This year I asked my expert on all things Catholic if it was all right to talk about what you were giving up, and I have permission to share, as long as I'm not whining and complaining about what I'm giving up or out looking for sympathy or attention for it. So I'd like to tell you about the self-improvement projects I'll be working on for the next forty-odd days.
- I'm giving up all caffeine except chocolate. Last year I did an excellent job of justifying not giving up caffeine, because I didn't feel like it. But I like the idea of a physical self-denial, and I like the reality of having something visual and tangible in terms of accountability. So I'm going for it. I was originally going to give up carbonated beverages, which left me tea and coffee--not that I drink much coffee. But I've got a few showers and a wedding coming up during Lent, and I didn't want to have to pass on punch--one of my favorite things and something I don't get very often--because of ginger ale. True self-denial would probably demand that I stick with the carbonation-free idea for just that reason, but ultimately that's not the decision I made. So I'm going caffeine-free instead, which means taking sweet tea out of my life. That's gonna hurt. And since I don't like any non-caffeinated carbonated beverage besides ginger ale, this will effectively cut carbonation from my life except for celebratory occasions. This one will likely also mean giving up pizza for the duration of Lent as I can't stand drinking water with pizza.
- I'm also giving up candy. I feel guilty for not including chocolate along with all the other caffeine, but I sometimes need some for medicinal purposes. Additionally, Ellie at work has already requested the chocolatey-est cake that I can make for her birthday, which falls during Lent, and there's no way I can do that without sampling, so the candy ban seemed the most likely way to avoid most chocolate without leaving myself a little room to not lose my mind. This decision also means there will be no Dove truffle eggs in my pre-Easter life, which will probably be the hardest thing I do all year, and that includes reading the book of Numbers.
- I'm limiting my time spent on facebook. My friend Kimberly is giving up facebook entirely for Lent, and when she told me that, it hit me where I live. I waste so much of my day on the internet in general, and I honestly have no idea what percentage of that time wasted is on facebook, but considering how often I stop by to catch up, I'm sure it adds up significantly. I don't want to give it up entirely because there are some really positive things that come out of it for me, but scaling back seems healthy. I haven't yet nailed down the parameters for the limiting, but I thinking I'm going to aim towards checking once or twice a day for a maximum of thirty minutes. I know some of you are shaking your heads and wondering what it is I do on fb that consumes so much time. I can't exactly explain it, and I certainly can't justify it. The word addiction would not be misused here. I'm still working out if reading email notification from facebook counts as checking in. Feel free to weigh in on this in the comments.
- I'm taking up encouraging speech. I almost said that I was giving up gossip, which is certainly a noble goal, but I chose instead to not phrase this one in the negative. I don't want just to stop gossiping, but I also want what I say to be uplifting or edifying. I want to use words to help instead of harm. No visual aid for this one, and I think it will be the most difficult to keep, but if I can manage it for forty-five days or so, I know I'll be the better for it. And the next forty-five days might come that much easier.
- I'm taking up a stronger commitment to project 4:4 and the Daily Bible reading. I've been keeping up, week by week, but daily I haven't been so hot. In fact, I need to read three days' worth right now. My goal for Lent is to be on track every day. I know I'll be the better for it. And the next forty-five days might come that much easier.
Oh, I also need to know if chocolate-covered pretzels count as candy. And I need to know quickly, or things could get ugly.