I am not a good person for giving stuff up: in fact, during Lent is the only time of the year I allow myself the eating of Cadbury Creme Eggs. One year, I successfully gave up meat and another year I gave up hot lunch with excellent results both spiritual and physical. But I've got enough stress in my life right now that I don't feel comfortable focusing on food during this Lent.
My women's group is reading Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter together, and we will be discussing the book in house meetings over the Lenten Period.
I am also borrowing the Dhammapada, the Tao te Ching, and the Bhagavad-Gita.
I just bought In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, which is supposed about learning to live slowly in the moment, in the midst of our culture of fast. I liked that others pointed out that he is NOT anti-technology or anti-smartphone or anti-connection. He's just into figuring out how to live your life in the present.
I tried to get it off the library via e-book and they didn't have it. So I ordered for my Kindle which was wirelessly delivered in less than a minute. I realize the irony of using the fastest method possible to get the book.
Which leads me to my actual Lenten discipline.
It seemed to me that a lot of klaxon bells in my life were calling me to slow down a little. Esp with M out of town, I find I have been checking email at all hours of the day and night, and my work bag stays firmly seated on my dining table while I eat dinner standing up at the kitchen counter so I can read a few more articles. Whoops. My balance has gone out the window, with just me in the house.
Last year, I gave up Facebook between the hours of 6PM and 9AM. I do use Facebook as a tool in work- we list services and events, and add announcements on our page. Turning it off was really fun. I used an app called "Self Control" on my computer. (I don't think they've made it an iPad app or an iPhone app yet, what a pity.) It's very basic: it blocks certain websites, specified by you, for a certain period of time. I would use it to block Facebook for anywhere from 3 - 24 hours at a time.
This year, I'm going to expand that to no internet between the hours of 6PM and 9AM. I will allow myself to stream movies or use my Kindle to read books. I can use apps that are on the iPad like solitaire and Jigsaw puzzles. But on both the phone and the iPad, no random internet. No falling down that rabbit hole of "this article recommends you read that article recommends you read this blog recommends you won't believe what shoes this celebrity wore to McDonald's yesterday!"
I think I will use parental restrictions to block this stuff- turn on the parental restrictions when I leave work, turn them off when I get to work in the morning.
With all this extra time, I am going to :
-Ride my Bike
-Do Barre3 workouts (along with movies, streaming a workout from this service is on my allowed list)
-Read all those books.
-Practice some piano. (I am giving credit to the Barre3, but my hand feels like it is gradually loosening up a little and I want to see if I practice regularly, how much real playing power I can regain. The viola is a little ways off, still, I fear. My bow needs rehairing anyway.)
-Get more knitting done.
-Call some friends on the phone.
-Watch some TV.
-Get more cooking done.
-OK, whatever, I suppose some running is probably in order.
-Oh, and swimming too.
I don't know if I'll actually accomplish all of this- just reading those books and playing piano might be all I can manage to pull off!- but I am looking forward to the practice.
Off I go to burn some palms and eat some pancakes. It is Shrove Tuesday, meaning that we gather people, burn the palms from last Palm Sunday to make ash for tomorrow's Ash Wednesday services, and Men's Clubs from all over the Episcopal church are descending on their churches to make delicious, delicious pancakes.
True story: my beloved is a wonderful cook at home, but he is fussy about his pans. He was once pressed into service at a parish pancake supper, where he was put to work on a griddle for the first time in his life. He is not friends with the griddle. After turning in about a dozen charbroiled discs, he was released from pancake duty. He went to work on the coffee and people were much, much happier with that. Becausehiscoffeeisawesomeandstrongandpeoplereallyloveitawholelot.
Happy Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras!