Posts Tagged With: comfort

 
 

The Power of a Few Blankets

Friday Letter to my Kids – April 3, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

I grew up in the no-bike-helmets, no-parental-supervision-all-summer, kick-the-can-long-after-dark, stay-away-from-the-river, eat-all-the-sugar-you-want and drink-red-Koolaid era. We lived fearlessly and with abandon.

boogeyman (not John Travolta)

boogeyman (not John Travolta)

Why then, as a child, would I feel the need to hide and protect myself at night, at home in my own bed? Why would my nighttimes fill up with so much fright and worry?

I have no idea. Honestly. I’m just a weird kid. Or I was.

Okay, let’s be honest. I still am weird.

If anything, the world’s gotten scarier the older I’ve gotten, but not in the boogeyman kinds of ways. And of course, I can talk myself through the things that go make odd noises in the dark, usually. But I do still sleep with a light on if your Dad is out-of-town or hasn’t come to bed yet.

I suppose I’m just a creature of habit.

From as young as I can recall I’ve always gone to sleep with the covers over my head and just my nose and mouth poking out for breathing.

That’s not an easy thing to achieve. Getting the covers to wrap around your head and eyes and still snug in under your chin takes some skill. It’s trickier if you’re sharing the bed with someone, which I have for most of my life. The secret, I suppose, lies in scrunching down low enough on the mattress, toes almost touching the end of the bed.

Floating head phantom creature.

Floating head phantom creature.

Most people waste that bottom twelve inches of mattress space, but not me. It’s necessary to use every bit of leg room for proper cacooning under sheet, blanket and comforter.

You wonder, no doubt, how I came to sleep this way. I have no idea. Perhaps I was cold one night as a tiny munchkin and discovered the perfect sleeping arrangement. Everyone knows if your head is warm the rest of your body will stay warmer. I’d guess that’s how sleeping caps came into vogue back a few centuries ago. I could go for one of those some nights even now. Except that I have my head wrapping sleep position down to a science.

The other possibility lies in this true fact: I’m a born worrier and a ‘fraidy cat. It’s true. I didn’t come into this worry addiction by accident. I’m certain I arrived, heaven’s dust still shining on my little chubby cheeks, worried about some potential catastrophe and scared outta my newborn diaper about every little noise and new thing in the world.

He looks harmless enough, but watch out!!!

Only looks harmless…

That’s a lot to come in to the world with. Maybe I learned to be afraid of the dark, although I think that came as part and parcel of the whole Kami package. I remember yelling for Mom from the safety of my warm bed after a scary dream, or needing a drink. I’d yell a good ten minutes or more if that’s what it took. My poor mother. I must have done that a few thousand times to her. Little did I know at the time what I was doing to her sanity and her sleep deficit. (Sorry, Mom!!)

Karma, also known as getting what’s coming to you…

I suppose all the middle of the night waking you kids did while you were young could be defined as Karma. I had it coming to me.

Afraid of the dark and worrying about life made me want to hunker down under the covers and hide from the world, especially the nighttime world. I somehow felt protected by those few inches of cloth, from whatever intruder, ghost, goblin, boogeyman, specter or fearsome creature might appear in my bedroom.

Mike? Mike Wazowski? Gah!!

Mike?

Maybe my bedroom door really did open up on Monsters, Inc. back in the day. Who wouldn’t be petrified if Sulley, or Mike Wazowski, or heaven forbid, Randall, appeared in their bedroom from time to time. Oy vey! But, I don’t believe in monsters, so that can’t be why.

I suppose why doesn’t really matter. I suppose I just wanted you to know a little something more about me. Maybe it explains something you never understood about your dear Mom. Or maybe it just cements the idea that you have an odd mother. That’s okay. It’d be as close to the truth as you can get.

Hey, occasionally I find myself falling asleep just fine without my head protected and my eyes covered. Of course, I’m usually reading a book when that happens.

Happy Dreams!

All my love,

Mom

photo 1-9 copy 8

~~~~~

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” ~Ernest Hemingway

Categories: Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

There is No Measure for Sorrow

Mom used to do this thing that I found a bit creepy. But then, I was quite young and had half a lifetime yet to live before I’d begin a journey of understanding.  It’s been half a lifetime at this point and I think I’m starting to understand her behavior.

The first thing Mom looked at when the afternoon newspaper arrived, oddly wasn’t the comics, which I went for. Nope. Mom looked up the obituaries. First thing. Every day.

Bizarre.

That’s what I thought at the time.

What more is there to say?

What more is there to say?

I know now that she didn’t want to miss an opportunity to express condolence to someone she might know who could use the support and love. An old classmate, a church friend, a distant relative, a former neighbor, parents of her friends.

My second older brother died before he’d reached a year.  The support and love Mom received after Brian passed away must have been invaluable. She saw the value of others reaching out to comfort her. It stuck with her, this desire to give strength and support to the broken-hearted.

"Hennes Grave" by Picasa.

“Hennes Grave” by Picasa.

You’d expect I’d naturally have picked up her empathy and kindness, since not long after that, I was born. Born into grief, born to lift and cheer, born being needed, born to fill an unfillable space.

It took a while.

I went through a phase when my own babies were tiny where I scanned the obits briefly, looking for children that had died. I think it served as a kind of mental inoculation or talisman against the possibility that my own little ones might wander into print in such a horrible way. Strange thinking, I know. We do odd things as mothers to protect our brood.

Then I passed through a phase where I’d skip that page of the newspaper as quickly as possible, as if not acknowledging it made it unreal, an un-possibility.

If only.

I simply don’t read a print newspaper anymore. Solved that problem, didn’t I?

Hardly.

I’ve been to far too many funerals in the past ten years. And not just older people either. Babies, young men, mothers, fathers, young adults, college students, children, teens. Disease or accident, anticipated or sudden, self-inflicted or battled, tragedies every one.

Oddly, older people dying doesn’t carry the same tragic heft and horror for many of us. Although the loss feels every bit as painful, I would think, for those closest to the departed. But who am I to say?

There is no measure for grief, loss or sorrow.

I’ve been at crowded standing room only funerals and those with barely anyone in a tiny room. I’ve felt comforted and I’ve felt bereft. I’ve been strangers to the grieving and close friends with the heartbroken. I’ve been one whose heart went missing when the death occurred. And, I’ve held my own tears in check for later as I offered a hug and spoke what little one can say.

Photo: "Belmont Cemetery (1809218994)" by Natalie Maynor

Photo: “Belmont Cemetery (1809218994)” by Natalie Maynor

Obituaries, along with the newspapers they used to appear in, are dying their own slow death. For whatever reason fewer and fewer obituaries get published. Facebook and other social media now serve, rather inadequately, as death announcement venues. I’m not so sure I’d want the notice of my death to run squeezed between a “stay calm” meme and a “you won’t believe what this cat and dog did” video. Lacks dignity and appropriateness wouldn’t you say?

But then, whose to say what’s appropriate nowadays?

We celebrate births and weddings. We mail out invitations and announcements and ask others to join us in our happiness. The only other significant major life event, death, has been left to dangle precipitously like so much bad press we want to avoid reading, let alone acknowledge.

I hope we figure out a better way to help the grieving. I hope we don’t simply hold our breath waiting for their response to our queries of “How are you?” to become “Oh, I’m fine.” I hope we don’t believe that pat answer. I hope we pray for them, handle with care and know that all is not well, not for a very long time.

Mortality reaches us all eventually, no matter how we try to dodge it. How we cope, how we grieve, how we celebrate a life, how we avoid its ending. It’s all part and parcel of the whole life experience.

I, for one, want to help ease whatever pain I can. After all, I was born to it.

 

~~~~~

“My father always read obituaries to me out loud, not because he was maudlin or morbid, but because they were mini biographies.” ~ Bill Paxton

Categories: Death | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adopted by Love

Like Aspen groves, Kathy's extended families provide support in unprecedented ways.

Aspen groves expand through an extensive root system in a colony that gives strength and vitality to every tree in the system.

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for all the open arms, hugs, expressions of sympathy, shared tears, flowers, cards, notes, texts, messages and understanding I’ve received since Kathy passed away.

I know friends of the deceased often go unnoticed and unacknowledged, but that has definitely not been the case here. I’ve been cared for and comforted by both sides of her family and by my family, acquaintances, strangers and friends in wonderful and unexpected ways.

I’ve been included as if I were a member of her and her husband’s extended families. I should not have been surprised by all these kind relatives of Kathy, of course they’re just like her; warm, welcoming, kind, sensitive, funny, generous, perceptive, direct and filled to overflowing with love.

Every conversation with one of them, every hand or arm extended, every gesture of kindness toward me felt like her speaking, her arm, her hand, her kindness, her presence still in my life.

Just like Kathy always managed to do, they turned the situation around. Instead of me providing comfort and sympathy to them, they filled me with warmth, surrounded me with empathy and cradled my heart, gently lifting me and sending healing and strength my way.

How thankful I am for such kind people who have helped ease the sting of such a loss.

I wish them comfort and healing. I wish them moments of clarity and joy. I pray they find solace often in every day things. I hope they hear Kathy’s voice in their mind from time to time whispering words that only she would know to say to them.

I pray they occasionally hear her laughter in the wind and see her smile in the faces of the family around them. I hope they feel as much love from each other as I felt this weekend in their presence.

If that happens, I know they’ll be okay.

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Got My New Shoes On

My cool cousin introduced me to this song. It’s pretty kicky. (Ha, notice the pun? Shoes-kicky?) I dare you not to feel like dancing while this song plays.

Some things in life elicit an automatic response. No thought required.

  • For me, a new pair of comfy shoes makes me want to dance.
  • Something fun to look forward to can kickstart my endorphins.
  • Breathing the scent of mountain air relaxes me all the way to the molecular level.
  • Those smile wrinkles at the edges of MSH’s eyes melt my heart.
  • Happy laughter makes me want to join in and laugh along.

Of course, not all automatic responses are good feelings.

  • a cop running into a store I’m just walking out of makes me want to run to my car
  • a baby crying makes my heart flip-flop
  • feeling cold and not able to warm up sets my nerves on edge
  • hearing someone yell at someone else skyrockets my blood pressure and discomfort level
  • a near miss in traffic instantly triples my heart rate
  • the phone ringing late at night or early in the morning sets off the panic system in me

Neither of those lists begin to touch the depth and breadth of possible autonomic responses we humans come programmed with.

English: Mountain Combat Boots

What I don’t get is why some people purposely expose themselves to those triggers. Haunted houses, for one small example. Why is the Sam Hill would anyone want to feel terrified for an extended length of time? I don’t get it.

Or jumping out of an airplane? Never, ever, not even for a million bucks. No way. I’d die of a heart attack on the way down if not the instant I leaned out of the plane. Can’t, won’t.

I’m glad some people can overcome natural responses. Firefighters for one. Police officers for another. Doctors, nurses, teachers.  (Okay, maybe I exaggerate with the teachers, but only a little. Have you been in a classroom lately?) Military people.

I suppose some people don’t have a reaction to the sight of blood and such. And some love the sound of shelling and gunfire. And it’s possible that danger just feels great, like a new pair of shoes maybe, to others. I can’t imagine it, but it’s possible, right? How else to explain people who take on risky, scary, nauseating, crazy jobs.

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

I just meant to write about how great my new shoes feel on my feet. Like a little hug, supportive, warm, snug, protective.

Who knew I’d end up being grateful for people who are okay with the uncomfortable, cold, lonely, not-so-safe, daring pairs of shoes or boots.

Well, why not? If you’re one of those people who make sure I’m safe  and can walk around protected in this crazy world, this “THANK YOU” is for you!

Categories: Gratitude, People, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Comfort Food Nirvana

Macaroni cheese with leek & bacon

Macaroni and cheese (Photo credit: Great British Chefs)

When life throws a boatload of happy your way, you can be sure that somewhere in the distant background there’s some sad music playing. Not sure why that is. Perhaps the yin and yang have to happen. Maybe balance is a necessary element for the world not to implode. Could be that that’s just the way it is.

Whatever the weirdness of it is, I find a need for comfort food, at fairly regular intervals.

I could probably compile a list of fifty or more foods that are bad for you but that make you feel good mentally. I’m gonna stick with ten to keep it short. Ranking is completely random.

10. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese OR Fettucine Alfredo which is really just a fancier mac and cheese. We call either of these “heart attack on a plate” at our house. Mmmmmm. At least we’d die happy.

French Fries

French Fries (Photo credit: camknows)

9. French fries with fry sauce. If you have to ask what fry sauce is you haven’t experienced the full glory of french fries yet. A little mayonnaise, a little ketchup, a pinch of sugar. Mix. Dip your fries in this concoction for the perfect potato, salt, oil combo. You’re taste buds will thank you.

8. Bacon! You have to say it with excitement in your voice like you’d say your best friends name after having not seen them for the entire summer. BACON!!!!! Yes! It’s a luxury item, not meant for just any old day.

7. Donuts. I used to ride my bike ten miles to get to a Winchell’s donut shop. Then I’d eat one, ride home ten miles, then eat the other one. It was worth it! Jelly filled used to be my fav. Now I crave coconut covered.

6. Cherry Coke with real maraschino cherries. 44 oz is a bit much. I can settle for 32 oz of this fizzy, cold drink. Bad for you in every possible way except mentally, well probably bad for you that way, too.

Cherry Coke Holland 1999

Cherry Coke  (Photo credit: roitberg)

5. Toasted Cheese Sandwich. That’s a slice of bread piled with cheese, melted under the broiler. Add a tiny pat of butter for good measure. Warm and salty and gooey, great combo.

4. Frozen custard with hot fudge, caramel, pecans and optional whipped cream. A rare but delightsome concoction designed for maximum palatable pleasure.

3. Brownie. Warm or cold. Frosting is preferrable but not necessary. Glass of milk required.

2. Toasted tuna fish sandwich. Pickle on the side. Sweet pickle relish is also a delectable option. Cold chocolate milk made by mixing that powdery chocolate stuff with milk. Says, “Mom loves me,” like nothing else.

1. Fresh out of the oven cookies. Any kind. Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, Macadamia Nut with White Chocolate Chunks.

Other foods that could/should be on the list: Pot Roast, Meatloaf, Shepherd Pie, Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Cinnamon Toast, Milk Shakes, Hummus (yes, hummus with Pita) Chicken Fried Steak, Homemade Noodles with Chicken, Corn on the Cob,bisquits and gravy, a fresh cucumber with salt. Oh, and pancakes, and of course, Hot Chocolate. (I guess I’ve hit twenty-five items now.)

I’ve always been curious about other cultures’ comfort foods. Even other regions of the U.S. What are YOUR comfort foods? Probably even more interesting is the question: Why are they your comfort foods?

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Angels Among Us”

Do you believe in serendipity? Those “happy accidents” or “pleasant surprises” that happen in a day to make things go well. As one dictionary defined it “the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.”
Or are you more the type who believes in divine intervention? That’s defined as “a miracle perceived to be caused by a Deity’s active involvement in the human world.”
Or maybe you just figure life unfolds however it does and prefer not to give things a name.
Most mornings I wake slowly and think of two things. “What day is it?” Which kick-starts my automatic scheduling, planning brain functions.
The other thing I think is “what should I write this morning on my blog?”
I woke with three words in my head this morning.
Angels among us.
Why?
It could be that I’m still feeling grateful for all those people who helped saved my son’s life two years ago. I don’t want to let go of that amazing feeling. I consider people who help me or my family or friends as earthly angels. Whether they intend to be or not, that is how I see them.
To explore why those three words were in my head I figured I’d google it. Maybe there’s a poem or some lyrics that will help steer my writing for the day.
The first hit on googling “Angels among us” was a song by Alabama that I’d never heard of. So I click on the lyrics to see what it says.
It’s a nice tie-in to what I posted on Tuesday about my son’s rescue.
So then I clicked on the link to Alabama’s video and found myself crying.
Call me sentimental. Call me sappy. Call me a believer in angels.
I don’t mind.
I feel blessed by so many people in my life. Each one of them angels in their own right, having in my eyes at least, already earned their “wings.”
I also believe in Angels from wherever divine help comes from. I’ve had too many “happy accidents” to consider them accidental. You’re free to keep thinking however you want. I, for one, believe.
Enjoy the music. It’s a sweet melody, with tender-hearted lyrics. And who could go wrong with a song by “Alabama”?
(If you’re more into Demi Lovato she fairly recently did a cover of the song as well here.)
Wishing you a day filled with serendipity or angels or both!
Categories: Joy, Music, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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