Better in March…

I landed in March, completely exhausted and depleted from the travel, the turmoil, and the grief of our fearsome February. March is my birthday month. One of my favorite months of the year… except for the weather.  And yet, instead of filling up my calendar with fun events and social outings, I found myself carving out white space on the calendar. Long slow evenings at home, slow Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons set apart for rest have been the slowly refilling my cup.

I love time away with friends, but I also enjoy the process of climbing into my pajamas while it is still light and curling up under a blanket. I enjoy being swept away by a great book. I enjoy puttering around the kitchen, slicing, grating, and sautéing to my heart’s content. I enjoy slow meals with familiar faces around the table, folding laundry fresh out of the dryer, and the smell of Murphy’s oil soap drying on clean floors. After so much turmoil, the slow sway of life at home has been a balm to my soul. Here are some other things I’ve been enjoying:

Earl Gray tea: I quit drinking coffee last year and have been getting by on lots and lots of water. At work, we have a cute little café tucked in a beautiful old building with leaded glass windows, a giant gothic fireplace, and beamed ceilings. It’s a great place to meet for a meeting or lunch with a colleague. I order tea, earl gray, and it fills up my senses, warms my hands on the trip back to my office, and gives me an excuse to get some fresh air in the morning. I limit myself to one cup a day, but boy do I enjoy it.

Although I have a drawer filled with tea bags, I rarely pull out the teapot and make myself tea at home. It seems a lot of fuss. But, a couple weeks ago I pulled out the electric teapot and went looking for my teapot. It’s a tiny pot just big enough for two cups of tea. It’s been lovely to come home and put the kettle on while I change my clothes. The whole process is slow, and I savor the sound of the kettle coming to the boil, the smell of bergamot, the splash of milk billowing through the brown liquid. Just one cup is plenty to help me remember to slow down, to bring me home.

Homemade lunches: Keith and I have been trying hard to plan and pack lunches for our week at work. When we first started, we did it together on Sunday nights, but as our tastes have evolved our process has as well. He still prepares for the week ahead on Sunday night, prepping bowls, noodles, and broccoli. I have given up on weekly prep and have simply added it to my routine. My protein boxes (like the ones you find at Starbucks) are easy to throw together in the morning. Cheese, eggs, grapes, crackers.

The impact on my days to this simple process has been profound. Instead of finding myself ready to nap after lunch, I am enjoying a slow steady energy that lasts all day. With little sugar, few processed carbs and good quality protein in both my morning smoothie and my lunch, I find that I am rarely hungry and also don’t face the dreaded 3p crash. I don’t know much about nutrition but working with a nutritionist has been such a great step for us. We have each found ways to steer away from what is easy (fast food and junk) toward more nutritious options.

Handwashing dishes: We have a lovely dishwasher that gets lots of use in our busy family, but somehow, I still enjoy the process of handwashing dishes. My younger self would not have believed it! In our family, when it was time to wash the dishes I always found an excuse (any excuse) to try to get out of it. Running to the bathroom, or as my mom called it “the dishpan trots” was one of my favorites.

These days, I don’t mind so much. I realized when the kids were younger that while standing at the sink, no one ever interrupted me. This was a startling revelation to a mom who couldn’t go to the bathroom alone for a decade. Something about the process of washing dishes created an invisible barrier around myself that dissuaded family members from coming near… It could have been the fact that I would have immediately put them to work. Anyway, there is still something comforting about the soap and the water that is calming for me.

A great book: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is my favorite book this year! In fact, I would put it in the top five books of the past ten years. After a couple of books set during World War II, I was hoping for a lighter read when I downloaded this one. One can only handle so much about Ravensbrook and the horrors of war on their car ride into work. So, I was delighted as I was swept into this tale.

The book is set in Glasgow, which I love, and the Audible narration covered the wide variations of Scottish brogue that I remember from my time in the highlands as a child. The characters are deep and honest. The main character and narrator is an outsider who is touched by the kindness of strangers. I love the way she notices, small moments that bring pleasure and joy. Everyday interactions that most of us accumulate without notice, a moment of connection through a smile in a coffee shop, the kindness of a touch, the way caring for someone actually makes you feel better, are noticed and appreciated by this character. I love it when I read a book and it reminds me to connect more deeply with my actual life.

So, what made March better for you?


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