Just Life

Choose | February 2021.

photo from last Thursday – the Valentine Roses are nearly spent now.

I am still very much in the early stages of this year’s OLW … the time when I pay close attention to where it shows up and how I use the word in my own thoughts, speech, and writing. Choose/Choice aren’t quite as prevalent as AND; and wow! they are still all over the place!

Last month I talked about recognizing how many choices I have and that they are mine to make.

This month’s lesson is about the choices I make in my thoughts.

Last February, I gave up complaining about the president for Lent. From my journal, dated February 28, 2020: “have decided to give up complaining about the president for Lent. will use that freed up heart/head space to pray…” That fast was probably the most meaningful and impactful one I’ve ever made. I even kept it up well past Easter … and then, well, I didn’t focus on it all that much. and we had the election. and the aftermath. and January 6. and January 20 (new President). and then last week we had Texas.

I started following @SharonSaysSo after the insurrection (btw – highly recommend – she’s amazing and I learn something new about government, or what the “other side” thinks, or whales EVERY single day). Late last week, there were lots of people DM’ing Sharon about how upset they were about folks complaining about Ted Cruz when other politicians had been just as bad (and the complete opposite – her account is good for representing all the sides). Saturday morning, she shared a series in her Stories that boiled down to this

And I immediately thought about my OLW … and about last year’s fast. This year, I’m committing to bigger fast. about not complaining (unless I can do something about it) period.

For those unfamiliar with Lent, it’s the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter – which is really more than 40 days, because the Sundays (there are six of them) are “feast” days, exempt from the fast. I smiled on Sunday morning when I realized it was my “free day” to complain. Yeah πŸ™‚

Like all fasts, you don’t really notice how prevalent the thing is until you stop the thing. and complaining?!? wow, it’s all over the place. (and that’s not complaining. that’s noticing.)

For me, I’m going to CHOOSE to occupy my mind and heart with thoughts that are uplifting – for me and/or others – or doing good. Early days still, and I hope I can do more of the “doing good” option than the “not thinking about” option. the “not thinking about” … is hard!

Thank you to Carolyn for hosting these monthly meet-ups. Writing them and checking in with y’all is an invaluable step in my journey.

14 Comments

  • Katie @ The Cozy Burrow

    I don’t think I was following your blog during Lent last year because wow – choosing not to complain about DJT would have stuck with me!! I’m so impressed. I love the perspective of choosing not to complain about things you can’t do anything about. It’s a creed I try to live by because I’m struck by how annoyed I am by others who seem to be constantly complaining.. I definitely don’t want to be someone who’s perceived as complaining all of the time! Or at all.

    One of the things that sticks out to me about your blog is that you don’t seem to complain and you’re full of ways to turn every negative situation into a learning experience for yourself. So I’m excited to see where your practice of choosing how to occupy your mind leads!

  • Sarah

    The closest thing in Judaism to Lent that I can come up with is Passover and giving up leavened foods — and I have never made it through the week without complaining about it! So I am impressed that you’ve chosen to give up something that will clearly be a challenge (and I suppose that’s kind of the point).

  • Bonny

    I haven’t done anything for Lent for a long time, but this year all I’m doing is writing some poetry. Giving up complaining is far harder than that! I just couldn’t stop my complaints about DT (even if I couldn’t do anything); the fear, racism, and even death through ignoring coronavirus were huge injustices. Manybe it was because I couldn’t do much that I was SO angry.

  • kym

    I actually thought about you (and CHOOSE), Mary, as I followed along with Sharon last week. (I, too, started following her during the insurrection. I recommend her to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. BEST thing on the IG feeds, for sure!) Complaining . . . is such a hard thing to give up. But I think life-changing. (At least attitude-changing.) Just that awareness of complaining is a Big Deal. I’m eager to follow along with your experience during Lent. (And probably beyond.) XO

  • Debbie

    I think I am doing something similar this Lent. Fr. James Martin suggests that instead of giving up a food item, we take on being kind and to do that we have do three things: Stop being a Jerk-stop complaining about what is making you miserable and bring everyone around you down. Honor the absent-stop gossiping about people who aren’t around. Give the benefit of the doubt-if someone’s behavior is annoying to you, let it go and give them a pass. Be kind. I’m finding it challenging !

  • Carolyn

    Wow, this is rich, fertile ground! I’m eager to hear about this Lenten journey…and I wouldn’t be suprised if that’s only the start. One of my takeaways from Anne Bogel’s Don’t Overthink It was this note I wrote : ‘No one’s allowed to make a complaint without following up with an action step.’ Which isn’t nearly the same as your mindful journey…but in the realm of that awareness of how much we complain, whether ourselves and/or those around us! I really enjoyed this post.

  • karen

    I have been doing lots of work on changing my thoughts or challenging them through meditation. I have to say I’m making great progress. Today’s meditation was to question each thought ‘nourishment or distraction’. Gotta say my distracting thoughts are many, ha ha ha. I love when I stumble on something that makes me think and improves my daily life.

  • Patty

    Now following Sharon! I’m also working very hard to reserve my complaining to be about my customers as they can’t hear me and I have lots of support about that at work! πŸ™‚ My sister-in-law and I made a deal a long time ago that we were going to keep our crabbiness in check especially as we age. I’m far from perfect but do work hard at it. I also have a complaining buddy – we can just rail on things and then feel better! xo

  • Jody

    I just discovered @sharonsaysso as well though I havent begun actively following her. I do follow Dan Rather and John Pavlovitz as well as subscribing to Heather Cox Richardson’s daily letters. I think I will add Sharon.
    Lent has me doing two things: Reading actual printed text (not on a device) every day. I found I was not really reading for pleaure anymore and I have so many books on my to-read list but I was never reading them. And, I am sending a note or card everyday…by snail mail. Since perseverance is my OLW, it is going to take that for me to keep this up for 40 days.

  • Alexa

    I always enjoy reading your thoughts and how you are journeying with your word for the year – and you are as perceptive and thoughtful as ever :). I have a bunch of thoughts myself about ‘complaining’ … There seems to me to be real value in ‘divine discontent/dissatisfaction’, because it moves us to action against injustice; I’m wary of choosing to move away from an irritant because I think I can’t do anything about it – that may not, in fact, be so … As always, you stimulate discussion!

  • lydia

    Keeping your mind focused on what’s lifting you up vs pulling you down can be challenging, but worth it.