I've put a brief description at the bottom explaining the meaning in terms of the Christian calendar. Raised Anglican we did observe the period with the notable dates being observed although I wasn't really aware of Lent as such. Shrove Tuesday would be my strongest memory, perhaps because at the age of 10 I was violently ill after consuming chicken a la king pancakes - thus resulting in me swearing off both for the next 25 years. I am not religious in the traditional sense so am not observing Lent from that perspective.
In fact I don't even know if I will in particular be giving anything up during this period either.
The 40 days are generally a period of self reflection. Most people will go in with intentions of giving up on a vice - be it sugar, Facebook, alcohol .... sort of a late take on New Years Resolutions. I started off that way but stopped myself as quickly as I started drawing up the list. I just knew I would not stick to it. Yes I know what I should be giving up on it but trying to guilt myself into isn't going to work. All that will happen is I won't meet the goals, end up feeling guilty and berate myself. Ending up achieving absolutely nothing except self-loathing. No thanks.
So I am going to use my 40 days mindfully. And there are really only 2 areas I am focusing on. Again by being mindful I am understanding I can't tackle it all. I have a lot going on in my life right now and I know that if I load it all up I will give up before I even hit day 3, let alone get to day 40. I'm no stranger to projects of this length having done a number of 50 day projects. But it does take stamina, focus and willpower.
The first thing and top of my list is my health. My diabetes is not quite right at the moment. Readings appear fine but something is wrong and changes are needed. But I know myself. If I throw too many changes into that pot at once you can forget it. I will binge eat on everything I can possibly lay my hands on. So slowly. Little less sugar in my tea. Smaller plate at dinner time. Healthier choices for lunch. Small changes over time become habit and before I know it I will be feeling the benefits. Added to my eating habits is my general fitness. A year ago I was doing well. I need to get back there. Find that motivation and just push through. I'm not getting any younger and the closer I creep to 40 the harder it will be to really make the proper changes.
So for 40 days I will make mindful eating choices. Trying to keep them as healthy as I can so that I can build good habits. I will also commit to walking 5 times a week. I've joined the local Run/Walk for Life. Going at a steady pace. Three sessions a week with them and 2 others during the week on my own. I need to remember why I'm doing this - so that I can live a long healthy life, seeing my children grow up and being able to do things when I'm older without having my health being a problem.
Second on the list (which has been there now for way too long) is my declutter project. I got it underway tonight. I did my entrance hall table - yes I know it sounds like no big deal but believe me it's a big deal to me and my promise to myself is every evening, either when I get home from work or straight after dinner, I will tackle one area and sort it out. Thankfully some large areas are already done so this is a project I CAN do in 40 days and I WILL do in 40 days. I've become completely intolerant of clutter. The charity pile has started and once the corner is full the first load is off. Less is more. And I need less, less, less.
In between all of this I will be reflecting. I have come far in the last 20 months. I've achieved this by committing to goals and working my way towards them. So I know I can do the next 40 days. It will be good for my soul. Good for my health. Good for my space.
Find time for yourself in the next 40 days to try and do something meaningful. It doesn't have to be about religion. But it is a good time to reflect back on what has been. The chaos of Christmas, New Years and back to school is over. Valentines is done. Next on the calendar is Easter and that is when Lent is over. Take the space to breath. Look around you. Clear some space, spiritual and physical. You can only benefit.
May the next 40 days be good to you, however you spend them.