Monday, 29 October 2012

The 12x12 Project

So, your month of learning/torture/boredom/creativity (depending on your perspective, you know) is almost over. I'd like to introduce you to some brave women who are just getting started.

I like to visit the blogs of the women who participate in the ODP, and I happened across this project while doing that. Interested, I decided to put a few questions to the founder of the project to introduce you to it. Without further ado:

What is the 12x12 Project and who is participating?

The 12x12 Project is a year of living intentionally. Each month this year we will highlight a specific injustice/need/cause. We will give our time, our voices, and our prayers to the monthly focus.

Our vanity and consumerism are drastically decreasing, as we are committing to wearing 12 key clothing items (one per month) for the year. Each clothing item we wear is tied to our cause for the month. We are saying "no" to frivolous spending. We're not shopping for ourselves unless it's a serious need.

How did it start?

It started as an idea. While completing a bible study this summer ("7" by Jen Hatmaker) with some amazing girlfriends, I started to pray and ask God what to do with myself and the mess that I am. I was feeling conviction about the way that I am spending what God has given me (my time, my money, my resources.) Something had to change. Clear as day I heard the words "12x12 Project". I called my dear friend Kim and we started praying and talking and before we knew it the 12x12 Project was born.
How was the 12x12 Project inspired by the ODP?

A lot of inspiration for this project came from the ODP. When praying about my discontent and selfish attitude, I remembered how grateful and content I feel during the ODP. Every October I know that I am wearing one dress all month. I am happy with what I have. I get creative with what I already own. I am thinking of those who have less. We took that idea, one outfit all month, and tied that outfit/article of clothing to a "purpose".

We used the ODP to kick off our 12x12 year and we challenged those around us to shop with a purpose for their dress. Uganda is our focus in the month of October, so we found an amazing company, One Mango Tree, who provides work for women in Uganda and we purchased our October dresses from there, instead of say, Target, or another big box store.

All of the "coordinators" for the 12x12 Project are participating in the ODP this year. This is the third year for Karissa and I, actually! Lots of the ladies participating in the 12x12 Project have joined us in the ODP this year, too.

What are you anticipating as the most difficult parts of this Project and what are you anticipating as the parts that teach you the most or bless you the most?

The most difficult part of this process will be the self denial of "wants" and the refining of our hearts. I've already found myself in moments of frustration wanting to go run to the store because I'm stressed or bored or just "because I can." I want all of that to change. My contentment is in Christ alone and loving His children, not in a store or in some possession.

Those frustrations are easily forgotten when I see people "getting it". When my children dump their piggy banks for the hungry and clean out their clothes and toys for the less fortunate. When I with my friends and peers talk with tears streaming down our faces because we want our life to "be an answer" to the needs around us and we actually start doing something about it. When a house is full to standing room only because people want to know what they can do to help the suffering. These things bless me in ways I cannot begin to explain.

These rewards far out weigh anything we think we are "giving up". It's our hope and prayer that this year ignites a spark that will last a lifetime and really will change the world.

This is a wonderful project; I'm always so moved to see the way people take the October Dress Project and move it forward in new, inspiring ways. Check out the 12x12 Project on Facebook if you want to learn more or connect with the women participating.


Monday, 22 October 2012

A Privilege
The third week of the ODP is, in my opinion, the hardest. The first week, it's all shiny and fun. The second week, you're settling in, enjoying complaining to each other, and figuring out the foibles of the dress. The fourth week is the home stretch; you're starting to feel excited about getting your closet back, and maybe even having a pang or two of nostalgia.

But the third week.

It's the doldrums. The Facebook chatter always dies down somewhat in the third week. You're bored of your dress (or I am, anyways).

People come away with lots of different lessons from the ODP each year. This year, I was discussing with another old hand how we feel like we've "learned our lesson" after four years of ODP-ing. But I've been thinking about that since, and ironically, I think that's turning out to be my lesson-- that I haven't learned my lesson, because it's not just a lesson.

Yes, in the first years I learned lessons about how little people notice what I wear, how little I can actually do with, and the benefits that simplicity brings into my life, among other things. But this year, the lesson is this: I'm in this for the long haul. I'm not going to "learn my lesson" and stop practicing this yearly discipline (not to say that everyone else needs to commit to lifelong October-dressing), because the exercise teaches, but it also reminds. It reminds me to stop and rethink the way I live, a sort of 'Reset' button for my life. It reminds me that for most of history and for most of the present-day world, mass-produced, ready-to-wear clothing is not available. It reminds me that living sustainably, frugally, and simply is not always fun, but it's always rewarding. It reminds me that I need less than I think. And it reminds me that saying, "I'm sick of this dress now, after 31 days," is a tremendous privilege, because I do have a closet full of lovely clothes to come back to at the end, unlike so many people.

It reminds me that I am blessed.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pro-Creativity Win

Are you being creative with your dress? Are you really?
 One of our participants, Monica, just used her dress as a scarf. I'm so impressed.
Diabolically clever!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Pockets: A Rant

When you spend the whole month in one dress, you learn things. One of the things I am learning is that not having pockets is bogus.

Can we all just stop for a minute and assess what century we are in? Oh, hey, that's right, it's the 21st century! We have all kinds of technology and the Internet and stuff-- we have phones!

Okay, enough sarcasm, but seriously, in this modern age, what is a lady to do with her phone if she doesn't have pockets? (I keep mine tucked into my bra strap, but it's awkward pulling that out around, say, your grandfather. Plus, my baby notices it's there and goes digging for it.)

I think I'm going to make a pledge at the end of this year's ODP to only buy dresses with pockets in 'em. I should add it to the FAQs:

Q. Should I get a dress with pockets?
A. Without a doubt.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

And We're Off!

#48. similar
I'm so excited for the Project this year! We have 140 people in the Facebook group; I can hardly keep up with all the photo posts. I'm truly honoured that my little idea has taken off like this, and the many ways people are making it their own. Here are some of the ways other women have added their own twist to the Project:
-Doing it with their daughter
-Doing it in honour of their grandmother
-Incorporating it into a year-long project
-Giving a daily assignment to help focus the Project
-Giving up sugar along with wearing the dress
-Using it to raise money for cancer
-Instead of wearing the dress, using the month of October to put everything in the closet into rotation, and donating anything that doesn't get worn.

Anyone else doing a twist?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Day One!

Yay, we're off! You can share your photos in the Flickr group if you're so inclined. Or the Facebook group. Or Instagram or tweet your pictures with the hashtag #ODP12. If you want to be added to the Roster, you can still message me as per the instructions on The Roster page.