It’s Official!

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We went in and signed the papers. We now own a house. It almost didn’t happen. I was so sick with dread!

Seriously. It has been such a long process. I hope to never have to do it again. And if I do, I hope that it won’t be as complicated as it was this time. I hope I have cash. Wouldn’t that be amazing? If things go according to Dave Ramsey‘s plan, which Ranger and I are implementing (even though we’re not very good at it. We’re trying. We decided it was a good idea to get our finances in order since we just bought a house. Backwards, I know, but we realllllly needed to move),

Now… the work begins. There is so much to do.

Ready… Go!

White Coat

My dear friend Tammy is on her way to becoming a pharmacist. She invited me to her White Coat Ceremony, which is kind of a big deal, I guess. I don’t know much about the program, and a whole lot of the things they were saying was over my head, but I was glad I could be there for a friend. I’m also glad her sister was there and knew more about what was being said. She made great company.

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It must be a big deal. There are centerpieces made of prescriptions!

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and compounding bowls. I actually really like the centerpiece above. Simple, yet specific.

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There were a few speakers. Some invited the students to join the pharmacy fraternity or something like that. She used a lot of acronyms that were foreign to me. Another one spoke about becoming Alumni. Except he kept saying “Alumn,”  and it drove me NUTS! For the record, Alumn isn’t a word. Alum is, but it’s a chemical compound used to keep homemade pickles crisp (utterly unnecessary, if I do say so myself. At least in homemade pickles. And don’t even get me started on store-bought pickles. I dare you to look up what those ingredients really are). But I digress. I’m pretty sure that the speaker went with a grammatically incorrect (even if it is beginning to appear more rampantly) word so he didn’t have to worry about being politically correct (Alumni is gender specific. As is alumnus, alumnae and alumna. But I doubt anyone knows that. I’ve never deemed myself an alumna, but I have found camaraderie in the term “alumni”).

As part of the ceremony, the future pharmacists read a code of ethics.

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And then one at a time, they get their white lab coat.

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Congratulations Tammy!

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After the ceremony, we went out for ice cream. I’ve grown really close to these two, and count them pretty much as family. They are 8 years apart, and I am right in the middle of them. Tammy’s older than me, Chrissy’s younger than me. They’re great examples of what sisters should be and what friends should be.

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Education and the Natural Man

I’ve been noticing a theme lately in my study of what is education. That theme is the difference between learning and the natural man.

First,  before I started attending classes (the day I got my books, in fact), I read the article my brother had been trying to get me to read for a few months. It was a talk given while he was on his mission by John E. Liljenquist. It was amazing! It meant something to me on so many levels. I wont say it answered all of life’s questions, but perhaps it gave the framework for those questions to be answered. I wish I could link to the whole talk, but firstly, I do not have Elder Liljenquist’s permission (I think I might call and ask, or at least let him know that I’ve read his words and found that they are truth), and secondly, it isn’t available online (I’ve looked).

Elder Liljenquist discusses Elder Scott’s analysis of 3 different groups in the membership of The Church: Those with a testimony that are also converted, those that have a testimony but are not yet converted, and those who have no testimony nor conversion. The third group are pretty easily distinguished, because they are they whom we do not see at church. The breakup of the first two groups is a little trickier. I want to discuss the second group and I think it will help distinguish those members of the first.


The second group (those with a testimony but no conversion) are the members who are the biggest problem for the church. They are “unstable.” They follow commandments until it becomes difficult. They pay their tithing until money gets tight, they make poor financial decisions, they do not magnify their callings. Elder Liljenquist made some remarks on these group 2 members (he was specifically talking about the men, but It’s too close to the truth for my own life that I’m including all members). He says they were all returned missionaries, they were all married in the temple, and they all had children. They all attended sacrament services and accepted callings;  but that was the end of their commitment. They were negligent in preparing lessons, negligent in attending to their home teaching families, and rarely went above and beyond the minimal expectations. Sadly, this talk made me realize I need to work a little harder on my conversion. The nice thing is, it gave me a good gauge of my conversion and what conversion looks like. I  wouldn’t say I’m completely “not converted,” but there is definitely room for improvement.

Couch potatingElder Liljenquist then discusses his experiences as a doctor, and how the conversion process is mainly about “the spirit gaining control over the body.” In other words, conversion is overcoming the natural man. The natural man’s desires are set on junk food, fast food, soda and sedentary lifestyles; basically nothing hard and everything easily satisfying. He highlights that subduing the natural man requires a lot of suffering. Christ suffered for us, and if we are His, we must suffer for Him (see Doctrine and Covenants 138 and Acts chapter 5). Accordingly, we must constantly fight the natural man (thereby suffering for our Savior), and when we do so, we become closer to the Holy Ghost. When we draw closer to the Holy Ghost, we slip from a mere testimony into true conversion. When you are truly converted, the gospel is not onerous to you, but the drive to do Christ’s work comes from within.

So what does this have to do with education? For a moment, I’d like to switch over to my second recently-read article: Elder Bednar’s talk Seek Learning by Faith.

educationElder Bednar sets up a model of education. With his talk in mind, I surmise that it takes 3 different parts to make up education: Teachers, Curriculum (though he doesn’t talk specifically about curriculum, I think it is an integral part), and Learners.

Primarily, students need good teachers to learn. The ideal of a good teacher is often misconstrued. It is not the job of a teacher to force education. It is the job of a teacher to help the student learn to learn. Until the student learns the principles of learning, his education is null and void. As Elder Bednar points out, a teacher can carry “the message unto but not necessarily into the heart.” His discussion on teaching is beneficial, but I want to get to the meat of the subject before I’ve lost you all. A good teacher makes her primary focus on education the learning of learning. She knows that true education comes from within the student and not outside of it (Interesting. That’s the same expression we used for conversion. Conversion and education come from within). Furthermore, a teacher does not make learning easy; she forces her students to think and to learn.

In my own education, I had one teacher that redirected my entire education. Previously, most of my learning taught me that if I was meek and quiet. I could slide by unnoticed and at my own pace. Teachers often took pity on me or let me off easy. I often turned in assignments late and still received full credit. But when I became a student in Mr. Cleverly’s class, he was different. Suddenly being meek was not enough to pass a class. If I missed a day, I was required to make up for the time lost. If I was late for an assignment, it was too late to turn it in and no sad tale would work for his class. I worked hard! Drawing DesksI don’t think I got an A, and I don’t recall most of the history he taught in class, but I learned more about education in his classroom than I did anywhere else.  I learned that I was important enough for someone to expect something from me (pretty sad that such a concept did not occur to me until 7th grade), and I learned that it was my responsibility to take control of my own education. It is interesting to note that all of the teachers who took it easy on me only made me feel emptier and less human inside. They thought they were doing me a favor, but they weren’t. Instead, the teacher that held his expectation of me to a high enough level that I had to strive to reach it was the teacher that taught me about work and fulfillment. I guess you could say he taught me how to suffer.  There was no easy answer. Education takes work. It is through hard work and experience that students learn best. Experience is a form of curriculum.

In order for a curriculum to be good, it must have Principles. Principles are statements that hold their truth no matter the context. In the scriptures, we are taught that all truths are of God, whether secular or spiritual in nature (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:26 and 30). If it is a truth, it is good, and we are to seek after it. A good curriculum is also appropriate for the correct age level and cognitive development of the student. It grows steadily and slowly, building on knowledge that the child has previously developed. Even this is not enough; As Elder Bednar states, a quality education “causes us to put off the natural man (see Mosiah 3:19), to change our hearts (see Mosiah 5:2), to be converted unto the Lord, and to never fall away (see Alma 23:6).” See, there’s that word conversion. When we are converted, the natural man has less power. In order for a curriculum to be adequate, it must also encourage and build upon personal growth.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, learning requires a student. Though most important, the student is often the least considered element of education. As Elder Bednar states so profoundly, “Ultimately… the content of a message … penetrates into the heart only if the receiver allows [it] to enter.” It is the responsibility of the student to achieve learning. The key reason for this responsibility is our agency. An example of the role of agency is given in the story Adam in the Garden of Eden, when God asks Adam “Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). Clearly, the father knows all things. He knew where Adam was. He asks the question to allow Adam his agency “to act on the learning process and not merely be acted upon,” as Elder Bednar states. I love what he says next: “There was no one-way lecture to a disobedient child, as perhaps many of us might be inclined to deliver. Rather, the Father helped Adam as a learner to act as an agent and appropriately exercise his agency.” Agency is the ability to act instead of solely be acted upon. Agency plays a key role in education. When a student uses his agency to learn, he is primarily showing his willingness to learn by acting in accordance with what he has already learned. He is showing his willingness to suffer, to give up the natural man. Then he must open his heart (willingly) and seek out further knowledge. This is an act of faith; faith that such knowledge will be given to him.  A student must act and not just “passive reception.”

1470076_10203200591554922_509598652_nI was a student at BYUI when Elder Bednar was the president there. He often discussed the concept of acting and not being acted upon. I also think that is the main reason people settle for passive learning and never let that actual learning really seep in. I think the very fact that true learning requires action is the reason it is not often achieved. It takes a desire to act, and that desire does not come from the natural man. Perhaps that is why the natural man is an enemy to God. God seeks learning. The natural man seeks complacency. But overcoming the natural man brings growth and personal fulfillment. Overcoming the natural man makes me more like God.

Aren’t these reasons enough to seek a deeper meaning to education?

History

History is my favorite subject, I think. I love fitting the pieces together. I also love how it takes just a bit of faith to accept any history, as most of it is skewed biases. But I came accross these stories the other day and they both intrigued me. I thought I’d share:

 

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Noah’s Ark Discovered — again.

They found a huge boat in the mountains, buried, but with animal bones found inside. It’s a pretty geeky history read if you’re interested.[/left]
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Book of Mormon and DNA Studies.

This article talks about no matter how much people think they know by DNA, they can’t get conclusive results. It also is just kind of cool to hear the church’s perspective on what they think happened in the Americas, because I think we’d all just assume that the peoples of Lehi were the only one.  [/right]

Aren’t these just fascinating? Okay, I’m probably the only one to read them, but I think they’re pretty cool. I love making sense of what I know and what I KNOW. And how history is one story told many different ways.

Moola for Muscles – Funds for Tracy

I know no one follows this blog just yet, but I wanted to discuss a fundraiser for a blogger friend that helped me get into blogging and then helped me stick to it, though she doesn’t know she impacted me at all. She’s the type that is so good at what she does and so happy and caring and SOOO yellow in personality that sometimes her awesomeness intimidates me. She’s a pro at pretty much everything, including having fun. The past year or so hasn’t been so “fun” for her, but I’ve still witnessed smile after smile. She is such a strong lady, and I’d love to see this goal be met. So, in case a reader actually does come by this post, I highly recommend reading her story at Wet Oatmeal Kisses.

[button url=”http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/moola-for-muscles/115732″]Click here to donate[/button]

Day 25: Mindfulness

I can’t believe we’re almost done. It’s the 25th.

In Eldest, the second book of Christopher Paolini‘s  Inheritance series, Eragon, the protagonist, must learn to look past his own consciousness and the things visible by his own eyes to see everything around him. I believe this skill is achievable to everyone, not just those who befriend dragons. Maybe not to the same extent, but still achievable.

To me mindfulness is being aware; aware of where you step, aware of who is present, aware of needs, desires, and potential actions. We also need to be aware of ourselves, our needs, desires, and actions and how they might be skewed.  There is a force connecting everything to everything else. There is potential to feel what to expect. I read a study once conducted by a man named Cleve Backster. He came up with a profound discovery. Even plants practice mindfulness [check out these links! 1, 2, 3]. Plants can feel intentions and feelings.  If even plants can, why not beings created in the image of the Creator? 

dareI’m not expecting anyone to tap the “other 95%” of their brain, but I am challenging people to be aware today. Sometimes I get so caught up in myself that I forget to think of others. That is what I want to push past. I don’t think meditation is necessary. And I don’t think some major physiological change needs to take place. Just think outside the box. Be present. I am expecting that the result will be a huge sense of light. There is less worry about the future. Less stewing over the past. Those are the blocks of mindfulness.

Mindfulness focuses on heartbeats, breathing, and energy. It focuses on finding the connections inside yourself. It promotes good blood flow and good connections to the world around you. Those connections will create a more grateful heart.

Day 19: Mom and Dad

Today, call Mom and/or Dad and tell them thanks. It doesn’t matter what you thank them for, but be as sincere as possible. Thank them for teaching you a skill you’ve needed, for making you eat your broccoli, for not letting you give up in band class, or for surviving past your teenage years.

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Let me interject with stating that for some, I know that this is not possible. Instead, pick a role model you’ve looked up to and thank them. Someone was there in your life when you needed a motherly or fatherly figure. Thank them for being there for you.

I highly suggest writing it down. Then you’ll have a chance to say just what you want to say just how you want to say it.

Interestingly enough, I came across this video yesterday. Oddly appropriate (okay, probably not odd. It’s November. Gratitude is the buzzword of the month).

[warning]Oh, there is one word I don’t approve of that they don’t bleep, and there is one word that they do bleep. I wont be offended if you just mute it from 5:15-5:25. She just says that they wanted her to write a letter and then read it. She just doesn’t have the same language taboos that I do. [/warning]

To recap:

  1. Tell yourself it’s going to be a good day.
  2. Take thirty seconds to just be thankful.
  3. look at the bright side.
  4. Tell someone thank you (Today it’s a parent).
  5. Serve someone or give something.
  6. Write 3 paragraphs of gratitude.

See? Still 6 steps. That’s doable.

First

I am just writing a quick post to test out the new duds. I have so many ideas running through my head I’m so excited to get this blog going! I want to give a big shout-out to Jessica at ElevenSixty for helping me get this started. She has been phenomenal! I have admired her for a very long time before now, and I’m honored for her help in this.

Yay! (or, for my grammar-conscious friends… “Yea!”)