Challenge Update: Week 40

Celebrating 300 articles!

If 40 weeks doesn’t sound like a lot, then maybe 300 articles does?

Or, I don’t know, 289,000 words?

I’ll be the first to admit that all 289,000 aren’t great. I never set out to write a certain number, neither of words nor articles. I wanted to write about the journey, and apparently there has been a lot to say.

I am celebrating today with an hour or so sitting at the piano singing my heart out.

Now, however, I am setting a goal: my next celebration will happen when I hit 365 articles. Cause that’ll just be supercool.

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

I did covet something I saw this week. It was by far the closest I have ever come to seeing someone wear runway fashion in real life.

There is this gorgeous mom who picks up her kids at the same time I do. She often has lovely clothes, to the point that I am ultra-curious about what this woman does for a living, that she needs to be so well dressed. The weather has been changing, and most people have gotten out there transitioning-to-Fall gear: fleece jackets, a peacoat here or there. I have a big wonky jacket I had knit from wool I had spun by hand.

This mom showed up in something that looked like a puffy quilted satin cape in a particular shade of baby blue. I can’t even describe it adequately. It was just breathtaking. I coveted it, but in the way I might covet something in Vogue magazine (which is why I have eschewed reading fashion magazines since I was a teenager.) I was intrigued by it, to say the least.

Challenge Rule 2: The Inventory

Several months ago, at the height of my “You Need to Stop Shopping” rampage, I made a passing reference to a white blouse that I had purchased years ago because an online listicle listed a white button down blouse as an item that every woman must have in her closet.

I also said that I had almost never worn that blouse. I also said that I would be hard-pressed to eliminate it from my wardrobe: apparently every woman needs one of these in her closet. I am a woman. Therefore, I must need it. Well, this week I decided it was do-or-die for this white blouse.

Guess what? I decided it was do. It survived another round of decluttering from my closet. I also have decided that I must wear it soon and often or it will die by the end of the month.

Challenge Rule 3: Go-To Catalogue:

The challenge from here to the end of the month is to enlist this white blouse into as many Go-To outfits as possible. The white blouse is going to be paired with everything from my navy blue corduroy culottes to my zebra dress, and the outfits that work are going to get photographed and put into my journal. I’m kind of excited about this mini-challenge.

Challenge Rule 4: Mise en Place/Plan Ahead:

Hey, Scalawag #1? I’m sorry (not sorry.)

Here’s how it went down: On Wednesdays, my eldest scalawag does école dehors (outside school), when his class goes on nature walks and does outdoor activities, rain or shine. This has, for both scalawags, been the highlight of being at their new school (besides the fact that they are at a bi-lingual English/French school, and most kids don’t speak English as well as they do, so they finally feel smart and capable at school, whereas before they were kind of just bumping along…)

Anyhoo. It was 7:45AM. No one had done their Mise en Place the night before except for me. I got clothes out of the drawers for the boys and put them next to wear they were playing. I often have to help the youngest get dressed (although he is capable), because he is in a ‘I’m a tiny baby” phase. But I told the eldest, “get dressed, darlin’. Your clothes are right next to you.”

At 8:00 I told them to get their shoes on, it was time to leave.

We got 3/4 of the way to school when my eldest started shouting, “This is bad. It’s so bad! Not good! Not good!” I nearly swerved off the road.

He had forgotten to change out of his pyjamas and into the clothes I set next to him. His pyjama pants were navy blue velour. I hadn’t been paying close enough attention, and apparently neither had he: he put his own shoes on and hadn’t noticed he was still wearing his pyjamas.

I tried to assure him that no one was paying as much attention to what he wore as he thought they were (a hard-fought lesson I had to learn this summer). I said, “Just don’t say anything about it, and no one will notice.”

He was so mad. He was so, so mad. When this child is mad, he is mean. The vitriol he directed at me was intense. This was, of course, you know, all my fault. (Uhm, according to him, of course.)

I called my husband to tell him what had happened. He said, “Did you tell his teacher, to make sure that no one makes fun of him?” To which I said, “Absolutely not. While I would never have done this to him on purpose, he also needed to learn to start getting dressed without me nagging him. So I am glad this happened.”

When I picked him up, he whispered, “No one noticed.” He changed into the clothes that were still on the floor where he had been playing at home, and we didn’t mention it again. Since then, he has been a flawless practitioner of Mise en Place.

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

For my birthday, I received a few skeins of a lovely ecru colored mohair. My friend Genevieve thought they were bagels when she saw them in a photo, which made me giggle. My indulgent husband used to bake bagels, and Genevieve was absolutely right: they did look like bagels!

Instead of mending socks, which I should have been doing, I cast a little sweater onto my freshly re-organized knitting needles. I sat up in bed each night this week doing a few rows. While my boys played Playmobil, I knit up the little lace modestie and fluttery sleeves.

And guess what? It looks amazing with my white blouse.

Please notice my Fox pin, a birthday gift from my littlest scalawag, aka, Fox

Round-up

We’re doing the things and enjoying the process.

In other news…

I received my first rejection notification from an agent. I’m not gonna lie, it stung a little. This feeling right here is exactly why I didn’t want to start looking for an agent to begin with. I mean why go out and actively put myself in a position where I would feel like this?

My fear of rejection might be at the heart of why I was on such a decluttering binge this week. It was like my soul had been numbed a little bit and I was anaesthetized enough to throw out the things that I had been wavering about.

In any case. I’ll be back to querying again soon. I just need to remember that the fact that my novel was rejected by one agent is not a guarantee that it will be rejected by others; nor is it a rejection of who I am.

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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