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Lent is Upon Us
It's that time of year again! In our house we participate in Ash Wednesday, the first day that begins the season of Lent. If you're not familiar with the Lenten season, it begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter Sunday. It is a solemn religious observance that is characterized by prayer, repentance, and fasting. Lent is observed by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestant churches.

As a Catholic, I participate in Lent, but, honestly, I've been observing Lent my entire adulthood, long before I converted. I don't know when or how this came about because I was not raised in an overly religious house, but somehow I came across it, and I haven't missed a season since I was 18. Most participants give up meat from warm-blooded animals on Fridays for penance as well as something else like a vice or bad habit. Almost every year, I give up sweets. Specifically, baked sweets because I have no self control when I'm around them. I'm either all in, or I'm all out, and I have fallen back into my sugar worshipping ways since the holidays.
I really look forward to Lent. It always challenges me, humbles me, and is a great reminder of what this season is about. Personally, it symbolizes so much to me: those 40 days are a reset, a fresh start, and a new beginning (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and environmentally). During a recent discussion about Lent, a friend suggested not just giving up something but maybe adding something to my life or routine, a good habit that I don't usually do. I thought this was genius idea! I mean, lightbulb!...Why have I never thought of that before? So I will be adding actually getting out of bed by 6:15 every morning to my Lenten penance. This, too, is huge for me because I am a terrible morning person (I'm also a procrastinator in life and an inconsistent participant of physical fitness, but one thing at a time! Sigh!).

You don't *technically* have to be religious or affiliated with any church to participate in Lent (It was not a religious observance for me for the first 11 years). But if you want to participate and don't know where to start, here are a couple of ways:

1. Meatless Fridays (Fish Fridays)-- Grab sushi, order a vegetarian meal, or attend a Fish Fry! Almost every parish in town should have one - look for a banner next the time you drive past your closest Catholic Church.
2. You could also participate in the Shrove Tuesday practice of using up eggs, sugar, & milk (the ingredients for making delicious pancakes and waffles) ALL SEASON LONG at fellow contributor Kathryn's church's Waffle Shop! It has been a Lenten institution in town at Calvary Episcopal Church for 89 years! Click here for more details!
So get your Lent on, Y'all! I'll be sending you all the good vibes for a successful season! And if you could, send my family good vibes because my sugar detox plus early morning routine could be a doozy this year! Ha! 

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