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Finishing the 8 Challenge

As I happily wear a red sweater that I missed wearing all last month, I’m reflecting onoutfit2 the 8 Challenge that Randi and I did during November…

It was so great to do this with someone else (and several listeners who said they joined us!).  Processing our thoughts and feelings together was so helpful.

This challenge really did grow my gratitude and helped re-calibrate my attitude about clothing and my appearance.  I no longer feel that I am greatly lacking. Oddly, with fewer items to choose from, my creativity greatly increased and I felt really good about what I wore most of the time. I have always felt that my fashion/wardrobe skills are lacking, so being able to do so much with so little was encouraging. I’m looking forward to carrying that creativity forward (especially as I try out the capsule wardrobe concept next).

In November, I took the opportunity to clear out a bunch of clothing, jewelry, and shoes that I no longer need or wear. This was a great “cleansing” process for me as I lived out some simplicity/minimalism with my clothes. It also motivated my husband and me to clear out other areas of clutter in our home! Hooray!

This paring back to 8 items of clothing in November forced me to really, honestly look at my views of consumption, image, creativity, commercialism, beauty, and provision. It was a convicting thought to me that this was a rather “privileged” experiment (I have the option to go back to my ways of excess in December) and I am a little embarrassed about how much energy I’ve put into feeling discontent over the years about what I’m wearing. I hold that in tension with the understanding that clothioutfit1ng can be an expression of my personality and that’s not unimportant, either. Whether I like it or not, the image that I present by the clothes I wear, does matter – but, of course, it’s not the only thing that matters.

A smaller realization was that color really matters to me. I missed red and purple so much during this challenge! I actually never thought much about how good those colors make me feel when I wear them. About halfway thought the challenge I was really bummed to wear blue/grey/black… *again*!

Now that I have my fuller wardrobe available to me once again, I feel so grateful for all of the options that I have. I’m grateful for the variety and options – something that I took for granted before the challenge. I’m thankful for the perspective shift that has taken place deeper within me.

If you did the challenge (or a similar one), what are some of your takeaways?

The Faithful 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

The 8 Items of Clothing that Lori Wore, November 2014

8 Challenge, Update #2

lori outfitWe’re two weeks into the 8 Challenge! Of course, I’m a bundle of mixed emotions about it…

The good:
1) I’m still loving the forced simplicity.
2) I love not digging through clothes to find something to wear.
3) I have been surprised at my creativity in putting outfits together with just 8 items and some accessories! Each outfit feels special to me.
4) Packing for a quick trip to see my parents earlier this month was easy – it made me smile as I packed my simple wardrobe. My usual stressed-out packing was completely stress-free!  🙂randi outfit
5) It’s a delight to do this challenge with Randi. We have been exchanging emails with funny stories, insights and lessons. She has helped me stick to it!
6) It’s been good for me to purposefully not buy clothing – I didn’t realize how impulsive my clothing purchases tend to be.

The bad:
1) I can’t wait to wear something different! 🙂
2) I am really missing variety and color.
3) I’m afraid that this experiment is going to be the end of these 8 clothing items because I’m wearing them so much – and most of them were items that I purchases used.
4) I’m accident prone and tend to spill food and coffee on myself (and I’m often covered in cat hair)… so, keeping my clothes tidy is a challenge. In the past, I would just quickly change clothes after spilling coffee/soup/sloppy joes on myself, but now I don’t really have that as a sustainable option. Spot cleaning works, but I find that I’m sometimes a little stressed about trying to keep clean.

Here’s a little email pep talk that Randi sent to me the other day after I expressed that I was starting to feel a little bored with my 8 clothing items…

Here’s the upside. It’s not our clothes that makes us who we are. It’s us. Let us shine up those “boring” outfits with a smile and an extra bounce in our steps. We don’t have to spend precious time thinking of what to wear, finding it and putting it back. My bedroom is no longer having my clothes sitting around. Nope, every evening it either goes on the one empty hanger or in the laundry. I don’t have to fight with an overfilled closet. Still appreciating the simplicity. We can do this, almost half way there 🙂 Randi

See?  Isn’t she great?  So thankful to be doing this challenge with a friend!  How about you?  Are you joining us?  What’s your good/bad list about this 8 Challenge?

(BTW – I’ve been posting my outfits each day on my Facebook page. Check it out if you’re interested. I created a photo album there called 8 Challenge with all of the outfits.)

 

8 Challenge, Update #1

20141102_092929

One week into the 8 Challenge (my wardrobe for the month of November consists of 8 pieces of clothing)… my biggest challenges so far?

1) Laundry.  Since I only have 1 or 2 pieces of clothing that need to be washed at a time, it’s a bit of a challenge to wash/dry my clothes. But, I’m also loving that I’m not overwhelmed by laundry.

2) I’ve been really tempted to go clothes shopping this week!  :-/  I normally really dislike clothes shopping, but since engaging in this challenge, I’ve had a huge urge to go shopping!

Since it’s only been a week, I’m not feeling bored with my 8 pieces of clothing yet.  I’m actually having a lot of fun putting different pieces together with a scarf or necklace.  I feel free in a way I didn’t expect. I actually used to go to sleep at night dreading trying to figure out what to wear the next day! Now, it’s easy-peasy and I’m not stressing at all.  I’ve also taken on clearing out my jewelry. I’ve donated most of it and pared it down 20141103_071541to pieces that I feel are “me” (I’ve finally realized that my style really is minimal – I like subtle, small pieces. I enjoy looking at big sparkly pieces, but never ever wear them.) and I actually wear. Again – SO freeing!

I *might* be cheating just a bit by wearing my lightweight white down vest a lot – I’m counting it as a “coat”, which is a freebie in this challenge. Another area where I *might* have cheated: I bought some shoes.  I guess they’re technically apparel, but after clearing out my closet (I’m preparing to try the www.un-fancy.com method beginning in December!) and getting rid of the shoes that hurt my feet or just didn’t wear, I found that I own 4 pairs of shoes (boots, 2 pr tennis shoes, 1 pr boat shoes)  and I was in need of a pair of all-purpose non-athletic shoes. I found some cute red flats on sale that I know I’ll wear a lot this Autumn.

 

Here’s an update from Randi:

randi outfitI was thinking about, that even if we have to wear two extra sweaters or a sweater and a vest to stay warm, the experiment is still a mind blowing eye opener. Who would have thought that something so basic would speak to me in such a loud and clear manner. It already started when I picked out my eight pieces. I felt this excitement, and as I started to put all my other clothes away, I felt this sense of peace and freedom. I know It’s only a few days into the challenge, and I may view this differently at the end. But for now, I truly love not having to thinkrandi outfit 2 too much about what to wear, and don’t have to fight through a pile of sweaters to find the one piece I was looking for. I can spend my time on something more productive and maybe even fun. I believe this message will carry through, had we picked even twenty pieces of clothing. I’m loving it, and am convinced that many great conversations will take place based on this.

How about you?  Are you doing the 8 Challenge?  What are your thoughts and challenges so far?

Randi’s 8 Challenge

Randi LundgrenI (Lori) roped in a partner in crime for this 8 Challenge during November – Randi Lundgren!  Randi is also one of the small group members going through the book “Free: Spending Your Time and Money On What Matters Most” by Mark and Lisa Scandrette.

Randi has been enthusiastic from the beginning – excited for this challenge and the thought of a freer perspective on clothing… if it wasn’t for Randi, I might not have gone through with the challenge myself!  Ah, the power of partnership!  🙂  We’re cheering on the rest of you who are also participating!  Feel free to email your pictures and thoughts to: midday@moody.edu

Here are Randi’s 8 items of clothing that she’s wearing this month:

1 pr jeans
1 pr pants
1 dress
1 jacket
1 cardigan
2 shirts
1 long cardigan (can be worn as a dress)

randi 8 challenge

Here are the “rules” during the month long challenge:

Have 8 pieces of “anchor” clothing.
We can wear belts, jewelry, scarves.
Coats, undies, socks, shoes, workout clothes, and PJs are “freebies” in this challenge.
No clothing purchases.
Repair clothing if a mishap occurs (ie, no replacement pieces).

Lori’s 8 Challenge

FreeWe’ve been enjoying a small group study in the book, “Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most” by Mark and Lisa Scandrette.  It’s been challenging and it has shifted my (Lori’s) perspective a bit.  Thinking and talking about pursuing simplicity and contentment drew me to consider (what Mark and Lisa call) a “voluntary fast”.  A voluntary fast is setting aside something that is not necessarily “bad”, but perhaps something that could have a disordered place in my life.

I’m chronically discontent with my wardrobe.  I’ve never had a lot of money to spend on clothes and I don’t enjoy shopping, though I do enjoy an occasional treasure hunt at our local thrift shop.  As I walk to work each day, I admire the “together”, classy looks of women around me in the city.  “If only I had that outfit, I’d be prettier, happier and confident… (sigh)”  Several years ago I stopped reading fashion magazines because I know it just feeds into my discontent.  Yet, this is still an almost daily internal “ick” of discontent/envy about clothing.  I try to remind myself of Scripture, “don’t worry about what you will wear”, but having clothing is not the problem – I can get loads and loads of secondhand clothing at thrift shops very cheaply.  My discontent is about having the (supposed) right clothing.  I don’t want to live this way.  I want to live in gratitude, with a broader perspective of what really matters.  Looking nice is a value of mine, and I don’t feel that’s wrong, but it’s become disordered.

So, in an attempt to refocus, Randi Lundren (one of the members of our “Free” study) and I will only wear 8 pieces of clothing during the month of November.  (BTW – I loosely based this challenge from a 6 items challenge I read about here and here and here. Randi and I struggled with settling on 6 pieces, so we went with 8! 🙂 )

Feel free to join us and let us know if you do!

Here are the “rules” during the month long challenge:

Have 8 pieces of “anchor” clothing.
We can wear belts, jewelry, scarves.
Coats, undies, socks, shoes, workout clothes, and PJs are not counted in this challenge.
No clothing purchases.
Repair clothing if a mishap occurs (ie, no replacement pieces).

So, here are the pieces I’ve decided on:
2 sweaters
3 tops
1 dress
1 jeans
1 black pants

lori 8 challenge

 

 

Midday blog: Sorry

The other day I watched this video and while I cheered, I also got a little teary-eyed.  I believe that most women can tend to apologize too much for things that aren’t their fault!  I left the house feeling confident and we went to a party.  As I entered the room that was loud with laughter and conversation, I immediately felt my introverted, shy self feel less confident.  I heard someone mention a cheese tray, which gave me something to look for and do, so I wound my way through the crowd, seeking cheese and crackers.  As I navigated the crowd, a man suddenly stepped back and waved his arms as he told a story and he ran right into me.  Immediately, I said, “Oh! Sorry!”  He said, “That’s okay.” and he went back to his story.  Sigh.  I was so disappointed with myself!  Why did I apologize when I’d done nothing wrong?  How did I so quickly step back into being a “Christian Nice Girl”, saying “sorry”?

This issue of being quick to apologize is bigger than “who’s right/who’s wrong” – it’s an indication of something deeper going on.  Why do I so naturally fall back in to apologizing for taking up space?  For most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I don’t have the right to take up space.  I would often dismiss my own voice, feeling insignificant and unworthy of being listened to.  God has been healing me in this area over the past few years.  I want to live confidently and fully into how God created me, living as God’s good woman.

For one week, try to notice how often you and women around you say, “I’m sorry”.  Reflect on what you noticed and ask God if He might be speaking to you about that.

Lori NeffLori Neff is the senior producer of Midday Connection and editor/contributor for Daily Seeds: From Women Who Walk in Faith and Tending the Soul (Moody Publishers). She grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. Lori is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John (and their three fiesty cats). For more information and her blog please visit Lori’s website.

Midday blog: Jesus Loves Her, Too

I often begin my day with some time of silence.  I think of it as sitting with Jesus and enjoying being with Him.  I just sit, palms open, eyes closed, breathing, aware of Jesus with me.  One morning, I was sitting quietly with Jesus and my beautiful, long-haired cat, Scarlett, jumped on my lap.  She’s a little on the chubby side, so when she laid down over my hands, I could feel her soft, full, warm belly spilling over my lap.  She immediately began to purr, tail swishing back and forth contentedly.  This.  This moment is wonderful.  My heart is happy and I feel great love for this little creature on my lap.  I sighed and said to Jesus apologetically, “I sure do love her. A lot.  I know there are starving children in the world and lots of pain all around me… I feel guilty sometimes for loving my cat.  But.  I do.”  I sighed again, and felt Jesus say to me, “So do I.”  I was stunned!  Really, Jesus?  You love her, too?  Immediately, tears came to my eyes.  Could it be that I’ve been feeling guilt over something that I didn’t need to feel guilty about?  Could it be that this warm, soft, comforting, purring creature is a gift?  An expression of God’s grace and love?

Have you ever had a moment when you were shown a comforting truth that released false guilt?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Halt

This past Lent, I decided to set aside a food item that’s been a comfort and a go-to item at the end of the day when I want some comfort. I felt the desire to set it aside so that I could take time to ask God if I was avoiding anything deeper. Was this benign comfort item hiding a deeper ache that needed my attention?  Thinking about this one day, I vaguely recalled hearing the acronym “HALT”…something about a checklist to help us pay attention to what’s going on when we’re feeling stressed. So, I did some searching and found more information on it.  Here’s what the acronym stands for:

H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired

The idea is to check in with yourself when you’re feeling stressed or out of sorts – are you hungry?  Are you angry?  Are you lonely?  Are you tired?  Usually, when I feel restless or want to reach for comfort food or zone out with some mindless TV, I’m actually feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  When I take that minute to pay attention to what’s going on, I can address the anger, hunger, tiredness, loneliness instead of either engaging in unhealthy habits or things that could become unhealthy if the core issue is consistently pushed aside.  I can use this to rule out and address things that are irrelevant to what’s *really* going on.  Maybe I’m afraid of failing while also feeling tired and hungry.  Addressing my hunger and sleep issues can help me handle the fear better and with a clearer head.  I’ve also found it helpful as I walk home from work feeling stressed and cranky, to slowly and prayerfully breathe deeply as I go through HALT and realize that, yes, I am hungry and tired right now… and once I’ve identified those real physical needs, I’m less likely to misdirect my crabbiness toward my husband when I get home – or at the least, I can communicate to him where I am emotionally and that my crankiness isn’t about him.

How about you?  Are there some helpful tools that you use to identify what the deeper issues might be?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Dark Cloud on the Horizon

I received some unexpected news recently that got my world spinning. I’ve talked in the past on Midday Connection (and this blog) about my struggles with depression…well, this news brought back the invitation to the familiar and comfortable black pit. I could feel myself slipping right back into that known place and feeling right at home. I felt tired and depleted and I wanted to just ease into the dark clouds, numb out, and not fight it.

Sitting on the train, looking out the window, I felt the dark shadow wanting to take me over.  Honestly, I wanted to settle into a dark melancholy.  I did.  It felt like it would be a safe, warm, dark room that I could hide in for a bit.

I recently attended a seminar and the speaker said that self-awareness is 90% of the healing/recovery process.  That has stayed with me in a profound way.  In the past, when I felt the melancholy approach, I just sank into it and hung on for the ride – feeling that I didn’t have a choice about it at all.  But, once I became aware of this shadow in my life, I realized that I do have a choice.  I refuse to deny my feelings of sadness and disappointment and shock…but that doesn’t mean I need to settle into a dark place.

I sat in my gloom and realized that I know where that familiar dark spiral goes.  I needed to remember that I’ve gone down that path before and that old way of handling my sadness just doesn’t work for me anymore, though it may feel familiar.  God has shown me better and healthier coping mechanisms.  It took (and is still taking) much effort to keep reminding myself of where I’ve been and that I don’t want or need to go back to that pit.

I’m pretty surprised that awareness and mental reminders are helping me greatly!  Thanks be to God!

How about you?  Do some of the ways that you’ve dealt with stress, sadness, other issues still work?  Or, is God showing you a new way?

Lori Neff is the senior producer for the award-winning national radio program, Midday Connection. Lori grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. She is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. Her interests include art (looking at it and creating it), music, literature, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, traveling, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John.

To learn more about Lori and read her blog, please visit visit her website.

Midday blog: Good Samaritan

As I’ve heard Anita talk about the release of her novel that she wrote with Caryn Rivadeniera called Shades of Mercy, she has said that the book addresses, “Who is my neighbor?”  That got me thinking, so the other day, I read Luke chapter 10.  And there I read about the religious leader who asked Jesus that very question… Then Jesus answered by telling the parable about the good Samaritan.  I was struck again at the sacrifice of time and money that the Samaritan gave.  It made me think – Do I have the margin in my life to give like he did?  Or (a bigger issue for me), am I willing to have my plans derailed when something more important arises?  Do I recognize that greater importance or am I too stuck on my to do list to deviate?  I thought about this as I passed a homeless man on my way to work.  Am I willing to stop and say hello and risk an uncomfortable few minutes to buy him a meal?  I thought about this as I waded through the crowd of morning train commuters.  Am I seeing people as God’s image bearers, each with their own stories or do I see them as annoying delays in my way?  I’m sitting with this parable for a while.  I’m beginning to see it as more than just doing more and serving more, but it’s also a deeper attitude of respect, honor and dignity toward our fellow humans.

Take a couple of minutes and read Luke 10:30-37. There’s a lot in this parable. What do you sense God bringing to your attention?

Lori Neff

Lori Neff is the senior producer of Midday Connection and editor/contributor for Daily Seeds: From Women Who Walk in Faith and Tending the Soul (Moody Publishers). She grew up in a small town in Ohio, spending more time outside in nature than inside. Lori is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and she’s currently in school again studying counseling and spiritual direction. Her interests include art, humanitarian aid efforts, cooking, gardening, coffee, thinking, learning and spending time with her husband, John (and their three fiesty cats). For more information and her blog please visit Lori’s website.

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