2022 | What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Now that we’ve reached the halfway point of winter, Anne Bogel is hosting my favorite linkup of the year: What’s Saving My Life Right Now. I’ve participated in this lovely roundup since 2018 and always look forward to writing this annual post. I find that just writing it helps me dig a little deeper, find what’s really helping, and settle in with those things through the end of winter. Here’s a quick list of links to my past contributions:

2018 Edition: Journaling, my window bird feeder, Tasha Tudor, essential oil diffuser, and purging social media.
2019 Edition: A new electric teakettle, sourdough starter, the public library, and my family.
2020 Edition: My notebooks, more birds, more Tasha Tudor, more following nature.
2021 Edition: Welcoming a period of wintering and stillness.

This winter has felt especially hard and I’ve been taking time to focus on the very basics. And you know me: unless I have stitched about a zillion cross stitches, read half a book, knit half a sock, finished a quilt block, and have a sparkly clean house, then I’m not a happy camper. Which is totally ridiculous, I know. So I’ve been working on surrendering all of those self imposed expectations and settling into winter. The only things I’ve been prioritizing for myself have been hydration, exercise, and afternoon treats. Anything else is a blissful bonus.

Today I’m sharing a few of the specific ways that I’ve brought those basics front and center, as well as why I’m focusing on them.

HYDRATION. 🎶 ALL SORTS. 🎶 *

Water is a miraculous resource for your body. When I was pregnant with my third baby, I was having excruciating back pain. I could barely stand up and walk some days. I told my OB/GYN and she said, “you’re going to be annoyed with me for suggesting it because I’m sure you’re already going to the bathroom a lot, but drinking more water will probably help.” She was right on two counts: I was super annoyed with her for suggesting more water and it helped my back pain. I have no idea how, but it did. And now when I have a strange ache or pain, I immediately think about drinking more water and it almost always helps.

And something that Anne Bogel wrote a few years ago stuck with me (and I can’t find the blog post or email to cite — sorry!). She shared that her doctor told her the two best things a person can do for their health is to drink lots of water and go for daily walks. How simple is that?

So with those two facts in mind, I’ve been aiming for 64 ounces of water everyday. I don’t always reach that goal but my body feels better for trying. There are some beautiful water bottles out there, but I use a simple Nalgene because it’s the easiest for me to clean. Peppermint tea is always stashed in my tea cabinet because I love adding it to my water bottle: the bright and fresh flavor keeps me coming back for more. I prefer Celestial Seasonings because the bags are stringless but I’ve been known to take the two extra seconds to snip the strings off of Bigelow teas when my grocery store has been out of CS.

I’m always working hard to keep my skin hydrated. Winters in New Hampshire can be rough on my entire body. I’d never really had issues with dry scalp until I moved here, but this Tea Tree Mint Shampoo and its matching conditioner have really helped. I love that it doesn’t smell medicinal like other shampoos made for dry scalp and it really makes my head tingle when I’m in the shower. (Plus, I just love anything minty.)

I’ve been using this Olay face moisturizer for over two years and it’s done wonders for the skin on my face. No more flakes in the winter and no extra oiliness in the summer. I accidentally bought a very large amount on Amazon in May of 2020, which has given me permission to use a more liberal dose after my showers and it’s been amazing.

This Aveeno with Lavender, Oatmeal, and Chamomile lotion has been better than I hoped for. It has a light and comforting smell, goes on smoothly, and I wake up every morning feeling refreshed and cared for. I always reapply it to my feet as I’m crawling into bed in the evening. I’m thankful for my feet: they carry me around all day long and deserve a little extra moisture and a massage before tucking them under the covers. It’s been a wonderful little ritual for closing out the day.

Carmex has been my go-to lip moisturizer since forever. I always have a tub or a tube handy, including on my nightstand so I can I reapply every morning as soon as I wake up and right before I drift off to sleep. I’m sure there are tons of lip balms that works just as well, but I find its smell and texture to be nostalgic and perfect.

EXERCISE

I began the year with the goal of participating in Adriene’s 30 Day Journey “at my own pace.” I’ve started several of these with Adriene and finally finished one in 2021. It took me 60 days to complete all the sessions (which is actually pretty good — that’s a yoga session every other day. Nothing to be ashamed of!). I was expecting to follow a similar pace this year, but something very strange happened: I kept showing up every evening. After I got my youngest two into bed and swept the dining room, I’d immediately roll out my mat and turn on YouTube for the daily practice. It almost became a ritual for me. I felt like I earned 20-30 minutes on the mat at that point in the day! Exercise has never been something I enjoy and I’ve never used it as a reward before, but that changed in January. Monday was the last day of her 30 Day Journey and I have her February calendar printed out and have started the month off right. Can I keep it up?

I needed to find a way to get more exercise during my third pregnancy and bought a relatively inexpensive upright bike for the basement. I used it sporadically during my pregnancy but began using it with more intensity last winter. Sadly, I broke it over the summer! So we took the plunge and ordered a Pro-Form spin bike, which I love. We bought the basic model with no screen included, but we can still connect to our IPad via bluetooth and take studio spin classes on iFit. We’re lucky because my husband’s health benefits at work includes money for a gym membership and iFit is an approved use of those funds.

I’m amazed by how much I enjoy my time on the bike. I ride 3-4 times a week and am always so happy when I finish a workout. There have been days this winter when it’s been hard to get off the couch. I tell myself, just hop on the bike. You won’t regret it. Despite feeling exhausted beforehand, I find that little jolt of adrenaline is exactly what I need to help me get through the rest of the day. Every. Single. Time.

AFTERNOON TREATS

One of the hardest things about staying home all day is not being able to pop out of the office for a special coffee. At my previous jobs, it was so easy to step away from my desk and pick up either an iced mocha at the hospital cafe or go across the street for a special brewed coffee.

On the flipside, it’s one of the best things about staying at home because I spent a lot of money doing that! One could easily argue that I was still coming out ahead because I was actually bringing home a paycheck, but eh.

I’ve learned to improvise without a fancy espresso machine, despite all of the ogling I’ve been doing, and have found that it’s relatively simple to make a yummy afternoon treat with just a few tools at your disposal. I’m especially enjoying two drinks for my PM Pick Me Up: lattes with almond milk and this homemade chai tea latte powder.

Add a packet of Belvita biscuits, a tiny bit of knitting, and a stack of poetry books with the kids and you have a lovely teatime treat. Talk about an afternoon to savor!


I think this is the first year that I’ve focused on the basics so sincerely, with no real expectation to go above and beyond. Of course – the desire is still there to do.all.the.things. But with 2/3 of my children home all day and our homeschooling schedule, I simply don’t have the extra energy right now. And that’s okay. I know it will come back as soon as the days stretch just a little longer and it’s easier to step outside and soak up a little warmth. It always does. So for now – I’ll be focusing on the basics and finding small rituals to help me care for my body.

And tell me – what’s been saving YOUR life lately?

*We just watched Mary Poppins and the song that Jane and Michael sing at the beginning is always the one that sticks with me!

19 thoughts on “2022 | What’s Saving My Life Right Now

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  1. Simple things, for sure: Exercise (especially outside), hydration, gratitudes, books, streaming obsessions… And my favorite spot in today’s post seems to harken back to surrender, somehow. It was, “but eh.” Lovely moment, m’am!

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  2. A lovely post. Nice to take care of yourself! I’ve been moisturizing my feet too and it makes a difference for sure. I use Cetaphil moisturizer (light for the day with sunscreen, heavier cream at night) and I keep a Blistex tube on my nightstand. Something you might like to add is a frother. They are inexpensive and I love making my own lattes or caps using the frother – I froth and then heat it in the microwave, then pour on the coffee. YUM!!

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  3. I hear you on moisturizing and water! Gosh those things are life saving… truly! I have been an “Olay Girl” for decades now… I swear by it. I have tried other things but nothing works like Olay does! But… my new winter save is some oil (it has blackberry and pomegranate as the main ingredients) that I got from Costco of all places. I add a couple of drops to my “night Olay” and I also rub a couple of drops in my cuticles.

    And yes… a frother is a kitchen must have, IMO. Simple coffee becomes a luxury with some frothed milk on top!

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  4. I’m filled with admiration at how much you accomplish each day. In my old age, I’ve come to the realization that you pick a few things that are important, do them, and then fill in around the edges as you can. And what is life without special treats to enjoy? A very dull thing, that’s what. 😉

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  5. Hydration — such an important thing! Several years ago I started making a concerted effort to make sure I drink at least 64 oz. of water every day. It was primarily an effort to see if it helped ease my migraines, as I was starting to suspect that being dehydrated was a trigger, but it’s had so many other benefits. Yes, I spend a lot of time going to the bathroom, but my body has adjusted and I’m willing to deal with an extra trip or two to reap the benefits.

    What’s saving my life right now is very similar to yours — moisturizing! My skin gets terribly dry in the winter from the cold and lack of humidity. I’m constantly putting lotion on my hands during the day (because I’m also ruthless about frequently washing my hands). My feet are always in bad shape, so when we went to Target over the weekend, I treated myself to a moisturizing foot “mask” thing. I can’t tell if it had long-term benefits, but it felt good at the time!

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  6. I literally picked up my water bottle and drank the entire time I was reading your post! Thank you for the reminder.

    I like the theme I’m seeing from Anne Bogel’s readers and linkers. We all appear to be focusing on what is essential during these difficult times. I find it very grounding. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Katie, I love this post!! I have been trying my best to get outside everyday and even if it’s short get a walk into my day. We get some very frigid days here so I don’t always reach that goal…it really does help me though. Somehow over the years my water intake has lagged and I am working on that as well, I have a hug mug that I make peppermint tea in for an afternoon treat in the studio, I never considered a tea bag in my water bottle!! Yes to moisturizer and after years of running out or searching for blistex I buy lots of them and keep them everywhere in the winter!!!
    On another note, I have decided that a perfectly clean and tidy home is over rated!!! I always longed for that while raising my 4 daughters now that we are empty nesters and could attain it it’s not as important as is seemed. We keep a huge lego fort in the living room and keep the house kids friendly and enjoy grandchildren mess as much as we can!!!

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  8. Love this post! These are all wonderful self-care strategies, very nourishing. I often tell myself if I don’t feel like exercising “Just do 10 minutes. If you want to quit after 10 minutes, that’s okay.” Often I will do more than that. Getting started is the hardest part. Now of course, there are days when it would be genuinely better to rest. And I’ve gotten better at knowing the days when I truly need rest and when I’m just being lazy.

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  9. I am ALL IN for the basics and finding what really matters. impressed that you’ve stuck with Adrienne … coming to see exercise as a treat is so helpful for your body (and your mind!) …and I love how you wove your OLW into this post. maybe I’m starting to warm to the word myself!

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  10. Well done on the yoga! I also love to make some herbal tea and add it to my water bottle for a little something extra. I also make a tincture with lemons and ginger – just put them in a pot and let them simmer. Then I freeze the “juice” in cubes and add them to my water bottle too. Seems like a good time to focus on the basics

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  11. As always, such a lovely post. I love herbal tea and have been learning to make my own blends, so much fun. Gardening and being outdoors has been my life saver, as well as spinning and reading. Quiet time together with my husband on the weekends has been so wonderful too.

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  12. Mary Poppins is my absolute favorite. I have a whole shelf dedicated to her in my reading room. Great job on the yoga! I NEED to do that!

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  13. I love this post. The past week here has been so cold and gray. I would have to say the things saving me are my precious family and spending time with them. This of course includes all my funny, silly fur babies. I have also worked on some knitting projects and I am still sewing on my Valentine hearts. Also a lot of reading. I use the same Olay cream. I love it. Thanks for a great post.

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  14. Exercise has been indispensable for me too, and my everyday routine somehow snuck up on me. Now I do it for the endorphins. Phooey to weight loss or a healthier heart, lol. Have you stuck to this routine?

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    1. Phooey to weight loss, indeed! And it’s been a roller coaster, but I’m back into a routine that seems to be working. It feels so nice to be focusing on my health in a way that I’ve ignored for a very long time!

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