The Valley of the Shadow

mmm... cake... ...*sigh*
Ash Wednesday yesterday, which means two things: I played a show at a gay bar last night with ashes on my forehead (Brandon, the show's host, is a preacher's kid and a big Sandi Patty fan), and I am once again about to discover how my mind messes with me when I try not to eat sweets, aka The Valley of the Shadow of Lent. 

It's nice to have a low-stakes environment in which to practice... I don't know what I'm practicing.  Not getting to have everything I want, I guess.  This happens all the time in real life, but the Lent thing is under my control: I'm avoiding a food category I really like but which is bad for me (in moderation, you say?  My inner cookie monster knows not moderation.) - it's my choice to give up sweets, and it's only for a clearly defined period of time. 

I'm steeling myself for my mind and body to mess with me.  There will be cravings.  I will be desperate for a cookie when what I really want is a nap or a day off or a boyfriend (cookies are easier to get, and more convenient).  I will rationalize that this is a dumb thing to do when I've got so many other things on my mind, that I need my mental energy and self-discipline for my career, and that I'm not a very religious person anyway so why bother... and other things that I won't recognize as mental chatter until after the fact. 

There's a lot of mental chatter when I play, too, and tuning it out is a skill that is as important to my playing as any scale or etude.  I've gotten better at it, so maybe that's why I'm sort of excited to see how I do this year.  Last year was a miserable failure on the Lenten discipline front, but last year I was going through a break-up.  I kinda had to cut myself a little slack when a kid I played for gave me two zip-locs full of homemade rugelach two weeks before Easter. 

Speaking of self-forgiveness, I've already (!) screwed up this year, when last night I took a shot to celebrate the birthday of one of the singers.   I wasn't tempted, I just forgot, until I was sucking on the sugary lemon after the shot.  Oops. 

It's gonna be a long six weeks!