What I learned by going vegan for Lent…

He meets me right where I’m at. Simple as that. I went in kicking and screaming. Isn’t that how many of us go in to our Lenten fasting. We go in with bright eyes and dreams, for some of us we begin thinking of the Lenten penance & fasting as soon as the Advent Season is over. We bask in the glory that is rules and regulations of the Catholic Church. No gray areas, this is it. Yet, it’s not. He meets us right where we’re at. That’s the continuing theme of my Lenten journey.

I knew in my heart this is what I needed to cleanse my soul and bring me closer to our Catholic community that is currently persecuted around the world but in my heart – my love that is Syria and her people. So I was determined. I wanted to quit before the ashes were placed. I knew that I was going to give up. I even told myself, “I’m going to take it a day at a time.” Something whispered (Oh, hey Holy Spirit!), “You are my child. I gave you the tools. Build what you can and I’ll take care of the rest.” My vocation of being a parent was ever more evident, to show my children never quit what you claim you will accomplish if you have the means or ask for help.

Kiddo toes & picnics with my Bunnies

So I asked for help. I solicited the help of a friend I met through Instagram and Beachbody, Darlene Taylor (nee Adamusik), a health and fitness vegan coach. If I was going vegan and training for 2 half marathons I was going to do this right and not just eat tacos de aguacate and calabacita all day long. I also went into this being a bit obnoxious in my thought process, “I’m a pescatarian, what’s giving up fish/dairy/eggs?”

  1. The suffering is so short lived

No really, it’s not that bad. It’s amazing what the addiction of food will bring to your life in a not so great way. Did this bring me closer to Christ? Maybe. His suffering was obviously way more significant that my giving up cheese quesadillas; But it made me more thoughtful in my choices to fuel the body God gave me here on earth.

  1. People will look at you like you have an arm growing out of your forehead.

Plain and simple. You tell them you went vegan for Lent and they’ll suddenly treat you like you’re a crazy person. I didn’t like explaining why at first. I was embarrassed but I soon got over the ego. They’ll also freak out if you go to dinner with them or are at an office lunch. Don’t worry, I pack my own salad and bring my own carrots. Thanks for the offer though!

  1. Getting over the ego is the hardest part of the deal

And this is probably where I learned the most. I don’t like to be different. In fact, I like to blend in to the wall and not draw attention to myself. I prefer to raise others up and give them the attention. This is probably more with my coping mechanism of growing up obese and in the barrios of San Antonio. I just wanted to get by, nothing more. But that’s not what He wants for us brothers and sisters. He wants all of us, He wants us to be flamboyant and proud but also welcoming to all faiths. He wants us to be like Ned Flanders in a world of gray.

My husband asked me on our way to Good Friday Mass if I plan on continuing post Holy Saturday at sundown. I will go where He leads me and for now it’s vegan (for the most part). I’m not going to stress out and don’t want you to either if there’s hidden cream or eggs in an item but I will continue for as long as He leads me. Always listen to the Holy Spirit, it’s with you at all times you just have to invite Him into your place.

“So, what are you giving up for Lent?”

Oh that question… again. Is it Lent already? But we just celebrated Christmas. I know, it’s crazy to believe that in less than 24 hours, we will have people walking around and where our marks on our forehead will be the tell-tale sign of “I haven’t gone to Mass yet, people will know!”

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#AshTag2017 – Theme: We Got This   40 Days

I remember as a kid growing up in and out of Catholic School the distinct honor of having those ashes spread across my forehead like I was going into war. In a way, we kind of are. But not picking up the ammo and running with it hoping for high hell that we are equipped with the necessary weaponry. Our weapons are just a bit different and the enemy is mostly of the soul. Everyone has their own battles to fight and crosses to bear, sometimes we are lucky to go at them with a tribe and others we must go at solitarily.

I recently published an article in the bingo publication that we produce along with our team of wonderful writers & designer that hits this entire topic at its core. To me, Lent is like a Spring Cleaning –

Clean Up Your Relationships

If your 2016 looked anything like mine, you came out looking like a forgotten piece of meat on the grill. Relationships are a living, breathing thing – if you don’t tend to your friendship garden, things will rot and spoil; this is ok. If you think this relationship is just hitting a rough patch and is willing to go through the steps of talking things through with your partner/friend, go for it. Go with an open heart though, this cannot be a one-sided item. But, if your relationship has been making you stressed out to no end, it may just be time to focus on those who bring out the goodness in you.

Work on You

That class or skill that you’ve been neglecting to take, now is the time to take the leap to learn the skill. As we get older, we let go of the hobbies and interests we used to love and have replaced them with chores and obligations (the adult life). Take charge and add some fun back into your life. You’re bound to find a hobby that you love.

Do not see this as a “giving up” and sacrifice time, see it as an opportunity to declutter your heart and leave room for the Holy Spirit (like 8th grade dances).

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And if you must know:

  • Prayer: 1 hour per day with meditation/Scripture/Mass coupled with journaling/blogging
  • Fasting: Going vegan y’all – Eastern Rite style.
  • Almsgiving: donating bags of clothes & toys

 

〉Melanie