Last winter, when it was freezing and dim and the sun set at an altogether unacceptable hour, I started keeping a mental list of a few favorite things that were getting me through that difficult season.
It was a good practice: when I started keeping an actual, physical list of the things that were saving my life in that season, I found myself constantly scanning my environment for the life-giving stuff, whether it was serious (a soul-gutting spiritual memoir) or silly (gellyroll pens).
When winter ended, my brain didn’t give up the habit. (A good thing, I think.)
Just for fun, a few things that are keeping me sane in this (beautiful, glorious, and very full) season:
1. Paper plates. We’re in the middle of a kitchen remodel. Paper goods have been a lifesaver.
2. Twinkle lights and candles. Again, kitchen remodel. The old lights are gone but the new ones haven’t been ordered yet. Twinkle lights and candlelight provide just enough light to make the room feel atmospheric, and not gloomy.
3. Trader Joe’s frozen meat lasagna. I have four kids playing ball this season, which makes for a lot of rushed weeknights when we’re not home during the dinner hour—to prep it or to eat it. When the kids say they can’t take one more turkey plate or rotisserie chicken dinner, I pull out this $6 lasagna and slice up some raw veggies. (Half a piece at 4:00 p.m., half a piece at 8:00 p.m.) It feels like we’re enjoying a real family dinner instead of a survival mode snack, even though it practically makes itself.
4. The carpool line, part 1. I used to spend a lot of time in the carpool line for the kids’ preschool, and I thought it was a drag. Not this year. Silas and I both love our morning routine to get him to kindergarten. We try to get in line early: for one, he likes to be among the first to arrive. (The fewer the kids, the less crazy the classroom.) But mostly, we read Harry Potter aloud in line every morning. I never dreamed carpool line would be a highlight of my day, but it’s been such a special time for both of us.
5. The carpool line, part 2. For the afternoon pickup I’m usually sitting in the car by myself—and electronics of any kind aren’t allowed in carpool line. I get there early and read, sketch out blog posts, or just stare out the window. It’s glorious.
6. Jennifer Smith novels. I can’t explain why I’m binging on these right now; I suspect some part of my brain is trying to balance out the Serious Fiction I’ve been reading. Her YA novels are sweet, fun, and immensely satisfying to finish in one afternoon, in blessed contrast to The Big Rock Candy Mountain (which I’ve been slogging through for weeks) and H is for Hawk (which I’ve been working on for months).
7. Mary Karr. I’ve been wrestling through some writerly questions, and this interview found me at exactly the right time. (Heads up: f-bombs galore, and plenty of boob jokes to make you laugh/cringe.) I’m also reading her brand new release The Art of Memoir, and it is lovely.
8. The forecast. Could every day have a high of 74 and a low of 53? I don’t care if I never swim or see snow again.
9. Autumn leaves. Finally.
What’s keeping YOU sane this season? I’d love to hear all about it in comments.