A list of things that are reliably lowering my stress levels, helping me breathe, and generally making me feel less angry at *gestures wildly* all of this.

  1. My Christmas tree, lit in the dark.
  2. The LED lights I purchased to frame my nativity set and dining table decorations.
  3. The See’s box of Scotchmallows I splurged on.
  4. Reading my newspaper staff’s reviews of their top albums of 2020.
  5. Just going to my Pop Culture Studies class.
  6. Music. All of the music.
  7. My thousandth rewatch of Parks and Recreation.
  8. My new paper planner.
  9. Having Stueve back in the classroom.
  10. A very bright light at the end of the first semester tunnel.

This list didn’t come entirely easily–it took a few minutes to get to ten items–but it was good for me to sit down for a second and think about what I have right now at my disposal that is actually bringing me a little happiness, coziness, satisfaction. It’s not necessarily a gratitude list, though I am probably grateful for everything on this list. I wanted a list of things that really and truly, when I thought about it, was making me much calmer. More at peace. Because there is plenty going around that is not making me calm or giving me peace.

That’s probably just life. Like what Kate Bowler says: “Life is a chronic condition.”

If you’re feeling a bit scattered and flustered and angry and irritated (and I felt *plenty* of that today, FWIW), might I suggest a similar exercise? Slow down a second. What made you genuinely smile today? What slowed your breath? What did you do that allowed you to just sit and be?

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