A Farewell to Credit Cards

Hi.  I’m Teresa.  And….apparently I am addicted to credit cards.  I didn’t realize it was as bad as I have recently found out it is.  As you know, I’ve been taking Financial Peace University.

Well….I may or may not have been asked to cut up a credit card in class.

….I may or may not have thought that would be a good idea.

…..AND I may or may not have dug that credit card out of my wallet the very next day to purchase concert tickets.

Ok……I did do all of the above.  And you know what?  I am amazed at how many times I reach for that silly card to purchase an even sillier item.  I am able to see so much clearly now how often I would justify a purchase that was not at all necessary and whip the old plastic out to take care of it.

Sadly, I confessed my weak moment at the next class.

Several weeks later when the scissors made another appearance, one of the other ladies in the class made a statement, teasingly I believe, that stung just a little bit.  Something about not pulling out HER credit card to use if after if was cut up. SMH :)  I laughed it off, of course, but I have to admit…it stung.  Even just a little bit.

I went home that night and annihilated every credit card in sight.  When I was done it looked like this:

card shards

That’s a lot of shards.  I carried this baggie around for a few weeks.  But, I can’t carry them around forever and I still want to remember.  They have found a permanent home.  Here:

vase

A lovely vase my friend made for me with the word “create” inscribed on it.  How perfect.  By cutting up these cards and taking charge of my money I am putting myself in a position to create the life I want to live.  To create wealth. To create the ability to give. To create the ability to feel good about my spending.  So now….they live here:

card vase

Pardon my dust . . .

I’ve been a bit of an “all-over-the-place” blogger.  First I had a blog called findingmyinnerathlete.wordpress.com that I deleted one night in a bout of poor decision making.  A decision I regretted almost immediately.  Then I blogged with some friends who were trying to lose weight at fatbegone girls.wordpress.com.  That sort of petered out and I was the only one really posting.  I decided to move on and have my own blog and one where I could talk about more things than just my attempts to lose weight.  There is, after all, so much more to me than how much I weigh.  So I started teresatakescharge.wordpress.com.  Like the form blog (fatbegonegirls) I just didn’t feel like the title of the blog really represented what I wanted it to.  Fatbegonegirls played too much to the negative, in my opinion, at least in the title.  I wanted to focus more on the benefits of having the fat gone, but having the word “fat” in the title just never really resonated with me.  Teresatakescharge, on the other hand, felt a little too bossy and self-centered.

In all of this blog creating and trying to hone my voice and what that voice wanted to be saying, I still hadn’t found quite the right niche.  So, here I am again, trying to evolve something that will be really representative of me….the whole me…and what I value….and what I believe.

I don’t believe I’m there yet.  But…I do believe I’m getting closer.

One of the things I learned from deleting the initial blog is that I want to keep the old posts around.  I learn from them.  They are a part of my story.  So….I’m merging them.  I’ve already pulled teresatakescharge into this blog.  Later this week I’ll be pulling my posts from fatbegonegirls in.

I have a vision but it is going to take a few weeks to pull it all together.  So please, bear with me, until I can unpack and get organized.  Hopefully soon there will be more of a flow to things.

T

A New Life Goal

I’m writing this because I want to remember how I feel today. I’m not writing this post to brag or pat myself on the back.  I’m simply recording it because I know from past experience that there will be a day, sometime in the future, where I might need to be reminded of how I feel today so that I can stay on the path of this new goal/characteristic/person I want to become.

I want to be a giver.  I want to put myself in a position where I can look at those around me and provide something they need or even just share something I love with them because I know it will make them happy. Let me tell you why….

As I have mentioned before, I’ve been taking Financial Peace University. This week was our last lesson.  The topic?  Giving. And, as often is the case, I got the opportunity to put what I learned into practice almost immediately. I’ve been taught about the importance of sharing what we have since I was little. My parents have been and continue to be great examples of giving.  I’ve always believed in tithing and doing what I could to take care of the poor.

I’ve never thought of myself as not being generous, but I know that I haven’t sought opportunities to give as often as I could. I won’t go into details about the gift (except to say that it wasn’t a large value monetarily), or the recipients, or why it was not the easiest thing for me to do.  However, how I felt–immediately upon making the decision–is something that I hope never leaves me.  And…it was more fun for me to share this one item than to use it myself.  It is hard to put into words how happy I felt when it was all said and done.

I have a new purpose for wanting to be financially sound. I want to be in a position to feel like I do today–every day. To know that I can bless and help others along the way. I’m even more motivated to get out of debt now and make my life about sharing what I have with those around me.

November Goals

I know this blog is supposed to be more about just doing something than about the planning.  But….some amount of planning is a good thing.  If you don’t have a map or directions or a plan, sometimes you end up spinning your wheels.  My purpose in starting JUST BEGIN is not to necessarily do away with all of the planning, but to plan wisely and focus more of my efforts on putting my plans into action.

With that in mind I have developed a few simple goals for November—at least one for each area of my life that I want to work on.  Some are simple things that I want to do on a daily basis to improve consistency.  Others are things that I want to work toward completing once or twice during the month.

I will be better about making consistent forward progress if I make my goals known.  Seriously—some of these may seem silly, but . . . that should only matter to me, right?  And I say it doesn’t matter.  Sometimes we need help with the simple and seemingly silly things in our lives.

Spiritual

-          Read ½ of  the Book of Mormon by focusing on 30-45 minutes daily (yes…big goal is read it through by end of year)

-          Attend the temple 2x in November (schedule it now!)

-          Continue with my goals to develop consistent daily meaningful habit of prayer

Health

-          Daily consistent exercise

-          Starch based diet – no animal products (and, BTW, NO DIET COKE!)

-          Brush/floss every day (what can I say—I hate to floss)

Work

-          On-time every day

-          No fb or personal e-mail @ work

-          Pray for and work towards having better focus and being a better employee

Home

-          Keep house tidy every day (dishes, bathroom counter, clothes in the hamper, bed made, etc.)

-          Deep clean weekly

-          Get the yard cleaned up and ready for winter

$$

-          Make a budget

-          Stick to the budget (following what I learned in FPU) (limit eating out to 2 lunches and 1 dinner)

-          absolutely no purchases on credit

Talent

-          Take Nicole’s Classes Photo 101, do all of the homework, and HAVE FUN!

-          Finish editing T&M’s family photos by 5/4/2012

 

Wish me luck….although, I don’t really need it as I have decided to JUST BEGIN and I WILL get this done! J  Cheers!

Prayer

I believe in God.  I believe in the power of prayer.  And yet I frequently find myself struggling with being consistent in my prayers.  I always have a prayer, of sorts, in my heart; but when it comes to the daily act of kneeling and conversing freely with my creator I find that I struggle.

I struggle to find the right words.

I struggle to feel worthy of such in intimate connection with deity amid my daily struggles to do and be.

I struggle with distractions.

And, I’m ashamed to say it, sometimes I struggle the attitude of a petulant child.

I am reminded of a lesson taught in Relief Society several years ago about prayer that has returned to my conscious recently.  The following passages from the Bible Dictionary struck a chord:

1.  “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.”

I’m sure that the main cause of my difficulty in consistent, heart-felt, earnest prayer stems from forgetting my relationship with God.  He is my father and truly wants what is best for me.  I love the scripture in Matthew referenced above–particularly verses 9-11, which read: “9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask abread, will he give him a stone?  10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  11 If ye then, abeing evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

My parents are awesome.  I have never–for even a day–doubted their love for me.  I know now, just as I did when I was a very small child, that they wanted to give me their very best and that they would do everything in their power to help me get what I asked for if it was in my best interest.  Why would God not be the same?  And, if He is who this scripture describes him to be (and I believe he is), then why should a consistent pattern of prayer be such a struggle for me?

2. “Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.”

This statement from the Bible Dictionary has really made me think over the years.  Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence….what a powerful statement of the purpose of prayer.  My thoughts lately have focused a lot on wanting to find out what God would have me do with my life.  What is my purpose?  Do I have a mission to fulfill?  Certainly there has to be a higher purpose to my life than simply moving from one day to the next.  Being reminded of this statement further emphasizes my need to JUST BEGIN a daily, consistent communication with my Father in Heaven.

It is also a great reminder that there are blessings that God is willing and ready to provide if I would only ask.

3. And finally, “Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.”

Prayer requires some effort on our part.  It isn’t going to necessarily be easy–until, as stated in #1 above, I come to really realize and understand my relationship with God.  I like how in #1 it states that once we do thisthen at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part.”  That is my goal.

So…as is the purpose of this Blog…tonight I will take a step in this direction.

Intangible Characteristics

There are so many things I need to JUST BEGIN in order to be the person I want to be that seem so….intangible.  It is easy to think about, write about, and perhaps even put into action things that that I can see, touch, do—like getting a fitness assessment, taking more photographs, or reading more good books.  But then there are those other things.  The things that, for the lack of a better word, are the intangibles—things like being a better listener, learning patience, being proactive instead of reactive, trusting my instincts, and developing a habit of positivity.  You know—the things of character.

However, just having this space to write and thinking on a more regular basis about the things I want to improve and who I really want to be has made JUST BEGINNING with these intangibles so much more…tangible.

I find myself in what would normally be reactionary moment thinking, “How can shift this reaction so that I can JUST BEGIN to be a person who is proactive rather than reactive.”  Or, “What positives can I find in this uncomfortable situation that will get me one step closer to being who I really want to be?”

I guess when it comes right down to it, JUST BEGINNING this blog has really helped me take a step in the right direction of making those intangible qualities a part of my being.

Looking on the Bright Side . . .

I think we all know at least a few of those people.  You know the ones. . . people who seem to be happy regardless of their circumstances.  One of these is Julie–a work-study student that worked in my office about 12 years ago.  She always had a smile on her face.  I never heard her complain. She expected the best and I think , because of that, she probably got the best at least 90% of the time.  And, because of her great attitude, she was probably happy about that other 10% too.

This kind of optimism is something that I have long admired.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m a generally happy and optimistic person.  I do, however, find myself getting mired down in negative happenstance from time to time.  I want to do better.

So, in the spirit of JUST BEGIN, I’m trying to put this into action today.  Based on circumstances, today may not have been the best day for a new beginning in this area.

  • (not bright side)$500 worth of plumbing
  • (not bright side)a flooded bedroom along with all of the needed cleanup
  • (bright side) a friend lent me his Bissell carpet cleaner which made all the difference in getting the water up
  • (not bright side) Plumber knocked over a cabinet he was moving which landed squarely on the borrowed machinery, smashing it to smitherines.
  • (bright side) he pulled his credit card out and we ordered a replacement part immediately–along with leaving his contact info so that he could buy a complete replacement if needed.

I’m trying.  I’ve JUST BEGUN to do my best at finding the silver lining.  I’ll be interested to see if it makes a noticeable difference in my contentment and happiness after practicing this for a couple of weeks.

How about you?  Are you able to find the good in most things?  Do you have any tips or tricks for making this a way of life?

 

Remembering

Those of you who know me well may recall that I used to write at fatbegonegirls.wordpress.com with two of my friends.  I was reading through some old posts there today–waxing nostalgic I guess–when I came across the following post.
It looks like this blog JUST BEGIN has been percolating around in my subconscious for years :)  Here is something I wrote on September 27, 2010.

Just Do It!

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know the ones.  They start out with a jolt when you realize that you’ve slept through your alarm.   You jump in the shower thinking you can still make it to work on time and hurry through your morning routine only to remember that you were down to your last clean pair of drawers the day before and now they all sit in the washing machine in need of a tumble dry before they can be worn.  You hustle through the rest of your morning routine, a little less made up than usual, hair not looking as coiffed as you would like, but you are dressed and presentable and excited as you realize you will only be about ten minutes late for work—the Gods of morning prep have smiled on you yet again.  About two hours (and fifteen interactions with coworkers) later your morning break buddy pops in your office to see if you are ready to go to the quick stop and the tired look on her face quickly turns to one of horror and concern as she points out to you that your lovely red button up shirt is on inside out (how that happened, I’m still not sure).  Things are bound to get better from here, right?  Let’s hope!

Sometimes, it seems as though my life is like the movie Groundhog Day and the scene described above, with slight variations, is my every day.  They leave me feeling so far from the person I really want to be.   I want to be a morning person.  I want to be someone who is always put together and looks her best.  I want to be a fit and healthy athlete.  I want to be a good sister, daughter, friend, and employee.  I want to be good at my job.

Like Karen, I’m a dreamer and a planner but I sometimes have a struggle when it comes to putting my plans into action.  There always seems to be something that distracts me or derails me.  I’m frequently waiting for the next best time to start or for circumstances to be optimal.  There have been times when I wonder when and how anything is ever going to change.

On days like today, when frustrations are high and I feel like I am a million miles away from the person I want to be and I’m living the same unsatisfactory day over and over I wonder what it will take to actually get me to that grand destination where dream meets reality.  Have I, in typical Teresa fashion, made the answer out to be so much harder than it really is?

Dreams are great.  We need to them to set ourselves moving in the right directions and to give us something to shoot for.  Plans are necessary.  We need to think through the details of how to get from Point A to Point B, what tools are at our disposal, how we will fit our plans for this dream in with the other dreams in our life.  Yes, dreaming and planning are both good and necessary.

But when it comes right down to it–when push comes to shove–we just need to BE the person we want to BE.  Don’t wait for a perfect time to execute your plan.  Don’t wait for the stars to align before you take action to accomplish your dreams.  Simply DO.  BE.  Act AS IF you are already the person you want to be.  It doesn’t have to take place on a grand scale.  The next time you are faced with a decision, simply be the person you want to be.  Respond to your situation, one decision at a time, as if you have always been that person you want to be.  This is my new plan.

I AM a morning person.  I AM someone who is put together and looks her best.  I AM fit and health.  I AM an athlete. I AM a good sister, daughter, friend, and employee.  I AM good at my job.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Few New Beginnings

In the spirit of not making grand plans but Just Beginning to move in the direction of my dreams, I have done the following:

  1. Completed a “fitness assessment” through my work wellness program (details forthcoming).
  2. Attended 2 photogrpahy workshops, signed up for another, and have been taking pictures like a mad woman.  Moving swiftly in the direction of starting a business (details to come).
  3. Signed up for a singles conference (oh my…what have I done) ;)
  4. Attended a religious women’s conference and was spiritually fed.
  5. Quit my high protein diet and am taking major steps towards a plant-based diet (more to come soon).

What I’m pleased to report is that once I open my heart to the idea of moving in a particular direction it seems like so many things fall into place and make it easy to “just begin.”

I’m excited.

Have you “just begun” anything lately?  Please share!

 

Inspiration

I saw this posted on facebook today and decided I needed to share it here…..

 

“Why Wait? Life is not a dress rehearsal. Quit practicing what you’re going to do, and just do it. In one bold stroke you can transform today.” -Phillip Markins
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