Dottie Angel Challenge of the Utmost Kind – the end?

I have just realised that it has been a full year since I agreed to do the Dottie Angel Challenge of the Utmost Kind! This challenge was to buy only handmade or second-hand items for a full year – or to make the items myself.

I took on the challenge for a few reasons: to see how I could come up with creative solutions to find or make the things I have needed, and to see what kind of impact a challenge like this would have on my household. The hardest thing about this challenge was wrapping my mind around the fact that I had committed to NOT BUYING NEW STUFF.

It wasn’t that I have needed to buy anything, but as soon as I had decided to take the challenge on I had begun to regret it. It isn’t like I was spending money willy-nilly in the first place! Already I had been shopping for clothes in second-hand stores and hand-making presents. There really isn’t a lot that we do buy on a regular basis.I’ve always been very conscious about where our money is spent, because the large majority of what we earn goes back into the household in the form of food, rent, petrol and bills. It has always been fun to spend what there is left over on a little treat now and then. In the end, the challenge was made easy by not having much $$ to spare on buying stuff in the first place – even treats – regardless of how I felt about the restrictions I had placed upon myself.

I did buy some things new: mostly clothes for the family that I didn’t have the opportunity to make myself. Shoes. Hats. Underwear. When our tax money came in I bought some books that I have wanted to own and a couple of kitchen appliances that I needed to support my family’s nutrition. I am quite happy to borrow from the library but when you borrow books three or four times in a row, it is probably a good time to think about owning them. Even still, I did my best to source second-hand copies of these books. I love second-hand books. I love knowing that someone else has handled them, read them, gained something from them and then passed them on.

The year prior to taking the challenge I had sworn that I would not buy the children any more toys because I felt that they already had a wonderful and very special collection of playthings, many of them that David and I have made ourselves. In fact, as the year has gone past we’ve even culled that collection significantly. The children’s interests have changed and moved on, so the toys I have put away ‘for a rainy day’ have now actually been given away or donated to charity. What we have left are a core collection of useful playthings that still form the basis of the children’s imaginative play. Without any more toys, the children have become used to making things themselves, and the arrival of a new large cardboard box, a ball of string and a reel of sticky tape still brings an extraordinary amount of delight. We make use of a toy library when we need something new to inspire some different play.

What I have gained, through the experience of this challenge is an awareness of how much we really DON’T need in our lives. The cost of living in Australia is biting us, and yet when I remember the fact that I actually have a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive, and that we can afford to school our children at a place of our choice (that we even have a choice!) I feel incredibly lucky. Instead of needing or wanting to buy more, I feel the need to reduce our possessions, and the more I go through the things I own, the less I feel we need to have.

We moved house recently, and before we even began packing I spent several weeks going through our home clearing clutter. More items left the house during packing, more again left our lives once we moved and began unpacking. Even now I am still filling up boxes with items we just do not need.

So Dottie Angel was not wrong when she said it would be a challenge of the ‘utmost kind’. It transformed in an unexpected way into something very fulfilling.

oopsie I broke the Challenge already!

I have been at the 2009 Goddess Conference this weekend. I am still processing the experience of being together with such a wonderful group of women…so I can’t quite describe it for you yet. Feelings so deep and intangible that words would actually not be able to describe it at all. It was quite an overwhelming weekend for me but I was able to take it at my own pace, to participate when I felt I could and sit out when it felt too much. The words of love and wisdom from all the presenters, but particularly Grandmother Bilawara Lee and Anique Radiant Heart, filled my heart, and filled the entire hall with the visions of what is possible when we can focus our intentions in purety of thought and actions.

The theme of the Conference was the Five Flames of the Magdalena: VOICE, TRUTH, SELF-LOVE, DEDICATION, MATURITY. In every way the conference presenters and guests explored these flames and brought them to an amazing physical experience of womanhood and sisterhood within the group of 90 women. Every woman received a ‘gift’ from this experience, myself included.

Of course I was there displaying my felted bits and pieces too. It was my hope to sell a few, but I never expected the fascinated response I received, or the compliments I was given. I was astounded as I took order after order for the few pieces I had on my table. I sold my snake, I sold my mermaid (see my gallery) and I had many discussions about future workshops. 

So I did quite well this weekend, in all respects…and with money burning a hole in my pocket for the first time in a loooong time I broke the Dottie Angel Challenge this weekend and went shopping. I’m still on the challenge though, because it is a great  for my creativity and the things I bought I just didn’t FEEL like making for myself.

Besides, it is my birthday 🙂

So I bought myself some lovely new clothes …  a new pretty skirt, a new pair of comfy comfy pants, a flowy voile shirt and a dress to wear for priestess rituals…a spree in “The Tree of Life” shop. Yay! It was very satisfying. But in the spirit of the challenge two of these items I bought with the intention of making patterns from them so that I can make more for myself.  These are the first items of clothing I have bought myself since the purchase of breastfeeding tops when Rosella was a wee little thing, so in all honesty I have pretty much been on this challenge for the last two years. Those tops have been worn almost daily, even now as Rosella hardly feeds at all. I love good purchases like those.