Week One of my Zero For Six adventure is over, and here are some conclusions and confessions.

ON NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING

I tried more than once to buy makeup and skin care, and finally settled for ordering the ingredients to make skincare at home (from Vitacost.com) and a tube of lipstick and some foundation, both Mineral Fusion. This after I trashed all my old (some 14 years old!) cosmetics and was completely out of skincare. I was using Vaseline.

When I say I tried more than once, I mean I filled my cart with some very impressive products on the Net, and then just couldn’t spend all that money, so gave it up. The next morning I drove to a department store to see if there was one of those cool specials where you spend $35 and get a promo package worth $150 of stuff you mostly want and will use. Nothing doing, plus they were blasting cruddy (non-relaxing, non-uplifting, non-melodious) music and I’m just so over going into stores where the customer is obviously not that important.

So, one of the morals of this story is that frugality can either be deprivation, or it can be an open door to creativity, often resulting in a better quality and healthier outcome. And of course, there’s that lovely smug feeling that comes of spending less and getting more. How smart are we? Pretty smart.

ON NON-FATIGUING FOODS

I dropped the ball here a little, both at The Sugar Mouse tea house on Thursday in Laramie, Wyoming, and then again Saturday night, when I made chocolate no-bake cookies (they had peanut butter, so that makes them real food, right?). But then this morning I read Honey, God’s Gift for Health and Beauty, which caused me to sweeten my blueberry muffins with honey rather than sugar, and to give my leftover no-bakes to my son, who has no belly fat and a great love for no-bakes.

From there I researched benefits of drinking vinegar and honey and went to town for organic (with the mother) apple cider vinegar. I already have raw honey, so upon finishing this post I’ll make this amazing elixir and partake!

As to coffee, I actually went to a coffee shop and ordered herbal blackberry tea, iced. Delicious! I didn’t have any coffee at all, all week long, until a very tiny cup (1/4 cup of coffee, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream) today, telling myself that I will allow myself one cup per week. So, we’ll see how that goes.

ON WATCHING

I scored A++++++ on this one. There are so many other marvelous and fun and creative things that get done when the TV/laptop/phone is off. I love it. Yes, there were a couple of times when I wanted to watch something, but it was only when I was thinking of eating something fatiguing . . . As I’ve said before, these habits, for good or for not-so-good, go together.

It was helpful that I didn’t take a martyr’s stance, that I checked my thoughts before speaking them. I might have thought a few times that it would be nice to sit down and take a load off, watching something totally fun, such as Decoy Bride, or that it wouldn’t hurt to watch whatever John was watching. After all, it was Friday night . . . But I didn’t speak it, didn’t talk about it. Instead I settled in with a stack of books, my journal, pens, and highlighters, and read old favorites such as The Shape of a Year by Jean Hersey, and Candy Paull’s Abundance. I prayed as I read from the Psalms, and also had a couple of lovely phone conversations. Best of all, I did some some very in-depth listening to my beloveds as they shared their hearts. This simply doesn’t happen when you’re glued to the tube.

Determined not to be even a little bit tempted to watch an episode of Poirot tonight, I made a library visit and came home with Francine Rivers, Victoria Holt and of course, Agatha Christie. I was completely surprised by the ending of By the Pricking of My Thumbs, and I keep marveling at the mind of Agatha Christie, and wondering when my non-watching time will become writing time. Fiction, I mean–the writing that stretches me, calls me, eludes me, and won’t leave me alone. As my daugher Rebekah said when she was little and things didn’t go smoothly, “Oh, sigh.”

ON SPEAKING GOOD WORDS

I noticed and noted that I don’t need to worry about the negative words of others–I have plenty of my own. I read Lindsey Roberts’ free booklet, The Company You Keep and among so much rich and uplifting information, I focused on the idea of being good company to me. I really enjoy myself when nothing but faith, thanksgiving, and great expecations come out of my mouth.

And of course, what you fill your heart and mind is what comes out of your mouth, and then what becomes your life. So, maybe out of all four of my Zero For Six quests, this one of is most important of all.

No More Cashlessness via Carelessness–Zero For Six Plans and Procedures

Sometimes you just have to say, “Whoa there, Girlie.” When you find beauty products you don’t remember buying–they’re a few years out of date, so how could you? When you think it makes sense to gripe about food going bad in the fridge–“people” need to eat more salad, right? If your closet is stuffed with “deals” you never wear, and there are life-changing (the good doctor on the net promised and he wore a white coat) supplements galore in the back of somewhere . . . Most of all, if your beloveds think and maybe even dare to say, that you’re just a teeny bit out of balance . . . rein it in.

If you’re like me, and quite gifted at excuse-making and behavior justification, you can be your own worst enemy. You, the real and reasonable you, would rather she had the cash than all that stuff. And yet, girls will be girls, right? Wrong. Just as it goes all over me when mothers of brat sons simper, “Boys will be boys,” it goes all over me when I catch myself excusing and repeating bad behavior.

Yep. Disrespecting your cash with throwing it away on stuff, is bad behavior. And so. Here I go. I’m on vacation and thinking about those flowers . . . Those flowers I meant to buy for my balcony as soon as I returned to Colorado where surely to Goodness the snow would be over–they’ll keep. Those supplements I “always order” (as though that justifies it) I will do without, because after all, when I stop with the junk eating, they’ll be much less needed. Designer soaps (my guilty pleasure and we all must have those, right? Nope.) will still be there in six months.

When I decide that not only will I stop paying for “entertainment” that doesn’t cut it, it follows that I will return to the “real” and often cost-free entertainment I once enjoyed. I’ll take a thermos, quilt and good book to the woods and watch the sun set; hike nearby trails with whoever wants to come along, make my own mayo and bread for roast beef sandwiches (such a good feeling and outcome) for a riverside picnic, play cards and board games, re-read my watercolor book and do a little watercolor painting, get my French DVDs out again, sit on the balcony and listen to birds sing as I hold my darlin’s hand, read deep and delightful books, listen carefully and for as long as is desired, to my children and friends–undistracted by a plan to engage in substandard and dollar-devouring behaviors.

And so forth. I actually began the spending frost (a freeze means you don’t spend a single dime) in May. There was a conversation, a catalyst. I would say it opened my eyes, but actually it just royally ticked me off. But when I cooled off and thought about it, I knew, again, it was time to rein it in. (NOTE: It makes absolutely no difference what other people are spending–this is about the one in the mirror).

And it’s like magic. When I say, “It really is possible to have brunch without sparkling cider; I can cut my own bangs; no one will croak if we don’t have milk every day; we’ll have just to get creative with our cooking (such good meals happen!); and, not only am I not buying summer clothes, I’m getting rid of half of what I have,” it is nothing less than astounding what happens to the checking account.

John called me to look at the bank statement the other day. “Can this be right?” he asked. Oh, so smug am I. Nonchalantly I nodded. “Yes. That’s right.”

And so it is. Absolutely right that I, a beloved child of God, do not drive a team of runaway horses unto the disaster, despair and defeat (in countless cases, even divorce) of cashlessness via carelessness.

Thanks for allowing me to share with you, and please pass this Zero For Six adventure on to anyone who comes to mind. Anyone. You could save a marriage, actually.

Zero For Six–Calling a Spade a Spade

My four new Zero For Six adventures–Six months of zero TV viewing, faithless (negative) words, fatiguing foods, and non-essential spending–seem to feed each other, to overlap. Even as they go together negatively, so do they positively. They sustain each other you could say.

Take spending. Non-essential spending surely includes the purchase of fatiguing foods that are those most often consumed along with TV. I’m now going to add clarity by simply changing one term. In place of “non-essential” and “fatiguing” I will say “junk”. The same for “faithless” or negative and fear-filled words–I will simply call them “junk” words.

My quest to eliminate junk words will no doubt be aided by eliminating junk spending, but perhaps even more by turning off the “lowness box.” So much of TV is simply low. Even those shows based on the writing of excellent writers, must it seems, be lowered. Turned to junk, watched while eating junk, paid for of course, with junk spending. And what comes out of my mouth after I am insulted with this stuff spewing into my living room? Junk. What else?

It’s a vicious and insidious junk stew and I’ve had more than enough.

Thanks for joining me, and please share this with anyone who needs a bit (or lots and lots) of Zero For Sixing.

P.S. Watch for my next post–I’ll go into more detail on Zero For Six Junk Spending.

Zero For Six

It is time. For change. Now. And so, beginning June 1 I am embarking on four Zero for Six projects:

#1–Zero Non-Essential Spending for Six Months

#2–Zero TV Watching for Six Months

#3–Zero Fatiguing Foods for Six Months

#4–Zero Faithless Words for Six Months

I will be sharing process and progress in posts and podcasts, in hopes we will all change our lives–six months at a time. So, if this sounds interesting and intriguing to you, please share the good news, and thanks very much! And remember to take a “before” pic, as you and your life will look very different in six months, if you choose to join me in this adventure.

Tomorrow I will share my preliminary plans and procedures for implementation of this exciting next six months of my life!

It’s Amazing What You Can Find

Each time I do a bit of straightening I am amazed anew at what’s right under my nose, what treasures are in my house. In a recent re-rereading of Alexandra Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life I was inspired to deal with some of those little things, those seemingly unimportant details, which get let go when life, elections, holidays and worldwide pre-planned panic attacks occur simultaneously.

Renewing a friendship with old fave authors is the very thing when taking to heart God’s admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled.” And if that trusted friend reminds me of an old truth–that the beauty of small things are worth notice and even close attention–it’s off to the races.

Yesterday I cleared my mind as I cleared drawers and closets. I gladdened my heart as I cleaned and organized my pantry. Heeding Alexandra, I made my fridge a joy to behold–everything straight, neat, and beautiful. I even took the eggs out of the big egg flats and put them into a lovely burlap-sided fridge basket. I may have to pause here and go stare into my fridge.

Homemaking is art.

And art, no matter who says otherwise, pays. It pays to discover there are peppercorns in the pantry, when I had decided I must have been mistaken about buying them. It pays to find my tape measure when I’m going through drawers in the utility room (I had decided to buy a new one). There was great joy in my heart when I found missing lingerie (I had decided I must have given this item away, and wondered why) when I cleared and organized my lingerie chest.

And the great joy to be had simply by straightening shoes in the closet and finding the missing mitten (one I personally knitted which therefore has a bit more “personality” than your ordinary mitten) I’ve been searching for and mourning for almost a year–this is good news, Reader. Why isn’t it on national TV? Bev found her mitten!

And in her Lazy Susan what did she find? As always, lids without bottoms and bottoms without lids (I store containers and a few other items in the Lazy Susan cabinet to the right of my kitchen sink). But I also created order out of chaos as I made my kitchen a bit more user-friendly, and a lot more attractive.

And what wondrous joys await me today? Today, or so I say, I am going to clean the “junk drawer.” I can see myself now: throwing this away and that away and this away and that away; putting the stick pins in thier own little slot, the rubber bands all together; and rejoicing in the “finds”, those things that got stuck in the drawer because I didn’t know what else to do with them. But now I will know.

You can say I am easily entertained, and I will agree with you. It’s quite the life skill, and as I said, it’s amazing what you can find. At home. Right under your nose.