So, here we are starting Lent in 2019 (I'm not Catholic, but I've been doing something for it since the 90's). In most year's past I have typically focused my attention on my physical health, or on occasions also my spiritual health. I will admit that I've only focused on my spiritual health a few times, I think one year my goal was to read a chapter of the Bible every day, another was I think to pray for someone each day, that sort of thing. Most years, however, I usually focus on my physical health which means, typically, to give up something that feels dear to me. In the past it has ranged from giving up red meat, chocolate, soda, coffee, caffeine, desserts, alcohol, etc. The last time I gave up soda I pretty much gave it up entirely so I feel pretty good about that since I've only taken a sip or two of a soda on occasions and that sorta just feels like a step in the right direction.
This year in January I had started talking to my husband about perhaps giving up sweets all together (I did desserts last year but cheated by eating sweet things for breakfast....if it's breakfast, it's not dessert, right? Sigh.) Other years we gave up eating out at restaurants and that was a tough one because he had to be all-in on that one to help me (he could eat out at lunch all he wanted but I ate at home. Our only 'cheat' was having fish at churches for lent, which isn't technically a restaurant!)
However, as this year has gone by I realized that giving up sweets without actually getting them out of the house all together was going to be very difficult, and my husband had bought a few too many donuts for Fat Tuesday yesterday and thus they had to be eaten up today, ruining the chance to start Lent today on Ash Wednesday. So, I started trying to think of something else I could do today, or not do today for my focus. I can't give up soda (I have already), I can't give up alcohol (my depression medication forbids it) and I can't give up chocolate or sweets because guess what I had already this morning?
In the spirit of avoidance, I helped my mother do her taxes, or rather forced my husband to help her do them, although I really could have done them myself (and maybe I should have? But he seems to like doing computer type things) and after being mentally exhausted after helping her for hours on end, I figured I needed to do something for ME finally to today.
That started the gears moving finally and I realized something I've never done when I participate in Lent is that I've never worked on my own MENTAL HEALTH. Doing things that will make me feel better about myself, things that will make my mind take a bit of ease. Obviously I've been suffering from burn-out from my job and also in some part my home life because of all of the things that need to be done to keep a house with four cats and a husband clean. And I can't even begin to expect that my husband will actually clean anything on his own, you know? Sure, he got motivated around the holidays to straighten up his office so that he could move things downstairs into the basement so he could work down there, but then he rarely works down there. Now he's taking up TWO spaces and neither of them are very tidy. He still won't clean the toilets unless I ask him and unless I specifically ask him to wipe under the lid of the toilet (which I never see but he does every day and I certainly don't understand why he doesn't go "eeewww, maybe I should clean that!" Nope!!) So our bathroom gets worse and worse every day and it should really be cleaned once a week but because of my depression it might go months before I haul all of the cleaning supplies upstairs and tear it apart. It takes about an hour to clean up all of the surfaces and try to pair down all of the crap that's taken up residence on the counter which is the main reason why I don't like to clean it in the first place because it takes five minutes to clear it all off, then ten to wipe it all down and shine up the faucets and finally another five minutes to dust everything off and put it all back together again.
But, the reason I segued into this topic of cleaning the bathroom because that's what I did to get away from the couch and the TV and the cluttered coffee table that slowly disappears beneath the piles of junk that my husband collects on there. I leave a few things that I know I'm using on a regular basis, but some of his stuff just sits there for months and it could be anything from junk mail to a business card or a bottle cap that he was too lazy to just dump in the trash bin when he opened his bottle right next to it!
So, cleaning is also semi-zen for me only because it allows me time to think while I'm doing the task of cleaning. I thought to myself, if I can do something that helps my mental health - decluttering for example - maybe that can be a good way to start off my Lent this year. A clean room, a decluttered room, a place that everything that's there "gives me joy," maybe that will help me in my quest to better mental health and maybe I can stop taking the stupid pills.
Today's mental health goal: Get rid of things in the bathrooms that I really don't need to be storing.
I tossed all of the little tubes of toothpaste that were expired we had been keeping from the dentist office. I'm sure that most of them could probably have been used well beyond their expiration date since if they aren't open I doubt there's much in them that could go bad, but well, do I really need 15 of them? Especially since we get about 4 a year and neither my husband or I use those tubes ourselves since we prefer another brand? I keep them merely to have for guests in case they forget theirs when they spend the night. It's actually come in handy a few times.
I organized the things I did keep like floss, which also comes in handy since one friend of ours won't use the same part of a string of floss for a different tooth - so he typically goes through a strand that's about 5 feet or so every time he flosses. So, samples for him!
Then I moved into my own bathroom and cleaned up the medicine cabinet and got rid of expired things in there. Got rid of some things that were long overdue to be replaced like the old shower curtain that was probably 8 years old (I'd bought a new one well over a year ago and it was sitting under the cabinet the whole time). Also some rubber ducks I'd bought on a whim that were just collecting dust since I don't take baths. Changed out some of the artwork and pulled some of the things on the counters and put them underneath because we just don't use some of them all that often for us to need it on top of the counter. Got rid of a stupid candle I'd gotten last summer from someone that I really hated the look of and the smell of, so why was I keeping the thing around anyway?
Then I moved into the kitchen and cleaned the window and changed out the curtains from the winter set to the spring/summer ones. Makes the room more cheery when I can switch out colors and freshen up the place.
Now I decided the next step might be to document some of this stuff, and maybe that will help me realize that I am getting things down on a consistent basis and I shouldn't always feel like I "get nothing done on my days off" which is part of my depression right there.
1. Get Mom's taxes done.
2. Get the credit card bill paid.
3. Clean my bathroom.
4. Clean the guest bathroom.
5. Change out the kitchen curtains.
6. Fill the bird feeders.
7. Clean the kitchen window.
8. Throw things away that I don't need to be keeping - take it out to the trash so I don't regret it and try to get it back!
So, there's day one. Am I feeling better? A wee bit. I had wanted to work on dinner, but I wanted to do it on my terms and my husband walked down and started it before I'm ready, so I guess I won't be doing dinner (I hadn't had time yet to clean the kitchen and I feel I really need a clean kitchen to cook properly) so we'll see, maybe I should also take some personal time to do something like read or watch something I'd like to watch or something else like that for my personal health. We'll see! I guess I can always come back here and add to my list later.
Wish me luck!