One of the best ways I know to live a healthy life is to figure out what you love, what energizes and nourishes you and keep it as close to the center of your life as possible. Here is my ever-evolving list of what I love, and what I strive to keep at the core of my life, day by day and year by year.

My Love List

I love the color pink. I love every shade, from hot pink to carnation pink to baby pink, I love pink lemonade and pink roses and pink evening skies. I love pink and green, pink and gray, pink and brown, pink and white, pink and yellow, pink and purple, pink and blue. I love my pink heart-shaped measuring cups and spoons and the pink silk lining of a gray wool coat.

I love self-reflection. Sometimes this looks like a silly Facebook quiz, other times like a personality or psychology quiz on the internet; other times, it looks like the six years (and counting) I’ve spent blogging, or the years I’ve spent journaling in notebooks. I love thinking about who I am and who I want to be and examining different aspects of my life to help me think about both the present and the future me.

I love personal stories. I love reading personal blogs, I love reading perzines, I love confessional poetry, I love autobiographies and biographies. I love seeing an era, movement or decade of history through the lens of one person’s life, whether that is a tycoon, a president, a poet or an activist. I love seeing something in another person’s life that helps me understand my own better.

I love reading. My entire life has been shaped and influenced by the books, poems, articles, and essays I’ve read. It has helped me escape, educate, learn, express, empathize and expand more time than I can count. I never stop being amazed by the power of language.

I love writing. I’ve been writing my entire life, whether it’s public or private, essays, fiction, poetry, journaling. Writing is an integral part of my thinking process. It helps me figure out the world, helps keep me in touch with myself, and helps me be the kind of person I want to be in the kind of world I want to live in.

I love going to art museums. Whether it’s the ones I love in my own city or those around the world, from Chicago to Venice, Italy, that I’ve visited, it’s one of my favorite ways to spend a day. I love the visual stimulation, so many different ways to think about beauty, the beautiful spaces the art is often housed in, the way it adds to the character of a city, and just the very idea of wandering around to experience something so seemingly impractical, yet so essential.

I love music. I love singing, I love going to concerts, I love finding new artists and falling in love with albums and becoming infatuated with that one perfect song. Music is a strong trigger and source of memories for me, and it has been a connecting factor in every great love I’ve ever had.

I love baking. I love making my daughter’s favorite treat and seeing her eyes light up. I love making Christmas cookies and knowing that I’m using recipes from my stepmother’s family, adding and changing the list each year but always remembering my mother’s favorite peanut-butter-blossoms. I love the smell of baking bread, the taste of a homemade chocolate chip cookie, the control I can over the ingredients of the breakfast muffins we grab on our way out the door. I love sending these little parcels of sugar and cinnamon and affection with my family as they head out into the world. I love bringing something I’ve made with my own hands to help celebrate a friend, a holiday, a family.