The '7' challenge!

Last September I was with my daughter-in-law Katie at a Women's Weekend at beautiful Windy Gap, a Young Life camp in the mountains of North Carolina. Our lovely weekend ended with the announcement that the speaker for the September 2014 weekend will be Jen Hatmaker. Then everyone was handed a gift, Jen's book

7  an experimental mutiny against excess

Seven months • Seven topics

clothes • spending • waste • food • possessions • media • stress

There is a lot more to it than reading a book. It's a journey.


In January I began my journey. I picked


as my first subject. That was pretty easy actually. Maybe because I've been married for almost 35 years. Maybe because I've lived in our current home for 20 years. That's a lot of years to collect stuff! I had to give away 7 items per day. It was easy until the 4th week. I had to give away some things that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. The items were not necessary items for me to keep. There was just some 'stuff' that I wanted to hang on to. But seriously? I'd been hanging on to some of that stuff for YEARS! I don't need quilt books from the early 90's. I don't need out of date scrapbook idea books/magazines. I held on to those outdated books just in case I MAY find an idea that would stir a better idea! I'm pretty certain Google can help me with that search in the future. I even gave away a set of 6 cups and plates that I had purchased when I was first engaged in 1978. I never used that sweet little set, NEVER! They were glass and meant to be used at a bridal or baby shower. You know the kind. The oval crystal looking plate with a rimmed spot for the punch cup. I kept them all these years because they represented being grown up. I was 19 when I got married so I needed all the help I could get to feel grown up. But really, who has a shower for 6 people? Not me. And now, I have more room in that cupboard and I haven't lost any sleep over it.

In February I picked


That turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated. My seven items were:

  1. my favorite skinny jeans
  2. my new mustard yellow skinny jeans
  3. white tee shirt (basic Jockey v-neck from Target)
  4. gray tee shirt (Love Your Neighbors - Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors)

  5. chambray shirt

  6. teal long cardigan

  7. gray long cardigan

I didn't count my shoes as Jen Hatmaker did. I didn't count my coat because I was going to visit my parents in Minnesota and needed it EVERY day! My grand plan (to beat the system) was to have February as my clothes month BECAUSE of my Minnesota trip. I figured I would have less to pack. Plus, I would be spending 10 days away from home. That's 10 days where the people who I would regularly see wouldn't be seeing me! Well, that sort of backfired. My mom got really, really sick while I was there. I canceled my flight home and stayed in Minnesota for 24 days. So for 24 of the 28 days, I was in freezing cold Minnesota. And I mean FRIGID! It was rarely over 0ºF in February. Many days were -16ºF and it even got down to -26ºF. That is cold for this now southern girl. I probably made a bad choice in having both my jeans be narrow at the ankle. My only shoes were my cowboy boots and my Toms. I'm always comfortable in my boots but wearing them on the outside of skinny jeans almost every day in a small town hospital was probably a bit much! It crossed my mind that people were staring at me as I clopped down the hall. And of course I imagined them to be thinking, "who does she think SHE is in her fancy cowboy boots?" Reality- they probably didn't give it a thought or care. I worry about things like this which is one of the very reasons I like the discipline of this book. There are so many 'things' that are not important, especially to other people.

When my clothes month ended I actually felt a bit lost. I had grown quite comfortable with those 7 pieces of fabric. And mostly just 6. The chambray shirt required ironing. With so many trips to the hospital to stay with my mom there was little time for ironing. I think I wore that shirt maybe 3 times. I ended up really liking the security and simplicity of having this small clothing selection. It felt strange and rather chaotic to have a closet full of options on the first day back to clothing freedom!

I took March off. We had a couple out of town trips. One was for a wedding and I didn't want to be on a restricted diet during a lovely wedding dinner!

April was up next and so was food

On the menu:

  1. chicken
  2. sweet potatoes
  3. spinach
  4. apples
  5. tomatoes
  6. Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  7. bread

That list was a compromise with my husband. I would have traded the yogurt for eggs. And the bread was not my idea either. As it turned out, the yogurt was fine to have for breakfast every morning and the bread was a life savor. However, you won't lose weight eating bread as a snack! I lost 5 pounds in the first week. Then as we got hungrier and munched on bread for snacks, a few pounds came back on. Over the 28 day total and getting the bread consumption in check, I stayed at the 5 pounds total loss. We only used salt, pepper and olive oil for seasonings so we missed all the other options. We stand by our choices. Chicken was great since white and dark meat have different flavors. Spinach is great hot or cold and an apple a day? I still haven't stopped that new habit! But we have been staying away from our once favorite sweet potatoes.

So  Tired  Of  Sweet  Potatoes!

May was for waste

  1. recycle EVERYTHING
  2. use cloth bags at the grocery store
  3. compost
  4. turn off lights in any room I'm not in (conserving energy)
  5. buy local food
  6. garden
  7. drive only one car

I feel like I was the least compliant this month. Again, I took a trip to Minnesota to visit my parents (mom is doing great!). It's the buy local foods that I didn't do so well. However, I went above and beyond on the composting. I even bought a duel compartment compost bin for my back yard. I have a lot to learn about that but I'm on board and so is Jeff. My gardening is not stellar but there is effort shown. I have an upside down tomato plant hanging on my deck that should prove interesting.

After Jeff and I shared one car for 3 months last winter we thought it would be easy to do again. I rode my bike to my book study in the neighborhood so THAT was intentional. I stayed home until Jeff came home so that we were not using our cars at the same time. There were only a couple occasions where I needed my car when he wasn't home.

A local shop carries my jewelry and sometimes the owner calls me for a custom tiny initials order. If I'm available I put it together and head straight over. I think that was a good enough excuse to break my 7 code!

4 months down 3 to go. 


That brings me to the dreaded media month

I mean seriously, 28 days of no Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? TV? Say it ain't so. My list:

  1. No Facebook
  2. No Instagram
  3. No Twitter
  4. No TV
  5. No unnecessary texting*
  6. No unnecessary World Wide Web**

  7. No phone games or Wii***

Jen Hatmaker combined Facebook and Twitter. My feeling is that each one of the three are 'important' to me. And by important, I mean that they suck my time and I'm quite hooked. If I gave up two of them I would just spend the extra time on the third. In my opinion, each one carries a lot of weight with me so they deserve the 1. 2. and 3. spots. Then there is television. I can't deny it, Jeff and I love television. In fact tonight as I typed this we caught up on Hawaii Five O and Criminal Minds. Yes, I was multitasking and a couple times Jeff said, "did you see that?" No, I hadn't so we had to re-wind. The truth is that if I sat and watched TV without 'doing' something else I would fall asleep. I wonder what that means. Do I like to sit and watch TV? Or do I like to be entertained while I make jewelry or edit photos or upload items to my Etsy shop? Over the next 28 days I have a feeling I will be very productive.

*unnecessary vs. necessary texting

my fast, my rules. (that's one of the things I like about Jen's book, she and her council made up the rules as they went along)

I've decided that I will not instigate texts just for checking in with people. If I want to know how someone is doing, I'm going to call them. If someone sends me a text, I will respond. But, I won't 'chat'. This one will be hard when it comes to my kids. Maybe they're going to like my self imposed no texting for 28 days!

**unnecessary vs. necessary World Wide Web

I make jewelry and sell it on line. No one is out there promoting me, it's just me. So I will continue to take photos, edit them and post new pieces to my Etsy Shop. I will probably post some of the new pieces to my business page on Facebook. I don't even have to 'be on FB' to do that. That happens through my Etsy Shop

I am in the process of changing my entire it's by design web site. I'm working on some changes to my logo and combining my website with my blog. The way I look at it is that I will probably get it all finished BECAUSE I am banning myself from those social media sites! I'm still going to send and read emails. I am not however going to click on links unless it's for my business or Young Life for which I volunteer my time. This means I won't be going to my favorite blogs for 28 days. I'm going to notice that! It's not going to be easy.

***phone games and Wii

I couldn't think of a number 7 because I haven't played electronic games lately. But, I got to thinking that with all my social media sites off the table. I would probably revert to Flow Free or Words With Friends so that became my number 7. And the Wii? I own my own, it's not the kids'. So with no tv and no social media, I just may have resorted to the Wii. 

No, this girl is going to read real books, play board games with my husband, ride my bike, learn Adobe Illustrator while designing my new logo and website, and talk to people IN PERSON! I'm going to spend quiet time on my porch talking to and listening to what God has to say to me.

But, right now I've got 45 minutes to check my Facebook and Instagram. There's not even enough time left for Twitter.

Wish me luck!




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