Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Alive and Kicking and Not Giving Up . . .

While reading the Spokesman-Review a few minutes ago, I suddenly had to pinch myself and make sure I was breathing.  

All body parts seemed to be functioning well as I read in the Wednesday obituaries announcing my death, my leaving behind a husband William and my having worked for many years as a teacher. 

Thankfully the teacher part saved me from any additional concern.  

Mary Ann Love, a woman in her 60s, wife of William and longtime teacher, has died.  

I knew my name was not spelled like that, even though I've spent a lifetime explaining that I'm "Mary" with an "i," Ann with an "e," and all one word.

My sincere condolences do go to the family of Mary Ann Love, and I'll commit to making the most of whatever life this Marianne Love has left. 

A moment like that does give one a jolt.  I just told Bill about the obituary.  He seemed a little shocked.

"That's something," he said, especially after I reassured him that I was upstairs here breathing and typing away. 

And, so being alive and well on this Ash Wednesday, I've been trying to think of what I'll give up for the next 40 days.  

I've read in different media what others plan to do----in one case, an individual has publicly announced that she is removing Facebook from her cell phone and she will eat no chocolate.

Sounds like a good sacrifice, but I don't know how to remove Facebook from my cell phone, so I've got an excuse on that idea.  

In regard to chocolate, I'd have to think long and hard about that one.  We do have two big sacks of M & M peanuts, and my husband William Love gave me a box of Russell Stover's in exchange for the Whitman heart I gave him.

I noticed when I came home Monday night that his heart was already down to just six samplers.  That means he's eating them as fast as he can to give up chocolate for Lent. 

I think if he really wants to sacrifice, he could give up those half dozen cans or bottles of green tea that he drinks every day.  Now, there's a sacrifice.  And, while he's at it, he could remove the dozen or so empty green tea boxes out there in the food pantry. 

I could give up watching TV, but I don't think the Pope or half the Catholic population here in the region would approve because what would Gonzaga do if I were not watching them in their final games.

Oops, I was giving myself too much credit.  They did just fine Saturday night when neither my sisters nor I were watching.  I'll tell you it was tough having to monitor the game by texting back and forth to Debbie. 

Speaking of which, I could give up texting.  That would be a fairly mild sacrifice in my high techie lifestyle.  

But then, how would my sister Barbara know if we're going to dinner on Friday night and if we are, when and where?

You see each Friday somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30, my cell phone goes "bluurrrp" with a text message.  

"Dinner plans tonight?" it says. 

"Yup," I text. "Same time, meet here." 

I don't think I want to give up texting because that could foul us all up on Friday night and I want to keep peace in the family and enjoy my usual meal out. 

Of course, I'm gonna have to eat fish for the next six Friday's when we go because during our lifetimes those of us old Catholics have gotten off on the hook by going from no meat on Friday, every Friday, to simply skipping the meat and eating fish only on Friday's during Lent. 

So, that's pretty nice and it's not too much of a sacrifice cuz those fish and chips plates at the restaurants are pretty good.  

While thinking of what to give up, I even went to the Internet this morning to get some ideas.  And, no, I'm not giving up the Internet!  

I found a site for teens.  On this site, one said she/he was giving up shoes except for work projects or going on a plane.  He/she will also avoid going places that require shoes.  

Another said he/she had given up spoons and forks and used chopsticks, which opened the way for conversation about Lent. 

Still another suggested giving up the bed and sleeping on the floor.  I cringed at that idea but then remembered these were teens NOT old ladies.  I'll pass on that suggestion. 

And, another admitted that he/she suffered from vanity, so he/she decided to wear the first outfit out of the closet each day rather than pulling out, putting back, pulling out, putting back.  

These all sounded like good ideas, but the problem I've seen with a lot of planned 40-day sacrifices is that they often fall short after a couple of days.  

How many of us have dieted faithfully for one day only to weaken when someone pulls out a bag of Cheetos and offers to share?  

I read some great ideas, some quirky ideas and some mildly inappropriate ideas (gotta wear shoes or boots to the barn).  

In my mind, however, it seems like giving up stuff is okay but who benefits?  

Others get ALL the Cheetos if you say, "No, I gave that up for Lent," and those chocolates Bill gave me for Valentine's day are probably gonna be pretty tasteless by April. 

In all seriousness and with respect to the suggestions above,  I prefer to take positive approaches to improving ourselves and the lives of others.  Often, that is a sacrifice in itself. 

In the case of the suggestions, I liked "trying to listen more" and "to work more on giving" rather than "giving up." 

So, with this Ash Wednesday, feeling relieved that I'm alive and well, I'll work on those two ideas.  No promises cuz we're all a work in progress, and all we can do is our best.

I think God would appreciate that sentiment, as will the ZAGS when they learn that I'm NOT giving up watching TV. 

Blessings to all during this season of reflection.  

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