I was raised Catholic, so for many of my earlier years, I was usually encouraged to give up something for Lent. Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter, and it is considered the holiest time of the year for Christians. Taking this time to sacrifice some pleasure of the flesh is supposed to remind you of the sacrifice Jesus made by dying on the cross for your sins and the sins of all humanity. Whoa. Heavy.
As a child, I usually gave up sweets--candy, ice cream, dessert. These were real treats and not having them for a little over a month truly was a sacrifice. But I didn't really think about the meaning behind doing this, and as time passed and I grew older, I abandoned the practice of giving up something in the same way that I abandoned most of the vestments of being a practicing Catholic. I still believe there is a higher power, but I don't necessarily hold to or agree with some of the teachings and rituals of Christianity. (I could go on about organized religion, but I won't. To each person their own. Live and let live.)
People often give up food as their Lenten sacrifice because it's such a universally accessible pleasure. We all have our favorites, and spending 40 days not having it can serve as a reminder that not only do we not always get what we want, but also that others aren't as fortunate as we are. At least that's how I choose to look at it--a reminder that I am a lucky person who can eat chocolate whenever she wants to.
But lately I've been going through a lot of personal work on food and body image issues (another post for another day!), and I've reached a point where I fully understand that if I don't let myself have a certain food, I most certainly go out of my way, at some point in the future, to have it, and have it good, to the point of binging, which then makes me feel bad, which then makes me deprive myself again, which leads to a vicious cycle. I don't want to toy with the still-fragile state I'm in, so instead I've chosen to give up another pleasure: sleeping in.
I've never been a morning person and I've always loved to sleep in. Now that I work from home, without a fixed schedule and with a business partner who also has night owl tendencies, I find myself sleeping in more and more every day. At first I really tried hard to stick to a schedule of getting up and out of bed by 8 am, so I could enjoy my breakfast and morning routine and still be at my desk pretty early. Now I find myself hitting the snooze button, staying up at night later and later, and it's thrown my schedule way off. I keep trying to readjust it back to more "normal" hours, but like they say: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
So I've decided that after tomorrow, my last day to indulge in the sleepiness, I will start getting up at 8 am again. And I will start going to bed early again. Keeping a college sleep schedule worked in college when I was 19. Now I'm 30, and it doesn't work so well. I know that initially it will be a struggle, but it will pay off in the long run. This getting up early applies to weekends too. I want to be sure I don't throw off the schedule and I want to see what it's like to greet a weekend without staying in bed until 11 am. I often feel like I don't have enough time to get everything done--keeping a regular, normal sleep schedule will probably help that.
Do you give up anything for Lent? If so, are you giving anything up this year? What will it be?