Archive | February 2013

On Consuming Less

Backstory: Last summer, my husband and I packed up all our earthly possessions, sold our house, and moved 1000 miles back to our home state, where we had lived almost our whole lives, except for the previous 5 years. We are now living in the house my husband grew up in, a lovely lake house that I refer to as “the camp”, in homage to its more “rustic” amenities. This is a temporary spot, where we have lived for much longer than I imagined we would, as we seek our imaginary dream perfect spot in la-la-land.

On a good day, I categorize this season of our life as a sort of Sabbath, where we have few social obligations, financial responsibilities, extracurricular activities, etc etc etc.  (On a bad day,  more like wreckless laziness, disorder, chaos, aimless wandering.  Let’s not go there right now.) This Sabbath is a time where we are more free to make big decisions in our life, to intentionally shape it how we want it to be.  We’re less connected, less plugged in, more available.  Our life is like a blank chalkboard.  (Therein lies my struggle to write blog posts these days.  Blank space anybody?)

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So I have all these thoughts swirling through my brain about who our family is, where our life is headed, how we should spend our money, and so forth.  All these topics are tangled together and connected on all different levels.

Last month a book crossed my path that seemed to be directed right at me.  Perfect for this season of our life.  The book was 7: An experimental mutiny against excess, by Jen Hatmaker.  Jen spent seven different months dedicating each one to reducing excess in different area:

  • Food. Only eat 7 foods.
  • Clothes. Only wear 7 pieces of clothing.
  • Spending. Shop in only 7 stores.
  • Media.
  • Possessions.
  • Waste.
  • Stress.

The seven foods were:  chicken, eggs, bread, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and apples.  For “possessions”, she and her family donated seven items per day to others in need.  And so forth.  The book is a quick read, written sort of in “journal” style in the midst of each of the 7 months, and I do recommend it.  I identified with so much of Jen’s motivation for the project.  Her struggles to complete it were just what you’d expect yet thought provoking at the same time.  In the end, the author didn’t do much in the way of offering any long-term life solutions.  This was a little dissatisfying because I guess I want someone to tell me what to do!  But in reality, these are highly personal choices and they should really be based on individual convictions.  No easy answers to this subject.

Each of Jen’s 7 “fasts” was connected to something I’ve pondered myself.  I struggle to keep the clutter in its proper bin, to keep Ransom from spending too much time in front of the internet, to keep myself of wasting time on facebook, to eat less junk, to spend less money, to be more intentional, on and on and on.  As I’ve mulled these thoughts over and over, I am making some small changes here and there in my own life.  Each of these could (and very likely will) end up as a whole post, so I’ll just throw ’em out there to the universe for now:

  • Only going to the grocery store and the wal-mart/target/etc store once per week.
  • Setting a budget for crafts/hobbies/misc purchases and keeping to it.
  • Buying less clothing.
  • SERIOUSLY evaluating all purchases of items for actual level of need… i.e Is there any way to get by without that thing?
  • Cooking more from scratch.  Fewer restaurants.  Fewer pop tarts.
  • Spending more money on experiences, museums, activities.

These are just a few small steps towards a larger goal of consuming less… less mindlessness.. more intention.  Small steps indeed but already a breath of fresh air.

Ou est l’eau???

In the last week of 2012, i came up with only one New Years resolution: to drink only water for the entire month of January. So now I will tell you how it went, in excruciating detail.

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No liquid sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no caffeination. Is that crazy? Its not as drastic as it seems, because I don’t have the typical American coffee habit to deal with. However, at some point in 2012, Diet Coke become my favorite beverage. Maybe my thirty-year-old taste buds are starting to die off. Maybe the stuff is habit-forming. Have you seen the list of ingredients for diet coke?

Carbonated Water, Caramel Color, Aspartame, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Benzoate (to protect taste), Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Caffeine

I was drinking milk for breakfast, followed by hot black tea with sugar and milk, nothing for lunch, maybe a diet coke (with Vanilla, from Sonic) in the afternoon, and then half a glass of water for dinner.

What?? I used to drink mostly water. What happened? The less water I drank, the less I wanted.

We went to party on New Year’s Day and it was only water for me. In the beginning, it was tough. Water was so gross that I preferred to drink nothing.

Merely three days into January, I was offered a hot cup of ready-mix cappuccino, just after coming in from a frigid walk outside with Ransom. I was freezing. Folks, winter in Mississippi is just a few days long, and those days are all scattered throughout the typical “winter” months. If you are a season-lover like myself, well then you best enjoy winter when it happens because it ain’t gonna last long.

I drank the whole cup with all its caffeine and sugar, and I felt a little bit bad about it. I mean, I was only 3 days into my month-long water pact. I had plenty of time to repent when i woke up at 2am the following morning. I really am a caffeine lightweight people.

I suffered through a few more cold days before coming to my senses. I was on the brink of drinking a cup of plain hot water when I decided to shift the rules. I added plain herbal tea to the approved beverage list. Warm, and yet no caffeine or calories and really not THAT much flavor even. Basically still water.

MUCH better.

So then a week later, I got to spend a weekend at my brother’s house, for the first time. We were all having such a good time and he went out early and picked up donuts (!) and chocolate milk (!!) for breakfast. Novelties! When’s the last time I had a donut? I chugged that chocolate milk and didn’t think a thing about until half an hour later when I remembered my water pact. Alas. The shiny donuts distracted me.

In a moment of curly-fry induced thirst, I drank some of August’s root beer. We were in the car without any water.

And THOSE are the only 3 non-approved beverages consumed in the month of January. It honestly took a good 15-20 days before I really felt noticeably better. Better hydrated. Better skin. More “awake”. And I started to LIKE water more. And feel thirsty more.

Mid month, our ice maker broke. A ha ha. Of course. Luke warm water.

Guess what? Although ice water tastes better, I never finish the whole glass. Without ice, I’ll go back for refills. Lukewarm water is apparently, literally, easier to swallow. Who knew.

The rest of the month went smoothly. And guess where I went on 2/1, between the hours of 2pm and 4pm.

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I’ve had about one non-water beverage per day in February. That’s fine and all but I think I feel “less” good. I guess I should be water-only on a permanent basis. Is there a name for that? Aquaterian?

Ps The blog title is a hint at my focus for February!

Jan-term

This morning I got an email from Brooks, the running apparel brand.  It was a coupon for free shipping and the subject line read, “Happy Half-Birthday!”  It made me laugh because I’m basically the only person who thinks half birthdays are cool…possibly because mine falls on Valentines day, thus giving me something to celebrate other than a silly holiday fabricated by the greeting-card industry.  But I quickly stopped laughing when I realized that in two days I will officially be Thirty-And-A-Half which seems WAY older than just plain Thirty.

As you know, Mary-Hall and I took a one-month-and-a-few-days hiatus from blogging to recharge and renew not only our own love for blogging, but the face of the blog as well.  (We have a new “About” page in case you’re not sure what’s going on here, and a sleeker, cleaner look featuring a fancy-shmancy new header that Mary-Hall designed).  But that doesn’t mean we each laid about in bed eating bonbons or anything.  Nope.  We’ve both been busy, and I thought I’d let you in on some things that have gone down in the past 45 or so days of bloggy silence.

Keith and I were blessed to get to celebrate our 3rd anniversary a little early with a trip to Mexico at the beginning of January.  We stayed at the Aventura Spa Palace resort near CanCun, and thanks to a special scored through his Mom’s timeshare program, we did little else than rotate between the pool, the lagoon, and the actual spa.  We did leave the resort one day to visit Tulum, some ancient Mayan ruins, and had a blast there as well.  All in all, the trip was lovely.  (I even took a Yoga class while I was there…bringing the Yoga Class count up to two!!)

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Panoramic View from my lounge chair one afternoon. Mmmm. Lovely

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Keith and I cliffside at Tulum overlooking the beach!

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Hanging out in the atrium…ready to go to dinner.

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I may or may not or may have been chosen to participate in a “follow the leader” style party game at the resort-wide “Mexican Fiesta” night. Unfortunately the game involved the ability to count in Spanish and I came in second place. Sigh.

Also, as many of you know, I officially left my job as violinist for the Ronnie Freeman band this past December (more on that here) but I’d also started a new job as the personal assistant/violinist/road-manager for author/speaker/singer Kelly Minter this past August, and life in Kelly-world has been busy and wonderful!  Travel season for us started the last weekend of January, and since then we’ve been to Louisville Kentucky, Birmingham Alabama, and Ruston Louisiana.  this weekend we’re off to Bellingham….just about 2 hours north of Seattle, Washington.  Our weekends are cram-packed and fast-paced, but I love my job and I’m thankful to be able to support a gal as awesome as Kelly!  Two weekends ago in Birmingham, I was excited to not only have my friends Leslie and Sophie stop by (and bring me yummy yummy cake!) but my mom (know to you blog-followers and commenters as “Momma Daniel”) was able to come stay with me and attend the event Kelly was speaking at.  It was so great to have her there!

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“Momma Daniel” and me. So thankful for her support and love!

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Did I mention the weekend involved a food-packaging service project that involved hairnets? Sadly, the only photo I have with my boss. We need to change that. Stat.

Other notable things that have happened in the past month:

*Keith had a birthday.  Sadly, we did not get to travel this year.  But we did play skee-ball and 4-person air hockey with our friends John and Hannah.  Not the same kind of awesome, but still awesome all the same.

*The squirrels returned to our attic warranting an emergency call to our favorite carpenter and entire new soffett on one side of the house.

*1/2 Marathon training has begun yet again.

*I’ve lost another pound.  Total weight loss since Jan 1, 2012 = 18.8 pounds.

*I took a cooking class…finally……a really real one.  But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

A New Leaf

Hello sad, neglected little blog.  We haven’t forgotten you, just lost our way a little bit.  But now, all is settled and you have a brand new name.

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If anyone clicks on that, they’ll end up… right back here actually. You still have your old name.  So, basically, now you have two names.

AND, you have a new header image, which is really important for blogs when they are turning over a new leaf.

And soon, I promise to write you a real post too.

XOXOXOXO

Yours truly,

Mary-Hall

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