We have a Modern Mrs Darcy tradition right around the corner and I am ready for it.
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with winter. This year wasn’t so bad, for a while—it’s been mild, we’ve seen the sun, we caught a few colds but that was all. Until this past week. It’s been a doozy.
The temperatures plunged, forcing us for the first time ever to get out the long extension cord and blow dryer so we could get the car doors open. A combination of rain and ice turned our street into a skating rink. And then half of us here at my house got the flu.
As of right now, I’m still standing. (Knock on wood.) And I’ve been thinking about the things that have helped me through the dreary days in the past, making sure I’m actually practicing the things I know to work in January and February.
I’m tempted to tell you how books are saving my life right now, because obviously. Or the regular rhythm of the days, from morning coffee to evening tea and everything in between.
Those things are true, but they aren’t topping my winter survival list right now. Because on that count, the prize goes to Daisy.
We have a puppy (if a 2 1/2 year old lab still counts as a “puppy”) who loves to walk. It’s been funny to watch her this season, because “walk” is a word that’s only recently entered her vocabulary, which means Will and I have started spelling it out (w-a-l-k) in her hearing if we’re not ready for her to go bananas indoors. (I’ve also noticed that apparently at some point I stopped wearing shoes around the house during the day, because whenever I put them on she gets REALLY EXCITED.)
If my personal experience has taught me anything about winter, it’s that I need to get myself out of the house and into the fresh air, preferably during daylight, as often as possible. Internal motivation doesn’t serve me well when the temperature drops to the single digits, like it’s forecast to do next week, but having a puppy with energy to burn, who needs to walk a mile or two? That gets me out the door.
I hate the thought of heading outdoors, and I don’t relish the cold wind in my face, but I feel so much better when I go outside—into the cold, yes, but also into the sun—or what’s left of it in winter.
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I know I’m not alone in my cold-fearing, sun-seeking, germophobe ways: this is a tough time of year for a lot of us. The days are short, and relentlessly dreary. Everyone has the flu, or if they’re lucky, the sniffles. Budgets are tight. And spring feels a long way away.
That’s why, here on the blog, we started listing the things that are saving us, right at the halfway point of winter. What things are actively giving you life in this season?
The idea comes from author Barbara Brown Taylor. In her memoir Leaving Church, Taylor tells about a time she was invited to speak, and her host asked her to speak on this simple question: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”
Most of us know what’s killing us, and can articulate it, if asked. Some of us are overwhelmed with hurry and worry; some of us face crushing poverty; some feel utterly paralyzed.
But few of us stop to note what’s giving us life. Taylor says it’s too good a question to not revisit every once in a while: what are the things—big or small—that are saving us?
Sometimes those things are huge (a successful surgery, a good prognosis, a repaired relationship), but sometimes the things that give us life are decidedly smaller. Sometimes, they feel so small I feel silly writing them down. Oh well. I’m choosing to notice them anyway. When I don’t, my mind drifts to what’s killing me, instead.
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Next Friday is February 1, nearly the halfway point of winter. For the fifth year running, we’re joining together to combat the winter doldrums by making our lists of what’s saving our lives right now and sharing them here. This list-sharing and life-sharing has been so wonderful in the past. I can’t wait to do it again.
On February 1, I’ll share my list—and you’re invited to share yours, too.
Winter is hard, but by pausing at its halfway point to share the things that are helping us through it, we’ll lighten the load.
I can’t wait to hear what’s on your list.
P.S. The top photo is from last month’s visit to Edinburgh. (Look close towards the left and you’ll see the castle.) We happened to be there on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny day, and a Sunday, at that, and it seemed like the whole city was out, climbing the hills to get their fresh air and Vitamin D before winter’s dreary rain set in again.