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February 2 is the halfway point of winter, which can feel like a difficult season for a lot of people–me included. The weather is cold, sickness seems just around the corner at all times, and everyone is getting a little bit stir crazy just waiting for spring.
It’s important during these difficult seasons to find things that get us through, that give us little moments of indulgence, or comfort, or sanity, or grace.
Every year at this time, Modern Mrs. Darcy asks bloggers to answer: what’s saving your life right now?
Here’s my list of things–big and small–that are keeping me going.
1. More Water, Less Coffee
I am feeling particularly lethargic this winter, and while I love coffee, it’s not really helping. In fact, drinking a lot of it just makes me feel worse–tired and achy. On days when I remember to drink a lot of water–at least four 20-oz bottles–I feel so much better.
2. My 12-Year Old iPod
I recently dug out my old iPod, loaded up with music I added in my twenties, and it works! The battery doesn’t seem to last long, but it works just fine plugged into the speaker that works only with these old iPods. (On an unrelated note, it’s a little sad to me to call 12-year-old tech “old.” I still had my childhood stereo well into adulthood!)
But this familiar music that I loved in college and graduate school is just what I need while working. I’ve always been someone who needs music to work, and the nostalgia of it totally lifts my spirits and singing and dancing along gives me a little burst of energy. The old familiarity of it means that it doesn’t interrupt my flow (and I actually have better focus with it on).
3. My “Active Office”
If you haven’t gathered, I work from home (I wouldn’t be doing a lot of singing and dancing at work otherwise!).
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten less tolerant of long days sitting at a desk. A few months ago, my husband and I invested in standing desks for our home offices. In addition, I got a wobble board to balance on while standing–another thing that helps with focus and keeping me marginally active while working.
But the best part about my office is the location: it is in our home gym in this weird little bonus room in our basement. I confess that I don’t always find dedicated stretches of time to work out these days, but working in my gym allows me to do a few minutes here and there throughout the day. Not enough to take away from my work day, but enough to keep me moving.
Really though, it just feels great to have an office that works for me, after years of using my childhood desk. I added a monitor stand that holds my laptop and keyboard underneath, plus has all the spaced I need for pens and other little things. The LED lamp is amazing and changes color and brightness.
It’s not a beautiful or Pinterest-worthy office, but everything in it is exactly what I need to be comfortable and productive. I spend a lot of time in this space and it’s amazing to have a setup that works so well.
Oh, and that weight rack is sturdy enough for my kids to climb on it and burn some energy. My 6-year-old can do pull ups! I’m thinking about getting some attachments for them–maybe a climbing rope and some rings.
4. Steam Showers
A steam shower is not something I ever would have thought to install on my own, but the house we moved into a couple years ago happens to have one. We didn’t even try it for the first few months, but once we turned it on I was sold.
It gets COLD working in the basement and nothing warms me up like a steam shower. It’s amazing and is a few minutes of indulgence–and it’s kind of a cure-all for soreness, sickness, fatigue, everything. It may not fix whatever’s ailing us, but it sure helps.
5. A Gym Membership
We haven’t had a gym membership for years, for obvious reasons, but before the holidays we decided it was time–mostly for the pool. I took the kids swimming so much over the long holiday break, and now we’re doing swimming lessons on the weekend and staying afterward for open swim. We just don’t get outside as much during the winter, and there’s nothing like swimming for content, happily tired kids.
6. Uniform Dressing
A few months ago, I started wearing mostly black, gray, and white. It’s not that I don’t like or wear color–I do. But my days vary, and figuring out what works for each day was something I didn’t really want to do anymore. There are days when I’m working, but also working out a little. I also have days home with my youngest when we could be playing on the floor, going to the library, walking to the park, riding bikes, or jumping on the trampoline.
Basically, I want to be comfortable enough to be active, but also ready to go somewhere without having to change or feeling like I’m in workout clothes all the time.
I’ve always been on the fence about the whole “leggings as pants” question, but then I found the perfect ones–at Costco, of all places. Unfortunately, they don’t have the exact kind I have anymore, but Amazon has some at varying prices. They are perfect: super thick fabric (not see-through), they never fade, they pick up very little lint, and–key for me on the leggings-as-pants question: they have perfectly placed pockets on the butt! So they fit like leggings but look like real pants.
I usually just pair them with a t-shirt and can lift weights, play at the park, or go to the library. Depending on what I’m doing, I throw on a comfortable sweatshirt with sneakers or a nice sweater with a (colorful!) scarf or necklace and boots and I’m set. There’s very little decision-making required to get dressed these days, which is what I need right now.
7. My Planner
I’ve tried various planners off and on, but I never really stuck with them. My memory was usually good enough to keep all the balls in the air–but that was before kids. I realized I was making notes on notecards and random bits of paper all over, and physically writing things down helps me remember. I tried sort of a bullet journal, but all the drawing and formatting is just not something I’ll keep up with.
It did, though, help me identify what I really wanted in a planner, and the Emily Ley Simplified Planner was exactly it: one page per day, space for an hourly schedule, space for a to-do list, and spaces for meal planning and additional notes. Plus it’s pretty.
8. Playmats for Tiny Toys
My kids are REALLY into teeny, tiny toys. They got a bunch of Playmobil and LEGO for Christmas, and they create large, intricate stories–which is great, but messy. These playmats have saved me a lot of frustration and arguments about picking up. Even if they keep half of the toys on the mat, cleanup is so much easier. Right now we have two–one for Playmobil and one for LEGO–but I’m tempted to get more for Duplo blocks, dolls, and Barbies.
9. This Posture Advice
Some days, I feel like my shoulders are always tense. I don’t even realize it until the end of the day when my everything feels a little sore. And then I read this:
Think about your shoulder blades like slices of butter melting down your back into your back pocket.
For some reason, thinking about this posture advice throughout the day seems to be exactly the thing I need to relax and feel comfortable again.