On February 1, Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote about the things that are saving her life right now. For many people (especially those of us who live in a cold climate), February can be tough. We’ve already been through a few months of winter but we have a while to go before spring arrives. To beat back the gloom, she shared her list and invited others to participate.
1) Mild Winter: I had to put this at the top of my list. This is my third winter in Buffalo, but the first I’d consider mild. My first two winters here were brutal (not just for me, as a new Buffalonian – they were brutal for everyone). Last winter was the worst. In November 2014 it snowed the weekend after we moved into our new house and the snow didn’t completely melt until March 2015. It didn’t snow every day, but since it was so cold the snow we had never melted, and whatever came down just added to what was already there. I wore my snow boots every time I went outside for at least four months. On top of all the snow, last February we experienced record-low temperatures (the temps didn’t rise above 32 degrees the entire month, and wind chills below zero were more common than not).
This winter, there was no measurable snowfall at my house until January (why yes, I did want to slap people who complained about not having snow for Christmas). Two weeks later it was gone. This week we had temps in the 50s. I really, really needed this.
(This is what my front yard looked like a year ago. Today there is only grass.)
2) Walking: Thanks to the aforementioned mild winter, it’s been easier to meet my goal of 10,000 steps per day (I typically average 11,000-13,000 steps). Since I started keeping track last June, there have been less than 10 days where I didn’t meet my goal.
Walking is also what got me back into audiobooks after not listening to them for years – I found I couldn’t stay interested in music on my walks; I needed something to keep my brain occupied. I’ve considered adding podcasts to the mix, but that’s a medium I haven’t embraced yet and the books do a good job of keeping me entertained.
3) The Way I Eat: I drastically changed my eating habits last September after reading The Blue Zones Solution and Eating Animals. Before then, it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat meat for two meals a day, if not all three. While I can’t say I’ve noticed a striking difference in the way I feel, I also haven’t experienced any negative effects – no decrease in my physical or mental energy levels. Paul embraced the dietary change along with me, and neither of us has consumed any meat (poultry, beef, pork) since last September when my sister was in town and we made baked chicken (I have had seafood several times since then).
I ate entirely vegan in January for Veganuary. It’s now the first week of February and I’m still eating vegan, but I’m undecided how long I’ll continue. Maybe for a long time. Maybe not. It’s very easy to eat this way at home since I cook from scratch, but I might decide to make a concession for dairy at a friend/family member’s house or when I’m at a restaurant.
The biggest thing to note: I don’t miss meat or dairy. Since I don’t miss it, that indicates to me I should continue eating the way I’ve been eating. Why go out and have a steak if it’s not something I crave? While eating vegan, the only thing I’ve had cravings for is chocolate (and there are a ton of options out there for vegan desserts, including chocolate, it’s just been a while since I’ve taken advantage of them). Long-time readers may remember I went vegan in December 2006, but started eating meat again – after 5+ years as a vegetarian – in June 2007.
4) Upcoming Travel: I’ve read that anticipating and planning travel can be better for your psyche than the actual time you spend away from home. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know having excursions to look forward to really helps my state of mind. Since I moved to Buffalo in 2013, I’ve traveled to Virginia twice a year to see my family, and I also fly to Washington DC twice a year to visit friends I made in the seven years I lived there.
In addition to those four set-in-stone trips, we choose at least one more destination (in 2014 we went to Toronto, as well as Cleveland and Columbus, OH; in 2015 we spent a week in Newport Beach and Las Vegas). This year I’m pretty sure we’re going to Charleston, SC (my two best friends from childhood have both ended up there, and one of them I haven’t seen since 2008 when I visited her in Tampa), but we’re in the early planning stages. We’re considering making it a long road trip by visiting family in Virginia first, then heading to Charleston, then spending a day or two in another location (Pittsburgh is high on the list) on our way home.
5) Chubby Nephew Cheeks: I have a seven-month old nephew named Hudson and a three-week-old nephew named Hunter. Although it kills me not to see them more regularly, my two sisters, mom, and I have a group text going and use the medium almost daily to keep in touch. Pictures of cute baby nephews (plus my younger sister’s slightly older three- and four-year-old sons) arrive on a regular basis. Other than the times we’re able to see each other in person, this is the best way for the four of us to have a conversation at one time and I love it.
(Four of my five nephews: Laine, Hudson, Hunter, and Ryder.)
6) Inspirational People: The reason I lean towards memoir in the books I read (137 books last year!) is because I love learning about people who are doing things I haven’t done, or would potentially like to do myself, or even things I would never do (like run an ultramarathon). Last year I read about a woman who became a carpenter, and another who worked in a crematory, and then there was the one who cooked a meal from every country in the world. I like to be inspired, even while I realize I could do a better job of inspiring people myself.
7) Documentaries: I used to watch a ton of documentaries (I watched 50 of them in just over two years). I took a long break, but I’ve recently rediscovered my enthusiasm. I’ve watched five in the past month and have at least twenty on my to-watch list.
8) Husband: It seems cliché to add Paul to this list. But seriously, you guys, he’s the absolute best partner for me. I don’t get to act silly in my workplace-life because 1) I work for a large corporation and 2) I’m a huge introvert, so he gets the brunt of it in the few hours we spend together in the evening – and throws it right back at me. For a man who wears a suit to work and manages around thirty people, he can be quite the silly person himself. In other words, we act ridiculous around each other and that is an outlet I need. If I were still single, or married to someone with a somber personality, my life would be a lot different.
(I mean, c’mon…it’s impossible not to like this guy.)
What things are saving your life right now?