A Long 40 Days…

Last week brought the beginning of a season that, for the most part, I can’t wait to be done with!  It’s not because I don’t appreciate it or see the value in it; it’s because when you forget what day it is and mess up you feel like you’re doomed for eternity and who likes feeling like that?!  It’s the one and only…. Lent!

Don’t get all worried, this post isn’t about religion and what you should/shouldn’t be doing.  It’s about me and how I’m doing!  Isn’t that better?!  LOL!  Some background:  I’m Catholic and Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs to Easter.  Us Catholics seem to have much stricter rules during Lent than other religions, but I’m no expert  just my observation.  I am by no means a perfect churchgoer, but I thought this year I would give it a go and give up something for Lent.  First obstacle was actually picking something to give up!  I finally chose coffee.  I don’t drink a lot of coffee, one cup a day, but I sure have come to enjoy it in the morning.  Whether I’m at work or home, it’s nice to have a warm cup to start the day.

I made it through last Thursday and Friday (the 18th and 19th of Feb) without much incident.  We had Trin’s b-ball tourney Saturday and as the day wore on I got a rather large headache.  It could have been the sitting all day, the noise all day or not eating regularly, but I think the no coffee/caffeine right off the bat played a part.   Sunday wasn’t too bad, but it was still there.  A dull ache that I couldn’t quite shake.  Monday morning I get up for work and guess what.  I have a headache as soon as I get out of bed!  Now I’m getting really annoyed!  The last thing I want to do first thing in the morning is pop pills!  Well, by the time I got to work I was popping pills!  And then I notice that I’m feeling a little anxious.  A little agitated.  Like I need something.  Then the light bulb goes on.  I WANT COFFEE.  I JUST WANT A CUP OF COFFEE.  I WANT TO HOLD IT AND FEEL IT’S WARMTH.  I WANT TO GET A LITTLE KICK.  Holy crap!  And I only drink ONE cup a day!  What’s the matter with me?!

So, every day this past week I’ve had that feeling.  That nagging feeling that my routine is off and I need to set it right.  I tried drinking tea in the morning, but it’s not the same.  I don’t know why since it’s warm and smells good, but it just didn’t cut it.  Today, I broke down 😦  I had a cup of coffee.  I know 😦  But, I didn’t even drink the whole thing.  That’s something, isn’t it?!  Now I sit here all jittery and I’ll have to go through withdrawals all over again.  It really wasn’t worth it and I know I’ll make it the rest of the way without it.

Tuesday ( the 23rd), I got to thinking about Joy and her having to quit smoking.  She didn’t choose to, she HAD to.  I smoked for 30 days in college once.  I didn’t smoke every day and I didn’t even finish a whole pack of cigarettes in that 30 days, but when I quit it was the same kind of feelings.  That feeling like I NEEDED it, like I couldn’t go another moment without it.  That scared me!  That I could be that addicted to something that fast.  I had forgotten that feeling until last week when I gave up coffee.  I had forgotten how hard it was to give up something whether you have to or want to.  It’s funny, when you forget to do something or have something you normally do in a day it’s no big deal.  But, when you are actually thinking, “I can’t have this/I shouldn’t have this” it’s a whole other mind set.  Then it’s all you think about.

For all of you out there who have added, subtracted, changed or reworked anything in your life, I’m thinking about you and hoping it works out the way you want it to.  Keep up the good work everyone and come Easter I will decide if I really want to go back to coffee.   Maybe after these long 40 days we’ll all be able to say we’ve accomplished what we wanted to!

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35 Responses to A Long 40 Days…

  1. Joy says:

    I’ll write more tomorrow but did want to get this in right up front. I don’t get the whole “giving something up for lent” thing. I went to church my whole life too but we never gave anything up. I think it’s okay if it’s what you want to do but I’m just saying, I don’t get the whole reasoning behind it.

    • mssc54 says:

      My understanding is NOT the “giving up” (necessarily) of something we desire. Let’s say we spend twenty or thirty minutes a day centering arounding drinking coffee. We fix the pot, wait for it to finish brewing, make it and sit down and drink it. That time we would normally spend doing our coffee thing we then spend improving our relationship with our Creator. As we begin to really crave what we miss (our coffee) we should begin to better understand that God misses us too. That is my basic understanding of it.

  2. Sue says:

    The reasoning is because Jesus gave his life for ours, we should be able to give something up in return. That’s the way I always saw it.

    • Joy says:

      But I always see Jesus as not wanting us to suffer. That’s why he did why he did so we wouldn’t have to.

      • Tessa says:

        One of Jesus’ messages was to learn to live with less. To be happy because of God, not because of what you have. So to me, giving up material things or something we induldge in is the importance of lent. Gluttony and greed are “sins”. It is realizing we hold on to material things to much and should hold to God more.

  3. Ellen says:

    I understand the reason. I am raised Catholic also. We were not suppose to have candies during lent. I believe it is not anymore in the Netherlands. I think religion here is much stronger than in Europe. Also, is it true that you still cannot eat meat on Friday here? That has been changed over more than 25 years now by the Pope.
    And regarding the coffee. I have the same effects with coffee. I get migraines when I do not have 1 cup of coffee ad day. I think you are giving a good example, Sue. Good luck with it!!

  4. Nikki says:

    I got head aches also when I quit drinking it. It bothered my stomach so I quit drinking it, the head aches were far worse so I suffered though the stomach ache! I am addicted to coffee and I’m okay with it. I can’t even begin to tell you how good that coffee looks in that picture up there!!
    Good luck!! 🙂

  5. Laura says:

    Every now and again, I have to wean myself off of Mountain Dew. I get the same thing – the nasty headaches, mostly. I’ll then go a while without it, and then think, “ahh, I can drink a can” and before I know it, I’m back to multiple cans/day. I don’t let the stuff in my house anymore.

    Although I do make exceptions for Mt. Dew Throwback… that doesn’t affect me the same way.

  6. Ellen says:

    Hey, that is weird, I added a comment on your post, Sue, it was there, and now I came back, it is gone! Spooky! 🙂
    Anyway, I think you have set yourself a goal to achieve this, and that alone, is very brave to do. I have the same when I quit coffee. I get migraine from it. So I keep drinking my coffee.

  7. shane says:

    As far as the headaches go, it’s rare when I don’t have a headache. So they don’t bother me as much but when I go a day without caffeine they get really bad. I don’t go to church so I don’t understand lent. There’s some guys at my work that always try to give up something but NEVER SUCCEED!

  8. SKL says:

    I am not Catholic, but I love the idea of giving up something for Lent. Even better, giving up something for life. I figure, if there is good in giving something up for 40 days, isn’t it better to go all out and make a lifestyle change?

    I know you didn’t mean for this to be about religion. But I have studied a lot of religions, and “sacrifice” is one of the things that really moves me in many religions. The Muslim religion has an annual month-long fast where you’re not supposed to eat anything from sunup to sundown. Some people won’t even drink water during that time. There are exceptions if you’re very old, very young, sick, or traveling. Usually kids voluntarily start participating by age 13. There are several reasons for fasting given in the books they use to educate Muslim kids: it reminds us how good we have it the rest of the time; it switches our focus on what we can do for others (the poor, etc.) versus just ourselves; it is healthy to be a little hungry sometimes; it helps us to focus more on our relationship with God. I might be forgetting or misstating part of the rationale, but all of this makes sense to me.

    All that said, I have never gone on a fast for religious / spiritual reasons. There are plenty of times when I have fasted up to a day, just because I didn’t remember to eat (crazy schedule) or was in a situation where the food I’m willing to eat wasn’t available. I usually feel pretty good after a fast. But like you pointed out, it’s easier to do it if you’re not constantly thinking about it.

    They say, what you focus on, you get more of. If you focus on hunger or desire, well, . . . and maybe part of the point of fasting is to learn to switch our focus to something other than desire.

    I’ve given up chocolate for life. I cheated this past Christmas – I am not sure why – but that is over now. It wasn’t hard for me to give up chocolate, really. I was very committed and knew I was never going back to it. It was really freeing to be able to “just say no” to about 90% of stuff I shouldn’t be eating anyway. A lot easier than weighing the pros and cons and counting the calories and so on. I gave up French fries, fried chips, etc., for years, but once in a while, I will “break that rule.” It is rarely worth it, though, so I don’t find this very tempting. Either way, it’s not something I’m doing for religious reasons, so I don’t feel like I’m on my way to Hell if I eat a French fry or Hershey’s Kiss.

    As for coffee, I get more and more convinced that coffee is actually a health drink. Depends on how it’s prepared, of course, but for most people, it promotes focus, health and longevity, so I have no plans to give it up.

    • Sue says:

      The reasons you gave for the Muslim’s fasting sounds very similar as to why we give things up for Lent, fast on Fridays and not eat meat on Fridays. (I rarely fast on Fridays b/c they’d be picking me up off the floor at work if I didn’t eat and we don’t have time for that!) .

  9. SKL says:

    I was also going to comment on a Catholic friend of mine, and lots of her fellow church-goers. Lent rarely seems to be a time of sacrifice, overall, around here. My friend had to give up all meat and dairy for a day, so she prepared by eating about a half gallon of ice cream and other goodies in the days before. Then on Fridays, she’s not allowed to eat “meat,” so they have all these fish fries or (since it’s our usual restaurant day) order the expensive seafood menu choices and indulge in various other ways. I suspect there are actually some people who look forward to Lent, given all the tricks to make the “sacrifice” an easier pill to swallow. I don’t mean this to sound critical, but it is kind of sad that the rituals around the ritual seem so counterproductive.

    • Laura says:

      I know someone like that, too, SKL. He looks forward to Lent, because then he can justify buying lox (salmon) and eating that for breakfast every week. When I ask him – why don’t you just do that all the time? “Because it’s too expensive,” “Because I can’t eat meat on Fridays,” “Because it’s Lent.”


      So it has effectively turned Lent from a time of sacrifice and reflection into a time of religiously-justified indulgence. Which just makes no sense to me at all.

      • Sue says:

        It sounds like these people are obviously missing the point of this then! I find it hard to find substitutes for my meat because I don’t want to eat the same thing every Friday. We have fish fry’s here too and they are quite tasty! A lady at work told me last year that way way back the Catholic church had a share of the fishing industry and to make the industry more profitable they came up with this rule of no meat on Friday’s during Lent. I have no idea if it’s true, but honestly I can see that happening. It’s always about money! LOL.

        • SKL says:

          I also heard that about fish on Fridays – all Fridays, not just during Lent. Things like this could be one reason why people don’t take the “fasting” very seriously in a religious sense. I mean, if the origins of the rule are “of the world,” the attitude toward it isn’t going to be that reverent.

          I feel part of the problem is that people are letting intermediary humans tell them what to do without really digging into the reasons why. The way I was raised, spirituality is a private matter between the individual and God. Spiritual leaders can offer their wisdom on what will strengthen that relationship (and our relationship with other humans, etc.), but once they start “telling” you what to do, that interferes with the individual’s internal (and necessarily imperfect) endeavor to know God and understand what He wants from each of us. Just one point of view.

      • Tessa says:

        Laura, I got to say this is why I started learning about other religions like Buddhism and other denominations of Christianity, because things like giving up during lent made no sense to anyone or to me. I seemed to miss the lessons and spirituality from the Catholic church I went to. I know use lent as a time to reflect as you said.

    • Joy says:

      I can kind of see a good point here. This whole giving up something for Lent has really changed. Technically, Catholics aren’t supposed to eat meat on any Friday unless they perform an act of penance of their choosing and not just during Lent. So many of the “rules” and “laws” of the Catholic church have change a lot over the years and it makes me wonder just how much man can or does change things and what Jesus really would have wanted us to do.

      I will admit that I have some hard feelings about the Catholic church. I married not one but two Catholics and wasn’t treated very nicely by a few churches (back in the 70’s). But I do think religion is important and I don’t think anyone meant to be mean to me or condemning of me.

      • Sue says:

        I’ve been Catholic my whole life and have never been told we couldn’t eat meat on ANY Friday so I don’t know when that ruled changed. My mom went to a Catholic school and never talked about that either. Last Sunday in church they made an announcement at the end of mass that “as a reminder we should be practicing abstinence also on the Friday’s of Lent”. Really? I thought when did that start?! They just keep changing crap all the time! Toby had a field day with that one!

        • Tessa says:

          Ever since I can remember, Sue, Catholics do not eat meat on Friday’s during lent or on Ash Wednesday. I grew up going to a Catholic school and this was the rules. We had Fish Friday’s.

          • Sue says:

            No, I know about the no meat during Lent, I meant the Friday’s of the rest of the year and I think that’s what Joy meant. I don’t know when it changed from all Fridays to just Fridays of Lent.

        • Joy says:

          This is where I saw it Sue but Paul also said when he was a kid, it was fish every Friday and his mom was a serious Catholic.


        • mssc54 says:

          Sue your problem is that you life hasn’t been long enough. 🙂

          I was an alterboy when the alterboys said the prayers in Latin with the priests. I know, I know, Latin you say. Yes it was very difficult and I really just muttered most of it. Since no one else could tell I figured I was safe.

          Any way, yes the Catholic church used to teach that eating meat on Fridays was a sin. I think they changed it sometime in the 70s to not be a sin. I often wondered what happened to those poor souls who were condemed to hell (by the Catholic Church) for eating meat on Fridays. Were they automatically furloed to heaven or did they have to finish serving out their Friday meat eating sin pennance?

          And let’s not get me started on ranking sin…. or praying to this saint or that saint for this or that. I mean if your praying for safe travle but instead of praying to Saint Joseph you mistakenly pray to
          Saint Valentine (the Patron Saint of fertility) will you get where your going safely but also pregnant?

          I think I’ll stick with the Trinity. Jesus didn’t die on the cross and raise from the dead so I could pray to Saint So and So.

          • Sue says:

            I faintly remember the Latin and we have started doing this more lately. Not that anyone can understand it, but we do it! Yes, I never really got the Saint So and So either…that’s great they were made Saints, but are we really suppose to be praying to them? Thanks for the comments, I was surprised you didn’t comment earlier!

      • Tessa says:

        Joy, I felt the same way, what did Jesus really intend for us to do? Studying the bible has really clarified for me more, but I always wonder how many times and in what ways the bible was altered. Of coarse it has been in my opinion. I just listen to my heart, the messages, and do away with the “rules” I don’t agree with. I find other denominations, Lutheran and non-denominational Christianity focus more on Jesus’ messages on how to live.

  10. Joy says:

    I’ve only quit drinking coffee once and I’ve been trying to think of why I did it and all I can remember is I had a really bad cold or flu and 7-Up tasted so good to me when I got up and that cold drink tasted good. I didn’t give it up for more than a few weeks. I’m not even sure why I started back up with the coffee.

    I did find also that a few years ago I felt I was drinking to much Pepsi so I started making an extra pot of coffee in the afternoon and I got terrible headaches and I’m not one to get headaches so I promptly stopped that and the headaches went away.

    Funny, too much or not enough caffeine really has a funny affect on us.

    • Sue says:

      Yes, I get weird from too much caffeine! Pop does not have the same affect on my as coffee does, I don’t know why. I am much happier this morning and didn’t have that needy feeling when I sat down at the computer so hopefully things are looking up!

      • Nikki says:

        I think it’s a lot out of habit for me. Computer & hot cup of coffee go hand in hand. I’m glad you aren’t feeling the need anymore. 🙂 I get that way with Sprite, I will NEED it. Nothing else will do. I think I’m addicted to the carbonation of it to be honest. Is that even possible?

  11. Tessa says:

    Tea didn’t work because coffee has WAY more caffeine in it!! Tea us to always get me going with the small amount it has in the morning, I would get a little jittery from it, but since I started drinking coffee just a few times a week-I notice tea doesn’t do that anymore. Man, coffee is so addictive, but I quit drinking it because I noticed it stained my teeth and I don’t feel as good as I use to. Great post! Sounds like you’re really thinking about it and the lesson-that is the important part! It is possible to be addicted to anything, and I think the point of lent is to learn to be with less-even one thing-because when we die we cannot take anything with us. We should be able to enjoy life without anything but God.

  12. Tessa says:

    Oh, and I am not Catholic anymore, but I like lent. I gave up potato chips-my favorite-and I gave up giving in to Ben for crackers!! We constantly give him crackers to keep him quiet when we are doing something like driving, but no more little guy! 😉 It has been a relief and he is still happy Ben or gets over it quick!

  13. sweetiegirlz says:

    “Now I sit here all jittery and I’ll have to go through withdrawals all over again. ”

    Well possibly, since you only drank a little, you won’t actually go through those severe withdrawls. think about how they help addicts. by giving very small doses of their drug sometimes.

    I admire your tenacity. I’m a coca cola addict. I’m sure you know that coca cola and coffee are similar in that, the caffeine is really what’s the culprit. you are actually trying to kick a legal drug. I give you all the kudos in the world. and God will bless your endeavor especially since he knows it was done in the spirit of lent. good luck

    • Sue says:

      Thank you! I am a Pepsi freak! Yes, it’s definitely the caffeine which is why I didn’t give up both Pepsi and coffee. I’d be a really hurting unit then!

  14. Just a Mom says:

    Ok, another Catholic here. Catholics are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and we are required to abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent.
    As for giving up something during Lent. In my opinion we are supposed to try and be more Christ like, turn away from sin. Most people give up something and like Tessa said above Gluttony and greed are sins.
    As I get older I try to give up something that is sinful or I try to do something that will better others. For example, this year I gave up ice cream. Anytime I feel like having a milkshake or an ice cream cone I take that money and set it aside. At the end of Lent I am donating the money to an organization my daughter’s Catholic School has chosen for relief in Haiti.
    As for the coffee withdrawls, I feel your pain! I have quit smoking and drinking but if I had to give up my morning coffee I am sure people would die!

    • SKL says:

      LOL, every time I think “I’m going to kill my children” I ask myself, “have I had my coffee yet?” 9 times out of 10, the answer is no!

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