Friday, February 17, 2017

I delight in doing things different.

Tonight, I had a great little girls night out...well girls night in. It was fun but I got asked some really direct questions. Not a bad thing. It's actually an appreciated thing.

Essentially the question was...when you're in the same situation in the future, will you do things differently? I was grateful and excited to be able to say yes and to say yes confidently.

This is not an insightful post and that's all I'm going to disclose about it but this is me writing today.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bed making and Skill building

Today, I found myself thinking at a number of different points in my day...what should I write about today? I was seeking connection. I was seeking delighting. I was seeking learning. I was seeking revelation.

Two subjects have come to mind--

1) I really like getting in a made bed at the end of the day. I'm not a religious bed maker. But I wish that I was. Tonight, I had book club at my house. With a bedroom on the main floor of my house, and having people who visit frequently ask for a tour...I always clean up...the whole house. Okay at least the main and the basement...the upstairs is the craft room and craft room's live by different rules of clean. Anyway, as I turned off all the lights of my clean and tidy house and walked into my bed was just so ready for me. I may have made fun of the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" a few times tonight (I actually really like and often think about various principles from that book) but you know, something that truly brings me joy is my bedroom. I love all the things in it and they all truly bring me joy. From the pictures on the wall, to the nightstand I bought on my first day of living away freshman year of college, to my grandmothers sewing chest (which matches nothing), to the lobster pillow, to the curtains that let the most incredible white light shine through...I love this space. I love the way it makes me feel and I love how it welcomes me to a restful night sleep. Maybe I should make my bed more often if it evokes such strong feelings.

2) Skills. I feel like there are a lot of skills that we tell people to have. We say things like, have a better attitude, eat healthy, lose weight, connect better with your child, "get down on their level." I've always kind of hated phrases like this because while all these things are important we often just expect that people know how to do this or how to find the resources to do it. I've been impressed recently by this multidisciplinary aspects of rehabilitation. I'm not going to go into it all now because, then, we would be on one of Erin's wild soapboxes...but the point of the story is this...

If we don't consider the whole picture, all the barriers, and support participation by addressing both environmental and personal factors, how can we expect change? If we don't teach families what connection with a book and a child and a parent looks like how will they know? If we don't understand that giving them books isn't the solution but actually teaching a skill, which isn't just something all people are able to just "figure out." How will they know? I personally want all parents to be able to have this skill. These are some of my most treasured memories I have with my mom and my brother growing up. She would lay in the middle of her bed with my brother and I on each side. We would each bring a book and she would read. As she would get tired, she'd get the words wrong and I'd correct her. Then, if we were all still awake, and it was the weekend, we'd get to watch some I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched...classics on Nick at Night's Block Party Summer. Oh the times. But these are treasured times. They're the best times. They are cherished times. Teach the how and the why. The how and the why. Model. Teach. Test. Model. Teach. Test.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

writing to write post 1

So the irony of my last post is that last February...I wrote pretty much the same post

It struck me as ironic because right now I'm reading a book called "Big Magic." It's an Elizabeth Gilbert book and all that that entails but it is a very thought provoking book. Admittedly I'm only half way through (and yes, book club meets tomorrow...whoops!) but some of the things I'm thinking include the following:

What keeps me from creating?
What do I love doing that I need to make room for in my life?
Why does fear keep me from living a more creative life?
What endeavors do I love and work to support?

I have a co-worker who straight up told me after she'd been hired that she works strictly to support her expensive hobbies. While she enjoys what she does and finds satisfaction in her work, she works to live and does not live to work. A twinge inside me made me realize that I was envious of her determination, her vision, and the clarity of her path.

Part of me always wishes I had one thing I was really good at. You know, those people who are really good at the piano, or they're really incredible writers...they just have that gift. Part of me reminds me that it is a blessing in a different way to have what I call a smattering of interests. That's me. I have a smattering of interests. I might be what we call a jack of many trades and an expert at none. I have lots of diverse interests, most of which are unrelated. I have had many collections, interests, hobbies and passions. Sure, there are a few key things I come back to including reading, cooking, and old lady hobbies such as cross stitching, quilting, and the like but they're genuine things I really enjoy and I kind of rotate among them.

I think there are things I have liked in life that I could have pursued more seriously...uh, em writing being one of them. I've never felt like English was a strength for me...this is likely not a surprise to anyone who reads what I write. I tend to write like I talk and write like I was sharing this with you in real life...facial expressions, prosody, intonation, and of course gestures...I'm a hand talker. That is who I am. Communication is key and I've never felt that writing has let me convey my message as clearly as if I were to give it in person. I've always loved public speaking, presenting, talks, etc. Conveying myself through the written word isn't something I've felt was a strength. I've let that be a barrier. But the only way you get better at something is to practice.

I have another friend who once shared that she writes and reads every single day. She said it like it was a normal thing that everyone does. I thought to myself...well yes I do write and read everyday but not intentionally for my own benefit, passion or interest. But reflecting back on life, I realized that some of the happiest times of my life were when I was reading and writing daily, intentionally, meaningfully. Why had I stopped? It's a legit question that I honestly don't know the answer to; however, I am grateful for these ah-ha's and for the role that writing plays in my having them.

I'm not sure where this is going (remember, writing isn't my strong suit) but I think it's contributing to the identification and hopefully subsequent removal of my perceived barriers. About myself, about my skills, about my abilities, about where I think it's valuable to give time and energy and effort.

I did a module at work today that talked about whether you see yourself in a job, a career or a calling. It has been a thinking subject for me the rest of the day. It's definitely not a job, I feel too passionate about it. But at the same time there are so many facets of my job that feel like a job that I have a hard time discriminating what is "job" and what is "calling." I do give value and feel the calling aspect of what it is that I do. This is not the forum to get into this further, but I think the point is to will you work to identify and remove barriers that keep you distanced from where you want to go? where you wish you were? where you thought you'd be? AND what are you going to do about it? are you going to do something about it? what is your next actionable step? and when is it happening for you?

when is it happening for me and what is it? good question. I'm not sure yet. I'm also not sure where my capitalization went there for a moment. I think the next step for me is writing. And writing to write. Not writing for you, not writing for polish, or praise, or anything like that but just writing and loving what happens. Living in the journey. Loving in the process. Letting life happen and learning the lessons that those opportunities afford. I probably worry more about living than actual living...that's a problem. Another subject for another day.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

To write again

I have this friend who always asks me, "What have you learned lately?" 

At first the question took me off guard and to be honest, it still takes me off guard, even though I know it will come up in the course of our conversation. I love it though because it makes me actually process and reflect on what I have learned lately. 

Learning happens in a lot of ways. Sometimes it is a process we are acutely aware of. For example, I remember learning times tables in 3rd grade. I was aware of it because they were hard for me and we had quizzes on them every single day. There was a chart on the wall that tracked each persons progress, how many they'd memorized and which ones they were still working on. It was easy to realize what I was learning because of the homework, tests, and discussion that accompanied the subject. 

Today learning doesn't happen much in an academic setting for me. Years of school and college are in the past and while I occasionally love taking up a new hobby by signing up for a class or a lesson of some sort, learning is much more broad. One of my goals for the year is to learn to cook Indian food. I'm trying better to understand the spices and how they work together. Sure there are things I'm learning at work such as researching infant feeding and cognitive rehabilitation. Other things I learn at work include understanding how to read financial reports with funny acronyms or which computer program I need to open in order to do a certain ask. Sometimes, spiritually I'm studying certain subjects such as "charity" or "faith." These aren't all the things I'm learning though and honestly, I'm not convinced this type of learning is the most important. 

What are the things I'm learning in life? The lessons? What connections am I making between the experiences, impressions, and structured learning I'm having? This to me is the learning that is of most value. These are the kinds of answers I want to have when my friend asks me what I have been learning lately. When I intentionally and deliberately take the time to ponder this question, I find myself recognizing things I've learned. I've learned about being kind. I've learned about being myself and that there is a level of true joy that happens when I'm vulnerable with other people and lay it out on the line. I've learned why I really go to church...that I go because of the ordinances I participate in and the covenants that I renew through those ordinances. I don't go to be spiritually uplifted as a top 3 reason. (More on that one later.) I've learned that it's possible to see people with new eyes. I've learned more about being content on the journey that I'm on. And I'm learning more about true sources and mindsets that allow us to feel joy. 

Something that has persisted in my mind the past couple weeks is doing things because I want to do them, for me, not for other people. It seemed to be at opposition with how I wanted to be spending my time. For example, I should spend time writing because it would benefit others but I'm realizing that I should spend time writing because it benefits myself and if it so happens to benefit the life of another...well then that's a good byproduct of the time. I've been trying to settle this in my mind for a few weeks now and today the impression came again, that I needed to spend more time writing. 

In what manner should I write? I realized that I didn't think it was the point. I think the point, as I currently understand it is that there is a level of learning for me that happens as I write and as I process. Since I currently live alone, I don't have anyone physically present to process with. I process a lot of things in my thoughts and in prayer but I think there is some sort of a calculated path that is processed when thoughts are recorded into words and words are then reviewed and read at times when we need them later. They can help us as we look back to see connections to path we didn't realize we were on until we got further down the path and then looked back. Sometimes I am reticent to commit words to, well anywhere and I'm afraid that the older I have gotten the more fearful I have become because I fear being judged for my words, my thoughts and my opinions. But then, I thought about how learning is a process. And how what I write, my opinions may change and by golly they should change. They better change. As I learn and grow I want to have different thoughts and opinions because I have different knowledge and understanding. That's a good thing! That's a great thing! And so, here we are...back to the 'ole blog which, is a forum in which I like writing. Not that many if any ever read what gets posted here...but I do. I go back and read and look for the things I've learned in the past. I enjoy having a place to post pictures that support the things I'm learning and writing. So here we are again. To write again.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

morning impressions

Yesterday I woke up with a distinct impression in mind. "Go to Lee's, buy fritters, and take them to your neighbors (specific neighbors came to mind)."

This isn't the first time this has happened but, the impression seemed unique.

So, I thought about it for a while. Went through my monthly planning process. And with my week plan and my meal plan committed to was time to run errands and go to the bank. I discovered a closer branch of my bank which, just happened to put me within 2 miles of the new Lee's Grocery Store. So...taking a new route, I headed to the store. I've grown up with this grocery store close to my parents house and I know that when I find myself home on Friday mornings, we often make a "fritter Friday run."

Needless to say, I grocery shopped, bought extra fritters and went on my way back home. An hour after leaving the grocery store, I eventually wound up home, after a lovely visit with my neighbors.

Now I'll never know why and that's okay. I don't need to. But I have thought a lot about why would the Lord want me to buy fritters and take them to my neighbors. I'm not sure I'll ever know the answer but you know what, it didn't matter. It doesn't matter. I felt good and knew it was time well spent. So it goes. When we go on the Lord's errand, we don't know the details. And I don't think we need to. It served as an excellent reminder that the Lord helps us be where we need to be. We don't need the rest of the story.

Monday, January 30, 2017

the value of being kind

We live in a world that prizes value.

"How much is it worth?," we ask, in hopes that we've gotten a steal, found a bargain, or found a sale. And maybe, just maybe our return will be of even higher than the original value. We are always concerned with cost. We budget around cost. We make choices around cost. We are about the value of what we are getting but only to some degree. Sometimes we choose to eat the $16.00 gourmet hamburger when we are valuing another's companionship at a fancy restaurant and are choosing to value indulgence in a treat. Of course, other times, we value a similar meal by choosing the $1.00 hamburger that we selected off a "Value Menu" when we are prioritizing cost and speed. We are intent on being wise in our costs and we generally look for the highest value with the lowest cost.

So what is the value of kindness? And what is our cost?

To me, this is one of the worlds best bargains! You see, the value of kindness is high. So high in fact that no one ever got mad for someone being too kind. Well, probably someone did but it was one of those ridiculous reasons to get mad. In fact, we even facetiously say things like, "Oh you're too kind." But, the thing is...I think we don't mean it. It's hyperbole. One cannot be too kind.

And what if they were? What if you were too generous? What if you were too kind? You mean you forgave someone who was mean to you? You did something kind for someone who was mean to you? You gave someone the benefit of the doubt and assumed good intent. You thought kind thoughts when you easily could have harbored a grudge, and done so in a rather justified manner.

I have a sign in my home that says, "If you can be anything, be kind." It's one of my favorite sayings because sometimes, I easily feel like I fail at being a lot of things. I fail at getting through all my email. I fail at solving all my patient's problems. I fail at serving everyone around me as I would like to. I fail to always thinking kind thoughts about others when I'm driving. I can't be everything. And I don't want to be just anything...but I can always be kind.

And what's it to me? What's the cost? The cost of kindness is nothing. I think that's actually a lie. Kindness does come at a cost. That cost cannot be folding into a wallet, stored in a bank account, or saved for a rainy day. The cost comes through cultivating our thoughts, feelings, words, emotions, and beliefs everyday of our lives.  It comes at the cost of humility. Of admitting when you're wrong. It comes at the cost of saying you're sorry. It comes at the cost of pride. Of recognizing that you aren't perfect. Kindness comes at the cost of time. It's not always convenient to be kind. Sometimes, you may not feel like you have time to say thank you or to stop and help a neighbor. The cost is excess. You have to shed some of the unnecessary things that block your path to kindness. The cost is vision. It's seeing things the way they really are as opposed to how you want to, or could choose to see it.  The cost is forgiveness. And asking others for their forgiveness. The cost is repentance. Repentance in the sense of turning and changing and becoming something different than you were before.

Kindness doesn't cost anything monetarily. Kindness costs a change of your heart.

And what if kindness doesn't beget kindness. This is not a good return on your investment of cultivating this attribute. And unfortunately, even though you can be so kind, people can still be mean back to you. In fact, they can be heartless. They can even cause you to feel not kind in response. But what you do with that inclination is what matters the most. You have a choice. Your return may not look so good, but ultimately, it will be the only thing that matters. Choose to invest in kindness. Choose to pay kindness forward. Choose to cultivate kindness.

--thoughts from hard lessons on a long day

Saturday, January 14, 2017

erin's 2016

erin's highlights from 2016

---lived in my house for a year--got a new job--
---spent a week at the cabin with LB---went to the cabin alone---went to the cabin with my family---
---went to the cabin with nicole---experienced snow in yellowstone---
---went to cape breton---hiked the skyline trail---stayed in some b and b's---
---lived with mary---lived alone---directed choir---
---found out i was going to be an auntie, again---
---worked as an ordinance worker in the bountiful temple---dinner with friends---
---celebrated canadian thanksgiving in canada---
---experienced fall on the east coast---
---second saturday's with mom---
---had a garden and learned i love it---painted and recovered the basement from the flood---
---hung up more pictures on my wall---bought a kitchen table---

I know there were lots of other awesome things that happened in 2016...I just can't think of them right now. So something is better than nothing. :)