Monday, January 31, 2011

SIOL: Notes for Next Time

With just a little more than a week to go, my SIOL experience is coming to a slow close.  I'd definitely do it again, and am considering making it a seasonal activity, just to keep me honest, and to keep my husband from having a heart attack whenever I go shopping.

All that in mind, I wrote myself a few tips to make the next round go by a little smoother.  A few words of wisdom, from a seasoned veteran (but not really):

Choose clothes that can all be washed in one load. Because wearing the same top four days in a row because you don’t have enough whites to do your white wash really, really stinks.

Tailored clothing is your friend. Feeling like a gelatinous blob for one month because your clothes hang off of you like a potato sack is not.

Own lovely PJs. Or at least clothing that you wouldn’t mind being your second-most-worn clothing for a month.  I’ve found through this month that PJs are far too overlooked.  Sure, your eyes are closed for the majority of the time that you are wearing them, but given that you buy far less pajamas in a given year but spend at least 25% of your day in them, it might be the investment for a lovely pair of knickers.

Invest in nice undergarments. Refer to “tailored clothing is your friend.”  Saggy is sad.

Unscented deodorant- while not as easy to find- is far superior to scented deodorant. The issue of smell is certainly not one to take lightly.  And while some of my other olfactory-sensitive allies out there might disagree on my penchant for unscented deodorant, I pose this question: What’s worse?  Slight body odor, or body odor mixed with tropical paradise, cool cucumber melon, or gardenia?

Invest in quality shoes that you love to put on. This might seem like an oxymoron, as a large part of this experiment is to steer us from spending.  However, I recently rain into a situation where this very idea became my new stand by.  Shoes are a lot of fun to own in heaps (if you’re a certain former first lady of the Philippines), but the truth is you only really need a few that you can rely on day-in-day-out.  If seen as the most functional accessory you have the opportunity to put on every day, shoes can completely change how you feel about your six items.  Don’t settle for less.

Find a buddy. I imagine that it could be a lot more fun if I had someone to chat with about how to change my outfits around and accessorize to make the experience more creative and interesting.

Pray more. You will be amazed at what your eyes are opened to when “fasting” from clothing.  Prayer has helped me to root those things much further than I could do on my own.

Remember that it’s just one month. And as much as your intuition speaks to the contrary, your clothes don’t have feelings, and no, they aren’t sad that you haven’t been wearing them.

Take more pictures. It forces you to make more of an effort with hair, make up, and changing things up.  Which leads me to my final point…

Wearing the same clothes does not give you an excuse to completely let yourself go. Having a huge wardrobe is not synonymous with being presentable.  And vice-versa.

Monday, January 24, 2011

SIOL: Sell what you have...

...and give it to the poor.  I'm pretty sure I've read that somewhere...

I think this experiment has brought many thoughts to my mind, but ultimately, it's simply reinforced all of the pearls of wisdom that have been passed my way through the years, only to be trampled by my own ignorance and ridiculous spending habits.

A friend of mine told me that she'd spent a summer serving in inner-city missions with a family who were missionaries in Russia.  This family took this command very literally, and arrived back in the States that summer with two full sets of clothing each.  That's two pairs of pants, two shirts, and probably a few miscellaneous jackets, shoes, etc.  The rest, they gave to the poor.  And guess what?  They didn't look homeless, or not presentable, and probably only a few people who spent every day with them noticed.  Life went on.

Francis Chan is one righteous dude, and I had the pleasure of seeing him speak the spring before I took off for China.  The one thing I will always remember him saying is, "Did it ever occur to you that Jesus actually meant what he said?  That those commands were literal?"  Often times, I find myself avoiding the commands that seem too difficult, too time consuming, or simply too "unrealistic."

"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13

Of course, wearing the same six items of clothing for a month doesn't make me a martyr.  But it does bring to mind how much money, time, and energy I put into buying, wearing, organizing, then throwing away my clothing.  It reminds me of what I could do without, and what I could do with the resources I've been blessed with.

I won't make any grand gestures on such a shaky podium, but I will say that the possibility of what God can do through me opens so much wider when I am willing to let go of what I really don't need and cling to what He desires for me to do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Last week, I had the great privilege of having my eyes opened to the severity of human trafficking within the United States.  I was shocked to learn that Portland is a hub for human trafficking in the US, and that little is being done within the state of Oregon to address this growing and horrifying issue.  There are plenty of reasons for this, none of which can be blamed on any single person, group, or party.  However, what little work that has been done is indeed effective, and therefore must continue.

Playground is a documentary by Libby Spears, whose efforts against human trafficking around the world have been incomparable.  I personally felt that the film was a bit scattered, but the gravity of the facts-- regardless of how it is presented-- is undeniable.

In my short time there, I've come to have an appreciation for Portland and all the beauty that surrounds it.  I've learned how passionately Portlanders truly love their city, and it is unfortunate to see that the ugliness of this global issue is happening right under our noses.

All this being said, I know that there is hope for this issue and for the people caught in human trafficking.  I pray for the strength to be one of the brave to fight it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SIOL: And then there were five...

Geez, has it only been one week since this started?  I'm sad to say that I'm already tired of my six items; and while I'm still pretty content with the items I chose, I'm quickly realizing that I probably should not have chosen items that can't be worn independently (plaid button-up needs white tank top, white tank top needs cardigan).  In addition, it seems that the mysterious sock monster in the laundry room has developed a taste for finer white cottons, and my trusty white tank has gone AWOL.

On a positive note, this experiment has opened my eyes to a number of things.

General mistreatment of clothing.  I, like so many women of my generation, have often seen aprons as a cute accessory to be worn when entertaining guests and be purchased at ridiculous prices from the Anthropologie clearance rack.  Once I started SIOL, I knew that I would need my clothes to last between washes, which meant taking better care of the clothes on my back.  I hope that I'll be able to maintain better treatment of my clothing, rather than keeping the "once it's stained, I'll toss it" mentality.

I am NOT what I wear.  This one seems obvious to those of us who aren't fashionistas, or "in" in the Heidi Klum sense of the word.  Wearing plaid makes me a lumberjack as much as wearing purple makes me the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.  So unless I'm wearing a pointed white hood or a swatstika arm-band, I'm probably not at risk of being judged by others as being a horrible human being with awful taste.  I know the notion sounds absolutely reasonable now, but I also know I'm guilty of pitying the "before" version of every guest on What Not to Wear.  "What a ghastly life they must have!  How poorly they must think of themselves to dress like that everyday!" are often the thoughts that fly through my head.  Sure, taste is important.  And an excellent sense of style is certainly an attribute that I'd like to develop over time.  Six items of clothing leaves little space to depend my entire identity on... which is a good thing.

No one notices.  Really.  No one.

Personal hygiene is your friend.  Wearing the same six items of clothes doesn't mean I can't look presentable.  With less time to think about clothes, I've taken better care of my general appearance.  Clothes come and go, but I'm stuck with this face and body forever.  Should I concentrate more on if my jeans make my butt look fat, or if my butt simply is fat?

Packing is a cinch.  And I still forgot to bring my contact lenses.  Blast.

I do miss the creative aspect of putting outfits together every morning.  It is a comfort to know that all of this will be over February 9th, but I'm sure I'll miss the simplicity of sticking to a daily uniform.  And I'm sure no one will notice by then, either.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sherwood, OR at Sunrise

Living on a Pint and a Prayer

Sometimes- no matter how blessed life may be- some days can be exceptionally difficult.  Just a few years ago, I would have drowned any memories of such exceptionally difficult days under a small sea of adult beverage.  Since then, I've learned to cope with the difficulties of my (incredibly comfortable) life with prayer.  On days like today, though, a pint is the Lord's form of the little extra amount of grace I needed to keep a smile on my face.  I could turn this truly exceptional day into a rant against rain, cranky people, and the City of Portland, but it is the prayer that keeps me in check and express the very grace unto others that I have been fortunate to receive myself... albeit a bit tongue in cheek.

Thus with my pint chilled, poured, and ready for consumption begins my very first (of what I'm sure will be many) "Pint-and-Prayer-Nights."

Pint for the Night: Widmer Drfiter Pale Ale

Cheers, to the anonymous Portlander who vigilantly maintains sound parking enforcement on the streets of this great city.  I sincerely hope that getting my car towed on a miserably rainy day satisfied your wrath against me.  If not the towing, then I trust that your note proclaiming, "Idiot.  You can't park here" did the trick for you.  I assure you, after forking over the towing fine and receiving an additional Parking Citation, the note certainly put me over the edge, so I hope it did the same for you.

Cheers, to the old, faded "No Parking On This Block" sign on the corner of NE Alberta and NE 15th.  Oh, what a fool I was to not see you.  How dense I must have been to have not recognized your great power when I passed you on my way to breakfast... twice.  Believe me, if you have been ignored, disregarded, and disrespected in the past, I certainly hope that today's events made up for that.
See it?

I suppose this makes it more clear.

Cheers, to the City of Portland.  I hope the hefty donation made on behalf of the Lee newlyweds comes into great use.

Cheers, to the folks at Newhouse Towing.  Thank you for your politeness and sunny disposition toward your customers.  Your sympathy makes a world of difference.  It is never fun having your car towed, but your service eases the pain a bit.

Cheers, to my four beautiful girlfriends who came all the way up to rainy, foggy Portland to visit the husband and me.  Whose smiles and joy brought some much-needed sunshine and great redemption to an otherwise awful day.  Whose friendship I know is lifelong.  Whom I am deeply and forever indebted to.

Cheers, to my lovely and patient sister, who forewent her plans for the afternoon to chaperone her sad sack of an older sister and brother in law from place to place on the great search for Mr. Honda.

Cheers, to my amazing younger brother.  I'll admit that I often thought it was simply a cute and silly party trick that you memorized everyone's license plate numbers.  Little did I know that it would become an immeasurably valuable ability during a very stressful and vital moment.  You surprise me in the most unexpected ways.  I'm so very proud of you.

To a bittersweet rainy Saturday.

건배 (Gun Beh/Cheers/Slante)!

Monday, January 10, 2011

SIOL: Day One

Today marks the beginning of the Six Items or Less Experiment.  It was interesting preparing mentally for this experiment, and it was surprising to see how much I weighed on my clothes to represent who I am to the rest of the world.  Initially, I had a pretty good idea about what items I'd be tied down to over the next month, but what I found while debating over those last few items was an unpleasing realization of my incredible shallowness.  All I can say for now is that I am overwhelmed by the ridiculous privilege I must have in order for it to be such a challenge to figure out what six items of clothing I am allowed to wear for a mere 30 days of my life.

By moving on from the philosophical side of things, here are the six items I chose (pardon the wrinkles and poor lighting):

#1:  Blue and red plaid button-up blouse.  In the land of Oregon, plaid is still hip.  And in the land of Grace, plaid hides coffee spots, evidence of dropped kimchee, and overall uncleanliness.

#2:  White thermal long-sleeve shirt with gray stripes.  Warm, but light enough to not be uncomfortable and suitable for layering.  Stripes make thermal shirt look less like long underwear.

#3:  Charcoal-gray long-sleeve cardigan.  Excellent for layering.  Necessary for Portland winter.  Long enough to hide unsightly muffin-tops and remnants of holiday overeating.
#4:  White tank top.  Good for layering and for not unintentionally flashing poor cleavage to innocent bystanders who value their eyesight.

 #5:  Dark wash skinny jeans.  Gap calls the cut "Forever Skinny" but I'm still feeling "Never Skinny" in them.  Still, they fit well, aren't susceptible to Plumber's Crack in the back, and are short enough to fit my stubby little legs in. 

#6:  Black skinny leg pants.  They look like a fancier version of leggings, feel wonderful, and stretch in a flattering way.  Can be dressed up or down, yet often sit in the back of my closet.  I figured this would be a great chance to give them some air time.

I feel that I do have an unfair advantage in this challenge simply because I'm not working right now and spent a good portion of my days in work-out clothes or my pajamas (the two exceptions to the Six Items rule).  That being said, I'm gearing up for a busy weekend out and about with friends who'll be visiting from California (hooray!) and a week in Seattle.  We shall see how my six items hold out!
And a-WAY we GO!

Monday, January 3, 2011

On Becoming a "Sixer"

Here I go!  I've just sent in my registration to start the "Six Items or Less" Experiment and am on my way to becoming a "Sixer."  The actual run of the experiment goes from January 10-February 9, which is a relief because I'm still pinning down which items of clothing I want to stick with.  I never thought I could be so torn over clothing (long sleeve or short sleeve?  prints or solids?  gray jeans or black slacks?), and I actually consider myself lucky since I don't have a formal job to show up at in the same six items of clothing five days a week.

 In any case, it's such an exciting thing to take part in, and I'm anxious to see what effects it will have on me in my thinking and spending habits.  I'm also keeping this whole thing a secret from my entire family and my (new) husband!  It will be interesting to see if they pick up on it... but my bet is that they won't have a clue!

Keep comin' back for more on being a "Sixer"!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kazoos: Ready, Set, BLOW!

It is officially 2011!  New Year's Eve was spent nursing my husband's bad back, sitting around my parents' large TV, watching my sister polish of a bottle of champagne on her own, and starting up my New Year's Project: knitting a hat for my grandma, aka Weh-Halms (all the Koreans reading this will get that one, and subsequently know which side of the family she's from).

Resolutions?  Not so many, really.  Here's one to start, though.

I've officially decided to sign up for the Six Items or Less Challenge!  The Six Items or Less Collective is launching a new site on January 3.  Thus, with their launch, I will enter myself into what could end up being a wonderful, enlightening experience, or a horrible, drawn-out, month-long form of extended torture.  We shall see... and all of you (few & faithful) readers will join in on my musings about it.  Let it be known that on the 3rd of January, I will be posting my six items of clothing (with the exception of outerwear, exercise clothing, and/or accessories) on this blog, and wearing only those items for one whole month!  Given that shopping has been a rather uninspired experience as of late, I am betting that the whole ordeal will err more on the wonderful and enlightening side.

With that... I wish you a sweet New Year's Day tomorrow, and pose the ever-unanswered question, "Is it two-thousand-eleven, or twenty-eleven?"