Friday, March 16, 2012

Civic Apathy

It's one of those annoying years, presidential election year.  Is it me, or has it seemed like the last four years has just been one long campaign for whomever wants to be in office?

I'll start by saying that the last presidential election was the very first time I have ever voted in my life.  I was 28.  Ten full years after I became old enough to vote.  What took so long, you ask?

Well, I could answer that by telling you it all started when I was in high school and learned about the electoral college and then subsequently questioned the validity of such an archaic and confusing way of electing a president, and while that is true, it isn't the reason I haven't voted.

I could tell you that it is because I don't have any faith in any of the candidates, that they are all imbeciles that have no idea how to run a country, and that they are just in it for the advancement of their own careers, and while I do believe that too, it isn't the reason I haven't voted either.

Honestly, the reason I haven't voted is that I just don't care enough.  Yeah, I know, I should feel guilty for feeling that way-- I should want to vote. I should get all patriotic and feel some sort of civic gratification for being a part of the process blah blah blah.  As a woman, I should feel some sort of duty to the suffragettes of the early 20th century and that should propel me to vote because they sacrificed so much to get the vote for women, but the sad fact is that it just doesn't directly effect my life enough, and guilt isn't really a motivating factor.

I view government elections much the way I viewed student elections-- a bunch of ambitious people clamoring to get us to vote them in, promising all sorts of things they had no control over such as better and more parking spaces, better and more food, and my favorite-- better student involvement whatever that means.  So the students who were dumb enough to waste their time went and voted.  And guess what happened after that?  Nothing.  Nothing changed.  And do you think anything would have changed if that other student was elected instead? Nope.  The only thing that comes from student elections is that the elected students get to put "student government" on their resumes.  The rest of us fall into two camps: those who realize how ineffective it is voting in said elections, and those who are deluded into thinking they are making a difference and continue to vote.

I'm sure I've made several of you angry by now.  Think about it for a moment though-- how much has your individual life changed since Bush was in office?  The only thing that has changed for me is that the jokes are now about a different person, and someone else gets more screen time on SNL.  In fact, I'd venture to say that Obama is the worst president we've had in a very long time, and has my life plummeted as a result? No.  My life is pretty much the same as it always was.  Maybe there have been policies put in place that have effected some of you in a dramatic way, but not me. Not really. Do I feel like my life would be improved at all if McCain had been elected? No, not really. Actually, I think that's a testament to our government working perfectly-- the fact that our standard of living really doesn't alter much from president to president means that our government is functioning perfectly.  Or it might mean that it is completely corrupt, either way I have no control over that.

There just isn't anything in it for me.  How's that for selfish?  What about foreign policy? I gotta be honest with you, I don't know a darn thing about foreign policy, and I highly doubt that it would matter if I did.  Little ol' me here in Southern California won't make an ounce of difference in any election.  Oh-- but back to there not being anything in it for me:  Do you know what happens when you register to vote in a new area or for the first time in general?  Yep-- Jury Duty. Now voting has turned from a neutral activity into a negative one.  First I'm being guilt-tripped into voting, and now I'm being punished for it.  You want to get me out there voting?  Hand out 100$ cash at the voting booth.  I'll be jonny on the spot.  When I did vote last election, I can honestly say that I felt like a fool.  I knew that the guy I was voting for wasn't going to win, and I wasn't even sure I wanted the guy I voted for to win anyway, and a year later I got summoned for jury duty. Thankfully by that time I had moved to Utah and couldn't participate, but trust me, the lesson was learned.

I know, I'm a horrible person.  But I can live with that.  I still have yet to decide if I will vote this election-- it will come down to wether or not I want to risk being called up for Jury Duty.  With my luck I'd be called as a juror for the next OJ Simpson trial and I just don't think I could handle that.  Although, that would mean a break from my kids and free meals for the duration of the trial...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Halloween

For the last couple of days, I have been preparing myself to write a blog post about how much I hate Halloween and for exactly which reasons, but I kept bumping into things about this holiday that I actually enjoyed and this caused a lot of introspection.  I know, it seems silly to be introspective about Halloween, but I couldn't help myself --partly because I over analyze everything, but mostly because I have been thinking a lot about my childhood Halloweens and how I loved them, and what has happened between then and now to make me hate the holiday.

I think for me, it boils down to one principle:  I like things to be simple.  The more we over complicate things, the less I am interested.

There are a few things that stick out in my mind from my childhood Halloweens:  First and foremost was the pumpkins.  I can't speak for my brothers, but for me the main event was pumpkin carving.  I clearly remember looking forward to this all month.  We didn't travel to some overly cutesy pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins, we went to the grocery store.  And we loved it.  We picked out our preferred pumpkin, sometimes looking for the perfectly symmetrical one, and sometimes we favored a more sinister one covered in lumps and scars.  We took them home, and a few days before Halloween we sat around while my Dad carved them for us (this was when we were too little to handle knives).  We didn't have any lame-o pansy safety saw, my dad used a big kitchen knife like a real man.  He would ask what kind of face we wanted, and the choices were something to the tune of "funny" or "scary" etc.  We didn't ever feel the need to buy an intricate pattern and punch holes in or finely carve profoundly artistic shapes into our pumpkins, our designs were unpolished and imperfect and we loved them.

Our costumes were mixes of hand me down costume pieces and creatively used clothing, and occasionally my parents would buy us one or two accessories to accompany them.  If I did ever ask for a fully assembled costume from the store, I don't remember ever getting one.

As far as Halloween decor went, my Mom commissioned us kids to make our own using construction paper and crayons, and we were proud to see them hang in the windows.  I do remember one or two store bought flat paper skeletons with hinges on the joints that we taped to the door or windows.  As we got older, my parents purchased a few more elaborate yard decor items, but for the most part it was pretty scant.

When the time came for trick or treating, we went out among our neighbors and saw our friends along the way.  Our parents didn't drive us to a more affluent neighborhood to get bigger candy bars, we went as far as we could walk and back.  When we got home, we would sort out our candy in little piles and trade with each other.

These are the things I love about Halloween.  Everything on top of this feels very forced to me, I sometimes feel like we as a generation constantly live in a state of gilding the social lily so to speak.  We must overdo things in order to enjoy them. 

The other part of my hatred for Halloween comes from just being an adult.  Halloween is a holiday for kids, let's face it.  As an adult, I resent the fact that my kids whine about having to have a brand new costume every year, I resent having to deal with the makeup and hair that must be done and then undone countless amounts of times because celebrating it once isn't enough these days, we have to have party after party between church and school and then of course the "real Halloween."  And then there is the issue of the candy.  Now that I am an adult, I see candy for what it really is-- unhealthy.  I have never been comfortable feeding my kids candy in any amount.  Diabetes runs in both my family and my husband's family, and I take it very seriously so it's hard not to cringe when I see so much candy being tossed around during Halloween.  Again, it goes back to the over celebrating.  It's not just the load of candy they get on the night of Halloween, its the bags and bags of candy before from every corner of their social lives. Plus the cookies and donuts and pumpkin deserts-- it's enough to make me puke.  Most of my kids' candy will get thrown away which then makes me ponder the colossal waste of money that this holiday is.  To that end, I try to hand out other things like stickers and pencils and rubber bats for the trick or treaters.

So as you can see, I have conflicted feelings about Halloween.  But maybe it just pertains to all holidays in general, I just want to keep them simple.  No more over celebrating.  I did end up having a lot of fun last night just walking with my kids to each house with friends and their kids and enjoying all of the other adorable kids.  It was the most I've enjoyed Halloween all month.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


As you all know, we just moved to a different state.  This means a couple of things right off the bat:  School starts a couple of weeks later than our last home, my children do not have seasoned playmates, or any playmates for that matter to whose houses they can go or with whom to play in the streets, and lastly, we are currently living in a house less than half the size of the one we just moved out of.  Add to these the fact that I am suffering my third day of migraines and you have what my dad would call the recipe for a perfect storm.

I'm not sure if you could call me a pessimist or a realist or what it is that you would call me, in truth I have struggled to understand why it is that some people are cheery all the time and never admit to having a negative thought, or if they do it is always punctuated with some sort of pollyanna-ish lesson and a cherry on top.  I'm not that person.  Maybe they know something I don't.  Maybe they have reached some sort of zen like state where they are unable to express negative thought or admit that they hate life sometimes too, I truly don't know, but more importantly, I just don't understand.

I find that I relate much better to people who can admit they have faults and also that they come unglued and lose it from time to time.  These people make sense to me, and they validate my "normalcy."

There are plenty of blogs out there written by women who have children that ooh and ahh and gush about how adorable their kids are and how they always love them and always have perspective of how everything is going to work out despite the little ups and downs that "life with kids" brings.  Fundamentally, yeah, I am optimistic and have faith that everything will work out if I do what I know to be my best, but that doesn't always eradicate the sometimes dark and sometimes scary feelings I have as a mother.

I think that I've been able to trace all of these feelings down to one simple yet profoundly intense fact:  These children are mine. Yeah, these are my kids.  My kids.  mine.  They must stay with me.  They must be with me.  I must feed them.  I must clothe them.  I must not hurt them.  I.  Me.  Mine.  When they cry and scream and smell and misbehave and beg for food and brake things and lose things and hit and bite and hate, they must be with me.  When I wake up, they are there.  When I want to shower, I have to find something for them to do.  When I go to the store, I must take them with me, and when we are at the store and they run around and yell and brake things and fight and cry and scream and humiliate me, I must remain with them and then take them home with me so that we can be together in the very same house for the rest of their young lives.  I'm afraid this description doesn't do justice to the intensity of this fact.  Perhaps if you are a parent, you'll understand a bit, and definitely if you are the mother of young kids you ought to understand (assuming of course you are capable of realistic thought), but despite what you may have heard and for those of you who aren't parents, this is nothing like owning a pet.  In fact whenever I hear of the comparison, I am deeply insulted.  To put it simply, as my husband so perfectly articulated:  "if you have a dog and you want to go out for a bit, all you have to do is put the dog in it's pen."

Sometimes, I don't like being with them at all, and sometimes I don't want to be anywhere near them.  In fact, I have actually muttered the phrase "I hate kids."  There is no way to adequately portray the demands that each child puts on his parents, you see, they aren't your friends.  They don't understand or care when they have crossed a line.  The social cues that you and I use to navigate regular relationships do not apply to children and mothers.  For instance, I would never in a million years walk into the bedroom of one of my friends uninvited at 6 am and demand to be fed at the top of my lungs and then scream and cry when asked politely to leave, but this kind of behavior is commonplace with my children.  And on it goes throughout the day.  They verbally and emotionally abuse me all day long every day.  They use me and yell at me and enslave me.

One of the things I find darkly humorous is when an outsider gives advice or looks down on you somehow for not being a perfect parent all of the time.  My favorite of late came from a woman in church who made a comment years ago.  She is a grandmother, and was referencing a time when she was watching her toddler grandson who of course had thrown a tantrum as toddlers are want to do, and she, upon encountering said tantrum, almost got upset but then was able to calm down and do something humorous to diffuse the situation, and then she proceeded to tell us that all young mothers should apply the same tactic to avoid yelling at their kids.  I think I laughed out loud.  That "solution" is tragically overly simplistic.  To think that an intelligent and caring human being would yell at a child with only the slightest provocation is absurd especially when the adult in question loves the child.  No, we generally hold it together the first 250,000 times of being provoked.  It is only after days and days of tantrums and the like, after we have calmly and quietly dealt with the situation that we start to lose it.  And lose it we do sometimes.  Or at least I do.  Sometimes.  Actually, you can count on me losing it at least every 29 days or so thanks to my hormones.  This last time I kicked the garbage can over while screaming "I HATE THIS DAMN HOUSE!!!!" attractive, right?  PMS must take at least part of the blame for that, I refuse to shoulder all of it. (by the way, PMS and children are a horrible mix, I should really be in solitary confinement during that day or two each month.  Just throw in a good book and some chocolate and I'll see you when I'm closer to normal.  That way no one gets killed.)  I've earned the right to be annoyed with my children, as often as I want for whatever reason I want.  Others, though do not have the same right.  Don't you dare spend 10 minutes with my kids and act like they are driving you crazy-- you haven't put in the time.

I like to laugh about it and make jokes and sarcastically remark that I'd like to sell them to traveling gypsies, but there are moments occasionally when I really freak out and wonder if I should have had children at all?  Sometimes those moments come on days like this when I haven't had a break from them for a long time and the stress compounds and I read comments from my friends on facebook about how much they miss their kids since they have been in school (??).  Missing my kids on days like this is an impossible feeling.  But that's what makes being a mother so darn complex, because as intense as the desire to push them away is, the desire to keep them close is just as intense and just as present.  In fact, it isn't uncommon to feel both ends of the spectrum in a matter of seconds, I want to lock them outside to fend for themselves at the same time I am sad and proud of the fact that my daughter has lost her first tooth and seems so grown up.  I want to hug and cuddle and kiss my preschooler at the same time I want to spank him for getting out of bed the millionth time.

One thing is for sure, there is not a single thing on this earth that is harder, more emotionally taxing, or more rewarding than being a mother, and though it is hard to imagine on days like this when their constant screaming pierces my brain over and over again, I know that when they start school next week I will most likely miss them at some point.  Maybe.  Well, maybe after a week or two of enjoying the peace and quiet I'll miss them...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Moving on.

I was having a very lazy summer. Sleeping in, making breakfast for my kids way too late in the morning, letting them play video games as long as they wanted as long as they didn't argue, that kind of thing. No structure, no plans, no workbooks of any sort. We were not making any attempts at "learning" anything or "retaining knowledge" per se-- we were swimming and lounging around. It was wonderful. I did this because I had had enough of the structure of school and I wanted to really embrace the ease of summer. I had sewing projects lined up and new novels bought for myself, and then all of that came to a screeching halt at the end of June.

Jon had earlier applied for a job with a different company because it was just time to find a new opportunity, but-- I put that out of my mind because I didn't want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed to pieces if they decided not to hire him. Well, they did decide to hire him which meant that we were on our way to the west coast. California! We are moving to Southern California! Can you believe it? Disneyland, the beach, you name it. So my lazy carefree summer quickly gave way to trying to find a good place to live with good schools for my kids, purging all of the junk that we've collected over the space of three years, trying to figure out how we make 5,000 sq ft of stuff fit into a 1,500 sq ft space, and all of the other "fun" things that go with moving.

I couldn't be more thrilled. This is the right thing for us, at the perfectly right time. Of course there are friends and family that are loved that will be dearly missed, but we will always be back to visit.

There is the rather large issue of the interruption of my schooling-- but the silver lining is that I'm heading to one of the few states in the union that have a plethora of really great fashion design schools so don't worry about me I'm a very driven chick, and I will get the training I've wanted all my life.

So wish us luck! We'll let you know how it goes, and in the mean time, I will be stubbornly holding on to my new books and sewing projects fitting them in any spare minute that I can.

And if you're ever in Orange County-- look us up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Special Training

I have always had a deep respect for all men and women who serve in any capacity in our country's armed forces including, of course, the families who sacrifice their loved ones to protect our freedom. Lately, I have been very intrigued with the training involved in the more elite military groups i.e. the Marines, Navy Seals etc. I'm fascinated by what some people are willing to put themselves through and also with the mental and physical and emotional limits that a body can withstand without dying. It is simultaneously gruesome, horrifying, and staggeringly impressive. I think, though, that there is a life experience that needs be part of their training. An experience that will push them past their capabilities and more fully enhance their ability to cope in inhumanely traumatic situations. That experience is this: potty training a toddler.

There is nothing on Earth, no other experience that has the ability to drop you to your knees and beg for sweet mercy like potty training a toddler. These little monsters will break you mentally, physically, and emotionally. I don't care what you think you can handle, who you think you are, or what you've accomplished thus far, as soon as you get rid of the diapers and dole out the underwear, that sadistic little being has you by the jugular.

Every child is different of course, but the majority of them follow a pattern similar to this one:

Immediately, they will mess with your head. You will be going along, blissfully following your regular schedule of parenting. Your toddler has exerted some independence by now, and thus far it has been reasonably well received. You want to eat your own food? Fine, less work for me. You want to climb into your car seat by yourself? Go to it kiddo, my joints could use a break. You want to put your own shoes on? God gave us velcro. You want to pick out your own clothes even though they are seasonally inappropriate and don't match on any level and thereby make me look like an incompetent moron of a parent? Bring it. I couldn't care less how crazy you look in public. And then it comes-- suddenly your toddler is showing interest in the toilet. Rookie parents will at this moment make the mistake of getting excited. They start to visualize a day when they won't ever have to change another diaper, but experienced parents know that diapers represent control, and control is worth a little butt wipe now and then. Experienced parents generally panic at this point and will hold off as long as they can. Eventually, though, you will have to give in. Preschool is coming faster and faster, and they won't take Jr. unless he is fully potty trained (experienced parents will, however, find a way around this). Right here, your toddler has you beat. As soon as you begin to tell yourself that this is his or her idea and should therefore be motivated by him or her, you've been had. Big time. Every parent falls for it though, because your toddler is very convincing, and very stubborn. For multiple days on end he will have you convinced that this is his idea. It won't be until you are well into the process that you will realize that they are messing with your head.

Occasionally, they will even throw you a bone at the beginning, teasing you into thinking it will be easier than you thought. Perhaps they will go once or twice on the toilet without any hassle at all, perhaps they will master either peeing or pooping without a problem, or perhaps they will go for the first three or more days without an accident. If this sounds familiar, buckle up. This is when you are at your weakest, this is when they strike. You are a sitting duck, you may have even bragged to your friends and family about your seemingly easy success. Then, suddenly, Jr. doesn't want to go on the toilet anymore, he wants to go on his own terms. He wants to be in control. The problem is, toddlers are by nature, out of control. Imagine handing a loaded, fully automatic M-16 to a toddler and then stepping back. That is essentially what is happening now. Your toddler's body is loaded for bear and you have suddenly relinquished all control of the situation.

At first, you will try to reason with your child: Your body will tell you when you need to go, and when it does, go on the toilet. If you poop in your underwear it will be messy and stinky, and it will give you a rash, and you don't want that. If you hold your poop in your body, your body will get sick, so just relax and let it out on the toilet. Trust me, it will be better for all of us if you just go on the toilet. But, your toddler and you both know you're the sucker that has to clean it up if he goes in his pants.

After this approach doesn't work, you tell yourself that it'll click if he has a little incentive. You will begin to bargain with stickers or trinkets or fun activities, and when that doesn't work, you will go against the parenting code of ethics and bribe with unholy amounts of candy and junk food. Guess what? This won't work either.

At this time, good sense and the ability to control one's self has long sense left on holiday, and you are left with primitive instinctual tactics. You will yell at your child, you will scream, you will cry, you will rant and rave. Why? you demand, why won't you just GO ON THE TOILET?? PLEASE! I know that you need to, I know that it's in there, for the love of all things good and holy just go on the toilet!! You are tired, you are drained, and the act of handling poop with your bare hands for days on end has done something irreversible to your mental well being. You have sat way closer to a person on the toilet than you've ever wanted to be for forty or more minutes at a time begging and pleading with him, trying to get him to stay on the toilet until it comes out because he said he had to poop. Then, you will finally give in and let him get off the toilet to go play only to be told, as you are pulling up his pants, that he has to go poop again. And after you've tried again for another forty minutes and as soon as you get his pants on, he will immediately poop in his underwear. You will be punished in this manner over and over until the horror of potty training sinks deep in to your psyche. You will remember a faint past day when you were intelligent and dignified and had some measure of control, but now, with your hands permanently infused with the smell of human waste, you have been reduced to a whimpering, sniveling, scullery maid. The only one learning something here is you, and that something is that you never want to do this ever again.

At this point, you will walk around in awe of other parents (or even yourself if this isn't your first time), they did it, they made it out of this horrible stage! How did they do it? Suddenly, every parent looks like a hero to you, even that shrewish harpy of a woman who prostituted her own children via a reality television show in the name of making a living-- Kate Gosselin. Even she will be heroic to you because despite her many faults in parenting, she was able to potty train twin toddlers at the same time and then four years later, sextuplets at the same time. She's practically Wonder Woman, and should have her own planet and diamond studded castle.

And, if somehow miraculously, you make it through this task without committing a felony, you will deserve a medal. No one will give you one, but you will deserve it none the less.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Goals

Last year, I lost all of the weight I had gained by making babies, and I remember that day when I reached my goal and didn't have to diet as strictly anymore. I was happy, but oddly, I felt a serious sense of loss and disorientation. I had been "trying" to lose weight for about 8 or so years on and off between pregnancies, and at the reach of this goal I had been so dedicated that for a while I didn't know what to do with myself. What on earth was I going to do with all of that extra time and energy? I needed some serious direction. I immediately thought that I might like to tone up my newly smaller self and get some much needed muscle and strength, but I didn't really know where or how to do that properly.

I finally feel like I have found a great program to do that with (P90X for those who are curious), and so I embark today on another physically challenging goal.

For me, there is just something about being thirty-- I'm finally old enough to realize that I have to make my own destiny (physically or otherwise), and for the first time in my life I can clearly see that someday I will get old. I refuse to let my body turn into a puddle of useless goo. I want to be strong and healthy for the rest of my life. As it stands, my muscles are in a very sad state of underuse. My core muscles are so completely weak that I can barely do any activity for too long without my back hurting. Case in point-- I went on a bike ride with my little family, and long before my legs and my heart complained, my neck and back complained. That's pathetic.

After I lost my weight, I immediately had a surge of desire for any type of physical activity, and one of those was to learn how to surf. My brother-in-law gave me a small lesson one afternoon on our last trip to Hawaii, and what I mostly learned from him was that in order to surf, I'd have to execute a perfect push up and then throw my legs and feet under my chest before I even had to worry about balance and sharks and other sea creatures. The thing is, I can't really do a push up. My upper body strength doesn't exist. I want to be strong and fit enough to tackle any activity that I want to do at any time.

And in a more vain area, I am sick to death of my stomach hanging out of my clothes. One of the adorable girls in my sewing class asked me one day what it felt like not to look like I had been married for 10 years, and I laughed but inside I thought, What is a woman supposed to look like after 10 years of marriage? Haggard? Worn down? Lumpy? Am I supposed to hand over my femininity and body shape just because I'm 30 and already married? Hell no. I'm not living the rest of my life like this, I'm doing something about it.

And so it begins. 90 days from now, I will be a new person. I will be stronger, fitter, and tighter, and when I travel to oceanside, CA with my family this year, I will learn how to surf because pushups will be a piece of cake. And when the 90 days comes to an end, I will find another challenge and I will continue to challenge myself physically for the rest of my life.

Cheer me on?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Year Long Goal

(helloooo.....? I've missed you, have you missed me??)

Right around my celebration of New Year's, I thought up for myself a rather challenging goal to implement this year. This differs from a resolution in that a resolution is something that you hope to accomplish and then continue to do for the rest of your life (ideally) for example: Be healthier; stop swearing; manage money better; blah blah blah you get the idea. A goal on the other hand, is something that you can accomplish and then go back to where you were before if you so choose.

So without further ado, my goal for 2011 is to not purchase for myself any clothing. Now do you see why I say I want to be free to go back to my previous state after the goal is completed? So far, it has been unbelievably hard (pathetic, isn't it?). In fact, part of the reason I have taken my sweet time to announce this on my blog is that I balked a little after initially deciding to do it. What if a completely new style of jeans comes out this year and I won't be able to buy them? I actually thought this not more than a few days after making this goal. Yes I know this sounds completely shallow, and I frequently have to remind myself (and maybe others), that I am actually an intelligent being with depths beyond that of clothing and fashion, and that my interest in clothing is that of an artistic standpoint as well as just good clean fun (right? Are you with me?).

I decided to do this for a couple of different reasons: Firstly, I have a closet full of clothing that is both high in quality and classic in style, and I just wondered if I was using it to it's full potential. It seemed as though I just kept buying new pieces rather than wear what I already owned. Secondly, I wanted to save my money-- or at least spend it on different things. Thirdly, it just sounded like an interesting challenge; I wonder if I can go the whole year without buying a single article of clothing? and that sort of thing. I feel as though this would be an appropriate time to mention that I have not ever gone into debt buying clothes, nor have I squandered our children's college education fund on designer clothes (mainly because my children don't have a college fund), the money being spent is my own personal money to be used for whatever it is that I choose to do with it. Our kids are not going naked or hungry, nor do I have a problem befitting a visit to a daytime talk show about women who cannot stop spending (so don't any of you dare to even think about nominating me, I have receipts and proof).

So far, I have learned a lot about myself, and I think this will be very good for me. I've always thought that instant gratification is a thing to avoid, even when you can get something immediately seemingly without any horrible consequences like debt. Telling yourself "no" every once in a while just for the hell of it is a good thing. Despite these beliefs, I had fallen into the habit of just purchasing clothing like it was a reaction to having money. I think the roots of this habit go back to my college student days where I would use my money for clothing rather than food.

Since I have started this little journey, I have actually felt an odd sense of relief. I no longer have to pay attention to the 50 emails from clothing retailers that I get each morning, I can just delete them. I no longer stress when I receive notice of a sale, thinking I had to participate and take advantage of the good prices. Also, I have learned to think a little more before just spending because there have already been a handful of times where I was seriously considering breaking my goal or making an exception for such and such. But-- I found myself putting thoughts of these items on hold and asking myself what was worth more to me, the ability to complete a challenging and worthwhile goal (thereby adding immensely to my self confidence), or having a cute new fill-in-the-blank? And in that thought process, I found myself letting go of the thing I thought I needed and strategizing how to make do without (you know, as if it is that big of a sacrifice).

Now, I do have a couple of caveats to this goal of mine:

1. While I am unable to purchase clothing, I am able to purchase fabric and patterns and make myself some clothing.

2. Underclothing and socks do not count.

3. Shoes are not necessarily part of the deal either, and that goes for handbags and other accessories.

So do you think I'll be able to make it? Should we place bets?

Now I just have to decide if bathing suits count...

**if you are so inclined, you may purchase the above depicted dress at Anthropologie. I, however, will be using this picture as inspiration for a similar dress to make myself sometime during the year.