Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Yarn Along No. 72 and My Lenten Plan

yarn along, Lent, knitting, Take Up and Read, books, Barton Cottage CraftsEmily DeArdoComment
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So, um, Happy Ash Wednesday? :-D

I do like Lent. We'll talk about that more in a second. First: Yarn!

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This is a completed Barton Cottage Crafts commission--it's my signature basketweave scarf in the weathervane colorway. The colors are much richer in person. In the line this is my "Jane Bennet" color--I think it suits Jane quite well. :) 

I'm currently working on a shawl for another customer, in a deep yellow color. When I have more of it to show, I'll post a picture. At the moment, it's a very small triangle!

My shawl is coming along gorgeously! I'm finally into the blue stripes! 

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What are you reading right now? 

My Lenten Rule

AKA, what I'm doing for Lent. 

1) Giving up book buying (except at the Catholic Women's Conference this weekend--and actually, my book buying has dropped off a lot this year since I'm focusing on my financial goals. So go me!)

2) Attending weekday Mass at least once a week

3) Confession every other week

4) Doing Nancy Ray's Contentment Challenge again. You can read ore about it on Nancy's blog here and here . Here are the first month guidelines!  I think Lent is a perfect time to kick this off. 

And of course, Above All. You can still join us! Order the book, pop into the blog, or join us on facebook, twitter, and instagram

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How about you? How do you "do" Lent? 

Stitch Fix Box No. 4

fashion, fun, Stitch FixEmily DeArdoComment
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It's Stitch Fix Time!!!!!!

I've switched to an every other month Fix schedule, so that's why it's been awhile since we've had one (December, in fact!). But I am always excited to share my latest box with you guys!

If you're new to my Fix posts, here are the previous ones, and here's how it works : 


Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a truly personalized shopping experience, just for you. Fill out your Style Profile and a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and mail them directly to your door. Each box contains five items of clothing, shoes and accessories for you to try on at home. Keep what you love, send the rest back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns are free—even for exchanges!

The Style Profile is really detailed--it's just not stuff like your weight and height. They want to know as much about you and your style as possible, from how much skin you like to show, to your proportions, and what kind of trends and styles you'd like to try. You can even set a price range for individual categories and ask them not to send certain things. For example, in my Style Profile, I ask for no bracelets, rings, or just about any type of shoe other than a flat or lowish heel.  (Stilettos are NOT my friend.) 

There's also a place to add a link to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest Style Board, so your stylist can get a feel for what you like. Finally, there's the style note, where you can ask for specific items, talk about events that are coming up (I mentioned my brother's wedding in the spring), or generally discuss your style or anything you'd like to see in the box. 

So, after you fill out the Style Profile, you will pay $20 as a styling fee. This is taken off any items you decide to keep in your Fix, so I look at it as a down payment on whatever's in the box. Keep in mind that a real person will personally select all five items that come in your box for you, based on what you've told him/ her. 

When the box arrives, it's time for the fun--trying on pieces. This is where I think Stitch Fix has a leg up over normal shopping. Since the box is shipped to you, you have your entire wardrobe at your disposal when you get these pieces. You can see right away if the things that were sent work with items you already have! You don't have to stand in the dressing room and think, "Do I have anything that will go with this? How will this look with my favorite heels? Do I already have things in this color?" 

 

So, with all that out of the way, here's what I got in my box this time!

Number 1: Hawthorne 41 Poppi Textured Pullover sweater, $68

 

Styled with White House Black Market jeans (check out the length! They fit! :-P), and Clarks flats

Styled with White House Black Market jeans (check out the length! They fit! :-P), and Clarks flats

This isn't a bad sweater. Generally I really like the Hawthorn 41 line (it's one of Stitch Fix's exclusive brands). However, I didn't feel this color did anything for me, and it was sort of meh on. 

(You will see this again with another item, per the stylist's suggestion.) 

Verdict: Returned

Items Numbers 2 & 3: Mauvette Middleton Ponte Dress, $58, and Mia Pecora D'orsay Flats, $48

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Here's what you need to know about my feet: I have terrible ones. I have pretty high arches, plus BIG bunions. Not little bunions. Big ones. Huge. Not bad enough to require surgery, but not far off, either. So pointy toed shoes with no support are not shoes I can wear, no matter how cute they are. And these shoes were cute. But I can never wear them. I will say I did like the style of shoe, with the strap around the ankle, which I didn't think I would like. 

This dress was very nice. It was well-constructed, and I liked the scallop detailing and the color. But I was looking for dresses for my brother's wedding, and this dress is one I would've worn if I still worked in the Senate and the General Assembly was in session--this is a "session dress". Conservative and lady-like. Which is fine, it's just not what I need most of the time anymore. And when I do, I have dresses like this. 

Verdict on both: Returned

Item Number 4: Wisp Cleo Textured Knit Dress, $88

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Now, this was a fun dress. Still had the scallop detail at the neck, has a twirly skirt, and is speckled with flecks of ocean blue, coral, and white, which make it an acceptable dress to wear to a wedding (Normally I NEVER wear black to a wedding. But this had enough color.). It's very comfortable and flattering. But is it fancy enough for my brother's wedding? I don't know. It is a lot of fun, though. I would wear it as a guest at a wedding, for sure. But....I think accessories will amp it up. The right jewelry, a bright colored cardigan for the ceremony (the bolero jacket type), shoes.....

In any case, this dress will be great for going out. I could even wear it for Easter or something. It's really fun and very much my style. 

Verdict: KEPT

Item Number 5: Margaret M Deandra Skirt, $78

I have had TONS of luck with Margaret M. I had two other skirts from them (see my past fixes!), and I love them. They are all different, too. This one is more like starched cotton with some stretch, so it'll be great for spring and summer. And the colors are amazing. There's taupe gray, white, pale pink, navy blue, ocean blue, a deep turquoise, orange....it's just fabulous. 

Here it is with two different tops: 

J Crew top from my closet; Clarks flats

J Crew top from my closet; Clarks flats

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Verdict: KEPT

I had a $50 gift card from Christmas, so that went a long way in deciding what to keep. I was a little disappointed in this Fix, because I had wanted all dresses for my brother's wedding, and I told my stylist that. So this was a bit of a downer. I do like the clothes I got--it just wasn't what I was particularly in need of. 

My next Fix is schedule to come right before my birthday in April, so we'll see what goodies are there!

If you want to try Stitch Fix, I'd be greatly appreciative if you'd use my referral link. You get clothes, and I get $25 of credit to use for more clothes, which means more fashion shows! Here it is. 

And there is also Stitch Fix MEN! So if you have a guy in your life that needs style help, you can use my link for him, too!

Stitch Fix styles men and women, and also as pregnancy and plus sizes for the ladies! There is also Stitch Fix Luxe, which is brands like Kate Spade, if you're interested in that. 

Questions? Check out my first post, or drop them in the combox! 

 

Yarn Along No. 71

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo9 Comments

Big progress being made in my shawl (pattern: the drachenfels shawl)

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I am finally done with the gray yarn! (In case you're just joining me here: I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee yarn in Iceland (gray), bird's egg (light blue) and fjord (dark blue). 

The next section of the shawl alternates the two blues, and I'm excited about diving into that. I love the fjord color and I can't wait to get to use it! (Well, really use it. I used it for one stripe, which you can see above!) Maybe by the time we get to the March Yarn Along link up, I'll be done? Probably not. But you never know!

I'm reading two books on psychology, habits, all sorts of goodness. Really enjoying both of them. (It's actually my second time through the Peterson book. This time I'm taking notes. The way he talks about suffering makes me want to do a Baptist "Amen!". So accurate.) Since I'm back to living in Hoth, today is a good day for knitting and reading!

 

Lenten Suggestions

books, Catholicism, Catholic 101, LentEmily DeArdoComment
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Can you believe Lent starts next week? On Valentine's Day, no less? "Yes, hon, we'll celebrate Valentine's Day! But, you know, with macaroni and cheese and...no chocolate." 

(I'm kidding. We can do it, guys! Just celebrate the day before and do Mardi Gras up big this year.) 

Per usual, I have a few suggestions for how to prepare for Lent this year! 

You can read previous posts I've written. And you can also read about it more extensively in my book, Catholic 101, where I talk a lot about Lent, as well as Holy Week! (Remember, if you're a blog subscriber, you have a code for 15% off! Lost the code? Email me and I'll shoot you a new one.) 

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Another one of my favorite Lent books is A Time for Renewal: Daily Reflections on the Lenten Season, by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.  She's such an incredible speaker and writer, so able to cut right to the heart of the matter, that I highly recommend all her books. I pick this up every Lent. 

And finally, there is Above All! 

You all know how much I love this book. The price has been reduced on Amazon, so go get, if you haven't already! Profits are going to Adore Ministries in Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey relief. 

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This book is gorgeous, guys. We put so much heart and soul and dedication into it. And if you're giving up Facebook for Lent, we have a gorgeous website that will have the daily readings and questions to ponder, so you can join our community there! 

Also, I'm going to have some Lenten recipes up on the blog to help with those meatless Fridays that are coming. Look for the first one this week!

What are your favorite Lenten resources? 

 

Things That are Saving My Life

essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy frequently posts about things that are "saving [her] life right now." They're not often big things, like medicine, but things that make life easier and more enjoyable. So I'm following her lead and joining her link up. 

1) Good shampoo and conditioner

I've never been a "hair girl". I'm a makeup girl, not a hair girl. I can't even curl my own hair--I'm that hair impaired. But recently, I've been having to up my hair product game substantially. 

After I had my skin cancers removed from my scalp last year, my hair and scalp needed a lot of love. So first I was using Living Proof products. And they were great, for awhile, but expensive, although they did keep my hair cleaner. A few months ago, I switched back to regular drugstore products. 

"Big mistake. Huge!" As they say in Pretty Woman

My hair is pretty fine to begin with, but when you're missing hair (as in, the hair is slowly growing back from here it was removed), you need to pamper what's still there. My hair was a MESS. Flat and gross and fly away. So I realized I'd have to go back to good products. 

So this is what I'm using: Living Proof Timeless Pre-Shampoo treatment  (to keep what I do have strong), Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, and their thickening spray (which I've always used). Are these pricey? Yes. Are they more than I'd like to spend on hair care? Yes. But I hate the way my hair looks and feels when I use cheaper products. BUT--they do tend to last a long time. You don't need to use much. I can get almost two years out of a bottle of the spray, for example. 

And so, right now, good hair products are making me much happier about the state of my scalp (and it's making my hair happier, too).  

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2. Knitting

I love knitting. This project I'm working on, above, is a shawl for me, and it's all in garter stitch, which is supremely relaxing. I am changing colors, so that can be fiddly, but overall, this and Party of Five on Netflix are perfect for relaxing in the evening. 

3. Netflix

See Party of Five, above. And movies! 

4. Sleep

After some weird sleep patterns at the beginning of January, I've finally gotten into a good rhythm. I am in bed--not asleep, but in bed--at ten, and then I'm usually done reading by 11. So I'm getting good sleep which just makes me so much happier, right? 

5. Diet Coke

It is. It just so is. I love water, and I love tea, but Diet Coke is fueling a lot of my writing/productivity right now!

Speaking of productivity....

6. Pomodoros

THESE are huge. I love them. I read about them in this Ann Voskamp post, and I've applied them to my life since the beginning of this year. It's fabulous!  Basically, it works like this:  25 minutes of focused work--five minute break. Repeat this pattern four times, then take a long break of 25-30 minutes--then back to pomodoros. I can get writing, knitting, cleaning, and reading time in, without feeling like I'm slacking off somewhere or forgetting something. Truly awesome. 

 

 

2018 Goals: January update

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment
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So, January is (FINALLY!) over, which means it's time for the monthly goal setting report, as well as telling you my goals for February!

(You can find my goals for the year here, as well as the steps related to each one!) 

So, here are my goals, and the progress I made in January, as well as what I want to do for February!

Goal Number 1: 

Work through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps for Financial Peace to cultivate good stewardship, gratitude, and contentment

If you're not familiar with Dave, there are seven baby steps, with the first three being really key. Those steps are: 

1) Save a $1K emergency fund

2) Pay off all debt (besides the mortgage--which I don't have)

3) Complete the emergency fund with 3-6 months' of living expenses 

I, obviously, started with number one--the $1K emergency fund. 

Progress: I KILLED this goal in January! I'm so happy about this! I have $800 in my emergency fund, which means I will finish it off in February! YAY!!!!!! And the sense of peace is amazing. If I get a flat tire, or my computer dies, or something else goes wrong....I have money to fix it. That's such a relief!

February Goal:  Finish Baby Step One! Continue to check in with my budget and reconcile checkbook daily. 

Goal Number 2: 

Find an agent for my manuscript

This is a big goal with lots of tiny steps and moving parts. One of them is working on my blog and making myself more visible on social media. So, in that realm, I completely re-wrote my about page (using Ashlyn Carter's Copyright for Creatives materials--the course was actually last fall, but I didn't have time to do it then. So I did it now!) 

February goal: To draft a new proposal. Yes. This is sort of scary! But I'm going to do it! 

Goal Number 3:

To deepen and strengthen my relationship with God, because He is the center and the well-spring.

This goal also has some moving parts--things I want to incorporate, etc. I did make some progress here: I prayed with my Bible (lectio divina!) almost every day in January. That's huge for me. I was also really good about saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I didn't get to Mass during the week, so that's a fail. But I know I will this week--I'm getting back on the First Friday horse, and going to confession then, too. 

February Goals: Attend the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference; Mass weekly; confession on First Friday; holy hour; continue daily lectio! (Daily lectio will be easier because Above All starts on February 14!) 

Goal Number 4: 

Continue to lose weight and treat my body well so I can do everything else I want to do, and honor my body which God made. 

So, this was hard. This month was really cold, but then we would have warm spells. But my weight has been stable, which is good. I haven't lost, but I also haven't gained. AND tonight I fit into a smaller jeans size! So I'm making progress here, for sure. 

February: Be better about exercising. Something EVERY DAY, even if it's only for five minutes. 

Goal Number 5: 

Grow Barton Cottage Crafts, to help with baby steps (goal 1), but also to have a creative outlet and for enjoyment. 

Progress: I finished scarves and mailed them out last month; I'm currently working on a commission and have three more in the wings! So good progress here!

February goals: Keep working on my commissions!

Goal Number 6: 

Have a beautiful, peaceful, welcoming home so I can appreciate what I have, encourage hospitalist, and cultivate peace. 

Progress: I am just about done with Emily Ley's Simplifying Challenge--the only thing left are two kitchen cabinets! Yay! I need to be better about "zeroing out"--setting things up for the next morning (making coffee, clearing the table, etc.). I was inconsistent in this last month. I was good about the weekly chores, though. Star for me!

February Goals: Doing Nancy's Contentment Challenge again, February through April! I've made progress here, but I want to make more. It takes a long time to stop comparison and perfection from taking up brain space. Also, be consistent in zeroing out every night. 

Goal Number 7: 

To nurture my creativity so I can learn new things, inspire myself, stretch my mind, and feed my soul. 

Progress: I've started taking a watercolor class, and I LOVE it. It's hard, but it's good hard. I can already see improvement in my technique! I've also been re-reading The Artist's Rule, and it's a great inspiration for me to incorporate creativity into my daily life. Finally, I'm working on a new shawl, which you've seen in the yarn alongs: 

Part two! STRIPES! 

Part two! STRIPES! 

This is such a great project and thank you, Aunt Sue, for helping me with it at Christmas! :) This is a great way to stretch my knitting skills and create something pretty for myself. 

I've also joined a writers' group, and that's going to be really helpful, I think! 

February Goals: Continue watercolor class; continue Artist's Rule; work on shawl. 

 

So all in all, not a bad January! I'm pretty pleased. 

How about you? Did you make progress on goals/ resolutions in January? 

 

Lectio di-wha?

essays, Lent, prayer, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment
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It's no secret that I love to read. I've loved it ever since my mom first read to me as a toddler; I was the kid who snuck books under her desk in school, and read while I should've been getting ready for Mass, or when I should've been sleeping. Books are life. 

So you'd think that the practice of lectio divina, "holy reading", would be the easiest type of prayer for me to practice. 

You'd be so, so wrong. 

I am terrible at lectio. 

Before I tell you why I'm terrible at it, I should probably explain what it is. As I noted, it means "holy reading." It's a way of praying using the Scriptures. Essentially, you read (lectio); you meditate on what you read (meditatio); you pray about what you read (oratio), and then you figure out how to put all that into action (actio). It doesn't sound hard, right? 

Except for me it is. 

First, there's the reading. What the heck am I supposed to read? The Mass readings? Go through the Bible chronologically, only to falter when I get to Leviticus and Numbers and lists of names and other rosters? Start with Matthew and work through the New Testament and then maybe try the old? 

And what if I read and nothing comes to me? I read, and read, and read....nope, God, sorry, nothing's hitting me. That's actually my biggest problem with lectio. I read. And I read. And nothing hits me. There's no inspiration. How am I supposed to pray with that? 

In Advent, I had a pretty big breakthrough. The Advent journal, Rooted in Hope, was a real, hard core introduction to lectio, and it helped me immensely.  

First--because there are readings given. There was a featured verse, and a few others. I didn't have to worry about what to read. 

Second--the steps were all broken down, and easy for me to see, to ponder, to do

At first, I had to re-read the passages a few times. I picked a word, an idea, that spoke to me. But some days it was harder than others. That's OK. I just kept doing it. 

Lectio also requires a bit of background--and this is hard, too. In the first step, you're supposed to do some analysis: what is actually happening in the passage? Is Jesus talking to somebody? Who is Paul writing to, and why? Who is speaking in this excerpt from 1 Kings? That's where a good Bible dictionary, or study bible, is so important (resources at the end of this post). Because this is a big key--knowing what's happening in what you're reading. 

Here's an example: The familiar reading from weddings, 1 Corinthians 13. Love is patient. Love is kind. Yada yada. We've all heard that a million times. But if you know that Paul wrote that to the Corinthians because they were fighting among each other, because there was disunity, and arguing, and strife, and confusion--doesn't it take on a whole different tone? I know it did to me. All of a sudden, Paul's letter is real. It speaks to me in the twenty-first century. Aren't we all in strife, all the time? Aren't we fighting amongst each other? Paul wasn't just writing some nice platitudes. He was giving solid advice to people in the midst of bickering and in-fighting. 

So, keeping with this example: You would read 1 Corinthians 13. You'd do the lectio on it--you'd say, oh, OK, Paul is writing to these people, who are fighting amongst themselves. Then, the meditation. How does this apply to me? Who am I fighting with? Can I apply these concepts there? Who needs more love from me? Where am I not being loving? 

Then, oratio, prayer. Talk to God about what you're thinking. Ask Him to help you apply this to your daily life (actio, the application, the action). "God, I know I need to be more patient with XYZ. It's hard for me. But I know that's what you want. I know that living that way will be a true expression of the Christian life I'm trying to lead. So when I want to swear or yell at this person, help me to be kind. Help me to be patient. I won't be perfect--but with Your help, I will try. I will make progress." 

The actio is in the prayer, right there. You are going to be nicer to XYZ--you won't snap at her, you'll keep your patience, whatever. 

You see how that works? To me, the key is the lectio. It's knowing what the text is really saying, what its implications are. 

As you know, I'm a part of the Take Up and Read team, and we've published our Lent study/devotional, Above All. (In the photo at the top) Every day, you'll get lectio passages--and notes. I did the notes, and it wasn't just to help readers, it helped me! I learned so much as I researched these books of the Bible! It's a beautiful companion for your Lent, and I'm so proud of it. It starts on Ash Wednesday (February 14!) and goes all the way to Easter. There are pages for journaling, an examination of conscience, essays, and more. And the profits will go Adore Ministries in Houston to support ongoing hurricane relief efforts! 

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If you haven't gotten your copy yet, you can get it here. If you have any questions about it, or about lectio in general, let me know! I'm not an expert, but we can figure it out together. 

Lectio resources: 

Catholic Bible Dictionary

Ignatius Study Bible (NT)

Didache Bible

 

Catholics do read the Bible! And this is how we do it--with lectio. 

 

Yarn Along No. 70: Shawl forward motion!

yarn along, writing, knitting, booksEmily DeArdoComment

Hi y'all! 

So we've gone from Hoth, to spring, to Hoth, to--spring. Sort of. :) It's not bitter cold but it's not in the fifties. Dare I say it's...seasonal? But it was great to have a thaw and really clean the house and take out trash from decluttering! And when it's cold, you have time to be creative inside. So that's what I've got this week--the results of forced staying in! 

First, in the Barton Cottage Crafts department, this little sweetheart is  done! She was mailed off to her lucky recipient earlier this week. I just love the variations the yarn gave me in this particular scarf. 

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The book is a re-read: The Dry, by Jane Harper. I don't really like mysteries, but this was a good mystery, and it's becoming a series, with book two coming out on February 6. So as much as I say I don't read mysteries, between this and the Sherlock-Russell series....I guess I do? 

And on the shawl....I am finished with section one! That's right! Yay! 

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The next section involves ridges of alternating colors, using the same stitch pattern as in the first part. So it's not new stitches, but new colors. I finally get to add in fjord, my third color! Yay! 

I've also cast on a new scarf for BCC, in the weathervane colorway. It's not far enough to have a pretty photo of yet, though! It is pretty, however, just...short. 

And a few notes: 

The Take Up and Read Lent book, Above All, is available on Amazon! Here's my post about it, and there's a link to buy on the sidebar, too! Go get it! (It's also available on Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and other countries!) 

Catholic 101 is now available! Blog subscribers get a 15% off discount code! Buy your copy here

 

 

No, Emergency Rooms aren't "first come, first served"

healthEmily DeArdoComment
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Time for stories, boys and girls!

Or, really, let me 'splain something to you: How Emergency Rooms Work. 

Emergency rooms are not first come, first served. 

Some people need to be told this. So I'm telling you!

Emergency rooms work on a triage system--meaning, true emergencies go before "emergencies that can wait."

Let me illustrate this. 

If I--a double-lung transplant patient--come into an ER talking about chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fever...
I will get taken back immediately. I will not wait. I will not sit in the waiting room. I will go back and be evaluated post-haste. 

This is because Very Bad Bad Things Could Happen to Me Very Quickly. I could have a pulmonary embolism (PE). I could be having an acute episode of rejection. Many, many things could be going wrong that need fixed tout de suite. 

So, I will never wait. 

Really. 

But to get to that exalted "I will never wait" point, I have to have a long, long history. 

Now, you in the waiting room--you have brought your kid who is sick. Might have a slight fever. Might have a broken arm. Might have an ear ache, or just feel funny, or be vomiting. Most of those things are not emergencies. (Unless it's a greenstick fracture.) These are things that can wait. So yes, you will see people get taken back before you that don't "look" sick. That doesn't mean they are not. 

If you are in a room in an ER/ED, and you are waiting, I want you to think for a second. You have no idea what is going on in the rest of the department. You don't know if five ambulances just came in with critical patients. You don't know if there are lots of complex cases being dealt with. You have no idea. 

Now, if your kid is getting worse, certainly tell the nurses/staff. But remember, there is worse, and then there is "I'm impatient and I want to go home."

Keep in mind that if your kid is healthy enough to wait, you are lucky

I have been the kid that the entire ER has been working on--or what seemed like the entire ER. It is not fun. If your kid--or you!--are cranky or tired and want to go home, be glad that you are in that position. Because it means that death is not an immediate possibility. 

I have also been the person who's been in the ER, been cleared, and then waited. I know waiting is not fun. But also, it means, I'm not going to die today! Yay! I'm OK enough to go home! Because how many times has that not been the case for me? A lot

So if you are in the ER, and you are tempted to complain because you've been there for six hours, or because the kid in the next room "doesn't look sick", please do not do those things. Please be quiet. And realize that your kid is probably going to be OK. But you have no idea what is going on in the other cubicles and emergency treatment rooms. 

 

(And also: EDs are not your doctor's office. If you think there is a problem, try an urgent care first. Here is a handy link! ) 

 

 

Invisible Disabilities and the Workforce

CF, health, hearing loss, politics, essaysEmily DeArdoComment
Fun medical equipment from the 1980s....

Fun medical equipment from the 1980s....

Take a look at the picture of me on the sidebar. (If you're reading this in email, click through.) 

What do you see?

I'm not asking for an assessment of my physical attractiveness, or lack thereof. But if you just looked at that picture,  you would think, yes. She looks like a pretty typical 30ish woman.

This is what you'd be missing: 

*You can't see my cochlear implant, tucked behind my left ear. I don't wear any hearing devices in my right ear, and there's only about 20% natural hearing left there. 

*The scar on my forehead? You can see that, but you probably don't know it's from a skin cancer removal. You also can't see the bald patch on the back of my head, from another one. Skin cancer is 10x more common in post-transplant people, because of our immunosuppression. It's not because I'm fair. (And I'm religious about sun protection, anyway). 

*You can't see that I've got about 52% lung function--which for me is good. That's great! But for normal people, if it's lower than 70%, there's probably an issue. For me, 70% is a dream I will never see again, after hitting it in 1997. So imagine working without one lung. That's me all the time--and that's GREAT. I LOVE IT! 

*You can't see the burn on my right arm, which is left over from transplant surgery. Third degree burn. Skin graft. It's rendered my right arm usable--thank God I still have it!--but it doesn't have complete function like it used to. (Knitting probably helps, though, in making it stronger.) The skin is very, very delicate. It tears easily. So I can't do a lot of manual labor with this arm--and this is my dominant arm. If you were looking at me, you'd notice, but you wouldn't have all that information. 

*Oh, and I'm anemic. I always have been. Part of the paleness. :) But that affects my stamina, too. I'm used to it, now, but there are times when I need red meat and sleep--Moreso than the average bear.

 

I'm telling you all this because invisible disabilities have been in the news lately, as a part of the new Medicaid standards the administration is considering. I look pretty "able bodied", but I'm not--as any physical exam would show. I can't use a telephone--I use FaceTime, but not a real phone. If you call me, I can't understand you. You will sound like Charlie Brown's teacher. Being immunocompromised means if I get sick, there could be a hospital stay in my future. You get the flu, you stay home. I get the flu, I can end up in the hospital. I need to be more circumspect about where I go, especially during flu season. And honestly, I need to take care of my body. That means giving it enough sleep, among other things.  

So, looking at me, you can't see these issues. But they're there. And when you compare me to an average 35 year old woman, it becomes apparent. Invisible disabilities are real. Ask anyone who has arthritis, for example. Or diabetes. Or epilepsy (which I had as a kid). They're not to be taken lightly. Just because someone looks able-bodied, doesn't mean she is able-bodied. 

As a society, we need to be cognizant of that. I'm not making policy suggestions, here, but we need to be aware that there are serious disabilities that people cannot see, and that can impact ability to work. For example, I look fine. But you don't want me to be your receptionist, or ask me to carry heavy things or fix machinery on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis. And of course, I see many more doctors than average people. I see my transplant doctor every four months--I see my ENT every four months. I see my dermatologist very frequently, and I have days where I'm out having Mohs surgery, or having things removed--that takes time. I can have surgeries scheduled at the drop of a hat. Any employers who hires me needs to be aware of those things, and needs to be flexible about them. If they're not, then I'm in trouble. And my employer won't be happy, no matter how great my work is, or how intelligent I am. Without that understanding and flexibility, a job will be hard for both of us. 

I want to provide this as food for thought, when you read about invisible disabilities, or work requirements. It's not wanting to work--it's things that make working difficult, for both employer and employee. 

*

Having said that, though, I don't think a person with a disability or a chronic illness should automatically go the SSDI/Medicaid route. Here's why. 

I think that being "normal", as much as you can, is good for self-image, self-esteem, and general mental health. I know that one of my biggest drivers growing up was that I was not going to be babied. I was going to be normal. That meant, doing my homework. Going to school. Taking exams. Etc. If I needed accommodation, I asked for it, but it was low-key. I finished high school. I went to college. And after college, I got a job. 

I knew that I would need a job with good insurance. So yes, if you have medical issues, that means you have to consider jobs with good benefits. It doesn't mean you can go off and join a non-profit that doesn't provide good medical coverage, OK? You have to be reasonable and logical. I wrote more about this here

I do not think it is a good idea for people with CF to sit around at home and bewail their state. First off, that would have driven me insane. Really. When I had to be home for four months post-transplant, after about month three, I was going stir-crazy. I have to have things to do. 

But--there comes a time, when yes, you can't work anymore. This happened with my friend Sage. When she was listed for transplant, she had to leave her job and apply for SSDI. That does happen. It's part of life. But I don't think--and we talked about this often, so I know we agreed here--that she wouldn't wanted to sit at home, either. 

Maybe you do. OK. But my feeling is, if you can contribute, contribute. BUT that requires having an employer that is flexible and that is willing to work with you. And I had that--until I didn't. Once that goes away, then life can get very difficult, and then it might be time for SSDI/Medicaid/whatever. If that time comes, then go for it. That's when people on the government side need to realize that we might look pretty able-bodied. But we're not. 

And also, when it comes to the Medicaid/SSDI system, a lot of the time, they're not talking disability like I have a disability. They're talking about worker's comp sort of stuff. Like, back problems. Problems with limbs, or standing for eight hours, and movement. The system isn't really designed for people who have chronic issues that aren't movement/skeletally based.  That is frustrating, because what I have is what I have. I'm never going to get my hearing back. My lung function may go a little higher, but this is pretty much as good as it gets. I'm never going to get better skin on my skin graft. So the government side of this needs to realize that some disabilities don't get better. They might stay stable--or they might radically get worse--but "better" is not going to happen.  

I know that before I had to deal with all this, I had no idea that any of this was true. So I think it's worth it to share these thoughts with people, so you can realize that when government talks about "disability", there are levels, and there are degrees. 

 

Above All: A beautiful, intentional companion for Lent

books, current projects, Lent, writingEmily DeArdoComment
Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

I am so, so happy to present to you the completed Lent book by all of us at Take Up and Read! Above All is our newest edition to our library (you can see all our other books here), and I am SO proud of her!

Let me tell you a little more about her. 

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First of all, this is a big book. It is 338 pages of goodness that starts on Ash Wednesday and takes you all the way to Easter.  

Each day has: 

A bible verse (as well as additional verses for further contemplation);

An essay by one of our wonderful writers;

A lectio divina page, with Biblical background and research to help you understand the time period and background of the day's featured verse;

A journaling page, with questions to help you go deeper, 

And a prayer page, with a unique prayer for every day! 

There is lots of white space, too. This isn't jammed together. We want this to be a peaceful, useful book for you! There is beautiful art, as well, and calligraphy, all done by our gifted artists. 

And every week, we focus on Scripture memorization. That's long been a pillar of Take Up and Read. For this book, we're focusing on a beautiful passage from the third chapter of Colossians. 

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This book was designed very intentionally. We want you to have the tools to listen well to God, to go deeper into His word, and to be transformed by what you find there. You don't have to fill in every box, and you don't have to use every tool we give you. This is your book. Use it as you see fit!

I hope that you will join us on this beautiful Lenten journey, to put truly the love of God Above All

If you used Elizabeth's Put on Love study last Lent, you will find much that is familiar here. But even then, there are new essays by our wonderful writers, new art, and new tools for you. 

And the final, and really, most wonderful, bit about this? 

 

All of the profits from Above All will be donated to Adore Ministries in Houston, to provide Hurricane Harvey relief. 

 

I very much hope that you will join us! You can purchase your book here. There will also be a button on the sidebar, so you can always come here to purchase! 

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Yarn Along No. 69

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

It's going to be 50 degrees today! As opposed to last week, when I was dwelling in Hoth! Oh, Ohio weather....(Next week? Looks like it's back to Hoth...) 

Anyway, time for a yarn along!

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Still working on the shawl. It's coming. I actually had to frog quite a bit of it last week but I managed to save it, and now I'm sort of frogging-shy. :) Does that make sense? (Frogging is where you rip out stuff you knitted.) But I'm planning on diving back in today.

In the mean time, I've been working on this scarf, for an ebook customer who won this scarf as part of my release week** events! Isn't it pretty? 

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This week I finished Pachinko, which was one of my Christmas books. The book revolves around four generations of a Korean family that moves to Japan--the book starts in the 1930s and goes until 1990 or thereabouts. I enjoyed it--mostly--but if you're not familiar with Korean culture, you might need to Google a lot of references, especially early on. 

**Speaking of the book (my book, that is!): If you haven't ordered it, you can do it right here. It's $9.50, but if you're a site subscriber, you have a code for 15% off! You can read all about the book here, but a few notes: isn't not something you have to read straight through. You can jump around to the sections you want to read. It has several new pieces that I didn't feature in the original blog series, and it's illustrated! (Not lavishly. But there are pictures.) I'll be writing another post that goes into more detail soon. 

(Note: There is WAYYY more than 80 pages of content. It's almost 200 pages! So I need to correct that!)

A Little Daybook

Daybook, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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I used to write a daybook entry every Monday, sort of like a diary, a look into my life on that particular day. I've gotten out of the habit, but every now and then I think it's a nice way to start the week. So a few things from around here, books, and some inspiration for your Monday? 

That image up top:: Ann always has great things to share with us. I find that at the beginning of the year, when we have so many expectations about how this year is going to be (X, Y, Z), we can get overwhelmed really fast. You miss a day of working out once....or you have the cookie....or whatever your resolution was, you break it. 

That's OK. Just pick yourself up and move forward. 

Speaking of great images, this might be my new favorite Marian image--"Madonna of the Rose Bower", by Stefan Locher

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You can read about the painting here

(I love that Mary's a redhead!)

One of the great productivity things I found last week:: Pomodoros. Have you heard about this? The link gives you more information, but essentially, you perform a task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. You do this four times in a row--after the fourth pomodoro, you take a 25-30 minute break. Then you're back at it. I've found this amazingly helpful in both organizing my days and in getting things accomplished. And it gives you free time! 

I don't use the actual timer--I use a plain old kitchen timer, or the timer on my watch. 

The other great thing is that, if you're getting calls or email, you know that you'll get to them during your "break" period. 

Reading::

I re-read a lot. I know some people don't. But I do. So this week has been a lot of re-reading of the Lord John series, by Diana Gabaldon. If you're familiar with the main Outlander series, you know about Lord John already, but Diana has given him his own spin-off series of novels and novellas. So I've re-read Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and now I'm on Scottish Prisoner. As far as new books, I'm reading Pachinko, which is really good so far. 

On the calendar this week::

ENT appointment tomorrow, which is good because my Bionic Ear has been bothering me. And it's not the external part, it's the internal part--i.e., that part in my skull--that's been bugging me the most. It's been really painful lately, and I'm not sure why, so I'm definitely going to ask my Awesome ENT about this tomorrow. 

So, that's a little, brief daybook for you. How was your weekend? 

Yarn Along No. 68: Knitting to keep warm!

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo11 Comments
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I don't live in Ohio anymore. I live on the planet Hoth. :-P As I write this, it is -1 for the real, actual temperature. It feels like -16. Yeah. No thank you.  


(And yes, this is an old graphic, but I thought it was worth sharing because it amuses me.) 

So I am knitting to keep warm! And then reading, under mounds of blankets, also to keep warm. A good set of conditions for a Yarn Along. 

First up: some completed/almost completed scarves from Barton Cottage Crafts:

"Marianne" scarf 

"Marianne" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

My big personal project is the drachenfels shawl. I am really liking working this pattern. It's not hard, once you get used to it, because the pattern doesn't appreciably change over the extent of the shawl. 

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I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee in iceland, bird's egg, and fjord. The needles I'm using are Knit Picks harmony interchangeables. 

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Above, you can see how far I've gotten. Ignore the wobbly end bits that need woven in and tightened up! For the first part of the shawl, you do many repeats with color one (Iceland) and do a few rows of color two (bird's egg). I'm almost done with this first section. Then we get into using all three colors! Exciting. I won't exactly be sad to see the Iceland go. 

The book is one of many I'm currently reading. One of my goals for the year is to have a simplified, comfortable, cozy house, and Emily Ley's A Simplified Life is helping me do that. All the sticky notes are pages that have lists or ideas I want to accomplish/incorporate. I did a huge closet clean out last year and book purge, so that's really helpful, but if there's anything else I want to get rid of, this is the time! 

What are you knitting/ reading? 

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Site notes: Catholic 101 is now available, and it's also listed on Goodreads! So you can leave a review if you've read it! If you haven't read it, you can pick up your copy here. Blog subscribers get 15% off! 

 

 

Welcome, 2018

links, inspirationEmily DeArdoComment
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Every year, I like to start with Ann Voskamp. Her book, 1000 Gifts, is one of my favorites. And every New Year, I re-read it, and watch the corresponding video series. And I re-read some of my favorite essays she's put on her blog. 

So, maybe you need some good things to start your new year? Here's some Ann: 

A Life Plan When You're Overwhelmed

How to Cultivate the Habit of Focus in a Age of Distraction

Three Words to Keep the Comparison Thief from Robbing All Joy

Why Everyone Needs to Make Art Every Day

 

Want more inspiration? My 2018 pin board has all these essays, and more bits of inspiration I find along the way. 

Welcome, 2018. 

Goal Setting 2018: Part Five--my goals for the year!

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment

[Previous entries in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4]

Today is the last installment in the 2018 Goal Setting series! Yay! 

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So after all of the previous posts, here are the goals I'll be working on in the coming year. 

Work through Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps for Financial Peace to cultivate good stewardship, gratitude, and contentment

 

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Matthew 6: 19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Starting Steps: Cut out unnecessary spending and place that money in the emergency fund; set up debt snowball; use every dollar app to create and manage budget. 

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: Empowered! Proud of myself. 

How I will celebrate progress/completing this goal: Doing my own debt-free scream

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal, or what progress looks like on this goal: Emergency fund, being debt free!

 

Find an agent for my manuscript

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. 

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

2 Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have: Fulfilling my dream; bring glory to God; encouragement to others!

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: OVER THE MOON!!!!

How will I know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I'll have an agent

How will I celebrate making progress on this goal? I'm not sure!

Starting Steps: Draft new proposal; blog course; re-read the manuscript (? Not sure about this). 

 

To deepen and strengthen my relationship with God, because He is the center and the well-spring.

 

I Thessalonians 5:15-24 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

John 4: 13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 

John 6: 35-40 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: Peaceful, stronger, more rooted in Christ. 

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: Good prayer routine; constant trust in God; weekday Mass every week. 

Starting Steps: Daily Vespers; holy hour monthly; Bible reading daily. 

 

Continue to lose weight and treat my body well so I can do everything else I want to do, and honor my body which God made. 

 

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.  Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Positive effect taking action on this goal may have: A better, healthier life!

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: Physically better--stronger, for one thing. I'm already seeing progress here but I want to continue it. 

How I will celebrate making progress on, or completing, this goal: New clothes, because I'll need them!

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: Smaller clothes, smaller measurements, scale number (but that's not the only thing I'm using!)

Starting steps: Create daily exercise plan, like Lara's #runliftpraise, continue to incorporate new recipes and new foods into my eating plan. 

 

Grow Barton Cottage Crafts, to help with baby steps (goal 1), but also to have a creative outlet and for enjoyment. 

1 Peter 4: 10-11 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: Happy--that I was able to provide products people wanted, and made progress on this goal AND goal number 1!

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: Money for Goal #1, more/repeat customers. 

Starting steps: current commissions; knit items for Etsy shop listings. 

 

Have a beautiful, peaceful, welcoming home so I can appreciate what I have, encourage hospitalist, and cultivate peace. 

 

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

How I will feel at the end of the year having made progress on this goal: Clearer, peaceful, satisfied. 

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: A clutter-free, peaceful house; fewer "things" around. 

Resources: The Nesting Place; A Simplified Life

 

WHEW! That's a lot!

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I am so excited to kick of 2018. This year was a great year--I made a lot of progress, which you can see in the earlier parts of this series--but I'm thrilled to make 2018 my most cultivated, intentional year year! 

Goal Setting 2018 Part Four: Uncovering Goals

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment
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Hi! Welcome back to the goal setting series!

If you're just joining me, here are the installments so far: Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Step Ten

Review all the pages I've written so far. 

Lara really stresses this point, because the goal is to uncover things that you're thinking about. And you can't do that if you just zoom through the prep work!

I went through all the pages, and wrote more on some, underlined on others...it's pretty personal and messy so I won't share that here. :) 

Step Eleven

Write out some goal IDEAS

There are things that have been long-term goals for awhile now. And everything I've been doing helps reach the goal. So, one of my goals is "get the book published." Obviously, that has tons of little steps that are all under that goal umbrella. Same with creating financial security. 

So here's what I brainstormed:

* Financial plan

*Writing/book proposal: improve blog reach, new ebook, blog research, drafting proposals

*continue to eat well/exercise to care for my body. 

*Deepen my relationship with God. 

*Barton Cottage Crafts--expand. Etsy shop? 

*LESS at home. Simplicity. Peace. 

 

Step Twelve

Check my goal ideas to see if they are rooted in what matters

Here's what Lara says about this step: 

 Will this goal help me to cultivate what matters?
– Will this goal help me get to where I want to be when I’m eighty years old?
– Does this goal help other people?
– WHY do I want to make this goal happen? Am I desiring this goal for the right reasons, or am I striving for “perfect”—or whatever I’ve been chasing?

If the answer is NO to any of these questions, then it’s possible it’s not the best use of your precious time. Don’t run in circles with goals that don’t directly connect to what matters most. Focus on what really matters to you in the big picture. Cross goals out that don’t 100% fit. Be bold and take leaps of faith as you write.

If you are a believer like me, here are some questions I’m asking myself:

– Does this goal help draw me and others closer to God?
– Is this goal rooted in God’s truth? (Find scriptures to match!)
– Does this goal rely on my strength or God’s?
– Does this goal help me steward what I’ve been given well?

 

In applying this to what I wrote, above: 

Financial Peace: It draws me closer to God by relying on Him and His providence; it relies on His strength--He has to give me the right spirit to do this; and it definitely helped with stewardship!

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Matthew 6:25, 33 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6: 19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Blogging/Writing/Book Proposal: Yes, because the book is so much about God and what He's done for me, and I want to share that with others; I have to trust in God (word of the year!) to get this done, to shepherd it to the places it needs to go. I just write. 

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. 

Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

2 Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Taking care of my body: losing weight/exercise: Yes, because it keeps me healthy and able to do God's work; I need His strength to continue making the right choices, even if they're not ones I'd naturally make; and I've been given a new life--literally. I have to take care of this body! 

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.  Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

Deepen my relationship with God: this sort of goes without saying, right? He is LIFE. To do everything else, I have to be in deep, intimate relationship with Him. 

I Thessalonians 5:15-24 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

John 4: 13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 

John 6: 35-40 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” (This verse is especially important to me as a Catholic, since it points to the vitalness of the Eucharist.) 

Barton Cottage Crafts: This helps with goal number 1, but I also get to share my talents with others and use my creativity; God has to keep the orders coming in. :) 

1 Peter 4: 10-11 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Creating a peaceful, simplified home: Yes, because it involves good stewardship of what I've been given (money and my home), it allows me to extend hospitality, and to be able to do my work more efficiently. 

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Step Thirteen

Write down WHY with every idea

I'll talk more about this when I actually tell you my goals!  

 

Goal Setting 2018 Part Three: Saying Yes and No, and the Word of the Year

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment
This is Lara's list for 2018--mine is further down the post. :) 

This is Lara's list for 2018--mine is further down the post. :) 

Just joining me? The rest of the series is here and here! 

Happy Feast of St. John! Or, the third day of Christmas (did your True Love bring you Three French hens? And you knew, right, that the things in the song are related to the Christian catechism? The three French hens are the three persons of the Trinity. I sense a post about this in the future...)

STEP SEVEN

The Yes and No List

I'm a big fan of these lists--I think they do a good job clarifying priorities and setting boundaries. The key is that you can't just write the lists--you have to read the lists, do the lists. Which, admittedly, is harder than just writing them! Anyway, here are my lists for 2018: 

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STEP EIGHT

Identify the Threads

This might be my favorite step--where you go back and look over everything you've written, circling, marking, highlighting (etc.) all the things that stand out to you. This is where the goals will come from! And it can be very enlightening, to see that what I thought I wanted to do isn't really what I was writing, or what my mind/spirit wants to do. Or, what God wants me to do. 

 

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STEP NINE

My word for 2018

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This has been my word before. But I think this year I need to re-active it and really remind myself to do what it says. God's got this. I have to go where He leads, but trust in where He's leading

Easier said than done. But I have a whole year to work on it. :) 

 

 

Goal Setting 2018 Part Two

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment
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The first entry in this series can be found here

In the first entry in this series, I looked back on 2017. What worked? What didn't? What were my big takeaways? I found a lot of good things there! So, knowing all that, I'm ready to move on to the next steps. 

STEP FOUR

What's one thing I want to cultivate in the year ahead? 

I want to cultivate fresh starts and possibilities, and peace. 

STEP FIVE

What challenges did I face in 2017? 

I didn't send out as many book proposals as I wanted to; my exercise plan wasn't consistent, although it got better in the last few months of the year. 

STEP SIX

Who helped me cultivate what matters in 2017? 

There is a whole list in my PowerSheets about this, and I have been so blessed with great friends and opportunities this year. If I listed them all, we'd be here for ever, but I will say that the people I met at Making Things Happen were HUGE motivators for me to go home and really CHANGE THINGS UP. 

Photo by Amy Nicole Photograph The "Papaya group" at MTH! :) Thanks to our fearless leaders, Rhi and Gina! (Gina is in the center, Rhi is....not here! Sadness!) 

Photo by Amy Nicole Photograph
The "Papaya group" at MTH! :) Thanks to our fearless leaders, Rhi and Gina! (Gina is in the center, Rhi is....not here! Sadness!) 

 

Just a few people I love: Sarah Jane, Mary, Abby, Andrea, Elizabeth F., Elizabeth Y., Lydia and Paul Michael, Tiff, Alissa, Br. H, my siblings, Lisa, Fr. Stephen, Fr. Charles, Aunt Judy, Grandma, Sarah N, my BCC customers, Lara, Rhi and Gina.....SO MANY PEOPLE. Really. Hugs!

 

Have you thanked the people that make your life better? Take some time to do that this holiday season! Even if it's just a text, it's a movement of gratitude and love that the person will cherish!

 

Part three of this series next week....have a Wonderful Christmas!!! :) 

 

Goal Setting 2018: Creating a Cultivated Life

goal settingEmily DeArdoComment
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Can you believe it's almost Christmas? Or the end of 2017? Where has this year gone?! 

One of my favorite parts about this time of year (other than Christmas, of course) is that Lara Casey starts the Goal Setting series on her blog. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know how much I adore Lara and her Power Sheets. I had the great privilege of attending her Making Things Happen conference in March, and wow, Lara is just amazing. 

Her series kicked off yesterday, and it has inspired me to write my own. I've done this sporadically over the years, but one thing that I'm going to do in 2018 is write monthly updates about my goals, both to keep me accountable, and, hopefully, to inspire you to set your own goals! 

I'll be echoing Lara's steps in my blog entries, so if you read hers and mine, I hope you'll be able to get two doses of inspiration. :) 

So, let's go!

STEP ONE

The Cultivated Life Evaluation

How did 2017 go? How do I feel about various areas of my life? 

--Health

--Friends

--Spouse/Significant Other

--Family

--Finances

--Work

--Spiritual and Personal Growth

--Recreation

 

Health: I made a lot of strides here this year. I've lost 26 pounds, and still going, I've dropped inches and clothing sizes...I'm really happy with how things are going here. I am committed to continuing this work in 2018!

Friends: I am so fortunate to have lots of deep, fruitful friendships. 

Family: Like the friend category, I have strong relationships here. I get support from them. We spend time together. This is all good. And my brother's getting married in May, so I'm adding a sister-in-law!

Finance: Ehhhh. In September I recommitted to doing Dave Ramsey's 10 baby steps. Right now I'm in Baby Step #1--building an emergency fund. Want to know where the money from the book and scarves go? It goes right there. :) It's helping build financial security. Yay!

Spiritual and personal growth: I have a pretty good prayer life. I want to go deeper and make this a true priority. Not just a lip service priority. 

Work: Work has been amazing this year! I released Catholic 101, started Barton Cottage Crafts, and I've grown my blog audience. I am so thankful for all my wonderful readers! And there's more to come in this area in 2018. 

Step Two

stop chasing perfect

I am choosing PURPOSE over PERFECT. That's what Making Things Happen in March taught me. Choose the CULTIVATED GOAL. Choose that good things. The things God has created me to do. STOP chasing someone one's story. Live my story. Sit in the dirt. Growth through the dirt. Cultivate what matters. 

 

STEP THREE

Looking back on 2017: Good things and Goal Progress

Good things that happened: 

 

Catholic 101 was released!

Vacation to Colonial Williamsburg and the Outer Banks

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Lost 26 pounds

Developed Barton Cottage Crafts

Got an editing job (More about this in 2018!) 

Seriously decluttering and simplifying at home

Deeper relationships 

Family connections and visiting.

Deeper familiarity with Scripture

Creative progress and enjoyment

Silent reterat

Making Things Happen! 

Starting the financial Baby Steps

 

My 2017 goals: 

1) Deepen my relationship with God through daily Mass, and Liturgy of the Hours, and writing the Word to get deep into His Word. 

How'd I do?: WELL! My editing job actually forces me to get deep into Scripture, which is so funny. God clearly wanted me to work on this goal! I am making progress in weekday Mass attendance, monthly confession, and saying the Liturgy of the Hours. This will all continue in 2018. 

2) Create Financial Peace  I'm being sort of vague on this one, because it's in progress and it's personal in a deep way. But I hopefully will have more to tell you soon. :) 

3) Be healthy by losing weight, exercising, and journaling. 

How'd I do?: Doing well! But this is not over yet. :) 

4) Get the book published by querying agents, growing the blog, and writing new pieces for publication. 

How'd I do? Did well in cultivating my audience, releasing the ebook, and writing new pieces for publication (See here). Need to get back on the querying bandwagon. 

5) Be a "fierce, fierce friend" by being hospitable, being there for others, and loving big. 

I started with this goal, and I realized--I am a good friend. So I didn't need to do too much work here! :)  So I deleted this goal and replaced it with:

Reimagine blog brand, mission, statement and purpose--did this in the spring! And I'll be taking a fresh look at it again in January. 

6)  Feed my creativity by drawing, knitting, sketching, languages, etc. 

How'd I do? Super well. I really love making time to do these things. They feed my soul! And I'm taking a watercolor class in January so I'll be continuing to improve in this area, too!

7) Simplify my spaces: Less stuff, MORE beauty and organization in order to increase peace, stability, and encourage hospitality. 

I re-phrased this in the summer to: Create a true, nourishing home by simplifying, decorating, and tidying (cleaning) to create beauty and calm. 

How'd I do? Well, as I write this, I've got Christmas baking dishes piled in the sink waiting for their turn in the dishwasher! So if you were at my house right now, you'd think, not! But I have made progress here, too. I did more book decluttering, more closet cleaning, and I've been making a point to keep spaces clear and only keep things I love and use around the house. 

 

Three Things I Learned:  

1) I CAN LOSE WEIGHT. This was HUGE for me. I've always thought that because of the prednisone that I will be on for the rest of my life that I'd never reach a healthy weight. AND I CAN! That's amazing to me. 

2) I WROTE A BOOK! After three years of work, Catholic 101 is a real book that real people can read. I am so thankful that I did this. HUGE goal for me, accomplished!

3) Lots of people feel the same way I do. I learned this at Making Things Happen. NO ONE has it all together. EVERYONE is nervous about stepping out and working on their dreams. Everyone! We are all in this together!!! 

 

 

MTH March 2017, courtesy Amy Nicole photography

MTH March 2017, courtesy Amy Nicole photography

 

 

 

Whoa! Writing this has REALLY inspired me to do great things in 2018! And there are more entries to come!

 

How about you? What was 2017 like for you? What did you accomplish? Are you afraid of chasing your goals? What good things did you learn? What do you want to bring into 2018?