Today I woke up much earlier than usual to go to Ash Wednesday mass with my family. The church was full of kids from the Catholic school that is part of the church, so since there were so many kids, the homily was directed mostly to them. It was really sweet though, the kids were also the ones who sang all the songs and read the intentions, so cute!
Anyway, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and each year I always have a really hard time deciding what to give up. Sometimes I think it might be better to resolve to do things rather than give up things. Sometimes I think, "do I even want to do this, buy into this centuries old ritual?" but then the inevitable Catholic Guilt slips in and I think, "yes, yes I do."
This year I've decided to give up shopping online. Shopping is a HUGE vice for me. I do it all the time, with no sense of moderation, and it grows in direct proportion to how I feel mentally and emotionally, read: the worse I feel the more I shop. I am the worst case of retail therapy I know. It used to be OK when retail therapy cost less than actual therapy but now it's much, much more than what I was shelling out each week for sessions. I thought I would try to not shop at all but that was busted this morning directly after mass as I stopped by Subway to pick up a tuna sub for lunch. And let's be real, it's pretty impossible to not buy anything nowadays. I thought maybe I could set up some rules, like buying only things I need but that quickly lead to a lot of grey areas I didn't feel like sorting out. So instead I resolved to not buy anything online. I am a huge online shopper. I think it's because I'm always looking for a good deal and you always get better deals online than in retail stores. The things I buy online are seldom things I actually need so it seemed like a perfect compromise.
The other thing I'm giving up is eating after 8. I've been trying to lose weight this year and be more healthy in general but one of my all time worst habits ever is eating late at night. I always get really hungry or snacky after the sun sets and it's a terrible habit. It also totally undermines any exercise I may have done that day. A lot of my friends give up certain foods for Lent, like soda or sugar or other delectable but not so healthy treats. I have a hard time with that since I don't drink enough soda that giving it up would mean anything, and my palate favors savory rather than sweet. Late night snack attacks on the other hand...
I also decided I wanted to do something proactive for Lent, so I'm also going to try to drink more water. I've noticed lately that I don't drink enough water throughout the day and that it's been affecting my mood and how my body functions. Drinking more water is something I should be doing anyway but being Lent and all, I'm hoping that will be the extra kick in the butt I need.
I probably should have thought about this more instead of deciding on it today but hey, better almost late than not at all right? Also, my ashes were kind of lame, you could barely see it! Oh! On an aside, a little story.
My grandmother is VERY religious and is adamant about certain things when it come to mass. For example, it is better to receive communion from the priest rather than one of the ministers. It goes to follow that it is better to receive ashes from a priest than from a minister, so even though we were sitting in the front row of the second set of pews, she had us all wait so we could go with the front section to get our ashes from the priest. However, on account of all the school children, it took a very long time and the back half of the church was finished before the front. The sweet little old lady who was distributing ashes stopped by us on her way back to the alter and asked us if we had received ashes yet, which we obviously hadn't. Being advanced in years, she must not have had much strength since I could barely see mine. The kids who sat up front on the other hand, came out with HUGE, very DARK crosses across their entire forehead! Like, really giant, like if there were another inch of ash it would have gone from ear to ear. The likes of which I have never seem before. Now my only slightly ashy forehead seems a much better option than the ginormous black cross I could be rocking at work today. :)