What’s saving my life this winter

I discovered this link-up (hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy) via Wendy’s post at Falconer’s Library. What a great topic to explore in this difficult month – here’s what rolled off the top of my head.

1. Poetry – After a long hiatus, I’ve been feeling inspired to write poetry lately. Probably nothing that’s ready for public viewing, but just a way for me to experience creative flow and release the intuitive side of my brain. I’ve been amazed what comes out when I stop censoring myself, and want to give myself permission to make this a regular part of my life.

Along with writing poetry, reading poetry has also been an inspiration and a comfort. I have a beautiful volume of Rumi that I’ve been slowly going through, and I also have a volume of poems for each day of Lent that I’m looking forward to starting.

2. People to talk to – In the midst of a recent crisis, I reached out to some people I didn’t usually talk to about personal things, talked to people I was already close to about subjects I hadn’t previously felt able to go into, andΒ  I also made a conscious relationship with a spiritual director to acknowledge that I need help in articulating and managing my inner life. Without these people who are willing to listen to my babblings with open hearts, I would be lost.

I also include in this category you, my blog readers, who provide an audience for my “talk” about books, which are such an important part of my life. I need you, and thank you!

3. Walking – Another way I deal with stress is to walk a lot. I’m lucky I have such a beautiful, peaceful environment to explore right from my front door.

4. Snowplows – That said, without the intrepid crews who keep our streets clear in a snowy, icy New Hampshire winter I’d be pretty stuck, whether on foot or by car.

5. Sheepskin hats and mittens – Useful for preventing frostbite and pneumonia.

6. Chocolate – Years ago I gave up chocolate to try to stave off migraine headaches, but more recently I decided life is not worth living without it (especially when visiting my husband’s family in Switzerland). Sometimes I just need some kind of hit.

7. My work – Working with adults with so called “special needs” keeps me grounded in what is really important: caring for and connecting to one another. Every day I am inspired and humbled by their courage, their capacity for love and joy, and their determination. If they can keep going, with all that they have to deal with in their lives, so can I.

What’s keeping you going at the moment? Please share in the comments!

42 thoughts on “What’s saving my life this winter

  1. Great post Lory! Thank you for the reminder to look at the positive. What is keeping me going at the moment is keeping my house tidy. Sounds easy, but it is a challenge. To come home to a (reasonably – there are cats and dogs and people who shed!) clean home helps me relax, so I can direct my energies towards other challenges.


    1. That is so true that staying tidy helps release energy for other things. I’ve made some strides in that area (my office was a disaster for years and I’ve finally cleaned it up) but it could use more work.


  2. I agree that walking helps. I have been trying to do more of it but it is hard in the winter since I don’t have anywhere right out my door to walk. It does help my mood when I manage it though. Did you actually see any difference from giving up chocolate because of migraines? I have tried it before and wasn’t sure so carried on eating chocolate and convinced myself it wasn’t the problem. However, since my migraines have been increasing lately I am considering it again. But a life without chocolate…


    1. I think going without chocolate helped somewhat but it didn’t eliminate the headaches; I stopped coffee at the same time and I think that was more important. I can definitely feel the difference if I drink coffee. There are other common triggers…oranges, cheese, and cashews are other things I’ve tried cutting out.


  3. This is a great list! I like that you included snowplows – it’s one of those things I take for granted, but I truly am grateful that there are people out there around the clock keeping roads clear so we aren’t completely stranded until spring. And your #6 is inspiring. πŸ™‚


  4. I’m with you on snowplows…not that we’ve needed them much where I live this winter. But when it does snow, that low rumble of a snowplow coming down my street at 4:00AM is one of my favorite sounds. πŸ™‚


    1. If you don’t need them it’s good, but if they’re there when you need them, it’s really good. In Seattle where I grew up there were no snowplows, and if it snowed everybody was paralyzed.


  5. I love your item of people to talk to. I think we sometimes forget how powerful that is. Also, anyone can attend the Narrative conference. There are seasoned writers and ones who just want to be inspired by greatness. Definitely check it out! Thanks for popping over to my site too. Looking forward to checking out your blog!


  6. Long walks are amazing, I love them so. I’m not good at walking without a purpose so sometimes I’ll walk along my bus route home until I’m in the mood to actually get on. πŸ˜‰ As a fellow migraineur I feel your trigger pain – here’s hoping the chocolate is kinder to you than coffee!


  7. Thanks for sharing your struggles and the actions you’re taking. Writing and talking with others tops my list, too. And I joined the YMCA last week. After a foot injury my Doc recommended swimming and biking — after just a few days I already feel like a new woman!


    1. Oh good, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. Swimming and some exercise class would also be good, but I live so far away from the nearest Y it’s not very viable. Suburbia did have its benefits.


  8. What a great topic – this certainly feels like a long, long winter. I used to write poetry and haven’t in a while. I’d love to get back to it. I definitely find reading and blogging get me through. I also volunteer with a charter school that serves immigrant families – when the world feels pretty horrible, that helps.

    I’ve given up most sugar for migraines, and it is so hard! But for me, cocoa isn’t the problem, so I’m constantly experimenting with low-sugar ways to eat chocolate. I agree, sometimes we need chocolate.

    It’s February, we’re in the home stretch at least!


  9. I love this post, Lory. Reading your list reminds me of how varied our needs really are. Feeding our inner needs – spiritual needs, friendships, feeling grounded, etc. is so important yet we tend to focus so little time on it unless we are in crisis mode. And then there are the things that we need that are practical. Here, here on the sheepskin hats! I walked this morning. It was 26 degrees… And then there are things that are pure joy -chocolate! For me, looking forward to my next vacation helps keep me sane.I almost always have something scheduled even if it’s a long way out.


  10. This is so awesome – so many different things can literally save our sanity! Loved reading through the variety in your post and especially touched by your love for your work and what you get from it.


  11. Lory, you have articulated so many heart-felt experiences here. I am so glad you have discovered tools to help you when the going gets rough. I would be lost without walking. It’s how I manage depression. When I walk long enough, the endorphins kick in and suddenly the black dog is far down the road….

    And I love the idea that you have made peace with chocolate and I hope the migraines have not returned. I just had to come to terms with wine as one of my migraine triggers, which I really did not want to be true, but alas πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I wish you well in the coming months as you continue to find ways to care for yourself. ❀


    1. I still get migraines, but now I’m trying to work on the emotional/mental side rather than just food intake. And I think more walking/exercise would be good for them too. I don’t make enough time for that (except when pushed to by stress).

      Thank you for your caring words, I wish you well in the last months of winter too.


  12. Such an interesting list, Lory! I’m glad you joined in the fun. Oddly, my daughter, aged 11, had what we strongly suspect was her first migraine today. It was pretty awful. I don’t get them, so I have been busily researching this afternoon.


  13. Being active has a major affect on my mental health, especially in the winter! I’ve been so busy that I’ve totally let it slide. But now that I have a gym membership, I’m hoping to go exercise more! Unfortunately we’re not in an area that’s safe to walk in the winter.


  14. What a lovely post! I hope that your crisis is over and that you are free to continue enjoying chocolate without headaches.

    In January I try to switch off the part of my brain that is constantly nagging me to get on and do things and lamenting my time-wasting ways and underachievement. πŸ™‚ I’ve also been writing in my journal more, and I’ve been lucky enough to read a slew of great books.


    1. Thank you, I’m recovering – it was just one of those times when the world turns upside down and you have to learn to stand on your head.

      Yay writing! I’m also journaling more and that’s a great help too.


  15. Walking is a huge one for me too. I’m lucky to live in an area where there are a number of places within a few miles of me that I can walk to if I feel like it — and it’s a nice way to get in some exercise and clear my head.


  16. A great list, Lory, and it was good to see the variety of supports you rely on. For me, it’s music, whether the Decemberists’ newest (hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksTFj6L0mao) or something old from Thomas Tallis.

    As I clear out closets, I’m also finding old, unfinished sewing projects (knitting, embroidery, quilts) — something to do as I listen to all this music.

    Here’s to whatever eases our minds and souls!


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