What I’m giving up for Lent. Again.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. Although I don’t officially observe Lent, my father and husband were raised Catholic and I was born and baptized one, so I still feel connected to the tradition.
For the past decade or so, I’ve followed the practice of giving up something I love for the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and the day before Easter (I include the Sundays) — with varying degrees of success.
Most of what I gave up in the early years was food-related — chocolate, sugar, pizza, Diet Coke, potato chips.
Finally it dawned on me that the process was more about preparation and self-denial than a do-over for neglected New Year’s resolutions. That was the year I tried to give up saying negative things and having negative thoughts — 46 very difficult, very long days involving frequent repentance and restarts.
Then in 2008 I hit on the perfect thing.
Yup, for 46 days I gave up excuses. And while it might seem like too much of an all-inclusive copout to be tangible, it actually works pretty well for me.
- If I wake up on a run day but don’t feel like running – I go anyway. No excuses.
- If I’ve committed to writing three blog posts a week but can’t think of anything noteworthy to write – I post anyway. No excuses.
- If I owe a client a project, need to prepare a lesson or should reach out to a friend, but would rather procrastinate – I don’t. No excuses.
- If it’s after 8 PM and I’m craving a bowl of cereal (or ice cream!) – I won’t eat it. No excuses.
True, ‘no excuses’ is a nebulous concept. And yes, it does open the way for cheating, since I could easily deny that I ever really committed to doing — or not doing — something in the first place. But in the end, that’s only cheating myself.
So for me, it works. I’m sacrificing something I love – my time, my cravings, my laziness – to better understand and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made not just for me, but for everyone who has ever lived.
And that’s why I’m giving up excuses for Lent – again — this year.