There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve changed since coming to a resolution with my infertility; since moving to Chicago. It’s been a gradual change; mostly based on the increasing confidence and strength I’ve garnered over the past year.

And this past month, with all the writing I’ve been doing … I realize that my posts have definitely taken a different tone.  Specifically, I’ve noticed that I’ve taken a break from the sad, depressing — and even angry — parts of my life.

I have always loved making observations about myself and of the world. My mom always told me that I was both very perceptive and inquisitive, so I guess it comes naturally to me. The only problem I’ve encountered (especially more recently) is that I often forget what an impact some of these observations have on me. And if I don’t write them down … well, then my “lightbulb moment” gets lost in the dim recess of my mind.

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Speaking of observations … yesterday was the “observed” Catholic Holy Day of Ash Wednesday. Ask me if I went to mass … and I’m sure you’d already know the answer. But we’ve already had many a conversation about my actual “practice” of my Catholic faith.

Regardless, there are certain things … traditions, really … that I like to follow. (Coincidentally, a bloggie friend recently talked about how traditions in religion is something she enjoys … read about it here.) One of them is the practice of “giving up” something during Lent.

I debated for a few days as to what I would give up this year. In the past, I’ve typically given up things that I really, really enjoy … knowing that I’d really only be practicing the art of self-restraint.  One year it was chocolate-covered pretzels, and another year was caramel apple suckers. Come Easter after both years, I was so good at exercising self-restraint that I no longer had those “cravings” to consume them as I had done before Ash Wednesday.

This year I thought about giving up Coca-Cola (I’m addicted) or even any form of chocolate (detrimental to *anyone’s* sanity). And as I told my co-worker this, she told me what she decided to do different for Lent this year.

Since she was already pretty adept at giving up things for Lent, my co-worker chose to “pay it forward” this Lenten season. Meaning that she would decide to do one random act of kindness every day for the 40 days before Easter.

The more she talked about her plans, the more she had me sold on doing the same thing. Even though I understand the concept of “giving up” something for Lent as being able to exercise abstinence and to “purify the soul” before the day of Resurrection … the “rebel” Catholic in me thinks that this concept in this century is self-defeating, rather than self-appreciating.

If this sounds muddled, let me explain it with this train of thought: If I decide to give up chocolate for Lent this year and I’m not successful, I know I’d feel guilty. Even worse is that the mere thought of having chocolate before Easter would already elicit those feelings of guilt … even if I didn’t have any .

Yeah, self-defeating.

But … let’s say that instead of “giving up” something, I decide to “give” something to someone else … like an extra sandwich from my catered lunch meeting today to the homeless person outside of the Starbucks by work … well, it would make me feel as if I’ve helped someone else and it would make me feel good about myself. And in the end, it would boost my confidence.

Kinda like how once I started to allow myself to feel “happy” again (after 12+ years of infertility), I’ve managed to garner some momentum in gaining confidence and strength. And more importantly, contentment in my overall life. (See how it all ties together?)

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My goal this February was to write an entry a day; and seeing that I have only 11 days to go, I’m pretty sure I will meet this goal and gather more of that strength and confidence.

LOOVE this "work flow" chart!

SO … in order to continue that forward momentum, I’ve decided to borrow my co-worker’s Lenten promise. Starting today (and ending on Easter Monday … since I’m already a day behind), I am going to vow to perform one random act of kindness a day and document that daily deed on my blog.

But not only that … I’m also going write about one thing that I’m thankful for every day. Because the exercise here is to remember that others may not have the same luxuries (whether material or other luxuries) in life that I do.

And I hope this gets me closer towards feeling more fulfilled in this life.