Somehow the weeks flew by and the start of one of my favorite holidays totally snuck up on me! Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent!

Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t practice or subscribe to any particular religion. Nor was I raised in a household that actively practiced a religion. But I do love learning about and borrowing from religious traditions, especially when it comes to holidays, especially especially when that holiday is focused on self-reflection, introspection, and simplification. And I have always “given up” something for Lent. I actually get kinda excited, even giddy, at the thought of my upcoming forty days of monk-like adherence to a certain abstinence.

Yesterday, my friend told me about the book Simplifying The Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston. The book outlines a plan for the Lenten period, with a different practice and meditation each day. Though the book is specifically geared toward the Catholic tradition, I have started reading it and loving some of the ideas on how to declutter, refresh, and show compassion over the next 40 days. I’m just going to have some trouble on that day where I’m meant to say the Rosary, and I have no idea how to pray the Divine Office.

I love the idea of over the next forty days doing one thing each day that works towards larger goals. I’ve made a list of my own 40 acts I’d like to do in the next 40 days, and hopefully these acts will inspire me to keep up similar work throughout the year. If you’d like to follow along with me, you could make your own list of 40 acts or borrow mine!


  • Do something fun you’ve been meaning to do for a long time
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Don’t set foot in a car
  • No grooming for a day (skip showering, shaving, hair styling, make-up)
  • Educate yourself on an issue you don’t know about
  • Talk to a neighbor you’ve never met
  • Spend time alone in nature
  • Identify something you consume everyday and don’t consume it
  • Change your language/perspective about one thing today
  • Tell someone about a woman you admire
  • Tell someone about a person you admire who is a different race from your own
  • Go on a date with yourself
  • Dance
  • Clean out a storage area
  • Reorganize a junk drawer (borrowed directly from day 1 of Simplifying The Soul)
  • Don’t use electricity all day
  • Don’t throw anything away all day (ie: don’t use anything that requires throwing away)
  • Start a book you’ve been meaning to read
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Play a game
  • Try a new (fun) activity that will likely make you look silly/foolish
  • Write to a local politician for change
  • Find one thing to make at home instead of buying from a store
  • Listen to a song you loved as a kid
  • Don’t eat meat all day
  • Only shop and buy local all day
  • Learn about your local government and politicians
  • Attend a religious service different from your own
  • Apologize to someone you hurt
  • Forgive yourself and let it go
  • Do something today to conserve water
  • Get all bills paperless, if already done, unsubscribe from all paper junk mail
  • Get a pen-pal in a different country
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about gender and/or women’s studies
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about an ethnic group/race not your own
  • Identify elitism/privilege in your speech today and brainstorm alternatives
  • Volunteer for a cause you care about
  • Install a clothesline
  • Take public transportation
  • Spend time with someone you haven’t seen in awhile


I plan to document my experience with the forty acts throughout the Lenten season on this blog. And luckily, though I missed Ash Wednesday, I already accomplished one of my acts by not setting foot in a car yesterday!


Written by Erica

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