Happy Feast of Saint Buttersworth!
It’s Shrove Tuesday, more popularly known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday. People everywhere will be getting their flapjack on in order to get all their indulgent behavior out of the way before Lent which starts tomorrow for the Western Church (those Eastern guys with the awesome beards and whatnot have their own schedule. Also better baked goods. Schisms ruin everything fun).
It’s common for people who observe Lent to also observe a Lenten discipline.
Back in the olden days it was usually giving up something; meat, chocolate, booze, swearing…you know, pretty much everything that makes life fun.
That never really worked for me.
I’d give up the lot and come Easter morning…nada. I hadn’t evolved in my spiritual journey one bit. The only thing I got out of it was a habit of swearing like Wally Cleaver. Gee Willickers!
More recently the trend has been towards adding something beneficial to your life, often in the form of volunteering and study.
I’m all about that, especially the volunteering because most of us should be ashamed at how little time we dedicate to the poor and needy people of this world, but in addition to service and study, I’m going to try something a little new this year.
I’m going to work on my self-maintenance.
(photo courtesy of the wonderful and amazing Lady Mechanic Initiative of Nigeria)
This whole relocation thing has been a tough row to hoe and I’ve let myself slip the way so many of us do when we have supposedly bigger fish to fry (because apparently it’s also folksy idiom day here at Manolo for the Big Girl).
I’ve found myself making less of an effort each morning to dress “just so” or to do my hair or makeup.
Why bother? I don’t have many posh parties or elegant soirees to attend, heck, I haven’t been to a restaurant that has more than three walls in a month, I’m not going to be here long enough to need social currency (I’m moving farther south in May) and I’ve already got the single best looking man in the entire country wrapped around my little finger, among other places and he’s certainly not going anywhere. Why not traipse around in the proverbial bunny slippers until three in the afternoon?
Because habitual self-indulgence is bad for you.
Okay, okay. Self-indulgence isn’t bad for you per se, but when you exchange self-care for self-indulgence and that self-indulgence turns into self-neglect (like it can and so often does) you have found yourself careening down a dangerously slippery slope which ends in Froot Loops from a mixing bowl, unattended facial hair and yoga pants worn in non-yoga situations. Sometimes in public.
That’s just not okay.
That’s not okay because women are so devalued as it is, and fat women especially, that we can’t really afford to tell the world “Go ahead and treat me like garbage or ignore my voice and my needs. After all, I’m doing it to myself so it MUST be okay.”
A girl has got to maintain. I’m not saying you have to dress and do your hair and makeup, that’s just my own example. For someone else it could be meditation or target practice or taking better control of your finances. Whatever.
Tomorrow I’m going to get up and make myself a proper breakfast (though I’m not going to lie; a fat slice of homemade not-too-sweet sweet potato pie with a rosemary shortbread crust using ingredients from my garden, all accompanied by a large milky cafe au lait with chicory was a pretty damn fine breakfast, especially for Mardi Gras morning) and eat it outside under the shade of my lime tree.
I might not even hurl verbal abuse at the &^%$ roses if I’m feeling charitable.
Then I’m going to get dressed like an actual grown up with a job that doesn’t involve being Jack Tripper’s landlady and get a haircut, which I need if for no other reason than to stop people asking me if I’m “growing it out for the wedding.” and then…well, then I don’t know what I’ll do. Work on the book, make a lesson plan for my English students, do a little gardening (backyard only, I learned the hard way that a white woman doing her own yard work quickly becomes a spectator sport punctuated every few minutes by a guy with a truck full of shovels offering his services).
I’m going to commit to self-care for 40 days, plus Sundays and I hope by the time Easter rolls around I’ll be back on track to treating myself the way I want others to treat me. Maybe you will too.
I still want the sweet potato pie, though.