Monday, December 22, 2014

The Art of Sticking With the Giving Up

My friend Pam Fahs is one of those people who is extremely talented, extremely driven, extremely dedicated, and living life with great deliberateness. You know the type... the one you'd absolutely despise if she weren't so absolutely sweet... and didn't somehow pull off "unquestioningly better than you in every possible area" and still not make you feel judged or demeaned in any way. Seriously. I don't know how she does it, but somehow she always makes me feel inspired and encouraged toward improvement rather than judged and found wanting. I wish she lived nearby. I'd love to just hang out and share life ideas together! (Read: learn from her perpetually, and copy her shamelessly...)

So, one of the areas she's totally better than we are is in the Family Solidarity Challenge. (This is my name for it, not hers! Hers would be snappy and memorable and would either rhyme in a cool way, contain a clever play on words, or consist of a memorable acronym. And it would probably somehow involve the number 7.)

For many years now, her family has "given up" something together, for the entire year. Here is a recent Facebook post from her that explains the process a bit:

As No Candy 2014 is coming to a close, T. and I are trying (without too much success) to engage our kids in a discussion of what we will give up as a family in 2015 (all in the interest of building family unity and eliminating one unhealthy thing for a year). Winners of the "Nice Try Award" so far:

A: "No Fried Food on a Thursday 2015"
C: "No Ranch Dressing 2015"
Q: "No Rice 2015" (Yeah, impossible!)
T: "No Eating Out Monday Through Thursday 2015" (Also impossible!)
A: "No Cucumbers 2015"
A: "No Tomato Sauce 2015"
R: "No Peanuts 2015"

Pam continues: I'm about to make an executive decision on "No Cake 2015," "No Cookies 2015," or "No Ice Cream 2015." I think "No Cake" will cause the smallest revolt. 

For the record, I tried the "executive decision" approach last year. After having successfully given up soda for all of 2013—and finding it wonderful in so many ways—we were going to join them again in 2014. We chose "No Sweet Treats 2014," Um, yeah. None. Of any of them. Nothing. Of all of them. We made it, I think, to about February before we just quit. I don't consider it a total failure, however, since we learned what NOT to do if you want to be successful.

So, we're back to the drawing board for 2015, remembering what we learned from last year's fiasco: No huge, broad categories. No exceptions or special circumstances. No caveats. ("It's a wedding. Eat the cake."..."They made them special just for us."..."But they bought them for us and we can't just let them go to waste."..."Daddy ate one!")

What will it be this year? We're not sure yet, but we're all weighing in, considering some of the Fahses' past successful adventures: "No French Fries 2010," "No Soda 2011," "No Fast Food 2012" (Avid sportsters, they allowed themselves Chick-Fil-A for game nights), "No Chips 2013" (I believe there was a brief dispensational pause when they visited Texas or someplace with great Southwestern food) and "No Candy 2014."

It isn't at all surprising to me that Pam's family is five for five and we're hobbling in, trying to make two out of three this year. That's typical! But also true to form, she's inspired us to carry on despite our past failure. We bit off more than we (couldn't) chew last year with our attempt to give up every single sweet treat. This year we'll be more specific. (Specificity is key! No ever-expanding "grey areas" to go snacking in!)

The feedback I've gotten so far?

EL: How about we DON'T do "No Sweet Treats 2015"! I'm good with anything else... No chips, maybe? But that would mean no Mi Casita, no Guad's, no chippies! NOOOO!

IM: I could go with NO CAKE... if cheesecake is not really a cake.

OG: I'd say no chips or pre-packaged snack food. That's probably the worst thing you could reach for when you're hungry, but because it's easy, that's what's gravitated towards instead of something healthier like ants on a log or almonds or veggies....

PT: No cookies is probably smartest, given how many we can eat without feeling bad about it.

That last comment probably stems from the fact that EL has made three different batches of Christmas cookies so far—all meant to be served on Christmas Eve—and they're all gone! We eat them all, every time she bakes them. Clearly, we need some help!

Perhaps we've already found our "need to give it up" thing for 2015 after all! Won't you join us? What will your family choose?

Goodbye, cookies! We'll miss you desperately. See you in 2016!

1 comment:

pamela said...

Oh, my precious friend, I am so so so grateful that you see any bit of good in me -- and you and I both know that anything good in me is Christ. Thank you for your sweet, sweet encouragement. We must have ourselves a little mutual admiration society because I have long thought the world of you and have looked to you as a model of following hard after Jesus -- back to when we were both teenagers and you were so wise, and I was so . . . well . . . foolish. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me to be a better wife, mommy, and homeschooler. I appreciate you. As for the "No ____ 2015," I will admit that it has taken much discussion, but our family finally agreed over dinner last night to tackle "No Cake 2015" -- no cake, no cupcakes, no cheesecake, no poundcake, and no strawberry shortcake (my absolute favorite!). The wonderful thing about this family unity project is that we get to be super creative together. I'm already imagining birthday brownies and celebratory ice cream sundaes and . . . oh, my new favorite! . . . party panna cotta! (Where has this dreamy dessert been all my life?) But if the truth be told, I shouldn't be looking for any substitutes -- if were wiser in this area, I might have as cute a figure as yours. For now, though, I can't fit into my favorite jeans. Yet one more area in which I can look to my dear friend Laurie for inspiration! <3