Give it up! Ash Wednesday is just around the corner. As Feb. 22 approaches, what are your plans? Here are ideas – of five things that you can give up or do this Lent – to get you thinking:

  1. Life without Facebook. Yes, 40 days and 40 nights without posting social status updates, photos or videos and without spending hours upon hours perusing your friends’ photos and updates, playing games and sitting at a computer. You can do it. Rewind to once upon a time when Facebook didn’t exist – you finish the story. Or, if you’d rather do something, write a letter to someone each day during Lent – a good, old-fashioned, handwritten letter that you have to mail.
  2. Life without texting. While it’s quick and easy, it’s time to give it up. Make time to meet someone in person or to talk on the phone. Hearing someone’s voice or seeing facial expressions leaves little room for misinterpretation, unlike a voiceless, faceless text. Or, if you’re not going to give up texting, make a point to call someone each day during Lent just to say “Hi” and to hold an actual conversation with them, one that doesn’t involve “How r u?,” “lol” or “ttyl!”
  3. Life without shopping. Lay out ground rules for necessities you are allowed to purchase – things like food (Chips, candy, soda…etc. aren’t necessities), general hygiene items like soap, toilet paper or toothpaste…etc. That movie or game that was just released, top song, shirt that finally went on sale and new coffee flavor – will have to wait. If you’re still going to shop, try to limit the extras you purchase. Maybe cut out soda or chips. For clothes, movies and games, try shopping only at secondhand stores like St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill or Value Village where your money spent is supporting a good cause.
  4. Life without free time. Everyone needs some time to relax, but by sacrificing a little bit of yours each week and helping someone in need will mean so much more than watching your favorite show. Contact an organization and plan a schedule that will take you through Lent. Who knows – you might not want to stop when Lent’s over. If you don’t want to commit to just one, volunteer for a few charities or organizations.
  5. Life without complaining. This might be tough, because everyone does it at some point, but you can’t verbalize it this Lent. It’s like the Proverb: “Do not speak unless you can improve the silence.” It might be hard not to voice that you’re freezing on a day when the temperature drops below 0 degrees, but try. Post the quote on your walls, keep it on your computer desktop, tape it to your planner – do whatever it takes to remember to think before you speak. Or flip the idea and make sure to compliment the people in your life when you think of something nice. Too often people don’t know just how appreciated they are.