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‘Self-Discipline’ Category

  1. Cut the Purse Strings

    September 22, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    I’ve made a strange and probably drastic decision in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to stop carrying a purse. I would like to say that I decided this after many months of considering the burden carrying a purse has become in my life and the virtues of dragging around less clutter with me everywhere in an effort to live more simply. In fact, those thoughts have niggled the back of my brain many times over many years. But the truth is, this decision was thrust upon me by an intrusive and violent act. Recently, while watching my son, The Valiant, play his soccer game at a perfectly lovely Howard County park in the middle of a beautiful, temperate day, some creep smashed the window of my van and stole my purse.

    Aside from the obvious unsettling notion that some bonehead has my personal belongings, this is also a major pain in the butt.    Credit cards, bank card, checks, driver’s license, health insurance cards all had to be alerted for fraud and now replaced.  My car needs a very expensive repair. I even had a good Rita’s coupon in that purse. The only bright spot is that I now have a new photo on my license and my Costco card, both of which I’ve hated for years.

    There may be another bright spot, though. It has forced me to consider more fully (read: all-consuming way) the wisdom of toting all this crap around with me in the first place. Why did I leave my purse in the car, after all? Because I didn’t want to haul that 15 lb. jumble of excess to the field with me unnecessarily. Why do most women believe they need to carry a purse? Blue Collar Guy doesn’t carry a purse, yet he still somehow manages to buy gas and steaks and fishing lures. He could still check books out of the library (in theory). In the event of illness or accident, he still has his insurance card with him.

    Cute though my Vera Bradley Big Betsy purse was, I am not replacing it with another purse. I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do instead, but so far, my plan is some combination of these:

    1. Use a neck pouch. I have been using this one, which is meant for outdoor sports and camping. This has a lot to recommend it. The only real drawback is that my phone has to be carried some other way, i.e., my pocket. It doesn’t look especially fashionable, so I’m not inclined to wear it somewhere I might care about that. The carabiner is nice for hooking my car key. An unexpected benefit is that it gives the impression to others that I have some sort of official authority. It looks like an ID lanyard.   I did also buy this one, which is meant for travel and preventing pick-pocketing, but I don’t like it. It’s too bulky to wear under your shirt and it’s so big that it looks immensely silly outside your shirt. The pockets also enter from the side, which is very awkward for removing cards or money at a cash register.

    2. Use a waist wallet. This is a very good solution when I don’t have a pocket for my phone. It does lay flat and comfortable and gives me only just a teensy “baby-bump” outside of my shirt if it’s underneath. My phone fits in and the horizontal zippered compartments are easy to access at a cash register. There is even a little loop onto which I can hook my car key.

    3. Get a wristlet. This is what I think I’ll use when I’m specifically going shopping or to any event where I need my cell phone, cash, several cards, ID, keys and a pen.

    4. Use pockets. I would say this is my first strategy, but women’s clothing are not often designed with useful pockets. Some skirts and skorts have no pockets at all. I am considering adding simple interior pockets to my unpocketed bottoms.

    Now that I’ve been going about purse-less for two weeks, I feel averse to having to carry anything like a purse again. It’s oddly freeing to go about with no purse. At first, you feel a little naked and you can’t believe how empty your hands/arms are. Now when I see a woman carrying some gigantic handbag, I can’t imagine what she could have in there that she can’t be without for a few hours.

    Have you done it? Have you decided to forego purse-carrying? I’m open to insight from anyone who has done so with success.



  2. Remove Your Clothes

    January 8, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    Some of you may recall the post I wrote in response to Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7.  Overall, I found it thought-provoking and interesting, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the chapter on Clothing bothered me.  In the book, she focused on one of seven areas to reduce to seven items for a month. For the clothing month, she chose seven articles of clothing to wear exclusively. I don’t remember exactly what she chose, but it was something like a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a skirt, cowboy boots, a short-sleeved shirt and I don’t recall the other two. (Underwear and socks were not part of the deal.)

    I think I’ve finally identified what it was that I didn’t like about that chapter. Choosing seven articles of clothing is, obviously, an extreme reduction for most first-world people. But cutting clothing down to seven pieces for a month doesn’t amount to anything meaningful if, at the end of the month, you simply revert to your previous clothing assortment.  If I recall correctly, Hatmaker did also cull and donate a lot of her clothing during her experiment, so it wouldn’t be fair to say it made no difference, but I admit I felt like there was no point swearing off clothing for a month if you’re just going to spring right back to a “normal” array of clothing like most westerners have. I wanted her to suffer, damn it!

    Just kidding.

    Kind of.

    I recently stumbled upon something called Project 333. That’s more like it! With Project 333, you choose 33 articles of clothing you will use exclusively for 3 months. I would piggy-back on that and say while you’re at it, get rid of nearly everything else for the current season that you didn’t select for the Project. Chances are good that you don’t need it. Then, when the 3 months are over and you move into the next season, repeat the procedure.

    If you’re a virgin to removing your clothing, you might not be able to start something like Project 333 right off the bat. First, go through closets and drawers and remove all the obvious unwanted or unneeded clothing – doesn’t fit, isn’t in style, never really liked it to begin with, Aunt Maude gave it to me, needs repair but I’m too lazy, doesn’t suit my life.  Once you’ve gotten rid of the clear losers, perhaps wait a few weeks or a month before you do the second culling. This involves getting rid of clothing that you could use, though you rarely do, that is nice, but is not your first choice. These can be much tougher to part with. Remember, though, you’re not giving away your first born; it’s just a sweater, for God’s sake! Naked into the world we came and naked will we leave. In between, a black t-shirt will be fine.

    I’ve been thinking about clothing and simplified living for several months. It’s been pecking at the back of my mind. For one thing, although I am a girl, I really hate shopping for clothing. I don’t want to look at 10,000 things, I just want to walk in, find a white shirt, pay for it and leave.  Most girl stores intimidate me. The assortment is endless. I dodge well-meaning sales help. It can’t be expensive, dry-clean-only, busy, fragile, low-cut or one of those tops you can only wear with another top underneath. (What’s up with that, anyway?) God knows, it can NOT be itchy! Soft is crucial.  I bought a sweater just before New Year’s at J.Jill. I thought it met my criteria, especially since it was half-price. Only once I tried to wear it, it felt like nine hundred ants were crawling around under it. That itchy beast is going back!

    I ordered a black t-shirt from Lands End today, on-line. Ahhh. No stores. No racks. Just click, type in coupon code and voila! Simple shirt on the way. I also have confidence because I have already bought t-shirts from Lands End. They are great staples. And since I’m going to be paring down to staples, that will be a very good thing.



  3. Early to Rise

    May 14, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    I’m sure I’m about to alienate all my dear buddy night owls, but here goes. Turns out Ben Franklin was correct. Productive people of the world get out of bed early.  Studies have actually been done on this and the evidence comes down squarely on the side of the world’s early risers.

    Now, I know there are those who would say their natural disposition is to stay up until 2 in the morning and then sleep until noon. Vampire hours. To them I would say: get over it. You can train yourself to get up as early as you need to. Have you ever had to get up very early to catch a plane for vacation? Take a bus to New York City? I bet it wasn’t hard. You knew there was no alternative if you wanted the pleasure of your planned event and then you made the decision to cooperate with that plan.

    I love the word decision. It has the same root as incision and scissors. The literal meaning of the word decision is “to cut off.” Just as an incision is a surgical cut and scissors are tools for cutting, making a decision means you cut off the alternative choices.

    When you make the decision to get up early as a matter of habit, you cut off the cycle of vampire hours. You redefine yourself among the people who accomplish much. It trains your mental discipline, which then makes you feel good about yourself. If you get up early, you are ahead of the chaos of the household, which will set the tone for your day as calm, organized and in command of yourself.  You will gain hours in your week that you are currently wasting. Here are a couple of practical tips if you are ready to make the decision to get up early.

    1. If you currently get up at no particular time, but just sleep until whenever, then the first step for you is to decide to actually get up on purpose at a given time. If you currently go to bed beyond midnight on a regular basis, you probably should not decide to start going to bed at 10:30 pm. You will only lie there, not feeling tired, thereby “proving” to yourself that you are a night owl and this whole idea is a waste. If you start regularly getting up early, you will naturally soon begin to be tired earlier in the evening, so it works better to start moving your sleeping time back only after you are experiencing tiredness in the evening.

    2. Decide on your goal wake-up hour and work back from your current wake-up hour gradually. So, if you now stay in bed until 8:00-ish, but you want to get up at 6:00, start getting up at 7:30 or 7:45 consistently for several days or a couple of weeks and then move back in small increments until you’re getting up at your desired time. Do this without first deciding to go to bed earlier; let the earlier sleeping time come about naturally.

    3. Make a mental agreement with yourself before you go to bed. Tell yourself you have decided to get up at X:00 am. You can even visualize yourself having a board meeting where you’re announcing the new policy will be to get up at X:00 am. (Yes, I have actually done that.) Doing this mental exercise before bed not only makes it easier for me to carry out what I planned to do, but it is not rare that I naturally wake up within a couple of minutes of my alarm ringing. It’s like I’ve programmed myself on a subconscious level and my body responds automatically.

    4. When your alarm clock rings, train yourself to respond right away. Push the covers off, sit to the side of the bed, open your eyes or whatever else it is that makes you tell yourself, “I am getting up now.” Do not beg yourself for five more minutes! Don’t “snooze.” If you need extra help making yourself get right up, train yourself like Pavlov’s dogs. You can run through it at a non-bedtime hour and actually practice responding to your alarm clock as soon as it rings.   Go through it ten times, tracing a route in your neural pathways that says, “Hear alarm, move to get out of bed.”

    5. Lastly, do something enjoyable with your new-found time. You should reward yourself so that you aren’t sorry you got up early. I spend that time writing or reading. It is so calming and centering. You could spend it:

    • Exercising
    • Meditating/Praying
    • Enjoying a coffee/tea
    • Watching the sun rise
    • Stroking a pet
    • Going for a walk or run
    • Taking a bath
    • Listening to music
    • Playing an instrument
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Planning your day or week
    • Preparing food

    Anything is valid if it is calming and centering. It will benefit your mental and spiritual health far more than another half-hour or hour of sleep.

    Now – I will grant you, there are some people who should not be disciplining their wake-up time this much at their current life-stage. I am a mother. I raised three babies to something approximating civility.  I never had those insta-babies who can be laid in a crib at 7:00 pm and have to be roused up twelve hours later. There were years when I can’t be sure I got 5 whole hours of sleep a day , even if I count falling asleep in the car at a stoplight. So, if that’s you, or there’s another reason outside of your control that accounts for late-sleeping, vampire habits or poor self-discipline, well, then give yourself a break and keep this post in mind for sometime in the future when things are less crazy.

    But you other folks – you know who you are. You really just need to train yourself to get your ass out of bed early and see what you’ve been missing. You might even come to like it.  Getting up and having even just a half-hour (but an hour or more is better) of time to get your head in the game before the frantic grab for shoes, keys, instruments, lunches, waffles, dog food or whatever else happens in your house – it’s very rewarding. You couldn’t pay me to stay in bed and miss my “me” time now.

    See ya in the morning.