Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I delight in looking forward.

kayaking on Mantua reservoir
july 2017

I'm studying faith in Christ right now. In doing so I've been reading a lot about trees and fruit and roots. About trust and diligence, patience and hope. I love the analogies used to teach faith. I can relate to trees and roots and water and through them, I'm starting to understand more about faith.

This scripture particularly stood out to me,

Alma 32:40
"If ye will not nourish the word looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life."

The theme of looking forward stood out to me. At this part of the parable on faith, Alma has talked a lot about seeds and the importance of nourishing them and giving it room and good ground for growth. He's talked about giving it great care and the importance of not neglecting it. I find it interesting that another dependent variable for the success of the growth of the tree and the rooting of the seed is looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit.

I feel like Alma is reminding us that we must be future forward faith focused. We must have goal directed persistence (to put it in executive functioning terms). We must not give up before we've given the seed a chance to grow. We must keep watering, keep nourishing, even when we think the seed might not make it or when we aren't sure whether it's going to take off or not. We must persist with the perspective that our current circumstances are not our future circumstances.

Alma goes on to say...

Alma 32:41
"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

Our God is a big picture God. He doesn't see things in isolated events or occurrences. He doesn't experience our experiences in snapshots. He knows how they connect, how they interconnect with others--his view is perfect. It is broad and deep. He knows the in's and out's. He is both high and wide. He "gets" it!

So what does looking forward look like for me, right now, as a 30-year-old-single-working-female-who-hopes-to-be-a-wife-and-mother-one-day-and-who-is-absolutely-happy-and-optimistic-in-the-meantime? It means that I look forward! I get anxious and excited about the present and the future. I remain optimistic in all aspects of my life. I strive to be engaged in the present and in the opportunities that are currently present in my life. I make intentional choices to have joy. I focus on the things that have eternal worth. I thank the Lord for the fact that I am on the ride and that there is more around the riverbend. Looking forward also means I keep sowing. I do good things, contribute good to the world, and try to make the world a better place for my presence. I continue learning and trying so that I am becoming who I want to be. I strive to be in the right places and examine whether I am in them with the appropriate frequency.

my study journal--by subject

Today I thought I'd post a little about one of the ways that I study the gospel.

the study journal: by subject

For this journal, I just took a notebook that I had that I felt was big enough but small enough. Next I counted the number of pages in the book and reserved the first 3 or so pages for a table of contents. I numbered the pages and made a table of contents page so I could find subjects quickly. 
Next, I determined what some of the content pages would be. When I started this notebook, I wanted it to be a way to collect information that I learned in church, conferences, or in personal studies I was having so deciding on subjects was important to me. Some subjects I took right from Preach My Gospel, others from the For Strength of Youth pamphlet, and finally, other subjects I felt I wanted to understand better such as leadership, learning, teaching, effective study, patriarchal blessings, sin/disobedience, desire, testimony, and work. 


Next, I went through and labeled all the pages correspondingly, leaving some empty initially until I determined what subjects I wanted to study. I determined a general layout for each page. On the left, the top three lines were for a definition, next a section on scriptures that teach this doctrine or principle, at the bottom, a section for favorite quotes. On the other page, (note that they are all an open double page layout) is room for my personal thoughts, examples, insights, illustrations, stories, pictures, and testimony. Sometimes I glue things in or add sticky notes with a reference to something I want to go back to at some point to add to the content. 

Below is an example of my study on Jesus Christ. On this page, I even recorded what some of my favorite hymns are about the Savior since I love the music. I also included a picture I took in the garden of gethsemane. 

So that's basically it. I want to just say that being able to have this tool in my studies. I still don't have something written on every subject and that's not the point. It's been fun to see where my studies take me to and fro. I love being able to focus on something and return to it later when I have a new or different perspective depending on how things in my life have changed. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

perceptions

Words I actually heard:
-so what is new with you?
-are you loving your house?
-what are you up to these days?
-it is so good to see you

Words I actually felt:
-why aren't you married?
-are you dating anyone?
-what are you doing with a whole house?
-you are loved


Perceptions are something I think about a lot. Later in the day, mom and I were talking to a neighbor. She made some comment about a common acquaintance who had lost his job. She had heard about the ordeal from his son earlier this week, but the man we were talking to shared a different side of the story. We remarked as we walked home, how everyone's story is different because it is experienced through different lenses. It's not that one person is right and another person is wrong...it's that they both experienced the same event differently so their stories can never be expected to be the same.

So it is with other perceptions. If I had only listened to what I heard, I would have been frustrated at having the same conversations over and over again. I would have probably been mad because, I've now answered these types of questions for years, always with few updates, and little new to say about it. But because I recognized that the people asking genuinely cared and loved me, I acted a little more patient, a little more kind, and gracious that they would be so concerned as to ask how I was really doing. From my preschool teacher, to old neighbors, to old friends who have moved away and had children, to the mothers of friends of mine from high school, to the children I used to babysit who now have babies of their own, to old church leaders...I recognize that I have a whole group of people who love me, who are cheering me on, who are in my corner. Sometimes, I may not be able to discern what I hear from what I feel. I'm human and sometimes, I'm tired. But when I step back and strive to see things for what they really are and discern what I heard from what I felt...I can see that the Lord has given me an incredible support system for which...I am so blessed.

Monday, June 5, 2017

write more

Sometimes I get impressions and I'm not sure what they mean. This one was one of them. Write more.

Write more.

more more more more more more more more more....

I don't think that's what was meant. This was an impression I received back in February and the February before. I'm not sure what it means and most of the time, I'm really not sure I do anything different because of it. But sometimes...when a pen is in my hand or keys are under my finger tips...it comes back to me...write more.

So, let's talk about what I delighted in today.

I would have liked to have delighted in waking up early, which thing I didn't do, exercising before work, again didn't do it, and eating a balanced breakfast, didn't do that either. I did however get to work on time. Go me.

I persevered through my email which always seems to feel like the never ending black hole...because it is. I left with no unread emails. Does it mean that I'm done responding to email? Does it ever? No, it never does. But I've come to terms with it and its fine.

I ate lunch and did paperwork. I called a dear patient's mother who I've been so worried about. I fretted about what I was going to do about another patient situation which is still unresolved.

I went on a walk. I calendared for the week. I went home. I fixed myself dinner. I listened to a book on overdrive. It will always be a bother to me that overdrive only lets me reserve 5 books, I mean have 5 books on hold at a time. That means I've been waiting 2 months for one of my books to come through. I'm too cheap for audible, even though I know, I'd love it.

I read my scriptures, finished my monthly planning, responded to text messages. Then I watered my flowers and went on a walk. I made my step goal today. Then I made lemonade. Then I took pictures of twin baby deer out my window and now I sit, here. Writing more.

Life is an interesting thing. It's easy to want what you don't have. It's easy to dig yourself in a hole of things you wish you did or could have done better, or think you ought to have had a better attitude about. But...it is what it is and tomorrow I can do better.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow...I have the opportunity to write more...again.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Will it matter?

A few weeks ago.I was on a plane. I was coming back from a work trip. The flight into Chicago was particularly turbulent. No drinks were served. The seatbelt light never did go off. And for someone who doesn't get sick on planes...I was glad I didn't eat dinner before I got on the flight.

The woman sitting next to me, who I didn't know but who had attended the same conference I had, was becoming increasingly more uneasy as the flight went on. She read her book more slowly, until she couldn't read it at all. Then she started making sound effects..."oh dear," "oh no," "wow." I finally took the cue and commented on her remarks. "Bumpy flight isn't it?" "Oh yes," she said. "Doesn't it make you nervous?" she asked. "Not nervous. Just acutely aware that I'm flying in the sky."

Flying in the sky! That's a thing we can do. Sometimes it blows my mind. So...if the air is bumpy...at least I'm still flying. I looked over at my coworkers. One was sound asleep, the other, wide awake. "Quite the flight," I remarked to my coworker across the aisle. "Is it making you nervous?" "Will it matter?" she responded.

Nope.

Then we proceeded to discuss about this concept of "will it matter?" Our jobs are stressful. Attending this conference made us even more aware of how not being at work, but learning about how other people do your job makes you aware of all you have to do when you return to work. Mid-level management is a mostly thankless job. You're frequently caught in the middle. Dealing with the problems. Supporting the bottomline. Ensuring safety and patient satisfaction, as well as engaging the employee and making sure their needs are met as well. As we segued into a discussion of "will it matter?" she shared about how she strives to think of this any time situations at work arise. "Will it matter?" she asks herself? Will it matter tomorrow? In an hour? Next week? or Next year?

Most of the time the answer is no. But that doesn't mean I don't engage it in my worry. I'm a master worrier. I blame my mother who got it from her mother who more than likely, got it from her mother. I don't like to engage in the worry but often times it engages me whether I intend it to or not. And so, I'm trying to ask myself, "Will it matter?" And if the answer is no...intentionally choose not to worry about it.

Easier said than done, but it is a start.

*I was just back in her office and I had the quote wrong...it's "would it help?" close enough.

lessons in budgeting

I wrote about a few of my financial goals earlier in the year. I am of the opinion that we don't discuss finances in the right way, at the right time, or in the right manner on too many occasions. I've never one to be too worried about finances. I guess that speaks to the fact that I've been very fortunate for this not to be a major constraint in my family growing up. At the same time, it's something I've always been aware of. Budgeting has been a new thing for me though. I've always tracked my spending, paid off any credit card at the end of each month without carrying a balance or paying interest but I felt like things were having the potential to get out of hand. With a few years of a career under my belt, a mortgage, and many pressures to do this or that...I decided it was time to have a better understanding of where my monies were really going each month so I could be more intentional and hopefully live more fully with joy...not just today but for the tomorrows.

So, I started down the course of budgeting. I had to figure out what that meant for me. How I was going to define it. After 5 uncomfortable months, I can finally say that budgeting has become delightful. Never would I have thought those words would come out of my mouth. This month, marks a few months in with my cash budgeting system. I've indoctrinated myself whole heartedly with the teachings of my dad, Dave Ramsey, and Robert Kiyosaki.

Let's be honest. It hasn't been easy. Spending is sone of those things that has some automaticity to it. You see a store. Stop. Walk in. Pick something up. Whip out the plastic. Done. It can happen with minimal thought. That's scary. Especially at the end of a work day when my inhibition may not be as good as it would be at other times.

Shopping with cash makes me think about exactly what I'm carrying and what purchases I'm preparing to make. If I make that stop, do I have the money to buy what I'd be going in for. Would buying that bring me happiness today and tomorrow? Carrying cash has come in handy. You can get out of a restaurant faster and pay back friends easier (sorry guys...haven't bought into the whole venmo thing yet). Carry cash has also been awkward. First of all, some cashiers struggle to count change. I'm getting better at my money math. Second of all, if I'm getting things from different categories (enter Costco), I've learned to prepare my cash somewhat while I'm in line so I don't take too long at the register. And finally, I always ask for a receipt. I keep them in my wallet and write down everything I spent on my monthly log. Some people give you the oddest look when you actually ask for your receipt. Oh you want your $1.06 McDonald's Diet Coke reciept? Why yes I do.

I still carry my credit cards. They're sitting right next to my cash...but I don't use them...unless I'm buying gas or purchasing something online. Gas is just in my budget. I travel for work. I don't really worry to much about gas and it's factored in as a purchase that I don't draw cash out for. Purchasing things online is challenging but I think I've finally figured out the trick!!! Don't buy things on Amazon at the end of the day. When you're in bed...don't make purchases. Again, you're not thinking clearly. Put it in your cart and purchase it in the morning if its still a priority.

Lastly, give yourself some slack. There are some categories I've learned I just need to own. For example, I really like to buy books. I love to read and books are important to me. So...I have a book budget. Eating out is a very social thing at my age and with my friends. I do my grocery money and my eating out money separately. If I go over my eating out allotment, the money comes out of my grocery money. That way...if it happens to be one of those months where I get together a lot with friends for dinner...then I'm having to be careful about what I eat the rest of the time. And finally...give yourself some blow money. Things will always come up that you just can't anticipate budgeting for. Give yourself the opportunity to have fun. I don't want to not "live" just because I'm on a budget.

And one more tip...don't forget to pay yourself! I keep a list on the top of my planner of the accounts I need to allot money to each month as some of my earnings are variable. Some things have set amounts and other things have variable amounts. They're on my radar and I pay attention to them.

The things that have our attention must have our intention engaged.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

strength and decay



This morning, I listened to a Face to Face with President Eyring and Elder Holland. In the church to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members or leaders of the church host events such as this as broadcast, usually with a certain demographic population in mind. This one was targeted toward the youth of the church, so generally 12-18 years of age. The goal of these events, at least as I see it, is to give members of the church an opportunity to feel the spirit and to seek and receive answers to their questions.

The first question was asked by a sister in Mexico, "What can you do if you feel your faith is decaying?" (Watch here) Elder Holland excitedly expressed loving her use of the word decay suggests that a testimony is living and that it is organic. 

It made me think a lot about where my testimony is...how are its current standards of living? Is it barely alive? Or is it thriving and flourishing?

I love gardening...truly I am my mothers daughter. I can't begin to express how much joy it has brought me as my garden flowers have begun to emerge from the ground. I've worried about them all winter. Would my perennials survive? Would the flowers that struggled last year come back? Slowly, as I watched the daffodils, then the tulips and hyacinths emerge my heart was filled with hope, then with anticipation for what was to come. As I learned last year, in my first year of independent gardening...there is a visible difference between a plant that is barely surviving and one that is thriving.

As I went to church and pondered this further...I heard the word decay again (all before 9:15 am). This time in the words of a hymn (Abide with Me, Hymn 166), "change and decay in all around I see." This time decay brought on a different thought for me. I thought of the decay of morals which seems to be so prevalent in my day. Yesterday in talking with a friend, she shared that another acquaintance of ours had left the church. I'd known that she moved and that she was dating someone...what I didn't realize was that she moved to another state to live with him, simultaneously abandoning her previous religious beliefs. These realizations are always somewhat difficult for me. Even if I don't know someone well, when I hear that they're living in outright rebellion, my heart hurts for them. Subsequently, I also become extremely concerned about my faith..was it growing or decaying? 

Last but not least, decay also reminds me of teeth. You know...dental decay also known as a cavity. Having many issues with my teeth through the years, I am acutely aware of the lingering damage decay can lead to. If a dentist does not completely get rid of the decay before filling a cavity...that decay can and will continue to grow causing further deterioration of your tooth and for me...needing root canals. Any level of decay is dangerous. We must be in a strict regimen of taking care of our teeth and protecting them from decay.

And so...why decay? Well because its all around us. It's the enemy of what I want. So what is it that I want after all? What is the opposite of decay?

Strengthening. To keep our testimonies from decaying we strengthen them by praying and reading the scriptures. To keep our flowers from decaying we water, fertilize and plant them in fertile soil. To keep our morals from decaying, we serve others, we make intentional choices about what we are doing and why. And to keep our teeth from decaying...we brush, floss, and in my case, use high fluoride toothpaste. 

Just like building muscle doesn't come passively, strengthening anything takes work, effort and pain. There will be times where we will still struggle. Expect it. But don't give up just because you're experiencing it. Pain is part of the process. 

The ultimate strength comes through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He supplies our need. I am so grateful for him. I am grateful to have experienced decay so I can recognize the building of spiritual strength and spiritual muscle through spiritual work. My confidence lies in him. I pray that we may be able to have him abide with us.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

turning the tide


Today we had a lesson in Relief Society about Daughters of God. An amazing friend my ward, Rachel, taught the lesson. I always look forward to Rachel's lessons because she is bold, she is kind, and she is inspired. She knows how to facilitate a meaningful lesson. I always feel the spirit in her lessons and I always feel like I'm in a good discussion with friends that ends prematurely because class has ended, not because the discussion itself is over. 

Today's lesson was no exception to this. Rachel led an insightful discussion about the roles of women as daughters of God and as women of the world. In my mind, it was like we were going to draw a Venn diagram--how they were separate and distinct, and how they were the same. Initially the question was posed, something to the extent to what does it mean to you to be a daughter of God.

This is a question that honestly fuels the fire of my testimony. I've definitely had defining moments in gaining a testimony but the thing that I've always known is that I am a child of God. I have been blessed over time to come to understand my identity as a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him. It has been my standard, the one against which I compare everything else. It has been my calibration point. It's been my anchor and my lighthouse. It has been my rod and my staff. It has been where I try to set my gaze and to focus my attention. Knowing I'm a daughter of God is a game changer. 

But then the conversation started down the path that it invariably goes down. Women just want to be perfect. We want to be good. We want to be mothers. Bless our mother hearts. But I started noticing some emerging patterns from a room of incredible single sisters. Themes such as empowering women role in the home, women dedication to their children, how they yearn to be mothers and stay home and raise their children, how we should exalt the role of mothers in the home and not the role of women in the workplace. I know that these women's intentions were good. But my heart began to break as I saw the theme of daughter of God tie directly to being a good stay at home mom...to say the least. Of course, there were other strong themes, but I started to truly sense this direct tie to "the woman I should be." 

Rachel then shared this quote by President Spencer W. Kimball, he said, "Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world." (The Role of Righteous Women, April 1979.) 

My hand shot up in the air and I said something to this effect...I love this quote! This quote to me doesn't say anything about whether we are single or married, whether we are working, mothering, or whether we are unable to work. It doesn't say anything about health or circumstances. What it does say is that in whatever we do, wherever we are, whatever our capacity, we can reflect righteousness and articulateness in our lives. We can lead distinct and different lives in happy ways. As we do this, we will be an ensign to the women around us. 

I am so guilty of constantly comparing myself to others. And it goes in cycles. I look at others and their seeming ability to do it all. I look at their children, and their husbands, and the experiences they're having that my heart only yearns for. It is so easy to look at the life of another and wish it was your own or clearly see how you could do it better. Neither of these paths is pleasing to God. He has called you here, to be on earth now to be you. He has a special work that he has called you to. Not you acting as someone else. He did not reassign your assignment to someone else because they could do it better. He called you to you work and me to mind. He has called me to be Erin McQuivey, witness of HIM at all times and in all places that I am in. That means he wants me to be that witness in my family, at my work, at my grocery store. He wants me to be that witness in my home and in my community. Am I heeding that call? Am I finding value in what I have been called to do?

This week, the Relief Society announced that it changed its purpose. It now reads:
"Relief Society helps prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they:
Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants.
Work in unity to help those in need. 

The changes are highlighted in bold. I love that the purpose didn't change but we were refocused to the things that are most important. On our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Atonement. On individuals because salvation is an individual matter. And as individual children we are children of God. We all need the ordinances and covenants regularly in our lives. And finally...we can't do it alone. 

And that's the final point here. We can't do it alone. We cannot afford to be pitted against one another. It is only by working together in unity that we will be able to accomplish the great work we have been sent here to do. 

Sometimes, I think that we can all feel alone in the world. Satan has a way of pitting us against one another through worshiping idols and coveting what others have that we do not. We feel and sense the great battle that is happening. But don't let yourself ever feel alone. Sometimes, we might feel like Jehoshaphat of the Old Testament. A great multitude was coming to battle against them. He sought the Lord and proclaimed all to fast. Judah gathered themselves together to ask help of the Lord. As a part of his prayer, he said, "O our God, wilt though not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee."

So too, our eyes are upon thee. Regardless of what our calling is to do, regardless of the callings of those around us...our eyes are upon thee. We are righteous women of God with great potential in this world. Though our callings be divine and different, we are dependent on Him in all we do. Let us join together. Let us band together and continue to change the world. Let us turn the tide

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I delight in Thursday.

Today, I woke up at 5:45 and for the first time in months...I felt ready to be awake. I tell ya, it's like this root canal revolutionized my life. I can't believe how terrible I'd slowly faded away to feel. I showered, fixed myself eggs for breakfast (this NEVER happens), and I even rode my exercise bike! Miracles I tell you! I did some laundry, made my bed, and unloaded the dishwasher, all before leaving for work.

Let's be honest...all of these things happening in the morning in isolated events can be challenging and often is so the fact that they all happened this morning was a total anomaly. But, it definitely started my day off the right way.

Today was one of those days where I felt like I could focus. I could zoom in and just have at it. Did I complete everything? No. Did I complete a lot of somethings? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Definitely. But as flex week...one of my favorite 3-4 weeks of the year comes to a close...I'm grateful for this chance that I have to kind of play catch up in various aspects of my work life.

The best part about Thursdays is going to the temple. I love the temple. Tonight we had a training by a sister in the temple presidency about the importance of baptism and the beautiful simplicity of the baptismal ordinance. It's so simple but so powerful. She challenged us all to read 2 Nephi 31 so that's what I will study tomorrow. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to participate in the Lord's work. I am also grateful for prayer. I am grateful that I can pray for others and that for them, especially some of them, they appreciate that they can ask for those prayers.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Yesterday was plain awful. You can say that again."

This has been me.
On repeat.
For a week and then some.

I've been Erin the grumpy and I've probably met my tears quota for the year in the past couple weeks. I have an abscessed tooth. My third to be exact. Long sad story including all the things that make people cringe like bad dentistry, improper drilling of cavities, and worst of all, it ends up with me needing a root canal. Like I told my mom...it wouldn't be so terrible if I was old, but I'm not that old.

Anyway, since getting on an antibiotic and a strict routine of pharmaceuticals to help with the pain, I've been better but the tears are still close to the surface which tells me that my body is still experiencing pain. It's just being covered up by the medicine. Interesting how your body still knows. 

Needless to say, it's been a long week and a long weekend. While yesterday it's self was actually fine, today I have rotated around my parents house from one bed to another. Laying, loafing, crying, napping, watching sappy hallmark movies (thinking: this is not real life! but I wish it was!), cross stitching, and occasionally eating some "soft food." Yes, I think I'm on an NDD2 diet with thin liquids (room temperature). It's been such a blessing to be at home though. There's something about having your mom around to take care of you that makes everything a little bit better. Or a lot bit. 

Point of the story is...I take advantage of all the days that I wake up feeling perfectly fine. I don't want to take advantage of those days. I want to appreciate the ability to go up and down the stairs without searing pain in my sinuses. I want to appreciate that I can run around my house with lots of energy at the end of a long work day and not come home and crawl in bed because that's all I have left in me. I want to appreciate that I can eat and drink with only occasional penetration (SLP here!) which I'm able to clear with a good strong cough. I want to appreciate the endurance I have as I eat food because I can chew food with both sides of my mouth and because I have teeth. I want to be amazed at what baseline feels like for me every single day. 

I work with patients who had that and then they had some event happen, usually involving some trauma of some sort which leaves them distanced from their baseline of health and functioning. Some gain it back, others don't. It's not something we can afford to take advantage of. This experience has reminded me of that. I hope I can learn that lesson and retain a remembrance of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

JoyFull: Spend less. Give more.

I was definitely blessed to grow up in a home where my parents taught us about money. As a child, I was a definite saver. I loved stashing money away in random places and to this day...I still find a dollar tucked here or there in trinkets from my childhood. I was probably in Junior High when my Dad got really into the book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." That's when the serious financial discussions started. We played the cashflow game, talked about working for yourself and making your money work for you. When I got my first job, he encouraged me to save and to open a checking account. I still remember talking over dinner about the importance of having a checking account of my own. We wrote down questions I should ask the bank and after dinner, I called Tiffany at Zion's Bank...yes I still remember her name. 

Once I started making somewhat regular money working random jobs I had as a teenager, my Dad enticed me to save further by promising to match whatever money I would put into a Roth IRA. How does one pass up on an offer like that? I remember counting my money and examining how much I could put in such a long term saving account. 

As I continued to get older, Dad became increasingly open with me about he and Mom's financial situation. He taught me by through sharing his own personal experiences, their personal experiences, and helped educate me on things like assets and liabilities, the cost of buying a house, debt, cars, healthcare and insurance. Throughout high school we'd go on walks sometimes in the evenings. On these walks...we'd talk about all sorts of things...often about the businesses I wanted to open, and at times finances. Sometimes I'd ask him to teach me about a topic like deductibles, health insurance, premiums, and interest. 

Fast forward about 15 years down the road...I've been able to avoid debt except my mortgage. I've been able to save consistently in a Roth IRA and 401K, and I have been able to make adequate decisions about my money because of the things my Dad taught me. Finances have been (since Junior High) and continue to be an open-for-discussion subject. We are very transparent about both our situations. I consider this to be a significant blessing. Particularly in light of some of the decisions I have seen friends and acquaintances make over the years.

This year, I decided I wanted to get serious about paying off my house. I've always been serious about it and have played with mortgage calculators a bit too much. I've also always paid extra principle on my house.

 I just finished listening to Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I'm probably never going to be an ultra-serious Ramsian follower and sell everything I own, but I am going to be more intentional about my spending. So, as a part of that, I've made some ah-ha's about my own personal spending habits and how I intend to do it...

1) Make it automatic. Automate so you don't have to make the decision every single month. Why set yourself up for such a temptation. For me, one way I do this is that, every year when I get a raise, I up the amount I'm paying on my house by the percentage of the raise. That way, that money automatically goes away with my monthly mortgage payment as additional principle. I never change how I live because I "make more money." When the house is paid off, I'll put that extra money into retirement. Another way I do this is that I don't factor what I make from one of my two jobs into any of my finances. I call it my "blessing job." I have used the money from this job to travel and to save an emergency fund. Every month, I move this money to a separate, less accessible but still accessible bank account where I am able to work on reaching other financial goals. This is how I saved for a downpayment, for trips I have taken overseas, and again, for my emergency fund. Every one should have an emergency fund which could ultimately support you for 6 months.

2) Balance retirement funding and house-down payment planning early. I wish I would have taken better advantage of the time I lived at home and made real money. Since graduating, I have saved about 25% into retirement. I think I could have pushed it even harder...but I don't regret what I did and also saving for a downpayment on a house. Don't forget about saving for retirement early. Compound interest is your friend! It's never too young to invest for retirement.

3) Fund an HSA. It took my Dad and I a little while to see eye to eye on this one. I work to fully fund my HSA every single year. This is like a retirement health insurance account. The money stays with me, it's invested so its money working for me. I can access it whenever I need it and it will continue to be with me into retirement. Whenever I can afford it, I don't use this account to pay for my healthcare needs, I just pay out of pocket and leave this money working for me.

4) Don't use the "credit" part of a credit card. While I've never (intentionally, only accidentally once) carried a balance on a credit card, it's important to pay off credit cards every single month and to not pay interest. Credit card interest is HIGH! It's not worth it! Why would you pay $25 dollars for that $1.00 Diet Coke from McDonald's. You wouldn't throw your money away like that so don't do it to credit card companies. It's important to always know where you are in your spending. I have all sorts of alerts set up on my credit card to notify me when it goes above certain limits to keep my spending in check. I also keep the spending limit low. Don't think you have more money than you do. That's a slippery slope. Also, don't fall for gimmicks. Last week I walked into the bank and the teller started telling me about this "awesome opportunity" to have all my debt consolidated into one place for this great interest rate. She went on to tell me how it was such a great opportunity for all the "kids my age" to get out of debt and to pay less interest, blah blah blah. If I'd been more brave, I'd have really told her what I was thinking...I held back. First, I was offended that she assumed I was in a "debt crisis" as she had put it. Second, I was disappointed in her spending habits...she worked at a bank for goodness sake. And Third, I felt bad for anyone who fell pray to her trap. Interest isn't your friend. Low interest. High interest. It's all bad. It's taking your money and you get nothing in return. Don't fall for the gimmicks.

5) Pay with Cash. This is a newer one for me. I haven't been much of a cash carrier but I do recognize my weakness in being willing to spend more because I can put it on a credit card. I'm not going to fall pray to that lie anymore. There is something about counting the cash and letting it slip through your fingers that makes you realize that every dollar you spend, needs to be an intentional dollar. One of the biggest ways I've recognized this change with myself is in my need to buy a Diet Coke. There was a time, I was buying 4 Large Fizz Drinks' a week. Now it cost me $2.97 each time so that's roughly $12.00/week.  That's $624.00 a year! Then I went to McDonald's, it was cheaper so I probably bought more like 6 a week so that was $312 a year! I cut it in half. Well now, I'm going ultra cheap and buying cans and only drinking 1 can/day. 1 can is $0.25 so drinking it 6 days/week would be $78.00 a year! That's $534 dollars a year that I'm saving by not buying fancy soda, in 2 years of saving that's like an extra house payment which would slowly reduce the length of my mortgage. If I was "gazelle intense" as Dave puts it, I'd probably cut other things too like eating out with friends, etc. However, I want to balance living now with living financially free in the future. Eating out with friends is so much of my social culture right now. I try to be judicious with it. One way I do so is that I make it a point to not eat out alone or out of convenience. I make more freezer meals so its easier to come home and fix something to eat. I meal plan so I grocery shop once a week rather than needing to stop in for a few things throughout the week as I know I'll always find something else that I need. Paying with cash makes me more aware that when I shop, I'm still accountable to my budget.

6) I Plan Free Activities. I love to go on walks. I love to cross stitch and I love to read. These are all free or relatively free. I can walk anytime, anywhere. 1 roll of Aida cloth, thread, and free internet patterns can go a long way. I love to read and have rekindled my relationship with the local library. I still buy books, but only the books I absolutely love. I keep a list of the free activities or projects I already have so that when I have a moment of weakness or indecision...I can remember what my options are and what my long term goals are. I keep a to-do list for projects I want to work on around my house. When you know what your options are, it definitely helps you make a more informed decision in a moment of weakness. 

6) I Give More. I think it's important to reflect on what spending brings you happiness. I love a good new book or a journal or school supplies a little too much. It brings me happiness. But I also love doing things for those around me and helping out with humanitarian efforts. This is something I'm working on more and more but I know the principle of giving is true. When we give, then we open our hearts to receiving in even more powerful ways.


{Please forgive this financially opinionated post. I have felt such the need to share some of the valuable things that I've learned in hopes that it might benefit someone else. I also wanted a better record of what it is I have done and am doing for my posterity to read someday.}

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 bedroom...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
http://erinsdailydelight.blogspot.com/2016/02/i-write.html

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 say...how 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 paper...it 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. :)