Pondering Ash Wednesday

altar-arches-architecture-art-632628In a world that’s beyond fast-paced, where news is instant and everyone is hyper-connected, when change is not just daily but moment-by-moment, I crave constancy. There’s a certain peace that comes with routine, with the assurance that some things will not change, not at their core, at least. I think that’s why I like Ash Wednesday so much.

From when I was just a little kid in a scratchy school uniform to this evening when I go to Mass, I know what’s going to happen. The familiar scent of the ashes, the church decked in purple, the same dirge-like music…it’s all there, just the same. And it’s comforting, these rituals; makes me feel like, despite all the crises in the church, there is hope and strength in these traditions that bind us together in faith and love.

So I like my Catholic traditions, even if some of ’em have fallen by the wayside over the years. Like giving up something for Lent. Holy Sister Mary Joseph, I used to give up something every year, even before I knew why. Mostly, it was chocolate back then, which made Easter morning baskets all the sweeter.

But as the years progressed, I’ve quit most of the easy vices to give up, or I don’t indulge enough to make giving ’em up meaningful. Now I’m left with the tougher ones on that Seven Deadly Sins list. Like pride, avarice, envy, sloth… for cryin’ out loud, how do you give up pride? And if I gave up sloth, does that mean I’d have to give up my naps? I LOVE MY NAPS.

I pondered this problem in my latest post over at The Muffin in “Giving Up to Get More.”And though it’s about how we can give up certain bad habits to become better writers, they’re bad habits that affect us in more ways than writing. They’re the kind of bad habits that keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves, whether that’s a writer or a mom or a salesperson.

So I’m giving up my Debbie Downer habit this Lent (according to Youngest Junior Hall, I start first thing in the morning by reading out all the bad news from the paper. I also read the wacky news and Dear Abby but fine, I’ll keep the latest on the coronavirus to myself).

I was about to say it’s not going to be easy but see? There’s that negativism cropping up already and I haven’t even gotten my ashes yet. Pray for me, y’all, it’s going to be a long Lent!

 

Being Thankful For the Weird That Is Me

autumn-mott-rodeheaver-SPd9CSoWCkY-unsplashI will be the first to say that I can do some pretty weird things. BUT they are weird things with a purpose.

Like the iron plant hanger with the hook on the end that I was waving about in the driveway? It was the perfect length to reach the gutters and the hook easily could sweep the leaves right out and onto my head.

I mean, sure, I could’ve paid my gutter cleaner guy, but I have a LOT of trees and I like to wait until the entire roof is covered with dead leaves and pine needles before I bring in the guy who spends fifteen minutes with a leaf blower. So to any of the neighbors driving by, I was not engaged in a New Age ritual leaf dance; I was saving money.

And I had a perfectly good reason for wearing two fitness trackers, and I would have been perfectly happy to explain the purpose to Youngest Junior Hall but he took one look at my arm and then held up his hand to stop me. “I don’t want to know,” he said.

Fine. But if you want to know–because it’s actually quite interesting–then you’ll need to zip over to The Muffin to read “Being Thankful For What Counts.”

I have lots to be thankful for, and having a creative mind that comes up with solutions (albeit weird ones) is easily in my Top Ten. I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving, and if you’d like to share something from your Top Ten list for which you’re grateful, I know we’d love to celebrate with you!

Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver on Unsplash

In the Spirit of Competition…

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Libs, ready for game day. (As you do if you live here.)

 

Youngest Junior Hall is hanging about here for a bit as he reorganizes his life goals (which mostly just means building up his bank account so he can move into his own place). And it’s not too terribly difficult sharing space again, but then he’ll forget and walk into the house when I’m watching some sporting event.

 

 

Me (yelling): HOW did you think that was a good idea, throwing a pass when Julio has seven guys guarding him?

John: Do you have to yell?

Me: Yes. How else is that coach gonna know what to do?

John: Oh, that’s right. I forgot you’re an expert on every sport.

Me: Well, maybe not an expert. But I know enough not to throw–WHY DID THEY DO THE EXACT SAME THING??? (This is where I turn off the TV and leave the room.)

John (groaning): What is wrong with you?

Me (yelling from the kitchen): There is nothing wrong with me. This is how I watch football.

And baseball, and maybe even a tense golf match (though I’ll admit that there’s not as much yelling whilst watching golf.) It’s just that I’m a little competitive; I like to win. And I feel that my yelling in the privacy of my own home–to name just one of my many winning strategies–helps my team on to victory.

I have winning strategies when it comes to writing, too. And I’ve shared a few over at The Muffin today in “How to Win Contests (Or At Least an Honorable Mention)”. There’s no yelling, just pretty good advice for any writer, no matter what competition you choose to enter.

(But just an FYI here, the Falcons did win last night so who’s wrong now, John Hall?)