I Quit Coffee for Lent And I’m Still Alive

I quit coffee for Lent

I used to drink at least one cup of black coffee every day. Now it’s been over three weeks, two days, and 6 hours since I gave up my habit for Lent, but who’s counting?

Now, before you worry about an entertainment entrepreneur tackling a religious topic like Lent, I want to say this isn’t about preaching at you, or encouraging you to quit coffee ’cause this shit is hard. This post is strictly about how quitting coffee for Lent has affected my total well-being.

What’s Lent?

It’s the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday. Christians take 40 days to reflect on the life of Christ and spend time trying to be humble, ascetic, and reflective. It’s a season that sparked giant raging parties like Mardi Gras, where people try to fit in all the debauchery before limiting themselves from hedonistic pleasures.

Coffee is a daily habit in my life.

Four years ago, I swapped my daily rooibos tea for coffee. My motivation for the day-to-day grind started to wane as my degree program came to an end. It started with the Keurig machine at work. Now, I usually make myself a personal-sized French press every day.

I’ve never thought myself a coffee addict, but I rely on it to get my through most days.

A Lenten resolution challenge.

This March, the priest at my grandma’s church handed me a paper with the words “Lenten Resolution” as I was exiting the chapel. I thought it might be a good time to control some of the things that have been controlling me.

Disclaimer: I’ve never given up anything for Lent in my life. I consider myself a Christ follower, but I’m not a regular churchgoer (sorry, Grandma). I feel at home in spiritual communities where members can openly question, discuss, and think critically about Christian doctrine. Drastically changing my behaviour due to observation of Lent is an anomaly.

So back to this “Lenten Resolution” paper. I made mental notes of which things would be challenging to give up:

  • I love POPCORN. So it was the first thing to go. I can eat an entire bowl to myself semi-regularly!
  • Then, I upped the ante: COFFEE. My daily addiction that would be much more difficult to control.

Coffee and popcorn are currently off limits. I haven’t been physically affected by a lack of popcorn.

Coffee withdrawals are as real as any other addiction withdrawal symptoms.

My first three days off coffee were brutal. I had a splitting headache that I couldn’t shake, my ears were ringing, and I was thirsty. I popped several ibuprofen. And I just wanted to sleep all day.

My body was going through major caffeine withdrawals.

I didn’t feel like I was dying Things started to even out around day three. My irritability and drowsiness were still hanging on. Weird nightmares interrupted my sleep. I likely snapped a few times.

Once finding out I had quit coffee for Lent, friends seemed genuinely concerned about how I could function without it.

One friend asked, “But what about coffee poops?”

I answered, “The first few days were a blur , so maybe there was… er… a kink or two. Other than that, I’m pretty regular.”

Since I quit coffee, I’ve felt a bit anxious and stressed. A pinching or squeezing sensation in my heart started, but subsided.

I still find it difficult to concentrate. For example, I sat down last Friday to write a blog post and was coming up dry for nearly two hours. I settled on a spring bucket list to get some words out. It’s really tough for someone who has to focus as part of their job to suddenly lose that ability.

Mornings are hard, so I’m taking better care of my nights. My routine consists of a cup of caffeine-free tea, washing my face, brushing and flossing, and then reading a physical book. This daily practice is beginning to have a positive and energizing effect on my mornings.

If I can quit coffee, I can do anything!

Quitting coffee has empowered me to look at other areas in my life that could value from a little self-control. If I can quit coffee, I can quit negative self-talk, go to the gym everyday, have that tough conversation, or give back to my community.

But I won’t lie: I smell coffee strongly on people. It’s haunting me everywhere! So I sneak in some Green Tea when I’m desperate.

Lent can be a season of going without, or it can be a chance to examine what’s worth holding on to. It’s a chance to question motivations and adjust daily routines to focus more on things that empower, enrich, and inspire.

I quit coffee for Lent. What are you giving up?

My Saskatoon Spring Bucket List

It’s feeling like spring in Saskatoon! After a brutally cold winter, I can’t wait to pack away my winter coat, toque, and scarf. In celebration of this amazing warm streak, I’ve put together a spring bucket list that I’ll be crossing off over the next few months. Join me!

Saskatoon Spring Bucket List

Start a vegetable garden from seeds and plant them

Make a mosaic concrete garden stone

Take a spontaneous day trip

Book sites at Saskatchewan campgrounds for summer RVing

Spring clean closet and donate the rest to YWCA Opportunity Shop

Make a Moss Bag at Wanuskewin

Call dibs on fresh produce at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market or Community Farms Market of Saskatoon

Learn how to cook new Mexican cuisine for Cinco de Mayo

Drop-in jam in the park with the acroyogis of Saskatoon

Tour a part of Saskatoon that’s unfamiliar

Work up the nerve to go for a horseback ride

Tune up bike and hit the Meewasin Trail

Sign up for the Saskatoon Canoe Club

Practice suspension circuit training at Shaw Centre

Get the official pickleball introduction at Saskatoon Field House

Have a board game night with friends at King Me Boardgamery

Create a signature spring cocktail using local spirits

Catch the first prairie crocus bloom on camera

Take an entire weekend off

Make office furniture more cat-friendly

Go for a hike and toast halfway with a champagne picnic

Take a chocolate truffle workshop at Purdy’s

Sign up for a 5K to get into running again

Christen the backyard patio with a crisp brew

What’s on your spring bucket list?

St. Patrick’s Day in Saskatoon 2019

Put on your green pantaloons! The leprechaun inside us all is waiting to be released for its annual feasting, jigging, and celebrating. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so make way for your Irish spirit. Enjoy a pint of your favourite lager, ale, or whiskey amongst the company of friends.

Choose from about 18 St. Patrick’s Day parties happening across Saskatoon this weekend. Check the monthly March event listing for even more events.

Hint: Hit play on the video below to get East Coast Paddy’s Day spirit.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations 2019

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sasktoon’s Best St. Paddy’s Pub Party! at Winston’s English Pub
St. Patrick’s Day (Eve) Party! at Somewhere Else Pub & Grill
St. Patrick’s Day Weekend at The Thirsty Scholar
St. Patrick’s Day Weekend at Bugsy’s Bar and Grill Market Mall
Irish Stew & Brew Night with Saltwater Joy at Nutana Legion
A BITB St. Paddy’s Day Party at The Capitol
Perogie Pirates St. Paddy’s Day Pop Up at High Key Brewing Co.
Irish Night Dinner and Show at Mayfair United Church
Family Ceili 2019 at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall
Shamrock Shaker at Station Arts Centre (Rosthern)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Shamrock Run at Sandman Hotel
Sasktoon’s Best St. Paddy’s Pub Party! at Winston’s English Pub
St. Patrick’s Day w/ Wenches & Rogues ~ Live at The Capitol
St. Patrick’s Day with Kim n’ Jim at The Bassment
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Finn’s Irish Pub
St. Patrick’s Day Karaoke at Amigos
St. Paddy’s Edition Open Mic at Black Cat Tavern
St. Patrick’s Day! Done St. Pabst Blue Ribbon Way at The Burning Beard
Cooking with Chef Simon: Irish Boxty at Brighton Information Centre
St. Paddy’s Day!

Irish Pubs

O’Shea’s Irish Pub
Yard & Flagon Pub
The Thirsty Scholar
Fionn MacCool’s
Finn’s Irish Pub

International Women’s Day 2019

International Women’s Day is dedicated to making the world a more balanced place. Part of celebrating is acknowledging that there’s a problem that needs to be corrected. The 2019 theme #BalanceforBetter challenges each one of us to improve the gender balance. It’s important that I share this post today because Saskatchewan is Canada’s hotspot for intimate partner violence. There are a lot of reasons why our province should be named #1, but this is one title I would be happy to lose.

‘I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

Anaïs Nin

The quote above acknowledges that men play a critical role in the empowerment of women. The man Anais chose reinforced how she viewed herself and solidified her individual identity. I envision this person to be supportive and encouraging, while helping to challenge the often monumental beast of self-doubt.

Today, I’ve decided to share a short writing prompt on the state of feminism in the media. I wrote it nearly five years ago as part of my Communications Degree in early part of 2014. At the time, pop artists I admired such as Beyonce and Katy Perry were actively avoiding identifying with the word “feminist”.

Fast-forward only a few years later, and both women came out with clear statements that affirmed their feminism. This shift has taken place over a relatively short period of time. Beyonce and Katy admitted they had no idea what the word meant before the media began asking them whether or not they identified with it.

So, what does “feminism” mean anyway?

Coming from small-town Saskatchewan, I relate to having no prior understanding of feminism before my post-secondary education. How can you identify with something that has never been defined for you? In case you’re curious, I’ve included my favourite definition of feminism below.

‘Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. (…). Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.”   

―     bell hooks

Internalized oppression is a daily battle for women

During my undergrad capstone research, I discovered how a woman’s own internal voice is developed to oppress her from her date of birth. My life and identity were the subject of this study. I’ve been passionate about living as a feminist since leaving school.

You may or may not have thought about internalized oppression before. Let me explain: from a woman’s perspective, it whispers about what you’re wearing as you strategically hold your keys when you walk home alone at night. It nods at you while you’re hissing insults at yourself in the mirror. It tells you to keep quiet when you’re too afraid to speak out against harassment. And it’s the disguise your friends wear when the conversation goes back to feeding self-hatred (i.e. diet culture).

Moving society in a positive direction

The mainstream popularization of feminism is doing something to transform the way we, men and women, live out its ideals. Flipping negative messages, behaviours, and beliefs from the current realities to a new, positive movement.

Empowerment of an entire gender is a big effort. Start with something small and practical, such as paying a woman with the same qualifications and skills as her male colleague the same salary or hourly wage. Or have a willingness to pay self-employed women the rates they command. Or support a woman’s choice to be a stay-at-home mother without penalizing her when she wants to rejoin the workforce.

International Women’s Day: The state of feminism

As I said earlier, the following prompt is what I thought was going on with feminism in the media back in 2014. It’s slightly more difficult to read than a typical Do Sask post, but it gives a good snapshot of how far society has come over the past five years.

“The truth is that we have not reached the point where sexism, sexual oppression and exploitation have become history and yet most young women denounce the term feminist when describing their image. Strong, female role-models (especially Beyonce) have avoided answering the question when asked directly. This may be due to the media twisting the definition of feminism to mean the ‘men-hating, radical, bra-burners’ of the second-wave. The main foundations of feminism are either represented inaccurately or not at all by the media, leading many to believe contemplation of the term to be outdated.

Feminism allows women to share their experiences in hopes that they can individually and collectively revolt against the patriarchy. It is about becoming an inclusive body for women to work towards the goal together, not a system to alienate ‘real women’ from ‘real feminists’. The problem is that ‘fourth-wave of feminism’, the new generation of young, liberated, post-feminism, Generation Y women and men, are unsure of how to categorize their stance on the issue. There have been so many sub-categories added under the umbrella of feminism (race, class, sexuality, gender) that its aura has been diluted. Instead of these groups rallying to continue the struggle to end patriarchal oppression, the hierarchical culture of feminism has torn women apart to scrutinize which group makes better feminists.

In a post-feminist media context, popular discourse actually reinforces the powers that have been holding women back for eons (Foucauldian internalized oppression, self-monitoring). The most repressive aspect of feminism is to deny that young people care about the term, which can lead many to believe that the time has come to silence the topic entirely. Extraordinarily, Miley Cyrus may be the most famous young woman to publically declare herself to be the “biggest feminist in the world”, while Katy Perry says she is “not a feminist, but believes in strong women”. In most cases, the media is acting as a repressive force by choosing the victim as their scapegoat while perpetually representing women as damaged, manipulative and promiscuous.

This leaves every day women perplexed as to how to identify with feminism at all. On one hand, young women should be able to wear whatever they choose without fear of harassment. On the other, revealing costumes, hyper-sexualized lyrics, and pastiche-porn performances reinforce the idea that women are sex objects.  Strident feminists who criticize Miley Cyrus for her behaviour should realize that she has outwardly supported feminism, albeit in her own way, while other female stars have shied away from it. Cyrus understands that in order to make money for herself and her record label, she needs to capitalize on the systems created within patriarchy. After all, the type of sex Miley is selling is atypical; aggressive, confrontational, masculine characteristics. The trouble is the audience lacks the ability to observe the thin line between parody and acquiescence.

Popular media figures such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lena Dunham, and Pink are other examples of celebrities who have taken a public stance in affirming feminism. Their individual representations have been showcased by creating art from their own experiences. Joseph Gordon Levitt challenged damaging labels of masculinity and femininity in Don Jon, a mainstream movie about porn addiction and objectification. Lena Dunham writes about her realistic and relatable experiences as a 20-something in New York with Girls. Pink has constructed her image by speaking out about the patriarchal demands of the record industry and being a strong woman. These artists have gleaned inspiration from the movement as modern individuals.  

When celebrities choose to bring feminism to the forefront of their work, they also bring it back into the spotlight of the public sphere. Strides are being made by social media to unite women around the world by having real-time discussions about ongoing cultural issues like slut-shaming, violence and the gender gap. Women are still dealing with issues that were being tackled by second-wave feminists (sexual harassment, rape, reproductive rights, etc.). When celebrities dismiss feminism as something to be ashamed of, it makes the continued mistreatment of women (and all of the other categories of feminism) right. As more prominence is given to feminism in the media, the term will become less about isolating it to academics and more about making it accessible to women and men from all walks of life.”

Happy International Women’s Day!