Some Favorite New-to-Me Things

I was listening to the Lazy Genius podcast the other day, and she (Kendra, the OGLG) shared her favorite discoveries of 2020. She said that maybe it would make me (or you) want to remember the good things that I discovered  and enjoyed and learned, and indeed it did. So here we go! A couple of disclaimers: (1) these are not necessarily things that are new to the world in 2020 but things that were new to me, and (2a) this list will be heavy on the end-of-the-year discoveries–I’m not great at remembering, for example, what I read in January or thought about in March, (2b) I don’t love announcing plans ahead of time in case I don’t follow through, but today with all the energy of the new year and high hopes, I am thinking I might like to blog more this year and then I could do a favorites post monthly-ish, which seems much more manageable than a whole year’s worth of good stuff.

Not on this list are all the good book discoveries I made this year. That’ll be the subject of another post.

(Late to the) Game Changers:

I’m starting out with things I’m sure you already know about but that have been revolutionary to me. Both of these things I knew existed, of course, but I had no idea how much I have needed them in my life.

  1. Snow pants. Probably enough said, but seriously, snow. pants. So far I don’t have a pair for myself, but I bought a pair for each of the kids, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s the best money we spent all year.
  2. Taco sauce. I had no idea. I guess I thought taco sauce was just salsa without chunks? No; it’s so much better than that. I want tacos just thinking about it.

Small Habits:

  1. Stretching. Specifically this video. What I love about this one is that there is a little preview for each stretch and a countdown timer that beeps when you’re almost done so you don’t have to constantly glance up at the screen wondering if it’s time to change yet. There is no talking, just relaxing music. I don’t necessarily do this every day, but when I do, I can tell a huge difference in (lack of) hip and back pain when I sleep, which is otherwise often a problem.
  2. The Daily Delete. I feel a little silly including this because I have been doing it for exactly three days now. But when you know you know. All this is is taking a few minutes each day to go through the photos on my phone and delete the duplicates and dumb ones. I also take a half a minute to upload the photos to Smug Mug, which is what we use for backup/storage.

Family Habits:

  1. Birding. Our first unit study for school this year was North American Birds, and it turned us all (especially me and the boys) into avid birders. This has been great for our family in so many, many ways–time together, time in nature, wonder, conversation, information, simple enjoyment.
  2. Weekly Date Night. Jason and I have never had a regular date night, probably because lining up a babysitter was one of those simple things that was always hard for me (just a personal quirk). But one of the beautiful consolations in time marching relentlessly forward is that at some point a few months ago we realized that our kids are finally old enough to be left at home for a few hours at a time without a babysitter. There are a lot of things we can’t do because of the pandemic, but we make do–picking up a shake from Honest Abe’s and driving around for an hour has been our go-to idea, and I look forward to it every week.

Television Shows:

  1. Ted Lasso. Jason and I watched the ten episodes of Season 1 in three nights last week, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I haven’t loved any pop culture anything this much in a very long time, maybe ever.
  2. New Girl. We missed this during its network run, but I’m so glad we discovered it earlier this year. This show makes me laugh hard.

Pandemic-specific Coping:

There is so much that could be said about the pandemic, so much opportunity for reflection and deep thoughts, but this is not that. This isn’t even a list of things I’ve been thankful for in the midst of the pandemic. No, this is just a two-point list of things that came to mind that have made how it has to be a little more bearable.

  1. Zooming Church. Although our church has the option of meeting in person, with numbers as high as they are right now, we are still opting to watch the livestream each week. When a friend suggested we watch together (with a few other families) via Zoom, I was a little skeptical of how it would work. But, oh my goodness, it’s lovely. We dial in to a Zoom call and chat for ten or fifteen minutes before church starts, then we all mute and watch the livestream just as we would (but we can still see our friends sitting on their couches), and then chat for five to ten minutes after church. That little bit of community–just a touching base before and after and watching together–has been disproportionately refreshing.
  2. Netflix Watch Party. A couple of months ago my book club watched Rebecca together (we had just read the book together that month). I love a good old-fashioned movie night, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that watching together virtually was great. It had the feel of something normal from the beforetimes (watching a movie with friends) and with the added benefit everyone being able to be equally comfortable at home/in jammies. Using the chat function once we got used to it was a lot like watching a movie with subtitles; after a while your brain processes the information so quickly, you almost forget you’re reading. Would recommend.