September Monthly Challenge

Happy with how last month’s challenge went, I am moving forward and going to keep the ball rolling!

Reflecting on the month challenges, as well as the weekly challenges I did last year, I really enjoy doing different things like this. Whether it is challenging me to get out of my comfort zone and do something new or to entertain self-imposed austerity, the experience teaches me about what I can and can’t do, what I am and am not comfortable with, and challenges my concepts of what I want, what I need, what to do and how to live.

As someone who can have the tendency of overdoing things, I have given myself another 3 difficult challenges for the month of September.

  1. No hot water showers
  2. No use of furniture at home
  3. Exercise and/or yoga every day

 

No hot water?

I don’t think I have any real reason to be trying this out, to be honest. While travelling last year it was pretty rare to have hot water. I found those showers to be intense, refreshing and pretty great at waking you up.

The way I would shower went something like this: jump in and quickly get covered in freezing cold water. Turn off water and lather up. Turn water back on, jump in and rinse. What I experienced was that the first initial water blast was freezing. But after lathering up and jumping back in, the water would feel much warmer, and wasn’t that bad at all.

I think this will be challenging from a comfort stand point. Just yesterday I took a nice hot shower. I took my time. It felt nice. I thought to myself, “Could I really give this up for a month?”… we shall see!

The roman statesman and stoic philosophy Seneca would write about how extravagant and unnecessary bath houses and spas were. It is a common theme in stoic philosophy that anything in excess is almost surely not healthy for the soul/spirit.

No furniture?

This is inspired by my few visits to Japan. While staying there with a friend I would sleep on a thin bamboo ‘mattress’ on the floor. It was quite comfortable. I am also conscious of the fact that in many cultures the family will sit on the floor, or on pillows or mats/rugs within the living quarters and eat their meals like that, off the floor.

I am going to make use of my pillows, my stretching machine, and my yoga mats for this month. I will sleep on a doubled up yoga mat (wish me luck!), on the floor. My dog knows not to jump onto the bed, but I wonder if she will come lie on my chest if I am on the ground 🙂

I think that being unable to lie back in my reclining couch that I will be forced to do different things. Perhaps go outside for a walk, perhaps be more active, perhaps stretch more, do more yoga in the house, play with my dog more, meditate more, etc.Essentially, if I removed the ability to lazily lie back and read/watch something, will be daily life become more active/productive? What will it look like?

I will, though, use furniture outside my house. I will allow myself to use my outdoor picnic table as well.

Exercise/Yoga everyday.

Pretty simple. I want to be more consistent with my physical exercise. I haven’t been too bad lately, but I think by forcing myself to do it everyday I will 1. create a healthy and active habit and 2. force myself to be creative and practice new ways of exercising. I never go outside for jogs, but I can see myself doing that, or exercising in a nearby park, rather than going to the gym, simply for variety.

 

This month should be fun! I am going to go take my last hot shower for the month. Wish me luck!

First Monthly Challenge Done

For the last month I gave myself 3 challenges to stick to. They were:

1. Have no sugar in my diet aside from some honey with my Greek yogurt.

2. Get rid of a possession every day of the month.

3.Stick to my morning/night routine.

How did it go? 

Not bad. Not bad.

As far as having no sugar goes, I was motivated because I was getting out of hand. Consistently having one, two or four cheesecakes in a given week as getting to me. Once I made a firm desire to stay away from sugar the desire went away. I only had sugar twice during the month. Once when a friend brought me a sugary drink as a gift and I didn’t want to be rude by refusing her gift. The other was when I did cave and bought myself a corn bread. It looked so dense and moist.

Other than that, I didn’t have any sugar in my diet aside from natural sugars in fruits, and the honey that I would use sparingly now and then when I would eat some plain Greek yogurt.

What did I get out of it? Well, I have a tendency to binge eat when it comes to sweats and pastries. I will eat and eat and eat. The idea of having enough or being full is just not available. The result of that is feeling like garbage and lethargic afterwards.

Without sugar in my diet, I wasn’t binge eating and my energy levels were a lot more stable. This was hardly surprising.

Bye bye possessions.

‘A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.’ ~Henry David Thoreau

In that span of a month, this is what I got rid of. (Keep in mind, I already consider myself a minimalist)

  1. Giant Chalkboard
  2. Leather jacket
  3. 2 pinup boards
  4. Glass jars/containers
  5. BBQ set
  6. Hackeysack
  7. Tea pot/plastic juice bottles/thermos
  8. Glass coffee table
  9. Fire place (electric)
  10. Crockpot
  11. Toaster
  12. Neck pillow
  13. Microwave
  14. Bag of clothes in my room
  15. Popcorn tin
  16. Old tv
  17. Set of old blinds
  18. Old cabinet doors
  19. Random things in my cupboards (chocolatini mix)
  20. Other random things in drawers
  21. Candy dish
  22. Random metal poles that have been in my house for years that I have no idea where they came from
  23. Some dvd’s
  24. Black end table
  25. More old clothes
  26. Collectors item
  27. Water bottle thermos
  28. Kitchen utencils/tools
  29. Fan
  30. Couch
  31. Video camera and tripod

Did I learn anything?

Well, I have lots of stuff. Much much more than I need or require. Much more than I was aware of. Some of the things that I threw away I had used consistently (couch, table, microwave), but really don’t require and can easily do without. Most of the things I got rid of I haven’t touched or used in years, or since the last time I moved.

With this also came quite a bit of re-organizing and cleaning. My house is now much cleaner, more open and spacious, less cluttered, less busy. It is a bit more enjoyable. Simpler. Which is nice.

Routines

This is the one that gave me the hardest time. The first two weeks I was consistently sticking to my routines. Waking up, lemon water, meditating, shower, spending time in the backyard to collect my thoughts and be present. At night, a moment to reflect on my day, a moment of gratitude, no phone or electronics in bed.

The let those routines pretty much completely fall away once I had to start to help out with a summer camp around mid-August.

What did i get from this? Well, I will say that it was great to be consistently meditating again. After a few days of consistently meditating I experience a difference in general quality of my experience in day to day living. I found myself going to bed at a more respectable hour, as I wasn’t lying in bed on my phone doing this or that from the time I “went to bed” to the time I actually fell asleep. I was more present, more aware, and had a higher general feeling of being content.

I look forward to getting this back on track.

 

All this to say, it was a good month. Getting rid of stuff was extremely enjoyable. It helped me to clean and de-clutter my living space. I will probably do another one in the months to come. The next 30 or so things to go will be more of a challenge. I hope to use this past month of sugar austerity to help me curb my cravings, and hope to re-visit and turn my morning and night routines into habit.

Time for the next months challenges!