Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Neither Leah or I are practicing Catholics, and I didn't grow up with the idea of giving something up for Lent. I had always been familiar with the idea, but never really knew why people did it. It wasn't until a few years ago that I really thought more about it, and considered giving something up myself. My freshman year of college was the first time I tried it out, and I stopped eating meat. Being a vegetarian stuck, and I realized that it was something that I actually cared about and wanted to continue doing. It worked as a good trial period for me, not forcing me to make a seemingly enormous commitment. That ended up being a combination of wanting to try out vegetarianism, and also giving something up. Seriously, steak was my favorite food all through growing up, but now it sounds completely unappetizing. I guess it's all about your mindset. Enough about my eating habits though, that isn't what this was originally going to be about.
Even though Lent is a practice rooted in the Christian calendar, I've started to see it more as an awareness and self control and awareness practice. Many people give up a vice for Lent - sweets, meat, smoking, whatever. To me, the point it that by giving something up that you use often, that may not necessarily be good for you, it forces you to think about it and be more mindful of what you're doing every time you instinctively start to. For example, I'm not going to give up eating french fries because that's something that I rarely do anyways. When I think about what I want to give up, or if I want to do it at all, I tend to think towards food. I have a weird love/hate relationship with food and by giving myself a specific guideline to step out of my ordinary routine, it forces me to think about what I am choosing to nourish myself with every time I walk into the cafeteria. Because eating is something that everyone does, multiple times a day, it is the perfect thing to be mindful of. By making a change to something that affects me so directly, even changes the way I feel from day to day, I hope that it forces me to love myself more and think about how my choices make me feel. Immediate satisfaction!
I decided to give up added sugars for Lent this year. No cookies, candy or hot chocolate. Plenty of fruit though! It's something that I've been working at, but for some reason giving myself a strict rule - even if it really only affects me - seems to make me stick to it. Maybe I'm afraid of myself? Ha. Could be. I'm weird and really like giving myself challenges like this, so I'm looking forward to trying it out! Who knows, maybe it will stick.
As for Leah, she decided to give up eggs and dairy for lent, along with meat (which she had already been doing most of the time), and go full blown vegan for the month. She could go on and on about her digestion but we will spare you of any details.
We are both really excited about this little experiment of ours.
-e (plus l)