Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Learning to Give It Up!

I just finished reading Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno. The book is about Mary’s journey to simplify her life and the benefits of doing so. She renounces one thing per month in order to make her life less complicated. She gives up shopping, elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, coffee, multitasking etc… The book chronicles lessons learned as she gives up some of these life essentials. Carlomagno comes to realize what is most important to her life and the experience of giving up changes her forever.

I thought of my own life and my desire to simplify. What would I need to give up each month in order to achieve that balance? I began by brainstorming items and activities which seemed to zap my energy and time. The list included things like: internet, television, ipod and shopping. Then I made a list of things that cost money each month, but may not be all that good for me. This list included: Diet Mountain Dew, Sweets, and movies. Then I made a list of other things I might need to give up or curtail like complaining, gossiping and fiscal irresponsibility. I reviewed my list repeatedly and decided that I don’t believe I am strong enough to give up any of these things for an entire month. I am the poster child for the lack willpower

It is now July 31st and tomorrow begins a new month. What a great opportunity to begin my quest to simplify by following the example of Ms. Carlomagno. I am beginning to get a bit excited at the prospect (I am sure this is fleeting), but here is my blueprint for the next 12 months to take stock of my life and create a more simplified existence.

August – Sweets (candy, desserts etc..)

September – Diet Mountain Dew (this might not seem like much, but I have about a six-pack a day habit)

October – Dining Out – this one will be REALLY difficult

November - Complaining (every time I complain, $1.00 will go into a jar for compassionate ministries)

December – Taking the closest parking space (I will park after the last car in the lot)

January – Fiscal irresponsibility (taking control of my assets)

February – Internet (outside of ONCE a day checking and responding to email)

March - Shopping

April – Impulse buying (I will not purchase ANYTHING over $20.00 without waiting 24 hours)

May – Television/DVR

June – Movies (going, renting or buying)

July – Ipod (yikes)

How about you? Any readers out there care to join me? Make a blueprint of your own—share it, because it will make you more accountable and then let me know how your life is affected.

I do maintain the creative license to change the monthly assignments, but the tasks will remain the same. So, I am off to eat my last piece of birthday cake as well as the package of Twizzlers sitting on my cabinet----

This I know for sure…


Anonymous said...

Let me know how it goes.
I will not be able to GIVE UP DIET COKE, nor going to the movies.
Life is SHORT, why not enjoy the things that give you pleasure without zapping your energy.
I also LOVE my IPOD, I have probably logged over 200 miles this summer walking with my music, and this is a healthy habit.
I will try and find one thing that may help, but I will have to search for a few days. LOL!
Love you!

annie said...

Interesting. One thing, you may want to give up the diet drinks before giving up sweets. I quit drinking diet coke this last spring and I found that once I did that, it was easier to resist sweets than it has ever been. I drink the occasional "leaded" soda but now that I don't drink diet anything my weight maintenance has been easier too. Not sure why but I do know that studies have found that diet drinkers are heavier than non-diet drinkers. I guess fake sugar makes us crave the real thing? And TV is easy to lose your taste for once you have gone without too. Movies though, I am actually recultivating that habit but I am going for the offbeat and thinking stuff as opposed to Hollywood fare. The farthest out parking spot is actually easy too because you wil find you can find spots faster and get into buildings quicker than if you hunted for a closer spot. I agree with Suzanne on the iPod. It encourages me to work out and it is a good mood booster too. Broke my shopping habit once I moved away from the city. Being in the boonies and having to plan trips into the city for things makes you think (so does having to shop online because those "shopping baskets" tabulates your bill as you dump stuff in as opposed to shopping in store and you don't know how much you've spent til you get to the checkout). I gave away so many of my possessions when I was packing to move, and it was humbling and disgusting by turn to see what a consumerist I had become. I am still not all the way to a simple life (too much of a geek to ever give up my mac or the Internet) but it is a worthwhile endeavor. Good luck to you (and happy birthday, by the way).

Day to Day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JoyfulNoyze said...

WOW I am not that adventurous! Many kudos to you for even trying such a feat! I keep waiting for my life to slow down so I can "be healthier" or whatever, but being the procrastinator that I am, I dont usually get to it.
Happy Belated Bday, too!
Love ya sis!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Suzanne. Life is too short to give up things you love. I think it is a great idea to give up those behaviors that cause us distress or zap us of all our spare time. I would not give up my IPOD for a month because it is a mood booster and encourages me to exercise. Good luck to you on giving up those items and activities that you mentioned.

Marsha said...

The idea isn't to simply give up things---it is only for a month and, if you read the book you find the benefits are about becoming more aware of life around you. Who knows what I will learn if anything--more than that--I need some exercises in self-discipline. This experiment will address that for sure. Thanks for all your comments and in a strange way they have solidified my choice to attempt this. I think it is interesting what we say we will simply NOT give up---hmmm... are they THAT important?