Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Challenge Day 39

To quote, "No matter how little you have, you always have something to give for God's glory."

How true that is. And I am officially announcing the expansion of this challenge. I will not stop with the money for Haiti at the end of the school year. I will continue this challenge, spending money only for basic needs (except for small Hannukah and birthday gifts, and donating all spare money) indefinitely. This Summer my cause will be Haiti; for Hannukah, perhaps Grady's adoption fund; for my birthday, maybe Meir Panim, a charity that feeds Israeli children living below the poverty line. I don't know. There are so many charities out there. But we always have something to give.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Challenge Day 36

I have decided that this Hannukah (which isn't even until December), I will splurge a bit and get something small for myself, then donate the rest of the money. I just can't stand the thought of not getting a Hannukah gift.

Today my family is cleaning for Pesach. We must get rid of all leavened food. This morning I vacuumed the basement.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Challenge Day 34

Yesterday on the way to the airport (I am home on break), it came up that I wasn't buying anything much because I was saving money for Haiti, and one of the girls in the car deadpanned, "Wow, that's amazing."

I wish she didn't think it was so amazing. If she thinks it's so amazing, it means it's uncommon. More people should be doing things like this.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Challenge Day 33

Actually, the hardest part of The Challenge today is not picking out things to buy for my dolls for Hannukah. I have a family of about twelve dolls (two or three at school with me at a time) who are very special to me, and I love spoiling them on Hannukah. Not this year, though...this year I will be donating my money.

PS When one loves a doll, yes it IS harder than you think it is not to give them Hannukah presents.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Challenge Day 32

I realize I missed yesterday...nothing much to say. I will be flying home on break tomorrow and will have to pay to check a bag. Over break, I need to buy an AP English study guide and I want to donate my hair to Locks of Love. There are 22 pairs of shoes in my room awaiting donation.

Will write again when I have something more to say.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Challenge Day 30

Today is the thirtieth day of my Challenge. It really has been a whole month.

And I've already adjusted to not having so many clothes.

Also, I have so far collected sixteen pairs of shoes to donate.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Challenge Day 29

Today I went to Target and bought laundry detergent. That's it. It was probably the most boring purchase ever made by a girl of seventeen.

No question about it, I will need more money from my parents after break. Right now I have just the amount I need in order to get home. Oh, and I plan on cutting my hair for Locks of Love over break, which will cost for the haircut and the shipping. My parents will pay, but still...why is it so hard to save money?!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Challenge Day 27/28

First of all, I have been numbering a day behind since about Day 21. Today is in fact Day 28.

Now that we have that settled...

Today in Shabbat services, I suddenly realized, "Oh, my God, I'll be wearing the same two skirts every week." The only way I could overcome this sudden horror was to remind myself that I got along fine with one skirt on my program last summer. This incident demonstrates the necessity of inner conviction when changing lifestyles.

Also, tonight at a school thing I tie-dyed a t-shirt. I will be giving up a plain red t-shirt to make room for it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Update on Shoe Drive and the Challenge Day 26

My shoe drive is going quite well. I have gotten three donations already, five more people have offered me shoes, and I will gather my family's when I'm home over break. One of the faculty members here at school has offered to put a box in her classroom for faculty donations, and of course I said yes!

The hardest part of The Challenge to save money for Haiti relief right now is...I want to give now! There are so many worthy causes out there...I just want to give...I don't know if I can hold out on not donating until the end of the year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Challenge Day 25

The other day I figured out how to both get a gift for my next birthday (18) and still donate all my gift money to charity. I don't know whether I will actually find this satisfactory; we'll have to see.

I am knitting myself a scarf. It is a lot of work, and I have no doubt that I will not be able to wait patiently to wear it once it's done.

So I will hide it, in a gift bag, until my birthday in February.

Happy birthday to me!


I do find it interesting how well adjusted I am to this Challenge compared to how well adjusted I am to giving away my things. I barely notice The Challenge anymore--really!--while I really want my stuff back. It's not that I really want anything in particular (well, except for one sweater, and that's a long story) back, I'm just stuck in the consumer mindset of wanting STUFF.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Challenge Day 23

I am going through my room and donating a lot to Goodwill. I just have too much...stuff, especially clothes. I do not need so much clothing when so many people in the world go partially naked. I kept enough clothing to get through a week, plus ten sentimental items, and packed up the rest. It came to three and a half bags.

I also packed up the books I never read. Next project is the rest of my desk.

I really do believe in living with few enough things to be almost uncomfortable for our society.

My two big English quotes in this vein: "I saw wnat I saw and I can't forget it." (Sara Groves)
"Give until it hurts." (Mother Teresa)
Also, my shoe drive is happening! Yay!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Challenge Day 22

I am thinking about donating clothes as well as shoes. The bottom line is that if I have more than enough clothes to get through a week in each season, I have more than enough, and somebody else could use them. I will bag them up and save them till the end of the school year just in case I change my mind. If anyone is interested, I can list what I consider enough for a week.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Soles 4 Souls and This is Enough

This morning, I was on the phone with my mom saying I wanted to donate my superfluous shoes to people who needed them. She said she didn't know any place like that, and the search was on.

I discovered an organization called Soles 4 Souls. They accept used shoes of all types, and bring them to impoverished communities around the world. I have now started the easiest "shoe drive" ever: I sent out a couple emails to my school and now I will just wait for people to bring their shoes to my room. After Spring break, I will get transportation and possible help carrying and go donate the shoes to the nearest Soles 4 Souls location. (UPDATE: The school community service committee is now running the shoe drive. This makes sense, but I hate beaurocracy.)

I am trying to train myself to live with what I have and only spend money on necessities. It sounds hard until you realize the average American's list of necessities:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • A Warm Bed
  • A Roof over One's Head
  • Education
  • Medical Care

So many people in the world don't even have the first two. Obviously I slip up now and again, because I collect kippot, need laundry detergent, etc. My current motto (taken from a mother who used it to teach her taumatized adopted child to calm down []) is "I have enough." "This is enough." or (this one is mine) "I am blessed with what I have."

And you know what? It's true.

The Challenge Day 21

I cannot stop thinking about many pairs I have, how lucky I am to have them, how unfair it is that other people don't. It kind of makes me want to donate all my shoes except one pair for me. if I did, Iwould keep my Converse. They are cool in summer, warm in winter, can be thrown in the washer and dryer when necessary, and are reasonably comfortable. Not that I'm seriously thinking of doing this, mind you...nope, not at all.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Challenge Day 20 (I think)

Apologies if my numbers are a day behind.

Yesterday I spent under five dollars on lunch at the airport (fruit and a cookie are pretty cheap). Tomorrow I am taking the SATs.

More later.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Challenge Day 18

Tonight at school is the Senior Cabaret, a show put on by the seniors to raise money for thier class trip. Admission costs three dollars. I was leaning towards going, justifying it by the fact that I didn't have to pay IT after all, but still feeling guilty. As it turns out, I have a mountain of homework, so I cannot go anyway.

Don't you love it when things work themselves out like that?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Challenge Day 17 and Yair Emanuel

The two topics mentioned in the title are actually very much intertwined. You see, Yair Emanuel is my favorite Judaica (Jewish religious and cultural items) artist. (Here is a link to his website: .) My first tallis and the kippah that came with it were both his design.

I genuinely collect kippot, and I would love another something by Yair Emanuel. At the same time, I already have 11 different kippot, and that's more than enough for anybody. Maybe after The Challenge I will let myself get an Emanuel kippah.

Semi off topic: There is a Jewish concept of Hiddur Mitzvah, beautifying the commandment. At the same time, we are not supposed to get so caught up in material things that we forget God and religion. Where is the line?

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Challenge Day 16

Sick today (stomach bug), and thankful for quality nursing staff on campus.

UPDATE: Tonight I donated five dollars to Grady's adoption grant fund. Anybody can afford to give five dollars, and I just couldn't stand praying and praying and not doing anything.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Challenge Day 15

No opportunities to spend money. Instead, money has essentially been given back to me.

I found my old ID, so I don't have to pay IT for the new one anymore.

I have rides to and from the airport arranged with the faculty, so I don't have to pay for taxis.

Now I have more money to save to give to Haiti. God is good.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Challenge Day 14

I can't believe it's been two whole weeks since I started this challenge. It's been easier in some ways and harder in others: although I have adjusted to the idea of wearing last year's prom dress over again, I never realized I'd miss the theater so much. Still, once again, I have everything I need and most of what I want; people continue to die in Haiti. I must do my part to right this balance.

Tonight I am going to Target to pick up a few "necessities" by American standards: hair ties, pantyhose, AAA batteries, and 3-oz bottles for shampoo etc. when flying. I will try my hardest not to buy anything else; I will, of course, be honest if I fail. We will see how things go.

UPDATE: It turned out that I also needed Conditioner, which I bought; I also bought a big jar of dried fruit because I am trying to lose weight and will be less tempted to eat dessert with that available. I also withdrew some money from my bank account: either I'll use it for a taxi to the airport or I'll use it over time as needed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bipolar Update and the Challenge Day 13

First of all, we finally found a medication combination that works. I am HAPPY--deeply settled and contented and feeling like me--for the first time in weeks.

The hardest thing to give up for The Challenge has been trips to the theater. My school's Theatrical Society organizes trips to see plays--good plays--every so often, but tickets cost five to ten dollars apiece. If I cannot afford to donate to Grady's grant fund because I am saving for Haiti, I certainly cannot afford to buy theater tickets while I am savinf to donate to Haiti. Still, I miss the theater.

13 is a lucky Jewish number. I wonder if anything good related to The Challenge will happen today.

Also, speaking of Grady, perhaps you could consider signing up to be a prayer warrior for another child.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Challenge Day 12 and an Update on Me

Once again, no money spending opportunities. I am thinking about putting some money in Grady's grant fund rather than saving it all for Haiti. I am not sure, though, so right now I am just praying for other people to donate. I would also love to get ten people praying for him; let's do this thing together!

In other news, I saw my psychiatrist yesterday and he upped the dose of the medication that makes me sleepy and fat. As far as I can tell, it hasn't done anything yet other than severely drugging me, but I know I have to wait and see.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Challenge Day 11 and Depression

Again, no opportunity to spend money, so nothing really to report. I do have an appointment with my psychiatrist this afternoon; he does not take insurance and my parents are paying out of pocket. I feel bad about that.

On the other hand, I really need to see him. I am sooo depressed right now. I am literally living moment to moment because life is so excruciating. I was depressed in my sleep last night, and I could tell. This morning, my Biblical Archeology class worked wonders to raise my spirits, but now I can feel myself sinking back into that horrible depression. I need help; I want out now!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Introducing Grady

Here is a picture of the boy I am "praying home". Maybe if we all work together he will be home soon!

Prayer Warrior Update and The Challenge Day 10

I have been matched with a child to pray for. Grady is a two year old boy (turning three in May) in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. He has arthrogryposis affecting his lower limbs. His grant fund (money to help a family adopt him) already contains 360 dollars (not from me), and if I could I would donate too. To see his picture, go to, and click on other angels. Click the boys link and scroll down until you see his name. (There is only one Grady on the page.)

Please consider helping this boy any way you can. It would be wonderful to get people together and form a network to "pray him home"!

No real update on the challenge, except that saving money for Haiti means I cannot presently donate to Grady's grant fund. There is so much need in the world; I don't mind the fact that my donations are small but it's so hard to know where to donate.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Feel Compelled to Write This

I have it from a trusted source that people who know me in real life are talking behind my back about my blog(s), claiming that what I post is too private or personal and I should keep it more to myself.

I hardly know how to respond to that. I do have a journal for the really private stuff. Obviously, if I post something on this blog I don't mind the public knowing. That should be the only criterion for what gets posted and what does not, because guess what? This is my blog.

My entire purpose for blogging is to be honest about my life and thorough in my story telling in order to give the world an accurate picture of me. What is the point of providing that picture if it is only a partial picture?

I will continue to be honest, open, and up front on my blog. It is my blog and I choose what gets posted. To all those who know me in real life: if you feel my blog is too personal and none of your business, I propose a very simple solution: stop reading.

Thank you.

The Challenge Day 9, Community Service, and Prayer Warriors

No opportunities to spend money today, so not much to report. I did get my new student ID made, and now I owe the school the fee. It's not money I wanted to spend, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be either. When I go to Target this Sunday to get pantyhose and three-ounce bottles, I will get cash back to pay that fee and also for a taxi to the airport.

In other news, my school is taking a group on a great community service trip and I can't wait to go. Near our school is a battered women's shelter and my school takes groups every so often to play with the children and give their mothers a chance to relax. Always before, the school has volunteered there on Shabbat; as an observant Jew, I missed out on the opportunity. Today, however, is Monday. I am going and I am excited.

I was clicking around the Reece's Rainbow site yesterday (yes, I am slightly obsessed) and discovered the concept of prayer warriors. When one signs up to be a Reece's Rainbow Prayer Warrior, one is matched with a specific child to "pray home". A photo and brief medical history are provided and updates are sent periodically. Prayer Warriors are asked to pray daily for their children at least until they make it home. What an easy way to help! (The Reece's Rainbow website is