Welcome to February, and the annual "What's Saving My Life" post, linked up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.
I'll be honest: my two previous entries in this link-up are my #1 and #5 most viewed posts of all time. Clearly Anne has a larger readership than I do. She also has done a great job in choosing a topic for her readers to share with each other. What DOES make life work? Most of us are dealing with first world problems for the most part, but there are mental and physical health struggles that drag even the most enchanted life down. Plus, you know, life. And winter. It's not always easy.
So then, what IS saving my life this cold and dreary season?
1. Beth Woolsey. Not only is her blog a delight, and a hoot, and a steady voice of reason, but her retreats are the most luxurious bit of self care I've found in a long time. Space to not be a caretaker for others. Delicious food. Beautiful beach views. Delightful, warm company. Wine and laughter and books and writing.
2. The Winemaker's wine. Not because of the wine drinking itself, delicious though it is, but because of his generosity with this very, very good wine. He recently heard an interview on NPR in which sociologists explained a study that proved money CAN buy happiness. The twist is that when they gave people money to spend on themselves, it had no effect on their baseline happiness level. But when they gave people money to spend on others, it DID increase their overall happiness. This helped confirm a vague feeling he'd had, that giving away his wine brings him more happiness than he'd get from selling it. The part he likes is making it and sharing it. Jumping through legal hoops and marketing and budgeting--not so fun. I was able to bring a couple of cases to the reading retreat to share. He brings some to give away each time he plays bridge. The attitude of generosity feels so healthy and peaceful.
3. BuJo. I know, I know, it's so 2017. But I started a bullet journal last February, with no idea if I'd stick with it, and a full year later, I'm still at it. It is a great system for someone who is better at ideas than follow-through, because it allows me to be flexible yet organized. I count on my weeklies, my brain dumps, and the chance to play and be creative.
4. Retin-A. I developed rosacea nearly ten years ago, and have not had great success with treatments. Then last spring, with the adoption of my bullet journal, I tried tracking the habit of putting my medicinal cream on daily, as I am supposed to do. It never seemed very effective to me, so I'd just use it a few times a week. Well. It turns out that after putting it on every single day for a solid month, my face looked smooth and normal. If I miss more than a couple of days, I start to get red and bumpy again, but knowing that it actually does work if I'm faithful about it helps me stay consistent. (It helps that it's a 20 second addition to my day.)
5. Classroom with windows. It's my second year in this room. Seven of the eight previous years I'd been in an interior room. I've known for years that having windows in my room increases my job satisfaction and my core mood immensely.
6. Menu planning. For some reason, after 15 years of marriage, we started sitting down on Sundays (or when it comes up--see my above comment about not being great at following structures) and coming up with what we want to cook that week. Then The Winemaker does the grocery shopping, and we are set for several days. This greatly cuts down the number of nights we get fast food or scavenge for cup-o-noodles for dinner. He's even found a food blog he likes, and has developed some new family favorites.
7. The public library. This is always and forever on my list of lifesavers. Books, of course. Also audiobooks for my commute, and audiobooks for my students. Events for the kids, events for me. Their amazingly cheap coffee stand that serves good coffee, and where they always give you 20+ donut holes when you give them $1.50 for 15 donuts. Booksales, the maker's studio, and the Library of Things. My library is my home away from home.
8. My sisters. I just don't know what I'd do without them. That is all.
9. My daughter's fifth grade teacher. She'd struggled last year with a teacher she felt didn't like her, and the year before she had a teacher who didn't seem to really like teaching. She was losing her zest for school. This year, her teacher has lit a fire in her, a passion for learning, for pushing herself, for doing her best work, for exploring the world, for taking a stand for good, for being an informed citizen and a doer of good deeds. I am so glad.
10. Singing between classes. My school neighbor is a math teacher who is exactly my age. Our school plays 2 minutes of music between classes. The two of us like to belt out whatever song is being played while we stand outside our doors on hall duty. We both know lyrics to most of the songs they play (since the guy who chooses the music is also our age), we both can hold a tune despite not having great voices, and we both love seeing the range of expressions, from horror to delight, on faces of the students walking by. One of our favorites, complete with dance moves, is I Will Survive.
What is saving YOUR life this month?