last day of the challenge, first day of… [day 365]

Wow!  It’s been a year already.  A year of no retail shopping.  It started off as a year of no retail shopping, however it ended up as a year of so much more than that.  It would be impossible to sum up the year in one blog post, but I can say this.  It’s changed the way I think, not only when it comes to shopping, but how I live my life.

I could write many of the things I learned here, and I started to do that, but it sounded like a way-too-serious, silly infomercial for life transformation.  The truth of the matter is, I’m human and I struggle with all of the same things everyone else does, I’ve just chosen to take a few of those struggles a step further.  I’m not going to go back to retail shopping like I shopped before this year started.  Yes, I will probably start again at some point, but it will be a much different process.  Shopping won’t be a hobby, it won’t be something I do when I’m bored, it won’t be buying on impulse and it won’t be something I do very often.  It will be well thought out when I do make a purchase, always applying the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired through the process.

This might be the last day of the challenge, but it’s the first day of something much bigger.  It’s the first day of whatever I want it to be.  I might do another challenge of some sort because I just do stuff like that.  There are a few things that I plan to do now though.

I’m not going to start shopping or run to the store, but I am going to take a short break from blogging.  I will continue using to do post-challenge updates, including telling you what I have purchased retail.  I can’t even imagine shopping now.  How uncomfortable will that be?!?

I need to take some time to regroup.  One part of that is making my blog into a resource for living differently than the way society says we should.  I also need to take some time and think about moving forward out of the challenge.  I already feel like I’m in some sort of directionless limbo.  I know where I’m not going, but where am I going?

I’ve talked about writing a book, and along with that, I have many other ideas of what I can do with this year of online journaling.  It’s time to seriously ponder that, make some plans and implement them!  This will all be a waste if I don’t take some action on it.

This is not the end of something really great, it’s the beginning of something even greater!  Now that I think about it, this has been my identity over the past year.  It’s been a rare occasion that I would meet someone, or be introduced to someone without the “…she’s doing a year of no retail shopping…”  Explain.  Answer questions.  Give them my blog name.  But now what?  If this has truly been my identity, then in this case, I hope someone steals my identity.  A good case of identity theft?  Redefine bad, rethink good.  :)

the significance of 40 days [day 325]

The challenge is done in 40 days.  Will I run out and retail shop?  No.  If I did, that would only mean that I learned nothing from this amazing experience.  Will I have changed my shopping habits?  Yes, in a major way.  It’s all about making wise choices, not just for us as individuals, but us as a global community.

The significance of 40 days has many meanings for different religions and cultures.

40 days of lent

Although there are many biblical references to 40 days, I chose to look at the Christian practice of lent.  I was asked many times this year what I was giving up for lent.  Since I’m doing the no shopping challenge and the downsizing / minimalist challenge, I chose to not look at lent in the conventional way of 40 days on a specific calendar date, but making it a part of my life.  What can I give up that would give me more time to do something better in the world?

40 days of life

To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.”  This is an Arabic proverb.  I believe it to be true, but not just living among them, actually choosing to learn about them and understand them.   Looking back 40 days into the no retail shopping challenge proved this theory.  I was already seing the impact of my challenge, although I’ve learned so much since.  I’m glad I didn’t limit this to 40 days.  Choosing to do this for a year takes me beyond understanding it into living it.

40 more days in the challenge

There are 40 more days in my challenge.  I don’t see this as an ending to the challenge, but as a beginning to all of the great things that will come out of this experience.  I plan to spend the last 40 days of the challenge rethinking good and what I can do with all of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through this process.  I have a few ideas, but this is a more intentional brainstorming and planning of what my next steps will be.

time to shovel mud again… [day 318]

I’m really tired of fighting with my yard.  When I moved into this house over 4 years ago, I had very little grass.  I have so many trees shading the grass, that type of grass just couldn’t grow.  I had to shovel mud off the sidewalks after any rainfall.  This photo was taken after my yard guy slapped a few pieces of sod down to help with the mud problem.

The next summer, I had St. Augustine put in.  It looked great and I was so happy to not be the ‘ugly neighbor’ anymore.

Unfortunately that grass didn’t last.  I’m back to mostly mud puddles.  I’m doing some research with my new yard guy about what type of grass will work in my yard.  I would really like to get this fixed once and for all.  My yard is a good example of what happens when you don’t do your homework.  I’m learning about my options so I can take care of this once and for all.  Not only is it a cosmetic eyesore right now, but continued soil loss can lead to foundation problems.  I’ll keep you posted.  :)

3/4 year through the no retail shopping challenge [day 274]

This is an exciting point, reaching 3/4 of a year in my no retail shopping challenge.  It’s exciting because of the lifestyle change, not because I’m closer to being able to shop.  I’ve been asked many times if I will go shopping on the day the challenge ends.  Honestly, that would feel really weird.  I will still apply the shopping principles that I’ve been using and also, using much more of a minimalist approach.  If I do shop after this is over, it will be for necessities and things that have been well thought out.  As a matter of fact, as a follow up to the challenge, I’ll probably blog everything I buy after it’s over.  That way I can track the changes and we can all see the results.

Since I’m nearing the end of the challenge, I’m also thinking about what to do with my blog and all the information contained in it.  That’s the real excitement!  There’s some cool things coming out of all this.  Stay tuned…

half way! [day 183]

Today maks the half way point for the no retail shopping challenge!  It’s hard to believe it’s been one half of a year already, but it also feels like I have a long way to go.  Today is Thanksgiving, and no, I did not plan for this day to fall on a holiday.  If I had, I would have made it fall on black friday, as that makes more sense.  I was going to do a daily recap, however the search features on the blog are a much easier way to find past posts.

I get a lot of questions about this challenge, once people process it and quit giving me the crazy look.  Here’s some questions I’ve heard.

What will you do when the challenge is done? Once I’m done with the challenge, I will organize the site into an resource blog, categorized by topics.  I’m sure I will also find another related challenge to do.  I also plan to make this into a book.

Will you go shopping the day it’s done? No, that would feel weird.  This is really changing my shopping habits, and although I will shop again, I will do it very differently.

Have you bought anything? Yes, I had to buy one thing.  Tires for my car.  They were bad and it was a safety issue.  If I wrecked my car or hurt my kids because of a challenge, that would be horrible and I could not live with myself.  No, I didn’t start the one year over, and I did learn a lesson about planning for tire purchases.  Even though I had to buy tires, the challenge purpose was accomplished, I had to learn and think differently.

So, you’re really going to finish this? Yes.  Why not?  Half way there…

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned? I’ve learned much, but the biggest is that I made a lot of impulse purchases.  I can live with much less stuff.  I don’t need that colorful stuff to sit on a shelf or another gadget.  Some of them might be nice, but most will probably end up at the thrift store.

Are you saving money? The quick answer to this is yes, but that was not my motivation at all when I started, although it’s a nice benefit.

What are the benefits of doing it? There are many, but the best one is not one I expected.  Less stuff = less mess.  It’s so much easier to keep my house picked up.  Not only are we not shopping, but we give things we don’t need or use to the thrift stores or to people we know that will use these things.  Our closets are not full, there’s extra space in all of our drawers and my garage, well, it’s made progress, but we still have a little way to go out there.  Need some motivation to clean out an area of your house?  Watch an episode of Hoarders.

Later today, I will be adding a new artistic twist to the challenge.  Stay tuned…

no what??!! yes, that’s what I said, know what! [day 178]

Thanksgiving day will be day 183 of no retail shopping, marking the one-half  year point in my challenge.  Along with a recap of what I’ve learned so far, I’ll have a 1/2 year celebration surprise challenge, adding it on to the no retail shopping.  Clues?

    • it’s an art thing
    • it will utilize trash
    • it will help repurpose stuff
    • it’s fun

the challenge [day 1]

In the beginning…

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My friend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL  Continue reading