7 Things That Are Saving My Life Right Now

January has been kicking my trash. I won’t lie – it’s been a pretty rough month. There have been some unforeseen events that have gone on with Terry’s work. I won’t get into all the details – things are still pretty up in the air and at this point could go either way (though we’re hopeful things are looking up). We’ve faced a lot of hard life questions in the last few weeks and it’s been really stressful. #vaguepostiknow #sorryaboutthat #detailshopefullycomingsoon (#longhashtagsalwaysannoyme)

On top of that, we all got the stomach flu. Again. That’s the second time in six months. Plus, I’ve had a cough since before Christmas and finally braved going to the international doctor clinic here in town, only to have the medicine prescribed to me give me weird allergic reactions that included lumps forming on my tongue and mouth and hands. ??? Took me about a week to figure out what was causing it – it went away as soon as I stopped taking the medicine, but now my cough is slowly making a reappearance.

Also (stick with me here, the complaining is almost at an end, and then we’re moving on to happier things), it snowed a week ago. Boo-hoo, I know, no one’s sorry for me, all of America is in snowmageddon, blah blah blah. Buuuuut there isn’t really any heat installed anywhere in southern China. So snowing means it’s 32 degrees inside my house. And all the stores. And restaurants. And everywhere else you go. We’ve got a couple space heaters, but they’re not super great quality. (Living here a year at a time means we never really want to spend tons on a space heater because we know we’ll only use it for a few weeks in winter and then might not be here the next winter.) Luckily, some of our friends are out of town and we stole some of their better space heaters, so things have been warming up a bit.

But through all this, there have been a few things I’ve hung on to that have really been helping. Things that, while they can’t solve everything, really get me through the day, be they silly or serious. So without further ado (or complaining) here are 7 things that have been saving my life this January:

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  1. Family hikes – We made a goal at the start of the year to go on one family hike each week for all of 2016. ? ?? We’ve defined ‘hike’ pretty loosely – we don’t actually live by mountains, but we’ve got some hills nearby. So for the purposes of this project, a hike is anytime we’re walking through nature. The idea was that we wanted to enjoy spending time together as a family, learn how to take a baby with us on outdoor adventures, have fun outside, get our bodies moving, and enjoy some good conversation (as a bonus, we’ve also been learning to take better photos – yay!).  So far, we’re doing great with this goal! We’ve gone out each week, even if it was super short (which, according to our made-up rules, is totally allowed). It’s given us something to look forward to each weekend, and has forced us to spend time outside, which I’ve found is pretty crucial to my overall feeling of wellness.
  2. My Headspace app – This is a meditation app. Obviously you don’t need an app in order to meditate. But I love this one. I’ve been using it since a little bit before Christmas and am nearly done with the foundational courses. They start you off with 10 minutes of guided meditation, then up it to 15 minutes, and then 20. Twenty minutes sounded like a lot to me at the beginning, but as I’ve worked up to it I’ve been fine with it. More than fine, actually. I really like spending 20 minutes each day, just focusing on the simple act of being. What I like about this app is that I feel like I’m actually being taught how to meditate, so there’s this progression, and I’m learning and getting better at it. This has been especially awesome during an especially stressful month.
  3. The Big Bang Theory – I’m not gonna lie, there were a lot of days this month where I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything at all. Terry threw on season one of this just as I was coming down with the stomach flu. We’d seen some of the first season before but hadn’t ever finished it. But Terry had a bit of time off from work, so between that and our days spent sick, we flew through this season. And the second one. And the third. And . . . well, let’s just say, we’re good pals with Sheldon and the gang now. (And I mean, when it costs $6 per season, there’s just no good reason to say no, right?) Sometimes, all I needed (or could handle) was watching a funny show that made me laugh.
  4. My gratitude journal – I’ve kept a gratitude journal in the past, but it’s been a while. This was another new years resolution for me, and it came at an interesting time, what with this rough start to the year. But it’s actually been really helpful. Everyday I try to write down just one thing I’m feeling grateful for. It’s meant that even on the crappiest days I was looking for some kind of silver lining. And that’s done a lot for my overall attitude and stress level.
  5. Daily walks – By late afternoon, Sander really needs to get out of the house, and really I do too. We’ve been taking long walks ever since he was born, but they’ve been especially great these last few weeks. Just a chance to unwind and clear my head by moving my body.
  6. My bathrobe – This fuzzy blue blankety robe has kept out the worst of the chill on even the coldest days. Of course, that means I feel like I haven’t gotten out of pajamas for days on end, but at least I’m warm. For about a week straight we kept Sander in the same outfit day and night, because it’s the only warm thing we have for him in his current size. I myself stole a pair of Terry’s sweatpants and lived in those for a week. Terry has like a million other sweatpants so he switched up his ensemble a bit more. ?
  7. Cinnamon waffles – Usually I try not to have much processed food around the house, but breakfast has always been a struggle for us in China. Recently the import store started carrying frozen waffles. #huzzah! It’s amazing how much more the import store carries now than it did when we arrived here two and a half years ago. You seriously wouldn’t believe it – I mean, I can get ground beef now (for like 10 bucks a pound), and mayonnaise, and fresh basil, AND! – waffles. ? Sometimes, it’s just about not starving here in China, and healthy unprocessed foods take a backseat. Waffle breakfast is just such a time. Three minutes in the toaster oven and those suckers are ready for loving. They must be the cinnamon ones though. Aunt Jemima’s buttermilk ones are gross. Luckily, Sander doesn’t know they’re gross so we feed those already-purchased ones to him and keep the good cinnamon ones (from some off-brand I can’t even remember) for the adults that have a more refined palette. ?

What about you? Are you surviving winter? It’s February now, doesn’t that mean winter is officially halfway over? What’s helping you get through the cold???