On a Fat Tuesday two years ago, I decided that I would try to give up cigarettes for Lent (a confession to some of you who never knew I was a smoker). This Christian tradition of abstaining or fasting is a form of penitence which lasts for 40 days. In modern times, it can also be a practice of letting go of the unnecessary… the indulgence, over-consumption, or excess. It could be chocolate, internet shopping, or TV. A few years ago, I even heard of a large group of people who went on a carbon-fast. This practice is generally a sacrifice made in the face of constant temptation. For me, it was cigarettes. I had never gone one day without a cigarette in almost 20 years.
Whether Ramadan, Lent, or just a personal cleansing, the idea of a sacrifice, of letting go of something I consider to be an absolute necessity, is cause for serious reflection. Mardi Gras, with its celebration of the grandiose and gluttonous, marks the beginning of Lent. And although it has begun, it is never too late to assess your life and make space. New beginnings can happen every day. Change your daily routine when we give up one hour this weekend with the daylight savings time. Change your diet since the seasons are changing and we don’t need hibernation food anymore. Change your physical activity because it will start to get warm soon with the arrival of Spring. Maybe the thing to give up is a mental perspective, like looking at this discipline as a way to take on something good instead of just letting go.
I don’t advocate making sacrifices in the hope of gains, but sometimes life can give you more when you take less. By the end of my forty days of Lent without a cigarette, it turned out that it wasn’t a necessity anymore. I was given a great gift that I couldn’t have expected to need in my life… my daughter. She was my Easter egg surprise.
To learn about how women have “let go or taken on” during Women’s History Month, check out http://brooklyn.about.com/od/artsentertainment/a/7-Ways-To-Observe-Womens-History-Month-In-Brooklyn-Ny.htm
For more on making healthy change, celebrate National Nutrition Month and look at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/nutrition-mont-resources-matt-davis or http://www.nea.org/tools/lessons/10-free-things-national-nutrition-month.html
For more hidden surprises, look at one of my favorite artists in NYC Gema Alava’s newest exhibit at http://acinstitute.org/