Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Forty Days

As a student in a Catholic elementary school, I was taught early on that there was a time every year when we were to promise to give up something we liked.  There were always the clever ones who vowed to give up homework or cleaning their rooms, but by and large the most common jetsam on this holy voyage was candy.

When I was a bit older, we were taught that Lent wasn't about just giving up chocolate,  but about finding a way to be closer to God.  We were encouraged to still sacrifice, but also to add something for forty days: pray for a few minutes every day, help someone, or even go to Mass a little more often.

Older still, as I struggled with weight I toyed with the idea of using Lent as a Forty Day Holy Diet.  After all, I could kill two birds with one stone: give up junk food, add exercise; eat less, move more -- and get Bonus Holy Points.  But that idea didn't really sit well with my soul, seeming too trite.

Today it's Ash Wednesday again, and I'm surprised to find myself excited about Lent.  It's no longer a time of giving up something just because someone said so, and it's no longer a time of saying prayers to please a distant god.  At this place in my journey, I'm drawn to a universal language of creation and life and sacred.

This year I'm also not looking at Lent as Forty Days, but as an amount of time in which to live my life a little differently and to being open to the results.  It's my hope that my physical journey will twine with my spiritual journey, and create something new and beautiful, something which my Creator, the One Who Gave Me Life, wants for me.

(For those unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday & Lent, here's a link to a very good 2-minute video clip about the two.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Of Laces & Leashes

Our dog doesn't have as many legs as your average dog, so it's extremely important that she maintain low body fat and strong muscles, which translates into a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.  Sound familiar?

In caring for my little tripod, I'm incidentally caring for myself.  I'm approaching exercise with a new perspective.  These days I'm not sentencing myself to day after tedious day at the gym, where I rely on a soundtrack to break up the boredom.  With my dog, I've traded in my playlist of drum machines, synthesizers, and someone else's lyrics for a chirping robin, a crying seagull, and my own thoughts.  And of course the jingle-jingle of tags, collar, and leash.

Heaven bless my husband for helping me give myself permission to not go to the gym every day.  The gym is there for when I need it, which isn't necessarily every day.  What matters to me is that I'm healthy, and for me health needs outdoor time. 

Luckily for me, my dog and I need the same things: exercise, good food, love, play time, and discipline.

I'm looking forward to many more mornings of lacing up my shoes despite my dog's eager assistance, and to exploring Life together, joined to each other not just by our leash, but by so much more.