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.