Lent is coming! Are you feeling hype? You should be. Lent has always been my favorite part of the liturgical year – which sounds crazy because I know that Lent is supposed to make you miserable. (Source of this knowledge: two parents who are proud products of 17 years of Catholic schooling.) Still, I like Lent for a number of reasons.

When I was a small child in Catholic school, I liked the inherently competitive nature of Lent. “What are you giving up?” We would ask each other, all the while sizing up our fellow competitors classmates’ piety. When I got older and switched to a rabidly evangelical Protestant international school in Korea, I liked to camaraderie of knowing “who my people were” based on whether or not they got a burger on Fridays.

These days, I’ve taken a more balanced approach to Lenten suffering. Instead of going with the old hat “Yo, I’m totally giving up snacks for Lent this year” approach, I’m using the season to focus on ways to improve my life. I’m choosing to look at it as another set of New Year’s Resolutions almost. After all, you want to go into Easter being your best possible self, right? Right! (For those who want to read more from someone who’s a lot smarter than me, I really like Catholic All Year’s approach to taking things away or adding new things and seeing if your life is improved.)

So What Am I Giving Up? Or Adding?

I feel like there are a lot of ways that my life can be improved this go around, so I’ve come up with a few categories to focus on as we prepare for Easter.

1.     Financial Wellbeing and Preparedness.

-I’m going on a “spending fast” to eliminate the slow bleed-out of my savings account. There are a few “frivolous” expenditures that I already have planned during Lent (Girls’ Trip to Pittsburgh) and I need a new pair of black flats (weird shoe size means the hunt for shoes is a long one). Beyond that, I’m going to stop spending money on things that are food, rent, utilities or other essentials.

-My husband and I are going get our wills and trusts written and formalized.

-I am going to work as much overtime as I possibly can so that we will be able to plan ahead for our future instead of just reacting to what happens to us.

2.     Media Consumption.

-I am going to stop using the TV as background noise during my workday. (Exception for my morning news fix.)

-When I do watch TV, I want to intentionally watch it. This means that I’m going to stop messing around on my phone when “watching” a program that I like. I’ll certainly get more out of the show and I hope that I’ll feel less overstimulated all the time.

-I want to read good stuff – not just trashy romance novels and constantly updating gossip sites.

3.     Health and Wellness.

-Find new activities that my husband and I can do together. He doesn’t get the same joy that I get out of solitude on the elliptical but I know that he would like to be more active.

-Drink more water. Because woman doesn’t live on coffee alone.

-I’m giving up paper towels for anything other than the toilets and the rabbit cage, because I care about the world’s health, too.

4.     Relationship with God.

-I am going to stop wondering what the dude who combs his hair during the second reading uses for shine. Really, I am. Also, I may as well stop wondering all sorts of things about my fellow parishioners. I am going to focus.

-I will pray the rosary at least once a week.

-I will do at least one service activity with the young adults group.

5.     Relationship with My Family.

-I will stop asking my husband to bring me stuff to my office downstairs. I have legs and refusing to use them shows him that I do not value the hard work that he is doing to find a job as much as I value my own. That’s not fair.

-I will actually call my grandmother once a week instead of just thinking about it.

-I will send a card to the members of my family that I know are hurting.

So, what are you giving up?