24 February 2016

The Finite Field

Some exciting things have been happening professionally for me this month.

I received an award for Excellence in Action from last quarter. It's typically a peer nominated, boss decided award, so it's an honor to be nominated and to have won. Each quarter, each team gets one of these awards for Excellence, and it can be given for a variety of different categories (own the outcome, tell it like it is, put the client first, etc.). With it comes a shiny plaque and $300, which is cool. I've won it 3 times in the 12 quarters (3 years) I've been with the firm, while on 3 different teams. Surprisingly to you who know me, I've never won for the category 'tell it like it is.'

On the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, February 11, I also had my 3 year anniversary at the firm. While this isn't that big of a deal usually, for me it means I officially have 3 years of industry experience. I submitted my transcript,  my background check, my job descriptions over the last 3 years and got an email from the CFP Board authorizing me to use my CFP letters. This means that I am now officially Brittany Anderson, CFP®.

Also, I found out last week that I got the promotion I was up for. I beat out 5 other candidates and I start my new job on Monday. I will still be working with clients who work for non-profits (doctors, professors, etc.) but now I will be working with them as they get closer to retiring and have more complex financial situations (as opposed to when they're just starting out saving). This is a HUGE accomplishment for me, as the job description "requires" a minimum of 5 years of industry experience and prefers at least 7-10. I do believe that the 14 months of weekends I put into the CFP gave me the boost I needed to stand out among my peers to get this job which, according to the job description, I am not qualified for. I'm looking forward to doing more complex planning, and it doesn't hurt that the job comes with a 25-50% pay raise depending on my performance.

I'm reading a book by Suze Orman, who is a "personal finance guru" according to her website. I was gifted one of her books, The Courage to be Rich, so I'm diving right in. She's kind of like Dave Ramsey in the eye of the media, I suppose. I think it's important to read popular personal finance books because this is what kind of financial literature (if any) my clients are exposed to. I'm about 50 pages in, and so far all she's talked about is our attitude towards money. I think it's important to consider, albeit a bit "fluffy."

One of the comments she made had something to do with the finite field of finance. (Try saying that ten times quickly.) That phrase hit me hard. As a part of the Church, we're told (and I'm convinced) that one could spend a lifetime studying Scripture, the Catechism, the Magesterium, Church History, the Art of the Church, and most especially God Himself and never be finished. (See Saint Augustine's vision of Heaven, when He was convinced that all of his writings barely scratched the surface and was tempted to burn them all.) In college, I was pre-med for two semesters. I think that medicine (while not an infinite pool) has similar characteristics. One could spend a lifetime learning about healing the human person and never reach the end. So why did I choose finance?

When I was a missionary, it felt like my work was never done. In the work of evangelization, it never is. There will always be more we can be doing, always new people to meet,  more sins to conquer (in my own heart), more prayers to pray, etc. One of the things that I tell people that I love about my job is that when I leave work, I'm completely done. I don't bring my laptop home, I don't answer client emails from home. I work when I'm at work, and  I don't when I'm not. For someone Type A like me, I think the distinction is nice. One of the things I've found though, is that I get bored quickly. Starting Monday, I will have held 6 titles in 3 years, and I have always been exceedingly ready for the next promotion by the time it comes around. Perhaps this is because my field truly is finite.

Remind me to write another post on the benefits of a leave your work at work mentality, and the idea of not being fulfilled by one's 9-5.

St. Joseph, the worker, pray for us.

Signing off,

Brittany Anderson, CFP®
Director, Retirement Planner

(new letters + new job title because I'm prideful and I like the way it looks.)

21 February 2016

A Family in Shambles

I think everyone thinks their family is dysfunctional. Perhaps even most people are right. It seems obvious to me that Satan would spend so much time attacking the family- the building block of society, and the place where we learn to have relationships, and where people learn to love one another. After all, this is the foundation of God's plan for humanity.

Since my aunt's suicide, my family has sort of spiraled out of control. One of my cousins had a baby last week and he was born addicted to opiates. She and her husband signed away their parental rights and gave him away, and we have no idea about his new family (although I am confident that he is better off). That same cousin has a 22 year old daughter who is currently pregnant with her second child. Since they gave the baby away my aunt is worried that my cousin will try to end her own life, and that aunt already lost her other daughter to an accidental overdose about ten years ago. My grandmother, the matriarch of our family, is in complete denial about the state of things. My mom made the decision over 30 years ago to remove herself from the midst of everything by coming to Texas. She feels guilty and burdened with the "what ifs" and has her own issues to deal with.

I feel emotionally removed from the whole situation for a number of reasons. The first is that I'm physically distant and these people are not a part of my daily life. The second is largely due to the first which is that I have a completely different experience of the world than they do; I was raised completely differently and have a different world view. I don't feel close to them, but I do feel connected.

 I've always been envious of people who have super close family ties, and I've always wanted to be a part of a family that relies on each other for support, and who enjoys each others company. The truth is that the Trinity is my family. They are who I have to rely on, and I am thankful for that.

From the outside looking in, it appears as if Satan has won. It looks as though he has conquered my family and destroyed it from the inside out. Sin and addiction have surely taken a hold of my family, and that is upsetting. But I know that this is just a battle, and that Jesus has already won the war. And I am thankful in any case that I was able to preach the Gospel to my family at my aunt's funeral.

In your kindness, please pray for my family.
Jesus, have mercy on us.

13 February 2016

Lent is 10% Over

And I've already failed at least once on about 8 of my lofty Lenten Resolutions.

But I'm little and God is big and I'm thankful for opportunities to begin again.

St. Peter, pray for us!

07 February 2016

The Lord Has Granted My Request

For the past few months I have been thinking/wishing/praying for my Priest to spend more time in the Confessional.

For Lent, my parish (of 3000+ families) will have over 4 hours of Confessions heard per week, a 400% increase from usual. Praise God!!

Padre Pio, pray for us.

06 February 2016

Upon a Fit of Sickness

Twice ten years old, not fully told
Since nature gave me breath,
My race is run, my thread is spun,
lo here is fatal Death.
All men must dye, and so must I
this cannot be revok'd
For Adams sake, this word God spake
when he so high provok'd.
Yet live I shall, this life's but small,
in place of highest bliss,
Where I shall have all I can crave,
no life is like to this.
For what's this life, but care and strife?
since first we came from womb,
Our strength doth waste, our time doth hast,
and then we go to th' Tomb.
O Bubble blast, how long can'st last?
that alwayes art a breaking,
No sooner blown, but dead and gone,
ev'n as a word that's speaking.
O whil'st I live, this grave me give,
I doing good may be,
Then deaths arrest I shall count best,
because it's thy decree;
Bestow much cost, there's nothing lost,
to make Salvation sure,
O great's the gain, though got with pain,
comes by profession pure.
The race is run, the field is won,
the victory's mine I see,
For ever know, thou envious foe,
the foyle belongs to thee.

Anne Bradstreet

04 February 2016

The Struggle of the Will

This week started out great. I was invited to speak briefly at Theology on Tap in Fort Worth and I was there able to have some really great conversations with people who are like minded in the mission of evangelization.

Today I'm feeling rather melancholy.

Last night I got into an argument and was physically slapped across the face. Afterwards I was thinking about Matthew 5:39, when Jesus says, "But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well."
Note: I don't believe the person who slapped me is necessarily evil, just perhaps, not in control of their emotions.
In the first episode of the Catholicism series, Father Bishop Robert Barron talks about how offering your other cheek is a bold stance. I didn't quite understand that fully until last night. He said that by offering your other cheek you take power away from the person who hit you because you're standing your ground. In that moment, I wanted so badly to hit back. But offering violence for violence solves no problems, and thanks to Jesus I was able to keep a level head and not lash out. I think the goal of the slap was to get a reaction from me, and I was able to take control of the situation by keeping my calm. It was a great exercise of the will, which I pray will be rewarded, because my sins are many and the triumphs of my own will over emotions are few.

Then today, I was talking with a colleague. He was explaining to me the plot of a movie that I've seen, and I interrupted him and said, "I know." Interrupting is rude, no doubt. My intent was not to "knock him down a peg," but he responded with, "see, this is why you don't have a man."
Needless to say, this is probably number one on the list of things not to say to a single woman over 25, no matter what she has just previously said or done. Talk about a hard hit right in the insecurities. It hurt worse than the slap did, but surprisingly, it was easier to not react emotionally than it was the night before. Now I'm emoting on my blog and hopefully my sanguine self will be able to move on soon. 

Jesus, thank you for opportunities to taste humiliation.
St. Therese, pray that we can follow your little way.