The things that are saving my life right now.

The things that are saving my life right now.

The past few winters have been brutal where I live, with unrelentingly cold, snow, and (my least favorite) ice. Lots of ice.

Try as I might, I can’t quite embrace the whole Norwegian winter thing—at least not for more than a month. Positive thinking can only carry me through a certain number of dreary days.

To preserve my sanity last year, I started keeping a list—an actual, physical, pen-and-paper list—of the things that were saving my life in that 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 paralyzed, unable to move.

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?

Every season carries its unexpected joys and challenges; such is life. In some ways, this winter has been easier than the past two years. (In others, harder, because SICK AGAIN, ugh!) But winter remains the hardest season for me. I miss my sunshine; I miss my fresh air. I’m constantly quelling creeping paranoia over flu season.

And so to beat back the dreary days, this winter I’ve again been keeping a list—a literal, physical list—of the things that are saving my life right now.

Some of these are Big Things. Some are so tiny they hardly seem worth writing down. But I’m marking them all, the things that are saving my life in this season, even if it sounds silly to say so.

Next Monday is February 1: the first day of what is definitely the cruelest month (regardless of what T.S. Eliot may think). Last year we joined together to combat the winter doldrums by making our lists of what’s saving our lives right now and sharing them here. You guys, it was wonderful. So wonderful that we’re going to do it all over again.

On February 1, I’ll share my list—and you’re invited to share yours, too.

Winter is hard, but by pausing at its halfway point to share the things that are helping us through it, we’ll lighten the load.

I can’t wait to hear what’s on your list.

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64 comments

  1. Joy says:

    Another reader from the UK here! No snow but grey, mild and rainy days. I’d prefer a sparkling cold day! This is a great idea and here’s my list:
    – knowing and constantly repeating that the days really are getting lighter and longer
    – exercise, my absolute life saver, doing something every day even just a few stretches
    – some craft e.g. crochet or knitting, great fun to make something and I find repetitive hand movements very calming (more productive than adult colouring books?!)
    – planning spring and summer holidays (UK term for vacations!)
    – more time to write letters instead of rushed emails
    – reading seed catalogues and deciding what to order to plant very soon
    – I love winter food, soups and stews seem more appropriate and nourishing in the winter
    – guilt free catching up on reading, TV, radio, podcasts because I seem to have more free time

  2. Laura Ramos says:

    I loathe winter as I was not built for cold weather and it’s difficult for me to find anything redeeming about it. Yesterday I decided I hadn’t fed my backyard birds in a long while so I put out the only makeshift feeder I could find – an old cat food bowl with pictures of cats on it 🙂 Yesterday I walked by the window and a flash of blue caught my eye. Thinking it was a blue jay, I walked closer to get a look. Turns out the bluebird of happiness came by to visit. He stayed all day on my deck and brought his mate as well. I’ve lived in my house for 10 years and have always wanted bluebirds in my yard but have never seen one until yesterday. It was a reminder that beauty really is everywhere and God’s hand is in everything and always at work – even in the season of winter when you feel numb.

  3. Heather H says:

    I love this as I too am NOT enjoying our winters lately in Eastern Canada 🙂 Great idea to concentrate on some things that really get you through it!! Off the top of my head, mine is hot coffee and other warm drinks, as well as a 5K race this weekend that is forcing me to run outside lately 🙂 I also rely heavily on extra Vitamin D supplements during this time of the year and I definitely notice a difference in my energy when I’m taking them regularly!

  4. Ginger G says:

    Count me in! I loved doing this mental exercise last year. I loved it so much that I started taking notes for each season of the year! But winter is definitely the hardest season for me and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in the struggle. Loved all the ideas last year and I’m looking forward to more inspiration this year!

  5. Lynette says:

    I am looking forward to reading your list, and to thinking more about my own. We are having a milder than usual winter in southwestern Ontario, so I haven’t sunk too deep yet into the winter blues. But it’s still a harder season, and it’s not nearly over!

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