Jen Hatmaker, the author of this book lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and 5 children (2 are adopted from Ethiopia). This book is categorized as Religion/Christian Life/Social Issues, so there are many references to church activities and Christian scripture. Jen defines 7 as “an exercise in simplicity” and for seven months, challenges herself to set limits in seven different categories.
For Part 1 of my Review (chapters 1 – 3) click here
Jen’s Lessons: During the Media month, Jen and her family significantly cut down their screen time
TV • Gaming • iPhone • Apps • Radio • Limited texting • Limited internet
Just for practical purposes of safety and school they did not completely cease texting and internet usage, but it made them a lot more mindful as to how often and for what purpose they were using technology (eg. research for a homework assignment vs. a Facebook status update)
Of course this was challenging at first, but they filled their new found free time with more imaginative games, family time, cleaning, and cooking meals together
My Take: It would be challenging for me to not read blogs online, scroll through social media posts, or watch TV after work. If I did choose to accept this challenge, I would read more, spend more time outdoors, and meet up with friends in person
Jen’s Lesson’s: Jen’s family focused on reducing their reducing, reusing, and recycling during this month by taking the following actions:
Gardening • Composting • Conserving Energy & Water • Recycling • Sharing 1 car • Shopping Thrift & Second-hand • Buying local
There were several ways that reducing waste tied back to previous months’ challenges:
Just as Food month, made Jen appreciate the variety and abundance of food in the U.S., gardening gave her an appreciation of the skill and effort it takes to grow your own produce
Continuing the habits of Media month’s goal of cutting back TV and computer usage helped with energy conservation
Wearing a limited number of clothing items during Clothing month, and participating in the clothing swap prepared Jen for shopping thrift & second hand
This month coincided with back to school season, and Jen realized that buying lunch size packages of snacks is not as economical as purchasing full size or bulk. Basically you pay extra for the convenience.
What stood out to me most was that Jen called attention to a wide-spread issue: buying organic food is not cheap!
During this challenge she felt conflicted between wanting to buy organic food and locally grown produce and wanting to reduce spending. For many people, this isn’t even a choice – they must choose the lowest cost option.
My Take: I have been good about recycling lately, but I know I could do better as far as conserving electricity. Thrift shopping was the inspiration this blog and I still believe that buying pre-owned is a great way to save money and support sustainability by reusing products that already exist rather than using resources to create new items
Jen’s Lessons: During the Spending month of Seven, Jen’s family limited their spending to only 7 Vendors/categories
Farmers Market• Target • Gas • Limited travel • Emergency medical • Bills • School
The most memorable part of this chapter was the realization that her son was in need of a haircut. With Great Clips not being one of the Seven vendors he was subjected to the embarrassment of an at-home haircut gone wrong. Jen also struggled with once again limited food options as fast food and restaurants were also off limits.
This chapter also had some eye opening statistics about the amount of U.S. spending on things like cosmetics and perfume vs. the cost of global clean water and education.
My take: Target was on Jen’s list because it’s a one-stop shop that would cover all of her family’s necessities – but I could really do some damage shopping at Target. I don’t think leaving Target as one of the seven vendors would help me cut spending. Restaurants and fast food do make up a significant chunk of our monthly budget so there would be material cost savings there, but it would be a challenge to prepare dinner and lunch every day.
Jen’s lessons: During the final month of Seven, Jen planned to pause for prayer 7 times daily and for her family to observe Sunday as a day of rest and a Sabbath dinner. Two of the seven prayer times were midnight and dawn and it was challenging for her to be awake at those times. She also set an alarm to as a reminder to observe the scheduled prayers.
My take: It was during our last vacation that I realized the need to build pauses into a busy schedule. I like to have action packed sight-seeing trips, but this time I was feeling tired and jet-lagged. Next time, I make a travel itinerary, I will be sure to leave time for napping.
Overall, I enjoyed reading 7: an experimental mutiny of excess. In each month of Jen’s journey, I was able to see habits that I could also adopt in order to simplify my life.