Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lessons from The February Challenge

Towards the end of January, my friend Debby told me about a personal challenge she and her son were participating in. For the entire month of February, they were not going into any stores but food stores. No shopping for anything other than food products, and those would be primarily limited to fruits and vegetables.

It sounded like an amazing experiment with self-discipline. Not only was there to be no shopping for anything other than food, but there would also be no idle store wandering, no window shopping, no perusing shops online. Instead, the focus would be pursuing more opportunities to support the arts and enjoy new experiences. To challenge one's self. To think. To grow.

I was right on board with this idea,and thus The February Challenge was born!

Being involved in the challenge with others who would hold me accountable made it much more fun! In addition to supporting one another, we also shared ideas and experiences. Visiting the mysterious Georgia Guidestones outside of Elberton, Georgia, has long been on my agenda...and we made that part of February's fun!

A windy cold day calls for Hello Kitty!

There was also a visit to music mecca Athens, Georgia, one of my Southern favorite towns! Dining at The Grit, visiting The Georgia Museum of Art to see a Guerilla Girls exhibit, and a trip to Daily Groceries Co-op.  These wonderful places are all in close proximity to us, and yet we hadn't been in ages!

Sighted along the way - we take the back roads, much more visually engaging!
We also took in a free theatrical production in our town and finally experienced Uchi E, a new Korean restaurant I've been keen to try.

Determined not to cave, I had to search for creative solutions whenever a situation arose where I might need to make a purchase. And I learned patience...hardly one of my virtues, but I found that in patience I discovered solutions that did not require spending. My son was totally on board with the challenge, and together we discussed why it is important to stick to financial goals.

I won't lie, though...I had to resist temptation that kept creeping my way. While I am hardly a shopaholic, I do love clothes, especially refashioning - altering and/or combining items to make new items! During the challenge, I shopped my own closet and refashioned a few things that weren't working for me whenever I wanted something 'new'. In addition, I reacquainted myself with my love of upcycling jewelry, making myself a few new pieces from junk jewelry and/or jewelry I no longer wear to match refashioned outfits. I've been on such a roll I'm even considering opening the shop again!

And the most amazing thing was, I felt so much joy during this personal challenge! Towards the end of the month, I will admit, I was counting the days until I could do a bit of thrift shopping - my favorite place to find items to refashion/upcycle , but I learned so much about how I spend not only my money, but also my time. It was humbling to, as they say, check our privilege as well. So many people don't shop for anything other than food because they can't. Every day for them is a challenge of finding creative solutions when shopping is not an option. I think this was the most valuable lesson my son took away from the experience, and I hope it is one that stays with him. He already has a strong social conscious, so I think it will!

Grounded. Grateful. Overflowing with creativity. Inspired. Happy. Culturally enriched. This is how the challenge left me feeling, and the lessons I learned will stay with me. I encourage you, if possible, to challenge yourself in this same way - take a month and shop for nothing but food. Get the kids on board, too! I am so grateful to Debby and her son Ethan for including us in this challenge. And now, as this sunny Saturday rolls in, it's time to keep those lessons firm and strong. A beautiful day means time in nature, enjoying the sun at sidewalk cafes, taking the dog on long walks, prepping the garden for planting - not wandering department stores and malls for things we don't really need!

Off to the Farmer's Market!

Much Love,


Virginia ("Ginn") said...

Your post reminds me that one of the things I am most grateful for in my own life. Having spent 13 years overseas and lived many years in isolated, weather challenged places where we were snowbound for days at a time, I have kind of distanced myself to recreational shopping. As a kid, the weekly visit to the grocery store was a huge event and actual shopping trips were pretty much confined to about 3 times a year when we would drive to a neighboring city (almost an hour away) to purchase school clothes. And that is how much of my adult life has been. I still go for weeks without entering a retail store except for purchasing food supplies. Life is full and rich when I focus on creating, writing, reading, cooking, walking, and basically engaging in all the lovely pursuits that money cannot buy. Here's to your experiment and may you live long and be happy! - Ginn

Kathleen Manley said...

I remember you posting this challenge and thought "Oh, I can do this"...then I totally forgot about it. As I now ponder about the last 28 days I realize that I did not shop for anything outside of groceries.