Hmm…a lot has happened in my 7 Challenge since I last updated. In September I read and reviewed 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. To read the review or catch up on posts about how the 7 Challenge is going, go here.
One of the first things I did in the 7 Challenge was begin a 3 month ban on buying clothing for myself. On December 19th, I successfully reached the end of the ban without buying so much as a hair accessory. It was not that hard, actually, as I found out I was pregnant in the middle of those three months (yay!!!) and there’s not much that’s less fun than buying clothes you know won’t fit in a few months. However, the part that proved to be hard was my hankering for new boots. At the end of last winter, I swore this fall I would buy real leather boots. Well, that decision changed. Yes, sometimes it was a bit humiliating to wear my 3-year-old, peeling pleather boots from Target. I counted that as the “challenge” part of the clothing challenge. However, I’m afraid I may have been a little too successful in avoiding clothes shopping. Today I set out armed with my Christmas boot money and the intention to find a pair of leather riding boots. I also thought I might check out the purse section of some of the stores. Here’s what I came away with: one pair of boot socks. No boots. What’s worse, I only tried on one pair before saying, “Eh, I’m done shopping for today.” Clearly, my shopping endurance needs exercise. (In my defense, I found that I might need to rethink the whole riding boot thing as I have short legs that are made to look shorter by tall boots. I guess I should’ve thought of that before setting my heart on a certain style). In short, the clothing challenge has created a new kind of clothing challenge for me, but it certainly took care of the excess part of my clothing tendencies.
The third month of my 7 Challenge came and went without any blog fanfare. In the Stuff segment of the challenge, I planned to get rid of 7 items every day for 30 days. I knew it was a tall order when I started, because as I mentioned before, pack rat I am not. We ended up getting rid of 3-4 things per day for the Possessions month. Not quite the goal, but probably more realistic since we regularly clean out our house. Taking every single item out of our kitchen cabinets in order to paint them definitely helped us get rid of a few things.
The hardest part of the stuff challenge was finding somewhere we felt would put our discarded items to good use. I wanted a place that would connect us with people in need or at least give the items we didn’t need straight to someone who did need them. This is really a horrible complaint to make, but why do so many charitable organizations make it so difficult to give to them? I’m sure there are good reasons. I’m just the frustrated donor with two small children and no time to figure it all out. Maybe it was good for me to realize that I am not an angel of mercy if I bring in a few bags of donations to a volunteer-run donations center. My poor little feelings were hurt when the workers there acted as if my donations were more trouble than they were worth. Clearly, I needed to be taken down a few pegs and realize the glow of giving is not the goal, but the change of heart and mind and actually making a difference needs to be the end I strive for. Still, if you work somewhere accepting donations, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would appreciate a courteous reception. I’m not even talking about a thank you…just don’t yell when the confused donor puts down her things on the wrong pile. There, that’s off my chest. We took most of our things to a local charity, but ended up taking our last load to the convenient and always receptive Goodwill because we needed it out right away the charity wasn’t open. If anyone who lives near me has places they like to give their unneeded household and clothing items to, let me know!
Starting January 1st, the fourth month of the 7 Challenge will begin. This is the Media month, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone a few weeks ago because it was too tempting to look at all the time when I was lying around trying not to think about nausea. I still checked it in the web browser, though. However, today I woke up and thought, “I am sick of knowing all this stuff about people.” I mean, I love people, but when did it become imperative to know so many details about the every day lives, likes, and dislikes of mere acquaintances? This is by no means a rant against Facebook, just a personal realization that I really don’t need to check it that often. So the original plan was to only check/post to Facebook at 10am, 2pm, and 9pm, but I’m actually horrified that when I wrote the original plan, I thought that would be cutting back. I think once a day at most is plenty. I’ll only read blogs between 6-7 a.m. or 9-10 p.m. Internet surfing will be an after the kids go to bed thing, except for when I absolutely have to know something like what time Panera Bread closes or is that spider with yellow markings on it poisonous? Finally, I’ll only watch four football games a week. Just kidding! Seriously, this one is hard because I’m married to a guy who loves college football and it’s bowl season. I happen to enjoy it a good bit, myself. Still, I think I can watch just the game our home team is in and the National Championship and call the football season done. I think. As for TV and movies, there’s nothing I can’t live without for a month.
Here’s where the media challenge will get hard: limiting my children’s media time. They are 2 and 4 years old, and they love “movie time” more than life itself. I wish that weren’t the case. I try to carefully select their video viewing and limit it to 30-45 minutes a day. In the last two months that I’ve been dealing with frequent all-day morning sickness, this limit has gone by the wayside more often than I like to admit. In January, I’m going to make video watching a privilege and not a right. Maybe an every-other-day privilege. It’s hard to not give in to the lure of the TV babysitter when you’re home all day with the kids, you choose not to send them to preschool, and you are an introvert who needs time to think and be quiet. But I chose all of this (save the introverted personality), and I really do believe we can get to a better place of interactive play and alone times of imaginative play without resorting to Dora and Thomas and that crowd quite so often. I’m pretty sure it will be a painful process, so say a prayer for us in January. =)
Part of January’s media challenge will be to finally read The Unwired Mom by Sarah Mae. She’s one of my favorite writers and I’m looking forward to her book on getting out of the technology driven lifestyle. If you’re interested in reading it along with me, here’s where to get it. (P.S. It’s only $4.99 right now on your Kindle or as a PDF! P.P.S. I am not affiliated with or even known from Adam by Sarah Mae).
So that’s where I am in the 7-month Challenge to Mutiny Against Excess. As the New Year approaches, maybe you can think of some truly realistic goals that would help you to think more about the excess in your life. It’s a pretty wide open subject and can your challenge can look totally different from mine or anyone else’s. I’ve enjoyed mine so far, and hope you’ll think about creating your own.