The season of Lent has begun! And call me crazy, but I’m actually excited for it.
Usually this season gets quite lost for me. Between helping my parents with tax season, planning our Aggie Muster, and then other every-day responsibilities… Lent just becomes one thing too many. A couple years ago, I just flat out said I wasn’t giving anything up for Lent. And I’ve often said I’ll do something, and then I don’t even do it on day one.
But this year… this year is different. This year, I’ve made myself a really easy but difficult Lenten promise.
To just do better in general.
Stop finding justification for things that I SHOULD do or not do. As a result my goal is to be healthier. To be more productive. To be kinder. To be more patient. To be closer to GOD. In a round about way, I really will do everything on my ideas for Lent list… just not to a super strict going to do just one thing perfectly… but try harder on all things.
I know I’ll make my mistakes. I know I’ll fail. But failure doesn’t mean giving up. Failure means you just have to try even harder.
I can do this. I WILL do this. No excuses. No justifications. Just do better.
Oh and do a Lent-long Photo-A-Day. I’m definitely doing that, too.
What have you decided to do?
Did you know that today is considered “Fat Thursday?” I didn’t until I searched “lent” on Twitter. Which of course sent me to Google. And the only real information I could find on it was from Wikipedia. According to that page, it is a Polish and German tradition. It’s not to be confused with “Fat Tuesday” but its not all THAT different, as best I could tell. Apparently you’re supposed to eat a lot of donuts today. Which isn’t going to happen for me, despite having a German heritage. But if you partake, rock on and enjoy. Have a cinnamon and sugar covered one for me.
But like I said, I am thinking a lot about Lent and I had a few ideas. Feel free to throw ideas out at me, or take some of these for yourself…
- Stop eating when I’m full… not when the plate is empty. I used to be GREAT at this back in the day. I need that habit back, and I think a LOT of things would straighten up behind that. I can make a conscious effort to do this through Lent, and hopefully in doing so, turn it into a habit.
- Give up alcohol. Or at the very least, cut it back dramatically. (I don’t mind a glass of wine here and there, or a beer now and then. But save them for “special occasions” within Lent.)
- Pretend I never found Lactose Intolerance pills. I think some of my sinus issues could be curbed if I cut out milk products for awhile. And I am sure I’d lose at least a few pounds doing so as well. So I am seriously considering cutting out/back my milk product consumption through Lent and see what happens.
- Photo-A-Day. I’ve skipped doing a Project 365 for this year, but I do miss that challenge of a photo a day. I thought maybe I could up the ante a bit. Four photos every day for Lent. A selfie, the sky/weather, something I am grateful for, and then photographer’s choice. How’s THAT for a challenge to improve some of my skills? Of course, I can take more than that, but definitely do those four every day.
- No soda.
- No chocolate.
- Spend money only on necessities and not on “wants.” (Good thing the new Eli Young Band CD comes out on Fat Tuesday! Oh wait, I could possibly justify that as a necessity. Right? Ha!)
- Eat out less. Cook at home more.
- Say a rosary at LEAST once a week.
- Say my prayers every single night of the week… even if it means forcing myself to stay awake to do so.
- Cut back Facebook time.
- Take a deep breath and curb the road rage.
- No procrastinating. (Maybe I can do this one next year…) (Oh I know that’s an old joke, but admit it… you laughed.)
- Get up earlier.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Put the cell phone in my purse when at a restaurant instead of on the table.
- Blog every day. Even if its just the prior day’s photos. (See what I did there? Multitasking.)
- No cursing. Or at least curse less. Ask myself if the statement REALLY need that extra oomph of point?
- Exercise more. Don’t just ride the couch all evening. Get up and move around! Even if its just straightening up the room. MOVE.
- Try new recipes. Healthy recipes.
- Drink more water.
- Cut back on the caffeine.
- No gossiping.
No, I’m not doing ALL of these. But maybe I can take a bit from here and there on this list. Maybe I should just resolve to “do better” and “make fewer excuses.” No matter what, I want to better myself.
What ideas do you have? What are you planning to do for Lent this year?
Its been a long time since I carried my camera around all day and took random photos. Today, I took on the challenge, and here are five of the photos I captured…
I am a pretty confident woman. Actually, I like to think I’m a very confident woman. A positive person. Someone who loves to smile and who loves to see others smile. I like to make other people happy, and I long ago found one of the best ways is through just a smile. And I’ve been told many times over that I have a great smile.
However, when asked what my favorite facial feature is on myself, I would always without hesitation say, “My eyes!” They were hidden for years behind thick glasses until, when in college, I finally got the nerve to get contacts. (I couldn’t, prior to that, fathom putting something IN MY EYE. But now, I can practically do it in my sleep.) Even so, when wearing make-up I’d choose to feature my eyes. I’ve leaned on eye liner for years to make them stand out, and, as always told in make-up rules, I’d leave my lips alone. A little gloss, or a neutral tone now and then, but on a whole I wouldn’t accent them at all.
Strange for someone who loves to smile, right? Strange for someone with confidence.
However, deep, deep down, in a place that I never gave any power, there was an insecurity due to my teeth.
Now, I am dead serious when I say that I never gave it much conscious thought. About the only time I really gave my teeth much power was when taking a self-portrait. Let’s see if you notice what I am talking about…
Yup. In photos, my teeth were my little hidden secret. And it is in THAT action that I admit they were an insecurity. Very few people would ever make a comment on my teeth. I generally felt that anyone who did had issues of their own and were making themselves feel better by pointing out MY major imperfection. But in reality, the few people who would say anything were always very nice about it. Asking with curiosity why I’d not ever had braces. Or, in one case, giving me a high five with a smile of their own to revel their own front gap! But it would never fail… it would take a few minutes to “shake it off” when my insecurity was brought out front to my attention.
All that being said, getting my teeth fixed has been very low on my radar for years. If I hadn’t fixed them by now, what was the point?
I have a great confidence already, and my teeth aren’t exactly on my radar. My family and friends love me as I am. I’ve never been held back in life in general (as far as I know!) due to my teeth. So… what would be the point?
Then last summer, in the midst of getting a lot dental work done, my dentist presented me with an offer/option. One of my front teeth had a cavity in it, and it would need some work soon. What if we put crowns over the front teeth, and he could reshape them to be straighter through those crowns?
For me, my stomach clinched at the thought of the cost. It would be a lot of money! What on earth would I be thinking if I did this!? However, the offer was intriguing. And after some discussion with my parents and my husband, I agreed to do it.
So one day last summer, I went into the dentist for some sedation dentistry, and I came out with temporary crowns on my teeth. That looked just like my old teeth. I had seen the proposed models of what my teeth would look like in the end, and it was nice! A definite improvement.
We will skip the silly reasons why it took almost six months and one visit to re-cast my molds for the crowns, but on Monday morning I headed in for the big reveal.
And I walked out with a perfect smile. My dentist went above and beyond what he’d proposed to do for me. I keep looking in the mirror and being taken aback by my new smile. I keep running my tongue over the back of my teeth, looking for the gap that no longer exists. Occasionally I notice forming words with my lips has changed. And now… I want to wear lipstick. My old teeth-based insecurity replaced by a new smile.
Here I am at 33 with a whole new look… and here’s the funny thing. Now I feel more motivated to shed the 15 lbs I’ve put on in the last 7 years. I want the rest of my body to match the new smile. It’s made me want to care about ME more. It’s given me a boost I never in a million years thought I needed.
I was in the band in high school. I played flute. (Go ahead. Throw out your best American Pie joke. I’ve heard them all.) I was a member of the colorguard. I loved every single second of it. Most of my favorite memories of those years are tied to one band event or another, and I took pride in being a member of the band. I learned so much in my years in band. There are many, many elements of my personality and point of view that were molded through the discipline and leadership band demanded of me.
But I’m going to be brutally honest here. The band was the afterthought when I was in school. My years were spent battling for attention from the community, the rest of the school, and even the state as no matter what we did it wasn’t good enough. Membership dwindled. Those of us that cared surely had our moments of wondering why we even tried at times. But then there were those moments when it was magic. And it was those moments that kept you going.
Fast forward to today. My nephew is a member of the high school band, and its a whole different world for him than it was for me. Membership is swelling. There is a pride that you can FEEL when you are in the band’s presence. It is NOTHING like it was when I was there. It’s a bazillion times better, stronger and respected.
When I was a member of the Yoe High Band, we couldn’t have even dreamed of being acknowledged by the Texas House of Representatives!
They’ve won at the state marching contest. And, as the resolution reads, they were named the State 2A Honor Band.
These kids… they have talent beyond what I could have dreamed of having cultivated when I was in band. Their band director, Steven Moss, clearly is an amazing leader. He works them hard. But he also treats them with respect and rewards their efforts and successes. From the top-down this band is, in a word, amazing.
Last Friday, I traveled with my parents down to San Antonio, TX, to see the band perform for the Texas Music Educators Association conference. I sat in the front row and was moved time and time again by the performance.
One of the pieces they performed was commissioned by the band to be written specifically for them. How many bands can really say that has happened for them!? Sure as heck wasn’t going to happen when I was there!
During the performance, they took a moment to honor the band, band director and to thank certain guests in attendance in the audience.
They asked all Yoe High alumni in attendance to stand and be recognized for setting the foundation on which these kids have built upon. I’ll be honest, I was a little amazed by this, even as I stood up. I joked later that we set the bar low, so they had no where to go but up. But that was purely my being funny. In reality, I think part of the band being where it is today IS due to our fight in our years to be acknowledged and recognized. We had to go through those years to, today, stand up and go, “HEY! PAY ATTENTION! The band is amazing and deserves all the support and recognition and honors it gets.”
I’m going to piss people off with this. And I don’t care. Texas is a football state. Generally, we Texans will eat, breathe, sleep, drink and live the game. Even if its just armchair quarterbacks. Its in my blood, and I won’t deny that. But it also makes me downright ANGRY to see the band programs in so many schools get brushed aside to make more money available for the football programs. To hear people suggest a band director should be payed less than a football coach gets me seething mad.
Studies upon studies have been done that prove music helps learning. I know when I was in school, very, very few band students failed out of being able to participate. Show me a band student in college today who didn’t get there through sweat, tears and hard work both with their instruments as well as in the classroom. Whereas just recently CNN did a report about college athletes who read at a 5th grade level. Think about that for awhile.
I’m not here to point fingers. I’m just here to point out that these students in this band work their fingers off and deserve every bit of attention and respect they’ve gotten… and then some.
I’m so proud of the Yoe High School Band. I’d be proud of them even if my nephew weren’t a member, but its safe to say he’s my favorite member and makes my pride in the band more personal.
Congratulations, band! You have done Cameron, Texas proud. You’ve done yourself proud. You have surpassed everything I could have ever dreamed of doing when I was a member of the band… you amaze me every day and remind me all is NOT lost and there is still a lot of amazing and positive youth in this world. You don’t get to hear about them much, and I’m sorry that is the case. But keep it up, and all the positive accolades will continue to come your way. You deserve it all.
Sending love from your fan and alumni member living in Music City…
Last night, my husband and I invited some friends over for a “wine-and-cheese party.” We had Tillamook Cheese we wanted to share with our friends that we brought back from our recent trip to Oregon, and we figured what goes better with cheese than wine?
My husband and I happen to really love hosting get-togethers at our house, but we haven’t done it much in the last few years. We just felt like our house was too small to adequately host friends. The house we rented prior to the one we are in now was PERFECT for parties, but it was a little ways out of town and hard to get people to come out to visit. We moved into town, but downsized dramatically. We felt like our party hosting fun was still on hold until we moved again.
Boy were we wrong!
So what if we had to haul my desk chair from the office in and another chair up from basement?
So what if we didn’t have room on the table for plates, so we all just picked out our choice of finger foods with our fingers?
So what if there was a line to our one bathroom at one point?
It didn’t diminish the wonderful evening that we had one bit. We put together a spread of cheese, veggies, fruit, bread, sausage, etc. We had Merlot, Moscato, Rosé, sparkling red, vodka, beer, Irish whisky, and water.
We had conversations.
Face-to-face conversations. We told stories, laughed (a lot), high fived over the table, and bounced ideas and thoughts off one another. No one was on Facebook. No one was on Twitter. We were all there, in that moment, together, enjoying each other’s company.
It was amazing.
When the party broke up, we all agreed that THIS was what it was all about. Friends getting together and catching up. And we vowed to do it again. We vowed to do it more often.
When our friends left, my husband and I looked at each other with big grins. I told my husband, “This just proved no house it too small when your heart is this full.”