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Pancakes and Self-Care | Manolo for the Big Girl

Pancakes and Self-Care

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.

13 Responses to “Pancakes and Self-Care”

  1. Kate K February 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Okay, you’ve done before and you’ve done it now: my mind is blown by this. I was thinking about my Lenten goals (as a good Lutheran girl) while being underslept and overworked with not a fresh fruit or vegetable in sight. I don’t need to lay off the coffee or the chocolate; I need to lay off the self sacrifice. I love this idea Plumcake! I will be taking care of myself for 40 days and hopefully long after.

  2. the misfit February 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    I’m Catholic and have been since I was barely even screaming and have never heard of this with the pancakes before. Certainly, the eating of fried foods on Mardi Gras I understand.

    I heard someone (homilist?) say some years back that seasons of spiritual preparation and purification (Lent and Advent, but of course Lent is the hardcore one) should be characterized by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting is the one where you do without something that will really cost you, so as to make yourself mindful of the sacrifice of Christ; that’s the one everyone is familiar with, and I was already in the habit of giving something up every year (not always to my enduring spiritual profit, but, you know, sometimes). But I hadn’t contemplated prayer and almsgiving. Since then, I have tried to take on three things every Lent (one of each), on the relatively clear understanding that I will screw at least one of them up despite the best intentions. Just in case that idea is interesting to anyone else.

    I have a few more hours to decide whether dragging myself to Mass at 7AM every morning counts JUST as prayer, or also sacrifice, since I am habitually 40 minutes LATE to work, not the 40 minutes EARLY that would result from my daily attendance at Mass at that altogether ungodly hour. But I admit, I still need inspiration on the almsgiving. Last year I was going to visit the Missionaries of Charity every Saturday, but I found out too late that that is an 8AM deal and it did not happen ONCE. I took on a volunteering gig recently (so it doesn’t count for Lenten purposes) and I don’t think it would be prudent to add another as my schedule is a little packed. So I’m probably going to need to invest in some McDonald’s bucks for the benefit of DC’s homeless population.

    And now that I think of it, I need to give up mid-afternoon 7-11 snack runs. Talk about self-care.

    Hey, your blog is a lot more efficient than spiritual direction :).

    Last thought: do Episcopalians get ashes??? (Yep, we sure do. -Miss Plumcake)

  3. Thea February 21, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I’m in solidarity with you Plummie. I too am giving up self-sacrifice for Lent. Brilliant idea

  4. Jen209 February 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    My two favorite Lent stories are: my roommate while studying abroad in London gave up condiments. Yes, condiments, as in ketchup, salt, mustard, mayo, etc. it was really hard, which was the point for her. I also had a friend in grad school who gave up gossip, including reading people magazine. It had a great idea behind it, but she didn’t implement it very successfully.

    Last year I gave up shopping, which was a very good discipline for me. This year it’s sugar. Hoping I can stick to it and be healthier for it. Growing up a baptist, I wasn’t exposed much to Lent until college. I really like the concept so started doing it. I wonder if that has anything to do with why I have now moved to a more tradition-heavy denomination.

  5. Rubygirl February 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    You know, self-care is a great idea. I sure could use more sleep and some exercise, as well as non-utilitarian-only clothing, and makeup more than once a month (because I really like it, but I have been slacking). And taking care of my apartment, which tends to get short shrift.

    Sigh. It sounds like so much effort…which is exactly what I need. Thank you–I spend FAR more time caring for others than for myself, although I agree that self-care is vital.

    Also, “for the wedding”–are you getting married and I missed the announcement? If so, congratulations!

  6. Jophiel February 22, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Thought-provoking post, Miss Plumcake. Could you elaborate on the idea that “women are already so devalued as it is”? Thank you.

    Jo

  7. Jezebella February 22, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Dear Jophiel: For evidence of Miss Plumcake’s assertion, I suggest you consult, oh wait – the entire internet. Criminy.

    As a non-believer of Presbyterian origins, I’ve never given anything up for Lent. If anybody asks, I tell them I’ve given up heroin and red meat. That usually stops them in their tracks. [To be clear: I’ve never used heroin, and I haven’t eaten red meat since the late 1980s.]

    This whole “Pancake Day” thing is brand new information to me, as well. In my world, breakfast on Fat Tuesday is had while standing on St. Charles Ave. and consists of mimosas and a biscuit from Popeye’s.

  8. maryann February 22, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Well said. I was raised in the Eastern church. Long beards and honey-soaked baked goods and all. Also, the idea of giving up alcohol during lent (thankfully) never seemed to cross anyone’s mind. Apparently, a little wine helps with all that contemplation and sacrifice of the season.
    The church thing never really “took” for me. Officially, I am out of its good graces at the moment and will very likely stay there. (My marriage to a non-christian is still going strong.) That said, I like your way of thinking. I think I’ll observe lent this year (not something I ever cared to do before), but I’ll do it your way. At my stage of life (mother of a young child), there seems to be a high level of self sacrifice expected. I haven’t succumbed entirely to it, nor to the local mom uniform. But I did take a look at the bag I was carrying the other day and some of the shoes that have made their way into my life and wondered what the hell has happened.
    So, thank you, Miss Plumcake for the reminder.

  9. megaera February 22, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    This makes me feel better about my New Year’s resolution to wear a piece of jewelry every day. Now given that the closest I’ve ever come to Christianity is as a hired holiday singer in a church choir (and funny how my atheist mother was so shocked by the concept of “ringers” in a church choir), I don’t really do the whole Lent thing. But, you’ve inspired me to do forty days of actually styled hair. Thanks!

  10. txbunny February 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Love this. Totally agree.

    I planned to give up beef – this can be tough for a happy little carnivore like myself. I’ll still do that but I will add 40 days of styled hair since the whole maintenance thing has slid a good bit due to a recent big time health scare. Also thank you Megaera for suggesting the direction to go.

  11. raincoaster February 23, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Hmm, I think this is exactly what I needed to read today.

    *looks down, sees PJs, decides to go get dressed*

  12. miss merry February 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    There are some great pancake races on youtube. The Olney one is the oldest that I know of. I started one at our church this year and it is a lot of fun, even for us Lutherans.

    Regarding the idea of giving up self-neglect for Lent – Brava (for the ladies) and Bravo (for the guys)!

  13. Snezana March 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    This is my first year of Lent. I am also Methodist, so I’ve never really had to deal with this srcfiaice before. I have never really liked the idea of giving something up for Lent because it seems like it’s grown into the new New Year’s resolution list. For some people, there isn’t much true meaning behind the act. (Though I suppose you could argue that Christmas and other religious holidays have become much the same thing.) I admire people who go into the season with a firm concentration as to why they are doing it in the first place.Anyway, this year I am giving up Coke/pop/soda. I suppose I will be able to tell later if it helped my spiritual growth or if I just jumped on the bandwagon with this one.