Tomorrow marks the halfway point of the winter season, and I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy for the third year to share a list of things that are keeping me sane.
I love what she has to say:
This is a tough time of year for a lot of us. The days are short, and relentlessly dreary. Everyone has the flu, or if they’re lucky, the sniffles. Budgets are tight. And spring feels a long way away.
Winter is a challenging season for me. To preserve my sanity during the cold and grey days, I adopted a habit a few years back. I started keeping a list—an actual, physical, pen-and-paper list—of the things that were actively giving me life in my least favorite season.
The idea comes from author Barbara Brown Taylor. In her memoir Leaving Church, Taylor tells about a time she was invited to speak, and her host assigned her this topic: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”
Most of us know what’s killing us, and can articulate it, if asked. Some of us are overwhelmed with hurry and worry; some of us face crushing poverty; some feel utterly paralyzed.
But few of us stop to note what’s giving us life. Taylor says it’s too good a question to not revisit every once in a while: what are the things—big or small—that are saving us?
So here’s a little list of the things that are giving me life right now. Funny enough, my list hasn’t changed much year to year. I need lots of books, movement (preferably outside), and hot drinks to keep me going!
- reading every day
I know I’m happier when I have a good book to read, but I wasn’t making time to read much until my #readeveryday goal started January 1st. I don’t know if I can keep it up all year, but taking photos every day and tracking my progress has been really fun.
Lately I’ve started getting in bed early to read, instead of spending an hour or two binging TV shows or social media, which is a cozy change of pace during the winter months.
- walking every day
I started a habit of walking through the neighborhood with Amelia in the stroller last January, and I’m so glad I’ve stuck with the habit. I listen to podcasts or music, Amelia points at birds and dogs and cars (or snoozes), and it’s my favorite part of the day. The weather hasn’t been too cold yet, but even on snow days we bundle up and go for a walk for the novelty of it. And if the weather is nice enough, we’ll grab a second walk in the wagon. Whenever I’m feeling grumpy at the end of the day, it’s usually because I skipped our walk!
- play dates
I joined a couple Facebook groups of local moms, got to know some new friends, and now Amelia has at least 2 play dates each week, and it’s made a huge difference in my life. We try to get out of the house every day, and especially when it’s cold or dreary outside, it’s so nice to have something to look forward to on the calendar!
I love winter fruits, and I try to include them with every meal. I’ve never liked sandwiches for lunch all that much, but I’ll eat a smorgasbord of tangerines, pomegranate seeds (in greek yogurt), blueberry muffins (I use this banana bread recipe and added blueberries), and coffee, of course.
- coffee with frothed milk
I finally admitted to myself that tea just wasn’t cutting it anymore, and I need coffee to get through the day. We bought a coffee maker and I cut out the daily Starbucks runs. Now that Amelia is drinking whole milk, I’m adding frothed milk to my daily cup(s) of coffee and even though it only adds about 30 seconds to my routine, it feels so fancy.
- hand stitching
I haven’t been sewing at the machine much at all lately (it’s too loud during naptime), but my hand stitching projects are keeping my hands busy. The repetitive motion is like meditation, and I’m usually sipping a cup of coffee and listening to a podcast or watching a TV show, in order to make the most of naptime!
What’s saving your life right now?
Here’s a look back at the past 2 years:
Everything is a first with a new baby, and winter is no exception. It’s tempting to hibernate, and getting out and about is a lot more challenging these days, but it’s worth it! So here’s a short list of the big and small (mostly small) things that are saving my sanity this season:
- moving every day
I finally found a good neighborhood route that takes about 35 minutes to walk 2 miles, up and down a few hills, and some days it’s the only time I get out of the house. I have a chance to listen to a podcast (or silence!) and it nearly always puts Amelia right to sleep. We’ve been known to take 2 walks on fussy days, ha! Luckily the weather hasn’t been too cold to skip a walk yet, but on rainy days I pull out the Mommy and Baby Yoga videos on Youtube.
- hot tea
Every morning. I got an electric kettle last winter and after it sat unused all summer long, it’s finally back in business. And if I’m running errands in the car, a tall chai tea latte To Go is the ultimate indulgence.
Some days are better than others, but I try to do something for myself during naps – a long shower, cross stitching, reading, texting a friend. (Of course I also have to do the mundane stuff like email, bills, and phone calls, but I try to do as much of that stuff as possible while wearing the baby… it’s all a learning experience for her, right?)
I enjoy the monthly beauty samples all year long, but in the winter I really love the face masks and pampering products that I’d never buy for myself. In the five minutes to myself if the shower each day, it’s downright luxurious.
Now that I’m at home full-time and nursing (on demand = also full-time!), I wear pretty much the same thing every day: leggings + plaid button-up. It definitely makes getting dressed in the morning easy! Even though I’m only using a third of my closet, I’m not sure when/if I’ll go back to work and when/if I’ll be done breastfeeding, so I’m trying not to buy anything new or purge until this season has passed.
- baby smiles
I’ll do just about anything to make that baby smile, and that is making me smile a lot these days… plus blowing raspberries, making funny faces, singing silly songs, and kissing this sweet face. On long, tired days, Amelia reminds me of why I’m here.
- flannel sheets
Thanks to my Mama, new flannel sheets on the bed are keeping me cozy every night.
- construction zone walks
When the weather is warm enough, I’ve been going on walks around the neighborhood. The upside to living in a construction zone is that there’s always new progress to see.
I don’t bake as often as I used to, but I definitely feel the urge to bake when it’s cold out. Yesterday I made banana bread and the whole process from ingredients to eating was so comforting.
- library holds
I go to the library at least once a week to pick up new holds, (sometimes it still amazes me that I can read so much for free) and winter is the perfect time for reading heftier books.
- morning tea
I’ve started drinking tea every morning at work, and it’s so nice to have something hot on hand while tackling the first round of email. I’ve never been a regular coffee drinker, but I definitely get the appeal of a morning ritual.
My skin gets really dry in the winter, so I try to keep up with chapstick, lotion, and occasional face masks.
- chai tea latte
I only allow myself to have this treat once a week or so, but it’s my favorite winter drink.
- make something (anything)
I’ve mentioned that I haven’t felt inspired to quilt lately, but making something always helps me feel better. I jumped into the Pixelated Heart QAL on Instagram and just starting something new has been a great spark of motivation.
Lately I’ve been craving funny media. A few favorites: podcasts (The Popcast is a new favorite), movies (caught Pretty Woman on TV the other day and forgot how much I enjoyed it when Julia Roberts shows up the snooty Rodeo Drive saleswomen), TV (finally binged on Master of None from start to finish), stand-up comedy (also finally watched John Mulaney’s special The Comeback Kid and loved it), etc. Seeking out laughter is always a good thing.
What’s saving your life right now?