Pink Pen Friday

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So as you know, I am very…let’s go with “particular”… about things.

I absolutely under no circumstances can watch a TV show out of serial order.

I have to alphabetize or chronical everything. EVERYTHING.

I have my iCalendar set up in my phone categorized with a corresponding color code.

So yeah, I’m pretty chill and laid back. I mean, whatever.

I now have another thing to add to the list of evidence of my anal-retentive nature. I have a different pen color that I use at work for each day of the week. But this is actually a fun thing because I save the fun colors for the fun days! Did I say “fun” enough? Most notably: PINK PEN FRIDAY!!

I work in an office, so it’s the small victories y’all.

I use purple on Mondays. The logic? That maybe it will cheer me up because Monday.

But for real, I think it’s important to save stuff like this for ourselves to get us through the week. It can be a sweet treat, a tv show, or like me, office supplies.

What are your small victories to celebrate through the week?

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Money Money Money Mooonay (Mooonay!!)

So as I talked about in my last post, the ladies in my small group (Becca, Heather, Raven, and Dia-these names will come up a lot, there will be a quiz later) and I – and two of our husbands… kind of – decided to do an experiment based off the one found in “7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. We did things sloppily and out-of-order, and we changed some of the rules, but learned so incredibly much.

So it begins. This one is a little embarrassing to start off with, as it was our trial run, our practice round, if you will. We didn’t really know what we were getting into and had not read the entire book yet. We at first thought we’d do each experiment in the course of a week, so that is how long this one (sort of) lasted.

Her rules:

  •  She and her family would only spend money in 7 places total for a whole month. Let’s first establish how wonderfully crazy this chick is. Her places were:
    A farmer’s market
    Gas station (just one!)
    Online bills
    Stuff for her kid’s school
    A limited travel fund (she is a speaker as well)
    Emergency medical stuff
    Target (which she severely limited herself to using only in emergencies )

Notice there are no restaurants, movie theaters, or any other type of entertainment, which if you know anything about me, is such a buzz kill. Since we were only doing it for a week, we decided that free reign of 7 places in 7 days was a little on the lenient side, so we decided to change it up.

Our Rules:

  • 7 transactions ONLY in 7 days.

Yeah, I know. That’s not a lot. This is especially true when it’s your mom’s birthday and you have agreed to dinner, a manicure, and a movie. Bam! 3 transactions. 2 hours.

This was my downfall, people. Right out the gate. This is a pathetic way to start off the telling of my experience, but it was the first one we did. And as you know I am both a rule follower and extremely type-A, so to do things out-of-order would have me twitching. Ask Bryan how it goes for him when he suggests we watch a show or a movie in a series out of said series, I dare you.

Raven stuck it out for 2 weeks and didn’t cheat, and for that, we celebrate. If only this were a relay where when Becca, Dia, Heather and I failed, we could have passed a proverbial torch to Raven and celebrated the group win. C’est la vie.

You’ll just have to trust me that it gets better from here. The funny stories, the complaining anecdotes, the accidental lessons learned, all still to come. While bated breath won’t be necessary, I know the edge of your seat will be worn down by the next blog post, amiright?

Anyway, I did learn stuff. Just from reading and failing, I learned how much we Americans spend on crap. I am only tiptoeing into bleeding heart mode when I say that there are soooo many other things we should be focusing on.

Her statistics are eye-opening, saddening, and, if I’m being honest, embarrassing. We are turning a blind eye to so much suffering and heartache in the world while we buy our 15th scarf, $50 moisturizer, and newest pair of shoes. I know what I’m saying is controversial, but read the book and learn what I’ve learned and try not to feel convicted.
This is still overwhelming to think about, and I’m on the home stretch of the experiment! So yeah, hang in there with me. The stories get funnier and the truths get stronger. Sorry I failed on this first one, but in keeping with my first post  I’m not going to beat myself up over it. 🙂

What do you think so far? Ready to try it for yourself yet?

My 7 Experiment

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The ladies in my community group went through the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (Order it. No seriously, do it now). I cannot stress to you enough that this book has changed my life. At the risk of wearing out her name and this topic on this blog, I’m going to talk about it anyway.

If you’re not familiar with it, she has identified 7 ways that excess, greed, and materialism have brainwashed us in our day-to-day lives: food, clothes, spending, waste, media, stress, and possessions.

She then takes one month for each of them and reduces in some way using the number 7 (eat only 7 foods, wear 7 articles of clothing, etc).

So we are crazy and decided to go through a modified version of the experiment ourselves. And we did this previous to finding out that there actually is a published, doable version of her book, so we made our own, doing each 7 item for around 2 weeks. I am currently fasting through our last one, so the intensity is still fresh as it comes, and I want to share it with all of you. (Mostly because it was awesome. I say this because I am going to try very, very hard to not complain about the hard parts. No I’m not.)

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We changed up the order and the rules a little, and like I said we shortened our experiment to 2 weeks for the most part. Our order was:

Spending: 1 week
Clothes: 2 weeks
Stress: 4 weeks
Food: 2 weeks
Possessions: 4 weeks
Waste: 0 weeks (hmmmm?)
Media: 2ish weeks

I will write one blog post per 7 item and will detail out our modifications, some of Ms. Hatmaker’s findings and feelings, and lots of mine and my posse’s. And let’s be honest, I’ll probably throw in some complaining and (first world) hard knocks now and then. Just keeping it real.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed learning from it (I say “learning from it” because that is a lovely loophole around saying “as much as I enjoyed going through it”-which would mostly be a lie.)

To conclude my introductory post (<– very research paper of me), I leave you with this, because it got me through the misery that was food month and all the less miserable months as well:

All of the Bible’s analogies about refining, pruning, molding, etc are true. It does take a test of faith and some not-so-fun times to truly learn how far off course we are capable of steering. The way of Jesus is as narrow as He says it is (duh) and we as Christians are called to act accordingly.

There is pain involved with growing, but the “want-to” has to come first.

Have you read 7? What did you think of it??

Not Dead.

No worries. Although I haven’t posted in approximately 1 million days, I am not taking a blogging break. (I know the sighs of relief are plentiful.)

I’ve just been on vacation!

Look forward to trip stories and photos galore soon! I’ll also be posting about “7” soon!

 

Thanks for reading as always! 🙂

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot…

Go Home New Years, you're drunk.

Go Home New Years, you’re drunk.

So I have a problem when it comes to participating in mass activities, thoughts, and feelings. I have many examples of this, among them:

Taking part in lent (never have, doubt I ever will).

Saying things I am thankful for every day of November on Facebook.

Here comes the big confession: Feeling holiday cheer for any sort of reason that “I’m supposed to.” I don’t know what it is. This goes for almost all holidays, not just The Big C.

I’m plenty stubborn, but that is somehow not the reason for this difficulty. I guess it just feels ingenuine to me. Like “Oh, NOW is when I’m supposed to have all these feelings of thankfulness for what I have been blessed with, or adoration for my Savior being born, or great respect for the ones who died for my country.”

I’m no Scrooge, I have plenty of festiveness and cheer running through my veins. I love celebrating holidays for the commercial reasons. I will put that change in your bucket with more gusto than you’ve ever seen. I will volunteer and shop and eat and partake in traditions like a boss. I will decorate and listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” until everyone around is sick of both her and me. I just cannot force feelings upon myself simply because I am supposed to.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful and stuff. Some form of “Thank-you” is pretty far up there on my most-said list (and trust me, I say a lot of words). I give so much praise to my God for sending His Son, I do. I just can’t seem to get with the program of being in some sort of mood on a given day. It’s a problem.

New Years both escapes and follows this trend of mine. I LOVE New Years. I think it’s so magical and that there is something special about celebrating accomplishments and memories of the past year, and ringing in the fresh beginning of another one. It almost makes me giddy.

This is Bryan and I in NYC for New Years last year. It was love. I MISS YOU NYC!!!

This is Bryan and I in NYC for New Years last year. It was love. I MISS YOU NYC!!!

The problem is with the resolutions. I feel like it’s similar to lent. I have never felt the need to declare things I will do differently, when said declaration almost never seems to hold up for people me.

This is how we feel about resolutions.

This is how we feel about resolutions.

I’ve decided I’m going to give it a go this year. I am changing the pace though. My husband (who is all up in the business world, he and business are besties) recently told me about the “SMART pattern” for setting goals, and I’ve decided that this is the key for successful New Years resolutions. I’ve also defined my resolutions in the examples instead of boring you with a list. YOU’RE WELCOME.

S: Specific. Make the resolutions clearly defined and not vague. Bad: “I’m going to try to be on my phone less.”  Good: “I’m going to put my phone away when I am out with Bryan, in the passenger seat of a car with anyone (there is a contingency for road trips, because, let’s be real here), and when we are hanging out in an intentional group setting (double dates, at someone’s house for dinner, etc).”

M: Measurable. Have definitive numbers or other measurable units in place to keep the resolution in check. Bad: “We’re going to save for a house this year.” Good: “Let’s make a plan to have ‘this specific amount’ saved to put down on a house this year, break it down into monthly savings, and keep track of it carefully.”

A: Attainable. Let’s not get crazy up in here. Bad: “I’m going to compete in a Half-Ironman this year.” (HAHAHAHAHAHA!) Good: “I’m going to do the ‘run’ portion of one of the sprint/olympic triathlons I plan to compete in without stopping for a break.”

R: Relevant. Make the resolution something that is already on your radar. If you pull something out of left field that you know you don’t care about that much, then it won’t be accomplished and it’s pretty pointless. I think this applies well to group goals. Don’t get suckered into a group resolution that you don’t care about that much. You’ll either give up because you don’t care about enough, or be miserable trying to stubbornly prove the point that you can do this. Bad: “I plan to read 10 books on business this year.” (If I want to be bored and sad) Good: “I plan to read 20 books this year.”

T: Time-Based. Give yourself deadlines for your resolutions. Don’t just make them willy nilly and hope they get done before next year. Bad: “This will be the year I hit my weight goal.” Good: “I am going to get down to a size 6(<- Specific. This is a two-for.) by the time my brother’s wedding rolls around (June 28th, I’m a bridesmaid) through my triathlon training and weight lifting.”

So there you go. I’ll let you know how it’s going through the year, and whether my disdain for these things grows or shrinks. For now I’ll just work on being thankful and full of praise all year round :).

What do you guys think of my Resolution Strategy, and what is your own?