with limited time and talent and energy.

The sky is not the limit, and though I hate to admit it, my feet must remain firmly planted on the ground most of the time.


Perhaps I see this most clearly in my homeschool plans.

It surprises me that I do it every year, even though I know better. I don’t treat my time as a budget- I treat it as a limitless resource. I sit down to do my planning and the first thing I ask myself is, “what should we learn this year?”

I start listing shoulds, like math and grammar and science.

I think about all the wants, like Shakespeare and poetry and Giotto. My mind wanders over the pieces of a Charlotte Mason education, a classical education, and I add in each piece as it dawns on me.

Sentence diagramming.

And only after I’ve created this list do I turn to the boss- that page on which I’ve plotted out the hours of my day.


I never treat our money this way

When Andy and I sit down to budget our family expenses, we never start by listing all the things we want to afford this year.

A mortgage.
A road trip to Yellowstone.
Dinner out.
A new car payment.

That would be silly. Foolish. Disheartening. No, when I sit down to work out a budget with my husband, we begin with what we have.

There’s a finite number in that place on the spreadsheet. It’s what we have to work with.

Next, we figure out the non-negotiables. Our mortgage payment. Utilities. Insurance. We budget in a reasonable number for food, for gas, and only then do we see what’s left over to play with as far as vacations and new Danskos.


What if I treated my time like a budget?

What if I started our homeschool year, remembering that I’m a human person, not an airplane with the sky as the limit.

168 hours. And not all of them are for work.

We must sleep, must eat, prepare meals, shower and pray and attend mass. What’s left?

That’s my sky.


That’s my limit. Because I am not an airplane. I’m a human person, with limited time, talent and energy. And regardless of where the vision takes me in my head, my feet are firmly planted on earth.

Which is right where He intends me to thrive.

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