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On Cheating.

On Cheating.

I’m a cheater. Or a backslider. Or a relapser. Or maybe just a mistake-maker, or an expert starter-over.

So far, my addiction to sugar seems to be gone, or at least seriously diminished. I’m not craving sugar, but when it’s right in my face there’s still a possibility that it’ll go right into my mouth.

Confessions: On Friday morning I needed to be ready for an 11:00 funeral and finish up the church newsletter. Two things of almost equal importance. (Multi-tasking is overrated, if not completely fictitious. Who among us really does more than one thing at a time? We just try to do too many things in rapid sequence and call it “multi-tasking,” when often the more appropriate appellation is “insanity.”)

When my Mac completely froze and I hadn’t saved for the past 30 minutes, I was beside myself. Out of my mind. Certainly not present! So when I stomped off to take a break and passed the remains of some cake in the dining room (leftovers given to my son and granddaughter, who had visited for a week) I grabbed some and gobbled it down. Frustration. Anxiety. Panic, even.

On Saturday I was at a 6-hour program on strategic planning, with piles of bagels and donuts provided. During the fifth hour I felt I would fall asleep any minute, or more likely die from inactivity and tedium (good program, but still too long), and I ate a donut filled with Bavarian cream. It may have saved my life. At least I can claim with certainty that I didn’t die of torpor.

These incidents don’t negate my fast; I just have to start all over again at that moment. I’m glad to say that I didn’t take the “screw it, I blew it so I’ll just go crazy and start again tomorrow” approach. It’s not a matter of the fast “working” or “not working.” It’s practice. It’s asking God to help me break the bonds of sugar addiction, or anything that acts as a continual pull from self-remembrance.

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Feliz jueves*

March 6, 2014

Oh, it all sounded so adventurous! I cleaned out my cupboards a week ago, putting all the stuff I won’t be eating way back in the pantry room. I did my shopping. I made sure I had the first three days of food on hand. I didn’t print out the daily log, but I can do that part later. 

But yesterday was a rather long day, culminating in the beautiful and reflective Ash Wednesday service. And today I’m just pooped out. I feel sleepy and logy and cold. I guess when we change the sources of energy our bodies run on it takes some adjustment time. I don’t crave anything — but I’m also not as prayerful and present as I had hoped. OK, I don’t feel prayerful and present at all. This is another point, when fasting, that I tend to start backtracking: “See! This isn’t helping my spiritual condition at all! I’m just tired and grumpy and unmotivated. Fasting is DUMB! It’s just spiritual calisthenics, a big ego trip.” 

Nevertheless, I ate a good breakfast again and, although I really didn’t feel like it, went off to my Spanish class. (“?Como éstas?” “Mui BLECH.”) Then Thursday Bible study; I always prepare lunch, and they had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, while I had salmon salad wrapped in romaine. And tonight, cranky as I am, I made the labor-intensive meatloaf recipe, with two grated carrots and a grated red bell pepper (never again! never again! grating bell pepper is a nightmare!). So I guess it’s all OK.

If I’m willing to consider my past experience (the option being grumpy whining), the prayerful presence and groovy spiritual goodness I seek seem to come after I persevere and let my body adjust to change. So . . . “?Como estas?”  “Asi, asi, gracias.” And tomorrow is another day. 

*Happy Thursday

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Day One: Breakfast

Day One: Breakfast

March 5, 2014
Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins from The 21-Day Sugar Detox

I don’t plan to publish photos of everything I eat for the entire duration of Lent; it feels a little off to publish just one photo on one of the few true fast days observed in the Episcopal Church. But today I’m feeling a little self-obsessed. (And the muffins are really good, too!) This always happens when I fast: I think, think, think. I think about whatever I’m ‘releasing’ for the time period (all food, criticism in thought or speech, fiction, sugar, meat) — like, this morning on my way home from the dentist I really wished I had time to stop at a coffee house and read a little bit of Nick Hornby’s Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade of Soaking in Great Books; of course, then I thought about how coffee houses aren’t just about coffee, they’re about the hot beverage, plus the matching croissant or pecan bun or (my favorite, as Magi knows) some nice little lemon cake. Thought: “I only just discovered the first decent croissant I’ve had in the entire decade I’ve lived on the East coast!!! I should’ve had two!” And those thoughts are generally followed by thoughts about how fasting causes me to be self-obsessed so it’s probably a stupid thing to do, and besides, I’m sure I’m really trying to lose weight . . . . Those thoughts will settle down, if my experience over the past 20 years is any gauge. And then they’ll pop up again.

Here’s how the Book of Common Prayer invites us all “to the observation of a holy Lent,” in the Ash Wednesday service, a good primer on the disciplines of Lent:

“Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentant and faith.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.” BCP, 264-265