Lent 2019

Happy Shrove Tuesday / Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras / Pancake Day / Paczki Day / celebrate indulgence with your Catholic friends day!

Image result for paczki day
Behold: paczki (pączki), full of goodness and served by your local Polish baker

My Lenten tradition of quitting a bad habit has a lot to do with how I build habits. Even though I abstained from a formal Lent challenge last year, I described why and how I started observing Lent as a tradition in my 2017 post:

Although I am not Catholic, I have been observing Lent in my own way for the past few years. Lent is the third time at the beginning of the year that I check in on how I am doing with my self-improvement (with my New Year’s resolutions and Chinese New Year reflections being the first two). I take a look at a bad habit that I really want to address and abstain from it. Completely.

What started as a show of solidarity with my Catholic friends has become an honest admission of a bad habit I have and a commitment to doing something about it in a way that works for how I motivate myself.

This year, I am giving up mindless social media scrolling. While I wish I could give up social media altogether, like I did back in 2011, the main reason I’m not doing so this year is that many of my friendships are sustained via touches on social media. Sending memes and animal videos is a big part of maintaining friendships in this day and age, and more so now that I’ve moved to New York and am unable to see most of my close friends in person anymore. I also find a lot of my conversations with friends happening in Direct Messages in a social media application that I’m extremely hesitant to ghost on.

The problem with how I use social media isn’t that I have conversation threads with people across multiple apps. The biggest problem isn’t even my likes-chasing when I post content. (But that is a problem.)

It’s the zombified state I fall into when I’m scrolling my feed just to scroll. It feels almost like I’m dissociating; I am numb and barely thinking when I scroll Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I am just grazing on information, registering it the minimum amount, and still draining myself a bit mentally. I don’t feel good when I do this, and my partner actually has to physically separate me from my phone when I get in the zone scrolling. (To attempt to put a positive spin on this: I no longer have to have my laptop shut on my dissociative Tumblr-scrolling days anymore…)

My rules for using social media during Lent will be:

  1. No scrolling at all if/when I open a social media site: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in particular, and includes autoplaying Instagram Stories
  2. No searching for content to discover, in particular Twitter Moments and Instagram Explore
  3. I am still permitted to post original content myself: posts, stories, tweets
  4. I am still permitted to interact with friends in Direct Messages
  5. I am still allowed to interact with friends’ content, but I can only discover that content intentionally
    • E.g. I wonder how my friend X is doing with their new cat, let me check their Instagram to see!
    • If, when I go to X’s profile, I see that they have also posted a Story, I can check that out

The big rule is NO SCROLLING. And if I keep posting content myself (like for the March Disneybound Challenge, which I’m barely doing, or my arbitrarily started March Mask Challenge), NO CHECKING for digital approval. The big goal is to use social media with intention, to close the app not feeling like a shell of a person but more connected with my friends, both my IRL friends and the Internet friends I only have because of these apps.

TL;DR This year, I am giving up mindless social media scrolling for Lent.

Many of my friends also like to incorporate an additive practice to Lent, taking this time to not just abstain from a bad habit but also to embrace a good habit they would like to practice more. One of my co-workers even does “Reverse Lent”, which is based on this concept and culminates with him and his friends sharing what they have added to their lives at the end: many pies baked, a long-neglected room finally painted, a blanket that was knitted over the course of the Lenten period.

So, in that vein, I will attempt to do some additive practices this year as well. My goal-setting may be getting a bit ambitious here, but I am much better at rising to a challenge for a finite amount of time than I am with keeping my resolutions, so it’s worth a try! I will be trying to work out every day of Lent. (Whether I will use those Sundays that Catholics typically do not include in the Lenten period as rest days remains to be seen…) As a backup goal, I will also be committing to doing my skincare every day of Lent. I tend to fall into a lazy routine of just splashing water on my face and slapping on SPF in the morning or moisturizer at night, but I want my skin to look great on my wedding day and I know I have the tools to make that happen. Plus, it’s good for me to take some time and do a routine, to step out of my thoughts and pat my face and do something for the sake of being kind to myself.

Are you observing Lent?
Is there anything you think you could cut back on, and if so, would you do better with moderation or abstinence?
How are you doing with any goals/intentions you’ve set for yourself for this year?

New Reading Challenge?

Stephanie over at Life In Limbo turned me on to PopSugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge. The idea is to expand your horizons with respects to the types of books you are reading. I know that I often fall into periods where I purposefully seek out similar book: my sci-fi phase, whenever I read a long series like The Boxcar Children, that time I checked out every book about dolphins that my library offered.

This challenge seems really different to me, and I know it would be really challenging for me to complete. Here are some that I found particularly interesting:

  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  • A book your mom loves
  • A book that takes place in your hometown
  • A book that came out the year you were born
  • A book with bad reviews
  • A book written by an author with your same initials

It’s a refreshing list that definitely will inject some variety to your reading list. I’m so used to seeing lists that follow a kind of Eat, Pray, Love model of suggesting books that make you laugh, make you cry, make you feel old, make you feel young, whatever. Not that those aren’t good books to read, but this list is a little quirky and I like that.

Stephanie has made a handy dandy Google Doc for you to fill in the titles of the books as you complete the challenge. If you’d like to follow along with PopSugar’s checklist, you can download their printable.

If you want to follow along with my 2015 Reading Challenge (we’ll see if when I complete it!), I am on GoodReads!

P.S. I’ve finished our January books – #GIRLBOSS and Bossypants. What would you recommend for February?

Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to

Dear Jeff,

I’m disappointed in myself for letting us drift apart the way we have. Even after I moved, I was able to talk to you about anything, any time. You always made time to see me when I would come back to visit, and I don’t think I ever communicated to you exactly how much I appreciated you taking the time to see me for a few hours, despite knowing that I would drag you into a Victoria’s Secret and then run away in an attempt to embarrass you publicly.

Sorry. Thanks for always indulging me in this silly game.

You would indulge me in long phone calls about nothing particularly important, and you would talk to me, really talk to me. About school, about your relationship, about struggling through life. You trusted me enough to tell me the kinds of things that I always hoped someone would trust me enough to tell me, even though I would never wish that kind of struggle upon you.

I can’t pinpoint when it started to happen, when we started to drift away. I do remember, however, our last phone conversation.
It was painful. We had nothing to say to each other.

There was so much silence between us.

I’m so sorry for that conversation. I wish that it wasn’t like this between the two of us. I still always want to tell you when big things happen in my life but I just can’t help but feel like you don’t care as much as you used to. Don’t feel bad if you don’t. I haven’t been a very big part of your life in years, so there is no reason for you to care as much as you used to.

I just want you to know that I still love you very much, as you remain one of my dearest friends. Although it’s unlikely, I hope we don’t have so much silence between us in the future.

I wish you all the happiness in the world.

Love always,


Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet

Dear Leo,

I struggled for a while trying to think of which living person I most wanted to meet. While there are a lot of great options out there, I suddenly remembered my first love: Jack Dawson, brought to life through your unbelievable talent.

Maybe it’s excessive Tumblr-ing, but I’ve found myself getting increasingly upset that you haven’t won an Oscar yet. You had your first nomination when you were 19 years old, for crying out loud. What upset me most is that you’re great. Am I biased because I’ve loved you since I was 6? Of course I am, but my childhood crushes do not affect how much undeniable talent you have.

Your acting has matured with you, but you never lost that magic you brought to the screen because you, Leo, are GREAT. You are great and it pains me that you haven’t been rewarded by your peers for that. Years in Hollywood has only gotten you 3 nominations and one single Golden Globe win. I joke about how you didn’t get an Oscar nod for J. Edgar, but seriously – you played a hotly controversial, closeted, American political figure. How did you not get a nomination for that? Why can Kobe Bryant have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but I can’t put my hand in your handprint? Just… why?

Aside from how I feel you’ve been snubbed every year at the Oscars, I do admire you. You helped me get into environmentalism, and I truly respect your devotion to healing our planet. Even though I know you’ll be missed from the big screen during your acting hiatus, I am glad to know that a worthwhile cause will be receiving more of your attention.

I don’t know much about you, admittedly, and maybe that’s why I want to meet you. I’ve known OF you for most of my life, but I would love to know more about you. My friends who try to bring you down a notch like to remind me of your perpetual bachelordom. Whatever, I don’t care. And I don’t care that you aren’t with Kate Winslet. (I think that’s a really silly fantasy a lot of people have: that you should marry one of your close friends because you two like each other and play love interests in movies.)

I’d be terribly embarrassed if you ever read this, but I hope one day I get to meet you, because you’ve made a lasting impression on me in more than one way and I’d love to thank you for that.

Love always,


P.S. Also, please teach me to do this:

Day 8 – Your favorite internet friend

Wow, is this a trap? Asking about my favorite internet friend on the internet… where my internet friends dwell?

If we define internet friend as someone who I have never met in real life, I will write to someone I have been talking to more recently and maaaaaaaaaay get to meet one day maybe, if the stars align.

Dear Matt,

‘ello guvna! Thanks for always humoring me when I try to put on an English (or, er, Cockney) accent in attempts to be less threatening (read: more cool) to you.

You’ve been a very good friend to me! You’re a very good listener and also a good sharer, which some people don’t realize is also a big part of a friendship. I’ve really enjoyed learning about you and befriending you, and of course, trying to reconcile the little differences between American and English culture and language.  (And also that the Titanic set sail from the town in which you went to university! Fun facts all around.)

You sent me a whooooooole box of Reese’s peanut butter cups. That was so stellar, you don’t even know. Even though my little brother ate most of them (……) I still felt alllll the love. 🙂

I’m really proud of you. I know the chemistry in university was tricky, but I’m really proud of you going after the culinary arts that you love. Your photos from Shepherd and Dog look so delicious and I hope I’ll get to try one of your wonderful concoctions someday soon!

I REALLY HOPE I GET TO MEET YOU WHEN I VISIT LONDON and thanks in advance for making the trip to London if we are able to coordinate this properly. 😀

Cheerio 😛


Your “posh egg & bacon”:
Slow cooked soft duck egg with crispy pancetta, smoked bacon foam and soldiers (toast strips in the US)