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Hi, I’m Danne—just  Danne, not short for Danielle, and pronounced like Danny. I’m a freelance graphic designer and blogger based out of Boston, Mass., originally hailing from beautiful Cape Cod. I started my blog, 12 Months of Lent, in January of 2009 as a realistic way to make progress on my personal goals and to live a more authentic and fulfilling life. Coming off of a year full of letdowns and setbacks (2008 was not my favorite year), I knew that the only way to turn things around was to take matters into my own hands. It was time to start living the life I wanted, and the start of the New Year seemed like the perfect time to do so.

This newfound determination to start living better manifested into 12 Months of Lent when I sat down to make my list of goals and New Year’s resolutions for 2009. Because it’s always impossible for me to settle on just one resolution (can anyone actually do this?), I was left with an impossibly long list and an overall feeling of discouragement. Great, I thought. How am I ever going to make any real progress with such an intimidating list?

Well, I rationed, At least Lent’s in a few months, maybe I could work one of my goals into Lent. That's when the light bulb went off. Maybe I could work all of my goals into a series of “mini-lents”, one for each month of the year, which would break down my original list of resolutions into a clearly defined and manageable plan. Perfect. My Type A personality breathed a sigh of relief.

Disclaimer: You're probably reading this and thinking, “Um, cool idea, but this sounds nothing like the Lent that I practice each year." Yes, I know, I use the term Lent very loosely. Having grown up in a Catholic household myself, I’m well aware that I’m pushing Lent to its limits, but really, I’m just borrowing the underlying concept: Personal sacrifice and dedication for personal growth and fulfillment. It’s as simple as that.

So what types of things do I do? It’s honestly all over the map. I’ve spent a month picking up every piece of litter that I came across, another month not making any trash (it’s much more possible than you think), a month limiting my wardrobe to only six items (which I highly recommend that everyone try), a month cooking three new recipes a week, a month getting rid of 100 things a week, and other months committing to much more simple tasks, like writing in my journal each day, taking more photographs, and doing more yoga.

Completing these challenges and writing about them (I had no idea how much I missed writing until I started blogging) has been such an incredibly positive and life-changing experience. Not only has it been successful in pushing me to accomplish my personal goals, but it’s also proven to be the perfect way to maintain balance in my life. For me, the key lies in treating your personal goals and interests with as much importance as you would your career or your health. Often times, your dreams and ambitions can seem larger-than-life and too overwhelming to embark on, but when you start to break them  down and move them out of the “someday” section of your to-do list and into the “today” section, you’ll realize that they’re easier to achieve than you thought. It just takes a little willpower and dedication, and I have 27 years of practicing Lent to thank for that.

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