11/24/2010

The Psychology of Personal Finance

The reason I like studying and writing about money, specifically personal finance, is that it's not about the numbers. Money management is really all about psychology and how people think about themselves and the world around them. I enjoy people and learning the hows and whys of behavior and thought. The reading material on the subject is endless.

I'm enjoying Financial Peace University so much because it is so hopeful, so optimistic and inspires positive change in people's lives. Money management, and specifically self-discipline, is a strength of mine and that's why I like studying it and employing techniques that can only enhance that strength. Which is why I was so looking forward to this week's FPU lesson, "Working In Our Strengths". From the notes it looked like the class was about maximizing income by finding your strengths and using them to increase earning potential. Great concept, right? The workbook even had a list of potential home based businesses and part-time freelance jobs. This is stuff I love because Mike and I both have side incomes and I've seen the potential in freelancing and building a personal business by reading Ramit Sethi's book and blog "I Will Teach You To Be Rich" which focuses mostly on earning more.

Except that's not at all what the video lecture from Dave Ramsey was like. I know I'm totally paraphrasing but my general impression of the bulk of the lesson was if you don't go to work every day giddy because you love what you do so much, you're screwed. That's totally bogus in my book. It talked about looking at your personality and strengths and finding a career that allow you to use those, which of course is good. But the way it was worded and phrased was more depressing to me than hopeful. I can only imagine how it would feel if you were nearing the end of a long career in one industry, only to be told you may have been in the wrong job for all that time.

Additionally when it came to talking about earning some extra income, Dave referred to it as "the DREADED part-time job". He emphasized that it was only a temporary situation aimed at paying down debt and talked about taking jobs like delivering pizza. This is so ridiculous! Freelancing on the side is AWESOME and so easy when people are motivated. This whole lesson could have been framed so much more positively, encouraging people to use their talents and skills to find freelance work or start a small home business on the side.

Maybe the lesson was built with the kind of people who usually take FPU in mind, people in desperate situations who have already piled up mountains of debt. Perhaps Dave assumes that these people aren't self-disciplined enough to make good money on the side freelancing and are better suited flipping burgers for awhile? If so, that's really sad. I'd like to think that people in FPU are motivated to make positive changes in their lives and that could include finding ways to make more money. It leaves me wondering if I could do something to help people in this class see this potential.

So it begs the question, have you ever found a way to earn some extra money outside of your main career? Have you thought about it?

11/23/2010

Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a nice time of year that people gather together with loved ones and sometimes they may stop and reflect on the good things in their lives. This year our Thanksgiving will be very low key, since most of our family is far flung. My grandparents will come over for dinner, but they do that every week. I don't take it for granted though, because they are 90 and 91 and we don't know how many more Thanksgivings they will celebrate.

In fact, tomorrow is not promised for any of us. I learned that the hard way when my dad suddenly dropped dead one day at age 49. Since then I have had an impending sense of mortality, my own, my husband's, even that of my kids. I don't live in fear or anxiety though, because I have no fear of death...mine or that of my loved ones. Instead I live with a perpetual sense of gratitude, thankful for another day and another year that I get to spend with the amazing people God has blessed me with in my life. Sure, there are plenty of moments that I feel ungrateful and selfish, but I am  blessed with great joy and thankfulness most of the time.

Coffee
So here are just ten things I'm thankful for right now.

1. Coffee. It can taste magnificent, smell even better, and the way it sharpens my thinking in the morning is amazing. Not to mention that it has no calories or fat!

2. DVR. Not so much for me, because I am less and less interested in TV these days. How else could I satisfy my child's endless cries for the Dora Christmas Special at the same time giving me peace and quiet to write this post?

3. Jeans. Denim is the most incredible invention ever, in my opinion. A great pair of blue jeans can make nearly anyone look ten times better.

4. Advil. Really do I need to elaborate on this?

5. Zyrtec - D. When I remember to take it every morning, I can live allergy free. It is a miracle drug for me.

6. Little boys. Having a gaggle of little girls in my house last night reminded me of the pitch difference between excited girls and boys. My ears are glad to have boys.

7. Purple. My favorite color. The color of royalty. The color of pink and blue combined, as I've learned in my Love and Respect class about marriage.

Top Ten {Tuesday}8. Humidity. It is over 80 degrees and nearly 100% humidity today. We complain about it, but it keeps my skin from getting all dry and wrinkly.

9. Sidewalks. I love being able to walk both my kids to their schools safely. I've never lived in a community so connected by sidewalks, and it is a wonderful thing.

10. Pumpkins. One of the few natural reminders of autumn we can get here in Texas. Oh, and I like my fake fall leaves too :)

So what are you thankful for right now, today?

11/18/2010

How To Make Those Trendy Ribbon Necklaces!

Two weeks ago when I hosted a Premiere Designs jewelry party, the jewelry lady showed us a really cool trick. I promised I'd share it with you. If you're into accessories at all, I'm sure you've seen the new trend incorporating ribbon into necklaces. Some are woven all the way through the necklace, and some simply use ribbons as the ties behind the neck.

You'd think that with a little cloth added and less silver and gold in these baubles, they'd be cheaper, right? Well of course not! Check out this gorgeous necklace in the photo from Talbots. That was $89 in the fall catalog! Nice ribbon necklaces can be pricey, but you may be able to take a necklace you already own and transform it for a totally new look!



So what do you think? I love anything that can take something you've already got and make it look new and stylish. All for a 75 cent ribbon. Plus I actually bought several colors of ribbons to change it up even more.

Check out all the other Fashion Friday gals!

11/17/2010

Photography Thursday: A Note About Shutter Speeds

In previous posts I've mentioned that the aperture (or f-stop) of your shots is a crucial element to getting good portrait photographs. In fact, I often recommend setting the camera to an aperture-priority mode if you can. But if you only did that and paid no attention to the shutter speed of your photos, you might find yourself with a lot of slightly blurry photos. This is especially true of kids, because even when they are sitting still...they aren't.  So here are a few tips to remember about shutter speed.

  • When shooting portraits, even adults, try to keep the shutter speed under 125...that's 1/125th of a second. That should prevent even the slight blur of someone moving a hand slightly while they pose. 
  • When shooting wandering kids, speed it up even more. If there is enough light I might set my shutter speed to 1/250th of a second. If there isn't enough light, bump the ISO higher to 400 or 800. 
  • Soccer mom or dad? I used to think 250 was good enough when I was outside at my son's soccer games, but I heard a professional sports photog speak once and she shoots at a minimum of 500, sometimes up to 1000. So I cranked the speed to 500 and I was AMAZED at how much better my action shots were. 
  • I shoot a lot of concerts, which are really tough because they are very low light, you can't use flash, and the musicians tend to move A LOT. This is where you really test the limits of your camera with high ISO, because if you don't you can't shoot at a minimum of 125. 
  • Wanna freeze moving water, like in a fountain? That's a shutter speed of at least 500, sometimes even 1000. Check out the dolphin show I shot below. 
Outdoor kid candids. ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/250 sec

No blurry concerts! ISO 3200, f/1.8, 1/200th sec

Freeze! Stopping action, ISO 400, f/5.3, 1/1000th sec
I really hope this helps you out at least a little to get better shots! 

As always, all photos are Copyright 2010 Sarah Hubbell, Enlightened Photography, All Rights Reserved. Seriously, that means do NOT steal them. 

11/16/2010

Surprising Benefits to Reusable Grocery Bags

HEB-0103I made a recent discovery that has kind of rocked my world, in a small way. Many of you have already figured this out, and I realize I am totally late to the game. I have discovered that I really do LOVE using reusable grocery bags! (Like the one  pictured here, along with some other products I received as a blog promotion by HEB and Con Agra Foods) Even though I am an environmental engineer and I believe in taking steps towards green living, I had shied away from using those cloth bags for a long time, especially when you had to buy them. Now it seems everyone is giving them out, especially at local neighborhood festivals. So after awhile I had collected about five good sized bags, and one day I decided to try using them on one of my big grocery store trips.

Low and behold, I LOVE these things. Because they are usually big, structured, with a flat bottom they hold MORE food per bag than any stupid plastic bag does. Plus they don't roll around in the back of my minivan the way food in plastic bags often does. And the extra long handles make it so that I can sling one or two over my shoulder, thereby carrying twice as many groceries from the car into the house at once!
works for me wednesday at we are that family
This is all beside the fact that I'm not cluttering up my house or the landfills with those cheap plastic bags that aren't good for much, or those paper bags that trees had to die for. It's not only green, it's convenient to use them. As an added bonus, when I use them at Target they take five cents off my total bill per bag that I use. It's not much, but it's a great way to  promote responsible, sustainable living.

So start collecting those free reusable bags and remember to bring them with you INTO the store. I find I have to leave them in the front of my car so that I will remember to take them. That's what works for me.

Here's a short video I made last spring when I was driving a Malibu for awhile and blogging for Chevy about it. This shows how well the reusable bags work in a trunk.


Grocery Shopping In the Chevy Malibu from Sarah Hubbell on Vimeo.

11/15/2010

Top Ten Modern Worship Songs

Top Ten {Tuesday}I listen to a lot of music. My house is forever filled with music, as is my car, as are my workouts and grocery shopping trips thanks to my iPod. I even put music on while I'm working a lot if I'm doing something other than writing. My taste varies tremendously as you may have seen in my previous top ten playlists, but one mainstay genre is worship music. Nothing is as energizing for me, as uplifting and mood altering as corporate worship. This past Sunday, for example, I walked into church in a serious funk. Then I heard the opening chords of Tim Hughes' Happy Day, and I couldn't help but smile ear to ear. It's one of my favorites, but we also sang How Great Thou Art...a song with deep, deep roots for me. I could sing it, and probably play it on the piano, in my sleep.

The last song we did on Sunday is now near the top of my list of current faves. It's really hard for me to pick just ten of these songs, but here are ten of my very favorites this week. Do check them out.

1. You Are Worthy (Of Your Glory) - Jon Shirley

2. Our God - Chris Tomlin

3. The Stand - Hillsong United

4. Jesus Saves - Tim Hughes

5. Your Great Name - The People's Church

6. All Because of Jesus -  Steve Fee

7. Freedom Is Here - Hillsong United

8. Jesus Paid It All - Kristian Stanfill

9. The Highest and Greatest - Tim Hughes

10. Let Your Kingdom Come - Aaron Ivey

X-rays Are Cool, Full Body Scans at Airports are Not

So I mentioned in my last post that I might have a stress fracture in my foot due to my awesome new high heels. Well by Friday I really couldn't walk on it without my sneakers on, and even then it hurt. Of course Alex, my three year old, is home with me on Thursdays so I didn't want to drag him with me to the doctor or ER. I kept thinking, where will he go while I'm getting the X-ray done? Plus I had this huge project with a super important deadline at work which was eating up every free moment I had.

I planned to find someone to see about my foot on Friday, but of course Alex woke up with a 102 degree fever. Naturally! I called three local ortho offices and my primary care physician and they all basically told me to take a hike. Well not really, they said to go to the ER. My last experience waiting in radiology at the ER with a very sick Alex was a two hour and several hundred dollar nightmare, so I decided I'd wait till Mike's plane landed and then scoot over to the urgent care center. Turns out urgent care is not so busy during the day when most doctor's offices are still open. It also turns out my foot was not broken! Here's the super cool part...they let me take my X-rays home on disc!

Aren't my bones sexy?
Maybe not broken but oddly shaped!  
I just think this kind of technology is rad. Oh the other hand, those new full body X-ray scanners at the airports (including Bush airport, Mike tells me) are NOT COOL. I have a serious problem with those things, and with the invasive pat-down you get if you opt out of the scan. This may seriously deter me from flying. I do not like this one bit. I'm glad to hear the pilot's unions are speaking out against them. Not only do we have no idea the effects of that kind of radiation on our bodies, I believe it is improper for TSA security agents to be checking out our naked bodies. They have already admitted to storing some of these images, so we have no idea where they could end up! Also they don't even know if these machines would have caught the Christmas Day bomb plot from last year, which is the reason for these body scans. Fourth Amendment anyone? Also why do we need to scan small children and elderly grannies? Just admit the statistics and profile accordingly already.

So how do you feel about some stranger looking at your naked body in the name of safety?

Updated: Check out this interesting clip on this issue from CNN. 

Updated again: WHOA. Horrifyingly graphic detail of the new pat-down from a blogger who was not even warned, which legally means it was a sexual assault.

11/11/2010

Fashion Friday Marshalls Style

It's been awhile since I posted a fashion haul video so I decided it was overdue. I've written recently how my shopping and fashion budget has been dramatically reduced since I started Financial Peace University. Lucky for me I am awesome at winning free stuff on Twitter and blogs! So awhile ago I joined my friend Colleen from Classy Mommy on a Back to School Twitter party. I won a great new backpack I will save for next year and a $25 gift card to TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I happen to love both stores, but I've been saving the card since then.

So when Mike decided we should head to the mall last Saturday morning to find some jeans for him, I jumped at the chance to spend my gift card. I found three fabulous deals, a pair of Michael Kors stilettos for $40, a silk dress/tunic for $19.99 and a brown leather jacket for $29.99. Check them out in the video.


The downside is that I think wearing the stilettos to church on Sunday, compounded with wearing high heeled boots to the ice hockey game on Friday, may have caused a stress fracture in my foot. Because OUCH. The pain started Wednesday and has steadily increased to the point where I can't bear much weight on my right foot. That's the foot I hit the gas pedal with too, and yes, even that hurts. 

But no, I'm not giving up my stilettos even if it is a fracture. I'll just take a little time off. That's the price of fashion. 

11/10/2010

Amazon Supports the Rights of Pedophiles

365.4
One of hundreds of books I've bought on Amazon
Yes really. First thing this morning my friend Cecily shared a link to an e-book, "The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure" asking Amazon if they really thought it was ok to carry such a book. Reading the author's description of the book made my stomach turn. Just be to be sure it was legit, I checked the author's other books, which include "The Grand Delusion", a book about how God doesn't exist, and another book about sex and flesh. So I, along with THOUSANDS of other tweeters, called for Amazon to pull the book down from their site.

We tweeted. We blogged. We called Amazon to complain. We emailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. When many of us received similar responses from Amazon that they refused to stop selling the book because they did not believe in censorship, we began to alert mainstream media outlets and government officials. Mom bloggers did not take this lightly, at all. Many many bloggers removed their Amazon stores and affiliate links from their blogs.

I know of people who closed their accounts with Amazon today. I know people actually boxed up and returned Kindles and other recently purchased Christmas gifts. I was planning on buying a Kindle...not anymore. Annually I spend several hundred dollars on Christmas gifts at the site. Not anymore.

Amazon does not allow porn on their site, so they are already censoring. This is a really stupid business decision on their part.  I'm done with them, AND the companies they own, including Diapers.com and Zappos. That's right, I'm giving up on shoe buying from the best online shoe retailer in existence. I hope you will stand with me for what's right in this case.

11/09/2010

Dining Out for Free

Today's Works for Me Wednesday is about how my husband and I have changed our spending habits and found a great way to still eat out occasionally...for free! Since we started Financial Peace University and created a monthly spending plan, we purposely cut one of our biggest money wasters...eating out. We are still adjusting the monthly allowance and learning how to eat at home more often. But I have discovered one way I can keep eating out occasionally without busting our budget, through our credit card rewards program.

According to Dave Ramsey's plan we should never use credit cards and pay for everything with cash. That is WISE advice for people who have had trouble with credit and have racked up lots of consumer debt. We don't fall into that category, thankfully, so we still use one credit card for many of our purchases each month. The key is that we have never ever had to carry a balance on that card, and we are now watching and tracking our spending very closely. We have used a Discover Card for many years because of the 1-5% cash back rewards system it has. We used to simply apply the cash we got back in the form of rewards to the balance on our bill. That money is kind of like bonus money, since many cards don't offer it.

works for me wednesday at we are that family
Lately instead of taking the reward in the form of cash, we trade it in for gift cards to some of our favorite restaurants. With Discover we can spend $45 is rewards money and get a $50 gift card to Panera Bread, Chipotle, or Outback Steakhouse for example. That's five dollars extra "free money" on every transaction. Because we use that one card for regular expenses like daycare and groceries, we usually can get two $50 gift cards every month in cash back rewards.

When I looked at our expenses before we started Financial Peace, I was shocked by how many $8 lunches at Chipotle my husband had racked up. Now he has started bringing his lunch to work instead of eating out every single day, but he can use that Chipotle gift card to eat lunch out at least once a week...essentially for free! The same goes for me and Panera Bread, since it is a mere two miles from my house and I often went there for coffee and a bagel or a take-out lunch when working from home. We also often head to Panera after church for a family lunch. I have cut back on meals out, but I feel great about being able to use my $50 Panera card to cover the occasional indulgence.

So this plan may not work for everyone, but it is definitely working for me. Got any similar tips for eating out on a tight budget?

Hope in a Dark World

One of the toughest questions that many people often ask religious folks is "How can there be a God that would allow so much suffering to go on in this world?" While I have never doubted that God exists, I have often asked lots of questions about what He's like and why He would allow certain things to happen. Is He really a loving and personal God or does He take a hands off approach to our lives? The Bible portrays Him as both loving and wrathful, both merciful and just. It can be pretty confusing. I personally have come to see that there is both happiness and hardship in life and in the whole world around me. It's not always where you expect it either, often times there is great sadness and pain in homes or even nations that appear to have it all, and there is definitely great joy and peace in some people that have had to endure unfathomable difficulty.

The answers aren't easy to find or easy to accept but through a lot of reading and prayer I have found some that satisfy me about the nature of God. The idea of a completely sovereign God gives me incredible peace even in hard circumstances. The idea of an eternal hope in Jesus Christ gives me unspeakable joy. This joy and peace are something I wish I could instantly transfer into people around me who I see suffering every day. So this leads me to a conversation I had with my 90 year old, brilliant grandfather the other night.

Me and my grandad, 30 years ago
We were talking about his neighbor having traveled to New Guinea, and he stated that he didn't think he'd ever have any interest in going there. This is from a guy that loves to travel and has seen a lot more of the world that most people. I said without hesitation that I would, and there I couldn't think of any place in this world I wouldn't want to see someday. I have a HUGE travel bug. He said, "But there is so much trouble in the world, in places all over. How would you keep that from making you really depressed?"

I thought about that. In reality, there is trouble right here at home in the U.S. But we do have it easy compared to say, people born in Kenya where our Compassion child, Mbeyu, is from. But I have seen through Kristen's blog that the children in the desolate slums of Kenya are joyful, especially those who have been told about Jesus. I have read in David Platt's book about Chinese Christians meeting in secret house churches to worship and devour the Bible, only to be thrown in jail and tortured for it. But they have hope, peace, and joy too.

So I told my granddad that I have an eternal hope in Jesus, I know that God is in every hard situation and is in complete control, and that I refuse to let circumstances dictate my emotional state. He said that was good, but he didn't think God wanted us to leave people in suffering, to not feel empathy for them. I agreed that He does not want us to never be concerned, but to have compassion and do everything we can to help, but without letting it make us overly anxious or fearful. We have to bring these problems to Him, in prayer, do what He wants us to do, but trust Him to take care of it. That may not mean the end of suffering in this life, but there will be an end to the pain for those who know Him someday. That's eternal hope.

11/07/2010

Blogger Night with the Houston Aeros!

A few weeks ago my family got a taste of how action packed a live ice hockey game is, so we were more than happy when Jamie from Love To Shop Mom invited us to a sponsored blogger night with the Houston Aeros. Jamie and Christina from Rant Rave Roll invited twenty Houston bloggers to the event last Friday night and put together some amazing swag bags for us to take home as well. This Friday night game was WAY more exciting that the Sunday afternoon game we attended on opening weekend.

Heading into the Houston Aeros Game
It was nice seeing Jamie and Christina again since Bloggy Boot Camp, and it's always nice to see my friend Stacey from Tree Root and Twig.
Jamie and Christina greeting bloggers
Our seats were fantastic and the best part was sitting right next to my friend Ellie's family. Her little girls are simply adorable. I enjoyed meeting Tricia, whose Designer Flea Market I attended with Elllie and Pam several months ago. 
Trish and Ellie

Ellie was one of three winners of a weekend rental from Classic Chevy in Sugar Land, which made her husband happy.

My kids had a blast, just like the last time we saw the Aeros. Our swag bags had customized M&Ms that said "Go Aeros" and lots of Pepperidge Farms Goldfish and cookies for the boys to snack on.  That was awesome since food at the Toyota Center is outrageously expensive.
My boys invade the swag bag

Nathan loves ice hockey!
Alex is ready for ice hockey action

And just to show you how crazy action packed an evening with the Houston Aeros is, check out this short video clip. 

11/05/2010

Fashion Friday, Premier Designs Party Time!

If you've never heard of Premier Designs jewelery, you are missing out. Tomorrow is Premier's 25th anniversary as a business, and I think that's something to celebrate. Last night I had my fifth Premier home show, or "bling fling" as I like to call them. I think the first one I ever had was when my friend Amy first became a Premier jewelry lady and needed someone to host her first show. She was fabulous and I was introduced to what is now my favorite high fashion jewelry company. I find that Premier has a huge and diverse selection, with a price point significantly lower than other home show jewelry companies such as Stella and Dot or Silpada.

Over the years I have collected a ton of pieces, but here are a few of my favorites that I still wear on a regular basis.

Warm gold jewelry is definitely back in style these days. Even though I almost never wear necklaces with pendants, on a whim I ordered the necklace below last year. I LOVE it. It is simple and goes with so many of my tops.  You may have seen me wear this in many of my previous vlogs. These earrings add just the right touch of sparkly gold as well.  I'm a big fan of medium sized dangly earrings.


Silver jewelry is still my mainstay, and for my many ladies nights out, bunco nights, etc I unfailingly wear this blingy stretch bracelet below. The tougher choice is usually the earrings or occasional necklace to choose with it. The earrings shown are the ones intended to match it, but I often go for simple crystal hoops instead. Often times the blouse I choose to wear has sequins or other beads near the neck and then I won't wear a necklace, so the bracelet is a perfect touch.


Also my Premier Designs watch goes with the silver jewelry, and the ring in the photo below. I wear that watch nearly every day and get constant compliments on it.


Lately I've been wearing a lot of dark black or charcoal gray jewelry and clothing. Gray is really really on trend this year in tops and sweaters, so I chose this super long chain, appropriately called Arabian Nights (all the Premier jewelry has really fun names) that I almost always wear tripled up as shown below.


Last night at the party we talked about and practiced jewelry layering, which is crazy stylish this year.  I'm bad at it, but my friend Pam is super awesome at layering, which she demonstrated to me during our photoshoot at Neiman Marcus a few weeks ago. This necklace below is really long and one that can be worn double up and layered with a lot of other things.  We also learned last night how to very simply make a ribbon necklace out of something like the one shown below. I may have to do a video tutorial post about how to do that, because it was a super cool trick.


So those are just a few of my extensive collection of Premier Jewelry, which I am about to add to with a new order.  The brand new pieces shown in the holiday gift catalog are especially awesome. Premier is not sold online, but it is very easy to find a local sales lady and host a home show, and when you do you not only have lots of fun with your friends, you get lots of free jewelry as well. Seriously if I didn't already have an engineering job and a photography business, I would become a Premier jewelry lady because it's fun and easy and they make a ton of money.  I know three Premier jewelry ladies very well so I know the potential.

So those are my thoughts this Fashion Friday! Tell me what your "go-to" pieces of jewelry are like.

11/04/2010

Best of Halloween Photography Thursday

Halloween is a great time to take lots and lots of photos. Smiles abound, costumes are colorful, and kids are eager to show off their disguises. For great snapshots of kids, try to remember a few simple photography tips, many of which I've written about previously.

How To Take Great Halloween Photos

  • Take it outside, or find a brightly lit window and turn off the flash. 
  • Aim for late afternoon or evening when the sun is low in the sky for the best light. 
  • For pint-sized portrait subjects, GET DOWN. Avoid shooting kids while you are standing up, looking down on them. 
  • If you have an aperature-priority mode on your camera, use it and set the F-stop low, like F2.8 or even F4 if you can't get lower. This gives the sharp face with a blurred background that can be so attractive. 
  • Fill the frame. You might want to capture the whole costume but I promise you will like a shot of just their face or head and shoulders more. 
Ok, so here are a few of my favorites from Halloween this year. We always have a neighborhood block party in the early evening before trick-or-treating which makes for awesome shots. Unfortunately I forgot my settings and several shots were not as good as I'd like, but the parents of the kids still loved them. 

My little Waldo
Batty Bat costume #1
Sad Elephant costume #2
Batgirl Ava
Snow White
Young Captian Jack Sparrow
Tween Geisha and Flapper
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in an Epic Battle

So there you have it. All photos are copyright Sarah Hubbell, Enlightened Photography. Do not copy or download or post anywhere else without express permission...which I am likely to give if you ASK

11/03/2010

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Alex's BikeYesterday was a pretty normal day for me. Some parts were great, like taking time to pick up my closest friend and take her to the YMCA and workout so we could catch up on several weeks of missed conversation. Some parts were not so great, like my three year old Alex deciding that he was not in the mood for his usual two hour nap. I force myself to choose not to get overly emotional and bent out of shape when the unexpected happens and things don't go my way.

Like when my husband calls from work and says he'll be late for the second night in a row. I choose to remember that this is very rare and I am lucky that he often comes home early. He is fortunate to have a job at all in this economy, let alone a satisfying job that provides for our family well.

I admit I was becoming slightly unraveled when he said he'd meet me at Wendy's for dinner before our weekly Financial Peace University class. The kids were full of energy and not their usual cooperative selves. So when I was stopped at a red light in heavy traffic and someone rear-ended me hard, I got pretty upset. I looked back and signaled for her to follow me as I tried to make my way out of the middle of a busy road. I wondered if I should call the police or ask the witness next to me to pull over as well. But we were all in a hurry to get somewhere.

I explained to the boys that we would be ok and tried not to say anything disparaging about her in front of them. I calmly parked the car and got out to look at the damage and waited. She walked up without saying a single word. Nothing. I looked a the torn bumper and said, as calmly and nicely as I could, "Yeah. I'm gonna need your information."

I even got out my own pen and paper, and waited, and waited while she fished around in her car. Eventually she came out with a business card with her insurance company and toll free number written on it. I asked for her address, to which she replied "Why would you need my address?". I was getting irritated, but stared at the card, thinking. I decided I had enough and handed her my card (my precious new blog biz cards, since I had none of my engineering cards on me) and I thanked her. She said "Your welcome" and literally sped off through the parking lot, in an obvious hurry to get out of there.

I admit, I was hopping mad that she didn't even apologize to me. But I tried hard to put myself in her shoes. She had obviously be very distracted while driving behind me. She was clearly in a huge hurry. Maybe she was late picking up a kid? Maybe she had just been yelled at by an important client. Maybe she was just too shocked to say anything to me. What if her life was a mess, a difficult, challenging situation? So few people are as blessed as I am, and I know that. I have not only a great life, I have an eternal hope in a sovereign God who loved me so much he sacrificed his only Son to have a relationship with me. What if she doesn't know that He did that for her too?

This is how I get past my anger, my pride. So next time someone wrongs you, try putting yourself in their shoes.
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