no retail shopping challenge: 1 year later

It’s the one year anniversary since I finished the no retail shopping challenge.  Why did I do the challenge?  Straight from my original blog post:

I wanted to live differently, meaning finding creative ways to not buy stuff I really don’t need, to share stuff with others, to not be wasteful and to be more environmentally friendly.

So what did this accomplish?  Looking at it one year later, it accomplished a lot more than I could have ever imagined.  Since I blogged it every day for the entire year, I have a great record of how the year progressed and all of the lessons I learned through the challenge that many called crazy.  Let me share a few of the posts with you.

Top 3 blog posts, as chosen by readers:

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tired of trying to NOT keep up with the Jones’

I decided to participate in the aday.org project on May 15th.  Here’s the project description off the aday.org website:

On this one single day we ask you to pick up your camera and help us photograph daily life. What is close to you? What matters to you? We will connect your images to images from all around the world, creating a unique online experience where photographs will be shared, compared and explored. Your view on life will be preserved to inspire generations to come. 

Admittedly, my life has been too busy lately and I really don’t have the bandwidth needed to participate in anything like this.  In a very apathetic mood, I set out to photograph a few things from my day.  Of the ten photos I was allowed to submit, I submitted 9.  Photos that anyone would look at and say, “There’s nothing really great about these photos.  They’re just normal people doing everyday things.  Bor-ing.”

There’s nothing really great about these photos.  They’re just normal people doing everyday things.

Initially, that’s what I saw too.  I almost didn’t submit anything.  I guess that’s the good thing about social media.  It’s an accountability group, whether you want it to be or not.  I publicly said, “I’m going to do this!  You should too!”  It would be awkward to not do it and have to say that I’m trying to achieve some sort of greatness with this that I couldn’t even remotely come close to.

You can view all of my submissions here.  My pictures might suck, for lack of a better word, but my life doesn’t.  I totally can relate to Donald Miller right now with Blue Like Jazz.  Take a look.

School Project

What I see:  A messy coffee table with a kids’ school project that is finally done.  You should see the rest of the house!

What this means in my life:  There are so many things this means in my life.  Boring photo?  Yes.  What does it say about my life?

  • I have a house.  Not just a shelter, but a really nice shelter.
  • I have 2 kids that have the opportunity to go to a great school.
  • My kids are creative and have a place to use those skills.
  • My wallet… I have money to feed myself and my kids without having to struggle day to day.
  • I have a great job that allows me some flexibility to work from home sometimes so I can be with my kids.
  • I get to spend time with my kids.
  • I have great friends.

I could go much deeper than this, but I’ll spare you some of the details.  My point is that there are so many things I take for granted.  I think I probably speak for all of us when I say that.  I posted this quote on my Facebook page a couple of days ago:

“Sometimes I just get worn out being a square peg in a world of round holes.”

When I wrote this, I just felt tired.  Tired of trying to not keep up with the Jones’.  Tired of trying to just keep my head above water in getting everything done that I feel I need to do.  Tired of the responsibility of being the head of my household.

If I made a list from each of the photos of everything good that’s represented, this would be a really long blog post.  My point?  I need to take the time to look at my life through a different lens sometimes and appreciate all of the goodness in it.