Lent and Self Promises

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I'm a bad Catholic. Awful, really. One might say I shouldn't be allowed to call myself Catholic.
I disagree with the Vatican and my grandmother on a number of religious subjects, I haven't attended mass since Christmas (to which I was late - not my fault!), and I don't go to confession because I don't regret most of my actions the Church views as sins.

But, I believe in the Holy Trinity quite unequivocally, I carry an image of St. Expedite in my wallet at all times, say a prayer a day, and try to be an overall good person in the Gospel sense of the term.

I also tend to do okay with keeping my promises at Lent. Besides being a bad Catholic, I'm also bad at keeping promises to myself. Especially the self improvement type. You know, you have the same list, I'm sure.

This past year (and for the past 15 or so odd years of my life), I've pledged to do an assortment of things to help myself:

1. Eat better - follow that menu the nutritionist so thoughtfully made out for me. It turns out I think I'm eating more than I should, since I now have added the 3 small meals she asked me to add, cutting out the fruit of some, and continued with my massive lunch and dinner portions which I should have cut out.

i like cooking things with lots of coconut milk, savory spices,
and of course, french fries. 
2. Exercise - I joined a gym last May. I went pretty well until I started getting a bunch of visitors in October (a friend from college, my dad), and then there were the holidays... And then I worked a lot, and then... Yeah, I hate the gym.

strangling ourselves after an at home workout session.
3. Drink less - Don't get me wrong, I'm no lush or anything. I just drink... more frequently than I should. This hinders number 1 and 2 above and probably 4 and 5 below as well. I start on these alcohol "fasts" for 5 days-2 weeks, but then I go right back to drinking or cheat with "it's just a glass of wine with dinner."

i'd like my caipirinha with lime. lots of it.
to make it seem like there's less cachaça.
4. Be more productive/Lower Stress/Be more organized with money - These are all related in my life. I have tried an assortment of methods from meditating (for about 2 minutes), to Pomodoros, to napping (the anti-stress part), to being social whilst not spending money, and etc. But I still constantly check my Facebook page and whatsapp, and haven't gone more than 3 days filling out one of those expenses spreadsheets. It seriously took me 3 days to write this post between many distractions...

this picture makes me happy. it's at my friend's country home.
where there's no wifi and no chance of checking work emails <3 td="">
5. Embark on a love life that's meaningful - A lifelong work in progress? Or I just suck at dating? I've been on countless dates in the past year, and even had a few temporary "relationships", have lowered expectations (and stopped watching romantic comedies), but have yet to "fall" for someone. Again, I may just suck at dating. Or be a teensy bit traumatized heartless busy with a bunch of other things.

this is me not being the least bit romantic during carnaval.

So for lent this year, I've decided not to cut back on beer or meat or chocolate. I'm not quitting Facebook or anything silly like that. Nor am I pledging to give that "kind of really unattractive, not too bright, and somewhat boring, but really nice guy" a chance because the world tells me I'm too picky.

Instead. I'm running. Every. Day.

my trusty trainers (how british, i know) and i,
lazily heading down the elevator for a run

The closest I've gotten to running every day, in my life, was lacrosse season, in high school. I've always wanted to like exercise, but hating the gym has gotten in the way. It's been a week now since I've been running, and I only didn't run on Friday when it rained so hard I didn't run in fear of getting struck by lightning (but like lacrosse season, we didn't have to run when it was hailing outside).  And I'll make up for it. Like snow days, I think I can keep running after Good Friday, right?

I guess there's no real point to this post, and it might be more for me than anything, but... In just one week, I'm loving my newly discovered lent ritual, and for once I've realized that making a lent promise that's a "doing" instead of a "quitting" type healthy habit, I end up affecting my other bad habits positively, and maybe that my attempts of being a good Catholic, or God loving and respecting person in general, have always been more active. Praying, helping others, being honest, etc. is much more constructive than restricting myself from certain things in life. Maybe I should focus on disciplining myself by taking action and not focusing so much on what I shouldn't do to be more productive or happy or sexy healthy or God loving.

This always reminds me of why I always take Lent so seriously. For the rest of the year, I'm so caught up with work and my list above, that I stop thinking about God or reflecting on the health of my soul. And I suppose that's what Lent should be all about, right? Self reflection. Not about 40 days of suffering. I doubt Jesus came back from the desert after 40 days and, like a good Jewish boy, told his mother Mary* all about it and said, "Man, that sucked. Let's throw a party!" I would  like to think he came back and said, "Wow, meditating in the desert for 40 days was really eye opening. You should do it too, ma."

*I also think that if Mary were given the opportunity to write her own gospel, we'd know a lot more about the real Jesus!

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