Six items or less

LogoFor me, today is Day 1 of a self-imposed fashion fast. For the next 30 days, I will wear only six items from my closet. That’s right! Just six! 

Why would I do such a crazy sounding thing, you ask. Well, first of all, because I love a challenge and secondly, because I hope to learn something from the exercise. 

The idea of a “six items or less” challenge is not a new one. In fact, they’ve been around for a decade or more. I’m not sure where the idea originated, but as early as 2015 and perhaps before that, a not-for-profit organization in the UK called Labour Behind the Label has been promoting an annual six items for six weeks fundraising challenge. Participants select six items of clothing from their wardrobes and pledge to wear only those pieces every day for six weeks while collectively raising funds to support Labour Behind the Label’s efforts to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. The annual challenge takes place during the season of Lent, a period of fasting and penance for many Catholics and other Christians. For many, that seemed a suitable time for a fashion fast. 

While there has been no single dictating thought or reason behind similar challenges, most of which are one month in duration, those who have participated have often done so to promote mindful consumption. In addition to the reasons that I gave above, I see value in seriously considering what we purchase and why as well as what effect those purchases have on the environment and the people who make them. Last time I walked through a mall, I had this challenge in mind and I was overwhelmed by the number of clothing stores, particularly for women. The options available to us are staggering! We have so much while so many in the world have so little. Perhaps this exercise will also be an opportunity for me to discover how little I really need and to see how creative I can be with what I have. 

The rules for all of these challenges have been essentially the same. Thankfully, underwear, socks, pyjamas, workout wear, coats, and footwear are not included in the six items and unlimited accessories are allowed. Though some challenges also include a rule forbidding participants from shopping for clothing for themselves during the challenge, I’m not sure if I’ll stick to that one. Living where I do, I don’t have many opportunities to shop and we do have some Christmas shopping left to do. If I happen across something that fits a gap in my wardrobe while we’re doing that, I might buy it, but I promise not to wear it until the challenge is over. 

So how did I select the six items that I will wear exclusively for the next 30 days? After much thought, this was my criteria:

  • must be able to mix and match to create many different looks 
  • requires a coordinated colour palette
  • must be pieces that I love wearing
  • must be able to layer
  • must be versatile, able to dress up or down
  • must be able to create at least one somewhat dressy outfit in case of a funeral or other unexpected event

 I decided to use a 3-2-1 formula: 3 tops, 2 pants, 1 cardigan. I realize that I have an advantage over many in that I’m retired and don’t have to think about a work wardrobe. My choices would have been somewhat different if I were still teaching. Also, since Covid is still raging around us, we aren’t going out a lot which will also make the challenge easier than it might otherwise have been. 

And now, for the big reveal, here is what I will be wearing for the next month. 

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I wonder how many people will even notice? 

My biggest concern going into the challenge is laundry. While all of these garments are machine washable (some on the hand wash cycle), the denim shirt is the only piece that I put in the dryer. The others are hung or laid flat to dry. To help with the laundry concern, some of these challenges do allow duplicates of the same item as long as they are exactly the same colour. I doubt that that comes into play very often though because most of us don’t have identical items hanging in our closets. I do, however, have a second pair of the dark wash jeans. If I find myself without pants to wear, I will put them into rotation, but it almost seems like cheating so I’ll try to avoid having to do that. 

Over the month, I plan to document my experience and share a bit more about the pieces that I chose, so stay tuned for more about “six items or less” in the coming weeks! 

 

Still walking, but not enough!

It’s been two months since I last posted an update on my summer walking challenge. On May 2 of this year, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2. Five months to walk 300 km. Easy peasy! Right?

I got off to a really good start reporting 87.07 km by June 2 and another 63.59 km in the month that followed. Two months into the challenge, I was already half way to my goal. In my third month, I walked another 68.83 km for a total of 219.49 km.

That’s when I slipped off the rails and I’m sad to say that in the past month I walked and/or hiked only 38.41 km! What happened? Well, I could make plenty of excuses. There was time spent with grandchildren. We did go hiking while they were with us, but other than that, I didn’t take time away from them to go for regular walks. We’ve had some rainy days. I do own an umbrella, but it’s easier to stay indoors on those days. And then there’s the fact that I hurt my back again. That one was a pretty good excuse for a few days, but even though it’s still not 100%, I could be going for short walks. In fact, they might even be good for me.

Most of all though, I’ve just been lazy! When it became obvious that I’d be able to reach my goal well ahead of schedule, I slacked off. Now it’s time to get off my butt, lace up those walking shoes, and finish the job! With only 42.1 km left to go and a full month until our anniversary, there’s plenty of time to get this done!

Halfway there!

On May 2nd, I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th anniversary on October 2. Some days I really look forward to walking. Others, knowing that I’m going to be reporting my progress here on the blog is the only thing that gets me up and out the door!

This month, I’m a couple of days late posting an update because we’ve been camping without internet for the past few days, but I’m happy to report that by July 1, I’d logged another 63.59 km. That’s over 20 km less than I walked in the first month, but I’ve walked a total of 150.66 km. Two months into my five month challenge I’m already halfway there! At this pace, I should be able to complete my 300 km well ahead of schedule.

Again, most of my walking has been on the streets of town, but we hiked just over 9 km while camping at Big Knife Provincial Park in mid June.

In last month’s update, I mentioned that I needed to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. I tried on several different pairs, but as soon as I put these ones on, I knew I’d found what I was looking for!

It was obvious immediately that these were shoes I’d be able to walk many miles in! They’re very supportive, but incredibly lightweight, and as the name implies, they’re like walking on a cloud! That’s thanks to the flytefoam cushioning in the sole and the soft gel unit in the heel. I also love the fact that at least 20% of the primary material of the shoe’s upper is made with recycled material!

So, even on those days when I don’t really feel like it, I’ll keep on walking and report my progress again next month.

Walking challenge update #1

This is just a quick post to update you on the walking challenge that I wrote about in this post on May 2nd. My plan was to walk (or hike) 300 kilometres in the five months leading up to our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2nd. The anniversary actually has nothing to do with the challenge other than giving me a good end date to aim for! I wrote about my plan because knowing that I’ll be reporting my progress on the blog makes me accountable. It gets me off the couch and out the door on days when I really don’t feel like walking! 

So, how have I done so far? In order to meet my goal, I need to walk at least 60 km a month. For my American readers, that’s approximately 37.3 miles. In the past month, walking 6 days a week, I’ve actually covered 87.07 km! 

Walking challenge

Most of my walking so far has been on the streets of our small town, but I also explored some of the Hardisty Nature Trails and this week we’ve been camping at Dillberry Lake Provincial Park where we did a short 2.3 km hike on Monday evening and then hiked 8.93 km on Tuesday. With a small group of friends I also took part in a 5 km fundraising walk for multiple sclerosis on Sunday. Together we raised over $2500! 

One thing that I’ve discovered in the past month is that I need to invest in a new pair of walking shoes. So far, I’ve been wearing old ones that don’t have much life left in them. I do have my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but I don’t want to wear them out walking the streets of town. I could also use the ASICS running shoes that I bought last year specifically for the treadmill, but I want to save them for indoor use. Hopefully by the time I update again a month from now, I’ll be able to show you some new shoes as well as reporting another 60 km or more. 

 

A new challenge

I’ve been feeling very sluggish lately. I still do my morning exercise routine most days, but I quit weight lifting earlier than usual this spring when I foolishly tried lifting something I shouldn’t have and hurt my back. It’s okay now, so I really have no excuse except laziness and lack of incentive. Today I decided to do something about that!

Remembering back to last year when I walked 179.5 km as part of the Hoofing It Across Canada fundraiser for NET cancer research, I recalled how good all that walking felt and how much it helped to have a specific goal. That’s what I needed; a new challenge!

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October 2, our 45th wedding anniversary, is 5 months or exactly 154 days from now. I have decided to walk (or hike) 300 km between now and then. That’s an average of 1.95 km a day. (For my American readers, that’s a total of approximately 186 miles or 1.2 miles a day.) I know that I’m capable of walking further, but I also know that I won’t walk every single day and I want to set a goal that’s realistic and achievable. I’m telling you about it so that you’ll help keep me accountable. In fact, I’m wondering if anyone wants to join me? If my goal isn’t right for you, set one of your own and tell us about it in the comment section below.

Why walk?

Walking has many benefits including:

  • It’s accessible, easy, and free.
  • It reduces stress and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety which, for many, have been escalated by the current pandemic.
  • It improves heart health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • It increases blood flow and therefore improves energy levels.
  • It improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • It reduces the risk of some cancers.
  • It boosts the immune system.
  • It helps prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
  • It reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • It burns calories.
  • It promotes more restful sleep.
  • It improves flexibility and helps ease chronic pain and stiffness.
  • It improves brain function.
  • It’s even been linked to longer life expectancy!

My current walking challenge is not a fundraiser, but I will be participating in a 5 km walk for Multiple Sclerosis research on May 30 in support of a close friend who battles this disease. If you would like to add your support, you can find my fundraising page here.

The value of a compliment (and a challenge for you)

LogoAs we made our way back down the Johnson Canyon hiking trail with our grandson last week, I noticed a woman on her way up resting beside the trail. She wore a simple black t-shirt with the word “Blessing” in large white script across the front. I liked it, so without breaking step I looked her in the eye and said, “I like your shirt” as I passed by. Her face lit up and she said, “Thank you!” That was the extent of our exchange. I’ll probably never see her again, but I hope I brightened her day.

Complimenting a stranger isn’t something that comes naturally or easily for an introvert like me, but a genuine compliment is a gift that doesn’t cost a cent and it only takes a moment to give. It also has the power to completely reshape someone’s day.

It never seems to fail that on a day when I’m about ready to give up on my unruly curls and chop them off, another woman will ask if they’re natural and tell me how lucky I am to have them, how much she admires them. It reminds me that most of the time I love them too!

Since I started taking a greater interest in fashion a few years ago, I started watching other women more closely. I take note of what they’re wearing, how they put an outfit together, how they accessorize. I’m not looking with a critical or condescending eye. I want to see what works and what doesn’t. I want to learn from the creativity of others. When I notice something that I like, it makes sense to say so, to pay the wearer a compliment, so I’m trying to learn to do that more often.

Amazingly, giving a compliment goes two ways. Telling someone that the colour they’re wearing looks great on them or that they have beautiful eyes not only gives them a boost, but it can also enhance your own sense of well-being. It’s a win-win situation.

Too often we women view other women as competition. The same is probably true of men. Instead, we ought to encourage and build one another up, so this week I offer you a challenge. Look around you, notice someone that you can give the gift of a genuine compliment to, then do it. Take notice of the person’s reaction and then, once you’ve done that, come back and tell us about the experience in the comment section below. It can be a compliment about their appearance, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many other things that we can affirm in the people around us if we just take a moment to notice.

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I can’t wait to hear your stories!