Day 13 · Declutter your life

This month on threads we’ve been posting a bunch of articles about being content living with less so reading the title of day thirteen made me chortle on my Cheerios.

“The simple life is a manly life because a man defines himself not by his possessions but by his character, virtues, relationships, and experiences.” Yeah, not too much to disagree with bar the fact that I’m defined first and foremost by my identity in Christ, which goes for women too.

The point remains; we’re not defined by what we have, so getting rid of a lot if it can be cathartic. Personally speaking, today’s task isn’t too much of a chore for me as I generally enjoy getting rid of the clutter in our house.


 

Day 14 · Write a letter to your father

Dad, spoiler alert! If you’re reading this, skip it!

The very idea of this hits me right in the feels. I don’t know if it’s come with general ageing or if it’s due to the fact that I’m a dad now myself, any story with a father-son narrative can very easily churn the tears out of me. Having just watched first two series of Scandi-noir, The Bridge – ACTUAL SPOILER ALERT – I was deeply moved by the relationship between Martin and August; I couldn’t get to sleep after the finale. The last few movies that made me cry – not that I keep a list – were Inside Out, We Bought A Zoo and About Time. All of them delved into the idea of fatherhood in some form and all of them made my face melt.

I love my Dad, but we’re not very good at saying that. I understand it through his deep-seated commitment to my mum and his boys. I’ve never heard him complain about anything and I’ve never seen is patience unravelled.

I’m taking today’s task seriously and plan on writing up a letter soon. AoM have a few suggests for how to do it well, and I’m tempted to take them up on it. Read their thoughts here (page 88).


 

Day 15 · Make a meal

I don’t cook regularly but I really would like to. Chatting with friends about this recently, I’d love to be good enough to make lovely meals without having to follow recipes because I just know food that well. As it stands, I don’t really know the difference between the spice jars in the cupboard.

I love nice food and I love eating it with people I love. Laura and I have always made a point to have people over as often as we can, although that’s slipped recently what with our little boy coming along. But that’s even more reason for us to pick it up again, I want my son to grow up in a house where it’s normal that people eat together at the table.


 

Day 16 · Create a budget

Money, money, money. It’s one the main conversations my wife and I were encouraged to have in our pre-marital counselling, and I’m glad that was the case. This isn’t the time or place to talk about the influence of money on our lives, but it’s suffice to say that it’s huge. From the offset, Laura and I committed to not use money as that which would define the direction we take in our lives. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve been flippant with our finances. With me returning to university and the arrival of our son, we have a need to create a budget for our finances. AoM suggest a bunch of online tools to help, I use one called Toshl that works pretty well.

The things that AoM’s entry for budgeting doesn’t include the aspect of giving, which is a central tenet to our Christian lives. Having listened to a sermon on money this Sunday past, I was reminded that our giving should be both regular and spontaneous. Being financially aware allows you to give according to your income, as well as providing you with the awareness of your bank balance so you know how much you can give should an instance arise.


 

Day 17 · Talk to three strangers

I don’t really want to. I’m an extrovert and enjoy making new friends, but I don’t see the point in this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for random chats with people I walk past but it’s never more than cordial. I do think it’s nice to say ‘hello’ as you walk past and to not have your head pointed downwards as you scroll through the last few hours of Twitter, but I can’t help but think that today’s exercise is a little pointless.

The part I do agree with is that it’s helpful to be socially capable in work environments when you need to meet new people, but that’s a little more niche than walking up to a dog-walker in the park and talking about the politics of the day.

Maybe one of you will disagree with me?


Day 18 · Find your N.U.TS

Just 7 days ago I was encouraged to do the same but in a medical sense. Today is different. Apparently N.U.Ts – which I already have an issue with because of the incorrect abbreviating – are your ‘non-negotiable, unalterable terms’.

I feel like I’ve already done this exercise in defining my values.

“Understanding the importance of finding and never compromising your N.U.Ts is the most important thing you, as a man, will do.” Big call. And I disagree. The whole tone of this entry is self-betterment. I’m getting a little bored of self as a recurrent theme.


 

Day 19 · Schedule a physical

This is one of the ways in which AoM can feel very American. I haven’t heard of any guys going for voluntary physicals. I’m not opposed to them, in fact, it makes sense. But I’m not going private for it. Maybe I’ll give my doctor a call and hope he doesn’t laugh at me.

Do any of you guys for for regular physicals?

Editor’s note: Thomas wrote this post as part of his ‘30 days to a better man‘ challenge. Click on the link to read why he’s putting himself through this, as well his reflections on weeks one and two.

Written by Thomas McConaghie // Follow Thomas on  Twitter // Thomas'  Website

Thomas is a coordinator for threads. He's an elder in his local church (Village Church Belfast), working on a Masters in urban planning and geeks out on football. He's married to Laura and the father of two-year-old Ezra.

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