10 things saving my life right now

Today marks the halfway point of winter. This isn’t an easy month—or an easy season—for many of us. My adversarial relationship with February goes way back; I know I’m not the only one.

To collectively 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. In it, she tells the story of how once she was invited to speak at a gathering, and when she asked for her topic, this was her host’s request: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”

It’s a good question. Most of us know what’s killing us, and can articulate it, if asked. But it’s harder—less natural, less intuitive, less practiced—to note what’s giving us life.

We’ve been revisiting this question here on MMD for a decade now, always at the halfway point of winter.

Friends, this was hard for me this year. When I posed the question to myself last week, my initial answer was: not a single blessed thing. My family has been in a brutal season and it feels like the hard stuff demands my full and complete attention.

And yet. When I stopped to consider—really consider—the small things that are saving me, I made a list. It took me a week to do it, but I have it, and it’s not short. This is an incomplete sampling of what I jotted down.

1. The basics. This feels almost too obvious to name and I’m going to do it anyway. Focusing on the solid foundation of eating well, exercising regularly, and sleeping plenty, as detailed in my post on what worked for me in 2021, helps.

2. Sunny days. Another basic. As I type it’s pouring rain here in Louisville and we’re waiting for an ice storm to roll in, but this past week we’ve had snow on the ground and sun in the skies, and the combination is welcome to my light-deprived eyes. The dreary days get to me over the winter, and sunshine—even when it’s infrequent—helps a ton.

3. Emotional support hamsters. I already introduced you to my daughter’s hamster Phoebe (if you haven’t yet seen the short video go watch it, she’s adorable). Last week my son had a birthday and all he wanted was another hamster friend, and Cloe entered our family. (Cloe is pronounced like “Chloe,” I didn’t choose the spelling, ha!) These little guys are such a delight to have around, and the two of them together? The cutest.

4. My funny kid. Readers, my kids are FUNNY. And I have one in particular who seems to be deliberately honing his skills as a young comedian, and he brings so many needed and well-timed laughs to our household.

5. Baking. For a variety of reasons, we’ve been baking more than we have since early pandemic days. Our household favorites are these cheddar dill scones and these lemon and cranberry scones; if you have favorite recipes to share I’d love that. I also made this apple crisp recipe for the first time in years and I can’t even tell you how good it was.

6. Puzzles. I wasn’t going to say it, because I always say it, but by golly, I love my puzzles. Two recent completions are pictured: Sibley Backyard Birding and Michael Storring’s Cuba. (You do know we have several puzzles posts, right? Check out these favorites, and these.)

7. Bedtime chats with my girls, and phone calls with my college kid. Do I often stay up a little later than I mean to because I’m talking with my teenagers? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes.

8. The moka pot. We’ve had this Bialetti coffee contraption for ages, but have never used it more than we have this past month. We’re making lattes at home and delicious strong coffee (espresso-like, though it’s not technically espresso); it doesn’t take much time or effort yet it feels like such a luxury.

9. New projects. While I love my ongoing work, I find so much energy in a new project. It’s something to tinker with, something to look forward to.

10. A great book at the right time. I recently began Elizabeth Strout’s newest release Oh, William! on audio and devoured it in two days. I’m not sure why I waited so long to pick it up; it was one of my most anticipated 2021 releases and yet I never seemed to get around to it last year. The tone of this lovely and introspective literary novel was exactly right, and right for right now.

 *****     *****     *****

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

P.S. 2019’s saving-my-life reflection (with a little help from Rick Steves), and my favorite and kinda-weird-to-read-right-now post on what’s saving my life. Last year I wrote about laundry, really! Plus survival strategies for winter, my least favorite season.

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  1. Anne – this is my favorite linkup of the year and I’m delighted that you’re hosting it again. I always enjoy reading about how others are coping with the winter weather and finding ways to take care of themselves. I’ve been participating since 2018 and LOVE writing these posts every year.

    And: HAMSTERS!! They are so very cute. What a wonderful addition to your family!

    Like many of you, I’ve found this year to be especially hard. So I’m focusing on the very basics right now. My Cozy Burrow is usually full of books, notebooks, and stitching, but today is all about hydration, exercise, and afternoon treats. I’d love it if you visited me at: https://katiegilley.com/2022/02/02/2022-whats-saving-my-life-right-now/

    I can’t wait to read all of your posts!!

  2. I find the lack of light to be the hardest part of winter. I live in NE England and the days can be depressingly short. This winter I have kept this Bible verse front and center, it gives me hope for brighter days, but ultimately hope for an even brighter world.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/1166207081/bible-verse-wall-art-john-15-the-light?click_key=c4a91b95969e0325d6b22d49628b40d26422a1c4%3A1166207081&click_sum=58fd859b&ref=shop_home_active_7&pro=1&sts=1

    Also, this light alarm clock that subtly gets brighter before it’s set time is wonderful for when I have to wake-up when it’s still dark outside.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09FPPZYT6/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    We’re past the solstice, but it’s not summer yet! Here’s to brighter days and sunnier moods! 🙂

  3. Parker says:

    I was delighted to see Where the Mountain Meets the Moon on your ebook deals yesterday. I’m a grown-up 😉 and I read that book and loved it. I hope in future daily ebook deal posts you’ll include more middle grade books that transcend their target age group and can be enjoyed by all 🙂

  4. Liz K says:

    The thing saving my life right now is your basic grocery store salad kit. My spouse and I are transitioning to an empty nest (our youngest is a high school senior and is not home more than 2-3 nights/week for family dinner) and we are cooking for two after 20+ years of family meals. We also kind of foodie/farmer’s market people and so we generally eschew short cuts and packaged food but we have wholeheartedly embraced the grocery store Bag of Salad. We buy two varieties of salad kits per week and on “just us” nights, we dump them into a bowl, open all the little packets of extras (cheese, craisins, corn nuts, whatever), slice open the dressing and boom – we have an easy, nourishing, no-effort dinner. If we are feeling ambitious, we might throw in some hard boiled eggs or leftover chicken or salmon. We might even make some homemade croutons if the kit doesn’t include them. But this Easy Button short cut to a satisfying and healthy dinner has been saving our life lately.

    • Shelly says:

      Thank you for this tip!! I’m in the exact same spot as you-college kid and high school senior-and I was just staring at the salad kits at the grocery store yesterday!!! I’ve never bought them either! Now I’m totally going to. I do not like the stress of figuring out dinner, so this is a wonderful tip!!! Thank you!!

      • Nicole says:

        We just entered the empty nest season and my other favorite quick meal is some type of chicken sausage+veg+sweet/white potato or squash, all on one roasting pan or two drizzled with olive oil (I also put them on pre-cut parchment sheets to save clean-up time). Italian sausage+broccoli+sliced potatoes; chicken apple+brussels+squash cubes and chicken brats, cabbage wedges and apples are favs. And yes, I buy the veg pre-cut because it’s only two of us. Liberating!

    • Aimee says:

      Our oldest in high school and our youngest about to start junior high. Somedays I feel like my heart just might break when they are grown and moved out. Other days I read or hear something like your comment and think, you know, maybe it won’t be that bad. 😉

    • Brie says:

      What you do for dinner is what I do for lunches throughout my week! I divide up 2-3 grocery store bags of salads among 5 containers, add extra protein (beans or meat) and/or other fixings (bell peppers, nuts, etc.), and voila! It’s so much easier, faster and cheaper than purchasing each of the ingredients separately as I used to do pre-pandemic. After eating a salad for lunch, I feel a little less guilty when I have chocolate at my desk afterwards. 😉

  5. Kate says:

    God bless the sparkle of morning sunshine on snow or frost during these cold and dreary days! It makes going outside with my dog first thing actually pleasant 🙂

    And a cup of hot spiced tea during my lunch break.

  6. Coree says:

    A morning routine – cup of tea, wordle, and a chapter of War and Peace.
    And Calendly to allow students to book in with me without the email coordination and back and forth.

  7. Ashling says:

    Thank you for your list! I had a hard time at first as well, trying to come up with 10 things, and had to sit down and really consider what’s been working for me this winter.
    1. Weighted blanket – I got this for Christmas, and it has been so helpful. I sleep better, and I just enjoy the cozy snugness I feel when using it.
    2. Cinnamon tea – Every afternoon after lunch, I make myself a big mug of Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice tea, and it has become a ritual to help me get through the second half of my work day. It’s naturally sweet so it feels like dessert.
    3. Strawberry banana peanut butter smoothies – My mom started making these this month, and now I look forward to making them all the time.
    4. The Daniel Fast – My family and I participated in the Daniel Fast with our church, and eating healthier just gave me more energy.
    5. Christmas decorations – It’s February 2nd, and our trees and garland and lights are still up. Winter can be such a gray and dreary season, and the decorations just provide such joy.
    6. Mysteries (novels, TV shows, games, etc.) – My mother loves puzzles & mysteries (especially murder mysteries), and she has spread that to her children. Going to escape rooms or watching shows like Castle are now regular things in our household.
    7. Trying new recipes – Cooking is one of those things that has consistently given me joy for years, and this year I’ve been trying lots of new recipes and experimenting with new ingredients.
    8. Dry Bar Comedy – I love these comedy specials on YouTube. They’re clean comedy shows that my whole family can enjoy together.
    9. Phone calls and texts with my college-age sister – One of the hardest things this year was my baby sister starting college on the opposite side of the country (we’re in NJ; she’s in California), so whenever she has free time, I try to squeeze in a conversation with her so she doesn’t feel so far away.
    10. Rereading – Whenever I’m in a slump, I pull out an all-time favorite book and re-read it, and it helps me get the motivation I need to keep reading my TBR pile.

  8. Shana says:

    I am a tea drinker instead of coffee, so a nice, warm cup of tea is my favorite. I love one called Zen, but sometimes I drink things with honey and lemon or whatever sounds good – the Starbucks tea with peach and mint is another good winter one.

    I love Yoga with Adrienne’s 30 days of yoga in January. It always helps. (On YouTube).

    Also, my husband and I joined Cococletics chocolate box (https://cococlectic.com/ ) subscription. I’ve learned so much about how to taste dark chocolate, and that is always nice (esp with some warm tea!)

    Jogger pants have definitely gotten me through! I am loving Beyond Yoga (made in the USA – their January sale was amazing) and I also thought their Lift Your Spirits Bra is amazing.

    I’m an essential oil fan, and making my house smell clean and nice is always happy. So, clean, warm and a good chocolate chip cookie, with a warm bath later, makes the day better for sure!

  9. Tiffany says:

    I live in the desert where winter is outdoor season, but it is still pandemic winter with kids in school. My ten would be: wordle, library e-books, a ridiculously comfortable UGG cardigan, my almost daily outdoor photo for instagram, baking my way through Baking with Dorie, watching VERA on britbox, and then the outdoor things with my friends (camping, biking, kayaking, geocaching).

      • Tiffany says:

        I’m baking through the book at the rate of about one new recipe a week, so I am up to twist bread for this year. Last year, I bought a new cookbook every month and tried a recipe from every section. This was my December book and I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted with it, so I decided to keep at it. I follow the #BakingWithDorie tag on instagram, too, and it is so fun to see people around the world working on these same projects.

  10. Emily F says:

    I don’t have a blog and I rarely am on Instagram, but I do read your newsletters, via email, and decided that today I would comment.
    January was a difficult month so I’m actually looking forward to this new month, and what it will bring….I think. 😁
    What is saving my life right now is:
    ~My quiet time in the early hours of the morning, with just me and my cup of tea, bible, and journal.
    ~That it has been about 67+ degrees lately. Hello sunshine, but boy do we need rain! (sorry to all you who are under cloud cover this time of year)
    ~My 17 year old daughter and I watching together season two of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS
    ~Listening to my 15 year old son playing his guitar. Makes this mama/piano teacher smile.
    ~Taking morning walks before my day really gets started.

  11. Eileen Nielsen says:

    Crafts and reading are saving my life. I make greeting cards and have branched out using fabric, mixed media. Also make junk journals, and other crafts. Reading; well, you all know about that. I have a little over 200 in here waiting to be read. Adult coloring books ARE fun and really do take your mind off things.

  12. Jennifer says:

    My new Bible study with a table of moms from my kids school, I’m skipping yoga to be there and the fellowship and accountability to be in the Bible daily are better for my soul than the best yoga stretches. My paper white bulbs that were a fabulous display to fade as my two stemmed white amaryllis opened with beautiful blooms. I always feel that I’m behind in getting these started as they missed Christmas but I think post holiday is the best to enjoy a beautiful burst of flowers in the wintery home. Husband and I binging on Yellowstone and hoping I don’t start speaking like Beth. Finally cups of Grace rare tea connoisseur blend and visions of what the new bulbs planted this year will actually look like.

  13. Melanie says:

    Teen/adult kids really are delightful. Mine have brought me so much joy over the past few years. The dynamic has shifted from parent/child to more of a deep friendship. As for what is saving my life, Spotify radio. I can choose an artist (lately it’s Whiskey Myers or Turnpike Troubadours) and listen to similar music. I keep it on in the background and it’s oddly calming.

  14. Amapola says:

    1. Love Michael Storring’s puzzles and just completed the Havana one this week. I got The Bookstore too. That’s the best way to spend long cold days indoors.
    2. Mystery novels, especially in audiobook. New find: June Sur and her historical fiction set in Korea.
    3. My small Tramontina dutch oven perfect for all sorts of warm comfort foods in Winter.
    4. Short walks around the office on sunny days.
    5. Baking bread.

  15. florence says:

    Hi Anne, thank you for sharing these lists. It’s a great reminder that really it’s all about the little things. January has been hard. Lot of stress at work, sleepless night and busy days. The weather was terrible here in France and it feels like spring is still so far away.
    But the good news is I just found out I am pregnant (first time)! I still don’t believe it and a part of me is full of fear, but we are delighted! Now I have to wait patiently (not my best quality) with my books and puzzles ^^

  16. Susan Fuhr says:

    This winter does seem rather more dark than others. In Canada we are still on gathering restrictions. I remember Covid fatigue hitting me hard last February.
    Saving me:
    -as always, as long as I can remember: books! Reading of course, but also fun things like rearranging my bookshelves; the sound of a great narrator in my ears; bookish e-newsletters, magazines (Mystery Scene; AudioFile; Oh Reader); MMD forums! (member for a year and a half now, the other members are familiar, and lovely, and interesting, and kind)
    -candles
    -family, and how they grow and change. One son recently engaged, the other in his last semester of university
    -help with meals: the salad kit mentioned above saves me every
    week, as does the grocery store deli handmade pizza on Fridays. I asked my husband last Friday what he wanted me to pick up for supper from the store, and he said “pizza is tradition”
    -sunshine and blue sky. Even with low hours of daylight (northern Canada) we are a very sunny province. This is noticed, and commented on, by people if they move away, so I make sure to be grateful for it everyday.

    • Carinn says:

      We are a Friday night Pizza night family as well. We add a movie too and call it Friday night Family night, though all our nights are family nights as our children are still young (6 and 1). I love having at least one night a week where I don’t have to think about dinner (it’s my Lazy Genius Decide Once). While we always have pizza, and we often make it ourselves, it’s nice that we can get a take and bake or delivery if we don’t get the pizza dough made in time to rise or if the sourdough starter is slow moving in the cold kitchen.

  17. Pat Demilio says:

    Yoga in the early mornings with a friend over videochat.
    Hot tea.
    Colorku, a sudoku game with a board and colored balls instead of numbers.
    Heavy faux fur blanket.
    Walks, letting them be short if I’m tired or it’s just too cold.
    Grapevine cones with lights!
    My happy lamp.
    Planning for spring and summer outings.

  18. Candy says:

    My daughter and I have been making these scones for years and are always asked for the recipe. We never tried another scone recipe once we discovered this one. They are very easy to make and the variations are limitless as you can add your own favorite ingredients to the basic dough recipe.

    SCONES (Adapted from the Alice Waters cookbook “The Art of Simple Food”)

    Preheat oven to 400.
    Measure and mix together in a large bowl:

    2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 c sugar

    Stir in:

    1 1/3 c cream

    Mix until the dough just starts to come together; it will be sticky. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly, just enough to bring the dough completely together.
    Pat it into an 8″ circle. Brush with:

    2 tablespoons butter, melted

    And sprinkle with:

    1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

    Cut the circle into 8 wedges (or 16 narrow ones) and place the wedges 1″ apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 17 min or until golden brown.

    Variations:
    To the dry ingredients, add 1/2 c of white chocolate chips.
    Add 1/2 cup or so of frozen raspberries to the dough.

  19. Angela says:

    We went to Louisville over the weekend and had a WONDERFUL time, it’s such a fun area! And thank you for the push, I was going to skip Pilates *again*, but now I’m getting my things together and going!

  20. Sandy says:

    I have been telling everyone about the thousands of books available on Hoopla through our County library system’s website, that you can borrow and read at home without leaving the house. I just finished Little Dorrit (850 pages in the paperback!) with the help of Hoopla, and that was to complete a New Year’s resolution.

  21. Caroline Kempster says:

    My all seasons duvet is saving my life right now! I don’t have to keep switching between a thinner and thicker duvet depending on weather and I sleep way better! x

  22. Sarah says:

    SNOW! It’s the best day in a long time. 12” of snow coming and it’s a fresh white blanket. Keep it coming! Especially since I can just work from home!

  23. I’d like to recommend cakes from this book–Snacking Cakes–(https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/646634/snacking-cakes-by-yossy-arefi).
    They are smallish (8 x 8 pan), not complicated, require no special equipment, and are a fun and easy treat to have around the house–or, in my case, the office. It’s my second day on a new job assignment in Berlin, and I am pretty sure I have made fast friends with her orange poppyseed cake with raspberry glaze 😉 !

    • Tiffany says:

      I did a cookbook challenge last year, where I read through and cooked through a cookbook a month and Snacking Cakes was my January book. It was a real delight to turn to it over and over again this year!

    • Alyssa says:

      I love this cake book! I’ve made quite of few of the recipes and every one has been delicious. And almost too easy – it’s hard to say no when it’s one bowl and only a few minutes!

  24. Stephanie says:

    Highly recommend the King Arthur scone recipe. I like to make ahead and freeze so I can just pop them in the oven in the morning without so much prep!
    https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/scones-recipe

    Also saving my life: coffee, a repaired dishwasher, a recent weekend trip with my cousin (and none of our kids!), wearing lots of layers, a new bright red calf-length puffer coat from Boden, Peloton, toddler hugs on my leg, the Big Boo Cast, and tv.

  25. Marie says:

    Things saving me:
    1) Morning Yoga- I use the app Downdog, and it’s just wonderful to see myself getting stronger.
    2) My husband- he keeps doing things that shows he’s thinking about me (like filling my car’s tires with air).
    3) My son- he struggles with a lot of things, but he’s always there for a hug and a conversation about video games.
    4) My daughter- she wants to cuddle and talk all the time (how great is that!)
    5) Tea- I have so many different kinds, and there’s always a mug and a tea for any moment.
    6) Redecor- total guilty pleasure, it makes me fret less about the state of my house because I can redecorate on an app.
    7) The Good Witch- such feel good tv watching
    8) Two cats we got in September, they are funny and sweet, and animals are just the best.
    9) My students- they are trying so hard, and they always make me feel better about the world.
    10) My children’s school- they are there for my kids, and I see how much they care.

  26. Jackie Berman says:

    Your emails with latest blog posts, Quick Lit, What Should I Read Next, Links I Love, all of it! Look forward every morning to my ModernMrsDarcy emails. A life saver! Thank you.

  27. Patti K says:

    My new bullet journal…I started one in 2019 and intended to use it for five years, but given all that has happened in the world since then, I decided it was time for a fresh start. With this new one I have simplified my layouts but am also really taking time with it so it is something I love to open up and look at. I got some new pens and stickers and look forward to working on it on the weekends.

    Also, since it was a fairly cold January (for the Atlanta area…I know not from the perspective of people further north!) I was pleased to find this sweatshirt. It is so cozy and I love it so much I ended up ordering it in another color. https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/124441?productId=1831158&attrValue_0=Dark%20Plum%20Rose%20Heather&sku=1000110572&pla1=0&mr:trackingCode=6F371CEA-5E66-EC11-8117-00505694403D&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=m&mr:adType=plaonline&qs=3137126&gclid=Cj0KCQiA9OiPBhCOARIsAI0y71CpgLZVtSrPMpw_B_dQF1sHlyTiEOUguKI77zy_Enin37u3j4AAhtoaAlxmEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

    • Angela Ulseth says:

      So glad to hear someone else started a new bullet journal. I felt slightly guilty abandoning my current one, but was feeling so bogged down. The new journal has really brightened my spirits!

  28. Sue Baum says:

    Thank you for doing this! When I was a teacher, our counselors called this month “Febru-weary” and made a point to offer opportunities for grace and relaxation (e.g. chocolate!). One thing saving my life is the YouTube channel cdorner fitness. Chris Dorner is a fabulous exercise instructor, and her energy is infectious! I miss the gym, and working out with her is the next-best thing.

  29. I’m in Minnesota so winter is a rough season for us w/ super cold temps. And our kids aren’t vaccine eligible yet (but hopefully soon!) so we are extra cooped up indoors since we don’t go to indoor spaces with them… So what’s saving my life right now is asking my husband for help instead of assuming he knows how to help me. That looks like saying “Can I lay down” on a weekend afternoon. Also letting myself get a latte as many days/week as I feel I need it, letting our son have screen time during quiet time while the baby naps so we get a full break from parenting, wordle (delightfully fun!), and connecting intentionally with friends by setting up zooms/facetime/etc.

    I’m starting Oh William today so am happy to hear that you loved it!

  30. Lori says:

    Thank you for this! I needed to read something positive, and you’ve inspired me to look & see what’s saving my life right now. And I’m not ashamed to say I was torn between looking at adorable Phoebe and Cloe and trying to read the titles on your bookshelf…😁

  31. Lisa F. says:

    This past January was one of the roughest for me in memory for a variety of reasons, so I’m actually glad to be into February with this very timely post.
    Here’s what’s saving me right now:
    1. My faith–daily prayer, Bible reading, my Max Lucado devotional, and just remembering to thank God throughout the day for the big and small ways he brings me hope and comfort.
    2. Reading (of course)–but it’s audiobooks and the Serial Reader app that are really helping now, with my trouble concentrating. And it’s classic literature, nonfiction history, and nature writing.
    3. Tea–my old standby’s of Twinings English Breakfast Honey and Vanilla and Lady Grey, along with a new favorite, thanks to my sister, The Republic of Tea’s Almond Coconut Macaroon Red Tea.
    4. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E–finally something that works on my winter-dry legs (and has the bonus of smelling like the old Brach’s Chocolate Stars I loved as a child!).
    5. Routines and Rituals–I have morning and evening routines that provide the bookends to my day and give me a little control over something, in the midst of other daily “chaos.”
    6. My own new project–I’m finally scanning, for transfer to a flash drive, piles of photographs ranging from ones I’ve taken to ones I’ve inherited from my grandparents and a great uncle, which comprise literally over 110 years of my family history. When they’re put in the three archival albums waiting for them, they will be my most prized possessions! 7. All Creatures Great and Small on Masterpiece and YouTube videos about books, cottagecore life, history, and travel.
    8. Natural light–from precious bright sunny days to the beautiful winter sunsets we’ve been getting in Western PA.
    Sorry this is so long!

  32. Susan says:

    Saving my life right now is 1) Vicks Vapor Rub. I’ve had either bronchitis or COVID for the past 4 months and the nights I apply Vicks to my chest I usually sleep through the night. 2) Puzzles. We’ve had a puzzle on our dining room table for the past couple of months and it has been, well, glorious. 3) Our cat, Athena. While she’s a daddy’s girl our conversations with her are riotous and keeps me grinning from ear to ear. 4) Salads in a Jar plus a bowl of grilled chicken. I prep salads for my lunches over the weekend and my husband grills up chicken for those salads. With little movement happening because I can’t breathe (bronchitis has depleted my energy), eating a healthy lunch is saving me. 5) Blistering hot steam showers – because it is the only thing that will open my bronchi and release all the guck that builds up – sometimes twice a day, sometimes three times a day. 6) New crew socks. The socks in my sock drawer were probably 20 years old and between the holes and falling down it was time to buy some new pair. I wear them everyday. 7) My son on kitchen duty. While I love to cook, I haven’t had the energy. My chef son comes home from the restaurant and cooks for us.

  33. Jo7nes says:

    Things keeping me alive this very cold winter: Carhart boot socks, a quilt my sister made me from scraps from clothes — some from over 50 years ago, toast, fleece lined leggings, kitty loves, hope, the public library and a really good read, serious layering, and podcasts

  34. Becky S says:

    Thanks Anne, for reiterating life is hard. Everyone says it, but we feel most comfort from people like us who we respect also acknowledge that it is OK to feel a little down. Like you, I have also been trying to focus on the little things to find the silver lining. It’s so difficult on a day to day (or hour to hour) basis to keep a positive attitude, but it’s encouraging to see other people try! Thank you!

  35. HIIT workouts, beef jerky, less kid activities, journaling, taking new routes and eyebrow mascara are just some of the things saving my life this month. (And, while our weather in California is nothing to complain about…I will attest that many of us still get the winter blues! Sending love and warmth to all of you in cold places.)

  36. Ruthie says:

    1) My hilarious and helpful son
    2) Favorite bloggers and podcasts… (looking at YOU, Anne Boge1!)
    3) Afternoon walks (while listening to favorite podcasts or an audiobook)
    4) Email swaps with friends
    5) A newly-constructed sidewalk on a busy street nearby, which provides a safe and scenic route to a lovely park
    6) Toblerone!
    7) our backyard birds
    8) the occasional warm, sunny days
    9) the nights warm enough to let the cat sleep outside… (Don’t worry, cat lovers… he has the choice of a carport; a warm, dry crawl space; or a raised and insulated kitty palace on our screened porch, which has a soft, heated bed inside)
    10) the digestive formula cat food that actually satisfies my cat’s hunger and keeps him from pestering me constantly
    11) every little pile around the house that gets organized and put away
    12) Stephen Colbert (Thanks to Ashling for the pointer to Dry Bar Comedy. I look forward to checking that out. Are you familiar with the comedy of Jim Gaffigan? He’s clean, and makes me laugh out loud!)

    Note to all the bakers, and especially to the fans of Dorie Greenspan: Do yourself the great favor of acquainting yourself with Maida Heatter, who was Dorie’s inspiration. Suggest as a starter Maida’s collection of her own favorites, “Happiness Is Baking.”

  37. Gina says:

    This is such a fun post to read. I haven’t read all the comments but love those as well. I did a list last week. Bright clear sunny days, mittens & a new hat that I found that doesn’t give me hat head were on my list. (cold NE weather!). Also, tea, GAP vintage soft classic joggers (https://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=5448410320204&vid=2#pdp-page-content), cozy sweaters, weekend fires in the fireplace (I sense a theme!) and the show All Creatures Great & Small – especially with a cup of tea and a fire
    I LOVE these cinnamon sugar scones and highly recommend them.
    https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/09/cinnamon-sugar-scones/

  38. Janet says:

    I will admit to being a tiny bit disappointed that Anne didn’t do this post yesterday, sometimes it arrives on February 1st, which is my birthday. Oh well!

    As always my cat Kevin and his silly, purry attitude saves my life, having lots of good books on my holds list come in, All Creatures on Sunday nights and counting down to new episodes of Outlander next month..

    Also, getting to spend time with my son recently, he just turned 24 and lives just far enough away to be good and bad. 🙂

    Having great, thoughtful coworkers and a good school situation in which to work is no small thing, and for that I am very grateful.

  39. Calee Spinney says:

    I recently started using a Bialetti for the first time and I am obsessed! I say that despite owning a Breville espresso machine. Things saving my life right now are the new growth on my plants, which I document with the fervor of a new parent.

    Also, I was in Louisville last month and completely forgot you were based there! I should have made a list of book places to visit.

  40. Jill S Fitzpatrick says:

    Wow, so many great posts. I loved reading James Herriott’s books as a pre-teen, but haven’t dived into the series yet. It’s on my to-watch list now.

    1. Reading, always. January favorites include Lincoln Highway (LOVE Amor Towles!) and The Firekeeper’s Daughter.
    2. Tea–I have SO MANY boxes of tea in my cabinet at home, and a smaller pile at work as well. Love Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset, and adding lavender simple syrup to Twinings Earl Grey, but there are many others.
    3. My new (to me) car and her many new-to-me bells and whistles! Remote start and heated seats in particular in the winter. I have never been a “car person” but I am well and truly smitten with this car. I even named her – Belle.
    4. Audiobooks. For a long time, I was not an audiobook person. I felt I need to see the words on the page to really absorb the book. But over the last few years I have really become an audiobook convert. I love listening to biographies/memoirs on audio, it feels like the person is right there talking to me. Loved Stanley Tucci’s Taste.
    5. Related to the above, a good pair of earbuds. I was using a cheap freebie pair my husband received until I got a pair of Apple airpods for Christmas last year. What a difference!
    6. MMD introduced me to From the Page Candles and I love them! I have always been a candle person but had fallen out of the habit of burning them. I love coming home from work and choosing a scent. My husband is wondering why Etsy keeps coming up on our credit card bill. Shhhh…
    http://www.fromthepagecandles.com
    7. My book club. Whether we meet in person or, more lately, on zoom, our monthly meeting is usually the highlight of my month. They are truly “my people” and I treasure our connection.
    8. My students–I work in a middle school library and sharing my love for books with them still brings me so much joy. I missed them last year. (virtual for most of the year and the library closed to students for the rest of it)
    9. Wordle, and word games in general
    10. Trader Joe’s – It sounds silly, but shopping at Trader Joe’s really does brighten my mood. Always a new food discovery to make or an old favorite to purchase, and the staff are always friendly and seem genuinely glad to be there.

    • Rebecca says:

      My new-to-me car could be added to my list. Like yours, it has bells & whistles that our older vehicles lack. I’ve really enjoyed having them!

      In 2020, I discovered that I could use audiobooks to read when I could not focus for long on books in print. Since then, my attention span has improved, but I still have a running TBR on audio. It’s so easy to multitask while listening to another great book. I now reserve my books in print for those not available in this format that I really want to read.

      Scented candles, yes! A friend gave me one for Christmas. I have like candles for a long time too. Since then, I purchased a gardenia-scented one, a favorite floral scent of mine. Today I could not resist bringing a citrusy-scented one home to stand by for when the other is gone.

  41. Love this question! I appreciate that the yearly link-up comes in February when winter has already out stayed its welcome and spring still seems impossibly far away.⁠ Reading all your answers makes me smile. 🙂

    Libraries – This is about more than my love of books. It’s also about choosing to come back to myself to begin again, supporting myself with kindness, and returning to a place where I have grown so much self-trust.⁠ It’s also about the books. ;)⁠

    Watching Myself on Video – I usually share my thoughts through writing. When I started recording videos, I knew it would thrill my inner kid and I hoped it would spark creative ideas and energy.⁠

    What I didn’t expect was to feel more connected with my body and grounded in who I am. It’s surprised me to shift from cringing to tender appreciation of how I look, move, and sound in the space I take up in this world.⁠

    Read the full article at:⁠ https://johannaschram.com/post/saving-life-2022/⁠

  42. Man, those hamsters are SO cute. It really is the simple things that make a difference right now! I love reading everyone’s lists with so many ways to make it though February. What a great community 🙂

    You can find my “what’s saving me” sneak peek list on IG @52seasonsblog today and in my 52 Seasons Blog post this Friday at http://www.sommermaxwell.com

  43. Fiona says:

    Breathing and meditation
    Yoga
    The latest Elizabeth George book
    Going for a massage
    Taking a photo every day and then texting it to a friend – often sunrise or sunset
    Sunshine on snow
    Earl Grey Tea
    Chai lattes made with coconut milk
    Re-reading Agatha Christies

    • Ashling says:

      Chai lattes with coconut milk sound delicious! And I also love re-reading Christie. She is one of my favorite mystery writers.

  44. Byrd says:

    For me right now –
    (1) my heated mattress pad
    (2) New sewing machine – rediscovering an old hobby and recovering from fear/loathing of my 1970s Touch and Sew
    (3) increased work flexibility – thank you, Great Resignation, for kicking my company in the butt
    (4) really good decaf tea from The Ohio Tea Company
    (5) Thursday night Breakfast for Dinner ritual
    (6) Peloton walks on the treadmill – completely reformed my relationship with my treadmill for winter months. I’ll still be back outside as soon as I can!
    (7) My family. I don’t always like being stuck at home while we battle through quarantines, illness and snow days, but it does make me appreciate good relationships with my household. Not a little thing, and maybe sappy, but true!

    • Rebecca says:

      I feel the same way about No. 7 on your list. That’s also true for me. Good relationships take time & work to foster & develop. It’s not sappy at all! It’s great!

    • Emily says:

      Me too! I’ve never seen hamsters like that. I also hope they really are 2 girls or…well, you’ll find out soon enough! 🙂

  45. Tamara says:

    -Watching the birds this morning in a feeding frenzy as the temperature drops in North Texas today. Just pray it doesn’t turn into a disaster like last year at this same time.
    -A cozy fire
    -The series, “Homeland”
    -I would say reading but the book I’m reading is not my cup of tea but I will slog through hoping one of the short stories will be a good one.
    -quilting
    -Hot cocoa/Hot tea

  46. Melissa Loudon says:

    -Heated throw on my couch
    – my dogs are my therapy animals
    -Light lamp by which I do my Bible Study
    -The Bible Recap study and podcast
    -laughing every day – we watch a Modern Family episode every day 🙂
    -fire outside with a glass of wine, charcuterie
    – apple cider in crock pot every week ( use a packet of Ravens added to cram apple juice and smell is divine and kids devour it)
    – walking when can- even if just up and down our hill to mail box
    – intentional hugs and I love you’d with my teens and snuggles with my kiddos
    – flowers in my kitchen
    – a dinner out with just my husband that forces me to dress up
    – coffee dates with my friends – once a week I make sure I’m seeing a friend
    – small group and church in person for community

  47. Marsha Hamm says:

    Reading, sharing books with others, tea, pilates, massage, early morning quiet time with Bible, devotionals, and journal, a slower pace, and glorious sunshine (when it comes).

  48. Stephany says:

    Anne, thanks for reminding us to look for the good things in our lives when life feels hard. For me, work has been unbearable stressful lately. These are the things that are currently helping me to thrive despite the stress:
    1. Gorgeous winter sunsets
    2. Regular walks (in all types of weather)
    3. The anticipation of a March 2022 trip to Florida, hopefully to catch a few spring training games
    4. Always having a puzzle in progress
    5. Learning to crochet
    6. Books with a vibrant sense of place
    7. Watching British murder mysteries with my husband (Vera, Marple, Dalgliesh, etc.)
    8. Hot drinks (tea, homemade London Fogs, hot chocolate)
    9. Long bubble bath soaks
    10. Using the Book Girls’ Lifetime of Reading Challenge to help me work through the books on my unread bookshelves.
    https://bookgirlsguide.com/lifetime-of-reading-challenge/

  49. Peggy Coffey says:

    Covid got me in October of 21 and I lost smell and taste and still haven’t gotten it back. I missed all the Christmas smells of baking goodies and turkeys, pine trees and candles. It’s getting ridiculous now. I have been cross stitching while listening to audiobooks and since we’re in Florida, catching as much sun as possible, because we have grey days too. The rhythm of the cross stitch and the sound of someone reading to me is very peaceful.

  50. Hilary says:

    My life-savers never feel very virtuous but… here goes.
    1. My space heater. I love sitting by it with a blanket and making myself toasty hot.
    2. NOT running. I know. I have been thoroughly enjoying giving myself some grace and sleeping in on the weekends.
    3. Reading ‘real’ books rather than on my e-reader. My sleep has been lousy the last few months and one change I’ve made has been to read more paper books. It has helped me sleep better.
    4. The Bengals 🙂 I’m a lifelong Cincy resident and it’s so exciting being in our city right now. The energy is fun and upbeat. I LOVE it.

  51. Carol Ann says:

    Anne, I must know more about the Moka pot! Specifically, I’d love to know how you make the lattes, the ingredients and the coffee that you like best.

    The Moka pot had my mouth watering and the hamster melted my heart. These saved my life today!

    • Lee Ann says:

      I’ve used a Moka Pot for…five or six years now, I think, and it’s wonderful. You use a fine grind like you would for espresso, and the basic instructions are included with the pot. Whatever coffee you like will work well, but it’s best to grind your own beans.

  52. Andrea says:

    Things saving me right now:
    1. Blustery winter walks, every day if possible and while listening to an audiobook
    2. Devouring audiobooks, historical fiction and thrillers
    3. Always having a puzzle on the dining room table and encouraging my kids to join in and work on it with me
    4. Warm and hearty crockpot meals to share with my family
    5. Sharing winter themed picture books and stories with my young children
    6. A fire going in the fireplace, while we snuggle up under blankets and read or watch movies
    7. The beauty of our wooded backyard during a snowfall and watching our woodland creatures (squirrels, coyotes and birds) come out
    8. Scented candles to make our home smell cozy
    9. Hot tea
    10. Playing the piano with my daughter and sharing the musical experience
    11. Playing in the snow with my kids

  53. Martha says:

    We have a 3-month old labradoodle puppy ( named Wally) who’s bringing our family so much joy in this bleak winter.
    We’re enjoying re-watching “Great British Baking Show “and “Father Brown” as well as “ All Creatures Great and Small.”
    My husband and I are enjoying social ballroom dancing a few times a week though it’s very difficult having to wear masks while dancing. Still, great fun!!
    I’m reorganizing some areas of our home which is saving us all as we’re experiencing deeper calm from greater order. When I take breaks, I’m enjoying some of the Alexander McCall Smith books.

  54. Mariah Hanley says:

    I love this post, always have.
    1. Yoga. I look forward to yoga right before bed every night. I’m not working out hard, but I always feel so much better and lighter after I finish and through the next day.
    2. A set sleep schedule. For the first time in many years, I’m getting to bed and getting up at the same time. It’s amazing how much easier it is to get up, and the habit was easy to create once I decided to stick to it.
    3. Habit calendar. I set a handful of habits I wanted to start in 2022, and the habit calendar I got has been a really visual way of seeing how I’m doing.
    4. Reading what I want, not what I feel like I should read. I was burned out on reading challenges and prompts, and so I set my own this year: 75 books that are very loose prompts that give me the feeling of checking something off but that are also things I will already read, and 75 “whatever I want” prompts. Consequently, I’ve felt zero shame in listening to 9 Harry Bosch books in the last 2 weeks. I look forward to listening to them every day and reading was feeling like a chore in 2021.
    5. ToDoist. I decided to commit to using this last smmer and it has made it so much easier to keep all of my to dos in one place. It’s the first time in my adult life I’ve used the same way to track to-dos for more than a few months at a time, and my system is perfect.
    6. Flowers. I’m trying to remember to buy the $7 boquet at the grocery store once a week. I bought a really pretty pitcher on sale after Christmas- it’s red and white, but doesn’t look “Christmas-y,” and it gives me joy every time I look at it.
    7. Challenges at work. I feel energized about my work for the first time in awhile. I’ve set boundaries so I can focus on what helps me develop professionally, and it’s been a game-changer for my work life.
    8. Reed diffusers. I have one on my desk that smells like a Christmas tree that I refuse to put away after Christmas and one on my entryway table that smells like plumeria. Easier than candles, but the same nice smell that I love. (Although I do love candles).
    9. New long-sleeve t-shirts. I bought a handful of cotton long sleeve tees in December and January and I reach for them every day when I’m WFH.
    10. Puzzles- I finally started working on puzzles at night again after a break, and I’ve finished 2 in January and am almost one with the Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone cover 1000 piece puzzle I got for Christmas.
    Bonus: My Ugg slippers. I am not usually a no-shoes in the house person but I functionally am now because I take my shoes off the second I come inside and put on these slippers now. So comfortable.

    • Rebecca says:

      The $7 flower bouquet at the grocery store is gracing our kitchen table right now. I don’t buy one every week, but I do like to buy one at least once a month during winter & then see how long it will last.

  55. Erin says:

    I, too, just finished Oh, William! in two days. I love Elizabeth Strout, and it was a delightful read.

    For me, it’s:
    Peloton (and finally getting in a routine to get up early, vs. randomly working out during the day)
    That little bit of extra daylight each day
    (almost) Daily dog walks, even when it’s cold – good for us and the dogs!
    Actually making time to read (vs. just squeezing it in)
    Soup
    Jasmine green tea
    Getting together with girlfriends to drink mimosas and swap clothes we cleaned out of our closets
    The jungle of plants on my desk

    • Michelle says:

      1. Tea-all the tea
      Books, of course
      2. Snuggling with my cat on these cold winter evenings (he is currently snoring in my lap)
      3. Chatting about books with my cousins and aunt
      4. The days I get home from with and there is just enough light to take a walk.
      5. Quiet Sunday mornings to sit over breakfast and watch the birds
      6. Sleeping in on the weekends. I wake up so early during the week that it it still dark out.
      7. Homemade pizza night
      8. Cozy sweaters.
      9. Catching up with friends.
      10. Most excitingly, celebrating my Christmas engagement!

  56. Kayla says:

    putting something to look forward to on the calendar for every day in February— big things and little things. Like celebrating our dog on National Golden Retriever Day and buying discount chocolate on Feb 15

    Target Drive-Up forever and ever amen

    Watching SNL sketches on YouTube

    The Popcast always and forever

    Pre-ordering books from favorite authors (so many good books coming this year!) to support them and have something to look forward to

  57. Alyssa says:

    It’s been a dreary winter in New England, with lots of family illnesses, mishaps, and uncertainties so I’ve really been clinging to things that are getting me through! That includes:
    * morning yogurt with fruit sauce made from fruit we froze during the summer – blueberry and peach are my current favorites.
    * daily walks with podcasts – even better when the sun is shining.
    * lemon everything! This week it was the lemon olive oil cake from the cookbook Snacking Cakes and an easy lemon and parmesan pasta.
    * my houseplants – I’ll take as much green as I can get, please!
    * wordle.
    * family pizza and tv night. Currently making our way through The Librarians – light, funny, and being enjoyed by both the 10 year old and 13 year old (not an easy find these days!).

  58. Dana says:

    What is saving my life right now in the bitterly cold N.C. mountains:
    My Very Bradley cozy lap blanket. So soft and just the right weight for curling up with to read or watch Netflix.
    My silk long underwear that I’ve been wearing every day. Our log cabin has no central heating, just a kerosene heater in the living room, so the rest of the house can be chilly.
    Evening trips to our hot tub on the deck. A great chance to chat with my husband and relax as we look out over the mountains and watch the stars come out. And a warm shower and cozy Cuddle Duds Pjs afterward.
    Re-watching favorite shows and movies on Netflix or Prime. This time of year I want familiar content, not something new.
    Same with books. Re-reading this time of year brings comfort.
    Cinnamon spice tea with honey and milk. I’ve never been one to use milk in my tea, but I tried it back before Christmas and I really enjoy it.
    Meeting friends every Friday morning at a local coffee shop for a chat and coffee or tea and sometimes scones.

  59. ShelliR says:

    I recently visited a dear friend in Lexington KY and took numerous cuttings from her houseplants and I’m propagating them all over my house. I talk to them, find new pockets of sunshine for my little friends and think about my sweet visit with my friend. This is saving my life right now.

  60. wordle. Seriously. I am in a seasoning of busy-ness right now and just feel exhausted all the time that it’s hard to find time for myself. But at least each morning, there is a small word puzzle I can do. And it doesn’t take much time.

    All that being said, a note taped to my desk and mirror:
    “Always take care of yourself first.”

  61. Rea Gardener says:

    It was a good exercise for me to do this. Jan/Feb are especially tough on my mental health. Here’s my list
    1. Hibernating – sleeping as much as possible
    2. Watching Ozark, 2-3 episodes a night
    3. Graphic novels, they are all I can focus on reading right now
    4. Reviewing seed catalogs & lists and buying seeds
    5. Euphoria, Yellowjackets, and Killing Eve (TV shows)
    6. Thinking about starting seeds, gardening, and spring
    7. The milk warmer/frother on the Keurig
    8. The Snooze function for work emails
    9. My two cats
    10. New (matching) sheets, my body pillow = my very cozy bed (+ the air purifier running on the nightstand for white noise)
    11. Libby & Hoopla
    12. Trying new techniques with my therapist – brainspotting, tapping, hypnotherapy
    13. Both of my antidepressant prescriptions & my psychiatrist
    14. Nitro coffee in cans so I can have just a little bit each morning
    15. The fact that I could come up with all of the above even though I’m struggling with my depression

  62. Janna says:

    I recently began taking Spin classes at my local Y. I’ve not been able to run for a couple of years because of foot/knee issues, and being able to get a runner’s “high” from these classes has been a huge blessing. Plus, I have made new friends. Bonus!

  63. Maeia says:

    1. Walks on Sunny Days in Florida in 70 degrees
    2. My Gratitude Journal App
    3. Audiobooks & Podcasts
    4. Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
    5. Weight Lifting with a new cute workout outfit
    6. The Aroma of Essential Oils filling my Home

  64. Mary says:

    Line dancing is saving me. Twice a week for an hour I am consumed with learning new dances and remembering old dances. It is a great escape that gets my heart pounding and gives me an energy buzz for the rest of the day. Who knew meeting new friends and tripping the light fantastic would be such great fun.

  65. As mental exercise for myself, I began https://pensandoenparientes.blogspot.com/ as record of how I’m trying to improve my comprehension of Spanish thru new http://www.NBC.com romantic comedy with some more serious themes PARIENTES A LA FUERZA (Family By Force). Set mostly in Los Angeles–“mi tierra”–this innovative bilingual telenovela is about a Hollywood screenwriter who has strayed from his Latin cultural roots, then finds new inspiration in a Mexican singer.

    Movie buffs may spot many creative allusions to classic films, Latin American as well as Hollywood products. Plus lovely new songs provide lyrics to learn by heart! Series is in part clever version of a reality show where two families struggle to live in same house. Greedy ex-wife says early on there’s room for only one family–not realizing this may come true through intermarriage between the two (matches made by six different couples).

    I also appreciate timely message of Appearance versus Authenticity, and deliberate use of mature characters and “unglamourous” but good-hearted heroes and heroines (like Newt in FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM films by writer known for tales of magical masks, HARRY POTTER creator J.K. Rowling).

    My wish is that PARIENTES A LA FUERZA may gain the greater viewer appreciation I feel it deserves. Series may be available On Demand for a year after conclusion, so could serve as fun way for students of Spanish to improve their understanding of the language and culture, a “guilt-free binge watch” to stay home for during extended COVID cocooning.

  66. Caroline says:

    1. Naps. This is the main thing really. I wouldn’t be making it through without naps.
    2. Cats. No explanation necessary.
    3. Wordle. Trendy but fun.
    4. Meeting my kids where they are. This means my Gif game is strong and we hold a lot of Mariokart tournaments.
    5. Round puzzles. I received one for my birthday and the symmetry and satisfaction were awesome. I need more!
    6. My Little Free Library. It’s been slow for the last month and a half because of the holidays and the weather, but it has been such a great project for me and literally forces me to leave my house and walk down the sidewalk to maintain it.

  67. Gayle says:

    January was a difficult month for my family. My husband and I were dealing with our parents’ health problems, it was super cold here I Connecticut and it felt like we were just playing defense regarding COVID. Your post asking about what is saving our lives helped me to reflect on the positive things that I had (not in any particular order): my husband, my daughter home from college, my health, my daily yoga practice and walks with my dog. I also love my NY Times Cooking app to explore new recipes and of course the Spelling Bee.

  68. Emily C D says:

    Indoor swim lessons! The warmth and chlorine smell while my kid swims has given me such a lift that I signed him up for a third month of sessions. And during the January round of NTI (JCPS here) I got out a puzzle storage box that has a workspace and drawer storage for 1000 pieces. Kept me moving on a pretty tedious puzzle (in the kitchen no less) during the 2 weeks. Getting it back out tomorrow!

  69. Kylie says:

    As I write this from the other side of the globe (Brisbane, Australia), and consider changing my outfit for the 3rd time today (which is sometimes a necessity in such extreme humidity), I first decide to change my screensaver to a cosy wintry cottage scene, in the hope that this will trick my brain into thinking it is much cooler than it actually is each time I look at it. Your article (which I enjoyed immensely) got me thinking – regardless of where we are in the world, we are all doing our best to safe our lives. So what is keeping me alive? Simply being here, and enjoying this very short life that has been given to us, in the way we want to, with no expectations or ridiculous demands on ourselves. But I must add that twice daily walks with my dog, books, a glass of wine in the evening with a lovely home-made meal, my philosophy meetup’s, and great conversations with friends all help, too. 😉

  70. We are currently living through a blizzard (my husband works at a hospital and even HE is closed tomorrow) so thinking about a few things that make me happy and are saving my winter are SO needed right now. E-learning was NOT our friend today.
    My list ALSO includes puzzles because while I’ve loved them for years, I’ve especially leaned into them this year!
    My full list here!

  71. Katie says:

    This sounds like a strange tip, but it’s making me so much happier right now that I just thought I’d share. I’ve been thinking a lot about the amount of time I spend on my phone; I’m not a big social media person, but I get very sucked into “breaking news” and the 24 hour news cycle. It drains my happiness and energy, but I have a hard time resisting the New York Times. Last month, I got a weekend subscription to the New York Times, so I get a paper subscription delivered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then I promptly blocked all news sites from my phone using parental controls. I read the news online when I get to work on a computer (I’m a teacher of a current events course, so staying up to date on the news is genuinely part of my job), but I stay off of it at night. Then on weekends when I don’t go to work, I get the news delivered in one neat paper package that has boundaries and limits. Basically I’m avoiding I spending hours scrolling on my phone, and it’s making me so much happier. I highly recommend this to everyone: whatever your phone vice is, see if there’s a way to bring it offline or at least onto a computer. It has been a wonderful change for me!

    I’m really enjoying reading what is making everyone else happier!

  72. Tara Sypien says:

    Heat seat and heated steering wheel. We went to Disney last month. Disney brings me so much joy. Watching all the Marvel movies in order with my sons. Knowing that Spring is close.

  73. Charlotte says:

    As a physician entering the 3rd year of treating COVID, I’ve found this to be such a hard winter, but I’m so thankful that I’ve found ways to stay hopeful, rested and at peace. I concur that finding those little pockets of time to connect with my college son and my senior in high school are the highlights of my day. Love that they send me little texts all the time to lift my spirits. My husband , knowing about the stress, gives me little surprises every week, a massage, a trip for a pedicure, a quiet dinner.
    A few other things saving me: – afternoon tea break between patients with Harney&Sons cinnamon tea with honey
    – trying out new classes on my Peloton,
    -spending time every day with my bullet journal… staying organized and getting things done relaxes me,
    – Neom lavender body butter. It’s pricey but this stuff smells so good, I use it every night as part of my routine.
    – Sounds. It’s crazy, but during lunch, I put on an ASMR video from you tube, something with a crackling fire or snow. And listen to it while I respond to patient questions.
    – Making Soup.
    -Reading backlist , my goal is to re read more, going back to comfort reads and go to my TBR and read books I’ve wanted to read but haven’t gotten to.
    – my daily scripture podcast

  74. Melody says:

    Alone time – Desperately need time to myself when I’m in the third trimester of pregnancy. Deeply appreciative of that this week.

    Frozen bananas and peanut butter

    Oat Milk

    One-on-one time with my kids

    • Carolyn Haun says:

      Not to brag, but to give hope for those struggling that things can get better, I’ve had a wonderful January. What’s saving me:
      1) Good friend with zero cancer scan! I’ve missed her so much on the hiking trail.
      2) The Great Outdoors. Great snow on Mt Hood, more sunshine than normal.
      3)Changed my diet. Was key to everything. Better sleep, higher energy, more positive outlook.
      4)Volunteering where/when safe.
      5)Devotionals. I’ve never done them. Seek out those related to your religion, your beliefs. I’ve found it very helpful. Poetry as well.
      6)I ended a very toxic relationship. In a positive, non-confrontational way. A friend who was toxic to me and my husband, but highly linked to other friends. It was difficult but necessary. Seems obvious now, but NOT being around someone frequently that isn’t respectful to you has been so healing!
      7)Our alpacas,bunnies and dogs that make us laugh always.
      8)Planning adventures. Looking toward the future.
      9)Joined a knitting club (all Zoom right now), hiking club (to help further move on from toxic friend mentioned above) and looking for a book club.

      I enjoyed all the inputs. Hoping for recovery for those who wrote in struggling with illness.

  75. Martina says:

    What are my life savers right now in the midst of some kind of a storm, lots of grey etc..? Already some time ago I came to the conclusion that weather does not matter. And this is I try to live. But there is a lot of stuff which sometimes is a burden or tries to make life harder. And so I need life savers more than often.
    1. Rituals. I get up very morning around 6. This gives me some hours of me-time.
    2. Exact that early my first glass of water and a pot of coffee.
    3. Grabbing my brushes and my clolours and start painting.
    4. Getting in contact via whatsapp with my best friend, only to check whether the two of us are well. It is such a soothing feeling to know that there is someone round the corner who cares.
    5.Having a look at at least one picture of my little granddaughter. Her smile, her cuteness is healing.
    6. Everything what makes me live my ordinary life. It`s such a privilege to live in this country (Germany), to feel save, to have the food I want to, being able to live under a warm and cozy roof…
    7. As a retired teacher haveing lots of the time I always dreamed of.
    8. Cooking for the two of us. Using lots of vegetables.
    9. Using on a regular basis an App which is more than life saving: Balance ( by the way free use for Android and iPhone for one year, scientifically based, lots of strategies teaching which are meaningful).
    10. Listening to podcasts. There I met your podcast, got lots of beautiful recommendations.
    There is a lot more I could write.
    Love reading your newsletters. Thank you so much.

  76. Kelsey says:

    I am 36 weeks pregnant with our 5th baby, struggling with motivation in regards to homeschooling our 2 oldest, still unpacking our house as we just moved 3 weeks ago, and this winter weather is just not helping. So the little things that are saving me right now are lavender tea, Cedar Magnolia candles from Hearth & Home, my secret stash of chocolate truffles, our new huge soaking bath tub, an awesome belly support band, and Amazon Prime (because we need things for our new house that I just have no energy to go out and search for).

  77. Aimee says:

    Wendy, thank you, thank you, thank you! I read your comment yesterday and thought oh, those cookies sound delicious. It snowed all last night and all day and this afternoon I really wanted to bake something and remembered your comment! Realized I did not have fresh limes OR vanilla (what?!) but I had lime juice and subbed some orange extract. Made them with Great Value Gluten Free AP flour and they were FANTASTIC. Such a treat – thank you for sharing.

  78. Roxanne says:

    Thanks, Anne, for sharing this list! It’s great to hear these things, and reading through all the comments as well!
    Books are always saving my life these days. That and listening to book podcasts. And a good night’s sleep!

  79. Aimee says:

    A few of mine:
    – I scheduled a massage for each week in January and every other week in February. Can’t express what a great way it is to end a week!
    – Taking better care of my skin, especially with the winter dryness. Eminence Marine Flower Peptide Night Cream and their Linden Calendula Treatment have done wonders for my skin. The Snow Mushroom eye cream has done wonders for my lids and under eyes as well.
    – Reading through books I already own. I’ve made it 34 days (not that I’m counting) of not buying a new book. It’s crazy hard but I’m finally reading through some that have been on my bookshelves for years.
    – Lash extensions. Yes, I know it sounds superficial. But hear me out. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I already look somewhat put together; throw on a little powder and I’m ready for my first video call! The first time I had them I hated them. This time I used my facialist and asked for *short* ones and don’t have them on every lash. No caterpillar lashes here.
    – Bath & Body Works candles. We took part in an open house tour over Christmas and I realized every house had wonderfully fragrant candles that made it feel so homey. Hit them up during a sale and stock up! The Winter Apple Toddy is amazing.
    – Swiss Miss reduced sugar cocoa + my milk frother + almond milk = happiness
    – Sunday night family night. I’ve been part of a wonderful Bible study but realized we were rarely having time with all of the family together to just be. I’ve stepped away from the study to play games and laugh and eat with my husband and kids and I feel very grateful.
    – Happy shows: All Creatures Great & Small; Abbott Elementary; reruns of Frasier (thank you, Hulu); Father Brown (thank you, Amazon Prime); Downton Abbey on constant repeat (thank you, Netflix). Winter is the only time it seems “okay” to sit and watch TV without the pressure of being productive. I’m trying to make the most of it. 😉

  80. Chris says:

    Winter hikes. Hiking trails in our part of the country can be mosquito filled, humid, and with limited vistas in the summer. In the winter you can see the hidden ravines, little frozen waterfalls, and in some places all the way to the Missouri River. We bundle up, take hiking sticks to steady our aging bodies, and let the heat of our body’s movement help us along. Sometimes we are greeted by flittering bluebirds, the ratatat of a woodpecker or the song of a cardinal staking out his territory for the upcoming mating season. These hikes always raise our spirits.

  81. Hope W. says:

    I marvel each year at the variety in the comments on this post!
    1. Finally finding a planner that works for me. I finally have my to do’s and random thoughts in one place instead of multiple post its or pieces of scrap paper.
    2. Wordle! A recent find, but it’s become part of my morning routine.
    3. Finally committing to daily moderate exercise. It ends up being more like 5-6 days per week, but I feel so much better.
    4. Reading, crocheting and baking.
    5. Honest answer: increasing my dose of Effexor. I started taking it for monster hot flashes, but discovered it helped the anxiety that I thought was normal. I lasted thru 18 months of the pandemic before my anxiety started to creep back in again.
    6. Cozy slipper socks. I look forward to putting them on each time I come home.

  82. Tienne says:

    I live in snowy Canada and the only way I’ve ever been able to avoid the winter blahs is to get outside and embrace winter – I hike almost every weekend and it’s so joyful to be out in nature, bundled up and warm from walking — and hot chotoclate! — and I also try to get to a nearby forest trail at lunch during the week. Balancing that with cozy evenings of tea and books brings me all the joy!!

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