Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giving it up for Lent

This isn't the first time I've made a conscious effort to not shop. For the past three years, I've been in the practice of giving something up for the 40 days of Lent. The traditional no-meat on Friday thing isn't quite my style. I prefer to choose to forgo things that are really near and dear to my soul. Coffee... chocolate... and yes, even clothes shopping.

That's what I did the first time I tried this Lenten practice. (I'm an all-or-nothing girl) One the one hand, it sounded extremely frivolous. So frivolous that I was embarassed to tell anyone my plan. But it made perfect sense.

At first, I found myself wandering around the mall, admiring window displays. One particular outfit at the Gap caught my attention. They had this rack of Liberty print floral shirts, paired with matching pastel cardigans. I am a sucker for anything that resembles an Easter egg, although that particular palette is not especially flattering on me. I obsessed about that outfit, stopping by the store several times to admire it and think up ways to justify its purchase. After a few days, I realized that I already owned a blouse with little yellow flowers on it, and that I could wear it with a lemon colored cardigan, also from my closet. I wore that combination obsessively for a few weeks. Until I realized that Easter egg shades really aren't very flattering on me!

By the end of those 40 days, I was jonesing to buy clothes. I have to admit that in the month afterwards, I  more than made up for any money I saved during that time. But it taught me a valuable lesson: as hard as it is to give up something I think I can't live without... it can be done. The time I would have spent wandering the malls or clicking on shopping sites, I spent doing some serious journaling, introspection and writing. That experience was the catalyst that started me on the path I'm travelling down now.

If you observe Lent, what is your practice?

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