Country Living Series

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A whole different set of vices

Recently I read a book called Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno on how she tried to simplify her life by giving up a particular vice every month.

It was a mildly interesting book, but not one I could particularly relate to. It took me awhile to figure out why.

The premise of the book is to give up one vice per month (and then resume the vice the next month). Here's what the author gave up:

January -- Alcohol
February -- Shopping
March -- Elevators
April -- Newspapers
May -- Cell phones
June -- Dining out
July -- Television
August -- Taxis
September -- Coffee
October -- Cursing
November -- Chocolate
December -- Multitasking

The reason I couldn't relate very much is because I don't suffer from any of these vices.

I should explain that at the time the book was written, the author was a single woman living in Jersey and working in New York City. She was an admitted partyer and felt the need to reduce some of the things that were costing her a lot in terms of time, money, and health.

Now it's hard to compare a single urban childless woman to a married rural woman with kids, but nonetheless here's why I couldn't relate to the author's particular vices:

Alcohol -- I have a glass of wine about four times a week. I drink boxed wine. Who can afford bar drinks?
Shopping -- A minimum of an hour's drive away, no spare money, and most of our shopping is done at thrift stores. Besides, I hate shopping.
Elevators -- Virtually unknown in rural areas. I'm lucky to see the inside of an elevator twice a year.
Newspapers -- We don't subscribe to any.
Cell phones -- Even when I was in high school, I hated talking on the phone. Same now. I own a very basic cell phone model and have it on only when traveling. It's not a "smart" phone and even though it will take photos or allow texting, I don't have the faintest idea how to use those features. In short, I use my cell phone perhaps five or six times a month.
Dining out -- Rarely do it. Hate spending the money. Plus nice restaurants are an hour's drive away.
Television -- No reception.
Taxis -- I've been in a taxi once in my life, around 1984 or so.
Coffee -- I hate it. Can't get it down at all. I can't stand coffee ice cream, coffee candies, or any other coffee-flavored concoction. Yuck. (Tea is a different animal.)
Cursing -- I used to let an occasional four-letter word slip, but I've made a conscious effort to clean up my language in the last five years. I have kids, after all.
Chocolate -- Not my favorite flavor. Given a choice between chocolate cake and yellow cake, I'll take the yellow every time.
Multitasking -- I don't think my version of multitasking is the same as the author's.

I hope this doesn't imply that I'm flawless and without vices because that's FAR from true. It's just that my vices differ from the author's, in large part because our lifestyles are polar opposites. I don't care for chocolate but I love sweets (as my waistline will attest). We don't have television reception but I'm on the computer more than I should be.

So this got me thinking -- since rural people face different issues than urban folks, what are twelve vices we could give up over the course of a year?


  1. Ah ! something I've thought of not on a month by month basis, but as an attest to my faith as in, giving up the desires of the flesh, or those things that I spend more time on than the Lord.
    1. the computer
    2. sugar
    3. anger at the direction this country has taken and realize God is still in control
    4. ice cream
    5. letting go of some of my material possessions because of their sentimental value
    6. sitting more than I should
    7. solidarity to the point of not giving my friends enough attention
    8. my messy, but comfortable house
    9. some of my paperwork I 'think' I may need
    10. reading material that keeps me mad
    11. wishing for things I just can't have at this time (moving) cream once again, because I LOVE IT.

    1. I thought I must have come here and written that in my sleep! I was thinking, "What 12 things... that's a lot!" then I read your comment. You hit every one that I would have. :) Especially #3 and #10! Eep!! I'm getting better!!

      AND 11!! Oh, MY, 11!!

      FYI: About #5- For memory's sake I took some pictures of some of the sentimental things I finally decided to jar loose with, then gave some to friends, donated some to charity, etc... I don't regret it or miss it like I thought I would. I deliberately put it in storage for 6-12 months first. Then when I went to get it all out I realized, yeah, it's nice, sentimental, whatever, but I don't need it and would be far better off to clear things out, so off it went. After that 6-12 months, I could see much more clearly whether it was something I really could NOT part with. Most of it, I'd say at least 85% of it, I got rid of. The time in storage let me be extra sure before I parted with it so I really, REALLY didn't have regrets. (We went from a 1500 sq ft house down to 400 sq ft. 2 adults, 2 teens, 2 dogs. We HAD to clear out! Living space is precious now!)

  2. trying way too many new recipes, planting just one more variety of tomatos, buying just one more book, and of course reading too many blogs!

    1. 1.get up early and spend more time with God!
      2. my time for myself ( give more to others)
      3. computer (get on less)
      4. Reading news ( spend more time reading Bible, how to books, plant books,etc.)

  3. 1. Give up talking to the sheep for a month.
    2. Give up talking to the chickens for the next month.
    3. Stay off of Craig's List farm sales.
    4. No more than five minutes in the canning pantry at a time.
    5. No new sustainable living books.
    6. No auctions.
    This in only for a month each, right?

  4. Just for the record thee is a world of difference between chocolate and chocolate cake. I eat chocolate daily and I don't consider it a vice anymore than I consider eating any food a vice. I don't eat chocolate "flavored" things. I do like coffee, I like the smell and the taste. It is one of the few things that goes well with chocolate.

  5. City folk call it multitasking, farmers call it chores...

    1. That's a great insight! I'll be thinking of that while milking the goats tonight, and preparing dinner, and parenting my 5 kids, and... :)

  6. I do like the idea of taking it a month at a time. It seems more manageable somehow. Now I just have to plug my "vices" into the calendar. I guess I should start with the hardest ones, in case I need a lot of time, and then with the ones that are worst, or would have the greatest effect on my life if I were to give them up.

    I have a smart phone, and I think my priority should be in taking Facebook and you tube OFF of my phone!! It's a total time stealer/waster, and with my home PC, I can't afford to have any more time stolen, if ya know what I mean!

    I swear, bed time used to be for a little reading, a little romance, and a decent sleep. It's become a transition from one glowing square to a different glowing square! I gotta STOP!!

  7. Yeah, that first one ain't gonna happen. As long as communists are running things. Haha

  8. Oh, this is fun...What are my country-style vices?....Hmmmm.

    1. Staying up too late to listen to the crickets.
    2. Coffee. I really love coffee time in the A.M. with hubby.
    3. Ice cream. I can't imagine a world without it.
    4. Sparkling "ICE" drinks. Kind of like Vitamin water. No sugar. No calories. No sodium. Nice and fizzy. A little fruit juice and some extra vitamins thrown in. I love them. But they cost a lot.
    5. Long showers.
    6. Pretty fabric.
    7. Thrift shops.
    8. Lehman's Catalogs.
    9. AM Radio.
    10. Cheese.
    11. Pumpkin farms. With kittens in the barn.

    And one more that I'm keeping to myself.

    Just Me

  9. Well...let's see.
    Letting fresh eggs pile up until I"m not sure it they are still fresh eggs.
    Failing to make something useful out of homemade bread gone dry.
    Freezing more and canning less...oh I could go on and on.

    1. I can totally relate to these things! :)

  10. the easiest on my list would be giving up the television and the hardest on my list to give up would be my coffee. everything else in between these two would not really be a sacrifice although todays economy and the values of todays world make them seem that way.

  11. How exactly is an elevator a vice? Can't stand riding in the things myself, too claustrophobic. I'll take the stairs every time I can, but a vice?

  12. Long, hot baths? Knitting? Reading books on my cell phone?

    I live in the 'burbs, and for the life of me I can't think of very much. We have pared our life down to what we consider the essentials (no cable, no car payment, no house phone, fewer convenience foods, no eating out, being vigilant with the thermostat, etc.)

    For a class on counseling addicts we were required to quit something for thirty days and journal about it. I quit chocolate, and I actually had to prepare for it--I had to think of alternatives to my regular treats, stop myself from mindlessly chucking it into the shopping cart, and so on. It gave me some insight into the mind of an addict--it's not like I was quitting heroin or anything, but the preparing to quit and having it on your mind all the time made me realize just how prevalent and tightly woven some habits are in our lives.

    It's made me more mindful about things, to be sure. I just wrote a post about the mindlessness with which people seem to buy things, just because they're there.

  13. I don't know if it is a vice, but I sure would like to give up carrying my purse and everything I think I need that is in it. Men don't feel the need to carry all the stuff I do, which isn't much. I only have one purse that I got at Goodwill for $10 and it is still going strong. I just hate having to lug it around. I wonder what it would be like to walk out to my truck to go shopping at the grocery store without my purse. I think I will try it for the 30 days. I do have good pockets in my denim skirts.....

  14. Jim Jim Jim of the JungleSeptember 24, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    I ran across this link and thought of you, and one of your good habits: writing. I don't recall which writing contest (if that's even the right word) you participate in, but this may be of a bit of value for whatever one you participate in.

    David Seah has a bunch of PDFs that you can print to help manage your productivity. I just ran across the whole bunch recently and haven't evaluated them to know if they're useful for me. Mostly they seem to be forms to fill out as you schedule and execute tasks. This one keeps track of your daily writing progress.

    I've enjoyed the blog for some time. Thanks for the fine work.

  15. I can think of a few difficult things I have given up for Lent.
    1) Social media was hard at first, but I soon didn't miss it.
    2) One year I gave up mirrors. After a basic hair-comb in the morning, I tried to avoid checking my reflection all day. It was a revelation! I had no idea how accustomed I was to the habit, and how anxious I got not knowing if I was "presentable".
    3) The most difficult year to date was when I gave up offering unsolicited opinions. Ouch!

    1. I love these. I don't do social media at all, so I have no idea how hard it might be to give up --- but the other two I can relate to.

      The mirror thing -- Often I catch myself in the mirror and feel happy.

      I'm not a young hottie anymore, but when I see in the mirror a sweaty face from a morning outside, or blown hair, or a face contorted by laughter, I can let the "hottie" go and "let my wrinkles tell the world where my smiles have been." (Another one of my favorite proverbs.)

      Just Me

  16. Well, I suppose I could give up chucking a shoe at the rooster that unerringly finds whichever room the 3-month-old baby is sleeping in and crowing loudly on the sill, but I don't wanna.

    1. LOL! Oh my goodness, I really am LOLing!

      Just Me

  17. I could give up these vices:
    1. coffee/lunch with the girls...too much gossip.
    2. talking too much and listening too little
    3. sitting too much
    4. eating too much junk
    5. cable tv
    6. things in my daily routine such as napping after breakfast

    So I think I will! I began today by informing the girls I would not be at coffee today. Instead, I plan to volunteer at the local school helping kids to read better. That will kill my napping habit.
    I also took out the fixings for a good home made stew. Cooking at home is much better for our health than junk!

    A workable plan. I read her book last year and liked it, but I didn't relate much. Thanks, Patrice, for reminding me.

  18. Hi, I saw your posts on Nicholson's blog. Good job. Keep fighting the good fight.

    1. What blog is that? Do you have a url?

      - Patrice

  19. I can't figure out how giving up a vice for a month, then taking it right back up again after all the hard work, is worth it. Seems counterproductive to me. They say it takes 28 days to make or break a habit. If its a bad habit to begin with, and one you've decided to see if you can live without...why not just live without it?

    1. I am so glad I am not the only person who thinks this every time a book like that comes out! Jen Hatmaker's book "7" drove me nuts for the same reason. If you're going to put the elbow grease, sweat and tears into making a chance because you believe it's worth doing, you shouldn't let it all go to waste by just picking it back up again because the calendar rolled over to a new month!

    2. Exactly. This woman isn't giving up anything. She's just abstaining from one thing or another for a month, then she's back to business as usual! I'm not impressed. --Fred in AZ

  20. 1. Thinking about chores during family time
    2. Washing clothes that have only been worn once
    3. Pouring cooking water down the drain instead of taking it to the garden
    4. Staying up after 10/sleeping in after dawn
    5. Eating out because my poor meal planning means I forgot to defrost the meat
    6. Computer time!

    I'm sure I could come up with more, but I'm working on #6 today :)

    1. I can totally relate to these.

      Just Me

  21. Twelve simple-living "vices"? Hmmm... I suppose anything can become a vice, if it's subsuming all our attention! But here's an attempt at replacing "vice" tendencies with useful ones (because just eliminating a poor habit doesn't automatically replace it with a better one!). I could see taking time to focus on each of these positives for a month:

    1. Being more mindful of time connected to my family--really look them in the eye, cuddle deliberately, etc.
    2. Drawing everyone into more cooperative family work, rather than doing some things myself. (I am really selfish about being the only person to fold the towels "properly," and I hog hanging them out on the line, too. I should share more.)
    3. Taking more deliberate time to garden (again, with everyone.) We have underutilized bits of our small property, and with more attention, that could improve.
    4. Do library book fines count as a vice? Because I have those. I could focus for a whole month on getting *everything* read and returned each week.
    5. Work on getting to know our neighbors a bit more. I'm kind of hermit-ish, and actually really like it.
    6: Make family devotions a priority daily.
    7: Sing and make music every single day for a month.

    I think that taps me out. It's really hard to descend into vice when you LIKE the life you're creating, and have STUFF to do.

  22. Your list is mostly what I would compile with a few differences.

    1.Alcohol: we haven't partaken of any alcoholic drink for 34 years. Does a penchant for apple cider vinegar count?
    2.Shopping: There are plenty of shopping opportunities where I live. Unless you are speaking of driving to farms to get food to purchase and put up, or those items that must be purchased, I must be dragged into a store screaming and kicking to shop as entertainment. Even then I have a very short time span tolerance. My daughters are the same way.
    3. Elevators: the last elevator I was on was in a medical building for my elderly father's appointment. I do, however, remember elevator operators with uniforms and mechanical gates and doors from years gone by.
    4. Newspapers: stopped them about 15 years ago
    5. Cell phones: I have a basic model. Unfortunately, I really need it for important stuff such as my father's appointments. I rather like using it as they must leave a message. I do not necessarily answer the phone.
    6. Dining out: upon occasion only, usually due to circumstances as the back to back funerals recently. We keep it very cheap.
    7. TV: Absent for 12 years now and never miss it
    8. Taxis: once in NYC about 40+ years ago.
    9. Coffee: does not pass my lips. Tea for me.
    10. Cursing: Not Biblical
    11. Chocolate: 85% only and it could take a week or more to eat a bar
    12. Multitasking? I was never good at it unless you are talking about knitting and conversing or knitting and being a passenger in a car. I do, however, have a book purchasing problem. Used, of course.:)