Hygge is saving my life right now

What’s Saving My Life 2022

A lot of the people I follow on social, podcasts, and newsletters talk about things that are saving their lives right now. At first it struck me as odd, but the more I’ve seen people like Kendra Adachi, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and Emily P. Freeman talking about what’s saving their lives right now, the more inspiring it’s become.

And just this morning in my inbox, Michelle DeRusha was in my inbox talking about Imbolc in her email newsletter The Back Patio. Quoting from her newsletter: “I know, it doesn’t feel like or look like spring yet, but according to Celtic tradition, February 1– known as St. Brigid’s feast day or Imbolc — marks the first day of spring. The word imbolc is thought to come from the Old Irish i mbolc, meaning “in the belly,” and refers to the fact that ewes were often pregnant in rural Ireland at this time of year.”

So Modern Mrs. Darcy and Michelle DeRusha disagree about whether we’re half-way through winter or on the first day of spring, but either way, this seems like a good thing to do, taking a moment to list

(By the way, if you’re not following any of the ladies I mentioned above, you should be! They also collectively saved my life in 2021.)

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

  • Hygge is saving my life right nowSpruce soy candles – I love the smell of spruce, and for whatever reason, I’ve discovered that soy candles both smell best and burn best. I’m really sensitive to smells (to the point that I can’t even go inside Bath & Bodyworks anymore, because I’ll be sick the rest of the day), but spruce is almost always safe. Of course, I can only burn these if I’m willing to keep an eye on the cats. So far, knock on wood, they’ve behaved themselves, but I can’t totally trust that they’ll realize fire = dangerous, so.
  • My 3-tier rolling cart with white string lights – Okay, I know this is weirdly specific, but I have a large 3-tier rolling cart from the Container Store. It holds a few reference/TBR books, plus a tray with pencils and things to mark up the books I read. It also has my purse on one level, along with blank notebooks and journaling supplies, and on the bottom it has my Olive & June mani kit and my blood pressure machine. I know, weird mix, right? But I decorated it with white, battery-operated string lights, and when I pull it next to my recliner and turn those lights on, I swear I feel my blood pressure dropping (that’s why I want to check it then! LOL) It’s cozy without my having to worry that if I fall asleep, the cats will knock it over and set the house on fire.
  • New Testament 1 chapter a day – I have been meaning to do an intentional read-through of the entire New Testament for… (checks New Year resolutions…) five years now. This year I purchased The Story of Redemption, Volume 4 by The Daily Grace Co, which is a journal that prompts you to write one paragraph about each chapter. It’s not too much, but it’s enough to make me reflect on what I’m reading every day.
  • Dragon Age & Mass Effect game soundtracks – I’m a big PC gamer, and my favorite games for many years have been Skyrim and the Dragon Age games. Last year I played Mass Effect when the Legendary Edition came out, and I liked it, too, although that ending, dude. (I know, I know, no spoilers!) The music created for both universes is magnificent, and I’ve had them on repeat for months.
  • Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert – I just finished reading this a couple of days ago, after reading it a little bit at a time over the past few months. Elizabeth Gilbert feels like a friend talking to you when you’re reading this book. It’s funny how she also kicks your butt if you’re getting too precious about your creativity. I’m pretty sure this is a book I’m going to revist several times.
  • My Sleeping Potion: Which consists of Apothekary Chill the F* Out and Do Not Disturb + 1 tsp baking cocoa + 1/2 tsp sugar in hot water. It’s hot cocoa, but with added calming herbs to help you sleep. I’ve never been good at sleeping, so it’s lovely to have created a bedtime ritual of drinking my sleeping potion while sitting in my recliner about half an hour before bed.
  • Speaking of sleep, Michelle’s Sanctuary Sleep Stories are also saving my life right now. I discovered her sleep stories on the Insight Timer app, and I love going to bed after my evening ritual and then relaxing with one of the many imaginative and calming sleep stories told in her amazingly soothing voice.
  • Intentional pursuit of hygge (The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Miek Wiking) – I finally got around to reading this last month, in desperation to love winter instead of hating it. Miek Wiking’s book made me happy and gave me some great ideas, although it also sort of made me want to move to Denmark. As a result, I’ve done a lot of intentional hygge pursuit. I created winter journaling stickers like my autumn journaling stickers to remind me of the best and coziest parts of winter. I’ve been lighting candles and throwing blankets everywhere (not at the same time, blankets are flammable). And I really think it’s given me a better energy about winter.
  • Flannel sheets – For Christmas, my mom bought me these gorgeous flannel sheets with a dark red and green and gray patchwork design. Each patch has little scenes, like an owl sitting in a birch tree, a wolf howling at the moon, or deer starting around in a little herd. They are so cozy and perfect, and I love them like mad.
  • The Outer Worlds – I mentioned I was a gamer, right? One of my dearest friends bought me The Outer Worlds for my birthday back in October, and I finally got around to starting it once it got cold here in Indiana. The characters are fun, the world-building is sort of like science-fiction-meets-cowboy-western (the whole aesthetic reminds me a lot of Firefly, honestly, but don’t tell my friend that, she hated Firefly!). Best of all, the conflict is largely between greedy corporations and the little people being crushed by them, which is really appealing to my current state of mind. Oh, and the soundtrack by Justin E. Bell is awesome, too.

What about you? What’s saving your life lately? I’d love to hear about it!

A Redhead Paper bookmark with The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

Download: #TheDarkIsReading Bookmarks

One of my favorite book series is Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence. About an eleven-year-old British boy who learns he has magical powers (but written some 30 years before Harry Potter), the title book is atmospheric and full of vivid imagery and characters that have become real people to me over the years.

A hardcover copy of The Dark Is Rising Sequence,. The book has bent corners and several bookmarks in it.

My well-loved copy of the SFBC omnibus of The Dark Is Rising Sequence

I first read the series in middle school, which was a rough time for me. Seventh grade, man. Seventh grade was awful. But I had Will Stanton and his friends to keep me company, and that meant a lot.

So this year there’s a huge Twitter book club all reading The Dark Is Rising (which is technically the second book in the sequence) over the period of time covered by the book. It starts on Midwinter’s Day (or the First Day of Winter here in the US), which is Will’s eleventh birthday. I try to reread the book every year, but some years, I confess, I get caught up in holiday busy-ness and don’t finish.

This year, along with #TheDarkIsReading book club, I’m going to make sure I complete the rereading. There are all kinds of people participating–authors, artists, musicians–and a lot of people are contributing their own creations.

To learn more about the book club, check out #TheDarkisReading: A Midwinter Reading Group. Some other great blog posts about The Dark Is Rising and #TheDarkisReading are The Eeriest Novel I KnowThis Night Will Be Bad and Tomorrow Will Be Beyond Imagining, and this great project: The Dark Is Rising Soundtrack. I can’t wait to hear all of the soundtrack as the book unfolds!

I found a beautiful winter image pack while I was looking for graphics to use for my Christmas cards this year (I make my own). They didn’t end up working for my Christmas cards (though they’d be perfect for someone who celebrates Solstice instead) but they did have some gorgeous imagery that relates to The Dark Is Rising.

So I made bookmarks! If you download the PDF and print it double-sided, the images match up and will give you four bookmarks with a quote from the book and some lovely raven images. The Winter Ravens artwork is by Mikibith.net.

[ddownload id=”112″ text=”Download #TheDarkIsReading Bookmarks”]