The love list.

Challenge time. But first, story time.

This time last year our whole world shut down to slow down a pandemic. Remember? And the days and weeks, and months even, that followed were a little scary feeling. In particular, I worried about our economy. I worried about it globally, nationally, in my community, and personally. My husband and I became paralyzed in our spending and when we did spend, we bought weird things like Spam (reason: high calories and high fat in case food distribution was rationed) and these squeeze-bottle things for bathroom time in case we truly couldn’t find toilet paper.

And then Mother’s Day came, and all I wanted to do was go on a hike that ended at a waterfall where we could eat lunch. So that’s what we did. It was hands down the best Mother’s Day in as long as I can remember.

As time went on, our spending began to increase again. More and more Amazon deliveries. We traveled with our boys to other states for their baseball tournaments (following COVID-19 protocols, of course). We ordered take-out or had food delivered. Nail salon trips. Cleaning services. We told ourselves that we were helping our community’s economy – which is good and true and vital – but really, we were losing a bit of something very sweet that we learned in the early days of our lockdown.

And that brings me back to last Mother’s Day and a new self-imposed challenge.

The love list.

I read about this on a post of a new Instagram follow and I LOVE THE LOVE LIST. It’s a list of things that light you up and don’t cost a dime. TBH, this is coming on the heels of what I have lovingly-but-somewhat-begrudgingly called our new family budget cuts and reallocation of funds, which was prompted by our high schooler asking to take on some new training for baseball performance. It forced us to ask ourselves things like, “Is this thing worth the money?” and “Does this really help me and/or our family?” and “Is this service encouraging us to spend better time together?” The answer for almost everything extra that we were spending money on? NO. So we cleaned it up and found a few hundred dollars a month to reallocate to things that really do matter, including investing in our kids’ current and future goals AND our financial health.

So, while we are learning to say, “NO,” to many things, I am learning that I love saying, “YES,” to quite a lot. And they are things that I LOVE. Want to make a list, too? Here, I’ll get us started by sharing mine.

  • Walks outside. Through the neighborhood, around our little town, and if we take Grover the Former Farm Dog with us, his claws get filed down on the trails and sidewalks and that’s a definite win-win.
  • Hikes. Oh these are some of my favorite things. In the trees, by creeks, around a lake, in canyons and valleys and mountains. Ending up at a beautiful waterfall or an incredible vista? Yes please.
  • Naps. I’m quite good at power napping for 5-10 minutes or so, but also love those delicious overcast afternoons during which a long nap begs to steal me away for a while. Bonus: did you know that the day after Daylight Saving Time begins is National Napping Day?
  • Nice, warm baths. Luxury for me. Throw in Epsom salts scented with essential oils or whatever thing you have on hand. A quick recipe: mix a cup each of white sugar and almond oil and use as a body scrub. Just scoop some out with a spoon and rub gently onto your skin to exfoliate. Rinse in the tub (or shower – try adding some eucalyptus oil for a spa experience in the mornings!) and enjoy beautifully soft skin. (And mind your step; this might make your tub surface pretty slick.)
  • Journaling. I’ve picked it up again recently and it’s giving me new life.
  • Make a cup of coffee or tea. So freaking relaxing. I don’t know what it is about making the perfect cup, but it is pure bliss to pause and sip.
  • Sit and listen. Porch swing, patio, steps, yard, wherever. Sit, watch the clouds, listen to what’s around you. In our neighborhood, this can be any sound from birds singing to neighbors (also me) yelling at their dog to new construction (this is usually with music and I pretend I’m on vacation when the taco truck makes its daily rounds).
  • Visit a plant/tree nursery. I love going to a nearby tree farm and walking through their nurseries. When they’re not open, sometimes I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and walk through their indoor plant areas and dream.
  • Hugging. Long enough to really hug and relax, not those silly side-hug-squeeze things. Commit to the hug, people. But also, don’t be dumb about COVID. Gah. I can’t wait until hugging is everywhere again. This one’s hard right now.
  • Working out. Admittedly, this one has been A CHORE lately. I have zero energy for it, but I can talk myself into 15 minutes of YouTube pilates or yoga daily. I can also talk myself into going to our neighborhood clubhouse and riding a stationary bike or walking on the treadmill while I watch Madame Secretary, which is bringing hope back into me regarding the political system. (Maybe talking to myself should also be on my Love List here. I seem to be doing a lot of that.)
  • Riding my cruiser bike.
  • Family game night. Jackbox TV, board games, cards, dominoes – I love it all.
  • Clean sheet day. Seriously the best. Fresh, crisp sheets to tuck into at night? Heaven.
  • Caring for houseplants. Check for baby leaves!
  • Purging my closet and donating what I’m not wearing, and finding new ways to put outfits together.
  • Reorganizing, rearranging, and cleaning. I don’t know what this even says about me, but I love the result so much that I do some version of this almost daily. Everything seems so refreshed and happy! Or maybe that’s just how I feel. Now that I think about it, not everyone in our house might like this…especially when they can’t find things that have been moved. Hmmm.
  • Gardening. Sometimes frustrating, but usually either beautiful or delicious.
  • Reading. Reading, reading, reading. Reading outside, inside, before bed, first thing in the morning, listening to audiobooks while doing something else? I love all reading.

What’s on your Love List? I might need to copy something off of yours onto mine. :)