It’s almost time for one of my favorite Modern Mrs Darcy traditions.
Winter has never been my favorite season. It’s cold, it’s grey, it too often brings colds or worse, and usually brings a bit of cabin fever—but of course this year the dread of illness is something else entirely, and that “stuck inside” feeling is next-level.
And so to beat back the dreary days, this winter I’ve again been keeping a list—a literal, physical list—of the things that are saving my life right now.
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 assigned her this topic: “Tell us what is saving your life right now.”
Most of us know what’s killing us, and can articulate it, if asked. 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?
Every season carries its unexpected challenges and joys (even this particular 2021 winter has its joys); such is life. In some ways, this winter has been simpler than the past several years. (In others, harder, because obviously.) But winter remains the hardest season for me. I miss my sunshine; I miss my fresh air. I miss my friends, and the family I don’t live with.
That’s where the list comes in.
Our lives reflect what we persistently think about. This practice calls me to pay attention to what I’m dwelling on, and to intentionally look for the good. It calls me to see not what’s killing me, but what’s saving me.
Some of these are Big Things. Some are so tiny they hardly seem worth writing down. But I’m marking them all, the things that are saving my life in this season, even if it sounds silly to say so.
Next Monday is February 1, nearly the halfway point of winter. For many years now, we’ve been joining together to combat the winter doldrums by making our lists of what’s saving our lives right now and sharing them here.
On February 1, I’ll share my list—and you’re invited to share yours, too: in the comments section you can link to a blog or social media post, or simply type your list for us to read.
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. We’ve engaged in this practice for nearly ten years, but this is the first year I’ve had a book out that touches on the subject. For more about intentional practices like this one, pick up a copy of Don’t Overthink It and flip to Chapter 7, “Tend Your Garden.” My hope is that this book can be one of the things that brings you joy, and peace, and life.