2020 Grateful 44: As Lent begins

No wine. No booze of any kind. No cakes, sweets, or biscuits. No chocolate. No sneaky cigarettes. And I’m going to work out every day, be in bed by 10 pm, and get my steps in. I delivered all this in one roll. She looked at me askance and asked hopefully: Are you going to be away much between now and Easter?

Lent is like New Year – it’s a time where I make resolutions and promises and then 40 days later wonder where I went wrong. What happened to all those good intentions? Her obvious horror at the nightmare I’d be to have to be around knocked me sideways. On reflection, I’ve decided that this Lent, I’ll just make my own life miserable. I’m going to attempt to do the impossible. I’m going to do one thing every day. For 40 days. Routinely.

Blah smah, you might think. That’s not difficult. For you, maybe. But I’m someone who has never managed to finish a course of antibiotics, never managed to keep a daily diary on track. never managed to do anything that requires doing, if it requires doing every day – other than the usual life dos like sleeping, eating, breathing, etc.

I score off the charts in Belbin’s Team Analysis as a completer/finisher, but that’s for discreet bodies of work. Not stuff that has to be done each day, every day, over and over and over again.

I signed up to Duolingo a few weeks back to continue to learn Hungarian. I had a 27-day streak going, i.e., I had taken online lessons every day and those days I missed had been protected by a streak freeze. (You can buy freezes when you rack up points doing lessons.) But late last week, I ran out of freezes and didn’t have enough points to buy another so I broke my streak. Duolingo has been whining at me since. They’re disappointed in me. And I’m pissed off at them. They’ve been playing on my competitiveness all this time with their daily emails reminding me that if I don’t study, I’ll lose that streak. And now that I’ve as much as said that I don’t want to play this week, they’re guilting me. So, I’ve stopped. F*&L it, I said. I’ll get back to it when I get back to it. (Don’t even think about mentioning noses and faces and cutting.)

I’ve a folder full of passwords to online courses I’ve bought and paid for, courses that require daily input. I’ve said I’ll start them when I’m in the same place (village, town, city) for longer than 10 consecutive days. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere for more than 10 consecutive days since I did a workshop in Malta back in 2011. But I’m on course to change. My schedule isn’t going to let up any time soon so I have to be more accommodating, more flexible.

The Parish bulletin offered some suggestions about how to live Lent:

  • Make the sign of cross when leaving your home/ passing a church or cemetery / before and after a meal
  • Take some time to go for a walk and say a prayer along the way
  • Give up a coffee / a meal out and donate the money you’ve saved
  • Take a pause when you feel you want to give out
  • Give up social media for an evening (or more!)

The first three I do already in some form or fashion. The fourth doesn’t apply as I never give out [okay, okay, I’ll take that one under advisement].  It’s the social media one that amused me.

Back when I was in primary school, Lent was serious business. We’d stash our sweets for 40 days and then pig out Easter Sunday morning, making ourselves sick on chocolate. All through Lent, we’d argue the toss as to whether a cup of hot chocolate was really chocolate or whether a scone without jam could be seen as bread rather than cake. We’d collect the pennies we usually spent on sweets for the Trócaire boxes and then turn them in during Easter Week. Fast forward X years and the suggestion is that if I stay off social media, just for one evening, that’d be enough for me to pass Lent!!!! The mind boggles.

The lovely TA has loaned me a book on Callanetics, an exercise program that owes its name to its developer, Callan Pinckney. It dates back to the 1980s and uses frequent repetition of small muscular movements and squeezes that are designed to improve muscle tone. I read the foreword. It’s for old people. And right now I feel like a very old person.

Starting today, Wednesday, for the next 40 days, I’ll be spending an hour with CP. Every day. Yes, every day. I fully expect to HATE HATE HATE it, not being partial to either routine or exercise let alone routine exercise. And I know I’ll be tempted to shave minutes off that hour. I can hear Satan packing his bags and leaving a note in hell saying he’s moving in with me for the next few weeks.

Now, I’m sure you’re not the slightest bit interested in what I’m doing for Lent, but I needed to get it out there. For the record, like.  And I’d be ever so grateful if you’d remind me that there are 60 minutes in an hour and that every day means every day.

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