What’s saving my life right now.

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. In order 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.

I agree. I borrowed Taylor’s idea back in the fall. Since October I’ve been keeping a running list—a literal, physical list—of the things that are saving my life right now.

What's saving my life right now | Modern Mrs. Darcy

This is an excerpt of my list. It’s a long list (yay!), and I’ve chosen to share the small things. These are things that are giving life its flavor during these cold, grey days.

1. 4 minutes in the nude.

2. The park. Haven’t missed a day yet.

What's saving my life right now | Modern Mrs. Darcy

3. A strong Americano. That I didn’t have to make.

4. My FitBit. Or rather, Will’s FitBit. I’ve had a fitness tracker for almost two years, but he just got his a month ago. Now he wants to meet his daily step goal, too—and that’s getting both of us outside more.

5. Fresh green salads. We eat locally as much as possible, but I am so thankful I can get fresh spinach imported from somewhere warm because I need a break from winter comfort foods.

What's saving my life right now | Modern Mrs. Darcy

6. The trampoline. When my kids start bouncing off the walls, they can head outside to bounce off some energy. Hallelujah.

7. Lauren Winner. I just finished reading Still, and was struck by her equation of busyness = laziness. I needed to hear that, even if it hurt.

8. Tarragon. Just when I though I couldn’t eat eggs for breakfast one more day, my friend suggested I try tarragon on them.

What's saving my life right now | Modern Mrs. Darcy

9. Beverly Cleary. Lucy (age 7) got this box set for Christmas. (I bought it at Costco in December.) Now she’s striving to read them to herself—it’s the motivation she needed to tackle chapter books. Jack (newly 12) and Sarah (age 9) are rediscovering old favorites. Silas (newly 5) doesn’t want to get left out, so my kids are reading them to him, and to each other. This is in the running for “best money I ever spent.”

What’s saving your life right now? Link up a post below, and/or tell us in comments.

What's saving my life right now | Modern Mrs. Darcy


Leave A Comment
  1. Emily says:

    Barbara Brown Taylor, for one, particularly her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark.

    But also fires in our wood burning fireplace, dark chocolate, black coffee, and HGTV, which keeps me entertained during my indoor bike sessions in our living room.

  2. Stacey says:

    As I told you last week, this link up came at just the right time for me. Thank you! And I can’t believe you are going to the park every day- brrr! I always say if we didn’t have a dog, I might just stay inside for three months!

    • Anne says:

      We don’t get as cold here as some of these commenters! We get to the single digit temps (Fahrenheit) sometimes, but that’s about as low as we go. 🙂

  3. Yay for #5! We’re doing alot of spinach salads around here, with whatever’s laying around thrown on top. English cucumbers, bacon, goat cheese. Hard boiled eggs, toasted almonds, chopped dried peaches.


    I’m headed to the kitchen right now. But since it’s still o’dark thirty, I think I’ll just settle for a hot cuppa.

    Have a good one, Anne …

  4. Ellen says:

    Great list! Though I have to smile… many of these “winter” activities are no-go options during much of the Ottawa winter, where temps can hit below 40° and there is no sending kids outside to trampolines and no going for a walk myself. I am trying to increasingly embrace and enjoy the ‘cozy’ side of winter. It helps that I can stay inside and homeschool on the worst days.

    Good coffee (!!!), layering lights and turning them on at the first feeling of mopey dusk, candles, knitting, good wool slippers. “Roasted dinners” with chicken, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts. My seven year old is taking off with reading and that new enthusiasm helps immensely.

    And at the moment, our family’s first-ever drive to Florida is turning out to be an excellent way to combat winter. 🙂

  5. Katia says:

    Here’s my list:
    1. Songza, for long days in the office and fun dance parties at home, as well as great beats to accompany me on while I work out on the stationary bike
    2. Yoga, meditation and prayer
    3. Coffee. Tea.
    4. Great books. I’m reading Words in a French Life by Kristin Espinasse and Anne of Windy Poplars (any of the Anne books are great to curl up with and cheer up when it’s freezing outside)
    5. My correspondence writing course, which helps to propel me along the path of writing a memoir
    6. Lego. If the kids are bored, we can always create something exciting using Lego.
    7. Snow. Yes, snow. It’s been -20C for over a month, but without snow. So, the kids got bored outside. Now that there’s snow, I love seeing the joy on their faces and know that they will have a blast playing outside.

  6. jeri says:

    I’m crocheting newborn and chemo hats for local hospitals, getting my postpartum doula certificate and I follow some wonderful, encouraging blogs like yours!

  7. Ana says:

    Exercise (specifically my early morning HIIT class)
    Overdrive and my Kindle
    Warm winter gear that makes it less painful to get out of the house
    One of my kids finally being able to put his own gloves on (this is huge. HUGE)
    Decaf tea (its hard for me to drink water when its cold so I drink plenty of warm weak decaf tea to stay hydrated)
    Wine (can’t lie)

  8. april says:

    Two things are saving my life right now – the heated blanket on my bed, and Harney and Sons tea (hot cinnamon spice). I also just started watching Parenthood on Netflix, which helps 🙂

  9. liz n. says:

    The freezer and the microwave are saving my life! Every Sunday, I make a huge batch of pancakes and about a dozen English muffin breakfast sandwiches so that no one skips out on a hot breakfast the rest of the week. It’s a habit I got into when the kids were still at home, and I still do it because it is a huge timesaver.

  10. Dana says:

    What’s saving my life right now:

    My morning Earl Grey/Mango hot tea from Caribou.

    Going outside to walk the dog every day. Getting outside is a must.

    Sitting on my sun porch to read even if I have to bundle up a bit. Almost as good as being outside.

    My new studio where I can write, sew, paint, or sit in my window seat and read with a warm napping dog bedside me. It is in the attic away from the rest of the house. I feel as if I am in a tree house. Lots of windows and light and books I have a small fridge, my art table, sewing machine and my hot pot for making more tea!. This should probably be # 1!

    Inviting my husband to my studio in the afternoon to have a glass of wine and hear about his day/projects in his woodworking workshop in the back yard.

    My writing group that meets on Wed. night. I look forward to my time with like minded women and our wonderfully wise mentor. I receive encouragement and validation fort my writing and I get to share life with some wonderfully creative people.

    My Bible study group. A sweet group of ladies who are supportive in my Christaian walk.

    Art classes at my local art gallery/co-op. Another group of creative and talented women.

    Lots of projects and books to read.

  11. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    I have been thinking about this concept since you mentioned last week! Thanks for the encouragement! Currently, what is saving my life is showering before bed so that when I wake up I am ready to take on the day and don’t have to get cold and wet right away.
    (I did not do this last night so I am reminded of how much it was helping my days with three small children start off on the right foot!)

  12. maureen fahey says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this post and I love Groundhog Day! It’s arrival means I have made it through another January and have recovered from the holiday craziness!! In fact I wait until now to really think about my goals and resolutions for the new year.
    What’s saving my life right now…
    1. Watching the adorable little chicadees and wood peckers at my backyard feeder.
    2. Using my tea kettle instead of the microwave to heat my water for tea – it seems much more civilized to wait for the whistle!
    3. Quick morning walks with my dog – I have seen so many lovely pink sunrises this winter and a little dose of the outdoors is a great way to start my day! This would not be happening if my yard had a fence – i’m so glad I don’t have a fence!
    4. Frequent visits to the botanical conservatory in my town or in the city (Chicago) . It’s like an instant visit to Florida – tropical plants, beautiful flowers, warmth and humidity. It is heavenly to walk through and feel yourself thawing out while you breathe in the warm, fragrant air!

    • Kim S. says:

      I honestly thought i was the only person who felt this way about a teakettle! My mom got me one in Xmas that looks like a pig and sounds like an air raid siren when ready.

      Other things on my list:
      My thick fleece blue throw that keeps me the warmest

      My view from the window I spend most of my time by. I suffer from neuropathy in my feet, so outside cannot really happen right now and the cold (East Coast) weather is NOT helping

      Downton Abbey

      NetGalley (I’m reading so far ahead it’s ridiculous. When I got approved by Simon and Schuster you would have thought I won the lottery)

      Candles. I prefer citrus and tropical scents, so at least my house smells like summer!

  13. Sarah R says:

    Love everyone’s comments! We live in Wisconsin and are recovering from a blizzard so this is much needed for me.

    1. Walks outside when I can (today it’s too snow-packed, windy, and cold)
    2. My space heater from Costco
    3. Lightweight layering winter gear (from Costco as well)
    4. Sugar scrubs from Trader Joe’s
    5. Warm, colorful socks from Target
    6. Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator from Birchbox
    7. Copycat Panera cream of chicken and wild rice soup made in the slow cooker
    8. Drinking warm water with half a lemon squeezed in

  14. I recently subscribed, and I haven’t been able to get this concept out of my head, either.
    My list would include:
    (1) Snuggling with my husband and our cat, all three of us on the couch.
    (2) Spending less time on the internet and more time reading books in print.
    (3) The pretty dim pink lights at work that we turn on during night shift.
    (4) Our newly painted kitchen. It’s lavender. And gorgeous.
    (5) Weekly menu and budget planning! Just getting started . . .

  15. My 6-year-old son got the same Beverly Cleary set for Christmas, and I agree with you–it was money very well spent (I just wish it wasn’t missing one of the Ramona books and two of the Henry Huggins).

  16. Anne says:

    Going at the pace I need to go at
    Letting go of perfection at an even deeper level (this year’s winter lesson, womp womp)
    Sweet baby face
    Little more organized for homeschool
    A good person to talk to
    MMD + community
    Finding good books to read! Soooo rewarding to have books I’m excited about.

    How did I miss this as an actual linkup?? Whoops! 🙂

  17. Leanne says:

    1. French press decaf coffee
    2. Tea made with my tea kettle – I agree, heating water in the microwave for tea makes it taste awful.
    3. My town library
    4. CuddlDuds – both tops and bottoms
    5. Netflix
    6. Jigsaw puzzles
    7. Homemade soups
    8. My new afghan made by my daughter
    9. My Kindle
    10. My friends at work
    11. Decluttering little by little

  18. Emily Willis says:

    Thank you for this post. It’s been a crazy 2015 and I have felt on edge all the time. I just took ten minutes to write in my journal what is saving my life write now and watch Barabara Brown Taylor talk about “steeping your soul” and I feel SO much better.

  19. 1. My new Zojirushi insulated coffee mug — never had one that worked SOOO well. I’ve taken to immediately filling it in the morning when the coffee is made and then drinking from it throughout the day — it keeps my coffee hot from 6 am to 4 pm with no problem.
    2. My daily Bible reading first thing in the morning while it’s still dark
    3. Decluttering — love the feeling of having just enough abundance and of spaciousness in our indoor spaces where we spend so much time in the cold winter.
    4. Sitting on the sofa for a little while after lunch and feeling the sun on my face and arms. It’s so good to feel truly warm and bathed in light.
    5. Enjoying this season with our three kids all grown and working/going to school but still living with us. It’s a joy to gather around the table for dinner at the end of the day. Now, this doesn’t happen nearly every day, mind, but once or twice a week the planets align and everyone’s schedule has us home together. 🙂

  20. Brenda says:

    Great post! I’ll have to say hot chocolate before bed, a wonderful husband and cats, and so much more! And cool weather as I don’t like summer…..

  21. Becky says:

    1. electric blanket to get my bed nice and warm before I climb in!
    2. hot tea from Republic of Tea (my current favorite blends: Downton Abbey Christmas Tea and Dream by the Fire)
    3. afternoons by the fire reading aloud to my kids
    4. it hasn’t been easy, but I made a deal with myself after Christmas that for my health’s sake I would take it easy the rest of this winter–no new outside activities or responsibilities for me or my kids. It’s been great so far! I’ve been doing so much reading, resting, decluttering, organizing–I’ve even been organizing photos on the computer and making photo books! I’m really enjoying and soaking in this slower rhythm of winter.

  22. Alyssa says:

    Pre-chopping bags of veggies for the whole week. Planning a menu. Drinking a lot of lemon water. A make-over and new make-up form Sephora with my Christmas gift card. Delegating. Trading kid days with my sister so we each get a break. Playing music a lot more since we got a Sonos speaker that runs from an app on any device. Body Shop grapefruit shower gel. Avocados. Just started a gratitude journal.

  23. Lindsay says:

    I love all the different things that are breathing a little life into everyone’s winter. This was my very first link up I ever participated in :). With over a foot of snow this past weekend and temps in single digits today, there is no escaping winter. But the cold temps and snow make for the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Thanks, Anne, for starting a great conversation!

  24. Mandy says:

    coffee. Hot lemon water. Fixer-upper on hgtv. Bing watching Parenthood on Netflix. Quiet time in afternoon. Lazy Saturdays. Eating lots of fruits and veggies 🙂

  25. Patty R. says:

    What’s saving my life right now?

    1. Starting the day on a positive note: I used to read the news in the mornings, and found that on a lot of days, it really put me into a negative mood. Now I try to read just a couple of encouraging or challenging blogs (like this one!) plus Bible study as I start my day. There’s time for the news later (don’t want to live with my head in the sand), but I can approach the day in a better spirit when I start it this way.

    2. Your post on “4 minutes in the nude” reminded me how thankful I am at this time of year for baby oil gel. The skin on my hands chaps, cracks and bleeds really easily in the winter. If I put on baby oil gel every morning after my shower, I mostly avoid this.

    3. A cup of tea every afternoon!

  26. Every spring I use my fresh tarragon, small dice of shallots simmered, add farm fresh eggs to scramble, sprinkle tarragon throughout and my black truffle salt. It awakens all of me from winter

  27. Jennifer H says:

    Don’t have a blog to link, but this sounded like a good exercise so here goes…
    1. Reading (mostly fiction, except I have requested a memoir for #3 on your challenge
    2. Nightly devotions with my child, typically followed by reading a chapter or two in our current bedtime book
    3. The hour and a half time to myself between bedtime and husband getting home from work (reading, watching TV, or “playing” on the computer)
    4. Redecorating our house and de-cluttering – our walls are now freshly painted a spring-y green and summer-y yellow that really lightens my mood
    5. Did I mention reading?

  28. Kari says:

    This was a good exercise for me to think about, especially because I’m pregnant and due in just a few weeks, so everything seems annoying lately! 🙂
    1. My kids have been two peas in a pod and have been playing so well together lately.
    2. My comfy Adidas shoes that I’ve been wearing constantly.
    3. My commute is so much shorter than last winter because we moved closer to the city where we work and our families live.
    4. Since the Christmas season ended, I’ve been knocking things off my pre-baby To Do list like it’s nobody’s business. Ahhh … it feels great!

  29. Dianna says:

    Reading The Wizard of Oz to my daughter. Snuggles with my baby. White unscented candles. Reorganizing my books. Two loads of laundry per day. Eating lots of stir-fry with brown rice.

  30. Ashley says:

    How are you liking your Fitbit? I’ve been wanting an activity tracker but I don’t want something that tracks sleep. Do you find it’s hard to keep track of/wear vs your old Jawbone? How do you wear it?

    • Anne says:

      I have the zip now and I really like it. I had a Jawbone Up for a year and a half before that. I liked it a lot but I didn’t love having it on my wrist all the time, and I really didn’t care about the sleep feature. I wear the zip on my waistband usually, and it unobtrusively tracks what I want it to (steps).

  31. Kendra says:

    My mind was coming up blank when I first read this post but after a recent string of days below zero and a “windchill day” home from school, it came to me: long underwear! (Pure Michigan!)
    I have been trying to get out daily for walks to get steps in and breathe fresh air so snow boots and audiobooks from Overdrive are helping immensely in that regard also. For the record, I haven’t gone out when it’s below zero yet.
    I’m reading Learning to Walk in the Dark right now and I appreciate her perspective of dark. Hoping to get through Leaving Church and An Altar in the World during Lent. Thank you for introducing them.
    One more thing that’s saving my life and serves as a pick me up since I’ve decided to give up the sugary coffee and tea latte drinks is Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea. I’m trying to expand my tea collection a bit and that’s my favorite right now.

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