10 Things That Are Saving My Sanity Right Now
- Friends — True, faithful, caring friends. The kind that can read a text from me and know that what I just said is somehow code for “I’m desperate. Please love on me right now.” The kind that can make eye contact with me from across the schoolyard and know that I need a hug. The kind that are willing to tell me I’m overcommitted even though they know it might upset me to hear the truth. The kind that will pray like warriors by my side when I tell them about a struggle I am going through. The kind that will go for walks with me and laugh with me and play board games with me— just for the fun of it.
- Cloudy and/or rainy days — Here’s the deal: I tend to get migraines when it’s hot out. So hot days are not my jam. But once it starts cooling off? Ahhhh, yes. That is what I love. And rainy days? Even better. I love hiking in the rain; I love snuggling up with books and hot tea while I hear rain tap-tap-tapping on my bedroom window; I love cuddling with my kids under a blanket while we watch a movie as sheets of rain pour down outside; I love that I don’t have to water my flowers or even fill up my dog’s water bowl when it’s raining outside; I love splashing in puddles and having to go change my socks and shoes because I acted a fool. I love how energizing rain walks are to me. And I love the smell of rain.
- How the Father runs to the Son in the story of The Prodigal Son — This reality is kind of blowing my mind right now: “But while [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). The complete proactivity, grace, and forgiveness of the loving father in that story astounds me. After all the insults that son heaped on his dad. After squandering all his wealth so irresponsibly. After living so repulsively… his father still wants him. He still loves him. He still celebrates his return. When Jesus told this story, He intended it to be a parable telling us about God’s character and how He responds to us when we go astray. And I am so humbled and grateful that this is true: every time I turn away from my Heavenly Father, no matter how foolish or selfish or ill-intentioned I am, He welcomes me back wth open arms. And He doesn’t stop there: He even goes so far as to run to me— even when I am still “a long way off.” What encouraging news.
- Dancing in the kitchen with my kids (and general frivolity) — A few months ago Brené Brown encouraged me to embrace silliness in “Guidepost #7: Cultivating Play and Rest” in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. I have been much more mindful of this recently and it’s true: being playful and simply having fun for the sake of fun helps with my sanity tremendously. According to research by Dr. Stuart Brown, play plays an “essential role in fueling our happiness and intelligence throughout our lives… [and] is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more.” But I have a confession: being driven by the desire for productivity and always wanting to be a good steward of my time, just like most other Americans, this “play thing” is still a hard concept for me to implement a lot of the time. But when I do? When I just let loose and play a game or jump on the trampoline or joke around with my kids or friends: I’m always better for it. I feel freer, lighter, cleaner.
- Comedy — Jim Gaffigan’s bit on McDonald’s specifically. I was listening to that bit while on a walk the other morning and I looked like a crazy person as I laughed out loud, all by myself, as I passed a couple ladies walking their dogs. John Mulaney and Brian Regan can really get me guffawing too. Observational comedy like these three guys do (masterfully) is one more way that I hear my favorite “me too” phrase ringing out— it let’s me know I’m not alone. And it’s just fun to laugh about so many of the normal, everyday things we all see and experience.
- These cuties — Although of course they have their moments, overall these guys have been playing together so sweetly lately. Jumping on the trampoline, playing tag, even putting laundry away without arguing from time time: this is all a gift. This past weekend they hosted what they called “Ben’s Boardwalk,” a homemade carnival complete with a skeeball machine made out of cardboard boxes, a “wishing well,” and prizes for all the participants. They are so darn sweet I can’t even handle it sometimes.
- These hills — This is my happy place. Rain or shine, I get up here at least twice a week. It keeps me sane. It keeps my blood pumping, my heart beating, and my creativity flowing. This is definitely in my top 10 must-haves if I want to avoid becoming a monster-woman.
- Writing — While this Write 31 Days Challenge has certainly been difficult to keep up with at time over the past month, it has also been very grounding and refreshing. It’s been a great way for me to process some really challenging times I’ve been experiencing. Writing is my therapy. When I write, I am able to pretend I’m an onlooker for my own life and, thus, I am able to see things from a different perspective. As I write, I realize how I want to change the ending of certain things— and that I am capable of doing so. Writing also encourages me to really engage in my present moments so that I will be able to write about them later. I engage all five senses and really live in my moments when I look at my life through the eyes of a writer.
- Hikes with this guy — Now that our littlest one is in preschool, and now that my husband has consistently been able to have Monday mornings free, he and I have had the privilege of going for hiking dates together on a weekly basis. It is so refreshing to be able to have long, uninterrupted, meaningful conversations regularly. With three kids and our busy lives, I have felt disconnected from him for quite some time. It is such a gift to reconnect each week. I feel like we know each other again!
- The book of Ephesians in the Bible — I’ve been diving into this ancient letter sporadically over the last few years, and again in the last few weeks, and I am devouring all the truth it offers. In just the first chapter alone I am reminded that: God has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ… He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight… He predestined us for adoption… He has freely given us His glorious grace… He has redeemed us and forgiven us… He lavishes His grace on us… He is mysterious… He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will… we received the promised Holy Spirit the moment we believed… we can ask Him for wisdom and revelation… we can know Him better… He has called us to hope… He has incomparably great power for us who believe… we, His kids, are His body… He fills everything in every way. With a mind like mine, a mind that likes to throw self-defeating, self-deprecating messages at me on a frequent basis, I need to be reminded of truths like these often. I need to cast aside the garbage thoughts running through my mind and, instead, choose to hang onto these types of statements instead.
So there you have it. This is what I have been doing, reading, learning, and loving over the past month. It is helping me stave off anxiety, stay grounded, and find light and goodness again.
What about you? What is keeping you happy, hopeful, or buoyant right now?
[This is Day 29 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year my focus is on the role of STORY in our lives. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
* * *
What about you?
What is keeping you happy, hopeful, or buoyant right now? What habits, activities, books, people, elements or Bible passages are helping you find the light?
Please share your story in the comment section below.