lenten practice 2011

I started writing this post a few days ago, but it has been one of those busy weeks where I can’t seem to finish a sentence, let alone a whole post, so I’m only getting it up now. Ideas and advice still welcome – despite having felt all up on top of the world of efficiency and organization earlier in the week, I have now been downgraded to the more usual “what the effing heck am I doing?” mode.


Most years I plan to do something/give something up for Lent. Usually I don’t think of something until Lent has already started, and then I sort of fizzle out or pursue it only sporadically. But this year I am proud to report that I actually had a stroke of genius – I realized what I needed to let go of before Lent actually started, and am working on a plan and set of goals to try to stick with it. I am going to work on decluttering – my house, mostly, but also my social media involvement (basically Facebook, that damn black hole of time!), and other places in my life where things need some pruning and tidying. (And that does not include my sasquatch-ish hairy legs – I shaved those this past weekend in advance of our family fun day of swimming, thank you very much!)

Perhaps I should back up a bit – you may be thinking to yourself, “I don’t remember any previous mention of piety on this here blog…what gives?”  I didn’t go to church growing up, and I still don’t. But my parents are practicing Anglicans and we like to talk theology from time to time. And there are certain things within Christianity that float my boat, the big ones being Lent and Easter. I suppose they appeal to my slightly flaky crunchy earth-based-spirituality leanings and my interest in spiritual practice as opposed to declarations of belief. Let’s just say that I’m more of a seeker than a settler-in-er and the thought of doing the latter myself makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. Though I am working on that.

[Blah. It is hard to talk about this stuff without feeling like I’m going to piss somebody off. I just snipped out a whole big rant about conservative Christians*.]

Anyhoooooo….. I am going to do this decluttering thing for Lent this year. My house is a mess, I’m having trouble following through on commitments and feeling on top of things (I know this is getting old if you have been reading previous posts, but what good is a blog on vulnerability if I don’t harp on and on about my issues?), and I believe that all the crap is getting in the way of my having the life I want and need. It’s getting in the way of the things I love to do.

Also, it’s embarrassing to have people over when I need to keep all the bedroom doors closed and wrapped up in “police line-do not cross” tape. I’m not kidding. My guest bedroom currently contains: a disassembled bed frame, mattress and box spring on the floor, a mitre saw, a pink toilet, various bits and bobs of Christmas wrapping, my sewing machine which needs repair, a few extension cords, back issues of magazines I cannot bear to throw away, a good chunk of my fabric stash, a humidifier, a yoga mat, my Japanese calligraphy supplies, a box of drywall screws, the cape/coat thingy I was wearing when I met the Queen in 2005 but haven’t worn since, and G*d only knows what else. Actually, I know pretty much all of what’s in there, I just can’t go on or you would be more exhausted than you no doubt already are.

I am trying to figure out whether I want to set goals for a specific amount of stuff to get rid of, or to spend set amounts of time in each room, or dedicate specific amounts of time each day to the project. Thoughts and suggestions are most welcome, and certainly if anyone reading this wants to join me in the Great 2011 Purge-a-thon for the Good of My Spiritual Health, by all means let me know.

*If you happen to be a conservative Christian, please know that I absolutely respect you and your right to believe whatever it is that you believe. I just don’t necessarily agree with those beliefs.

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9 Responses to lenten practice 2011

  1. MSW says:

    I grew up going the Anglican church. Baptized and confirmed. I started drifting away when I was 8 and my Sunday School teacher said “Oh sweetie, animals don’t go to heaven. They don’t have souls. But I like to think that there is somewhere where all the pets go and are happy”. I would still call myself culturally but not theologically Christian. I follow Lent by making Hot Cross Buns. And I still mark Easter.
    I’ve been struggling with how to pass on beliefs to B. I want her to think there is something more than all this, but I don’t know what it is. Telling her about the Easter Bunny but not having an explanation as to why Easter is important bothers me. I may just end up going with the birth-of-spring-renewal-of-nature thing.
    And when you come for a visit you can see my basement if you want. And the upstairs “reno room”. The guest room will be semi-organized as my sister is arriving for a visit on the 23rd and I’m going to have to at least clear a path to the bed for her. But my clutter is horrible. So horrible.

  2. Lauren says:

    so perfect! I think I’ll have to write a note (either for you or to share elsewhere) about lent this year as well. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and had an ah ha moment this morning as I carried home my not given up Tim Horton’s (of course it’s a day late but I’m not going to let that stop me…). I’ve decided to add instead of taking away (which is kind of the whole point of Lent, I think- to go without…?).

  3. Vee says:

    I hear you, I have so much decluttering to do. Not even lent will entice me.
    Good luck!

  4. Carlita says:

    In terms of organized religion, I am terribly out of practice but I happen to be a devoted follower of the cult of minimalism. I truly believe that physical clutter affects our mental well being. The process of pruning forces us to ask important questions about how objects add (or take away) meaning to/from our lives. As a bonus, less stuff means less time spent cleaning and organizing.

    I think your Lenten practice is wonderful. I sort of hope that it might stimulate something even bigger. In my experience, decluttering is up there with things like diet and exercise – it’s a lifestyle change more than short-term goal. Once you finally donate/toss/clear as much of the excess as you can bear to part with you find that you must remain vigilant to keep from ending up back at your starting point. It is especially challenging with a child in the house but I think it’s worth it.

    OK. For someone who isn’t religious, I guess I might have a slight tendency towards proselytizing.

    Best of luck!

  5. Wordgirl says:

    Oh I love you!!!

    You have my spare bedroom!!! I was reading that aloud to G — and we honest to god have a wrought-iron bed frame, a bed, stacks and stacks of books, a yoga mat, an old nordic trak — my backlog of yoga and shambhala magazines I can’t get rid of, my knitting projects half-done and my yarn, scraps of fabric — and NOW added baby crap-ola — two bouncys, a swing, plastic bins filled with outgrown clothes — luckily these are going to a friend of mine soon — but I am absolutely on the same page as you — clear out the clutter in 2011 — I’m on that train!

    Oh sure, the tracks are blocked…but I’m on it.

    I had this great site a million years ago about thirty days of giving away things — if i can find it I”ll send it your way — it was really about parting with things you felt you couldn’t part with as well — and the power that holds.

    I think of you so often my dear,



  6. a says:

    When decluttering, I usually go on a tear. It kind of starts with an irritation with stuff, which builds into a semi-frenzy of “I have to get rid of this stuff!” So, I don’t have real strategies beyond – find what is making you feel claustrophobic in your space and make it go away. If you think it will be useful someday, try to convince yourself that it will be better off being useful to someone else who needs it now. Magazines? Maybe you can donate them to your local library, so you can visit them any time you like. Things that you want to keep (cape/coat thingy) but are not something you will use should go into a nostalgia storage box.

    I may do another purging myself – my husband likes to do it frequently, though, which makes me want to hold on to things. But then I get overwhelmed by stuff and start the purging process. My problem with him is that he always wants to get a return on his investment, so he’ll try to sell things on craigslist or ebay. I just want things out of the house, so I want to take them to Goodwill. These differences lead to the occasional conflict.

    Good luck with your Lenten project. I’m lacking faith in anything right now, so I’m ignoring the Easter/Lent season.

  7. jwhite05 says:

    For some reason I have it in my head that you’re in Japan….or were….Praying you guys are all right.

  8. Deathstar says:

    Well, first thing is never declutter alone. It will end up taking ages…. I know cause I had to do it when we moved. If it’s behind a door with police tape, you obviously don’t need it. I threw out (recycled) 10 yrs worth of Buddhist New Century magazines. If you must, keep one issue per year and put it one of those magazine holder things. I also threw out the first year of O magazine that I was holding on to. (Yeah, hard to believe, but I argued with DH over keeping it at the time. Mr. Never Keep Anything.) Also out were most of DH’s books (James Patterson hardcover novels) – if they were mine, I wouldn’t have been able to do it (cause I love to say I’ll keep it and sell it at a flea market)and a lot of my paperbacks. Have a good friend or two come over and be prepared to work the keep, trash, donate piles. It will end up being more fun. Throwing out stuff makes me anxious particularly if I spent a lot of money on it. Five trash bags of clothes later, I realize I have clothes in 3 different sizes. Fat me, glamorous me and dog hair, stretchy yoga outfit wearing me. Donating makes me feel good though. If it’s an object that collects dust, take a picture of it and then donate it.

    Just went to a kids items flea market at the downtown community centre. One woman remarked I had a lot of stuff for just one child. Yeah, and he’s only 15 months. Then I looked around and realized that most people had a LOT OF STUFF that was probably just sitting in closets and taking up space. I made a little money that I will keep for the Precious… and probably buy more stuff for him.

  9. Leslee says:

    I am terribly late to this blog and therefore this post, I wondered why you hadn’t posted in a long while and then remembered vaguely you speaking of a new blog, then spent quite a few minutes slogging through old blogs on my reader before I found you in your new home. Huzzah! You are now back on my radar! Anyway, I have been feeling all of these exact emotions, feeling as though you’re floundering (or is it foundering?) through the thickness and reveling in the beauty of motherhood all at once. Um, where was I going with this? I got distracted by Bubs rooting for me in the dark. Purging. I have been on a purging binge (quite the wordplay, huh?) and have found this to be the most helpful tool: I look at the stack of magazines I have had on the shelf because I loved reading through them when they first arrived nearly four years ago in my home and maybe I’ll get around to reading them again and glean something I need to make it through my new life as a homemaker… Ugh. No. Now I ask myself, “What is this item bringing to my life to make it better?” I’m getting used to how often I’m saying “Nothing,” in response. My home is looking better and my outlook is feeling brighter.

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