What’s Saving My Life Right Now

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Oh, winter. Why do you feel so long when the days are so short?

This post is inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy, my favorite book podcaster. Every year, she shares this post to call to mind all the things that bring joy and life to these dark days of winter–and the posts go up at the midway point in the season. So, there’s one bit of life right there: We’re halfway to spring!

I’ve shared answers in 2018, 2020, and 2021. (2019? Where’d ya go?) I read through those posts before writing this one. And I know I don’t need to say this, but I can’t not: Holy cow. The world is a very different place in 2022. Just… everything… Reading the post from February 2020 felt surreal. That version of me had no idea that in only a month, the entire world would change. So strange.

Anyway, many of these overlap, which is a fun realization. I know what works for me, I suppose.

Here’s what’s saving my life in winter 2022:

Yoga

A woman in green pants sits cross-legged on a gray yoga mat. She has a laptop, a water bottle, and a kettle ball nearby.

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Several years ago, I started dabbling in a yoga practice I found on YouTube, Yoga with Adriene. I try to do one video most days. No real pressure or firm goals, just to do it more days than I don’t. That movement has helped me stay a smidge saner during these years at home. Without being able to go too many places, especially during these cold months when it’s much, much harder to get outside with the girls, having a reliable workout routine at home has been a life saver. Many days, the practice is made more challenging by animals or children climbing on my back during plank or hanging off my arm during a warrior pose, but it’s become such a relief to me to be able to roll out my mat, log into YouTube, and settle into a reliable workout. Plus, Adriene is very funny and extremely warm. This is definitely a joy for me during these dark winter days.

Reading

A stack of three books lean against one another. The spines are facing away so the titles can't be seen, but the covers are brown, blue, and white.

All the books. Always. I’ve been a big reader my whole life, but I’m not sure how I could’ve survived these past couple years without a nightly reading habit. By the end of the day, I’ve usually been tending to kids/house/animals and trying to squeeze in work/exercise/errands from about 6 am until about 7 pm. I’m talked out, touched out, tired out. Climbing in my bed with a book is the light at the end of each day.

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Next up, I’m planning to order a huge number of cat behavior, training, and health books in service of the project I mentioned above. I have a solid list of about 5 or 6 to start with, but if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears! I’m planning to start with this, Decoding Your Cat, because I loved Decoding Your Dog years ago. I even wrote a whole blog post about it way back in 2014!

Deliveries

Two grocery bags sit on the floor of a hallway. They are stuffed full of apples, bananas, lettuce, and bread.

Not gonna lie: We’ve relied heavily on deliveries this year. We have in the past, especially when Astrid was a newborn, but now it’s become such an integrated part of our lives. Violet recently contracted Covid (we were soooooo close to her fifth birthday… so, so close…) and all of us are currently quarantined. All I can say is thank heaves for deliveries. Here’s what I rely on:

Instacart: I order from Aldi. I get groceries delivered about once a week. Total life saver. If you’ve never used it before, they give everyone a referral link to share a $10 off discount, so here ya go.

Petco subscription: I set up the animals’ supplements on a recurring order through Petco, so it’s totally out of my head and just happens magically each month. When you set up a recurring subscription, you get a big discount, too. It’s just now occurring to me that I can add the fish tank filters to my order, so off to do that as soon as this post is finished. ?

The Farmer’s Dog: Dare I call this a small miracle when Cooper got so sick and refused to eat everything but this food? Yes, yes, I dare. It was a miracle. We also home cook and rotate in other dog foods, but this is our go-to-never-fail food for him. Check it out.

Target drive-up: Oh, the money I’ve saved by not stepping foot in that store.

“Paper” products: I get all our toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues from Who Gives a Crap? which is actually either bamboo or recycled AND it’s automatic. Again, out of my head and we never run out. They even guaranteed continued service to subscribers back when there was that huge run on TP. They, too, have a referral program so here’s $10 off if you want to give WGAC a try.

And, bonus: I can place all these orders on my laptop or phone while cuddled up with Cooper!

Friends

Three women clink coffee cups to in cheers. The women are not pictured. Instead, their hands are each holding a white mug over a table with laptops.

The above picture is obviously representative because #SocialDistancing, but holy moly… I am so grateful for my friends and all the ways to keep in touch: Zoom, Marco Polo, text, Duo, sending Reels back and forth, and more. I’m especially a fan of Marco Polo because it can be done on your own time, but I can still see my friends’ beautiful faces!

I am an introvert. A shy introvert, no less. The pandemic is made for people like me. Except, I’m discovering, even I have my limits on isolation. I need my people, and I’m so grateful to be able to be in touch. Can you imagine if this all happened in, like, 1991?

Dreaming about my yard

A pair of green-handled gardening shears sit on a white table next to spray of flowers and a white pitcher.

Over the past few years, I’ve chipped away at transforming our backyard. I say “transforming” but that’s far more dramatic. Basically, our yard has a small, round, in-ground pool surrounded by grass. We have a sprinkle of mulberry trees along the fence, and that was it when we moved in. We’ve added a second-hand swingset (which needs a LOT of work), a vegetable garden, a “secret” garden of flowers underneath one of the mulberries, and a kids’ garden, which is literally just a section of the yard that is a free-for-all for the girls where they can paint, dig, make mud pies, whatever they want. None of these sections are complete and there’s lots of room for more. I’m dreaming of a border garden in the sadly-extremely-shady section of the yard with the shared fence with our back neighbors. I’m dreaming of a wildflower garden and a way bigger veggie garden. I’m dreaming of comfy furniture and twinkle lights. I’m dreaming of birds and squirrels and bees flitting all around. And my budget is, like, $75 so. I’m dreaming. 🙂

But it’s giving me life thinking about all the things I CAN do with a tiny budget and lots of hours of digging, planting, and weeding!

There ya go: the five things saving my life this winter! How about you? What’s saving YOUR life on these cold, dark days?

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