Last October, I shared a few “things that are saving my life right now” in the MMD newsletter.
The idea comes from Barbara Brown Taylor (who I consistently confuse with Barbara Taylor Bradford, which is just ridiculous). In her wonderful spiritual memoir Leaving Church, Taylor tells about the time she was invited to speak, and her host said, “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. But as a general rule, winter is the hardest month 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 been keeping a running list—a literal, physical list—of the things that are saving my life right now.
Some of these are huge. (Babysitters!) Some of them are tiny, so tiny they seem silly. But they are real, and it’s dishonest not to acknowledge them. Not only that—it’s a huge missed opportunity.
And so I’m marking the things—big and small—that are making my life so peculiarly precious during this season. The things that are saving my life, even if it sounds silly to say so.
High on the list of things saving my life this winter: four minutes in the nude, every day.
Okay, it’s probably not four whole minutes. But every morning when I get out of the shower and put on my lotion, I can’t help but think of a Neutrogena ad from my high school days for some lotion-y product. That was the ad copy: four minutes, in the nude. Lather it on, and if you spend four minutes letting it soak in before you move on with the rest of your day, your skin will thank you.
It sounds ridiculous. And yet.
Dry skin feels wretched. It makes me hate winter (more). When I don’t lotion up in the morning, I feel raw and scratchy all day. I have a hard time sleeping at night. (I can’t even imagine what you poor people with eczema do.)
And so even though I’m perpetually running late because I was trying to crank out one more paragraph at the computer, I take the time to put on lotion every morning when I get out of the shower. I putter around the bedroom, making the bed, putting things away, while I wait for it to soak in just enough to remain on my skin when I pull on my jeans.
It’s just lotion. It’s silly, really. But it’s saving my life right now.
Next Monday is February 2: Groundhog’s Day, the halfway point of winter. The halfway point of this season that is so hard for so many of us. To fight back against winter, this is what we’re going to do.
On February 2, I’m going to share my list (because I’m keeping one—an actual, paper list) of the things that are saving my life right now. 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.