an update on nothing

Well, this is a post on something, after all.  It’s a much-belated update on my 30 29 Days of Nothing.

What a month this has been!  Full of blessings and bounty — far from nothing!  There was so much bounty, in fact, that I expected to look back at my five resolutions in my original post and have to tell you that I failed at nearly everything.  But today I read my resolutions again (they had always been in the back of my head, but I couldn’t have told you exactly what they said), and I realized we had met almost all our goals!

1. No lunches out except Sunday.  One dinner out per week, with no drinks or appetizers: On this one, I messed up twice, I think, with the lunch thing.  But the lunches were not unplanned splurges in a moment of weakness.  They were both lunches out with friends, for social and relationship-building purposes.  Justified, or not?  (I could have cooked those meals, after all.)  As for dinner, I think I succeeded 100 per cent on that one!

2. Meals planned around grocery store sales. Eh, I tried.  But I don’t really enjoy going through fliers.  So, how’s this?  I planned a meal, and then found the grocery store that had that item on sale — beef stew meat, for instance.  Since I have decided that buying all organic produce is not conducive to saving for an adoption, I am buying most of my conventional produce at the dirt-cheap Korean market.  Meat, though, kind of freaks me out at the Korean market.  So, I’d either bypass the meat altogether, justify a really good meat sale at Kroger or Albertson’s in the name of frugality, or when feeling particularly sustainable, I would go to Whole Foods to get a small serving of the good, organic, free-range stuff.

3. Stay under budget on groceries by at least $50. Everybody say “Wooee!”  Wooee! I am officially done getting groceries for the month.  And guess what?  I am under budget by $105.  Yeah.  I will attribute this in part to the bounty of food my parents brought from Kansas, but I could also argue that our grocery budget was more stressed because we had two weekends with houseguests.  It all balances out.

4. Limited electricity use, including air-drying clothes and turning off lights. I’d say the month was about average in this department.  I wasn’t exactly a stickler about turning off the lights — not more than usual anyway.  But just to make up for it, I am sitting in the darkness with my laptop right now.  And then there was one weekend I totally broke down and used the dryer for two loads of laundry, which I almost never do.  I enjoyed the luxury and felt little guilt.

5. Cloth diapers. The next weekend I broke down and used disposable diapers on Isaiah during the day.  I did feel guilty about that.  Other than that, I stuck to my guns.

As I’ve said, I didn’t feel very deprived during September.  I received bounty.  The hardest moments were in the late afternoon when I was tired and felt like doing anything but cooking.  Those will always be the hardest moments.  Perseverance is rewarded when I realize that in our budget, we were able to pay for a three-night stay at a condo in Breckenridge, where we’ll be two weeks from tonight.  If I had planned better, maybe that money could have gone to someone in need, rather than to give ourselves some late luxury that we missed out on this month.  But whether we had done this experiment in September or not, we still would have taken our mini-vacation in Breckenridge.  And now it’s paid for.

I believe these exercises can and will become habit for me.  In the kitchen, I have become less scared of cooking from scratch.  I have learned a little more about balancing frugal shopping with ecologically responsible shopping; I don’t have to feel guilty about buying organic milk or zucchini.

But I can do without a weekly coffee shop indulgence.  It’s a nice and perhaps much-needed reward on occasion, but I don’t have to do it to satisfy my consumerist cravings.  As Suzy recently reminded me through the words of Gandhi: “We must live simply so that others may be able to simply live.”

All discipline is hard in the outset.  But the fruit it bears will sustain not only our family but maybe also many others.  That’s my dream.

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  1. Good job, Carrie! What success!

    • Betsy
    • September 29th, 2008

    Carrie that is wonderful! Keep up the good work!

  2. It is so good to keep track of growth and making changes!

  3. Wow – that’s awesome. Your sister is right, I do enjoy this blog so much!

  4. You’re my inspiration!
    Many Blessings :0)
    Have a great weekend.

    • Natalie
    • October 9th, 2008

    Mom (Aunt Janice, to you) turned me on to your blog. I’m excited to have another favorite spot to turn to; I’ve been marinating so long in political writing (opinions) that I’m completely saturated.

    I love the “Live simply, that others may simply live.” Did not connect it with Ghandhi, but another of my favorite maxims to live by (by which to live) is also a Ghandhiism: Be the change that you want to see in the world.

    Just wondering how to balance the self-centered visibility of a blog with that good old Kansas sense of utter abnegation of attracting attention. (You could deeply wound me right now with a “Whaa?”)

    • Michelle
    • October 14th, 2008

    Everybody say, “WHOOEE!!” WHOOEE!!!

    Hehe. Good memories. I now own The Cotton Patch Gospel. Aaron things it’s funny. 😀

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