no buy zone: i’m in the majority?

Today one of my favorite writers, Shauna Niequist, posted that her dad’s newest book was being released today.

And what I really wanted to say before my blog post so rudely ran off and posted itself on Facebook and everywhere else is that I made a comment on Shauna’s blog. She is giving away 20 copies of her dad’s book, Simplicity, and I thought I might get lucky. There were some comments already posted, but I threw my hat in the ring, so to speak, and followed Shauna’s directions: Tell me what you’d simplify.

No doubt about it, I want to continue to simplify my life by getting rid of my excess and that’s what I wrote. Posted how excess hit me in the face after one of my 3-month stints in Africa. Posted that I wanted to continue to give stuff away and not replace it–hence my No Buy Zone.

And, I signed up to have any follow-up comments emailed to me. I wanted to see what was plaguing other people. Curiosity. What was I thinking?

Over the course of the day I received 592 emailed comments. 592 does not include the hundred or so that were already posted before I made my comment. I repeat, what was I thinking?

Did I read them all? Of course not. But I did read a random sampling of them this evening. Want to know what the most common answer was? I’m going to tell you anyway.


happy 32nd. where’s the missing piece?

I feel like I’ve been waiting  f-o-r-e-v-e-r  to tell you about my son’s 32nd birthday. Just  f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Truth? About 2-1/2 weeks.

Ry turned 32 on July 28. That day was surreal for me in so many ways.

I started my day by reflecting on the events of 32 years ago when I was showering and dressing to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant. Those of you who are mothers know that motherhood is all about sacrifices. Mine started that very night when I traded nachos and tacos for ice chips and extreme pain. But such a deal–insurance picked up the tab.

Six hours later our little girl (we’d had 3 sonograms), miraculously turned little boy, was born. OJ got the first glimpse of his son and would have been a goner if it wasn’t that a very observant nurse shoved a stool under his backside before he could hit the floor. My take? I say OJ lost it because Baby Kristen came out as Baby Ryan, and OJ saw a little thingamajig when he was expecting to see a you-know-what.

Fast forward thirty-two years. Baby Ryan has been married for 2+ years to a woman he met while they were both serving on the Africa Mercy in West Africa. Both have finished grad school, they’re looking for their dream jobs AND we’re having a special dinner with special friends to celebrate his 32nd birthday. Before the guests arrive, his wife declares we are having a theme party and sprinkles puzzle pieces on the table so we can play a game before we eat.

Dinner is ready, but first we have to put together the birthday puzzle. There are 11 of us, ages 7 – 77, working on this puzzle. The way we carry on you’d think there was a big prize at stake. We’re trying to be crazy fast–maybe because we’re hungry. Lots of hands and confusion, loud banter, connecting pieces, but it finally came together. SURPRISE! in big letters. Finally. We’re done! Wait. Where’s the last piece?

Ry was holding the last piece. It did NOT say birthday on it.

–scroll down–











day 3: frogs, pirates, bluebirds and beer

Day 3. Still road-tripping with my friend, The Shopper. Today was Downtown Bend. Walked the streets, shopped-the-shops (me, window shopping; friend, real shopping), lunched at Deschutes Brewery, coffee-ed at Bluebird Coffee Company.

I have literally been in more stores in the last 3 days than I’ve stepped foot in the last 12 months. Yes, God’s got a sense of humor.

But I resisted.

Wait. An alarm clock that sounds like a frog and pirate wrapping paper doesn’t count, right?  Really, it wasn’t for me.


hemp in a latté?

IMG_1951Ironic that I spent almost the entire second day of my No Buy Zone shopping. Road-tripping with a friend who is NOT in a No Buy Zone, and who knows her stuff when it comes to shopping. She did well. Are you dying to know how I did?

I went into REI, Newport Market, Gymboree, Ginger’s Kitchenware, and Wonderland Toy Shoppe. I did purchase. I had baby gifts to buy and they were having a storewide 40% off sale at a Gymboree. Bought birthday gift for 4-yr old, baby gifts for Sept baby boy and Sept baby girl. All allowed because they’re not for me.

Did have my first hemp latté at the Backporch Coffee Roasters–but I didn’t pay. It was a treat from my road-tripping friend. Don’t read too much into “tripping.” She had the local Kombucha instead of the hemp so no THC for her. Actually, here’s the scoop from the hemp milk package: “THC? Never had it. Never will. There is 0.00% THC in our products.” It was tasty and I actually liked it better than my usual almond milk. Too bad because hemp milk has 3X as many calories as almond milk.

And here’s the fun stuff from BackporchFounders Dave and Majell Beach have 2 four legged dogs, 1 three legged dog and a lovely little girl named Scout. They say “Serve coffee in a way that honors the farmers who grew it.” Don’t know exactly what that last part means, but I loved my hemp latté.

I also walked right by the Naked Winery Tasting Room without stopping. Think I did OK on Day 2.



today’s the day

It’s July 1. See that black box on the right? The one that says 12 months to go?

So this should be the day that I post something inspirational and witty.

A friend and I road-tripped yesterday to Sunriver. Arrived, unpacked and started our adventure with an early dinner at the Sunriver Brewery. Next up: Visiting all the new shops that always seem to spring up in The Village in honor of summer. My friend bought the cutest hat and picked out all the potential purchases she wants to re-visit while she’s here.

Me? I saw so many cute things. I fondled chunky jewelry. I looked at so many maxi-dresses and thought to myself you know these are the new in-item and you don’t have even one–and after midnight tonight you won’t be able to get one. I had 4 hours before my shopping privileges would be suspended. That really cute maxi-dress could have been mine. I could have gotten the chunky necklace to go with it.

But I was frozen. Totally stuck. So now it’s July 1 and I don’t have to think about it for how many months? Oh yeah, TWELVE.

too many?


No Buy Zone Pt 1 July 1, 2012 thru June 30, 2013. Just back from three months of volunteering in West Africa, I felt smothered by the excess in my U.S. life–too many clothes, too many shoes, too many products, too many choices. Too many and too much of everything. Living in a Third World country had pushed the excess in my life front and center so that it became impossible to ignore. Quite frankly, it disgusted me. So for one year, NO non-essential purchases for myself with only two freebies: regular haircuts and occasional pedicures. And thus, No Buy Zone, Pt 1. I lived to tell about it, although toward the end I was really holding my breath waiting for my whole backside to be exposed as I continued to go everywhere in my two pair of worn-thin jeans. I was doctoring up my multiple black tops with a Sharpie. (BTW, I have not been able to bring myself to wear those jeans or the Sharpied tops since.)

I also committed to give away one thing of value everyday for 365 days. It had to be given to someone who really wanted it–bags to the Goodwill didn’t count. Because of my travel schedule, it didn’t happen that I literally gave away something every day, but I did keep track of the items and ended the year gifting 450+ items. It was so fun!

No Buy Zone Pt 2 July 1, 2014 thru June 30, 2015. Although I never intended to have a Pt 2, I am. To be honest, I’m lacking in enthusiasm this time around, but I’m making the commitment anyway feeling confident that I’ll rediscover the freedom and joy that I felt during Pt 1. I am allowing myself a few additional freebies this time around. In addition to haircuts, I’m going to allow myself limited purchases of second-hand clothing. I’m still going to meet-up with friends for coffee, glass of wine, or food. As with the first time around, I’m NOT stocking up prior to.

I’m also not committing to give away an item a day this year, mainly because in the past month we’ve already made 6 trips to Goodwill, put multiple items on Butte County Yard Sale and Craig’s List. Thanks to our DIL, OJ and I have made incredible headway on clearing out even MORE excess. Moving it all on to the next owners.

Now ready to start Pt 2. I’ve just inventoried my underwear and (thank God!) I’ll be good until 2015.

Really. How many watches does one person really need.

You can come along for the ride without getting on the roller coaster.

she’s lost her mind… again.


A couple days ago I declared to the world–well, really only Facebook & Instagram, but I guess that could be the world–that I was about to move into the No Buy Zone Pt. 2. I declared it publicly because my enthusiasm was feeling ho-hum and I needed:

• A self-inflicted kick-in-the-butt
• A way of initiating accountability
• A dose of inspiration to tackle Pt 2

When I glibly said “Anyone want to come along for the ride?” I really didn’t expect anyone to respond with much more than “Have a good time. See you on the other side.” But, instead responses went like this:

The ADAMANT – “Nope.” “I will love following your journey but I’m not even tempted.” “No way Jose!”

The UNDECIDED – “I may jump on that bandwagon!” “Your last episode definitely inspired me to buy LESS.” “I am definitely interested in hearing more about this.” “Count me in for the info.” “Tempted.” “I am SERIOUSLY thinking about it.”

The QUESTIONS – “Does No Buy include going out to breakfast or lunch with friends?” “Where can I read about it?” “…what would you suggest for a single person?”

My FAVORITE – “I feel like the little kid who said You be Jesus (when told that taking the smaller half of the sandwich is what Jesus would do).”

I tried to find an appropriate quote about NOT doing things alone and how good it is to have support and community. This one doesn’t really do it, and it certainly isn’t a measure of anyone’s level of friendship, but it is the quote that made me laugh the most…

Good friends don’t let you do stupid things… Alone. ~Unknown

Stay tuned for the Rules of Engagement for my July 1 2014 thru June 30 2015. (2015? Aye-yi-yi!)

Along for the ride doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get on the roller coaster.

here we go again

Remember my No Buy Zone?

One year of not buying A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G for myself? I’m about to do it again.

No, please, I am not noble, or a martyr, or any other form of wonderful. It’s selfish. I am just trying to bring a greater level of reality to my own life. And that’s not verbiage to try to shame anyone into jumping on the bandwagon. I’m just part crazy. Challenging myself makes me feel real.

So, here I go.

Considering a few allowable perks: haircuts, meet-ups with friends for coffee or a glass of wine will be allowed; possibly second-hand clothing purchases.

Last time I did this, my husband was willing to let me cash-in on various occasions early–sometimes really early–and put in my gift requests for whatever it was that I really needed. In fact, everyone was really good about asking me what I might need when I had an occasion coming up that they planned to gift me something. It was really cool because I got exactly what I needed!

Last time I was working my way through the No Buy Zone, I was not a StitchFix-er. Dang! I love StitchFix–my newly-discovered way to think outside my ho-hum fashion box. But, hey. It’ll be there waiting for me on July 1, 2015. Right?

Gosh. That seems like a long way off…

i know where the plane is

Note: My intent is to make fun of an email I received, and not to minimize the anguish of those who are anxiously awaiting word on their missing loved ones.

Benefit of having lived in different countries in West Africa: The truckload of emails you get from those countries.

For someone who gets 200+ legitimate emails a day (clients, conference registrants, exhibitors, exhibit houses, hotels, convention centers, etc.), I’m pretty good at hitting DELETE when it comes to the illegitimate email delivered to my inbox.

Mind you, my illegitimate email does not come from just anyone. I run with the best of ’em – high-ranking bank officers, government officials and clergyman. Occasionally a suffering widow writes to me.

And sometimes, when I need a good laugh, I’ll read one of those emails.

Yesterday, Dr. John Ben, Director of the UBA Bank of Benin (whose email address belongs to Central Power Corporation in Da Nang City, Viet Nam), wrote to tell me that my $5.5 million ATM card was delayed because the courier was stranded at the North Carolina International Airport.

But not to worry. If I send all my contact information and a copy of my identification to Mr. Tony Mark, the Diplomatic Agent of the UBA Bank of Benin (whose email address belongs to a company in Turkey), my parcel can be delivered TODAY! Watch out FedEx – someone’s moving in on your marketplace.

Just one more thing. Under no circumstances am I to let Mr. Mark know the contents of my parcel. I can only surmise that Mr. Mark is not a very trusted employee of UBA Bank of Benin (Turkey?) and that he might just disappear with my $5.5 million ATM card.

Speaking of disappearing, I think I know where the missing airliner might be. Has anyone checked the (non-existent) North Carolina International Airport?

how to get a new laptop, or hello my name is, or because ship happens

I told this story, by request, last Saturday morning when I met friends for coffee. I realized I need to record it here so when I’m older (than I am now), I can remember another moment in time when I lived on the edge.

Last September, after serving two months on the Mercy Ship in West Africa, I was on my way home and everything went whacko. Congo to Libreville; Libreville to Frankfurt; Frankfurt to Denver; Denver to Sacramento; drive 90 miles to Chico.

Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo

Pointe Noir, Republic of Congo

After an overnight flight from Congo, I was determined to stay awake during my 6-1/2 hour layover in Frankfurt. I’ve traveled internationally enough to know that as soon as I got on the plane they would feed me, turn up the heat, turn down the lights and I could sleep.

Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany

I boarded in Frankfurt and had a window seat, but my plan fell apart when I zonked before the plane even took off. When I woke up, the view from my window seat was the same as it was before I closed my eyes 2-1/2 hours earlier.

Me to the lady next to me: What’s going on? She: We haven’t moved. Hmm. We’re leaking fuel. More delay. No food, no water, no bathroom breaks. I’m so ravenous, I’m about to eat the seat in front of me, when the pilot announces that the leak is fixed, he’s got paperwork to do, and then we’ll be on our way.

Just kidding. Everything was not OK, so they taxied the plane to the periphery of the airport, brought out buses, loaded us up and took us back to the terminal.

747 = 400-500+ people waiting for that delicious airline meal. Now we’re all in this little out-of-the-way terminal, tired and starving but afraid to leave and avail ourselves of an airport restaurant because we might be left behind.

Someone complained (actually, my Belgian seat-mate–love the way Europeans are not afraid to speak up) and the airline brought out cases of water, soda and candy bars and dropped them on the floor in the midst of us. Think locusts. It was crazy. Eventually they put us back on buses, we went back to the plane, boarded and took off.

You think you know what’s coming? Oh, stay tuned because you really don’t know the half of it.

Took off, flew to Denver. Got in-flight dinner and lots of movies. But did any of us make our connecting flights?

Denver, CO, USA

Denver, CO, USA

OJ was picking me up in Sacramento. I texted him when we landed in Denver. Me: Don’t leave Chico yet. I’m not going to make it. OJ: You can do it! You have an hour. Me: No, because I have to pick up my bags, go thru Immigration AND Customs and then re-check my bags.

After having NOT made it, I am in line at the airline counter to claim my hotel voucher. They give the last voucher to the two people in front of me, who didn’t even know each other but decided to get to know each other and share a room.

Had Denver just had HUGE floods and everyone was living in hotels? Had FEMA just come in the day before to take care of all those flood victims and snapped up a gaggle of hotel rooms? Was Monday night football being played in Denver so there goes the rest of the rooms? Yes, yes and yes.

What are my options? I ask the counter person. Reply: Well, you’re on your own, but you can submit your receipts for reimbursement.

What I didn't get.

What I didn’t get

I asked an airline employee if we could go to the first-class lounge and spend the night there. No, you need a boarding pass to get in. Evidently the post-it note the airline had given me with my new flight # and new departure time wasn’t enough to get me into the first-class lounge.

I went to the airport lobby and watched people punching the auto-dial buttons on the “Hotel” wall with no results. I’m on my cell with and they can get me a room 1 hr and 15 min from the airport. Really? It’s already 11 PM and I have to be back at the airport at 5:30 AM. Why bother.

No room at the inn.

No room at the inn(s)

That’s when my little band of 9 was rescued by some random golf course designer who said he found a Marriott 45 minutes outside of Denver and got a room. He’ll call them and see if they have any availability, hold the rooms with his credit card, IF we’re all in. Yes, please. We hired a van and driver. Off the 10 of us go to this Marriott because they have FIVE ROOMS left. (Who’s running the stats?)

Get to the hotel after midnight, we all go to the counter to check in (pair up) and it becomes obvious that there’s some mis-match going on. Bottom line: 2 younger guys, 2 younger gals, a younger gal and an older woman, a couple. Who does that leave? Me and our original benefactor, the golf course designer. It’s almost 1 AM. After 48 hours of trying to get home, I don’t care much. I’m just thinking I have to be on the van again at 4:30 AM to make my flight to Sacramento.

And that’s how I find myself in a hotel room with a guy from Houston that I’ve never met before. I also have no pajamas (I left most of my clothes in Africa). And I tried to not even think about what he was going to sleep in. He kept repeating that I didn’t need to worry because he grew up with five older sisters.

I scrounged up something to sleep in, and politely refused the big t-shirt offered by my roommate. After discussing the bathroom schedule for the next morning, I got in bed and prayed God, I hope you’ve got my back, because I absolutely cannot believe I’m doing this.

I’m out the next morning at 4:30 AM, roommate snoring away. I arrived in Sacramento, unscathed, scratching my head, thanking God and convincing myself it really was no different than high school Travel Camp.

So are you wondering how you get a new laptop? I submitted my $50 worth of shuttle receipts to the airline for reimbursement. Got a voice mail that they were sending me a reimbursement check to cover the $50 PLUS $850 for my inconvenience.


PS for inquiring minds: He slept in cargo shorts and a t-shirt. I think his name was Gary.

Special note: OJ is so understanding.