Now that ⅓ of Lent is over here are my successes, failures, and 4 lessons I’ve learned. My commitment was to do a daily act of kindness to another person, creation, or myself, i.e Just Kindness. I organized my actions into the following categories. Here’s what happened:

  1. Eat a vegetarian dietThis was successful but too easy since we normally only have a couple meat dinners a week anyway. For lunch I often have a lunch meat sandwich so I just substituted a veggie sandwich or ate leftovers. However, one evening we ate dinner at a friend’s house and they served a meat main dish. It would have been rude (unkind) to refuse it. No problem. In my head I just swapped a Sunday meatless meal for this one.
  2. Avoid single use plastics – I thought this would also be easy since I carry my own water bottle, reusable spork silverware, etc. BUT, we hosted a meal for 12 people and used Chinese carry out for simplicity. I specified no silverware, napkins, or other disposable products, but the main dishes came in plastic containers (thankfully not Styrofoam). Some took their leftovers home in them but I had a few extras. Hmmm. One other time I ate out and I wanted to take the extra home. No problem, I would just get my reusable plastic carryout container from the car. BUT… I hadn’t driven. I sucked it up and ate all of the food. Does this count as gluttony? 🙁  (Click on photo to enlarge and see single use plastics collected before Lent began.)
  3. Use more public transportation – I knew this would be hard since it would take researching the bus schedule and more time. I did take the bus once because the event was not time sensitive. I avoided several other opportunities because it would involve a transfer and I was pressed for time. I tried to be present to the people on the bus and contemplate what their lives might be like. One woman had two small children and several bags of groceries. Now that’s heroism. I biked to one nearby destination rather than take the car.
  4. Interact more directly with people in need – On Wednesdays, I tutor several first graders in a low income school. It was harder than I expected to keep them attentive. I’m learning a lot about early childhood education challenges and developing great admiration for the teachers that do this every day. I donated Kroger gift cards to 3 panhandlers I passed.
  5. Continue to prune more stuff from my home – On most days I took the time to look for things around the house that I no longer needed. This included an extra sun hat, old meditation booklets, a necklace, a large hot pad, a desk chair, ream of 3-hole paper, and a small boom box.

1.  Grocery shopping is a challenge. I’ve reduced but not eliminated clam-shells. (Click on photo to see clam-shells since Lent began)
2. Don’t be pure, but make progress. Once I planned on buying grapes but realized they only came in plastic bags. Well that’s better than a clam-shell and at least I can recycle the plastic bags at Krogers. Carry-out plastics are better than Styrofoam. Being a grateful guest is more important than skipping a meat dish.
3. Let hunger and inconvenience be my friend. I was surprised that on a number of days I felt hungry. Eating vegetarian didn’t mean I had to eat less so I was mystified by my hunger. I decided to let my physical hunger put me in solidarity with those who are hungry because of poverty. My bus ride heightened my compassion for those who don’t have another option.
4. Choosing what to give away is easier than finding a good home for it. I still haven’t found a home for my chair, boom box, or other items. For now I’ve just put them in the give away box. It’s hard to find a good home. 🙂