Ep. 79: Habit Stacking

Ep. 79: Habit Stacking

Ep. 79: Habit Stacking 1

Hey friend, welcome to today’s show. This whole year, we have been going through a lot of information, helping us create change in our lives without using a typical New Year’s resolution.

In my podcast, episode 75, we talked about why resolutions typically fail. And a lot of it is because we’re trying to do something that seems big and daunting. We just don’t know how to do it or how to stick with it.

And we’ve been really going through a lot of information based off of the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear, helping us figure out what are the mindset blocks we have, how do we change our environment?

And today we’re going to talk about habit stacking. So we’re going to start this off and I’m going to just tell you the story of a typical morning in my life.

So I wake up. Not to an alarm. And just when my body naturally wakes up. And one of the things that I do in the morning is we say to Echo, the Alexa device, we say

“Echo, good morning.”

And that queues Echo to tell us the weather for the day, it then reads to us, our devotion. Our church has a podcast that has a daily devotion on weekdays. And so we listened to that devotion. And so we’re starting our day praying, reading the Bible, hearing that devotion. During that time, it turns on the lights in our bedroom automatically.

And it’s not like the overhead lights, just the ones on the side, like our table lights and it’s, it’s just like, it helps me wake up in the morning. It’s it’s a really good start of the day.

So once that is done. My husband and I are talking to each other in bed and then I get my robe on and we make the bed together and I open up the blinds. So that is our morning routine. And that’s an example of habit stacking.

All of us wake up in the morning. We get to choose what we do next. And when you start creating habits, you think about the things that just automatically seem normal.

For example, when you go to the bathroom, this is something we all do. Hopefully you have a routine where you flush the toilet. You wash your hands and then you dry them. You don’t have to think about, “Oh, I just went to the bathroom. Maybe I should flush the toilet or I might just skip washing my hands.”

These are things that we just do so frequently and repetitively that one action of needing to go to the bathroom causes a chain of reactions.

So habit stack is when you take a habit you already have, and you tie it to new habits you want to have.

This is really powerful. You can intentionally stack habits with something that you already have on autopilot. Something that you do automatically, you don’t have to think about and you just add a new habit to what you already have as a regular habit in place.

Looking back at the example of our morning routine. James and I, we talked about what we want our morning routine to look like, because we wanted to start off our day well.

We want it to be relaxing. We don’t have an alarm. We typically wake up at the same time. Every day, we wake up at seven.

We realized we wanted to do a devotion together daily. And so we wanted to make it easy, something that would be taking all the reasons why we shouldn’t do it and all the reasons that hold us back out of the way. Having it just automatically have Alexa read it to us and listen to it without having to do anything was a game-changer for us.

And that’s been really helpful. And, we would get out of bed before we had this, this routine and I would always have to go look at my phone and check what the weather was because I wanted to dress according to the weather, and know what to look for for the day and be prepared.

And now I don’t have to have my phone in the room. I can have my phone charging in the living room. We have it underneath the kitchen cabinet, so it’s closed and it’s something that I don’t go and look at. And I know what the weather is, so I don’t have to use my phone right away.

There’s a lot of studies out there that show that when you use your phone in the morning, it starts you off on the wrong foot.

So that was hitting two things when we say Alexa, good morning. It tells us the weather and then it goes through that devotion for us.

We really liked adding the light to our room because it gently wakes us up. And it brought us to this more relaxed morning routine.

Another thing with our morning routine is we used to not make our bed. We probably have been making our bed for the last five years, maybe five or six. We used to feel like it was just a waste of time. But then we realized that it was much more inviting and our bedroom looks so much nicer with having a bed made, which is like an obvious.

And we noticed that when we were getting into bed, we’d have to make our bed so we could get into it because it would be all screwed up. So it would be making our bed anyways. So instead of waiting till the end of the day, We can enjoy it because we make the bed in the morning and it looks nice all day.

And then the last thing about our routine in the morning. Is that we put a plant in our bedroom. And so now. I open up the blinds each morning, because I want to make sure the plant has enough sunshine and it won’t die. I’ve realized that it makes a room much more cheery and bright.

All of these things were tied to a routine waking up in the morning. And what we did is we habit stacked all these different habits we wanted to have in the morning, like do a devotion in the morning. And not look at our phones right away, but we still wanted to know that the weather. All these different things. So we habit stacked in making our bed like making things routine, opening up the blinds. It becomes this thing that we do automatically now. And we don’t even have to think about it. It has simplified the process.

One of the things that James Clear says is,

“No matter how you use this strategy, the secret to creating a successful habit stack is selecting the right cue to kick things off.”

And I think that’s really important. So if you are wanting to change something in your life, you need to figure out what habit you already have that would be a good place to fit that new habit and stack it.

So if you want to create a, a daily habit, but you tie it to something that you don’t do on a daily basis. Maybe you drive your kids to school, but that’s only Monday through Friday and you want to tie something to that event on a daily basis, you’re not going to be doing it on the weekends. What kind of thing do you do every day that you could tie those habits to.

Think also about the timing of when you want that habit to occur and tie to something during that time of the day. Like, if you want to do it in the morning, maybe you sit down and eat breakfast in the same spot every day. We are creatures of habit to begin with so If you can start tying what you are currently doing to that it makes your life so much easier.

The last thing you need to make sure you do is you make it easy.

Us saying ” Alexa, good morning,” and it just tells us everything. We just lay there and we don’t have to do anything. It’s not like we are actively reading our Bible, we’re listening to it. We’re just absorbing it.

What things could you do to break down all of those barriers to make it really simple and easy?

Another thing that James Clear says is that:

“goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.”

Creating habits and stacking them is the system to get to the goals you want to have. It’s all those little tiny actions that create the success that you’ll eventually get.

What habits do you already have?

You probably don’t even have to think about them because they are so ingrained in your daily life, but try to think about how you could stack something new that you want to add into your routine.

So I want to give you some more examples. And most of these are from my own life.

For us, our breakfast, we have a lot of routines in our morning. When we sit down for breakfast, I have a bin that has all of our vitamins in it. It has our devotions. We do an M and M for each person. When say our breakfast benediction. I talked about on a previous episode.

What we do is we just pull that thing down and it has all the things that we need for the morning.

Once we have finished eating breakfast we do our morning devotion. And then we hand out the vitamins, to their kids and to us. And then we do our breakfast benediction. We recite that together and we give each other one M&M and then we’re done with our breakfast routine.

I was wanting to take vitamins on a daily basis and I wasn’t tying it to an event until we started tying it to breakfast.

Then we realized, we just make sure that when we are sitting down for breakfast, we do vitamins at the same time.

We started off doing devotions just with our kids in the evening time before bed. And then we started talking about it would be really nice to do devotions in the morning and at night. And so we started adding devotions into it.

Then we started adding in the breakfast benediction. It’s just been one habit stack on top of the other to, really figure out what type of morning routine we wanted to have.

Here’s another example, one thing that you hopefully should do at least twice a day is brushing your teeth. When you brush your teeth, you could use that time to get like a little bit of exercise, you could do squats during that time. You could pray, you could be silent and present and just brush your teeth and pay attention to it.

If you’re wanting to add just a little bit of workout in your day. Add it to your brushing of your teeth, or if you want to make sure that you are spending time with God and praying more frequently. Tie it to brushing your teeth. I mean, there’s things that you can do to really help you.

I’ve even noticed driving to certain locations, I’ll talk to the kids about different things. Like we’ll do some different homeschooling things while we drive, I’ll ask the kids, how many eggs are in a dozen.

Well, my daughter just figured out how many feet are in a mile. And what temperature is boiling and asking these questions. And we do that on our way to church.

We volunteered at the food bank and so we do that on the way there, and it’s tied to that routine. We do that once a week going there. That has become a routine for us because it’s a habit stack where we do this on Wednesdays. We don’t do it on the typical days because we’re not driving anywhere. We’re normally at home.

But you can tie things to different things that you do.

One of the things, when my daughter was going to public school, I was riding my bike and we have a cargo bike. And so I would ride our kids to school each day and I would pray out loud over both of our kids on the drive there. That was something that I created into this routine because I was going there every day and I tied that to something I was already doing.

One thing you could do too, is think about you go to the bathroom frequently. Maybe at the beginning of the day, you wipe the counters with the Lysol wipe, and then you wash your hands after it making sure your bathroom was a little bit cleaner.

It’s just these little things that once you start doing them, it compounds.

Maybe when you wake up and you turn off the alarm, you go and you make your bed right away. And then you open the blinds.

For cleaning, this is something I’ve really tried, figuring out different routines and habit stacking to make things easier.

Like when I am making a meal, instead of waiting till the end of the meal to put things away, putting things away as I go. When I take something out, I put away afterwards, even if I might have to pull it out again it’s worth it for me to just continually be putting things back into the original place. And That has become a routine that I don’t even have to think about anymore.

Another thing is when we have the dishwasher unloaded, we try to unload it as quickly as possible, and then just fill it up with all of the dirty dishes. So there’s not dirty dishes hanging out in the sink. Because I’ve realized that when I have dirty dishes in the sink, then we have pots and pans that are dirty and I don’t have room to wash them. And it just becomes this cycle of having a really messy house.

And so doing some little things right at the beginning, creating some habits and then stacking them with things that you already are doing, just makes life a lot easier.

One thing, when you go into your house, having a routine where you hang up your keys in the same place, you put your shoes away, all of these things, it sounds like common sense, but how can you tie things to what you already are doing?

Maybe you don’t have those routines in place. How can you start doing that? And a lot of it is just putting things in place to really help you be successful and just doing one little thing at a time.

These habits are really small. But those small habits make a huge impact on your life. When you look at it for the rest of your life because they become routine. And then you can add more of these little habits that help you get into the direction you want to go.

Okay. I have one more example for you.

So when you’re making a meal and you’re plating your food, maybe your goal is to always put vegetables on your plate first, because you want to eat more vegetables. Doing those little things will help you get healthier. And that’s just a little tiny habit that you can stack onto what you already do.

You already are putting food on your plate. Why not just start putting things in your favor and stacking those habits.

So, the homework that I have for you today. I want you to come up with some ideas on how you can create a habit stack that will get you closer to becoming the person you want to become.

Think about a routine that you already have. Maybe it’s your morning routine or your evening routine. If you have kids, these are the routines I would go and look at first.

Try to figure out how you can automate a lot of these things.

Our evening routine. When people come to our house, they probably think we’re like the craziest people in the world because what we do in our house, like James has made our house very tech savvy and everything’s automated.

One of the things that we do is at 7:42, the lights flicker in our house. And so they just like pulsate. And when people come to our house, they’re like, what on earth is going on? Because the lights just start going a little crazy.

And then that’s just the warning that an announcement is coming. And then Alexa, through our whole house goes and says,

It’s time to get ready for bed. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

And then there’s a six minute timer and our kids know that when the lights flicker, they’re already bolting out going and getting ready for bed and they wanna beat that six minute timer.

We don’t have to be the ones telling them, okay, it’s time for bed. Bedtime’s getting close. We don’t have do any of those warnings. We’re automating it. We’re stacking these different habits to help them get their stuff done and putting it on this timer and we’re making those routines just simplified.

Most people who are parents they really struggle with the morning and the evening routines.

Think about which one is bugging you the most. What is just driving you crazy? What could you tweak on your morning or your evening routine that will really help your family? It will help you feel more sane, more fulfilled.

How can you stack some new habits that you want to create? Maybe you want to make sure that you have devotion time with your kids, but you just haven’t set it up and it doesn’t seem like you can be consistent. How can you tie it with your bedtime prayers or even maybe you don’t have a bedtime prayers and you want to start implementing it.

How can you start creating a routine that will work for your family?

And it’s going to look different than mine, and it’s going to look different than your friends.

Come up with something that will really work for you and hopefully today’s episode has given you some ideas.

This is endless. You can do so many different things when you start stacking these habits and those little things will make a world of difference in your life.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s show. I’m so glad that you’re here and make sure you tune in to next week’s show.

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Ep. 75: Why New Year’s Resolutions Typically Fail

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Hey friends. Thank you so much for tuning into today's show. We are so close to 2022. I know for the majority of the human population, we just view this new year, every new year as just a fresh start. And I think that's such an amazing thing. I think we sometimes put...

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Ep. 79: Habit Stacking

Ep. 79: Habit Stacking

Hey friend, welcome to today's show. This whole year, we have been going through a lot of information, helping us create change in our lives without using a typical New Year's resolution. In my podcast, episode 75, we talked about why resolutions typically fail. And a...

read more

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Ep. 75: Why New Year’s Resolutions Typically Fail

Ep. 75: Why New Year’s Resolutions Typically Fail

Ep. 75: Why New Year's Resolutions Typically Fail 2

Hey friends. Thank you so much for tuning into today’s show. We are so close to 2022. I know for the majority of the human population, we just view this new year, every new year as just a fresh start. And I think that’s such an amazing thing. I think we sometimes put off all these things we want to work on until the New Year.

We’re just trying to, you know, like Just enjoy our lives and then like, oh, we’re just going to start working out. We’re going to start eating healthier. We’re going to start doing X, Y, and Z when it hits the New Year, like there’s just this magical button by changing the calendar over to the next year that, that something’s going to just change. Think about the New Year’s resolutions you have set in the past.

Maybe the ones that you want to have this upcoming year. Like we all have these ideas of what we want to become. During the new year season, we start really thinking about like who we want to be and what our identity is. And I think that’s something that’s really powerful and a wonderful time to really start reflecting on who we are and what we want to become, because most of us are not fully satisfied with where we’re at in life. We want to be better in different ways, but we don’t know how to actually get there. A lot of times we just focus so much on who we want to become, and we don’t actually take the time to think about the wins that we had this past year.

And so I want you to just not try to fast forward into 2022, but also rewind and look back at the wins and the failures you had this past year in 2021. And I think this is a really important practice to do every year, because it’s really easy to just always feel like, oh, I’m just not good enough.

I needed to do this, this and this. And you don’t realize how far you’ve come. When you look back, you can just see things that you might not have noticed. When it comes to even prayer we ask God for all these different things. And then when he gives it to us, we just keep moving on and we don’t remember the promises and how he fulfilled the prayers that we asked.

And I think that’s how we, how we live our lives is that we have such a short term memory. We’re just trying to move forward and we forget about the good things that we’ve had.

So, I want you to imagine what you want this upcoming year to look like. And I want you to think of this in all the realms of your life, not just with your finances.

With your finances maybe you want to start saving more, investing, paying off debt. Maybe you want to start eating less refined sugar. Maybe you want to be a person who tells people positive things when you think about it in your head, instead of just keeping it to yourself, you want to actually say it out loud. Maybe you want to make sure you don’t overdraft this year.

Maybe you want to be a person who runs a couple times a week. Someone who budgets and has a plan for their money. Maybe you want to be a person who plays board games with their kids every Sunday night. Maybe you want to be a person who watches less TV, who reads a book every month, who goes and hangs out with their friends.

There’s so many different things you can think of, but I want you to just imagine what you want this upcoming year to look like.

I know I’ve looked back at my own new year’s resolutions and the things that I write down, there’s a lot of times that I just go through and I just type out every single thing I want to change in my life.

And I look at that and it’s just absolutely overwhelming.

You hear so many people that they don’t even reach their new year’s resolutions. Like maybe they do it for a week or two and they just give up. But why, why do resolutions typically not work?

If we want to be a person that changes and progresses and turns out to be a better version of ourselves, if we follow the regular new year’s resolutions, how can we actually avoid the pitfalls?

So that’s what we’re going to be talking about.

One of the things that really makes it challenging with doing a New Year’s resolution is that a lot of times they aren’t sustainable. We’re just saying like a blanket thing. Like I want to be healthy or I want to lose 30 pounds this year. We can say those things, but like, how do you actually put that into practice?

There are a lot of little things that we need to do to change our identity and change who we are to be able to meet those goals and not just give up because we have our own habits and the ways that we live our life and normally new year’s resolutions are doing something counter to what we’ve done in the past. And so it’s hard to make big changes.

Then one other reason why resolutions rarely work is that we have this mentality. It’s like go big or go home. We have all these things we want to change. And when we don’t make them or becomes too challenging we just give up. It’s really easy that it’s like, if we fail or we screw up and we eat a piece of cheesecake when we’re not supposed to that, we just want to say like, okay, well I’m done.

I, I’m not good at this. And just live your life as normal. And you don’t reach that resolution, that goal that you had for yourself.

And another reason why resolutions rarely work is that they don’t change our identity. We are trying to become someone we’re not, but we don’t actually believe what we’re trying to do.

And let me just give you an example. So, my husband and I have been reading Atomic Habits. It’s a really good book for helping you figure out how to make small changes in your life that actually are sustainable. And to change the way that you go about setting goals and actually reaching them.

It’s a great read so I would highly recommend reading it if you haven’t done so already as Atomic Habits by James Clear.

I want to give you, a little snippet from his book, Atomic Habits, and I love the name atomic habits, because you think of an Adam, it’s something that’s really tight. And what we’re doing is we’re just changing our habits in a very small level.

And so when you do it at this micro level, it helps you to completely transform who you are instead of just being totally overwhelmed and just giving up.

So here it is:

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

I really love this quote because I can think of things that I believe about myself. And I’m guessing you do too, that you just feel like this is who I am. And then when you try to do something different from that, you have to just have some wins that you see like, oh, I actually am able to do this.

For me, I really struggle with being a person who works out consistently. And I wouldn’t say that I’m great at it. And one thing that I’ve always felt like, oh, I’m just not athletic. I have these mindsets inside me that like, well, I’m not athletic, so I can’t do sports. And then I’m becoming like this negative Nancy that is becoming this self- fulfilling prophecy, because I feel like, well, I’m not athletic. I just, I can’t do this.

What I’ve started to do is at night time after the kids go to bed, I do some pushups and I do some stretches and I use like resistant bands. It’s nothing like super crazy, but I just do a little bit every day and I’m been trying to add like one more pushup a week, something that’s like, oh, I can go and do this faster than I used to. Like, I I’m feeling like I’m getting stronger, not by a ton, but by a little, and I’m making these small changes. And so I’m now starting to work on transforming my viewpoints of, well, I actually do work out sometimes and I’m trying to do this every day. So I’m doing at least something, even if it’s a short bit of time to make me stronger each day.

Taking those little actions helps me change my identity. It gives me evidence that maybe I’m not this completely unathletic person and I can work on changing. It’s not like I have this fixed person that I am just unathletic, I’ll never be able to throw a ball in my life kind of thing.

And I’m sure you can probably come up with some ideas for yourself of like, are there things that about yourself that you feel like this is who I am and you want to change it, but you need to have some little wins that shows you that you actually can be this person you want to be.

Another reason why resolutions rarely work is that we, we don’t know how to put the resolutions into practice. Like a lot of times we’ll say like, well, I want to lose 30 pounds or whatever it is, but then there’s a lot of different ways you can go about doing that and actually going through the details, like how do I make this work on a, on a weekly basis, daily basis?

How does that affect my grocery shopping? What I have in my pantry, my fridge, my freezer, working out all of those things, like it, it has a lot of little pieces. And I think a lot of times we don’t just go into the details of like, how do I actually put this into practice?

How do you eat an elephant is like this giant thing you feel like you don’t even know how to do it. But it’s one bite at a time. Like you need to figure out how you can make this into a bite sized piece to actually be able to change who you are.

Another reason why resolutions rarely work is that we run out of motivation.

We feel like we need to have this crazy amount of self control to be able to do it. Like for me, I went, I remember I was like, I think three months without having sweets. And I love sweets and it was such a challenge for me. I was surprised that at the end of it, I didn’t even feel like I wanted sweets anymore.

You get changed when your motivation is strong. But a lot of times we just run out of motivation. We’re trying to do this maybe for the wrong reasons. Maybe we are doing this by ourselves and we don’t have any support. There’s a lot of reasons why we just become unmotivated.

It’s just not fun anymore.

And another reason is that we get bored. If we’re trying to do something. It’s just like, Ugh, this isn’t fun anymore. This isn’t enjoyable. It’s boring. We just want to give up.

James Clear who wrote the Atomic Habits. He talks about this and he says,

“the greatest threat to success is not failure, but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stopped delighting us. The outcomes become expected. And as our habits become ordinary, we start derailing our progress to seek novelty.”

We think about that. Like, we want something new. We want something that seems exciting and it’s really easy to just get bored with things.

They’ve done tests of how we have the attention span of less than a goldfish now. Our attention spans are so puny from what they were decades in the past. And I think a lot of it is like, we just are being bombarded by so many things all the time and we’re in this go, go, go, go, go mentality.

And it’s hard to not get bored with what we’re doing, especially if it’s not something that’s easy.

So in the next several episodes, we’re going to go in- depth on how to make lifestyle changes that will actually stick.

We’ve been going through this mini series, helping you set up your finances, and this is part of it.

If you want to actually create habits that will sustain you so that way you can actually get out of debt, you can work on saving and having an emergency fund and investing.

All of these things take some time and intentionality. And we need to have these set up. So that way we can actually have financial freedom.

We are doing the Debt Dump Challenge. It’s coming up really soon, January 10th through the 14th. It’s a free challenge. It’s five days and it’s really actionable content. So there’s one a day for five days in a row. And I’m just going to be giving you some really important information that will help you go through and actually do something about it and set yourself up so you can get out of debt.

That’s helping you change your identity. Help you create a resolution that you actually will be able to do, setting you up for success.

if you would love to be part of this challenge, I really hope you are. Please go to debtdumpchallenge.com and you can sign up. Tell your friends, your relatives, anyone, you know, that really wants to get out of debt.

This is amazing challenge to really set you up for success. And if you have more people joining you like that is companionship, and it helps you to actually go and show up and do this. Okay. And so it’s five days, so it’s not going to be something that’s just totally overwhelming. It’s absolutely doable.

Going back to what we talked about today, I want to leave you with some actual ideas and some tips to help you set yourself up for this upcoming year. Instead of setting some new year’s resolutions that you write down. And then two weeks later, you abandon and forget. And then you think about it at the end of December of 2022. And you’re like, oh, I never reached that. Instead of having all these lofty goals and not ever attaining them. How can we actually make them? This week, I want you to reflect on this past year. Because if you don’t pay attention to what has happened in the past, you’re not going to set yourself up for success in your future.

Reflect on the highs and lows. This year has been a pretty crazy year. I know for us, it has been a lot of ups and downs. For so many people with COVID and everything, it has been a very challenging year in itself. Really two years that it’s been just a lot.

And I think it’s easy to try to forget about it, but I want you to pay attention.

Instead of just rushing into your resolutions, let’s, let’s figure out like, what were you successful with this past year? Because when you see how you are successful, that will help you to see how you are actually able to reach the goals that you want to reach.

Also look at where have you been, so you know, where you want to go in the future.

What happened this year. What stood out to you?

For me, there were a lot of big things that happened. My daughter had MIS-C. We were in the hospital.

For five days during Christmas last year. Being able to be home this Christmas was just a breath of fresh air and I am so grateful for it compared to what I’ve had in the past. And I think when, when you go through trials, you are able to experience different things than you ever have before.

And there’s good things that come out of it. When I look at what we went through and we had to be quarantined for eight weeks and weren’t able to leave our home and, and how we were able to have, just a lot of really strong relationships and friendships grow this past year, how we’ve had changes in job situations and changes in all kinds of different things.

Like I’m homeschooling my kids that started in January of last year. Our life has changed a lot in a short amount of time and looking back at what were the wins, what were the things that we really struggled with? How can we learn from the mistakes we made this past year? So we don’t make them again.

Think about your wins, your losses. And then I want you to also think about what are some things you want to continue that you started this year.

For us, one of the things that we started this year was really working on practicing a Sabbath. That’s really just focusing on having a 24 hour set of time each week, where we just really slow down and we’re trying to connect with God with our family.

We unplug from movies, from TV, from our phones, and really just work on connection. And that has been a huge, amazing thing that we started this year that we’re going to continue. And so looking back at the things that really went well.

How are you going to, to make that work for this upcoming year?

And then also, I want you to think about what didn’t work well this past year that you don’t want to carry on to this, this upcoming year. Maybe you are so busy and overwhelmed that it’s too much. What can you do and say no to so that way that doesn’t happen, this upcoming year.

Reflect on this past year and it takes some time to do this, and I would recommend doing this through a conversation with your spouse if you’re married.

If you’re not married, talk to a friend or a sibling or a parent or someone who you’re close with that, you can really just have a conversation. You don’t have to write all of this down, but I think a lot of people, it helps to just verbally process it. And when you talk about these highs and the lows of this past year, you’re going to be able to have a grateful heart. It will bring up a lot of things that you might not like and some things that you really are like, man, this was amazing. Those things can really help.

You could even go through and look at your photos from this past year.

I normally make a calendar every year using our photos, like a personalized one, and going through and looking at the pictures of the past year is just such a, a reminder of all the good things that happened. And it helps me to remember, oh these little small insignificant moments, at least I, I thought that they were insignificant and looking back, I’m like, oh, this is such a good memory.

And it helps you to just revisit those things. So maybe you want to do something like that, that you, you really just go through and start looking at those photos and using that as a way to remember the good things that you had this past year.

Overall, I just want you to really pay attention to what happened this past year and what you want to continue for 2022 and what you want to just say no to. Use that as your measure to figure out what you want your next year to look like.

The next several episodes are going to really help you put those into practice. So thank you so much for tuning in, and I will see you next week.

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MIS-C Symptoms & 3 Things You Need to Know from My Daughters Diagnosis

MIS-C Symptoms & 3 Things You Need to Know from My Daughters Diagnosis

The Diagnosis: Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Christmas with MIS-C

I never would have dreamt that my six-year-old daughter’s fever and vomiting would land her into a five-day stay at the Boise Children’s Hospital during Christmas. 

At first, I wasn’t overly concerned with my daughter’s symptoms. We already had COVID-19 a month prior, so whatever she had must be just a bug.

I was so wrong.

After a six-hour ER visit with an IV for fluids, ultrasounds, heart x-rays and the works, my daughter and I were taken by ambulance to the nearest Children’s Hospital. 

The Symptoms of MIS-C

One of the first questions the doctor at the Children’s Hospital asked was if Selah has had COVID. 

“We all had it in the middle of November,” I told her.

I tested positive for COVID-19, but the rest of my family didn’t get tested. Selah was barely sick then. She only had a fever for a couple of hours and that was about it. Meanwhile, I had it bad, I felt like I had been hit by a freight train.

The doctor told us that in rare cases, 4-6 weeks after having Covid, some children become very sick with fever, vomiting, rashes and an inflammatory response in their organs.

The timeline and symptoms added up. Selah was diagnosed with MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children). 

Typically, children who contract COVID-19 experience mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. However, a small portion of children who are infected with COVID-19 end up developing MIS-C, a life-threatening condition that can affect a child’s heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, and other organs.  (intermountainhealthcare.org)

I had never heard of MIS-C. I just sat there in disbelief with no battery left in my phone to contact my husband. I was in shock.

If I’d known I’d be spending the night at the hospital, I would’ve packed a toothbrush, but all I had was a water bottle. I was so unprepared for this.

Feeling clueless, I had no idea what to expect with this diagnosis. We were about to embark on a whole new journey I never wished to be on.

I watched my daughter get poked and prodded countless times, she was put on oxygen, had fluid in her lungs, was given an infusion and was monitored every 15 minutes. 

My daughter’s experience with MIS-C hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows.  It’s felt more like a hailstorm on a hot summer day -so unexpected and yet so damaging.

It was downright scary trying to sleep on the uncomfortable hospital sofa bed while her monitor would ding because her heart rate wasn’t consistent. Nurses and doctors would rush in throughout the night to check vitals, do tests, and administer medication.

I’ve never been in the position of seeing my daughter this sick ever. Oh, I wish I could have taken her place. I felt utterly helpless. Yet, my six-year-old daughter was so strong and brave. 

Because of COVID-19 precautions, only one parent can come and visit at a time and no one else is allowed in. Thankfully, my mom came into town to take care of our son, so my husband and I could take turns being with Selah at all times.

We were like ships in the night, running on little sleep and big doses of emotional exhaustion. I longed to process everything that was going on with my husband. But it felt like we were in a baton race, only having time for a quick embrace before switching shifts.

Treatment for Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children

All my plans for Christmas went flying out that hospital window. Christmas of 2020 will be one that I’ll never forget- spending the best holiday of the year in the hospital will hopefully never be repeated!

My sweet family of four weren’t allowed to be in the same room, but we made the best of it and took turns with our little girl. We made FaceTime calls to family and friends.  Videos were sent to Selah to cheer her up and wish her a Merry Christmas. Our friends brought us a delicious Christmas dinner that made our day feel more festive than eating the less-than-appetizing hospital meal. 

After a five-day stay in the Children’s Hospital, we were finally able to take our sweet girl home. Driving home felt like freedom. Tears welled up in my eyes as I recounted what we had just been through. I was so glad she was well enough to go home. We could celebrate Christmas together as a whole family, and our kids could actually be in the same room. When we arrived at home, Selah started opening some Christmas presents, but she was too exhausted and just fell asleep.

Reye’s Syndrome: The Risks That Come with MIS-C’s Treatment

Before we were discharged from the hospital, the doctor told us the risks our daughter will have with the medications they prescribed her.  We have to be super careful that Selah doesn’t get the flu or chickenpox. With the heart medication she is on, she is at risk of getting Reye’s Syndrome.

Reye’s (Reye) syndrome is a rare but serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain. Reye’s Syndrome most often affects children and teenagers recovering from a viral infection, most commonly the flu or chickenpox. (mayoclinic.org)

I had never heard of Reye’s Syndrome before (I’m so not a medical professional). It’s super rare, but can cause permanent physical and mental disabilities, and has a 30% fatality rate.

Gulp, that’s super comforting for a parent to hear. 

So, the doctor said the best way to keep Selah healthy and lessen her risks is to quarantine ourselves and wait three days before anything comes into our home while she is on her medication.

We took our doctors advise seriously, and made some big changes, since her prescription was for at least 6-8 weeks.  It’s not worth messing around with our daughter’s health.  Their hope is that Selah will feel back to normal within two months. 

Tough decisions had to be made. We decided to pull Selah out of public school, so she would not have added exposure.  Plus, we wanted her to have consistency in school for the rest of the year.  So now, I am a homeschooling mom which has been a big change, and a good one.  

My husband works from home only now, which is quite a shift from before. We are all home now 24/7, which has actually been really nice and challenging.

Right now we are over three weeks past her diagnosis, and she still isn’t herself yet.  We have people visit outside our window and when they bring gifts or groceries, we wait three days before any items can enter our home. 

Selah still has side effects from the steroids she was on.  She doesn’t look like herself, but she’ll get there. It’s a slow journey.

Rare and Unknown Disease

The Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children diagnosis has been a roller coaster ride in the hospital and at home. MIS-C is scary for a multitude of reasons, especially since this new disease is so new.  The unknowns of the disease are a hard pill to swallow. Doctors are scrambling to understand it, and they have no idea if there are lasting repercussions. 

Because MIS-C has only recently been identified, the medical community is still trying to understand what causes it, as well as why it appears to affect only children. […] Fortunately, it is also rare, and the vast majority of children affected by it survive. (yalemedicine.org)

No one will know if there are lasting ramifications from MIS-C for the next several years. I’m hopeful that she won’t get this again or have any other health issues from having this new disease.

MIS-C Symptoms are important to know

Now, I wanted to share our story not so that you feel sorry for us or to freak you out.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but the more you know what to look for with your child, the quicker the diagnosis and recovery process will be. My hope is that I can help you know what to look for so if you are in the position we were in with your own child, you’ll know what to do.

Here are some important things you should know about MIS-C:

1. If your family has COVID, pay attention to your kids in the next 4-6 weeks.

It’s important to know the timeline for MIS-C, especially if your child has had COVID or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive.

MIS-C typically doesn’t show up for four to six weeks after first being infected with COVID-19. (intermountainhealthcare.org)

Honestly I was in disbelief that this was all from COVID, especially since she had such a mild COVID-19 case.  But after talking to so many specialty doctors, they said most of the kids with MIS-C had a very mild case of COVID-19 or didn’t even know they had it at all.

If I were you, I’d mark my calendar four to six weeks out, so you can start looking for any symptoms your children may have during that time period. 

2. MIS-C symptoms are all across the board.

The trouble with MIS-C is that it looks very different depending on each child.  Here are some symptoms to look for:

Patients with MIS-C usually present with persistent fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, mucocutaneous lesions and, in severe cases, with hypotension and shock

[…]

Not all children will have the same signs and symptoms, and some children may have symptoms not listed here. (cdc.gov)

My daughter had a fever that wouldn’t go away, vomiting, and she had rashes that look like targets. MIS-C looks most similar to Kawasaki disease and that is how doctors have been determining how to treat it. The range of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children cases vary, but the worse cases lean more towards Kawasaki-like symptoms.

If you’re like me, you probably have never heard of this rare disease.

Kawasaki disease causes swelling (inflammation) in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. It primarily affects children. The inflammation tends to affect the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. (mayoclinic.org)

Selah’s lips would change colors, her tongue looked like a strawberry and was dotted, and her eyes were red.  Those are all classic Kawasaki markers.

3. If MIS-C is misdiagnosed or isn’t treated quickly, it can cause permanent damage.

I first called my daughter’s pediatrician, but they didn’t have any openings for appointments. If you can’t get into your child’s pediatrician, go to the ER especially if your child is dehydrated.

If you think that your child has MIS-C, you should contact your child’s doctor or pediatrician immediately. […]

A child experiencing serious illness should not delay in getting care and should immediately seek attention from their nearest emergency room. (chla.org)

The ER is the place to go if you think your child may have MIS-C.  Urgent Care is not equipped to do much with kids.  Plus, my husband spoke with a local urgent care doctor, and they had never heard of MIS-C. I’m so glad we skipped the Urgent Care and had a quick diagnosis from the Children’s Hospital.

If you suspect your child might have any of the MIS-C Symptoms, talk to their medical provider and bring it up.  The sooner the diagnosis, the quicker the treatment, and the better likelihood of positive recovery.

MIS-C Has Given Us Perspective

I hope you don’t have a personal experience with MIS-C, like we have. It’s been a difficult journey, but there have been many hidden blessings within it.  MIS-C has forced us to slow down, figure out our priorities, and become closer as a family

We have had so much support, prayers, and have felt very loved through the whole process.  Even with a not-so-pleasant diagnosis, we can see some good in it.  It’s a matter of perspective. 

MIS-C has been a reset for us. 

A good reset. 

A hard reset.

It’s given me the chance to take a deep breath, love on my children, and to cherish their health.

4 Reasons Why You Are Not Good with Money

4 Reasons Why You Are Not Good with Money

4 Reasons Why You Are Not Good with Money

Do you believe that you are not good with money? Did you learn how to spend and save money at school?  Did you ever have a class in high school that talked about debt, interest, investments, and practical money tips?  

Well, I didn’t and most of us aren’t taught or exposed to how to deal with money in a positive way.  Most schools completely neglect to teach personal finances, how to balance a checkbook and basic money-management skills.

If children aren’t taught about finances and how to manage money wisely by their parents, they are going to have to learn the hard way. It’s not a surprise that most people make financial mistakes, especially when they are young, because they just don’t know any better.

 

4 Reasons Why You Are Not Good with Money 3

I remember during my first week of college there were tables set out by a few locals banks.  They were trying to reel in all the incoming freshman and any other college students with credit cards by using some cheap bait.  They tried to woo all of the broke college students with a free 6″ Subway sandwich and I almost fell for it.  A $3 sandwich was the entry point into a heap of financial mess.  

Banks and credit unions know that college students are an ideal target audience.  College students are young and finally have some independence.  Plus, they have no money and are paying for expensive tuition, books, food, and living expenses for the first time.  Of course, they’ll draw these newbies in with an offer they can’t resist even if it’s a frisbee or a crappy T-shirt they’ll never wear.

Now, I know laws have changed and banks and credit card companies can’t go onto campuses like they once did offering frisbees and subs for new sign-ups.  The CARD act is good first step. But how often do we get sucked into some ‘amazing offer’ that really isn’t that amazing?  If we don’t know any better, we’ll probably make a lot of poor financial decisions just like a typical college student.

4 Reasons Why You Are Not Good with Money

ONE

Lack of Financial Knowledge

Knowledge is power if acted upon.  If children, teenagers, and even adults for that matter learned the in’s and out’s of how money works and principles for building wealth, our society would change. 

Could you imagine if people were educated on the power of compound interest in terms of investments and debt? The amount of debt and financial blunders would most likely decrease or be completely avoided.

People would literally run away from every cash advance store in the country.  Maybe people would fully understand how much interest their student loans will accumulate over time.  Fewer people would run themselves into debt.

So, if you don’t know much about money management, immerse yourself in research.  You can find most answers online.  Check out my posts and other resources that will help you understand these concepts more.  And if you know someone who is good with their finances, ask them what they are doing.  I’m sure they would love to share and be a support to you.

 

TWO

 Schools Don’t Require Financial Literacy

Schools aren’t equipping students to understand and manage finances either. There are only five states in the U.S. that require all high schoolers to take a personal finance class.  Those five states are Utah, Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia. Clearly, this is a problem. It’s no surprise that most people are not good with money, because they weren’t taught about finances.

We can’t rely on schools to teach children everything they need to know in life.  As a parent myself, I want to educate my kids on finances because it’s important.  I want to equip my children to be able to excel in life and in the real-world.  So, I need to help prepare them by teaching them about personal finance. If they know better, they’ll more likely do better.

In an ideal world, all states would require personal finance classes and parents would also teach their children money-management skills at home.  But we all know that the likelihood of that happening is as like winning the lotto.

So if you’re a parent, make it YOUR job to teach your children how to manage money wisely, because you can’t expect them to learn these skills at school.  And the best way to teach these skills is by modeling them to your children and explaining to them what you are doing.

Let your kids watch you create a budget, calculate a tip at a restaurant, write a tithe check, pay bills, and the list goes on.  The more we equip our kids to be competent adults, the better.

 

THREE

The Majority of Americans Can’t Pass a Basic Financial Literacy test

In fact, more than two-thirds of adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test. That means that the majority of Americans don’t understand the math behind interest and other financial principles. It’s no wonder that people are drowning in debt and the weight of their financial choices. If you don’t understand financial principles, of course, your going to make some bad financial decisions.

Most people start making poor financial decisions when they leave their parents home. What would our world look like if high school students understood how taking out student loans will affect their lives?

I know so many people who regret taking out student loans on a degree they’ve never used. It’s downright tragic. The US has $1.5 trillion in student loan debt and 45% of those millennials wish they would’ve never taken out student loans in the first place.

Take some time to look at the interest rate you’re paying (debt) and earning (investments).  Look at the math and see if you need to make changes.  You might want to check into a financial advisor that will help you look at your finances and help you get to where you want to go.  This is a financial advisor I’d recommend, Liftoff Financial Planning.

FOUR

We Are Taught That We Shouldn’t Talk About Money

One of the biggest reasons why people struggle with money is because we don’t talk about it.  We need to quit making money a taboo subject and start talking about how to manage our finances wisely. 

People put money in the same category as politics and religion as a big no-no to bring up. This is yet another reason why most Americans have little to no financial knowledge base.

If people felt comfortable talking about money, they would be more likely to ask for help and ask questions.  It’s just assumed that you just figure out money on your own, but it really doesn’t work that way.  Finances are complicated.  There are many different facets like investing, saving money, retirement, real estate and so much more.

So don’t shy away from talking about money.  Ask questions.  Talk with people who know more than you.  Read and research what has you stumped.  And if you’re married, TALK to your spouse about money.  Look at your finances together, because you don’t want money to be the divide between you and your spouse.

Needless to say, we shouldn’t be silent when it comes to finances. The way we spend and save money must be addressed because money impacts every area of our lives. I wish this wasn’t the case, but finances make a daily impact on us and it’s our job to manage our finances well.  

It’s time to stop saying that we are not good with money. You can have a different future. You can stop generational poverty in your family.
Talk to your kids about money, ask people who are making wise financial decisions what they do, research on your own the topic.  Because if you want to see a better financial future for you and your children, you have to start being proactive.  

What is something you can start doing today to help your financial situation?  I’d love to hear your comment below!

 

Why We Paid Off Our House Early

Why We Paid Off Our House Early

Why We Paid Off Our House Early

Get your own Paid Off House

A paid off house sounds magical, right? For most of us, it just seems like a pipe dream or maybe not even a dream at all because the thought of a paid-off home seems unimaginable. Maybe you must be a unicorn or have some special powers to pay off your mortgage early.

Most people just wish to have a paid-off home before they retire so they are able to retire, but what would life look like if you could have a paid off house today? What would having a paid-off home give you the ability to do?

Could you go on that dream vacation to Greece? Would you be able to afford some things you’ve always wanted? Or maybe you wish you could be able to be more generous with your money and your time? Having a paid-off home gives flexibility and financial freedom.

Financial freedom looks different to each person. To some, that means being able to pay for whatever you want without caring how much it costs. For others, it means being able to work fewer hours, play more and be more present.

For me, financial freedom means that I don’t owe anyone anything and I’m not stressed by finances. Financial freedom would allow me to be generous when I see a need. It would give me the ability to live my life how I want to, without money being a roadblock.

 

Get a Paid Off House

I crave financial freedom, and I’m sure you do too. We all long for security, the ability to live our lives without the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. Finances impact every area of our lives, and sadly, most of us are held back by them.

The decisions we make about money profoundly changes our lives. This is why my husband and I have been on a journey of getting rid of every ounce of debt, including our mortgage.  And believe it or not, we’re debt-free! We didn’t get to this goal by accident or luck. We didn’t win the lotto or inherited money.  

Honestly, we’ve never had brag-worthy incomes that would make this goal an easy feat.  What we have had going for us is a stellar financial defence. What I mean by financial defence is that we are really good at saving money.  

Financial offense is the money you earn.  It doesn’t matter how good your financial offense is if your financial defense is not on par.  Financial defense wins the game. Here are a few of my articles that go more in depth on saving money: Live Like a College Student, The Phrase I Use to Curb Overspending, and How to Save 40% on Groceries Without Coupons.

My husband and I have had a clear goal and we are determined to change our financial destiny. We don’t have one big secret to help you be financially successful. Finances don’t work that way. Every little financial decision has an effect. That’s why I can’t pinpoint just one thing that has helped us more than anything to reach our financial goals.

A Good Financial Plan:

A good financial plan is a culmination of millions of everyday choices. The small choice of making coffee at home instead of purchasing it at a coffee shop can make a huge impact on your ability to save. Over time that consistent coffee shop purchase adds up. Our choices change our financial future and that’s why we need to start paying attention and being intentional with those decisions.

Now in the financial world, most people would’ve recommended that we should’ve invested into the stock market more instead of paying off our house early.  Their reasoning is that the interest rate you pay on your home is typically quite a bit less than you’ll make on your investments.  Yes, this is true.  But, we still invested and we’ll be able to invest quite a bit more when we have no monthly mortgage payment going out.

Or the other common reason people don’t pay off their home early is for the tax deduction.  When you actually do the math, keeping a mortgage for the tax benefit doesn’t add up. You’re only getting deducted from the interest you are already paying on your home.  It’s not a tax credit. But we took a different route.  

We didn’t want to just follow what the mainstream financial world recommended us to do.  We wanted to pay attention to what God says about money and He is very clear that debt isn’t good at all.  In fact, in Proverbs 22:7 it says, “The borrower is slave to the lender.”  That means that when I owe money to anyone or to the bank, I’m giving up my freedom and handing it over to someone else.  

Christ has set us free, but when we live in debt (being enslaved to the lender), we aren’t experiencing the full freedom given to us.  And that’s why we wanted to become debt free.  Now that we have no mortgage, we have more available finances to invest and use in other areas. 

If you want to here some of the tips that helped us pay off our home at 31 years old, check this out.  I’d love to hear about your financial goals.  What are you doing to make your financial future a brighter one?

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own

I’ve always been one of those girls that held onto my fancy and higher-end items and would never use it. I remember being given some Burt’s Bees lotion, but I thought it was too expensive and special to be used only on special occasions. It just became a decoration on my nightstand. Then after a long while (it might have been years later), I opened the bottle and poured out the lotion into my hand. It was brown and watery and smelled funny. That too-fancy lotion ended up going bad because it was never used. At that point, something dawned on me. How often do I hold onto items and never use them because they are too nice to use?

That lotion experience was quite an eye opener for me. Too often I don’t wear that nice dress because it’s just too nice. I don’t use my wedding serving utinsils because they are too special. My china is in a box in storage where it hasn’t seen the light of day in years. How often do we not enjoy the special and sentimental things that we own? Honestly, I’m getting a little better in this area but I still need some work.

Collecting Dust: My Journey to Love and Use What I Own 4

So how do we start to enjoy what we own instead of letting our stuff collect dust?

ONE

Scarcity Mindset

The more I contemplate my own tendency to not use the good stuff, I realize two key points. First, it shows a scarcity mindset. If you don’t know what a scarcity mindset is, it’s when you think and believe that there isn’t enough to go around. For example, phrases like, ‘I’ll never have enough money,’ ‘when will I ever be able to get this again,’ etc. Now back to the lotion example, I didn’t use it because I knew I wouldn’t spend the money to buy it again. It was special, so it was for display only. What a travesty. That displayed lotion ended up in the trash- that’s not too special.

I remember in college, one of my friends only ate on china. Yes, you heard me right. Real porcelain china, the kind your grandma passed down. I was in shock when I went to her home. She enjoyed her china plates and actually used them. I remember sitting down for a meal at her home and it felt so fancy and upscale. We don’t even use China for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and there she is using china everyday. When I look back at that experience, I want to be like my friend who actually used and enjoyed the fancy plates instead of storing them in a box in the attic.

TWO

 Don’t Wait for a Special Occasion

The second reason I think I’ve struggled with using my stuff up is feeling like it needs to be a special day or occasion to use it. Deep down, it really shows that I don’t think I’m good enough to use it right now. I’ve got to get over this. I need to wear the earrings that I got from my grandmother after she passed. She would want me to enjoy her things, and not just store them away because they are so valuable.

My daughter has nailed this!  She would get fancy dresses from her grandma every Christmas and Easter. Instead of only wearing her beautiful dresses just for the holidays or for church, she wears these fancy dresses to school or the library.  Her dresses get a lot of love and wear- which they should!  For her, wearing those dresses make her feel beautiful and special, so she wears them.

 

I’m ready to start using what I have and enjoying it right now. If I don’t use those nice items, they just become clutter. I want to honor those memories and the people who have given me lavish things. We aren’t meant to hoard, but to enjoy what we own. And I’m ready to start living that out!

Do you struggle with not enjoying and using what you own? What are some things you never use or wear because they are too special or valuable? Please comment below…