Challenge Update: Week 38

The week before the most important day of the year

Challenge Rule 1: Buy No Clothes/Don’t Covet

One can never have too many zebra dresses.

Lily Fields, modern-day Cruella DeVil

Let me remind you that last week, I was saying, “One can never have too many green dresses.” So…let’s just all get over my flightiness for a few minutes. A girl can change her own mantra from time to time at five day intervals.

This, because last week, I told you that my fabulous sister Poppy Fields (meet her here, in all her infinite wisdom), who loves me and who is the world’s finest gift giver (a title I do not bestow lightly), told me that she was going to be gifting me a zebra dress for my birthday. She and I pored over zebra dresses online, while she should have been sleeping and while I should have been working. We found one.

Within days, she called me. “Go check your mailbox.”

There was a zebra dress in my mailbox. But it was not the zebra dress we settled on.

My father, known as Popeye to his grand-scalawags, had gotten an email in French that he couldn’t understand and sent it to Poppy to make sure he hadn’t made a mistake of some kind. He didn’t. He was forwarding her a delivery confirmation for a zebra dress.

His zebra dress was this one, the one that was in my mailbox:

It’s a simple stretchy short-sleeved trapeze dress that I have found a million different ways to wear, and which I love with the fire of a million suns. Did I mention it has pockets? It has pockets.

Poppy was astonished! “Popeye did this on his own without telling me!” she cried. “Now what do we do with the other zebra dress?”

Thus, my new mantra, “One can never have enough zebra dresses.”

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

So I have a very very very cute and versatile little zebra dress trapeze dress to add to my inventory this week, and potentially another one (a wrap zebra dress!) next week. After doing a pre-winter changeover culling a few weeks ago, I also now have the space for this absolutely ravishing little piece of multifunctional, pocketed zebra couture and its wrap cousin.

I am, from here on out, until I kick the bucket, going to attempt a “one in, one out” philosophy on my wardrobe: anything that comes in must displace something similar (a new dress displaces a dress, for example.) So whatever comes in must be really special. (Or what’s going out must be worthy of disposing of…)

This is a new, scary thought. But I think it’s a way to keep my covetousness at bay. “What would I be willing to give up if this entered the Pantheon?”

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

How hard could it really be to do my Go-To Catalogue reliably? Honestly. There is a weird missed connection in my brain that says, “oh! This is so cute! I should be able to remember this outfit!” So I don’t write it down because it was so cute, so obviously I should be able to remember it. But of course I don’t. And then, when I can’t find something to hit the spot, I pinch hit. And that often does not end well.

Maybe I’m being hard on myself. Mid-pandemic lockdown, it was easy to do this reliably, and I did. Now, we are not cantoned in our little apartment. Everyone has other things to be thinking about, and this has fallen through the cracks.

The Go-To Catalogue is something is so nice to have, but equally so hard to keep up with.

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

Slowly but surely, my boys are getting just how amazing it is to plan ahead.

It started in earnest on the day my youngest had something called école dehors (outside school), which is one day a week, rain or shine, when he and his classmates and teacher go outside and spend the whole morning outside. The night before école dehors, he asked if he could get his clothes ready, because he wanted a certain pair of pants to go under his rain gear and rain boots. This was music to my ears. “A little Mise en Place, my love?”

Then, the next day, my eldest said, “I want to wear my Tyler Lockett jersey for our sports class.” (This is a Seattle Seahawks jersey his Popeye and Aunt Poppy sent him for his birthday. He thinks it makes him look athletic.) So we got out his outfit for the next day.

We aren’t batting 100% (mixing metaphors, please excuse me), but they aren’t resisting anymore. So yayayayayayay!!! Mise en Place the World!

Challenge Rule 5: Repair and Mend, Alter when Necessary:

I mended the sleeve on one of my winter sweaters this week. It is an old handknit piece, which already has elbow patches and refreshed cuffs because the old ones were in a million pieces. It’s complicated to mend because it is lace, so repairing the one-micron thin fibers is challenging. ‘Tis the season for mending sweaters!

I probably should have worked on a few pairs of socks this week, but I am going to be honest about this: I just didn’t want to.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again by the end of the year: I love the idea of mending socks. I love the idea of making socks last as long as they possibly can, down to the last little fiber. But actually mending socks? Don’t love it so much. Again, when we were locked down and no one could go anywhere anyway, this was a no-brainer. There was motive and opportunity.

Nonetheless, I will keep it up till the end of the year, challenge oblige.


We’re doing the things and enjoying the process.

In other news…

Thomas the Diabetic Cat helping me record. His purr makes this situation untenable.

I spent some time recording the podcast this week, as well as completing my querying goals for the novel. I have some other ideas and opportunities bippity-bopping around in my head, some which may or may not ever see the light of day.

Querying agents has opened my eyes to the world of publishing, which is vast and terrifying and intimidating. One thing is for certain: I am not particularly interested in just seeing my name on a book jacket. If that was what I wanted, there would be ways to make that happen that would be far easier than querying agents.

What I want is to get these books to the widest possible audience, because I believe in the stories and the humanity and the redemptions and the magic of it all. I truly believe that the epic arc is one that we all need to experience vicariously through these heroes and these villains. We need, through them, to experience the doubt, the pressure to compromise, the consequences of stepping out too soon…and the glorious satisfaction that a kept promise brings when we just learn to wait for it.

Note to self: You need to learn to wait for it

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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