We are back! We are sure many of you have been wondering where in the heck we’ve been. We haven’t posted a new blog post in almost five weeks. Truthfully we sort of feel like we whiffed on this year-long challenge. We have continued to do the challenges, but we struggled to find time to document them via this blog. This is our attempt to catch up and hopefully stay on track til the end of the year.
To say the past few weeks have been hectic would be an understatement. We both started new jobs. Joshua is working as a pastoral staff member at our church. Bethany is teaching piano and guitar at the Christian school associated with our church.
The change has been wonderful, but it has definitely thrown our lives into the most exciting kind of upheaval imaginable. Our biggest challenge came when we started these new jobs that brought new responsibilities, schedules, and expectations while we tried to maintain other things in our lives. We decided to pause the online cataloging of our challenges and catch up after we were a little more settled into the new normal of our lives. Here it is!
Week 37: No Coffee
This challenge may sound familiar to you guys. Throughout the year we have gone without hot water and we also gave up all drinks but water. These challenges definitely impacted our coffee consumption. But we hadn’t purposefully excluded coffee from our liquid diets. We wanted to know what would happen if we gave up coffee while keeping everything else the same.
As we have stated in the past, neither one of us would classify ourselves as avid coffee drinkers. We enjoy a good cup of joe, and Bethany, in particular, is a sucker for the seasonal creamers that come out around the holidays. But we wouldn’t say we are addicted to coffee.
The main reason we wanted to have this challenge this week is that we had both noticed an increase in coffee consumption. Any time we notice a significant increase or decrease in an area of our life we try to take notice and ask ourselves why this change is occurring. Leading up to our transition into our new vocations we noticed a significant uptick in our bean water consumption.
The week was a challenge. It was more challenging than it should have been. We both realized that we had been consuming more coffee but our reasoning was a little surprising. We had begun to look at it as a social interaction opportunity. We were meeting people for coffee much more than normal. Bethany also enjoyed a cup in the afternoon: not because of caffeine but just because it was different than water.
Our week-long ban really helped us recognize that visiting a Starbucks and drinking a caffeinated beverage is not mandatory for friendly discussion or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Since this challenge, we have not given up coffee, but we have cut back a little. We are more than happy to meet people for some coffee and a chat, but we are also fine to meet them and drink nothing. Community, friendship, encouragement, and positivity can all happen with or without a cup of coffee.
Week 38: No Headphones
Now this challenge may seem a bit odd, but you must remember that we are both huge audiophiles. We love to listen to our music. But we also understand that not everyone wants to take part in our daily, musical jam. We definitely see the value in owning a solid pair of earphones and keeping them handy throughout the day.
That being said, it is easy to use headphones to avoid interacting with people. We are both guilty of plugging in our earbuds, avoiding eye contact, and going about our lives. We do see value in boosting our concentration during a project and using our headphones to block out distractions. But we never want to forget that life is happening all around us. People are mere feet away and sometimes they need us to step out of our comfort zone, set down our project, and care about them.
Our challenge was to go without headphones and try to be more aware of the things happening all around us. We would definitely classify this challenge as a success. There were several times throughout his day that Joshua heard something that prompted him to leave his office and talk to someone in the hallway. Some conversations were five seconds, others were longer. The time is not what matters. The important thing is that these conversations were more important than the things he was working on that day. People are important.
We challenge you to identify the things in your life that easily distract you from noticing the people all around you. What would happen if you set those things aside for a time to notice and care about others? We believe it just might change your life.
Week 39: No Tweezers
This was an odd week and an odd challenge. Truthfully we had to adjust this challenge last minute. The thing we were planning to give up during this week wouldn’t have been possible due to a few responsibilities we had to attend to. We tried to step back, take a quick at our life, and remove something small. We decided to forego our Tweezerman!
Bethany uses her tweezers religiously. She has to keep her eyebrows looking fresh and clean. She is a believer that lighting dramatically impacts the tiny hairs that are visible to our human eyes, so she wants to make sure there are no fuzzy distractions around her hand-painted brows.
Joshua, on the other hand, has to use tweezers as a part of his “Don’t Look Like A Homeless Individual” effort. He is a fairly hairy individual and life can quickly get out of control without some trimming implements.
This challenge was uncomfortable. We had to leave our home on several occasions feeling a bit slapdash and unkempt. But it helped remind us of a very important fact: life goes on even if we don’t look perfect. The world will not come to an end if that hair is out of place or that speck of pepper is in between your teeth while talking to a friend. These are all minor details that should be addressed; however, the imperfection should not be used as an excuse in our lives.
At some point, we have to accept how we look and feel. Our personal quirks can actually be a benefit.
We have incorporated tweezing back into our grooming routines, but we do not want to forget that our impact is more important than our appearance. It was a small thing that encouraged both of us.
Week 40: A Week Without Going Without
“Wow, does this week even count?!” Yes, it does! We needed a break. And we are also running out of stuff to give up!
When we began our challenge at the beginning of 2019, we already considered ourselves pretty basic people. We began simplifying and decluttering our lives of more than just physical clutter in September of 2018. We hoped that in 2019 we would be able to pare down our things, habits, and schedules even more.
What we didn’t realize is how this would not be a week-by-week process of eliminating the things we had chosen to give up, but it would actually be an ongoing, daily discussion. The more we simplify our lives, the harder it becomes to find things to eliminate.
For example, we gave up all but one pair of shoes for week twenty-five, but we had already donated or thrown out many shoes we owned. We have cut our shoes back to the point of simplicity. We will look to downsize more as we have the opportunity, but at this time we feel we have the essentials as it relates to footwear.
We went without Facebook back in April, but we had already significantly cut back how much time we spent on social media at that point. Since then our social media time has decreased even more. We find that we are working ourselves out of things to give up.
What that means now, with less than three months left of the year, is that we are having to get creative. Many things that people have suggested we go without, we can’t. Simply put, we have already stripped down that area as far as we can go, or we don’t use/do the thing we are being encouraged to do without. We have a few ideas up our sleeves, and we do want to fulfill the 52-week commitment we made to this project, but we needed this week to really assess our current state and plan out the rest of the year.
Week 41: No Air Conditioning
During this week, we were actually sort of forced to go without air conditioning because there was an issue with our condensate valve. But it was time for us to sacrifice this anyway! We actually went without our AC for 2.5 weeks.
The weather really wasn’t bad for this particular week. We live in a town-home so unless it gets really hot or really cold, the temperatures from the homes on either side of us help our house not get too crazy. We kept the windows open almost the entire week and while it did get up in the 70’s, it wasn’t bad at all.
I want to point out that in the past, we have both experienced no AC for extended periods of time. Josh’s first three summers working at the Wilds were spent living in a cabin with no air conditioning. When Bethany lived in Grenada for almost six months, the apartment where she lived had no air conditioning. We know what it is like to live without it in the sweltering heat. While it is uncomfortable, especially when trying to fall asleep, it is completely possible.
Week 42: No Socks
This past week was TOUGH. Truth be told, we did not succeed in going without socks each day.
Joshua, as we have mentioned before, has pretty major foot problems. He struggles to find comfortable shoes and socks. He knew that going without socks would be a challenge, for sure. However, the very first day showed him it would be nearly impossible for him to function without socks. They have now been added to his “Essential Life Items” list.
He was intentional in the evenings about wearing slippers around the house instead of socks to keep his toes warm. But this was really the only area of his life where he opted to forego socks. This was also the first challenge Joshua has failed. It was tough to accept defeat, but life without socks was just too horrible.
Bethany, on the other hand, wears flats to work almost every day. So going without socks was not as much of an issue for her. She only caved twice during our sockless week. The first time she caved we were having professional photos taken on Thursday evening and she really wanted to wear a pair of boots for the pictures. The second time was on Saturday when she completely forgot about the challenge and put on socks and her Saucony’s without thinking! In general, Bethany could probably live without socks, but they do certainly make things easier and more comf. It is painful to wear ankle boots or tennis shoes without socks.
We did it!! That should completely catch us up. We are going to do our best to stay consistent with posting for the rest of this challenge. As always, you are welcome to recommend things we could go without. We are always looking for a challenge. Thank you for being a part of this journey. Be on the lookout for upcoming posts and updates. The adventure continues!!