It’s February 2, Groundhog Day, the halfway point of winter.
This isn’t an easy month—or an 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 can easily articulate what’s killing us, few of us pay attention to what’s giving us life.
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.
This is an excerpt of my list. It’s a long list (yay!), and I’ve chosen to share the simple—though not always small—things.
1. Twinkle lights. It’s been dark and gloomy lately, so I’ve been keeping the twinkle lights—some in the room I like to read in, some in the living room—on all the time. With the twinkle lights on, it’s still dark and gloomy—but with the twinkle lights on, that seems like a good thing, or at least better than it would be otherwise.
2. Sleep. A couple of weeks ago I told you how a white noise app was saving my life right now. (Many of you asked which app: I’m using this one, although the hole is now fixed and the steel plate is gone, hallelujah.)
I think I’ve recovered from my terrible run of not enough sleep, but the whole experience has made me prioritize sleep in this (flu) season in a big way.
3. A faster first cup of coffee. Once I read a Cooks Illustrated essay about the writer’s old New England stove, which had a pilot light strong enough to keep a kettle of water at a simmer all the time, if you put the kettle in just the right spot, which meant you were always only a few minutes away from a nice cup of tea. I think about that old stove and its pilot light every time I wait for my kettle to come to a boil.
We make coffee by the pour over method at my house, which means I have to wait for hot water before I can make my first cup each morning. Sometimes it feels like a long wait. In the spring and summer, I can be zen about it: I put the kettle on and take Daisy for a short walk while it heats. In the winter, this option holds less appeal.
So I did some research and found this kettle, which I can program to heat automatically a few minutes before I wake up. I still have to grind my coffee and pour the water over, but the time-consuming part—the wait—is no more. It’s such a little thing, but it makes it so much easier to get out of bed on cold, dark mornings.
4. Endless cups of tea. More about the kettle. It heats the water fast, and then it keeps it hot for a full hour. Which means, much like that Cooks essayist, we’re basically always ready to pour a cup of tea. (I’m a coffee girl at heart, but I can only drink so much.)
My kids have been drinking lots of tea this winter, too, and it used to be a bit of a production, finding out who wanted a cup, and how many times we’d have to heat the kettle to make five or six cups, and someone didn’t want any now, but maybe in half an hour? No longer. It’s a big kettle and it keeps the water hot. It’s magic.
About the tea itself: shortly after I posted about my newfound love for Harney’s hot cinnamon spice, they brought back the decaf option, and I stocked up. (Sadly, it seems to be sold out on their site right now.) I also love Rishi’s turmeric ginger, Plum Deluxe’s meadow walk, and this homemade ginger concoction,
5. The Great British Baking Show. Great winter viewing for the whole family, funny and big-hearted and delightfully British, and all the people are lovely. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves, and we cry when people go home.
6. Beverly Cleary. I’ve been having a hard time keeping my second grader in books lately. I think he’d love Henry and Ramona, but he’s resistant. (All his siblings loved those books, and sometimes the fourth kid has to chart his own path, you know?)
But my daughters started casually reading Ramona the Pest aloud at night, and he’s hooked. (Don’t tell him I told you.) But it’s not just him: nobody can resist listening; she’s just so funny.
7. Board games. We’ve been playing games, recently, and playing them together.It’s so nice to have something to do when it’s too cold/icy/dark to go outside. Othello is our new old favorite (especially for Will and me: we prefer this over Monopoly every day of the week), but the kids also love 10 Days in the U.S.A. (and Africa, Europe, and Asia), and UNO is a reliable standby.
8. The occasional sunny day. We’ve had cold and snow and ice lately, but also a handful of beautiful 50-degree days—sometimes even on the weekend—that send us all running outside to walk and play and soak up the Vitamin D.
9. Pizza night. On Fridays, we always know what we’re having for dinner, and everyone likes it. I always serve it with a gigantic salad, in the hopes that this makes it a less-terribly-unhealthy life choice. If we’re feeling ambitious, we make it at home, but we haven’t been feeling terribly ambitious lately.
What’s saving your life right now? Link up a post below, and/or tell us in comments.
P.S. This is still my favorite post about what’s saving my life right now.