Comfort

October Favorite Things – 2019

I’m burnt out on pumpkin spice. The joy has been sucked away by commercialism and over-done everything. Why is it we have a tendency to squeeze potential out of things, drip by sugary drip?

This October I’m focused on turning inward a bit – asking new questions and preparing to lay down old stories with the falling of leaves.

Here are a few things I’m loving this month:

  1. Roasted chicken – fill the house with amazing aromas on a Saturday evening. Don’t burn your hand on the roasting pan like I did. 425 degrees means 425 degrees.
  2. One Hope Wine – I’m intrigued by their business model and am excited to raise money for a good cause. If you’re thinking about stocking up on tasty wine for the holidays, check this out.
  3. Candy corn. Still. Yes. It’s a classic. Once a year because we will never burn out on their perfect chew if we only consume the kernels for one month a year.

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  4. Classic T’s – Maybe I’ve got some latent grief begging to be honored by the donning of black clothes. Maybe I’m channeling my inner New Yorker. Maybe I’m just craving a simpler closet. I’ve been stocking up on comfy black t-shirts and getting back to the basics with my wardrobe. As we head in to the season of layering, add these gems to your staples pile.
  5. Rising Strong by Brene Brown – for when you need permission to accept life as it is and a gentle reminder that magic meets us when we’re face down in the ring.

What can you lay down this month? What is bringing you joy?

Continually Thrown Out of the Nest

Free cone day! Did you venture out to a Dairy Queen near you to celebrate their 75th anniversary with a free soft serve cone on Monday evening? I did. I love free things. I love ice cream. It was the perfect combination. I laughed when Dylan wanted his cone dipped in that cherry wax stuff. No, not laughing at Dylan, but laughing because the exhausted, teenage staff at Dairy Queen still charged for the mysteriously bright red, cherry flavored substance. We got dessert for two for thirty five cents. That, my friends is a bargain and bargains can be beautiful.

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I came across this image this week, and it struck a chord. If you read last’s weeks post you know I’ve been processing the end of a chapter in my life, and I thought Chodron’s words captured the reality of inner conflict so well. “To live is to be willing to die over and over again.” At first I thought this was referencing Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, and all I could remember was yams, yams, yams and freshman English class. Then I realized, wait, wrong guy, and started thinking about the implications of the above words. The concept of being willing to die feels foreign, and final, and makes me consider the absurd notion that I may be powerless to these deaths, big and little, that present themselves in order to create new life. Nature goes through seasons and cycles of death every year; is it easy for the whispers and quakes of Mother Earth to die on a continual basis? What deaths in your own life are easier to grapple with and which ones cause a lump in your throat? I want to be fully alive, yes, but thrown out of the nest? Can you maybe, just please, set me down gently? I’m thinking that’s not how it works, and I’m working on being grateful for the opportunity to flap those wings so stinking hard.

In an effort to be gentle to myself, if ok universe you feel like throwing me, I once again returned to grounding exercises. Oh you therapy you, rearing your wonderful head. What makes me feel safe in transition? I had a therapist once recommend that I create a basket of safe and comforting items to surround myself with when I was feeling anxious. I was 21 at the time, and a little offended at the notion of a grown up ‘transition  object.’ I was a big girl and didn’t need items to make me feel safe. Or did I? Now, I’m realizing that yes, I do want safe objects and comforting reminders that I can create my own peace in the world.

I don’t believe that inner peace fully connects to material items, but I do think they can aid in the process of reminding ourselves of who are when times are changing. This week I bought a new, nice smelling candle. I found some fun, funky note cards to write letters to my friends. I drank a glass of white wine and went to yoga, not once, but three times in one week. I’m carrying my huge, green backpack that I affectionately call my ‘turtle shell’ that I’ve used sense high school to work. Its many zipper compartments and history of academia bring me immense relief. Do you have a list of items that bring you comfort and help you settle back in to remind yourself of who you are when parts of your world have breathed their last breath?

I’m not depressed, in fact I’m feeling quite happy. However, I’m a strong feeler and my emotions often move through my body in ways that other people hardly think to notice. This can be a beautiful blessing, and a socially awkward curse. I’m thankful for my deep intuition and a tangible sense of comfort or anxiety that cue me to breathe deep, to return to myself, and to bring out that comfort basket, or my big girl equivalent. What would you put in your basket? What brings you peace when emotions get the better of you? Do you think death can be beautiful?

Essie Polish: borrowed my mom’s to do my toe nails before her birthday dinner. You know, fill the down time

Biscotti: No baking this week, but did make chocolate covered strawberries. Killer deal on fruit at King Soopers.

We are the Ones

Who has seen the movie Chocolat? The one with Johnny Depp where the gypsy woman comes to a conservative town and sets the world on a tilt by opening a sensual chocolate shop in the middle of Lent. The treats she concocts make your mouth water, and the need for a truffle, or hot chocolate has never manifested as much as it does when you are watching that film. It’s a great movie. It’s even better when that little chocolate shop, or perhaps a slightly less sensual version, plants itself into my town.

This weekend we tried Nuance Chocolate and had a lovely experience. I am never one to turn down an afternoon treat. Life is too demanding to not allow yourself little indulgences every once in awhile. So Saturday afternoon, we ventured down the street to try a new treat. Big windows and display cases filled with small morsels of chocolate invite you in. Rustic brick walls and wood floors invite you to take a seat and just settle in to watch and decide where to start. We invited our taste buds to experience the chili pepper dark bar. Let me just say, it has my vote. I think the little business perhaps has a way to go, but I am excited to stop by as winter afternoons approach and try some sipping chocolate, or a taster bar, or even, perhaps, a truffle should a bad day present itself. Sorry I didn’t take more photos, but you can follow the small business at @nuancechocolate.

Treats, my friend, are beautiful.

Too, in the midst of a world that seems to be crumbling, I was comforted by the words of author and activist Alice Walker this week. Our staff team at work rotates sharing positive encouragement to one another and this month it was my turn to share. I came across her series of essays, We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For – Inner Light in a Time of Darkness when a professor shared her writings in a commencement speech at my college graduation. Women’s Studies commencement of course. I bought that book several years ago, and still turn to this woman’s wise words for grounding and empathy in a complex and intricate world.  This is the bit that I chose to share with my colleagues this week.

“It was the poet June Jordan who wrote ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for’. Sweet Honey in the Rock turned those words into a song. Hearing this song, I have witnessed thousands of people rise to their feet in joyful recognition and affirmation. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for because we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors could see. This does not mean we believe, having seen the greater truth of how all oppression is connected, how pervasive and unrelenting, that we can ‘fix’ things. But some of us are not content to have a gap in opportunity and income that drives a wedge between rich and poor, causing the rich to become ever more callous and complacent and the poor to become ever more wretched and humiliated. Not willing to ignore starving and brutalized children. Not willing to let women be stoned or mutilated without protest. Not willing to stand quietly by as farmers are destroyed by people who have never farmed, and plants are engineered to self-destruct. Not willing to disappear into our flower gardens, Mercedes Benzes or sylvan lawns. We have wanted all our lives to know the Earth, who has somehow obtained human beings as her custodians, was also capable of creating humans who could minister to her needs, and the needs of her her creation. We are the ones” (Walker, pg 3).

I’m encouraged, and challenged and a little bit scared of how Walker enthusiastically calls us to action. The world may feel unmanageable and like it is falling to pieces, but we have a say in how we want to participate. What we want to feel passionate about. What we want to admit that we have connection to. There is beauty in responsibility, in accountability, and in examining where do I fit in this big, complex world. I like thinking critically, even when it seems insolvable. Do you ever think about these things? How about afternoon treats?

Swedish Fish for the Win

I can’t see my kitchen table again. Well I can see the table. I can’t see the surface of the table. I can’t explain it, but this time, this mess seems more enjoyable. It’s a mess of completion, accomplishment, and arrival at the finish line. Here are the things I’ve got going on within that surface.

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1) Clearly, Swedish Fish were the most popular candy evidenced by the fact that we are still drowning in Starbursts and Skittles. My favorite candy wins the popularity contest.

2) Our wedding centerpieces were beautiful – but made even more attractive with flowers in the blue bottles. The white box with holes doesn’t have quite the same charm. I must invest in some floral arrangement components soon.

3) I’ve got a long list of thank you notes to write. I also need to buy stamps.

4) I’m in the midst of a name change. It’s an odd middle to be existing in. The transition from one name to another leads to new hesitant introductions and insecure laughs when I state my name. Who is this person with a new identity? I feel I’m living my way into it a little bit. Now I get to go wait at the DMV to make it final.

5) Again I am washed over with love and blessings as we set out in this new beginning. Its rather freeing to say over and over again, ‘yup, we did it.’

My list isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but there is a lot laid out on this table. Small objects that symbolize a culmination and yet a wonderful beginning too. Forgive me, I reflect often.

This week was a busy one, with many adjustments and catching up to do. I did notice, though, the simplicity in a game of cards. Cribbage to be exact. Now let me back up here. Cribbage gets a bad reputation as ‘an old man’s game’. I guess I fail to see the problem with that reputation – personally I really like it. I was first taught how to play at a friends house in third grade. I was not good. Then later along the line, my dad brought me up to speed.  My dad is good. Not just good, really good. And he is competitive. Not in an out loud obnoxious, rude way. No, more in a passive, ‘I’m going to kick your butt and you know it so I will just sit here and smile’ way. He still helps me count my cards and make sure I’ve fully accounted for everything in my hand, but he will still win.

Friday night I got to play cribbage with my dad, at my grandma’s house, while Dylan was away. We had pizza, like they do every Friday these days, and it was a nice reminder that while significant events happen and life can change, I can still play cribbage with my dad. And yes, he still won.

Then, this week, at a meeting for work at the coffee shop nearby I walked in and noticed two older gentleman sitting at a small table near the window. Here come’s that reputation for the game. They were playing cribbage. Their cards were large faced and the numbers huge, and they used a shuffling machine to cut the deck. Oh man, did they warm my heart. I don’t know anything about these men, and I’m hoping they were friends, and that they are happy. What that observation reminded me is that there is comfort in a game of cards, comfort in connection, and comfort in continuing to look for beauty when life changes and you enter new territory.

What comforts you when you enter uncharted territory? When you look around at what is surrounding you what does that tell you about your life?