I’m joining Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy to explore some of the things that are saving my life right now. I love this idea at this time of year–especially this year after we are long-weary of this pandemic and the seemingly unending wait for things to return to some semblance of normalcy. I don’t usually identify as someone that feels the winter blues, but I cannot say the same this year. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic, the seemingly endless gray weather, months of political and social unrest, or maybe some combination of all of the above, but I’m certainly feeling less like myself these days. But! There are things that are saving my life right now, and I always have a reason go to be grateful. Here is what is making a difference for me right now:
1. Stopping to Notice the Little Things
I recently read Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World. This moving book about faith served as a reminder for me to find God and gratitude in the smallest of ways. This may seem overly simplistic, but the simple act of stopping (literally standing still) and observing the moment I’m in has been both life-saving and life-giving. This morning, for example, I stopped what I was doing so I could take a moment to notice the thin layer of snow covering my backyard. Simply standing in and absorbing the small moments of beauty around me is such a grounding practice that reminds me that beauty doesn’t end just because it is winter, or cloudy, or gray. There is always something beautiful to see if I only take the time to look.
2. Exercise–Specifically, my NordicTrack Stationary Bike
I’ve been a runner since my early days in college. Even into my adulthood cold temperatures wouldn’t stop me from getting outside to run. Lately though, I’ve found that I like to run in warmer temperatures, which leaves me inside (and not exercising) throughout the winter. When my outdoor park actually closed down during the peak months of our shut-down, I invested in a NordicTrack. This has been one of my absolute best investments. I’m keenly aware that I am happier, and I feel much better when I exercise. I often wish this wasn’t true of me, because there are plenty of days that I don’t want to tie up my shoes and run or ride. I know, though, that a simple 30 minutes on my bike often sets me up for a much better day. I can use all the endorphins I can get during this winter season.
3. Morning Pages
Near the end of last year I read of a practice called Morning Pages. I don’t consider myself a real writer, but I do like to post on my blog and to Instagram when I’m feeling particularly inspired about something. The morning pages idea seemed like a way to tap into my creative side with a bit more intention. I’m sure I’m not doing it exactly as intended, but each morning I set my timer for 5 minutes, and I freewrite whatever is on my mind. This is such a small and simple practice, but it does so much to center and ground me at the start of my day. There is something therapeutic for me about getting my thoughts down and out of my head. Also, it has served as a really tangible way for me to reflect on my life, and identify areas that perhaps need a bit more attention.
I know this is a popular one right now. Anne Bogel continues to inspire me to tackle a puzzle, and this year, it has finally clicked for me. I have often made the mistake of starting a puzzle during a busy season (like Christmas), and then neglecting it for weeks and ultimately putting it back in the box to try again next year. This year as I was putting my puzzle away for like the fifth Christmas in a row, I decided to try again in January. This January, after the attack on the Capitol and 2-straight days of binge-watching CNN, I decided that a puzzle is exactly what I needed to get my mind off all the political strife. It turned out a puzzle was exactly what I needed. I finished my first 1000 piece puzzle in several years last week, and within a day I went out and bought another one. I’m so grateful for this simple entertainment that gets me away from the TV.
5. Reading (Of Course!)
This should go without saying, but I would be remiss if I didn’t add it here. Reading is *always* saving my life. A good book never disappoints me, and I’m really not sure how I would have handled all these months at home without an active and fulfilling reading life. I’ve been working my way through A Promised Land by Barack Obama since mid-January, and I have so enjoyed his account of his first-term in office. Also, I’m really looking forward to starting The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington when I finish with Obama’s memoir. I’m so grateful for great book recommendations and endless supply of reading material in good times and in bad.
If you’ve made it this far, what is saving your life right now? I’d love to know!