Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sacrifice Season

Lent.

I appreciate this season greatly, as an opportunity for inner reflection and self improvement. It's a time to revisit my New Years resolutions, tweak them, add new ones. It's a time for me to develop character qualities that I might neglect during my busy life, and try again. Be renewed.

One of the struggles in my life that I would most like to overcome is my daily battle for self-control. I can be an impulsive person, and often find myself swayed away from a healthy path by my 'now'. What do I want NOW? A brownie? Ok, I'll deal with the extra calories later, but I'll eat it now. I know, I wasn't planning to have a brownie, but there is one in front of me, and I. Must. Have. It.

Uh huh.

If I had a great metabolism, I could get away with more of this sort of behaviour, but I don't. Maybe that's for the best. Maybe the mirror wil remind me of my journey to self control. You can be skinny and unhealthy; skinny and an overindulgent eater or a lazy person who never exercises. If I ever get 'skinny', or some semblance of it, I hope it will be because I have attained the virtue of self control. And because I a always struggling in this area, always on some form of self denial to get in shape, I want Lent to be extra sacrifice- something that will really challenge me to grow, and not something that is just because I want to look good.

Another thing about Lent that I love is the extra nudge to look at myself as part of a global community, and see where I fit. I want to see how I can give back. And I want my sacrifices during these 40 days to help me to give back.

I got a request in the mail from a Canadian charity that asked me to write down what I will give up this Lent, translate that into monetary amount, and then donate that amount to a cause I choose. For example, I might give up coffee, and then send $30 to give a child a month of schooling in Ethiopia.

What a great idea! My sacrifices will help me learn self control, and help me give back to the global community of which I am a member. I can help the people who need me, and help myself. Win win.

I have decided to give up the usual junk food/chocolate/baking/sweets and treats, but honestly? When I am paying attention to my diet plan, I tend to avoid empty calories anyway. So I've committed to giving up two things that I love, that I have almost daily: meat and alcohol.

I don't drink a lot, but I love a glass of dry red wine with my lovely organic steak. Or a microbrew with my meat loaded pizza. Or some airy white vino with my chicken. Or a dram of scotch with... well, by itself, usually. But you get my drift.

Because we raise our own beef and chickens on the family farm, and I buy it by the half a steer or get free chickens from my mom's freezer, I don't have a real concept of how much money I eat in meat. But the alcohol is a less fluid concept. That, I will write down and then donate to a new arts college that is seeking help to get off the ground. (www.livingwatercollege.com)

Tonight I attended a Fair Trade presentation and watched a film on the coffee industry. (www.blackgoldmovie.com) It was really compelling. Some coffee farmers are paid something like 30 cents a kilo for their coffee, and one kilo makes 80 cups of joe. You know how much one plain cuppa joe costs- and that's ridiculous. The coffee changes hands 6 times before it gets to our baristas or our stores, with markup each time.

I know that I will commit myself more fully to buying fair trade products after watching that documentary. The hostess of the party tonight was offering products for sale that are all fair trade, frm Level Ground trading. (www.levelground.com)

The message I came away with tonight was clear: change the way I act as a consumer, and start to change the world.

I encourage you to use this season of Lent - even if you aren't doing so in the spiritual sense - to become a better person, and to make the world a better place.

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