Today is Ash Wednesday (how is that possible? I swear it was just Christmas!). For us Catholics (and other faiths, I’m sure), today marks the start of Lent and the beginning of a 40-days abstinence from something. As a kid and even for much of my adulthood, I gave up chocolate. Every.single.Lent. It was always something I should/needed to do because my chocolate dependence was (and still is!) quite high. But as the years ticked on, giving up chocolate felt expected, easy, and more about my waistline than prayerful sacrifice or an opportunity to re-focus on something positive.
Last year, my family and I were in the throws of mourning my Mom and cleaning out my childhood home when Ash Wednesday rolled around. I originally wasn’t going to give up anything at the time because honestly, grieving my Mom felt like sacrifice enough. However, the sheer amount of “stuff” in my parents house was alarming and overwhelming….and really shook me to the core. Mostly because while I cursed the amount we had to sort through and deal with, I also (fearfully) saw the same shopping/hoarding habits in myself. When I was literally knee-deep in old and forgotten possessions, I instantly knew I needed a very serious break from shopping and to take time to reflect on how I was spending money, what I was bringing into our home, and mostly, how “stuff” was becoming too much of a focus for me. I committed to no-shopping for 40 days. It was hard and humbling, and I learned SO much.
You can read more about how last year went here:
Well, friends. Another year has gone by; and unfortunately, as my blog and ambitions have grown, my old shopping/spending habits have slowly but surely returned. Yet again, I have found myself on the never-ending mental and emotional teeter-totter of “We have too much stuff!/It must all go now!/Purge, purge, purge!” … “I want this!/I need this!/Can I get this?/Let’s go shopping!”
It’s exhausting and embarrassing and frustrating, and being on the cusp of another move is not helping the situation. I am sure this conundrum happens to a lot of us. I’m not beating myself up about it, I just know what I need to do this Lent…again:
Yep – I am committing to another 40 days of no leisurely spending. Obviously, groceries and gas and school tuition and bills don’t count, but anything that falls into the “want” category versus the “need” category is getting put on hold. The occasional magazine, the random craft supplies, and mostly: fabric and home decor items. Those little things here and there that I just pick up and grab because I love them and I have the cash in my pocket. Those things that are cluttering my home and my mind all because “I just can’t resist!” It’s time for a gentle reminder that “Yes, I can resist, and I need to.” Thank you, Lent. (The only other exception I am giving myself is anything I need to buy for my paid projects. Even those, however, I am going to try really hard to keep at a bare minimum.)
Last year, this whole experience was hard and (at times) frustrating, but oh-so-important. It opened my eyes to how much time and money I was wasting bringing things into my home that are not important. The experience really enhanced my creativity and helped me re-center on how my time and money should really be spent.
So…with ashes on my forehead, I’m off and running. I don’t really want to do this, but that’s a very clear sign that I need to. I’ll check in at the end of Lent and let you know how it goes!
Do you give up anything for Lent? Have you ever put yourself on a shopping hold? I’d love to hear what you’re giving up…and/or how you get your spending and shopping in check!
See you on Friday with that living room update I’ve been promising.Posted In 1 - Organization, No-Spend Lent, North Carolina, Personal Post