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9 things saving my life this spring.
reading, Lazy Geniusing, and swapping date nights.
I believe it is Barbara Brown Taylor who is credited with this idea of sharing what’s saving your life in her memoir Leaving Church.
We are quick to point our struggles, and it’s often easy to make note of all the things making life difficult in a particular season. This has historically been true for me. However, after more than two years of reflecting each month on what is both life draining and life giving, I’m finding it is now often easier for me to recall the things giving me life in a particular season.
Much like a regular practice of gratitude, looking for what is life-giving reorients your perspective in a wonderful way.
I have always loved hearing about the things, big and small, that are saving the lives of others I follow, and so I begin, friends, by sharing those things in my own life with you.
1. Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club.
A few months ago, my husband and I decided to try out the Unlimited Sip Club subscription from Panera. The concept is simple. You pay a flat fee each month, and for that flat fee, you get an unlimited amount of their hot and iced coffees, hot and iced teas, fountain beverages, and lemonades. Every two hours, a new “reward” gets added to your account and you can get one of these beverages, whatever size, absolutely free.
There’s a Panera with a drive-thru in the same shopping center as my local Target, so let just say… this has been a game changer. Whenever I need a little pick me up, whether that’s a lemonade in the afternoon or hot tea in the morning, I can get one and it is utterly delightful.
2. My Lenten fast.
We are not Catholic, nor do we attend a church that follows a strict liturgy, but my husband and I both have a love for the beauty of the liturgical calendar, and are drawn to the idea of orienting our family’s rhythms around the holidays of the church, such as Christmas and Easter, more than we do around the holidays of our culture.
We view Lent much like we do Advent—as a season of preparation for the feasting season that is to come.
This year, I decided to fast from television as entertainment, as I could see the negative impact it was having on how I spent my time, and it has been so good for me. I’ve spent far more time in the past several weeks reading and studying the Word, reading good books, and moving my body, all of which I know are ultimately better for me than binge watching another episode.
3. A revived reading rhythm.
Related to this, my reading has absolutely flourished over the last couple of months and I am loving it. I had been in a perpetual reading funk for multiple years, and it brings me such joy to have round a renewed reading rhythm again.
I’m working through multiple books, as I usually do, a combination of fiction and nonfiction. So far this year, I’ve finished 16 books, which is half of what I read in the entirety of 2022 and 2/3 what I read in 2021.
As someone who loves to read and usually gets through about a book a week, it’s felt like a returning to myself to be reading consistently again.
4. Warmer weather.
The weather here in Northern Virginia can be a bit fickle, and I’m pretty sure our February was warmer than March, but over the last couple of weeks, the days are dawning warmer and it is bringing me such life.
5. Daily walks.
Thanks to the warmer weather, I’m getting out and walking just about every single day—either in the morning with my son, in the evening with my husband and son, or both—and I’m loving it. The movement, fresh air, and sunshine are all good for my body and my mind. I can feel the lethargy of the winter season falling away with every step, and it’s bringing a renewed energy that I so love about the spring season.
6. Focusing on one project at a time.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a massive list of projects you’d like to complete—whether in your home, your work, your creative endeavors, your personal life, or some combination—but you often feel like you’re never making progress.
Late last year, I realized the reason I often felt this way is because I was trying to focus on too many projects at once. I would get 80% or 90% of the way done, then get distracted and start something else. Which meant I was actually making progress, but it never felt like that, because nothing was ever finished.
At the beginning of this year, I made a list of projects I wanted to complete, and I’ve been tackling one each month. There are, admittedly one or two lingering tasks from the January project, but it has been so good for me to say “no” to the shiny thing and focus on a singular project until complete.
7. Lazy Geniusing my kitchen.
Since I started feeding my son solids about eight months ago, food has stressed me out. First, it was just remembering to actually give him real food, and now that he’s fully on solids, it’s making sure I have food prepared that he can eat and is nutritious.
I read Kendra Adachi’s latest book, The Lazy Genius Kitchen, at the end of last year, but didn’t take the time to go through all the steps and actually apply them to the various areas of my kitchen. Well, I’m doing it in April (that’s my project for the month), and let me just say… it has been a long time since I have been so excited about something.
Admittedly, it does take a good bit of time and emotional energy to work through the steps for all six areas of your kitchen, but I know when all is said and done, the effort will have been worth it, because feeding my family—something both necessary and important—will be way less stressful and, as a result, way more joyful.
8. Target’s “My List” feature.
I go to Target at least once a week. Usually more, if we’re being honest.
If you are also a frequent patron of Target, you know one struggle can be going into the store and coming out with a bunch of things you never intended to be. Honestly, I’m pretty good at avoiding this. My problem was the opposite—I’d buy mostly the things I intended to buy, except I would almost always forget at least one or two (usually practical) things, which would necessitate another trip.
But then I discovered the “My List” feature on the Target app.
You can literally search for anything at the store, from home decor and clothing to groceries or toothpaste, and if you scroll down past the price and “Add to Cart” button, there is another section with an option called “Add to List.”
Hit the “Add” button, then when you click over to your account section, the List is right there, with all the items you saved, as well as where you can find it in the store.
Y’all… this has saved me so many unnecessary return trips to Target. Now, when I think of something I need to get, or my husband asks me to pick something up, I can add it to the List and ensure I’m getting everything I need in one trip instead of seven.
9. Date night swaps.
My brother and sister-in-law currently live about five minutes from us, and we recently started doing date night swaps. They have two girls, and every other week we watch them, along with our son, so they’re able to go out on an actual date, and on the opposite weeks, they do the same for us.
This has been so wonderful for us because my husband and I never really got to take great advantage of date nights out before a kiddo arrived. We got married three weeks before the pandemic shut everything down, so a lot of our pre-kid life was filled with restrictions.
It’s been wonderful for us to actually go out on dates again and for date night to be more than takeout and a movie on the couch.
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That’s it for me, friend. Now it’s your turn… what are some things saving your life right now?