Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the magic of cash

You know those ads for visa, where everyone is happily swiping their credit cards until the whole works comes to a screeching halt when one customer whips out some of the green stuff to pay? This is one actual case of truth in advertising.

Rog and I have been trying a new experiment. For our personal discretionary spending money we've switched to a cash only system. We've only been doing it for a month, and it has already made quite an impact. I was laughing about it last night in Target. I was looking to replace something, and there was a choice between two options - one of which cost only $2 more than the other. In the old days, I would have grabbed the more expensive one without even thinking about it, because it MIGHT be more useful. Instead I actually stopped and THOUGHT about it, and went with the least expensive one, because it really was exactly what I needed.

It's interesting to me how quickly my usage of money has changed. Over the past three years our spending style has really evolved. We've gone from not really paying attention at all and just buying what we wanted - which worked because neither of us is TOO ridiculously extravagant, if you don't count pinball machines and the shiny sparkly things that Kat likes - to this new cash operating system. Now we actually think about what we're doing with the green stuff: Do I really need it? Do I REALLY want it?

Mostly it makes me laugh at all of the stuff that we used to consume without even thinking about it. That 1 second moment of thought makes a huge difference. In one month I've already spent over $100 less than usual - and that includes some treats for Katie for our plane ride to party with Mag and Lizard! The grocery bill has magically gone down too, even though that good time still goes on MasterCard. Somehow the cash mentality has filtered into my subconscious and changed the plastic habit a tad without me even thinking about it. Craziness. This just means I'll have more moolah to play with at Christmas!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

the power of words

I only had 20 minutes for my lesson on Sunday - well, I TOOK 20, when I probably actually had 15 - and some of that limited time had to be spent on clarifying 'not repressing things' vs. 'changing your perspective,' so I wanted a re-do. I just wish that I had been able to drive home the main idea a little better - with a few more minutes it could have happened. So just for my own brain, here it is, informally outlined.

The lesson was based on the talk The Tongue of Angels by Elder Holland.

The power of words: 'It is by words . . . [that] every being works when he works by faith.'
God SAID, 'Let there be light: and there was light.'
There was a comment about how our words can actually be a reflection of the 'state' of our faith; i.e., positive words coming from us, positive direction of faith at the time.

Chance for perfection: 'For in many things we offend all. [But] if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.' James 3:2.
It's interesting to me how the same words can have such a different effect on people. I read this and saw hope: here is one thing I actually could be perfected in. Someone else I know read this and thought: here is one more way for me to fail.

Elder Holland addresses four groups of interactions: husbands to wives, gals to everyone, the way we speak to children, and the way we speak to ourselves. I focused on the way we speak to ourselves.

Without thinking about it - just write the first things that pop into your head - complete the sentence: 'I am ___________________.'

Look around the room and take note of all the things that are brown. Now close your eyes. Tell me everything in this room that is yellow. We see what we are looking for - what our attention is primed for.

At different times for me I might complete the above sentence with any of the following:

  • I'm tired
  • I'm crabby
  • I'm doing great
  • I'm progressing
  • I'm fat
  • I'm happy
  • I'm sad

I've noticed that if I dwell on the 'I'm tired' - come on! Who isn't? - then I really am truly tired all day. But if I choose to focus my attention on something else, I don't tend to FEEL tired all day long. I have a friend who really doesn't enjoy being pregnant. Whenever we'd talk while I happened to be in that state, she'd say 'Don't you just hate being pregnant. I'm so glad it's you and not me!' I can think of worse states to be in - I am not necessarily at my best when I'm prego - Rog will be happy to concur - but I can think of plenty of worse states to be in. Focusing on the downsides just makes me FEEL worse than it actually is. (This is where we went off into the weeds - the comment was 'If I'm crabby, I think I should just say ''I'm crabby'' and be ok to go with it for a while.' So I tried to make the distinction between NOT ignoring/repressing how you feel but trying to change your perspective on it. What I SHOULD have said was that once you've identified something perhaps not so positive, what can you do to change it? With the tired example, do you perhaps need to practice saying NO so that you don't exhaust yourself? What can you do to rejuvenate yourself so that you actually aren't as tired? If this means cutting out a few hours of tv at night, or saying 'no' sometimes, or taking a walk, DO IT. I get a little tired of always identifying problems but not solutions.)

'In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak - or at least think - critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything.' (Elder Holland)

Elder Orson F. Whitney: 'The spirit of the gospel is optimistic.'

The challenge: look at your list of 'I am _________.' Identify if they are even true statements. You are surely NOT the biggest jerk in the world. Replace the negative ones with something that IS true. And if it is true and you don't like it, what are you going to do about it. Try starting off the day with 'I AM good enough, I AM progressing, I AM blessed,' and see if that makes a difference in how you see the world around you. Does this 'small' - not always so EASY to execute - action change your day?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


We broke protocol and dressed up in our costumes a little early to go and check out a pumpkin farm. I admit it - the kiddos are a little small to care about this stuff, but Katie did enjoy the petting zoo. She only got rammed by one feisty goat. :) When Katie scores a mass of candy at the up-coming 'trunk-or-treat,' I'm sure she'll be more in the spirit of Halloween. I'm crossing my fingers for dark snickers and milky ways!

cultural differences

Question: is this the face of a grandmother? My siblings will probably be snarky and answer - GREAT grandmother! But seriously.

Yesterday I officially rented out our latest vacancy, to a gal and her 16-year-old daughter. Seem like nice folks, but I've been wrong - SOO wrong - in the past. Time will tell. (Incidentally, the previous tenants have called asking when I'm going to be returning their security deposit. If you think there is going to be much of that $600 left after making up for your late rent, the black carpet, all the missing blinds, and the door with KNIFE holes in it, you are going to be disappointed very shortly! But that is for another day . . . )

Anyway, I pull up in my 'ride' last night - the double stroller with my entourage happily riding inside - and the gal said: 'Oh, how sweet! Are these your grandchildren?' I have to say it catch me off guard. I just told her I got started late and left it at that.

I'm the first to admit I'm no spring chicken, and I am not going to be in any 'Oil of Olay' ads anytime soon, but GRANDMOTHER?! COME ON!

After I thought about it a little, kicking it at the park afterwards where we are always the only Caucasians in the crowd, it struck me. In her culture, I could quite easily be a grandmother. If I had my first kid between 16-18, and then my kid had HER first kid around the same age, I could be a grandmother. SCARY! And it would be perfectly normal for the grandmother to be taking care of the grandchildren.

It makes me feel not quite so out of place in my own world. I might be a late bloomer, but at least I'm not a grandmother yet!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

our deepest fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson

Thursday, October 11, 2007

fun with trash

Do you ever wonder 'where did all this stuff come from?' This is a picture of the remains after our most recent tenant vacated their 2-bedroom-1-bathroom apartment. Granted, this unit did have some yard attached to it, so ALL of this stuff wasn't crammed into their apartment. But still! How on earth does one collect all this junk? And believe me, it's junk.

I'm always amazed at the stuff that people leave behind when they move. Included in this load of treasures is a dog house (these folks had 3 different dogs in the three years they rented from us), an aquarium, a number of bike frames, and a bed frame. The bed frame we can use - it just needs a coat of paint. The rest is all broken, unusable junk. These guys are not the exception - it seems to be more the rule of folks that rent in our area. If you drive along some of the 'rental rows' you'll see the same story in many front yards: random stuff that is ALMOST ok but that is missing some key element that would make it actually function. Some amount of time and effort and possibly money were expended to gather this stuff, but then it just ends. Do they have grand dreams of making millions on eBay sprucing this stuff up? Christmas gifts for the next year? Do they really think they are going to somehow patch that cracked aquarium and slap some fish in there? Is it going to be a new bookcase instead?

It just seems like instead of saving up to buy one quality item, 100 cheaper items - that don't work or don't last - are purchased instead, to then just end up in the back of Jethro for yet another load to the dump!

Naturally, all of MY possessions are truly treasures. No junk in my crib. Just don't ask Rog - he might give you a different answer. I have a stained glass workshop that doesn't get used, but that's not broken, I'm just busy with little people instead.

Any of you lurkers out there feel like commenting on stuff you have laying around that you have grand designs of fixing, but that have instead been left languishing in the corner, like that bear corduroy hoping to get his button sewn on again.

i forgot to mention the car they had sitting in their parking space for over a year that never ran!!

Friday, October 5, 2007


A few weeks ago I walked up on a conversation between two gals at the park. One of the gals recently moved here, and is starting the hunt for a house. I walked up as she was saying something to the effect of ' . . . And there's no point in looking in Boulder. They are just so liberal there.'

Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut, but then I would cease to be Kat. I went off on how everyone always makes the claim that 'Boulder is the Berkeley of the West' and that, having experienced them both for extended periods of time, I thought that assessment was crap. If the gal had said 'We're not looking in Boulder because houses are too ridiculously expensive there' I would have left it alone. THAT is a true statement. She's only lived in the area for 2 months, and yet already Boulder is that 'liberal place.' I've got $10 that says she hasn't even BEEN to Boulder, and, on the off chance that she HAS, it was probably just to the Pearl Street mall, and the punks around the east end of the mall have determined her opinion of the entire city.

Naturally, her labeling of Boulder without much basis makes ME jump to the conclusion that she is a sheltered twit from Idaho. So whose labeling is worse? :)

It's funny (funny 'hmmmm' vs. funny 'ha ha') how we often jump so quickly to conclusions. In some ways, it's necessary, simply because of the sheer volume of information we have to process on a daily basis. We use the clues we see to make judgments that are, much of the time, accurate. If we analyzed EVERYTHING ad nauseum, we'd never get anything done. However, obviously sometimes this system fails us, and the judgments we make based on a first impression or seeing someone in one particular situation turn out to be completely wrong.

All this got me thinking about my first year in college. I had three roommates. We didn't know each other - just found a place together through the Institute. Two of us were active in church, two were not. The two who weren't active were nice gals, so that's whom I hung out with. The 'pious' roommate - 'poo face' - told everyone at church that I was 'WILD.' I learned this because by the time May rolled around - after a year of essentially no one talking to me - I had finally grown enough of a spine to put myself out a little bit more try to talk to people. After chatting for a while a gal said 'Wait. You're Katharine? You don't seem wild to me!' Based on one person's assessment, I was labeled 'WILD' which, ironically, at the time couldn't have been further from the truth.

Has having a negative experience with being labeled changed how I judge people? One would HOPE so, but no, not always. I still think that gal from above is an inexperienced twit, even though I don't really know her. :) My assumption will likely make it that much more difficult for me to get to know her better.

Hopefully I will be at least partially conscious of the labels I attach to my children. I do think that people generally live up to our expectations of them. So if I get it stuck in my head that Katie is X, she probably will be - most probably because that's what will stick out to ME; because that's what I have preconditioned myself to see. Ahhhh, just so long as X does not equal 'cheerleader.' ;)

Also curious to me is how the ways we label OURSELVES affect our own behavior. 'I'm not good at Y,' so then I don't even attempt Y anymore. I've already decided that I can't do it. 'I'm a jerk, so people just need to get over it.'

So many labels, so little time to combat them all!