Monday, February 20, 2012

What Does Lent Mean To You?

Finley Cane Trail - GSMNP
February 17, 2012

There is way too much rolling around in my brain that I'd like to talk about.  I wish there had been more time this past week to write.   But I've come to accept the fact that my life is just very full right now leaving little time for sitting in front of a computer.  I'm very grateful for that!  Given an extra hour with a choice, I'd rather visit around to see what you've been up to than spend that time creating a post of my own.  But c'est la vie!!  

I was not raised in a church that taught or practiced Lent, so it is something I've only come to appreciate over the past decade. I've always heard the question, "what are you giving up for Lent?" but only recently through the music sung by the choir of which I'm a member and participation in the Ash Wednesday service at my church have I truly come to appreciate the concept of LOSING (or giving up) something in order to GAIN a greater appreciation for new beginnings and new life that are a part of the Easter Sunday morning celebration 40 days later.  Since our choir began rehearsing Ash Wednesday service music several weeks ago, I've already had plenty of time to reflect on what I might "give up" for 40 days beginning next Wednesday.  The usual things (sugar, white flour, fast food, etc) are no longer a part of my eating and THAT alone is an amazing example of LOSING something in order to GAIN energy and strength I've not had in many years. I'm wondering if this year's "lesson" for me might need to move away from those easily identifiable, more tangible "don'ts" and towards characteristics which the discipline of the 17-Day Diet along with some other life situations have revealed I need to address.  

One of those is in the area of generosity.  Not just plain old giving back or paying it forward, but a renewed and DISCIPLINED (there's that word again) effort to be generous in very new and creative ways.  Ways in which I might have to LOSE something in order to fully appreciate what I've GAINED through my efforts.  If you'll recall, the fifth statement in my 2012 New Year's Mantra was this:

SHARE my life, my time, my money and my possessions in creative ways that are new and extravagant.
So in keeping with my mantra, in anticipation of the joyous upcoming celebration of spring and Easter, and in keeping with my obsessive personality which must have an organized plan, here is my goal for Lent:   For each of the next 40 days beginning on Wednesday, February 22, in addition to seeking out random opportunities for practicing generosity, I will plan a specific event/activity/goal/etc. that causes me to LOSE something.  My LOSS could be time, money, compromise, giving up of control, a combination of the above or something I've not yet even though about.  I will be creative and make every attempt to step out of MY comfort zone in order to be generous towards someone or something else.  
I have no expectations or ideas as to what I might GAIN.  We'll just let that be a surprise! 

I continue to be totally amazed at my success with the 17 Day Diet.  February will not record a significant weight loss although there WILL be a loss, but another month under my belt with the plan has brought its own rewards.  The biggest of those has been a continuing freedom from desires or cravings for sugar, wheat or dairy products.  NEVER in all of my life on ANY plan, have I had the luxury of easily passing up the bread basket in a restaurant or the chocolate in every imaginable form that flowed freely at the Valentine's party we attended last weekend.  NEVER have I experienced this level of freedom and its been a long, long time since I've felt this good, both physically and mentally.  I am strong and I have energy.  I mostly adhere to Cycle 2 with many days naturally ending up as Cycle 1 days.  The weight is continuing to come off.

I am thrilled that several of you have expressed an interest in the 17DD, have begun the plan and are having success with it.   You've told me you first heard about it here and that my success was an encouragement for you.  That makes me feel like a proud "parent" and I am almost as excited over your results as I've been over my own.  You are spread out all over the country, but I think we should already start planning a "strut your stuff" meetup when we all get to our respective goals.  In the spirit of sharing, I wanted to make sure that you all read each other's blogs and have that source of encouragement from other people on the same plan.   

Here are the links to those I know following the 17DD.  If you know of others, please let me know so I can share and maybe find some new friends of my own.

We are gearing up for some very busy weeks ahead.  Next to the month of December, Mr. B's schedule is craziest during March and April.  It begins with the international trip his auditioned choir takes each year.  This year, they are traveling to Germany and he will leave in a couple of weeks.  Our 2012 Summer Adventure is out of my head and on the written page.  Our cabins and cottages have been secured so now the fun of planning what we'll do begins.  I'll be reactivating the travel blog soon and will add a link so if you are interested in that part of my life, you can follow along.  I have two hiking days planned this week and some activities already in mind for the first few days of what I'm calling my Season of Generosity.   So, as you can see, life is very full and life is very good.

Do you practice Lent?  What will you begin giving up this year?



  1. We don't practice lent, but I often use the time to work on developing as a person. This year I'm going to commit to staying off the computer when the kids are around and just get on when they are off playing or doing school.

  2. thanks for posting this! It gives the best explanation of Lent I've ever read. I didn't grow up in an environment that practiced this tradition either and although I got the basic concept it didn't really sink in until just now when you explained it in that way. What perfect sense it does make. I'm curious now to find out about what you're going to be planning that will cause you to give up one of those things AND to find out what you gain. Will you post about it> I feel like I'm on a cliffhanger lol. Glad I found your blog! Do you ever post the music from your choir? I looove to listen to choir music so I just wondered. Great blog! Glad I found you!

  3. I'm so glad you're continuing to enjoy your new way of living!

    I haven't decided what to do about Lent this year. I've only been practicing it (my way) a few years now, and it's kind of, ahem, fluid. :) Your version of it is similar to mine in that it's not about just giving up something for a few weeks but more about opening up to more possibilities.

  4. Jewish - so no, of course. I love what you are doing. I have very limited knowledge about lent, but it seems to me that so many people give up something that they sort of want an excuse to give up anyways. Rather than something that would be more of a personal sacrifice. Does that makes sense? Because to me it never seemed to quite match with what I thought was the intention.

    Anyhow - LOVE how successful you are with your eating. I still have not made it to the store to scan the book. But one of those gals you mention, Lori I think, talked about getting it from the library. DUH! Why didn't I think of that?! That's how I read Wheat Belly. And how I "rent" DVDs. So now I have it reserved. I'm most curious to read the rational for some of the timing rules, etc. I doubt I'd lose weight in the first stage because my guess is, other than the timing, I'm not eating more than is on that plan. I'll see. You started a trend!!

  5. I did not grow up practicing Lent either. But I do like the idea of it. I am going to do SOMETHING this year. Also, I had a mini-panic attack in the middle of reading your post--I started worrying that my trip to Kentucky was going to be over Easter. I like being at home on Easter.

  6. No our church does not practice Lent, however, I have participated a time or two. It's is amazing!! I am totally thinking about 17DD and will let you know.

    Thanks for this post ~ You are inspirational!!

    Keep focused!

  7. I've never observed Lent either. I think it is a good concept, but it is not a part of the church where I worship.

    I mentioned to my mother that I was starting a new eating plan late last week. She called yesterday wanting to know the specifics because she was going to the grocery store. She wanted to get the right food since she was going to start too. She doesn't have a blog, but I'll probably drop in her success as well.

    Thanks for the shout out!

  8. Hi Sharon, I always enjoy reading your blog... I have always grown up with Lent as a part of the Christian Year in our church. I enjoy Lent ---because it is a time to reflect and ponder on the suffering which Christ did for us... I have always said that one cannot truly experience the joy of Easter unless they go through the suffering of Lent.

    I have always thought of Lent as a time NOT to give up something --but to add something to your life. It's a great time to do things like sending cards to shut-ins or to visit a nursing home, or even to call a friend you haven't talked to in a long time, etc.... Reach out --in the name of Jesus!!!

    Glad you read my blog today. We took a wonderful trip to North GA... I thought about you since we got to do alot of hiking...

    It's sunny here today but cold and there's still a ton of snow around.


  9. I've never practiced Lent but have wanted to. I always miss it...but not this year. I need to put some time and thought into what I'm going to give up...hmmmmm.

    As for The 17 Day Diet...I'm loving it!!! I've lost my cravings for sugars and carbs (totally amazing) and I'm beginning to feel that surge of energy. And all this time I thought my lack of energy was just me getting older. I have been proven wrong!!!

    Thanks my friend for always being such an amazing source of encouragement and new ideas. You're simply the best!!!

  10. As a younger adult we practiced Lent, however, as I have grown beyond religion, I do not practice Lent anymore.There is more but I will not share here. What I take from your post is a generosity in spirit and what it means to be human for you. It is actually very lovely and reflects to the core what you are trying to do and the person that is unfolding as you do. Beautiful actually.

    I am so happy for you that the 17 day diet is working. Now you have co-hort to support one another. Very nice indeed. Have a great week!

  11. Interesting question about Lent. For me, Lent is a season for reflection and repentance before celebrating God's gift of His son, given for our sins, at Easter. The denomination DH and I grew up in and still hold to, doesn't call for "giving up something," but rather encourages strengthening habits that keep one close to God, such as prayer, Bible study, or, perhaps, a special Lenten daily devotional. DH and I picked up a devotional booklet and will use this for our daily devotion time.

    Today is my first day of Cycle II on 17DD. I'll write about my experience in this week's post (Tues or Wed). Getting out to exercise every day has taken serious inroads in my face time with my Mac!

  12. I'm going to give up caffeine and add in strength training. Although we are Baptist, I do use the season for reflection and preparation. My husband grew up Catholic and he has shared with me how important that giving up period was in his life. I love it.

  13. We are participating in Lent. I've given up secular music, and my husband and I have both given up fast food. That should help us save towards Almsgiving. We went to mass last night and got ashed...that was a first for us. We are really looking forward to really participating this season. :)