The first time Tsh asked me to create a Good List, it was hard. I mean, I totally stand by my original list, but really? Orthotics are my favorite thing?! I feel like that might have been a bit of a stretch. These days I can come up with a Good List at the drop of a hat. Between the podcast and the blog series, I’m beginning to see life through the lens of these simple four questions. I love that Tsh and friends have taught me to pay attention and cultivate gratitude for the great and small blessings in my life. Here’s my Good List these days.

1. A VitaMix Blender

I used to have a bit of a kitchen gadget issue. I would fall sway to the messages from the zeitgeist telling me that I had to have a mandoline, a juicer, a spiralizer. When my basement started to look like a graveyard for abandoned small appliances, I put a kibosh on the collection. I went so far as to put an annual reminder in my calendar to not buy an InstantPot.

I finally relented recently and let myself purchase the most basic blender VitaMix sells, and oh my stars is it amazing. (It’s possible that it should be filed under “work of art.”) Even though we’ve always loved smoothies, I haven’t often had the energy to wrestle with the economy blender. The VitaMix is too big to keep in the cabinet, so I reorganized the kitchen to make space for it on the counter. Between ease of use, ease of cleaning, and the sheer fact of seeing it every time I walk into the kitchen, we’ve dramatically increased our smoothie intake—which I count as a very good thing! If you need some healthy smoothie ideas, AoS contributor Stephanie shared some great guidance nearly ten years ago.

2. My Weekly Lunch Date

At the beginning of the calendar year, one of my dear friends went back to work at our neighborhood elementary school. I was thrilled for her—and a bit selfishly sad for myself. My weeks had begun and ended with Amanda—she was my gym buddy on Mondays and an active participant in Moms in Faith on Fridays (which I’ve written about here).

It was a bit daunting to figure out when we could see each other with her new schedule; I work long hours but have flexibility, while her school hours are fixed. We decided to carve out a standing weekly lunch date, and except when the flu knocked us both on our couches, we haven’t missed a week. We have about forty-two minutes before the bell rings, so I show up with salad for two and we make every single one of those precious minutes count.

It isn’t enough time. I often drive away feeling a wave of grief that I won’t see her until the following week, and that it will be another dine-and-dash. Still, it is so much better than the alternative. You know how it is: the grueling calendar dance marked by cancellations and postponements. There is something to be said for consistency, for keeping the time sacrosanct—even if the time is only forty-two minutes—week after week. Whether it’s in the flesh or on the phone, I highly recommend making a regular habit of time with a friend.

3. Poetry Unbound

I adore poetry and have been seeking out encounters with poems more than ever in the last few years. But even if you don’t think you like poetry, you may very well like Poetry Unbound. The podcast, which is produced by On Being, launched in January and the brief episodes drop twice a week. The host, Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, reads a poem, talks about what it means to him, and then reads it again. So simple. So glorious. I haven’t missed an episode yet.

4. A Helpful Meditation

I recently led a women’s retreat and used a meditation by Edwina Gately as a refrain throughout the weekend. The meditation begins with an idea that deeply resonates with me: “Whatever happens to me in life, I must believe that somewhere, in the mess or madness of it all, there is a sacred potential—a possibility for wondrous redemption in the embracing of all that is.”

I love this, and think it serves as a brilliant corrective to a theologically thin concept that is pervasive in our culture—the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, and so often this phrase is dropped by well-meaning friends in situations where the implications are unthinkable. But to say that there is “sacred potential” in everything? That is an idea I can get behind. I cling to the possibility that hard things can be redeemed—not that they had to happen, or that God moved the chess pieces so they would. But the light shines, even in the darkest moments.