40 Days.

I always enjoyed Lent as a child Catholic. I liked the idea of taking 40 days to improve myself, and I used to take it very seriously as a way to prepare myself for the salvation of Christ. And while I don’t have the religious beliefs anymore to support the actual calendar involved with Lent, I still really like to look at the 40 days as a time of the year to focus on bettering myself. Just for my own personal edification, and not for anything related to the life or death or resurrection of any religious figure.

I’ve been thinking about how bad I’ve sucked in the last few years on following through with big declarations of projects or improvements. I’ve actually been thinking about that every since a daily prompt from the Subtraction Project gave me permission to get rid of a project I hadn’t finished yet.

It was – at that moment – that I realized how many projects I had that I hadn’t finished yet. And how many of them I just didn’t have the energy – or heart in some cases – to finish.

So, while part of me has all of these great ideas about writing letters every day, or paying compliments, or not yelling, or…

I’m learning to embrace vague notions of improvement, instead of specific steps or projects or commitments. Because – as much as I hate to admit it – I have a very busy schedule, a short attention span, and I’m easily distracted. Or, maybe less flatteringly, I easily give up.

So, I’m going to try to approach this 40 days with a lot less specificity. I’m going to embrace concepts and attitudes and not concrete limitations or challenges.

Instead of, “I’m not drinking any Diet coke!” I’m going to say, “I’m going to drink more water, less Diet Coke.”

Instead of, “I’m going to quit binge eating when I’m stressed!” I’m going to say, “I’m going to respect my stress and spend time with it, thinking about what I need most in that moment to help bring me peace.”

Instead of challenging myself to read 20 books, I’m going to just read more. 

Instead of counting calories and trying to lose the 15lbs I’ve gained over the last 6 months (Every time I say that out loud I get depressed.) I’m going to try to be more AWARE of my food choices. I’m going to try to punish myself less and forgive myself more.

Instead of swearing I’m not going to yell at the kid at all for 40 days, I’m going to try to talk to the kids more and love them more.

Instead of making specific “spreading joy” challenges, I’m going to simply try to smile more to strangers.

I just want to spend 40 days with a trend towards positivity. Not specific additions or concrete declarations of abstinence of any sort…but with a general shift towards the positive end of the spectrum of behavior. I want an attitude shift towards light instead of constantly finding myself settled in the dark of disappointment.

There is ONE challenge I saw that I’m going to do. I’m going to write ONE positive thing in my bullet journal every day, about myself. Maybe I’m having a good hair day, maybe I handled a tantrum from Wesley with grace. Maybe I repaired a sink (I did that today! Why didn’t I save that for tomorrow?) or cleaned a toilet. Either way – I’m going to challenge myself to write something in my bullet journal that I’m HAPPY with about myself. I need to be kinder to myself.

How are you embracing Lent?

Update: Since I’ve not been sleeping well, I wrote this last night, worried I might not wake up in time to write it this morning. Then Wes had a severe episode of stomach cramps that lasted all night. (I have decided the cause is Fritos, something different I was putting in the lunch boxes this week. Is there such thing as an allergy to cornchips?) He was awake from 10:30 until 1am and then he only slept in 20 minute increments the rest of the night. And only after a bath. He took FIVE baths last night. And one shower. To spice things up.

My point? I only resorted to delirious/exhausted begging and tears ONCE. The rest of the time I did an excellent job caring for my miserable child with love and patience. I AM ALREADY KICKING LENT’S ASS.

8 Comments

  • Shari

    The fact that I have watched you triumph over the Grand Slam of running seems to defy your premise that you haven’t been good at following through. Having said that, I completely empathize with that sentiment. I do think your plan to embrace Lent with a trend toward positivity is one that I must copy, as is your challenge to write something positive about yourself in your journal each day. I once read that you should end each workday by writing down something you accomplished, no matter how small, so that you leave feeling empowered rather than defeated. Sort of the same concept, and one that I’m trying to do in my Bullet Journal as well.
    Thanks for inspiring me today (and every day). And remember that you’ve accomplished much already this year, so feel empowered. Now go do your compliment happy dance.

    • Kim Zoot

      I’m so sleep deprived that I got a sudden onset of the giggles just imaging myself standing up at my desk and doing my compliment dance. I mean, SERIOUS GIGGLES. Especially since I’m surrounded by my pets and so it would therefore look like I was dancing for them. And then I imagined my husband waking up and walking in and the giggles just kept flowing.

      Thanks for the early morning giggle inducing. And the compliments that started it 😉

  • Anya

    I flagged the email that this post came in as “important”, so I can keep coming back to it. The focus on positive really spoke to me. I tend to find too much negative instead of looking for the positive in my family’s everyday lives. Thank you!

  • Julie

    I find it amazing how alike (and not alike) two people can be. So much of what you write appeals to me and motivates and yet from a personality perspective I don’t think we are much alike. Anyway….adult ADD/ADHD? I was diagnosed with it once and I was all like..”WHAT?! I’m super productive! I get things done! I’m in charge of the committees! I’m organized!” I didn’t see myself as a child like the kids in my classroom who have been diagnosed with ADD but suddenly it all fit–the hyper focus, the intense drive, the ability to multi-task–I had (and still do) been using some of those ADD traits to my advantage in life.
    It does however create a crazy person in some cases–for example I have started using a version of the bullet journal–more like a bullet “list” really but it works for me–and I had been doing it in mechanical pencil. Then I started the Zentangle process and was switching back and forth to a pen (however not actually purchasing a fancy pen yet as we have no money left this week—which by the way I can’t wait to try the YNAB further. So anyways I just spent this time pondering the pros and cons of using pencil or pen in my journal and realized I think WAY too much. I then opened your post which hit the nail on the head about a focus for Lent and I was struck by how many things you listed you could work on–how much you think about improving yourself–and I realized —we should maybe slow down a little 🙂
    You’ll become the over-achiever of Lent!

    As you can see as I re-read, my comment is a true reflection of my diagnosis I suppose 🙂 all over the place! But I felt compelled to leave it as you really do inspire me and I enjoy your writing so much.
    You Take care and Have a good day!
    Julie

  • Lindsey

    I cannot imagine being up with a kid (vs. a baby) that long and that often overnight. Eek! You and Wes both must be sooo tired. Have you mentioned it to your new Pedi? I assume you’ve gone through all of that, but it just boggles my mind because you probably don’t mention it every time he’s up, yet I have seen you talk about it a bunch.

  • junkie

    isn’t it bizarre how differently we all react/respond to things?

    while i never grew up with the concept of lent in my religious doctrine…nor can get myself to really stick to much of anything self-improvement wise in “real life” like running, etc.? i’ve been ANXIOUSLY awaiting lent, like i do every year, b/c it’s the ONLY TIME each year that i can absolutely stick to my “sacrifices”! this year i’ve given up alcohol, dairy, meat, dipping (my food in sauces, not the tobacco kind …i’m COMPLETELY addicted), and i have to work out for at least 20 minutes a day for five days a week…quite the sacrifice for couch-loving me! 🙂

    so, i say all that to say this… while sticking to giving up specific items during lent for the purposes of self-improvement might not be your strength? KILLING IT for the ENTIRE rest of the year DEFINITELY IS!!! 🙂

    xo

  • dennasus

    It’s a bit spooky to read this post today after having written a similar one last night. I’ve done the strict “giving up something” Lent for years and I did well with it. But this year I just don’t feel up to it. But I want to do something, because I like the idea of Lent. So I’ve been equally vague about it. But…. we can do it!

  • Kat V

    I was trying to think of something to do for Lent and love the idea of writing something positive about myself every day. Usually I would give up something (swearing, candy, etc) and inevitably fail in a week. Positivity though is something I need more of in life and love the idea.