And so once more Lent is upon us. It has never been much of a tradition in my church or family to give up something for the forty or so days leading up to Easter. We don’t do new year resolutíons either, but of late, I have been drawn to the idea of a challenge.
Perhaps for me, this is a season in life for self-imposed challenges. Having completed the one that got me going on this blog, as part of my strategy to get myself out of working in IT and into a new job, I realise that I have subsequently taken on and sustained a range of smaller lifestyle challenges.
In December, I put myself on a health(ier) eating regime alongside the commencement of my new job. I rejoined the gym and committed to myself to lose a stone in weight before Easter. As the pounds have not exactly been tumbling off, and I do like my food, this has necessitated the attendance at some classes that I would never previously have contemplated – frantic cycling whilst performing press ups on handle bars and other such semi acrobatic moves was today’s such example. Then, having received a fitness monitoring device at Christmas which decided (with whose permission I remain unsure) that my goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day, that is exactly what I have been doing. I am walking to work, walking at lunch break and every other opportunity I get. All for the pleasure of seeing a row of flashing lights to mark my achievement.
In January, husband and I took on the dry month challenge and gritted our teeth at weekends when a glass of wine (or two) would have been the perfect accompaniment to the evening meal. During this time, I learned that as with decaffeinated coffee, there can be no fooling one-self that a lovely cool bottle of non alcoholic lager is any substitute for the real thing.
During Advent, I set myself the challenge to open a window of thankfulness each day. I had fun drawing advent windows as a prompt and others joined in with being thankful for different things each day. It changes the day when you are focussing on the good things and cutting out the complaining. Then as the new year started, so began my bible in a year undertaking. Scripture passages each day with an often inspirational message. which as in audio form, happily combines well with the walking.
A friend asked if I was going to do the same as in Advent for lent. I must admit that I do prefer the adding in to the giving up side of challenges. If I add in exercise, I don’t have to worry so much about giving up calories. If I add in thankfulness, the negativity is by default squeezed out. If I add in scripture, I foster a more thoughtful and compassionate attitude to life. So that is why, despite being up to the eyeballs in my own little challenges, I have decided to join 40Acts again this year. I am not giving anything up, I am taking more on.
Day one challenge involved keeping a journal. The overall challenge is to be generous. With my cards on the table, I am up to seeing what can be achieved in 40 days. Like the (slightly nauseating) Kid president says, the world is changed through action, not inaction.