The tiny domestic tasks that are saving my life right now

The tiny domestic tasks that are saving my life right now

We’re sitting at the midpoint of winter, entering what isn’t an easy month—or easy season—for many of us. To beat back the gloom, today we’re sharing the things—big or small—that are saving us right now.

The idea comes from Barbara Brown Taylor’s wonderful memoir Leaving Church. Even though most of us know exactly what’s killing us, it’s harder to name what’s saving us.

Once when Taylor was invited to speak at a gathering, her host told her simply, “Tell us what is saving your life right now.” She says it’s too good a question not to revisit from time to time. And today, we’re doing just that.

We’ve been doing this for years now, and my own answers to this question have varied. I’ve written about the small sips that are saving me—one of my favorite essays ever, though those sips are impossible in this particular winter. I wrote about travel advice as life advice. Last year I told you about jigsaw puzzles and Friday coffee and taking the long view. Over and over again, I’ve cited sunshine and long walks and good books and sleep as essentials for getting through these dark days.

All these things remain true. (Except for those coffee planning meetings in actual coffee shops—oh, how I miss them!)

For this unusual year—in which my recurring seasonal dread of the flu has been usurped by a higher-stakes threat—I wanted to bring you something new. And when I wracked my brain, my thoughts turned in a direction I didn’t expect: the laundry.

Who would have thought it?

In my defense (lest I sound wholly unbelievable), it started with a book.

I have a long history of domesticity reading enjoyment, and so when I saw that a new book all about laundry was coming out in spring 2021—from Flatiron, much to my surprise—I couldn’t download my review copy fast enough. I read the book in the woods—on a vacation of sorts—back in October. I loved it from page one.

The book is Laundry Love from “laundry evangelist” Patric Richardson, and you better believe you’ll see it in this year’s Summer Reading Guide. (Yes, it really is that engaging.)

What is it about domesticity that makes for such satisfying reading? And not just on a comfort level—there’s so much drama bound up with laundry! When he writes about laundry, Richardson must also discuss Kentucky ancestry, or the family barbecue sauce legacy, or the time he was called to the church to scrub a stain out of a bride’s dress after an affectionate toddler had given her a big hug—while carrying a permanent marker.

Since I was reading in the woods (aren’t they beautiful?), I couldn’t exactly put the book’s advice into practice right away—but I highlighted this thing to pieces. (I just counted; I saved 49 highlights on my Kindle.)

But then when I got home, the real fun started: I bought new detergent. And a laundry brush. I went on a shopping spree on The Laundress website. I filled a spray bottle with vodka. I wadded up aluminum foil for my dryer. I experimented with his ways of doing things—like washing athletic clothes, or even sweaters, right in the washing machine. And when my clothes got really dirty, I found myself flipping to Richardson’s notes over and over again to figure out what to do.

I’ll gloss over most of the details, including the baskets full of garments I’ve refreshed and rescued, but my laundry education culminated last week in an epic victory: with my kindle highlights open beside me, I removed lipstick and a nasty chicken tikka masala spill from my favorite ivory cashmere sweater. After cautious applications of vinegar, laundry soap, sodium percarbonate, and a gentle scrub, all traces of the bright fuchsia and oily tomato red were gone.

I never thought I’d find such satisfaction in laundry. I was so proud of myself. And surprised at how gratifying I found this small thing to be.

But I probably shouldn’t have been. For the duration of the pandemic, I’ve noticed myself gravitating towards projects that let me establish control over a narrowly defined aspect of my life or my space: I organized my fridge and then, for the first time in my life, I put actual labels on the shelves to mark where things go. I reconfigured my spice drawers with new square tins that accommodate more supplies in a tight space.

(I doubt it’s a coincidence that I’ve done all these things in my own home that I’ve spent so much time in these past 11 months.)

And by golly, I’ve learned how to care for my clothes so that they’ll look good and last longer, giving me the satisfaction of a job well done and a craft mastered (or, at the very least, improved upon).

Entropy being what it is (you should see the laundry this family of six generates every blessed day), I can practice these new skills multiple times a week, if I choose to. Laundry is a team effort around here, but when it’s my turn, I’m leaning into the enjoyment factor—pouring a cup of tea or a glass of wine, queuing up an audiobook, and starting the loads and folding the clothes not begrudgingly, but with the satisfaction of doing something meaningful for myself and the people I love.

It feels odd to say that laundry is saving my life, but it’s not really the laundry that’s doing it. It’s the transformation of a once-begrudged task into an intriguing puzzle (and you know how I feel about puzzles); the subtle shift in mindset to approaching the quotidian with intention and care.

So much is out of my control right now, but that lipstick stain? I’ve got it covered.

What’s saving your life right now? Share your own blog or Instagram post below, or simply type out your list in the comments section.

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    • MeganTerrell says:

      Enjoyed your list, I didn’t realize that I would have some of the same things on mine (athletic socks and yoga socks).

  1. My What’s Saving My Life posts has a lot to do with making every day domestic decisions that give me peace for the rest of life! And of course some other random products like a shampoo bar, of all things. I am certainly adding Laundry Love to my reading list, probably before summer! Thanks for helping us all fight back the winter grey. http://miathereader.com/colored-pencils-to-cookbooks-to-coffee-at-200-things-that-are-saving-my-life-winter-21/

    • Ana says:

      Couldn’t help replying. 😁. Yes! Slippers in. MN are a must. After years of different types, I bought a pair of Haflinger wool slippers/clogs 3 years ago. I wear them every day of the year. Love them!

      • Beth Palmer says:

        My son and his fiancé gave me Haflinger wool slipper clogs for Christmas this year and as a lifelong Minnesota resident I can’t believe I didn’t know how awesome these are to wear! I’m enjoying them in New Hampshire this winter while caring for my 2.5 year old grandson who is saving my life! What a wonderful distraction to enter into the world of a young child!

    • Kate says:

      Another Minnesotan chiming in on the slipper love! I just splurged and bought myself a new pair of LL Bean slippers and they are making me so happy. I rotate with a pair of wool Acorn slides too. It feels indulgent to have two pair, but wearing them 24/7 for 7-8 months straight makes them a necessity.

    • MeganTerrell says:

      Hmm, your “This Week Pinterest Board” is a good idea, IF I knew how to use Pinterest. I just dump them into my Google Reading List. It is somewhat interesting to see what it there from 6 months ago.

      • Anne says:

        I can’t believe I’m so excited about a book about laundry. But I can’t wait for it to come out so I can stash the hardcover in my laundry room—it will be dog-eared in no time!

        • Erin Abler says:

          I got really into laundry when I had to work from home. I use GoCleanCo laundry stripping methods off of instagram and I’m not kidding when I say her whole IG feed has changed my life

        • Debbie LaTerza says:

          I’ve been thinking about this book ever since you first mentioned it – I can’t remember when. (It may have been on the Zoom “all staff fave books from 2020”). Anyway, I think about it most days when I begin the laundry routine. AND we are a household of two adults and one golden retriever! I can remember when there were a lot more of us – but even with two, it is never-ending and I can’t wait to get a little bit excited about the task after reading this book! I am also looking forward to a few months from now when I can begin hanging my laundry outside to dry and I’m hoping he’s got a chapter, or at least a couple of paragraphs, about that!

      • Beth Gross says:

        That’s a reference to micro habits in general and the research that says that reading as little as six minutes can reduce stress and 4 seconds of exercise at time is enough to make an impact.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Hi Beth, I read your post and I really like that so many of your saving things were mindset shifts. That’s the ultimate for what I need right now too– the same things, just thought of in a more sustainably healthy way. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

      • Beth Gross says:

        Thanks, Leanne. I love it that you noticed the mindset shifts! I didn’t see it. But, it makes sense. For me, so much of the frustration versus contentment struggle had to do with perspective.

    • FLORENCE KATONO says:

      Wooow. Indeed this is a brilliant and intimate question this year. Beth thanks for sharing your little things. I like the board best. Good tickler to start using mine effectively.

  2. Sarah Wooten says:

    Texting loved ones with a positive message or nature picture each morning. Taking daily walks with my husband each day at different parks or greenways, writing and reading. And discovering Netflix!

    • Aimee says:

      I’ve sent SO MANY cards this past year and have what, in my mind, I call a texting ministry. Get my chai latte, sit in my car outside
      Starbucks and start praying for people. Text them to let them know I prayed for them. Then I scroll through my texts to follow back up with those who had a test or a procedure or a specific prayer request. It’s been such a blessing to me!

  3. Great stuff, Anne. What’s saving my life now is perspective. My life was actually and really saved three years ago after a bicycle racing accident. When challenges come up now, the family has a new motto, invented by my wife when my job was in jeopardy: “We’re alive, we’re together, we love each other, and G is for us! What could go wrong?”

    From my perspective, though there are crapy days, this always reels me back to what is important.

  4. Alison says:

    A weekend “staycation” in my bedroom of listening to classical music, reading books and my Bible, watching chick flicks, and eating takeout has really helped this introvert to have a positive heart and attitude this winter after getting some much needed solitude amidst all the togetherness of our house!

  5. Zoe Morgan says:

    I’ve just discovered the poems of Mary Oliver, and her Devotions is saving my life right now! Also, knitting- the more colorful items the better in this bleak winter.

  6. Sometimes I just like completing domestic things like cleaning and organizing. It feels good to have that tick on my list and given that my husband does all the cooking and the outdoors work like shoveling, makes me feel like I contribute something. I ended up putting in a request on Netgalley for Laundry Love after reading this! You’ve sold me on checking out Laundry Love for sure. I’ll admit, I like folding clothes while I am on a webinar for work – as with my work webinars it’s pretty much sit and watch, no hands on participation, so a great time to fold clothes. What is saving me now is a nice cup of hot chocolate and counting down the weeks until my due date. Also, reading books off my shelf and putting them in the unhaul/donate box. I love opening up space for new books to come in.

  7. Margaret Yates says:

    I recommend checking the time the sun sets each day. It sets a little later each day at this time of year – a reminder that Spring is on the way!

  8. Amapola says:

    What is saving my life right now:
    Over the holidays I bought “A Passion for Japan” a coloring book by Sara Muzzio, along with some really good colored pencils. Each day I take time to work on an area and it has been a great exercise in creativity and relaxation, and a great way to listen to some audiobooks while I work/play.
    Homemade bread continues to be a meditation process during Winter, especially now that I feel confident enough to tweak the recipes.
    I have been taking breaks to walk around the house when the days are too cold to go outside. It improves my energy, which is a good thing since I went back to grad school this past January. I’m finally getting the hang of organizational apps to keep in track with work.
    And finally, as a K-drama fan, this past month I have find lots of joy in a short series titled “A Love so Beautiful”, a lot of sweetness and joy to balance out the heaviness of the news.

  9. Julia Frances Horan says:

    Yoga, which I discovered is really good for me if I keep it up regualrly Zumba with my favorite instructor (they went remote). I discovered I love remote classes, no trek to the gym. My favorite tv shows lots of new seasons out now. Reading, Angie Thomas just released a new book and my tbr is full and being a student in a coding boot camp working toward a career change. Also time with family and mom cooking (I left Nyc b/c of covid)

  10. Leanne Sowul says:

    Hello everyone! I’m a longtime MMD reader, rare commenter, but when Anne put out the call last week, I couldn’t resist writing my own post about things saving my life. (Spoiler alert: it also contains a once-mundane household task, as well as a recommendation for life-changing pants.) I’ll be clicking on everyone else’s links today and can’t wait to see all the ways people are saving themselves during this difficult time. Thank you for this awesome tradition, Anne!
    http://leannesowul.com/making-happy/5-things-that-are-saving-my-life-right-now/

  11. Cara Davis says:

    Oh my goodness, I love this! I have a laundry day, otherwise I’m the person who finds wet clothes in the washing machine that have been there for days. Or crumpled dryer clothes. If I have a day dedicated to laundry, it gets done and put away without wrinkles but stains have always stumped me, so thank you!
    I just learned about the Flylady so I’ll be jumping down that rabbit hole today too!

  12. Maeghan says:

    I have to say I’ve had to think about this question for a while now but I believe you’re right about it being the small things. Since the first shutdown here in Canada in March I had to decide if I should stay with my close-to-elderly parents or stick it out on my own. I’m glad I stayed with them. In the middle of the pandemic neither my parent’s health was doing too well and I ended up making big changes for them. I do the menu planning, the meal research (dietary restrictions), and the cooking. I added walks in the afternoon into our days. I had a bit of a mental health crisis of my own in December and I remember thinking to myself “I’m so glad I decided to stay with my parents” because I couldn’t think of how I would have gotten through that on my own. I’m very close to my parents and my sister but I feel like this pandemic isolation has helped me see that this time is well spent with them. That the pandemic is a difficult time but that I’ll look back on it and be glad I spent it with them. I also completely agree with you about laundry. My parents don’t have very good mobility and so I do a lot of the chores for them they have trouble doing themselves. Laundry has been sort of an escape for me. I use it to listen to podcasts or watch a BookTube video I’ve been meaning to get to. I find those few minutes help to center me. The walks I take with my parents (when it’s not bitterly cold or windy) around the town and the talks I have with them are something that I look forward to. I’ve made new traditions with reading as well! My mom and I are big readers but have different tastes. One thing we both love is a mystery. So I picked a collection of books we both would enjoy and I told her to choose one. We pass the book back and forth every day. She’ll read 5 chapters or so and then hand it back to me and I’ll read the next. We’ve done that a few times now. We’re just finishing Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough before the Netflix series starts. Another thing that’s sort of hard to explain but has saved my sanity is my minutes to myself. I have my space and I have time to myself. I realized I was going bananas because I was always with people and taking care of people but I wasn’t taking time and space for myself. So I do that every day now. A space of a few minutes to just breathe and have a quiet time just for myself.

    • Susan says:

      This was such a beautiful post, I found myself very moved regarding this gift of time with your parents. A memory to treasure.

    • Martha Flora says:

      What a lovely post! I’m glad for you to have had this time and maybe a little sad that I’m unable to have those days with my own mother. Enjoy your time and thank you for such a gift

  13. Laura J says:

    Books, as always, Toby the Wonderdog and surprisingly popcorn! I bought my husband a popcorn maker for Christmas. (https://www.whirleypopshop.com/ ) It is pretty healthy & really fun to make. It is super quick, minimal cleanup and somehow elevates our evenings to be more festive. It’s also fun to try different kinds of popcorn & see what we think. Microwave popcorn has some unhealthy elements we were trying to avoid and all but a couple kernels pop! Who knew!

  14. Olivia S says:

    Knitting. I’ve started test knitting for designers. It’s like a puzzle to check the instructions for clarity, make sure the knitted item fits, etc. And there’s a deadline I have to meet.

  15. Jen C says:

    I totally get the satisfaction of mastering a new thing during these crazy times! Love it.
    Two things are saving my life right now: Crocheting & audiobooks (mainly stories I already know). I just finished Pride and Prejudice, and now I am listening through the entire Harry Potter series. I am so much more motivated to get chores done when I can listen to a comforting, familiar story. I love crocheting because a friend is teaching me (social needs, check!) and I can get a small project done in a weekend, so I have a finished product in a short amount of time!

  16. kate says:

    Oh my gosh. I’m going to get absolutely zero work done today if I keep scrolling and clicking on these links.

    For me – this dark, cold time of year is always made better with a hot toddy. Gloop of honey, squeeze of lemon, splash of whiskey and some hot water. Wards off the chill and serves some medicinal purpose, I’m sure 🙂

    • Tif says:

      Kate – I’m with you! I also bought some fancy cherries meant for Old-Fashioneds, which I put in my hot toddies even if I’m not making a proper cocktais. Maybe that could replace the honey for the sweet?
      Saving my life = cross-stitching! I picked it up again during the early pandemic months after 15 years and I adore it. Unlike reading (where I need quiet), I can stitch with my family in the room or while I’m catching up on shows. I even taught my boys! Etsy, Amazon, JoAnns, and Michaels have great kits and you can search for things that interest you (Harry Potter, maps, video game characters…) Both soothing and satisfying!

  17. Patricia Demilio says:

    -Yoga early on weekday mornings with a friend through video chat
    -Twinkle lights on grapevine cones to brighten up my living room
    -My little battery operated milk frother and homemade chai lattes
    -Dr.Rocky’s free webinars on Italian art and architecture
    -my happy light time–I use that time to read a chapter in a difficult book that I am trying to finish.

  18. Rhona says:

    This year I gave myself a calendar of National Days. Today is National Baked Alaska Day. Feb. 4 is Natl. Homemade Soup Day. Those days will be good days to make or eat that food. But it’s not all about food. Feb. 4 is also Thank a Mail Carrier Day. February is Library Lover’s Month. Feb. 20 – Love Your Pet Day. I’m hoping that these fun daily remembrances will be part of what will be saving my life through the coming year.

  19. Susan says:

    Routine and structure. I have realized they are slightly different. Structure, for me, being something in my daytimer. In January I found I was really missing structure. So my daytimer this year has hourly segments. Game changer, I felt less adrift.
    Online communication. Able to continue some groups: Bridge, Book Club, Knitters, Zumba.
    I have always loved being at home, and this past year has really proven it to be a haven and sanctuary for me. Comfort and security, feeling like I’m on solid ground when the world is upended. And my husband’s presence. He anchors me.
    My trifecta of comfort and happiness is books, yarn and tea. My favourite crochet projects are small blankets and scarves, which I donate.

  20. Christen says:

    Eating lunch outside with friends (even when it’s freezing), Netflix with my husband, FaceTime with my grandkids, books and more books and exercise!

  21. Tienne says:

    I LOVE this tradition. I didn’t even think about today as the midway point, but when I read your post about it on Jan 25, I booked today off as a “me” day – which worked out well because after that, we heard kids were going back to school today for the first time since Christmas.

    Things saving me right now:
    – Nature and lots of forest walks with my dog, discovering more serious hiking is my jam, cross country skiing (on the river at sunset!), a pinecone necklace my son gave me for Christmas to keep the forest close.
    – 10 minute yoga every morning, right out of bed (https://youtube.com/c/yogawithkassandra)
    – Dry January which may just continue into February
    – Online thrifting to make up for not going to thrift shops or thrift shows
    – Bombas socks!! Thanks Anne! And also Sweaty Betty leggings
    – “Travelling” to Scotland through many books (started with The Lost Queen, again, thank you Anne!), podcasts, Netflix and IG
    – And of course books – paper and audio.

  22. Caroline Schuyler says:

    What’s saving my life right now: 1. outschool.com. My kids are in virtual school right now and outschool provides the extras that they’re missing out on–art, drama, and stop-motion animation are big interests. These fun classes give some extra stimulation and socialization. They’re happier and so I’m happier. 2. My new favorite meal, Italian Wedding Soup and buttermilk biscuits. I don’t know why these pair so well together but they really do. It’s perfect comfort food that does not tax my limited culinary skills. 3. Grocery delivery. I don’t know why it took me this long to try it but now I don’t ever want to stop. The extra expense is so worth the convenience. I find the grocery store anxiety-inducing in the best of times. This service is truly saving me right now.

  23. Donna B. says:

    Kittens. Three. Rescued from under a hedge in our side yard. Along with our Dobermann, Sadie, and our Chihuahua houseguest, Miles. Their need for my care and their never-ending antics help me focus on the moment. And, seriously, what’s better than holding a purring kitten on your shoulder? No big philosophical statements here, alas. Just sheer enjoyment of the moment.

  24. Jane in WV says:

    When David Bowie went through a very rough time, he went to Berlin to get away from his life. He said that doing his own laundry is what saved him and brought him back from the edge.

  25. Brooke Kingston says:

    Audio books and Airpods while I clean the house.
    Making soup every single Monday, because winter Mondays are hard and they need some warming comfort.
    Walking three times a day through the neighborhood with my family and our doodle. Makes me feel like I’ve gotten “out” and seen some things!
    Daily LOL, load of laundry. I have an odd fascination with cleaning clothes, and I can’t wait to read your book recommendation! Lovely post.

  26. I love anything that can shift perspective on seemingly mundane tasks…sounds like I am going to need to read Laundry Love! One of the things that has been saving me on the regular since last March has been a weekly blog post about our pandemic-era life. It’s helped me rant and rage when ranting and raging were needed. It’s helped me be purposeful about finding the small moments of gentle joy amidst the long periods of isolation. It’s helped me process grief. It’s helped me find the missing pieces in my own soul care – including a return to the simple practice of breath prayer. Deep breaths and praying with those deep breaths is saving me moment by moment right now!
    https://alittlebroken.org/2021/01/29/social-distancing-week-46-deep-breaths/

  27. Susan says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading all the posts! No blog to link to, but here’s my list:
    1. Libby app and kindle store – I have been reading a ton and the ease of both is wonderful.
    2. Wool socks – I can’t even tell you how happy my variety of wool socks makes me. I’ve been walking outdoors more in the past few weeks. I live in the Chicago area, and I haven’t had cold feet even once.
    3. My nespresso machine – working from home means infrequent Starbucks stops, but I don’t miss it with my trusty nespresso.
    4. Speedy/reliable wifi – it has been holding up admirably for the past 10 months and I dearly hope it continues. It is our life line to work, school, shopping, our college kids, my aging mother, doctors, books, streaming entertainment, etc.
    5. My JBL blue tooth speaker and Spotify subscription. I bought the family subscription several years ago when my kids were messing with each other in the shared single account, but I never really used it until this last year when I bought myself a great speaker and use it while I’m working. I prefer the speaker to an alexa or similar smart device.
    6. Reading glasses – I turn 50 in two weeks and all of a sudden, my eyes are letting me know! Cheaters are saving me until I can get into the eye dr. for a more fine tuned solution.

  28. Lisa F. says:

    I love this post! Laundry has always been my “favorite chore.” I really enjoy every part of the process, right up to folding and putting away all that lovely “clean-ness.”

    What’s saving my life right now: working The World of Shakespeare jigsaw puzzle; Twinings English Breakfast with Honey and Vanilla tea; All Creatures Great and Small on PBS; Ginger People Gin-Gins Double Strength hard candy; homemade soups and breads; winter sunsets; garden planning. I would have said walking, but our two decades old treadmill finally kicked the bucket and the weather in PA is not walking-friendly right now…

    • I have got to get in on All Creatures Great and Small! Just saw an NPR recommendation for it and now you are saying it is good. It looks like a lovely, happy escape. Just what I need right now!

  29. Jaclyn says:

    Lately my ongoing group chat with two of my dear friends has been a lifesaver. I don’t see them in person often (one lives an hour away, the other several states away), but we can always count on each other to share a good joke, excitement about good things in our lives, minor frustrations, etc.

    I also recently got some new Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones, and the ability to listen to music so much more easily has really improved my music listening and is opening up a lot more variety for me. Music in general is a lifesaver for me, whether playing it myself (I find the piano particularly satisfying) or listening to someone else’s.

  30. Lori says:

    Thank you for this list, Anne. I immediately added Laundry Love to my TBR. Here are the things saving my life right now:
    1. Books and reading – it’s how I start my day, end my day, and take a midday break.
    2. Tea – so much tea. I live in Colorado and love to go up to the Celestial Seasonings Tea Shop and tour a few times a year to stock up on seasonal teas. With the pandemic, I am ordering it online. I work from home and drink tea all day. In the winter, it is a cozy treat and in the summer when I make iced tea, it is a refreshing one!
    3. My daily 1 hour walk with my husband and dogs. As long as it is’t excessively windy, it is how I get fresh air, sunshine and beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.
    4. Like Anne, I re framed my thinking around household chores for the year and decided that in a lot of ways they were self-care. I’ve been using FlyLady to keep a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule/structure.

  31. j says:

    5 things off the top of my head: Taking care of my plants and my pup, the whole internet (just imagine not being able to google “what can I cook with…”), taking walks in my new coat, the music of Ruthie Foster, and checking out library e-books online.

  32. Creating Beauty and Buy Nothing Group:

    I, too, am finding comfort in creating order in my life. I started on New Year’s Day by hanging some peel and stick Rifle Paper Company wall paper in my home office/guest room/wardrobe/cat space. Because I’m using a desktop computer I nabbed from work, I have one plain wall background and it was uninspiring. This new, colorful background looks impressive in zoom meetings. And, I feel so happy to be in this room 9-10 hours a day.

    This wall paper project inspired me to organize the whole room and that spilled over to organizing my nightstand and bookshelves and dining room banquette, and, well, it just keeps spreading. Having a beautiful, orderly space is calming and I have control over my physical space, if nothing else.

    Along with this organizing saving me, so is my local Buy Nothing Facebook group. Neighbors in about a 4 mile radius share our bounty and ask for things we need. I’ve gotten rid of several things including an extra sofa bed (they picked it up so we didn’t have to haul it to a donation site), a poster frame, chalkboards left over from my wedding, some IKEA gift tins I never took out of the plastic, and an open bag of charcoal! The best was giving 7 empty wine bottles that I had been saving for a project to an artist who will use them in a performance.

    This group exchanges everything as it builds a sense of community. It’s all “porch pick ups” so we don’t really see each other, but we feel connected. My favorite gifting was when someone posted that she had four egg yolks left from an egg white recipe and someone took the yolks!!

  33. Carolyn says:

    I’m discovering the winter great outdoors. I’m an avid hiker, but didn’t venture much into the mountains in the winter until now. I’ve discovered all kinds of new trails snowshoeing, and many of them are hardly used giving me a lot of peace and quiet in the woods. I even did a winter summit and am going to do some overnight camping too! Something I never thought I would do. It has given me a whole new, exciting perspective on winter.

  34. Paula says:

    I truly wish I could say that I could learn to do laundry but it wouldn’t be true. It’s great when it’s done but knowing there will be more in a couple of days doesn’t make me overjoyed. I am 73 and I still teach but I was teaching online prior to the pandemic so that hasn’t been a sea change for me. I love it. It’s one of the things that keeps me going! But mostly while I do the treadmill, mostly I am loving reading and binging on prime movies and Netflix. I don’t feel guilty about it because my husband I have great discussions and I cherish that.

  35. Paula says:

    My first sentence was terrible. Sorry about that. I meant that I wish I could say that I could learn to love laundry but it wouldn’t be true.

  36. Kaethe Pittman says:

    Saving My Life Right Now: Lille baby carrier
    Reading apps on my phone
    TV series on DVD from library
    Massages
    Faith-filled emails
    My granddaughter’s laughter

  37. Rita Morgan says:

    I can’t wait to get this book for myself and my grown children! Around home my kids called me the laundry fairy. But I have never been a stain master like my mom. I can’t wait! What’s saving me? I’m in California so we have so me gorgeous, sunny winter days and I can get outside. That helps so much!

  38. Beverly Marmas says:

    Shoveling snow. The cool air & exercise clear the mind & calm the soul. First time in over 30 years living in Northern MN in the winter.

  39. Suzanne says:

    I feel like I would love this book but I don’t have a washer dryer and use a laundry service instead of spending my weekend days in a laundromat. Is the book still helpful for people in my situation? (Hopefully, one day I will have a washer dryer!)

    • Suzanne says:

      Oh – and as for what is saving my life right now… we are updating our apartment (new cabinets and tiles in the kitchen, updating the floors and closets, and some other things). I’ve been thoroughly enjoying planning, budgeting, problem solving, working with the different vendors, and shopping for and selecting the items that will enhance our home.
      It’s been way more helpful than I ever imagined. As part of the project, right now we are staying at an Air B&B in Brooklyn while the work is done (well, started, we will be back before they are done) and it is like a working vacation… still working from the Air B&B but new walks, new scenes, new take out restaurants to enjoy. And lots of great cozy reading time. Also, our apartment doesn’t have many windows but this rental does, and it is bigger, so right now I am watching the blizzard from said windows, it’s beautiful!
      We lost our dog of nearly 15 years a couple of weeks ago and have been heartbroken. This project, and this mini getaway, have been saving our lives.

  40. I am so excited for the laundry book! I’ve been thinking so much about laundry lately, partially because I’m a soapmaker and I have some old borax and liquid soap ingredients I want to use up, so I’ve been reading a lot about it. The book sounds so charming, and I’m going to pick up the housekeeping book “Home Comforts” too.

    What’s saving my life is focusing more on a tidy home than ever before. I’ve been installing little shelves for extra storage in our linen closet and finally tossed my ancient dish drainer (that takes up tons of counter space) in favor of a rollup model that goes over the sink itself. My three kids leave the house so cluttered with toys lining the walls at best, and as you said, gaining control with small things makes a big difference. I’m crossing my fingers my coconut oil laundry soap with enzymes works out!

  41. When I was a young girl, I wanted to help my mother in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I am not a good cook nor am I a sous chef nor am I good, at all, in the kitchen. However, my mom assigned me the task of doing laundry. She taught me a slow and laborious way that she does the laundry and I still do it to this day. I consider doing laundry the equivalent of going to see a therapist and talking through my problems. Doing laundry for me is total relaxation and I take pride in how beautiful my finished laundry baskets look. And yes, two out of my three grown single daughters still bring their laundry home for me to do. If I could’ve made money making a living doing laundry, I would’ve been all in.

  42. Michele says:

    What’s saving me right now is taking time on Monday nights to run a hot bath with nice bath salts, light a candle and read a great book while I soak. Ahhh. I’ve always loved taking a bath but rarely made the time for it until this winter. Looking forward to it tonight!

  43. Debbie Burke says:

    first it was recycling in the bin my community provides…then use ZERO plastic bags… then bar shampoo… then it was composting and no plastic straws or styrofoam cups… now it is Foodrescue.us, both the “regular” way and then adding USDA Farms to Families… and using cloth napkins, as much as I can and not buying stuff I really don’t need, including food I won’t use before it expires/rots… baby steps… help and don’t hurt too much!

  44. Joy Shelden says:

    For me, it’s finally reading the books on my kindle that I’ve never read, discovering new music and rediscovering old favorites, digging deeper into my faith, and journaling that are really keeping me sane right now.

  45. Aimee Sterk says:

    I so appreciate this thought this year–and I need to step away from the need to silverline the pandemic–and this does not do that. Thank you!
    What is saving me right now?
    Ava Truckey’s Facebook Group Feed Me a Story
    Finding things to give away on my local Buy Nothing group
    Birds at the birdfeeder that my husband, Joe, placed outside of my office window
    The spaceheater in my office
    Online yoga
    My therapist
    Bathtime with my 2-year-old daughter, Anneliese, video calling many people playing “where’s Anneliese” in the bubbles
    My 4-year-old son, Theo, singing
    Hugs from Joe
    Seeing my mom doing better after a scary hospitalization at Christmas
    Podcasts to fall asleep to, especially Satellite Sisters, Movie Therapy, Home Cooking, Don’t Ask Tig, and What Should I Read Next?

  46. Popping in to say that I CANNOT believe I just preordered a book on laundry. This has been a year like no other.

    And a quick what’s saving my life right now:
    Unprompted teenage son hugs — it takes everything in me to stay cool, but inside I’m throwing a party.

    • Michelle says:

      I know exactly what you mean – my 22 year old son is home on leave. I was sitting in my office yesterday morning when he came downstairs and sat on my lap for snuggles. He’s an Army Ranger. It took everything I had not to break down and cry.

  47. Jaime C. says:

    I love this idea – it’s important to be able to identify the things keeping you sane. Last year…it was Blow Pops. It was so random, but so comforting. This season, the things saving my life and keeping me sane are:
    1) Bri McKoy’s Kitchen Masterclass – I love the class, but Bri is like a ray of sunshine to watch.
    2) My new humidifier/diffuser – I started diffusing a “breathe” blend and it’s so lovely and has definitely improved my sleep.
    3) A cozy Christmas blanket – I have a Christmas blanket that I usually take out and pack away with the holiday, but it’s one of my most favorite blankets and this year, I’ve just decided it stays.
    4) Cardamom Tea – seriously it’s so good with a little sweet cream.
    5) Snuggle Routine with my dog – really, she gets snuggles anytime she wants them, but it’s good for my brain for us to have a morning and evening snuggle. Even for a couple minutes.

  48. Angie Allen says:

    I retired two months ago from a job of 35 years! From March-November, 2020, I worked from home. Two homes, actually, since we moved in April to our “retirement” home. I had such plans for when I retired and I have not been able to implement any of them except one: sew sew sew! I have made three sets of placemats, a rag quilt for my son-in law, a stuffed pug dog for my 10 year old grandson, and a book shelf wall hanging quilt for my daughter, a newly minted Master of Library Science. Planning, shopping on line, and learning new techniques have helped save me recently. I am planning even more sewing projects and I plan a “Pinterest Board Inventory, Implement, or Purge” soon where I will commit to doing/making something I have pinned or delete it from the board. And, of course, reading. Retirement may not be what I expected, but it has turned out OK after all!

  49. Byrd says:

    I didn’t quite manage a blog post this time, but here are my two things, pretty simple! The first is Pukka Cacao Maca Majesty Latte powder. Good in overnight oats or in my (dandelion) coffee. The second is the Peloton app – I’m a new subscriber as of December 22nd or so, and it has transformed my relationship with my treadmill!

  50. I’ve gotten so much inspriation from reading everyone’s responses -laundry included! I haven’t had time to write a blog post, but this is what is saving my life right now (in no particular order):
    1. Scripture writing as a mediation and prayer practice.
    2. Morning Pages, a daily habit I embraced after reading The Artist’s Way.
    3. Walking outside, in any weather.
    4. Listening to The Chronicles of Narnia, read by greats like Lynn Redgrave, patrick Stewart and Kenneth Branagh.
    5. Watching all the seasons of Hercule Poirot with my husband on Britbox and Acorn TV.
    6. Reading a ton of interior design books and dreaming of how I will decorate our cabin once it’s finished.
    7. Enjoying the anticipation of our biennial Outer Banks beach trip with my whole family. I cannot wait to feel the sun on my skin and dig my feet into the warm sand!
    8. Homemade London Fogs.

  51. MeganTerrell says:

    I am number 2 in line for Laundry Love, when it arrives at my library. I am a VERY late in life domestic diva. Travelled extensively for a decade after college, worked hard and successfully for two decades after that (grateful to a husband who was a true coparent and home partner), retired early to care for aging/dying parents. And discovered home domesticity as a part of that. I truly enjoy folding clothes and ironing; can easily do it while listening to books or music, and find it all soothing in an uncontrolled world.

  52. Nicole M Brickman says:

    I think what resonated most with me from this entry was the importance of mindfulness. I think mindfulness alone can potentially transform any task and that alone is something that is saving my life right now. Also on my list:

    – all the books
    – really good coffee (not being cheap with myself)
    – quality time with my little family here at home
    – cuddling with my dog and grounding myself with her when the anxiety creeps up
    – yoga
    – cooking and music (separately as well but I like to pair them together)
    – drives that include Starbucks runs
    – Netflix
    – surprises in the mail
    – My inspirational quote daily calendars
    – My amazing support groups of friends and family I lean on and am mindful to provide the same support to

  53. Amy says:

    I have been fortunate enough to continue to work-from-home during this time, so in part, that is saving me. Apart from work, reading, of course, has been a life saver! I am reading many of the books that I was not able to read when I had things I was committed to in the evenings and on weekends! Spending more quality time with my husband, watching classic TV, and using this time to reconnect with friends and family have all been life savers to me! Also, finding the Modern Mrs. Darcy website, blogs, etc. have been wonderful!

  54. Sharon says:

    I love that Laundry is bringing order and control to your life, Anne. Isn’t that what we all want, but especially now? What’s saving my life right now? Besides walks listening to audio books, walks when I can with a dear friend, playing in the snow with our 3 year old granddaughter, feeding the birds is our new past time. I love watching what birds are attracted to the feeders and their behaviors. My husband has brought out all his bird and wild life books trying to identify an unfamiliar bird. Watching them through our dining room window has become a part of our everyday routine. Something we would have been to busy to do in winters past.

    • I love to feed birds and watch them too! I sometimes pull up live bird feeder cams (do a google search). I had one going in the background during the day at work last week. Super fun to see different birds show up!

  55. My 2nd grader had a snow day today with e-learning (he’s been back at regular school since August and their cases at school have stayed very low!) and being home with him and our 2 year old (while my husband is working at the hospital) has been unexpectedly delightful. I think the e-learning helps over the old “day off” snow day because it gives us some structure for our day AND I’m not grouchy about adding a day at the end of the year when I want to enjoy the nice weather outside!

    Also, getting 50 pages into a new book in one sitting, it REALLY helps me get a handle on the story rather than just a chapter or two each night!

    I did write a list on my blog: {7} Things Saving my Winter

  56. Carolyn says:

    What’s saving me? The standbys. Like coffee. And exercise. An unexpected bird at our feeder. Troy’s cooking. Reading + writing. Fresh air. My space heater. Garden plans. Card games with kids, if they’re in good humor. Chapter books aloud. And I like popcorn.
    But What’s Saving Your Life Right Now? That’s big stuff. More than coffee and cards. And it caused me to pause… Here are my top three:
    https://youroneword.com/blog/f/%7Bthree-on-thursday%7D-whats-saving-your-life-right-now

  57. Nancy Halsema says:

    I discovered a crackling fire with authentic sound effects on YouTube. Believe it or not, there are actually dozens to choose from. Most days it is just me and my small dog, so the sound of a fireplace (without needing to bring in logs or poke the embers) makes me happy as I read, write, or craft. Somehow it also makes me feel warmer.

  58. MaryLou says:

    Saving my life right now: 1. Veggies – our vegetarian daughter moved back home for a semester of her post-baccalaureate program. In the past, I just defaulted to meat and sides, and eating more vegetarian meals has been wonderful. 2. Sitting in front of the fireplace and reading good books. 3. Rain boots – it’s the soggy season here on the Mid Atlantic coast. 4. My Dyson cordless vacuum – our daughter brought her 2 cats home with her, and we already had one. 3 cats shed a lot! 5. The Once a Day Chronological Bible – I read it every morning. 6. Organizing and decluttering our home and some simple updates (a fresh coat of paint and a new shower curtain in a bathroom, new curtains in the bedroom).

    • Anne says:

      It’s good to read your comment—I have a daughter who has been a vegetarian for nine months now, and this has been a struggle! I think putting more vegetarian meals in the mix would make my life easier right now.

  59. SunriseMama says:

    I have found laundry very soothing for many years and I pride myself on being a genius stain remover (except pink Bloonz that one of my boys got on a brand new souvenir shirt from a family beach trip – anyone have any tips on that?). We have a family of 9, so some days it has been overwhelming, but the rhythm of folding and then putting everything away in nice neat stacks calms me most days. In some seasons of life, we’ve even had a nightly ritual where my kids have gathered in my bedroom to help me fold in the evenings while we talk about our days. I look forward to reading the new book!

  60. Molly says:

    Right now scrapbooking and scrapbooking groups online are saving my life right now. I love that I can exchange ideas about my passion documenting memories with others who share this passion. Since we can’t meet in person this is a wonderful alternative. And since traveling is out of the question for now, I love remembering the good times I have spent with family and friends in the past.

  61. Amber says:

    I haven’t done this for a few years and I remembered how fun it was! For me, it’s been great books (for the kids and myself!), more music playing, connecting more directly with people instead of connecting vaguely using social media, getting words on the page, being more present in my actual life instead of forever scrolling and screenshotting ideas of things to research/buy/remember, and an electric kettle!

  62. Amanda says:

    In this hectic and challenging season, a few things are helping: an easy standard breakfast that I don’t need to think about; my electric tea kettle; loose lounge pants/joggers; books; my Goodreads friends; organizing and decluttering; and regular exercise.

  63. Ashling says:

    What’s saving my life right now – changing my diet and sticking with it, researching and trying new recipes, Webtoons, period dramas and books, trips to Wegmans.

    I was going to start doing yoga this year, and then I broke my big toe on New Year’s Day. At first, I thought it was going to throw off my routine, especially in the morning, but it has actually made me reassess and improve how I do things because everything takes so much longer with the medical boot. So my broken toe has turned out to be beneficial for my life too. Which I never thought I would say. Lol

  64. Susan says:

    There’s something very satisfying about removing a stain from a favorite article of clothing! I love this post – and I’m adding Laundry Love to my reading list!

  65. Samantha says:

    I love that laundry is saving your life! I have found my peace in the routine of my day. My morning tea while it is still dark, a morning walk with my crew, a cup of tea before bed. My daily rituals give me the scaffolding that I need for the day.

  66. Marcy says:

    Ooh, I’m going to have to read that one! Even though I’m struggling with the very basics of the house — let’s just say that my littles are still little enough that the pandemic didn’t change my quotidian life nearly as much as other people’s.

    And I always love the saving your life question. So much so that your yearly posts here became inspiration for a new Instagram account focused on what’s saving my life, and then I started a newsletter/blog on Substack all about it. https://marcyratcliff.substack.com/

  67. Alice says:

    I love reading everyone’s lists! Here’s what’s been saving my life this winter:
    -Bird feeders! Specifically, the clear acrylic ones that suction to a window. We have bird books so we can identify the birds that visit our feeders. Even my two year old can name them! And our cat’s best part of the day is watching the birds. We also have a birch log bird feeder that attracts woodpeckers. We buy bird seed and bird food logs from a local place and it’s a huge difference compared to the generic bags with fillers. The birds flock to our feeder! Even though we’ve had the bird feeders for months, I never get over the joy I feel when I see these sweet birds! Here’s the acrylic one we have:
    Window Bird Feeder with Strong Suction Cups and Seed Tray, Outdoor Birdfeeders for Wild Birds, Finch, Cardinal, and Bluebird. Large Outside Hanging Birdhouse Kits, Drain Holes, 3 Extra Suction Cups https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YSU3WG2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_XAP914FN8DNH7FPMR2PE
    -Bombas socks! I can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on. I’m also enjoying smart wool socks.
    -Cooking through an entire cookbook. I don’t have to think about what I’m going to make. Some recipes are duds, but, surprisingly, many aren’t! I’ve been working through the “Cook Once, Eat All Week” cookbook
    Happy winter, everyone!

  68. Sharon says:

    Prior to this week, I would have said that reading for pleasure is saving my life right now, but I’ve reached a point in the pandemic where even that isn’t helping much. Hanging on by a thin thread here. . . .

    Maybe I should get this book about laundry and focus on that. ;-p

  69. Michelle says:

    I look forward to this post every year and love reading everyone’s responses. I have actually come to love winter in NH. We spend so much time outdoors in the warmer weather, that’s it’s a joy to have a reason to stay inside. That said, some things that I am particularly enjoying this winter are
    1. A sketchbook design online course I gifted myself for Christmas.
    2. The Peloton app. I do not enjoy exercise, but I like that I can stack classes and get it done without much thought.
    3. The Overdrive app – so many audio and e-books to choose from.
    4. Walks with my best friend. We strive for twice a week no matter the weather and always head to our favorite coffee shop.

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  71. Heather says:

    Keeping my kitchen cleaned up every evening after dinner is saving me right now. All hand wash pots/dishes done, dishwasher started, counters and stove wiped and floor vacuumed. I did get a new Dyson v10 for Christmas and it’s so nice to have an easy vacuum to pull out for quick cleanups that happen frequently with all of us at home right now.

  72. Anna says:

    Well, well, I love laundry. I’ve been a fan since my 20’s (I’m 43) when I saw a documentary in College Writing 201 called Clotheslines and realized my already existing love for it. Really I’ve loved it since my first trip to a laundromat when I was 18, when I had so much laundry that my boyfriend at the time and I decided to wash it all at once. I loved the clean room with all the machines and quiet company of people doing laundry.

    I love all things laundry, from the tactile and visual aspects of textiles, organizing clean clothes and house laundry, the process of renewal, hanging laundry outside, clean laundry baskets, a good system, people’s experience with it, you name it. I love the hum of the washing machine and dryer, the way the air in the room even seems productive and clean, and especially am fond of the defined window of time while the loads are running–just enough to read, have some coffee, do a small cleaning project, or watch movies with breaks to put in more laundry. I have three small children now, and there is less free time while I’m doing laundry, but it still provides a window of time. I am at the beginning though of realizing that I need to up my system, as it seems like there is a larger flow of clothes and house laundry than ever. I study people’s methods and even today thought of a few new baskets that might make things tidier–dedicated laundry basket for my husband in the laundry room, utility cloths (for cleaning up all the spills on the floor and truly messy things) basket, and kitchen washcloths (that I use to cut down on paper towels) basket. Anyway, I love it all and get really excited when I see the clean, white trucks driving around that say New System Laundry, a NW industrial laundry company. There’s more, but I’ll stop there. I was thrilled when I saw your post and couldn’t agree more. Thank you for sharing all these fun domestic details!

  73. Anna says:

    P.S. I meant to include, but raced ahead past it, that when I was 23 I did an art installation for sculpture class of hanging “laundry”. I went to an old brick college apartment building and asked two residents if I could attach a string in their windows to connect the space between their facing apartments (the back of the building formed a U-shape). They said yes. I attached large sheets of white tissue paper to the string, which contrasted nicely against the deep gray concrete inner walls of the U-shape (I was brick on the outter faces of the U-shape). It was beautiful! And symbolized the connection that the project allowed by actually going into two residents apartments and connecting them through the clothesline. The project was inspired by the Clotheslines documentary I had seen two years earlier in the College writing class. It spoke to some of the themes of apartment living in a city, community, and the beauty of the hanging clothes.

  74. Anne – this post was amazing. I love the idea of “approaching the quotidian with intention and care.” You’re making me want to pull out my copy of the Quotidian Mysteries, which you introduced me to way back before I started having babies!

    I’m quite a bit late to the game, but I’ve finally managed to write my contribution for 2021. I’ve been writing these since 2018 and I wasn’t about to miss one, no matter how difficult life is right now! https://katiegilley.com/2021/02/23/stillness-whats-saving-me-right-now-february-2021/

    Thanks for hosting this amazing linkup every year. It’s always my favorite!

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