February stinks. I’m late to this reality, I know. There’s Valentine’s Day, of course, a tire fire of a holiday if there ever was one for single ladies (although, these days I find so much pleasure in snarkily pointing out the original meaning of the day that it almost cancels out the heaps of commodity shame).
But there’s also the regulation mid-winter blues, post-holidays, pre-spring-thaw. Add to that the weird, personal anniversary of Teratoma Steve, the tumor that stole 1.5 of my ovaries eight years ago and whom my body has chosen to memorialize by losing its ever loving mind each February and – a new one this year – the anniversary of a friend and mentor’s unexpected death.
In her book Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor writes about a time when she was asked to speak, and the topic was “What’s Saving Your Life Right Now?” I love that question, and regret that I don’t ask it of myself more often. Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy wrote a post about it a few weeks ago, and I’ve been making my list since then. So, in defiance of February, I present to you some things that are saving my life right this minute.
This is actually the podcast connected to Anne Bogel and Modern Mrs. Darcy, and I learned about it when an author acquaintance of mine was a guest. Basically, Anne asks each (bookish, interesting, passionate about reading) guest to name three books they love, one that they hate, and what they’re reading right now. Then she makes recommendations based on their conversation.
The podcast feels like what life would be like if your best friend was a kick-ass librarian and every week you sat down for an hour and got to talk about books with her. Anne’s conversation style is so soothing, and her guests are always really interesting women doing awesome things in the world. I am so smitten.
2. This song (and video!) by Ruthie Foster:
I’ve been working non-stop on a huge project with my friend and co-worker James, who also hosts a weekly folk/Americana radio show up in Michigan. The giant project is nearing an end, and James himself has been a godsend. I’m going to miss working with him, and I’m also going to miss his weekly music recommendations.
3. The ocean.
I live a mere 2 hours from the beach, and have been craving time at the water since Thanksgiving. Today was the first day I had a clear calendar, relatively healthy sinus system and an almost finished sermon since then, and I tell you what: I took advantage of it.
I didn’t do much – drove out, sat on the sand, ate some shrimp, walked in the waves, drove home. But something about the sand on my sad winter feet and the wind whipping through my hair and the constant pulse of the tide in my ears did what I hoped it would do: I feel scrubbed clean, exfoliated outside and in. I felt my shoulders drop and my mind unclench itself. I still have a nasty cough, my sermon is still only almost-done, but man am I glad I finally gave in to that persistent desire.
4. Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts
Seriously. I don’t know what vitamin, mineral, anti-oxidant super food combination is in those two vegetables, but I cannot get enough. A little olive oil, a little kosher salt, roast ’em in one pan for 20 minutes: BAM. Dinner. Three nights a week.
Making friends is hard work. I’ve got beloveds all over the country, but finding good people who live close by has always been a challenge. I could list a long chain of reasons particular to my personal situation (introversion/ministry/singleness/former transience/etc.), but by now I’ve had the conversation with so many people – young, old, male, female, married, single, kids or not – that I’m convinced it’s just a hard thing to do for everybody. I’ve been in Durham for a year and have been consciously trying to invest in the place and in community here. It is slow going. It takes time, commitment, a ton of energy, and persistence.
But! Things are starting to turn a corner! Last week, I had two separate meet-ups with new potential friends and at both of them, someone other than me asked if we could make the hang-outs a monthly occurrence. This is in addition to several other burgeoning friendships in the last couple of months and – oh – it makes such a difference. Friends.
I mean, obviously.
An entire year with this nugget, and I am wrapped around her tiny little paw. She spins in frantic, ecstatic circles whenever I come in the door, has licked tears off my face on multiple occasions and, when I wake up in the morning, she crawls lazily out from under the blankets where she’s burrowed during the night, gives me a good morning kiss and then plops herself down again, head on the pillow inches away from mine, eyes wide open, waiting to discover what kind of adventure this new day will hold.