8 things saving my life right now

Even though it doesn’t look like it on paper, 2017 is starting off well for me. What I mean by that is this: my family and I currently live in a renovation project, so I’m surrounded by a general state of chaos; my foot has been giving me grief for weeks now and is only just now starting to heal, and weird weather has kept us oddly indoors. Which leads to inevitable cabin fever.

I’m also prone to depression, and I’ve had waves of that off and on for about two months. Nothing serious right now, but it’s been gravely serious before, so I know to look out for it.

If I were to laundry list the status of my life, it doesn’t look so hot. But actually, things are going well. My attitude’s been largely okay, I’ve already read two books this year, and we’re eating better than we have in about a month.

It helps me to break down what’s saving my life, in big or small ways. It does my soul good to acknowledge the little gifts that make my life sweeter in the moment. These are pegs throughout my day I can hold on to and climb the hours.

As Andy Warhol once said, “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”

Here’s what’s saving my life right now.

1. Good slippers.

Kyle and I have had this weird history of getting dud slippers for me, so this year, his “gift” to me was, “Order yourself some slippers, okay?”

I did more research than is probably necessary for this, but I was tired of indoor slippage disappointment. I read reviews, I looked up various company’s sustainable practices (which are often hard to find), and I did price comparisons.

slippers

I finally settled on these slippers by Acorn (yes, the men’s version!), and I have been so happy. They are exactly what I’ve been looking for: warm but not hot, a thin sole but not nothing, cushy but not ridiculous.

In fact, I think they’re a large contributor to my foot’s healing. The insole is divine. I’m wearing these bad boys all day, every day.

2. Bullet journaling.

Yep, I’ve got some stuff prepared to talk more about bullet journaling later this month. But the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded why I love this system of thought-catching and to-doing so much.

It works well for me, I love that I can customize it however I need (and therefore change how I use it on a whim), and it forces me to slow down and process what’s on my plate.

More on this soon, but just know it’s been so good for me right now. It’s old-school. It’s simple. It’s analog.

3. Freedom.

No, not the concept in general (though I’m sure that’s always on auto-play in the background), and not the George Michael song. The app.

I tried Freedom a few weeks ago as an experiment for an upcoming project, but I wasn’t sure what I’d think about it. I’ve decided that I love it.

freedom app

It’s a hand-holding app that basically self-inflicts parameters from distractions. I didn’t think I really needed this, but it has increased my concentration and helped me focus. For me, this is particularly in the evenings, when I found myself mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or Facebook instead of doing what I actually wanted to do: read.

I created two sessions called Weekday Evenings and Deep Work Mornings. On the first one, I’ve blocked all social media, my email, and Netflix from 10 pm to 7 am, Sunday through Thursdays. On the second, I’ve blocked all social media and email from 9 am to noon, Tuesday through Thursdays.

It’s really helped. I had no idea how often I “quickly checked” some of those sites while I genuinely preferred to be doing other things (reading, sleeping, writing).

I feel like it’s decently priced; I did the annual plan at $29. (Edited: I just found out that it’s 40% off with the coupon code FOCUS. No idea how long that’ll last!)

4. Water (duh).

I’m saying ‘duh’ to me here. I haven’t sipped a soda in years, and other than black coffee, herbal tea, and the occasional old-fashioned or gin-and-tonic, I drink almost exclusively water. But? I noticed I wasn’t drinking anything at all.

My problem over the holidays wasn’t that I was indulging in icky drinks; it was that I simply wasn’t continually drinking water. I think this was partly because of my foot, and trips to the bathroom become a Major Feat when you’re on crutches.

But I’ve been more intentional in always having a glass of water nearby, and I’ve been reminded why water makes me feel so. much. better. My skin is clearer, my mind is sharper, and I have more energy. I think I’m even sleeping better.

5. Smoothies.

Kyle got me this blender for Christmas when it went on a crazy flash sale (I’ve been watching for years). It’s so nice to have a powerhouse in the kitchen, and it’s gotten me back to smoothies several times a week.

smoothie

I love how it forces me to get my veggies in, yet still feels like a midday (or morning) dessert.

My favorite standby? Coconut milk + several large handfuls of fresh spinach + a cup or so of frozen berries + banana + raw honey. Done.

6. Really good leggings.

I ordered these girlfriend leggings months ago and then promptly forgot about them, so it was like a mini-Christmas when I got them in the mail back in November. These things are as fantastic as they advertised. I’m wearing them constantly. (They’re in the slippers pic, above.)

Plus, ethical! Hooray.

7. My Kindle.

I think I mention my Kindle Paperwhite every time I talk about what’s saving my life, but it’s still true. Yes, I’m a big fan of paper books, and I still read them (mostly thanks to Book of the Month, which I also love).

But I’m in the habit of carrying my Kindle everywhere, and because it’s synced to my local library, I am always reading something. Perhaps my local digital library is also something saving my life right now, because anytime I hear or read someone say, “You have to read this book!” I run over add it to my library wish list.

When I’ve finished a book, I immediately go to my wish list and download something new to my Paperwhite. Never without a book.

(Oh, and starting this year, I also add read books to my Bullet Journal shelf.)

8. Audiobooks.

I want to take better advantage this year of the glory that is audiobooks, and so far, so good. I keep my earbuds in my purse so that I can always listen to something, and I tell you as an introvert, this is the only way grocery shopping has become palatable (yep, I wait until I don’t have to take the kids).

audiobook

I’m good at listening to podcasts when I grocery shop, but I’ve added audiobooks in the mix, and I’m getting more reading done already. I listen in the car on longer errands, too, but only when I’m by myself, and that’s not as often as I’d like.

(Right now, I’m listening to Lilac Girls and Still Life. Both so good.)

So, there you have it—these things are saving my life right now, in what is otherwise a dreary time of year. These pegs are where I hang bits of my day, helping me climb through my daily liturgy and make it to the evening in one piece. It’s been good lately.

What’s saving your life right now? I’d love for you to tell me one thing in the comments below.

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Have a good day,
again and again.

If you feel in your bones the need to simplify so you can live the life you're meant to live...

↓ This is for you.

47 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    Welcome to the Louise Penny club! Prepare to be addicted! I started in October and I am on book 10 of 12 already. I read the first one but the rest I’ve listened to on audio and I LOVE the narrator! Enjoy!

    • Sky

      Wow!!! I’ve been holding off on reading her…only because my stack is so high. But I finally got Still Life on a Kindle Daily Deal. I’m excited to add an addiction too;)

  2. Caroline

    Love your blog! Just found it today and Im glad I did! Thanks for the inspiration! <3

  3. Emily at The We Files

    Yes! I can agree with this on so many levels. I’m also prone to depression and can feel it creep in every now and then. I have many things that I’ve found to help. I list my points of gratitude daily in a journal. Additionally, I read a study once that exercise can have the same positive impact as some antidepressant drugs, so I try to get about 30 minutes of movement in daily, in whatever ways I enjoy.

    Some good things in my life are my daily practices that help keep me mindful and coming back to the right perspective, like a little meditation at the beginning and end of each day. I use the Stop, Breathe, & Think app. I feel like I’m living in a counter-cultural way (writing as vocation and home education for my one child in Seattle… not exactly the norm) and still developing community in our new neighborhood, so that can get funky and isolating. Reminding myself of my values and focusing on grace (I don’t need to be perfect or do everything “right”) really helps and allows me to realize the goodness in my life.

    Cheers to 2017 and renewing our perspectives daily!

    • Lucy

      That’s so great you’re home educating here in Seattle. Me too! It is isolating, so yes building in socialization is key! I couldn’t do it without Classical Conversations, our once weekly co-op, and having my own little venture of Airbnb on the side. All the Best!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Three cheers to everything you said, Emily!

  4. Kathleen

    Loved your list. I got a new pair of slippers for Christmas too and they are basically glued to my feet. And I got a new Kindle Paperwhite (I had an original Kindle before) and am loving the back-lighting. I often hang out in my boys’ bedroom for a little while after lights out to make sure they are settling down to go to sleep and I am LOVING being able to read my book during this time, rather than just scrolling through stuff on my phone. Twinkly lights are also a little thing making me happy. I put up a few strands around our house over the holidays and will be leaving them up through the winter. Not very original but they still give me a little boost each day. 🙂

    • Lucy

      Twinkly lights, of course! So cozy! Thanks for the reminder ?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Twinkly lights = such a great idea! I love that, Kathleen.

    • Amanda

      I also use twinkly lights to ward off the winter doldrums. I have strands around my windows in my living room, above my kitchen cabinets, on the ceiling in my basement, and on the landing of a staircase. They went up in December and will remain until March, when spring will hopefully be peeking out and I won’t need them any longer.

  5. Lucy

    AirBnBing, strangely! I love being a host, meeting new people, having those great conversations, while being helpful with our debt snowball. It also helps us to keep our house as immaculately clean as I like to, ahhh?

    • Lucy

      PS cannot wait for your new book! I have to agree re. audiobooks (free on Hoopla) are my comfort/ buddy. It helps me to Be while I am Doing. Currently listening to Total Truth by Nancey Pearcey and Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. I do need a light reading recommendation tho!

      • Tsh Oxenreider

        I love that you love being an Airbnb host, because I’m grateful, as a frequent traveler, for great Airbnbs! 🙂

        And thanks for your kind words re: my book! Can’t wait to share it with y’all.

  6. Lisa

    PrepDish meal plans are saving my life right now! I saw it on your Instagram first, Tsh, and have been subscribing (and most of the time actually doing the work of it) ever since–a few months now. I love the Paleo recipes and the ease of having dinner already prepped and in the fridge most of the week. Thank you for sharing that!

  7. Coriander

    Better-than-coffee-shop homemade iced coffees made with an Aeropress and a little bit of Starbucks Peppermint Syrup.

  8. Brenda Torres

    Lilac Girls on audiobook is so good!! I started the Kindle version (borrowed from my library) but had to return it when I was just over halfway through. There was a LONG waiting list for the paper copy, but I found the audio CDs at the library. It came to life in the audio version. I wish I would have done it from the beginning.

    • Ellen

      Yes! Definitely one of my favorite audio books of 2016!

  9. Wendy Kay

    I love your honesty. I’ve been very depressed in the past and have also been aware that it’s been trying to creep back into my life. It’s the miserable cold in Northern Minnesota. Someone else mentioned bullet journaling to me last week and I’ve started. It’s kind of overwhelming right now but I believe I will love it once I customize it and make it my own. My regular journal is my life saver right now. I need a place to brain dump. I’m also grateful for social media because I don’t get out much in the winter and love my online communities. I do #unplug from time to time because it can be a time sucker. Thanks for sharing. Great post!

  10. Janice

    From another Austin area mama here, I love your tips, all your podcasts, all “the things” (silly side note- also find your voice on your podcast uplifting – which is awesome because nothing kills a podcast or audio anything faster than a bad voice 😉 am I right?! 🙂
    🙂 with that said I want to order those leggings also / did you find them true to size etc? I’m a 10/12 and generally wear Large but wondered if you felt they ran spot on size wise? Thanks!

  11. Steph

    Yes, yes, and YES! Love this list. Slippers and books are some of the most underrated pleasures, I do believe. Hard to pick one thing that is saving my life right now, but watching the chickadees at the birdfeeder is certainly a peaceful pleasure on this snowy day. And right now I am trying to put down my smartphone, so I have started keeping a tiny word search book (Pocket Posh, so pretty) in my purse. Instead of grabbing my phone when I have a few minutes, I pull out the similarly-sized word search and exercise my brain, screen-free. It is the little things, truly.

  12. Laura Fung

    I love good slippers! I wore Acorn for years and as a birthday present last year got Glerups. A Danish brand that is made from wool with a suede sole (I kinda didn’t like how “unnatural” Acorns are, yes I’m a fibre snob). They are less cushiony than Acorn but love them so far! Curious to see how they hold up.

    Right now I’m loving the change in the light. Only a few minutes of extra daylight each day but it makes a difference! And somehow the quality of light is noticeable different than it was before Christmas.

    PS. If I click an Amazon link and get prompted to shop the .ca site (being in Canada and all) do you still benefit?

  13. Charlotte

    I love Inspector Gamache! I listened to all but the first book on audio–so so good. And I just started listening to Lilac Girls this morning! What saving my life is Starbucks cocoa and the Starbucks drive-thru that just opened up in my town. That plus The Crown plus books in all forms are making for a not-so-bad January.

  14. Sara

    Loved this post. Something that is saving me is routines- for me and my kids. I am filling out my nye packet now. Late but oh well. Thanks you so much for providing us with it. So important to reflect! It helps me be grateful. Thanks for all you do- your blog and all the fun stuff you share with us. I loved the fb video!

  15. Shannon

    I know God directed me to read this today! I am in a foot situation just like yours – extra bone for 40 years causing tendon damage. Diagnosed in Nov and given a boot, but I’m still only in the early stages of healing. Once the holidays were over, I have found myself getting a little depressed too. I’m also trying to use this time for positive things! Your list is a great start! Hope your foot heals quickly!

  16. Elizabeth

    Saving me right now in the midst of the cold, darkness, too much time indoors and cranky moods is a workout in the morning and 1 -2 hours or reading in the afternoon. I think of it as my yin and yang – getting both rest and movement for myself is huge for me this time of year. Also, it feels like an indulgence after a busy fall and the holiday season.

  17. Aimee Kollmansberger

    Lighting candles every evening on our dinner table, side table and living room. It’s become a winter ritual that grounds and calms me and adds warmth and cozy to our dark evening spaces.

  18. Kimberly

    My husband gave me a Vitamix for Christmas and I was shocked and thrilled. It’s going to be a game changer.
    I love these two books:
    Simple Green Smoothies by Sellner & Hansard
    Raw Energy in a Glass by Stephanie Tourles

    My favorite recipe so far:
    almond milk
    spinach
    frozen pineapple
    frozen peaches
    banana or avocado
    splash of Kefir
    chia seeds
    splash of Orange Juice

    I started off too gung-ho with the greens and had my five kids giving me the “Oh no, how am I going to get this down?”-look.

  19. Anne Marie

    I have to laugh and tease you a bit that on your simple living blog you are featuring a blender that costs over $300! I was surprised when I clicked on the link. No judgement though, we all have our own stuff that matters and limits for this stuff. I just ordered a new one too – $80 version though ?. And it is definitely ‘saving my life’ – chunks of protein powder are no fun.

  20. Natalie

    I read Chasing Slow as well and loved it! I love her words, her writing style, and her heart.

    Amazon Music is what is saving my life right now. I’m an HSP and cannot stand background noise, chatter, televisions blaring, dogs barking, etc. when I am trying to work, so I plug my earbuds into my iPad and listen to piano or classical music via Amazon. Works like a charm!

  21. Morgan

    Saving me right now:
    – starting my day with hot water with lemon before a cup of coffee.
    – probiotics and CalMg daily
    – foam roller for my aching IT band
    – Heather B’s Whole Food Freezer recipes
    – little tykes plastic slide in the playroom for the kids to offgas indoors in the afternoon.
    – dry brushing before showers a couple times a week.

    • Karissa

      What is “dry brushing “?

  22. nicole

    I clicked on the link to the foot pain facebook post and I am floored! I am having the SAME pain and go see an orthopedist tomorrow. This gives me something else to ask about since I haven’t been able to put a name to it or figure out this weird pain. I hope your foot feels better and I hope mine does, too!

  23. Julie @ Off to the park

    I love your list! Lately, I am trying to remember things I am grateful for, even the small day-to-day things (like staying in bed a little longer than normal) that I often take for granted. We are in the middle of our big school holidays in Australia, so I am grateful for the time I get to share with my two girls, not having to worry about school lunches and routines, spending time lazing around the home and not having to hurry to appointments or school. 🙂

  24. Donna

    I love this list, and I agree with pretty much everything (except the man slippers….sorry!) 😉

    What the hell is this Freedom app?? Don’t know much about it, but I’m about to go find out. Thank you!

    • Donna

      ps. I think I would die at this point w/o Overdrive. My hubby and daughter don’t even question the fact that I have earbuds in 3/4 of the time when I’m home. lol

  25. Lacy

    Those leggings look amazing! I want to order a pair but am so not sure what size to get!! What’d you go with? Are they true to like target-sizes for leggings?

  26. Christy

    Candles in the very dark mornings. And newly redesigned separate kid space. (Sorry, that’s 2 things!)

  27. Hannah Beth Reid

    Yay for library ebooks!

    Hot sandwiches are sorta saving my life right now. Any kind of bread or rolls, any kind of meat and any kind of cheese…layer it all together in the oven, cut into small sandwiches (my children are young, so this won’t last!), throw out something crunchy and everybody’s happy! Bonus, it uses the oven, so you get a little warmth in the kitchen too!

  28. Loralee

    I got the girlfriend leggings too!!! I needed some really good leggings too – not the $10 walmart kind. Except now, my hubby saw how much I liked them and got me a pair of lulu leggings for christmas – so now I have 2 pair of good leggings. 🙂

  29. Joe

    I bought a pair of Acorns because of your recommendation here, and I love them!

  30. Alicen

    I’m working my way through the Declutter 365 program, trying to keep up with the 15 minutes each day. Most times the activities don’t take as long as I think they will so it’s a good use of a small chunk of my evening. I’m not a good housekeeper and I’m hoping that reducing the stuff will make the cleanup easier and faster.
    I printed myself some bullet journal ‘instructions’ last week… Thanks for the reminder to get started. I’m procrastinating because I don’t want to do it ‘wrong’ and my perfectionist side wants it to be just right from day 1. I need to let go of that and just start somewhere.

  31. Deana

    Hi Tsh! Everyone in my world got Acorn slippers for Christmas this year. There’s really nothing like them:) And the thing that’s helping me at the moment? Hypnosis apps from Surf City Apps. They are sooooo relaxing. My husband and I listen together everyday:)

  32. Emma

    Loving the link on bullet journalling – would love to hear more! I have now set mine up and am giving it a try – here’s hoping it is the solution to missed deadlines, mis-laid notes and my general slap-dash work management systems! Thanks for writing about it…

  33. Catherine

    I dread shopping for slippers because I am so particular. But your description of the acorn slippers was amazingly the same description of my ideal slippers. So I immediately bought a pair on Amazon and they are already on my feet! Thank you for putting in the research & sharing! You have made my week. 🙂

  34. Johanna

    You’ve got to get some stainless steel straws for your smoothies! They are the bomb.

  35. Gail

    Just purchased myself a pair of those slippers through amazon they look so comfy !

  36. Kimberly

    I’d be interested in some of the companies you found that passed your sustainability standard research. I’m going to be in the market for a new pair of slippers, and also have high standards (must be warm, and durable – a good sole so I can walk outside in the rain/snow etc.). I’ve saved the Acorn option, but would also love some other suggestions that have great sustainability standards!

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