The Lenten Goal Of A Non-Christian: I’m Going To Prove I’m A Liar


This is a weird day for a former-Catholic. I know non-Catholics recognize Lent in some way, but for someone like me who grew up in Catholic schools, Ash Wednesday is like the first day of a new class whose grade is distributed on Easter. This is the day we grew up taking something out of our lives, or putting something in our lives (I said a decade of the rosary before bed every day during lent several years) to make ourselves better before Easter. Every day during Lent someone would remind us that we were supposed to be keeping a commitment, and somewhere they had probably make us write down our goals in Lent so that we could hold ourselves accountable.

Most of us still value that sentiment. Who wouldn’t? Don’t we all want some sort of extra motivation to better ourselves? And it was my experience that there were few things more powerful than proper religious motivation. I do miss that.

I always want to start something on Ash Wednesday. At least on the days that I remember. I’ll admit, sometimes Ash Wednesday comes and goes without my noticing. This year, however, my Fat Tuesday was Fat Enough that Ash Wednesday could not be ignored.

I have decided to go all out. Why not? I haven’t done an Extreme Lent (Sounds like a really crappy reality TV show) since I was in High School and feeling super-guilty about certain activities that will be discussed no further for fear of incrimination. This year I’m going to battle my own excuses. My husband hates when I say things like, “I’m too slow,” or “I’m too lazy,” or other such self-deprecating statements. He feels like I make them true by saying them, never giving myself a chance to be any other way. It’s like a self-fulfilling destiny. When I say, “I just don’t have the time,” then I’m automatically taking that time away. Whereas if I say, “I’ll make the time,” I can do just that. MAKE THE TIME.

So, I’m using Lent to make myself a Liar. These are all things I swore I couldn’t do…goals I’ve failed at meeting for any number of excuses. For 40+ days (because the Lenten season isn’t exactly 40 days, is it? I’m too lazy to Google it.) (See what I did there? Used one of my go-to excuses! I’m funny. And often still lazy.) my goal is to prove myself wrong. Prove I do have the time, the drive, the energy, the courage and the willpower to do all of the things I’ve put off or avoided lately.

20 Ways In 40+ Days To Prove To Myself That I Am A Big Fat Liar

  1. I’m going to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
  2. No Diet Cokes in the car. (For those of you who don’t know my daily habits, I never drive anywhere without a Diet Coke.) (Also, I almost deleted this one while this entry was still in “draft” mode because just the thought of driving home from boot camp without a Diet Coke makes me want to cry.)
  3. No Beer on weeknights. (This is become quite a crutch for me, now that I’ve quit snacking at night.)
  4. Eliminate non-productive internet time. (This is a metric only I can judge, but every time I’m at the computer I know whether or not it’s productive or time-wasting.)
  5. Start my novel and work on it every day. I like doing positive changes too. Adding things to my routine instead of just taking things away. I’ve been wanting to write a fiction since I was 12, I think I’ll at least start during Lent. I’ll write a little every day.
  6. Take Nikki on two photo walks: 1) Botanical Gardens and 2) Downtown.
  7. Let the kids make t-shirts. Another project I’ve been promising them for months and keep putting it off.
  8. No fast-food, even just for Diet Cokes. (Man. 40+ days without a McDonald’s Diet Coke may kill me.)
  9. Cook at least one new meal every week.
  10. Spend at least $50 at a local shop supporting local artists/craftsmen
  11. Take another Spirited Art class with my husband.
  12. Have a movie night with E…his choice…no matter how scary it is.
  13. Make “real” bread. Not banana or pumpkin type breads. Something you could make a sandwich with. (Do you have an easy bread recipe? I have this weird fear of making bread. Something about “rising” intimidates me.)
  14. Read at least 3 of the books on my “to read” list. Not counting book club books.
  15. Paint my nails.
  16. Videotape my own accent vlog.
  17. Buy something from a Farmer’s Market and cook it.
  18. Blog something (even just a photo) every day.
  19. Write five letters and mail them old-school style to people I love.
  20. Finally introduce myself to my neighbors.

I’ve told myself, “I can’t do this because [insert lame excuse here]” with each and every one of these things recently. So now? I’ll prove that I can. I may not have religious motivation, but I do totally love being Awesome. And Being Awesome can be a good motivator too.


27 thoughts on “The Lenten Goal Of A Non-Christian: I’m Going To Prove I’m A Liar”

  1. I love these goals–I’ve been meaning to make myself some kind of list like this, but I keep putting it off.
    I made the Light Wheat Bread from Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago, and it turned out really well! I think the secret for me was that I totally forgot about it until it had been sitting around rising in the pan for three hours. Recipe is here:

  2. You can do this! Rah rah rah!! (Insert other cheer leading type sentiments here as I have run out).

    I didn’t grow up in any religion at all, and don’t have any now either, so Lent and the giving up part always seemed a little strange to me. But I like your take of using this time to increase the awesome in yourself. And you are great at so very many things, so I definitely support the stopping of selling yourself short. I have friends that do that to themselves all the time! Why shouldn’t you think you are amazing?!

  3. A couple of tricks to bread making. First and foremost, MAKE SURE THE YEAST IS FRESH. I can’t tell you how many batches of mush I threw out before I figured this one out. Second, my trick for rising (raising?) something is to turn on the oven to the lowest temperature(like 180 degrees) as I start out mixing everything and then turn it off as soon as it’s heated. Once everything is kneaded and ready, I put the bread in the NOW OFF oven (that’s important too, learned that the hard way) and let it rise in the residual warmth. It makes the house smell wonderful, and it really is the best bread around. Good luck!

  4. I love you so hard.

    Here’s the great thing: LOOK AT HOW YOU’RE INSPIRING PEOPLE! Even if you don’t reach all of your goals, you’ve encouraged everyone who’s read you to do improve their own lives by doing something that YOU suggested. You win.

    I love Lent. I know that’s kind of defeating the purpose, but I love the challenge.

    Also, Tony would love to do a photo walk with Wes when he’s available. :)

  5. Buy the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.” I am so NOT a baker, and even I can do this. It is seriously just flour, water, yeast, and salt. Mix it together, put in a container, let it rise for a couple of hours, then stick in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, cut a piece off, quickly shape, let rest for about an hour, and bake. I either do mine in a loaf pan or in a cast iron dutch oven. The basic recipe isn’t really a sandwich bread, more a snacking/dipping bread, but they do have sandwich bread recipes in there too. They might involve more ingredients than the basic, but they still aren’t complicated rising, punching, rising, baking things.

  6. I really should comment more often but that click over from my Google Reader is just too much work…I should start commenting more for Lent! Yes!

    Anyway, just clicking over to say that beer bread is a great first bread. It’s so easy, and you can add whatever you want to it; basil and parsley if you’re having Italian, etc.

  7. “Progress, not perfection.” That’s a quote often repeated on the T-Tapp (exercise) website.

    I think your list is ambitious, not because anything on there is impossible (some of them would be for ME, since there are no Farmers’ Markets around here in March), only because there are TWENTY items! I’m lucky when I can handle one new goal during Lent. A year or two ago it was 5 veggies a day, iirc.

    But like you, even though I’m not religious I like the aspect of doing something to improve myself in some little (doable) way, with a specific time period.

  8. Wow Zoot! You go girl! I’m impressed with your drive & it is very motivating to read your goals. I wish you success in achieving them.

  9. I use this recipe for my bread, it taste great, you can use the dough for everything, she even tell you how, and she has a step by step instructional process for making the bread.

    I’ve taught kids how to cook read using this recipe. I use it to make my cheese rolls, and my pepperoni rolls, and my dinner rolls, and well, anything that needs bread dough.

  10. Being Awesome is a great motivator, and your Awesomeness is inspiring me too.

    I’m going to go to yoga class twice a week and practice yoga at home twice a week — something I’m always telling myself I should do, and actually WANT to do, but never manage to — for the next 40 days, and at the end of it I will also be more Awesome.

    I think just the act of telling yourself that you can do those things changes you somehow and makes you more capable, you know? Yay! Thanks for this — you are doing your good deed for the day by motivating so many people!

  11. I used to be the same way with the bread thing. I HIGHLY recommend the Pioneer Woman recipes. My first bread attempt was her cinnamon swirl bread…..oh, heavens that was delicious! And not too hard! She takes pics and lays it all out step-by-step….not scary at all! Oh, and cinnamon swirly bread makes fan-freakin’-tastic french toast. Man, now I’m hungry.
    Good luck with your list….I’m off to go start on mine.

  12. I love this! These are great goals and you can do them! Even though I’m a practicing Catholic, I think anyone would welcome the opportunity to do a little personal spring cleaning — whether it be the soul, my physical self, or whatever. As for me, one of my goals (or sacrifices, or whatever you want to call it) is to give up facebook. The fact that I think I should, as well as the fact that I wondered if I could do it, is reason enough to do it.

    One of the other things I am doing is to avoid excess in any way. So I really, really wish I had not seen that buffalo dip recipe in your sidebar.

    Give me strength.

  13. I was just talking about this with a friend! At our college, Lent was a season where everyone tried to out holy each other, and it was annoying. But I still like the sentiment of trying to better myself, of remind myself to be mindful and spiritual and thoughtful. I have no idea what I want to “give up” or do this year, though, so I guess I’d better think fast. Sigh.

  14. I am totally afraid of making my own bread too!

    And, hey, you can use your excuses to your advantage. Take one of those baking projects (Farmer’s Market or new recipe) and bring it over to share with your neighbors. I always like to have a reason to introduce myself to make it less awkward.

  15. Ironically, I decided this morning that I needed to cut down on my caffeine and wasn’t going to drink a Dr. Pepper at all today. I’ve given up pop for Lent before and it’s probably time to do it again, thanks for the kick. I think it’ll start as no pop on MWF – realism. The car is my trigger too, and I’m not sure I can commit to those weekend errands pop-free…

    Also: five minutes of exercise a day. Real exercise.

    Starting small here.

    Bread: I think I passed this via twitter, but if not: – I have to book and it’s glorious, and realistic when you’re working. If you want to know what’s going on and get good, then the bread bible ( is awesome.
    Ohh, here’s the basic recipe for the artisan bread:
    I do mine in the kitchenaid, so it’s even lazier – throw in water, yeast, salt; then throw in flour and mix until silky. The dough comes out pretty wet and a little hard to work with – just use lots of flour at the point, and its easier if its cold from the fridge.
    (sorry if that is all a resend, I can’t remember!)

  16. I’m going to write about my Lenten promise today too. What is it with us heathens (!) and our desire to observe Lent??? I guess it’s the years of Catholic school for me too.

    I have tried doing multiple things in the past but this year I need to really hone in on something–getting more sleep. I’ve been working on this and failing for about 25 years, so this Lent is all about getting into bed by 11. I love sleep so I don’t know why this is so hard, but it is.

  17. Those are very ambitious goals. But also very specific, so they are probably do-able. Your list kind of makes me look like a slacker.

    I use to have a beer bread recipe that was yummy. I’ll see if I can’t find it and send it to you.

  18. Oh, I have a seriously good bread recipe, good enough that I’ve been making it once or twice a week for several months now. It’s a quick bread, which means no yeast so it wouldn’t work if your goal is to conquer your fear of rising issues, but it’s dense and hearty and perfect so you should make it anyway. :) And, it takes less than an hour from start to finish! Plus it uses beer, so you can use up the beer that you’re not drinking on weeknights. I usually vary the amount of sugar depending on the type of beer- less for a non-bitter kind and more for the more bitter types. First, preheat the oven to 350ish, maybe a little over (360?). Then, sift together 3 cups of flour, 3 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/3 cup of sugar. I use a mesh strainer to sift everything and just shake it gently over the bowl. Then, pour in 12 oz of beer and stir until the foam has settled- it’ll be a sticky dough. Dump it into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. My original recipe also called for 3 Tbs of melted butter to be poured over the top before baking, which makes an absolutely wonderful crust but is not 100 necessary.

  19. Gosh, you and your making me comment. This is the second time, after all.

    I just wanted to say that I really love this idea, and especially the part about writing a novel. I’m not going to say much, but I will say I write quite prolifically, and have gotten the producing a bit of literature down to an art (not saying that I’m GOOD at writing, but I AM good at meeting writing goals). The process can be a bit discouraging, so if you want some tips on how to actually meet your writing goals, send me a note. I do so love helping writers actually finish their first book.

    Best of luck with everything else. <3

  20. Pardon me for sounding self-deprecating, but I don’t think I could come anywhere near your “to do” list. For right now, I’m starting out with posting at my own blog every day. I too grew up Catholic and found myself shocked yesterday when I saw people walking around in my town with ashen crosses on their foreheads. Ash Wednesday was so completely off my radar. And when my best friend (the one who thinks I’m going to hell because neither I nor my children attend Mass) reminded me not to eat meat yesterday, I had to burst her bubble and tell her that I’d had pepperoni pizza for lunch. I think she fainted.

  21. Do you mind me asking what religion you are if you are not a Christian? I am new to your blog. Thanks.

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