The Humanist does Lent

Yeah, yeah, I’m a humanist not a Christian, but I grew up with Lent. Shrove Tuesday rolls around and I’m all over the pancakes. Not those thick monstrosities that people love so here. No, I mean those sweet crepe like pieces of heaven that the rest of the English speaking world calls pancakes. Yesterday was Pancake Tuesday aka Shrove Tuesday. A chance to fill up on the beautiful lemon and sugar sprinkled flour, milk and egg delight. Then today, reflection. Ash Wednesday. Reflection for forty days, and effort to become more accountable in some manner.
Pancake Tuesday
I recently stumbled upon this forty bags in forty days project, I think via Pinterest. (Yeah, don’t hate me cos I pinterest occasionally. I find it useful.  A virtual pinboard with much more organization than our house.) So, I’m doing it. Yep, forty bags in forty days. Going to get rid of the junk and clutter- to goodwill, to friends, to the compost bin, to the recycle and to the trash can. I like the idea of using the time to clear our heads as well as our home of clutter. Anyway, it’s doctor’s orders. Seriously, I went to the doctor today as a follow up from the whole prediabetes thing and then more recently I’ve been having lots of heartburn and arm twinges. The doctor’s assessment:

1. Lose weight via exercise and diet (specifically lower the carbs)
2. Get a decent amount of sleep (but we have a 4 month old)
3. Cut out the citrus, peppermint, tomato, spices, caffeine aka chocolate and raw onion – he wants to take the joy out of life apparently)
4. Reduce my stress levels.

Stress levels? What stress levels. Honestly, while the past 10months have had some significant stressful and emotional times, both happy and sad, I don’t have a terribly stressful life. I mean wasn’t that part of the point of my little life change a year and a bit ago. Of course, ask my bowels if I’ve been good at managing stress and they might tell you a different story. I physically internalize all mental stress so that it exhibits in delightful ways in my body from my heart to weight gain, I do think that stress, or my lack of management of it, impacts my health. I asked him what he thought were the most effective ways to reduce stress levels. His response:

1. Sleep (yes, again sleep comes up as crucial to health)
2. Stop procrastination
3. Use meditation and/or prayer to relax and calm the mind

And, drum roll please

4. Be organized. Clear the physical clutter, it helps with the mental clutter.

He has obviously been my primary care physician too long. Or he has been talking with my dad or husband about some of my less attractive qualities?  So the doctor orders effort toward decluttering my mind on Ash Wednesday and I’m going to do as I was told.

Back at home I sat down and wrote out a list of areas to go through. I have more than forty days worth. Today was the top of the fridge. Check. Tomorrow the firebox. My goal tonight, to fall asleep before midnight. Which gives me approximately twenty minutes to get going. What reduces stress for you? How do you stay committed to that? Do you have a time of reflection and contemplation in your life? My commitment for the next forty days, to reflect on how material objects can clutter our minds. Doesn’t that sound high-faluting? How to live more simply.

Oh yeah, about those sugar lemon carb filled discs – I ate in moderation. A first when it comes to pancakes- one of my all time favorite foods.



Filed under Attempts at mind expansion

7 responses to “The Humanist does Lent

  1. I’m working on the decluttering as well. I mucked out my office (mostly) last weekend. I’d love to do the 40 bags in 40 days, but I don’t think I can add one more “must do today” to my list. Good luck on the project!

  2. Bryn

    Dear one, thank you for such a relevant post… and so timely. No, not because it’s lent… personally though raised around faiths that engaged in such practices, it never caught on in my household of origin. So whilst I love the whole thought of it, I don’t resonate with it spiritually (much like you)… and so, my struggle for moderation amidst chaos trudges onward. That said, I AM inclined to the 40 bags in 40 days concept and will be following your lead. Thank you for the idea and the inspiration! And would love to sit down with you next time I’m in Tucson (think weekend of 4/5-4/7 or thereabouts) and share about a recent retreat I took where the meditation practice and other health-inducing behaviors were implanted sufficiently enough that I’m actually committing and following through on a daily basis! I, too, had a recent pre-diabetic test result, so am tracking with much of what you are in terms of health, diet, exercise, sleep, de-cluttering my life, and other valuable goals. Let’s get together, I do miss you muchly. ❤ And… I've yet to meet that beautiful baby other than in pictures.
    Simply not enough! Muah to you and yours… ❤

  3. These are all great things for destress! It motivates me to find more time for reflection – something I seem to need but don’t seem to sufficiently get. For me stress gets lessened by exercise, bicycling, venting, etc. Sticking with it is easy. I get restless and grumpy if I don’t exercise. I think I’m addicted to the endorphins – I’m not kidding. Declutter helps, but I find myself cleaning when I should be destressing by working on the project that is causing the stress.

  4. Rachel, do me a favor. Send me an invite to Pininterest. I’ve been wanting to check that out!


  5. Mum

    The best advice I was ever given re. not sleeping well was from a friend who said she had ‘learnt to live with less sleep’. I actually found it helpful, because it stopped me being anxious that I would not be able to cope with the next day, if I did not sleep much. As I lay awake at 1, 2, 3 am. I said ‘I will be able to manage’ and I did.
    I think also, that so many people have problems sleeping. We used to joke at work that we could hold meetings at 3.00, because at least all of us could be attending! Fortunately we were not working in a 24/7 work culture, which would have taken up this idea!

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