Thursday, February 7, 2013

Addictions




My ex used to say that I was "addicted" to Starbucks, and that I should quit going there.  I didn't pay attention to him because I was using my own spending money, and I still really like their Chai tea lattes, but as Lent is getting ready to start in less than a week, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be addicted to something, or, in the parlance of the Church, have disordered attachments to temporal things.

Proof positive that I'm number one....for that race, anyway!
I mean, there are a lot of things that I either crave from time to time or that I know I do not function well without...Exercising for instance.  Is the fact that I don't deal well with the normal stress of my life if I don't somehow fit in at least 2-3 runs in a week into my schedule an addiction?  And, if so, could I find better stress relievers out there?  I don't think so, and honestly, I really don't want to go back to my couch potato self.  I like the fact that I have more energy and that I look good because I've been exercising.  I also like the fact that a 5 mile run works on my mood way better than any antidepressant ever did.

While I do worry about the way my increasingly slimmer body feeds into my vanity, I also laugh at myself regularly as I dry myself off in the mornings....I catch myself sucking in my tummy and thinking that it would be nice if I had my 22 year old body again, only to have the song "you're so vain" begin to play in the back of my mind.  At the same time, I also know that I don't really want that body back, because that body couldn't run 1 mile, let alone 5 miles, on a regular basis, in spite of the fact that it was 30 lbs lighter and more perky.

Another would be the copious amounts of tea that I consume on a daily basis at work....I probably drink 3-4 16 oz. cups in a day, with more honey than is strictly good for me.  Earlier this week, I joked with a co-worker that I like my tea like I like my men--hot, strong, and sweet!  I'm not really looking for the latter, and doubt that I ever will, but I couldn't resist the joke.  Sometimes I get headaches on the weekends because I don't drink as much tea at home, and I know that is actually a symptom of being addicted to the caffeine.  At the same time, I'm not sure that I can reduce the amount of tea I drink unless I can find a viable alternative...one that helps me to continue to concentrate on what I'm doing as well as to keep me hydrated as the day progresses.  I've actually had some success with using NUUN tablets, but keep forgetting to bring them to work with me.
Me about 1.5 years ago...before I began exercising regularly.

And then there is my reading....this is another thing that my ex used to say I was addicted to, as I would often read until all hours of the night when I was in the middle of a good book.  Even though part of me knows that the book will be there when I come back, it is SOOOO hard to put it down when the end of the chapter comes.  I find that I often desperately want to know what happens next!  So, I guess you could say that I'm a sucker for a good book.

I think this is where the virtue of Temperance comes in....a friend of mine from a forum that I belong to said this:
Ive just read a wonderful piece about temperance saying that many people forget there is a flip side of it - we focus a lot on the "cutting down" part without remembering that temperance is about "balance" and its just as important to indulge in fun/relaxation/food we enjoy, etc. That when we over focus on taking things away, we might be slipping into a life without joy, and that part of Christian living is living joyfully, and being balanced. I just really liked that.
I like this too.  Coming from a background where we refrained from so many things (I think the saying from childhood said something to the effect of, "I don't drink, don't dance, don't smoke, don't chew, nor go out with those who do.), I often wonder if having a hard cider with dinner on a regular basis is the first step toward alcoholism.  I feel a twinge of guilt about going to a bar with friends from work.  I struggle with figuring out whether skipping daily Mass to go running  or sleeping an extra hour after a late night reading is a good use of my time.

Part of my quest for balance means that I always do 2 things for Lent--I give up something, and then I take something on.  I'm pretty sure that my "giving up" will be Starbucks  and maybe Facebook this year (with one exception--I am meeting a friend for coffee on the 16th of this month), but I just don't know what to add on.  I was thinking about getting back into the habit of daily Mass on weekdays, but that means running in the evenings.  I don't mind running in the dark, but I often have a hard time motivating myself after a long day at work....even when my dig-dog looks at me with her soulful eyes while rattling her leash!

So, what are you going to do for lent?  Will you be giving up, taking on, or a little bit of both?  How do you achieve the balance that Temperance requires?

Blessings,

Ruth