Fat Tuesday and the 46 days after…

And here it is again…Lent. Fat Tuesday. Pacczkis. Ashes on the forehead. Planning the Easter dinner. Dyeing of the Eggs.

It’s my first Lent since I’ve been a blogger so I guess a little bit of backstory is in order. I’m hardly what you might call an everyday practicing Catholic, but for some reason Lent is always still a big deal for me. I like traditions and I like the history. I love the fact that my Dad and in the past and my Mom in the present always make a point of making a significant Lenten sacrifice. My religious views are so multi denominational now and my belief system is so universal, yet I am still totally devoted to Lent. Even my girlfriend who was raised Baptist has bought into the concept. It is partially selfless and partially self-serving, but it is what it is. And I’m all for it.

This year I’m saying I’m “all in” for Lent like it is some sort of high stakes poker game. For better or for worse that’s where I’m at. I started buying into the concept about a week ago and over the end of last week I found myself “declaring” my intentions. Once you put your thoughts into words they become more real, right? So here it is. For Lent this year I am giving up…

Meat, all desserts and sweets, all sugars except for fruits, and alcohol. Yep that’s right alcohol!

In the past I have danced around the concepts of giving up some of those things. One year I gave up all sweets…except for yogurt covered raisins. What do you think happened? You guessed it I ate about 35 pounds of yogurt covered raisins. Last year I gave up wine. What do you think happened? Yep! I added significantly to my rum collection and I drank a bunch of beer. I have been pesce-vegetarian in the past and even Vegan at a few points. But never have I given up meat, sweets and booze at the same point for any extended period of time. Now I am about to embark on an attempt at 46 days of self control…minus the once a week exception. You see last year a friend of mine reminded me that you could treat yourself to a small portion of what you were giving up on Sundays during Lent. I either didn’t remember this or never practiced it, but it fits in well with my lifestyle motto, “Everything in moderation. Including moderation.” I’ll definitely stick to the meat sacrifice all 46 days, I’ll likely stick to the sweet sacrifice all 46 days and I’ll almost certainly allow myself the exemption one day per week for wine. What can I say, I’m a realist!

By most other people’s standards I’m in pretty good shape. I’m 47 years old and I feel like I’m 30. I work out and/or practice yoga 5-6 days a week. My friends and co-workers think I eat an insanely healthy diet. I’m energetic and I am on the go nearly 70 hours a week.

By my standards I’m at least 10 pounds overweight. I eat late at night way too often. I binge on crappy food at least a few times a week. And I drink wine too many nights that I don’t even need to. Maybe I’ll never be the 165 pound 17% body fat person that I was 5 years ago but maybe I will be? The fact of the matter is that it’s not absolutely clear where I am at right now. I just want to make a sacrifice that will be personally serving even within a concept that is mostly designed to be selfless. I’m mostly fine with it, but partially not fine with it so I figure if I go “all in” at least one more time I will see where it takes me. Wherever it takes me I suspect I will be fine with the end result.

So tomorrow I will eat a Paczki for breakfast like so many other Lenten sacrificers. I will go to Paris Club after my double shift and enjoy a NY Steak Frites with plenty of Bernaise sauce and a bottle of good wine. And then I will begin my journey to the other side of self restraint and see how it goes. I’ll have many blog posts between now and Easter and none of them likely about this topic, but when it’s all said and done I promise a summary and some conclusions. It won’t be all about religion, but some of it will be. Jesus is one of my ultimate “heros” even if it is a non-conventional sense.

Overall I must say I’m excited for the mystery and really in life isn’t that all you can hope for? It’s a big part of any “faith” and I know by my standards I love a good mystery, so here we go…

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About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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