That is a question posed by author Barbara Brown Taylor. It is so easy to focus on the negative and what is going wrong all around us. I love the intentional thoughts that I have when I ask myself what is saving my life right now.
As we make our way straight into the middle of winter, I ask myself this question. I love that I can answer this as philosophically or silly as I please. I can even do both here, because it’s my blog! Here are some of my answers.
The series Schitt’s Creek is saving my life right now.
I honestly can’t tell you why I never got around to watching it until recently. My girls and I have gotten into a routine of watching a few episodes each night. It is so cathartic to laugh when times are hard and this show is sooo funny! If you haven’t watched it yet, get yourself over to Netflix and get your binge on. It is absolutely worth it!
My planner is saving my life right now.
Getting ready to move again from our rental into our own house means that we are scheduling all kinds of things from utility hook ups/shut offs to internet installation to movers to house and carpet cleaners to appliance delivery. It’s a lot to get our minds around and if I didn’t have a place to write it all down, we’d be in trouble.
Our Ninja Foodi pressure cooker/air fryer combo is saving my life right now.
We got one at Christmas and are loving making new things in it. We are using the air fryer more than anything and I’m loving how crispy everything gets. When new appliances bring you joy, you are definitely adulting!
My kids are saving my life right now.
They are at such fun ages being 16 and 19. We have some of the most amazing conversations about anything and everything. I feel like they keep me young while at the same time reminding me of how old I really am when I get to explain “how things used to be.” Their minds were blown when I came across an old manual from a flip phone. First of all, there was a manual? Second of all, how did you text on that thing? Ah, yes, the good old days!
Finally, my bathtub is saving my life right now.
Even amidst our impending move, I need to take baths for my own sanity. Perhaps it is even more important because of the impending move. My bathtub is a space for me to get away and just be. I set up my diffuser, add Epsom salts to the tub and my tension and worries just get soaked away. I wrote a whole blog post about How to Add Some Zen to Your Bath if you missed it.
There is so much to be grateful for, even when things are not going as planned. What is saving your life right now? Share in the comments below.
I included this very same question periodically in my new journal: Journaling Through the Year. If you are looking for a user friendly way to tiptoe into the journaling world, you will love this new journal. Check out all the details here.
I try really hard to stay positive in life. I am seriously a glass half full kind of person. Lately though, it has been rough with all the things going on in the world.
What do you do when the world seems so off kilter?
Here’s how I cope when things seem crazy around me. I can’t control the world, but I can do these things.
I focus on being mindful.
This means that I turn off the noise and just appreciate being present in the moment as I go through my day. I wrote a whole post about Mindfulness for Beginners awhile back. If you missed it, check it out here.
I put on my essential oils.
This can mean that I seek out the emotional support oils in my oily toolkit. My favorites for this are Frankincense or Palo Santo. Or I apply the ones that bring me joy like Believe or Bergamot. Sometimes, I walk up to my oil collection and just grab the first oil that really speaks to me. I realize that sounds super out there to some of you, but it actually works for me. I have a need and a particular oil jumps out to me as I scan the collection. Oftentimes, when I look up the properties of that oil in my reference materials, it turns out to be just what I needed.
I turn off the news and step away from social media.
The endless chatter gets to me after a time and I have learned that for my own sanity, I need a break. That may look like completely shutting it all off, or it may be a matter of setting my own limits. Lately, I’ve been watching the top of the news hour for any actual breaking news. Then, I turn it off. I’ve also been spending a lot less time on social media. When I do go on there, it is usually for a specific purpose. Sometimes, I’ll set a timer for scrolling so I don’t waste half the day before I realize what time it is.
I practice some self care.
For me, that looks like taking a long soak in the bathtub with Epsom salts. When my family was annoying me this week through no fault of their own, I knew that I needed to get in the tub. I came out of it calmer and more appreciative of the individuals that live with me. For you, self care may look like taking a long walk by yourself, reading a book, going and wandering all the aisles at Target or getting a pedicure. It is up to you what works best to help you recharge.
I turn my attention to others.
I know this sounds strange, but hear me out here. I have found that in focusing on what others around me might need, I can often fill that need and support them. This gives me an outlet for my nervous energy. I can serve others, which is what I strive to do most of all. I check in with friends and family and I can control my response to their needs. This is something that I can wrap my hands around and do for the good of others. Do I get a benefit from it? You bet! My endorphins are firing all over the place and my mood increases by helping others.
What is your favorite coping strategy? (Tell me in the comments below.)
There are some simple changes you can make today that will create a better world for you and for your children. You can get my FREE guide to living more sustainably called How a Normal Person Can Be Semi-Crunchy. You don’t have to live off-grid in a yurt and produce zero waste to make a difference, but that is totally an option.
According to Harvard Health, ”for something to be creative it has to be novel or original and be useful or adaptive to some portion of the population.”
When I create something, I am problem solving along the way. Through solving the problems that come along with creation, I am activating the reward center in my brain and getting a burst of dopamine in the process. Generally, I don’t even realize it at the time because I am so focused on the creative process, but science tells us that it is there.
The tendency these days is to consume. We consume the social media feeds we scroll through. We consume the television programs or movies we watch. We consume take out food and package deliveries.
What are you creating these days?
I love to craft things. I often see products online and think, “I could make that!” I am a sucker for a step by step tutorial. Do they all turn out fabulously? No way! I do, however, gain experience and skills along the way. The beauty of crafting is that I can take what I have learned and use it going forward into the next project. I can refine my technique or use smarter tools. Sometimes that experience tells me that, no, I cannot make that cool thing myself. LOL!
I have been knitting a scarf lately that is almost finished. That is kind of a miracle because knitting is something that I do when I find myself sitting still with nothing to do with my hands. That doesn’t happen too often lately, but I’m making progress little by little.
A newer form of creativity for me has been drawing/painting with an Apple Pencil on my iPad. I love being able to draw something and have the ability to push undo if it is not the stroke I was hoping for. There are so many layers I can add to my drawings to improve them too. There is just something about learning a new craft that gets me so excited to make more.
I got a Cricut for Christmas from my amazing family and I am so excited to make all the things. I dabbled a little and made an ornament commemorating the year, a little sign with our names on it, the cover of my journal and turned a whiteboard into a perpetual calendar for my daughter. This is only the beginning! When we move into our new house, there will be a dedicated space for all my crafting and creating, so I can up my creating game.
Now, I lean towards physical crafts that end up all around my home. You may be thinking, that’s totally not me. No worries there! You may create things and not even realize it. Check out this list:
Writing: This can take the form of journaling, letter writing, blogging, crafting emails or lesson plans or social media posts.
Decorating: Rearranging things to improve the aesthetic is also creating.
Music: Singing or playing an instrument.
Photography: You don’t even need fancy equipment these days with how technology has improved our phone cameras.
Cooking or Baking: Using a recipe or not, you are creating something.
Gardening: Indoor or outdoor, planting, tending, pruning is also creative.
- Building: You are creating when you build towers or Legos with your kids.
All of that is creating! You are putting something out into the world that wasn’t there before. This is how we leave our mark on the world!
My goal each day is to create something new. That keeps my brain firing that dopamine and leads to a happier life.
What is your favorite form of creative outlet? I’m not sure I could narrow it down to just one, so you can share as many as you like in the comments below.
Did you know I just launched a journal? It is a pdf download that you can get today to start my easy journaling system. Check out all the information here!
This year, we are entering the week of Christmas in a world that looks very different than others we have seen. Many of us will have a holiday celebration that does not resemble what we are accustomed to enjoying. You may have a smaller gathering or no gathering at all. You may have had a job loss in the family so your celebration is on a stricter budget. You may have lost a loved one this year and are facing the holidays with grief. No matter what your holiday looks like this year, you need to remember these things to survive with peace.
When it comes to the holidays, moms have a tendency to get worked up trying to make it all perfect. I have caught myself on way too many occasions holding my breath while giving my family everything they need. The advice on the airplane is true, “put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” You will be no good to others if you don’t take care of yourself. That means you need to take a few minutes to breathe. If you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to get that breather, do it! They will survive without you for a few minutes.
2. FAVORITE HOT BEVERAGE
Whether your preference is coffee, tea, cocoa or cider, fill up a cup and enjoy the aroma. (This goes hand in hand with step #1.) Hot beverages are known to be comforting and calming. Sip slowly and feel the warmth as it travels down your body. Being aware of that sensation is part of a mindfulness practice. You deserve to enjoy a cup of your favorite beverage no matter what chaos is about to ensue.
3. CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS
As I mentioned above, moms are often the driver’s of this thing called “family holiday happiness.” We try so hard to make things perfect for everyone. The truth is that no matter what we do or don’t do, our family will still love us. Children’s emotions will still be on edge with the excitement of the holiday, no matter what we do. It happens every year. Your celebration may be Rockwell painting worthy or it may be so much more simple this year. The world does not rest on your shoulders mama! You can rest easy that a different holiday will still be a holiday.
One of the most important things we can do is decide what is most important to us in the holiday season. What are your top three things that matter most to you? Is it the big family meal? Is it the gift opening process? Is it the games or movies that you share as a family? Is it reading the Bible verses? Is it making cookies together? Is it singing Christmas carols? Is it driving to see holiday lights? Whatever it is, throw yourself into that. Don’t try to do it all! It is okay to skip the things that are not as important to you.
Can we talk mom presents for a moment? Moms, we need to check our expectations here as well. You know how it goes...the children open their presents and your spouse is just as surprised as they are at what is inside. I know, we do it every year. Mom’s take care of the gift purchasing and wrapping for so many people. Who takes care of Mom’s presents? No matter who it is in your family, you may end up with another bathrobe. (Did you see this on SNL?) I’ve decided that I will expect a bathrobe this year. If I get one, yay me! If I get something else, that will be an awesome surprise. Now it’s a win-win situation!
4. SAVOR THE MOMENTS
The holidays are all about the moments big and small that hold so much heart meaning for us. If your holiday has been downsized this year, that doesn’t mean there are not moments of joy along the way. I plan to savor all of those moments this year, especially. From the smiles and laughs as presents are being opened to the mirth and joy at discovering what is in that mystery package without a tag. We get to enjoy it all! Don’t forget to notice the little things. Count your blessings. They are so important.
5. CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Maybe you have a plan in place already to call or Facetime or Zoom with family and friends that are not joining you this year. If you don’t already have a plan, make one. This benefits you and the people on the other end of the call. Our sanity depends on those connections. Whether it feels natural or awkward, make the effort. We have learned that trying to do it all by ourselves is isolating. We can connect with others over the fact that things are hard and share some of our small moments that bring us joy. Everyone will be happier for it.
I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas! Take care of you and enjoy the moments along the way.
Did you miss my article on mindfulness? You can read it here.
I have created a yearly planner that is a downloadable pdf file to help you stay organized in the new year. Check it out over here.
Do you journal?
I've always wanted to be a great journaler. I loved my diary when I was in elementary school. It was baby blue and had a little lock on it. I had brothers, so the lock was imperative to my feeling like I could speak my mind in it. I would go through fits and starts of writing in it about my day or my friends or my infuriating brothers. I’m pretty sure that most of my diary was filled with the name of a boy I thought was cute in the 6th grade with hearts all around it. I mean, gripping stuff, I know, but it was important to me.
Fast forward to me as an adult. When we moved this summer, I recycled not one but FOUR journals that I found in various places in our old house. They all had something in common. I wrote in them no more than 3 times. The rest was empty. I really wanted to write in those beautiful journals, but I think I lacked the discipline.
Why write in journals?
Helps control anxiety and depression
Allows you to put words to your feelings
Decreases clutter in your brain
Helps you let go of negative thoughts
Gives clarity for achieving your goals
So, I understand and desire all of those things, but I’m just not finding success in just buying cute journals and pens.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with how to make journaling work better for me. Try these steps to achieve journal perfection.
Set aside time to journal. I used to think this had to be daily, but that just didn’t work for me. I have adjusted my expectations and plan for one day a week now. For me, that means I journal on Saturday mornings before the rest of the house wakes up. For you that may be a certain evening after you get the kids to bed. Whatever you do, set aside that time. It’s like a date with yourself. Don’t break that date. You are worth it! Besides, you can control the amount of time you use to journal. It can be anything from 10 to 30 minutes, or more if the mood strikes you.
Find a spot where you will journal. It could be on the couch, in your bed, a favorite chair, the kitchen table. It really doesn’t matter, but it needs to work for you. I find I’m much more successful if my spot is not right in the middle of the rest of the family’s action or I get distracted. You know, the kids ask Dad where something is and he totally doesn’t know, but you try to let him answer anyway and then get distracted because you could have solved this problem much faster. That kind of thing!
Have a place to keep your journal materials. This could be a special pretty journal that you want to use, printed prompts that fit in a folder or binder, or even a digital folder on your computer. Use what works for you! Keep your favorite pens or pencils handy too. I have a
mildobsession with pens, so I love to keep my collection of flair pens and gel pens near my journaling spot.
Use journal prompts. I have found that in times of stress, I have tons to write about, but I don’t always feel productive with those thoughts. By using journal prompts, I am able to focus my energy on one area in my journal. Sometimes those prompts lead me to lists and other times those prompts lead me to paragraphs detailing some idea that is holding up real estate in my head. No matter what, those ideas down on paper are a wonderful thing. If I stare at a blank page too long uninspired, I'm way too likely to give up.
Rinse and repeat. Journaling once is good. I’ve done that many times. It is in the repeated process of journaling that we find those amazing benefits listed above. Plus, you are forming a new habit, so repetition is key to making it a part of your life.
Interested in what journal prompts I use? I created a beautiful set of prompts to help keep you Journaling Through the Year. There are prompts for each week that you can use in any format that works for you. Check out lots more details here.