Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 30, 2011

463,680 minutes of strength

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:55 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I made a bold New Year’s Resolution on January 1 of this year. It’s detailed in the post linked here; in summary, I would refrain from buying any new clothing, shoes, or accessories during 2011. I had seen a girlfriend’s 1/1/11 Facebook status announcing her intention to do this, and it made perfect sense in my pursuit of minimalism. A grand experiment dancing around the fringes of asceticism, at the very least.

All year I’ve eschewed shopping malls, or anything retail-ish. Saved a LOT of money. On track to finish strong.

This would have looked SO cute at a Moab contra dance.

And then, out of the blue, while I was  playing Scrabble on Facebook, minding my own business, a devious little ad popped up from my favorite dress shop. They knew I’d click on their banner, didn’t they? I have pretty good willpower, though, and thought I could “just look.” In five minutes’ time an adorable dress caught my eye. I mean ADORABLE. I mean, very “me,” hard to come by. In another minute’s time I had discovered that their inventory of my size was down to two, and no more would be available. You can’t imagine my mental anguish.

I hadn’t had a new dress in sixteen months. I reasoned that I could order it and put it aside until 2012. Click. Ordered.

Bad choice.

That was a pretty sad ending to my 88%-successful resolution. It doesn’t matter that the dress size was a bit off and it has been tucked into its return box, the siren call silenced. I broke my resolution by buying a new item of clothing. SAD. In the big picture, though, just having tried feels like a big step in the right direction for me. Valuable lesson learned: 463,680 minutes of strength won’t trump one (1) moment of weakness. Paradoxically, that one moment of weakness does not negate the lessons learned in all my minutes of strength.

This post could use some interaction, so leave a comment. Write anything you’re moved to write except “You did great” or “It’s okay, you can take a Mulligan.” Here are a few things to get you thinking:

  • Are all impulsive actions governed by the same mechanisms?
  • Why will it be harder for me to finish out the year without buying?
  • Personal Q: what are the most difficult things to say No to?
  • What needs are being met when we indulge in something we’d rather say No to?
  • What’s your strategy for dealing with unsolicited ads? (Don’t tell me to get up and run away, like Joseph did from Pharaoh’s seductress wife. I HAD to finish the Scrabble game.)
  • Winston Churchill’s assessments: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” — and — “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Agree? Disagree? Why?


  1. 1. In answer to your first question, check out http://www.joekort.com/PDF/korts_korner_brain.pdf
    2. You’ve ‘broken the spell’ and begun to ‘form a habit’.
    3. Food issues. My brain(s) are confused about satisfaction and survival.
    4. Those arising in ancient (reptilian) or Primitive (emotional) parts of our brains.
    5. Redefine all advertising as A. distortion (minimum) or lies (typical) and B. intrusive, an unasked-for waste of my time. When I want something, I’ll seek out information I need to make the decision to acquire it. Until then, stay away from me.
    6. There are no successes and no failures – only experiencing (learning).

    Comment by Leroque — November 30, 2011 @ 9:51 am | Reply

    • Yes. To all.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 30, 2011 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  2. I have something to say. … THAT DRESS IS AMAZING! How about I buy it from you, and then you are back to good? 🙂

    Comment by Tara Beresh — November 30, 2011 @ 10:57 am | Reply

    • I KNEW you’d agree with me… which only validates my purchase, you know. Too bad it’s already on its way back to ModCloth. You’re a true friend, though, offering to make the supreme sacrifice.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 30, 2011 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  3. Last week in our assembly to introduce our students to the Honor Code, there was a competition on stage. 5 students were called up, and told to empty a tube of toothpaste as fast as the could onto the plate in front of them. Winner was announced. Next? Who can be the first to put it all back into the tube again?

    Lesson: Some things can’t be undone. Promises broken, cheating done, lies told.

    A promise is a promise…… (But have I mentioned how much I admire those 463,680 minutes?!?!)

    Comment by Becky — November 30, 2011 @ 11:30 am | Reply

    • Good list, to which I’d add: GOSSIP.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — November 30, 2011 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  4. My sales resistance first line – I use caller ID to screen out sales calls. Note to my friends: I don’t screen you out; sometimes I’m really not home. If something in junk mail catches my eye, I set it aside for several days and if I’ve forgotten about it, I don’t really need or want it. I agree with the Churchill quote. Success and failure come and go. Who knows what lies ahead?

    Comment by Chris Youngman — November 30, 2011 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  5. While it may be (“may be”, not “is”) true that 463,680 minutes of strength won’t trump one (1) moment of weakness, it is also true that one moment of weakness does not invalidate 463,680 minutes of strength. Either way, the important thing is not whether or not we can make it through a year of abstaining from something, but what we learn about God when we are abstain AND when we indulge. The value lies in discovering – every time, over and over – God’s endless grace, the truth that He always loves us exactly the same, regardless of our successes and failures.

    Quit feeling disappointed in yourself, dear one. The impulse to which you succumbed was not even sinful (and if it were, God’s grace would far exceed it). What if NOT buying the dress would have been a stubborn act of pride, and buying the dress was simply embracing your love of beauty? 🙂

    I wish the dress had fit perfectly. But of course, it couldn’t. You mentioned that the store had TWO left, and you are one-of-a-kind!

    Comment by Jan Schubert — December 4, 2011 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

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