Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and marked the beginning of Lent. I've had varying degrees of commitment and depth of intention in past years. I've given up dessert for lent. I've had friend give up alcohol. My husband has given up pizza before. The past couple of years I wanted to focus on *doing* something positive rather than giving something up. I've had ideas of writing letters every week to loved ones, volunteering, and one year I got up early and prayed every day (that was before I had children!)
The past few weeks there have been things niggling in my mind. I've been wanting to change how I use the internet throughout the day. Checking email and Facebook on my phone or computer is fun, but I often use it as a distraction especially when the kids and I tend to hibernate on long winter days. Some days I feel balanced, like I am doing ok. I'm helping the kids in all the ways they need me to, I'm meeting my own needs, and we are all flowing together. But other days I feel stuck. I believe cutting back on my computer time will help.
So it occurred to me that Lent is the perfect time to put my intentions into action. I'm not going going to cut the internet out completely. For one, I want to set myself up to succeed and do something that I feel good about. And since I'm really just getting on a roll with blogging I do not want to stop. Besides I usually am writing after everyone else is asleep. Mostly I want to stop checking constantly and reading so much. So I will probably still be posting - pictures from Florida and blog posts. The plan is not to read though which means no comments and such. I want to be more present with my family. Mike's first reaction to my plan was, "So what? You'll just be reading a book and in another trance." That made me realize that not reading around him is extra important and to instead really choose to be present and connect with him when he is home.
I have thought of ways to fill the time that I would normally be reading emails and Facebook. I want to write some real old fashioned letters. The kind you send through "snail mail." I wrote my first one this week to my (great) Aunt Carolyn. I think some postcards from Florida will also be in order and a fun project for Marisol and me! I also am going to break out the Bible and try to read a little every day. I put my journal out where it is accessible so I can write any ideas that strike me. I signed up to do a 21-Day meditation challenge online too. It started Monday and is a great way to start off Lent. I'm enjoying the daily meditations a lot. I recently hurt my knee and basically the best thing for it is to strengthen my legs, so I really actually *need* to get into a moderate exercise routine again. I broke out my old 8-minute workout DVDs and yoga and have been actually doing them quite often.
I've also already to some steps to help me stay true to my intentions. I turned all of my yahoo group emails off (I think I'm on 20 of them!) except for my my Hypnobabies Instructors list. I also unsubscribed to newsletters. This will cut down the amount of email coming into my inbox significantly - I only have a couple in the morning now. I also turned my iPhone notifications for Facebook and email off so I won't be hearing a little "ding" every time something happens on one of them and want to see what it is.
I'm glad I started early (about a week before Lent) with all of this so I could ease into it. It feels pretty good already. When I was discussing this with my mom she suggested putting an amount of time or number of times to check per day. I have thought of doing it like that, but I just really don't do well with "rules". I want to set very clear intentions and then make the choices to follow through on them. I find this focus easier and more positive than thinking of it as *breaking a habit* or using willpower to resist something. When I use that kind of mindset I'm way more likely to fail and also I find it more difficult. So far I have actually not found this too difficult at all. We'll see if it's because it has only been a couple of days or if it is really just that easy!
So for those of you who are my Facebook friends, it may not look like I'm taking a break since I will be posting things. Don't be offended if I'm not commenting or "liking" your posts for a while, I still like you and think you're interesting, I'm just taking a break! I think being in Florida will actually make things a little easier since I tend to be on the computer less when I'm on vacation and with family.
Edit: I started the post about a week ago and it is now Friday after Lent. The more I think about my intentions the more my focus is clearer. I've been examining why I sometimes get in a cycle some days of being on the computer more than I want to or feels good for me and the kids. I believe it is a form of distraction on days when I am missing connection with a larger group of people. After being in Florida for only one day I feel so connected with my whole family - husband, kids, sister and parents. Life flows so much easier when we are together and I have people helping me with the kids. We are all happier. But I realized that when it is just me and the kids, what I need to do with them is connect *more*, not try to escape or distract myself. So instead of focusing on what I'm not doing during Lent, I'm focusing on what I *am* doing - which feels like connection. With myself, spiritually and physically , with my immediate family by being more present, with God, and with my greater extended family and friends.
The kids and I are going to be in Florida for almost 3 weeks. The thought crossed my mind that it will be harder when we get home. Immediately I corrected my thought - if I *think* that it is going to be difficult that almost assuredly it will be! So instead I am going to focus on believing that I will adjust accordingly when we go home by connecting more with the kids, especially while we are adjusting to being home again.
There you have it, my Lenten intentions! Have any of you set any intentions (for Lent or otherwise)? I'd love to hear them! I think putting things in writing helps strengthen our intentions and helps inspire others and our self.