The Constant Battle For Comfort

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Cats are connoisseurs of comfort. ~James Herriot

My Sunday thoughts this morning are on comfort. Not on the kind of comfort you might think I am referring to on a Sunday morning. Yes, I already read my devotions, said my prayers and then…I wiggled and tried to get comfortable in the chair I am sitting in. I wished I had an ottoman to rest my feet at the end of my easy chair.

Do you have those battles in your household on what is comfortable to each of you, the people you live with not understanding because what doesn’t fit you, fits them perfectly?

I am short, very short. Many chairs are not built for short people. One of my recliners hits my head at the wrong place and so the angle is always uncomfortable because it is hard to look up. The contour of the chair has my head crooked down. Most of the time I can’t rest my feet on the floor when sitting on certain chairs and sofa’s because I can’t touch the ground. Case in point, I never can touch the floor sitting on the church pews in church.

The same goes for the seats in a vehicle and the head rests. I always wondered at the wisdom of my grandchildren not being able to ride in the front seat with me because they weren’t tall enough. Their driver, me, was shorter than they were. I think I should invent a flamboyant booster chair for adult drivers that are short.

I like a soft bed, my spouse likes a hard mattress. I like an old dining room chair I bought at a sale and not the ones that sit by my dining table. The old chair keeps me at the level where the table is not above my chest. I keep replacing one chair with my old chair and my spouse keeps putting the matching dining room chair back up to the table.

Our stackable washer and dryer are gone and I am ecstatic. I could never reach to the back of the dryer without a little boost at my feet. I still have a bit of a fear of falling into my washing machine when I have to jump a little when reaching in to get my wet clothes out. It was a battle to get my spouse to understand what we had was not working for me because it was perfect for him.

My list could on and on. Can you relate? Small cars are not comfortable to tall people. Small chairs are not comfortable to large people. It’s irritating to them to always have to change the driver’s seat when sharing a car with a short person.

Don’t ever look at the top of my refrigerator or anything higher than my height. There is probably years of dust because I am the duster in the family and what I don’t see I don’t dust. I know its there but it’s easier to ignore.

It’s hard for us to understand what is uncomfortable for those around us if we have our comfort needs met. We dismiss the concerns and our lack of understanding on what works for others causes problems in relationships and friendships. We don’t want to give up our comfort or we secretly seethe with anger if we do.

I hope there are many that have found the art of compromise. Yet, we appear to living in an angry world. I can’t help but wonder if the anger stems from a need not being met or a concern not being heard. We seethe inside until we erupt like a volcano.

It might just take someone saying, “I hear you. We should work on seeing what might help.” Or it might take us not expecting others to meet our needs but seeing what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable. I bought the old dining room chair. Yes, it gets moved elsewhere but I can always put it back when I need it.

God made us all different. We have tastes and likes and needs that are unique to us. We are not like our neighbor. My neighbor likes a weed free lawn. I don’t really care about weeds. Some of them are pretty. However, what I do with my lawn affects his because my weeds infect his life. He puts up with my weed yard even if it causes more work for him. This year I sprayed my weeds. It’s a compromise. It’ll make life easier for him. He makes life easier for us by doing things for us that we can’t do anymore. We are both more comfortable in our lives because of it.

Yesterday a wise friend and I had a conversation about relationship dynamics. They pointed out to me our words, and I know mine are, get peppered with, “They won’t let me do that.” This person was right. We stop ourselves from living parts of our lives because of the lack of understanding of someone else of what we need for comfort for our body or our soul. I have to ask myself where I learned that. Do those people really stop us or are we stopping ourselves and using it for an excuse? Our life doesn’t need to fit someone else. It needs to fit us and only then can we be comfortable with others.

This is my Sunday morning rambling. I have no answers. I have a challenge for you. What are you going to do this week to allow yourself to have those moments of comfort that you need?

I’m going to get an ottoman so I can put my feet up in this chair that doesn’t quite fit me and relax. It can be moved when someone taller sits here. A small compromise for a big chair so we both can have our comfort.

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.”

Ani DiFranco

Ringing in the Old

As I read the news this morning I decided to do something different on my blog the next few weeks that doesn’t speak of the virus. As some of you might remember, I wrote a column for the Albert Lea Tribune titled Something About Nothing. I wrote for them starting in 2005 and quit in 2019. I decided to dust off some of my favorite columns and post them on this blog the next few weeks. I am going to take these columns and put them in a new book to be read, either all at once, or a little at a time. My goal is to lift someone up especially at this time. I find writing helps me and I hope my words help you.

This column is from way back and I can’t you what year probably 2009 or 10. Enjoy.

IT’S A MIRACLE

The beautiful tall tree in my front yard that shades my house and keeps us cool is withering. I called the tree doctor. He diagnosed stress from this spring’s weather. He told me my tree would come back but possibly not until next year. In the meantime, I see its withered leaves and know there is nothing I can do to bring it back to health. It has to heal on its own with the weather and the water from the earth.

It strikes me that the tree is like our lives. When the storms of life descend on us, we seem to wither and droop. We feel helpless because there is nothing we can do for some of the stresses in our lives, such as friends’ illnesses, financial problems, and other things over which we have no control. We can only wait and heal until spring comes again.

I have said that it will be a miracle if my tree makes it. We use the word miracle lightly in our lives. We throw the word around as if we do not believe miracles can happen.

Dictionary.com describes a miracle as “An effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause….”

Perhaps we are skeptical of miracles because we Christians believe miracles have to be huge. The Vatican and Lourdes carry out scientific investigations of miracles of healing. They have to meet strict criteria to be called a miracle. We also may think of miracles as those in the Bible, such as Jesus turning water into wine or Jesus rising from the dead..

C.S. Lewis stated that one cannot believe a miracle occurred if one has already drawn a conclusion in their mind that miracles are not possible.

I am currently reading Expect a Miracle by Dan Wakefield. This book is about miracles in everyday lives. I expected the book to tell of great miracles that happened in everyday lives such as miraculous unexplainable healing, instead the book opened my eyes to the miraculous things that happen every day.

Do we miss small miracles every day because we are looking for something grand and bigger? Do we throw the word around because we feel a real miracle can only happen if it is huge, like water being turned into wine? Or are miracles happening in small ways inn our life and we miss them because we truly do not believe in miracles? Or we believe a miracle cannot happen for us.

My friend recently had surgery for cancer. It went well. She has been through many surgeries through the years for this cancer. She has a cancer that most people do not survive. I consider her life to be a miracle. I am sure she does, too.

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I know there are scientific reasons for rainbows, but that rainbow always seems to appear when I need it most to give me hope. When my mother died in the midst of a cold February winter, a mourning dove visited my window. The mourning doves hadn’t been around since fall. Usually they come in pairs. That winter, one morning right after her death, one mourning dove visited my window. To me that was a miracle, and seeing that dove made me feel that things would be all right.

My tree is withering, but if just one leaf comes back, it could be a miracle that there is still life in my tree. Pat Gralton makes this statement as she listed one hundred miracles that she sees in her life. This is one of them.

My garden is a miracle. It teaches me everything about life that I will ever need to know: anticipation, birth, joy, changes in color and texture, different shades of the same color, buds, dead blossoms, killing frost, burial, saying farewell, hope for the spring, renewal. (Dan Wakefield, Expect a Miracle, http://www.danwakefield.com/id7.html)

NOTE: My tree lived and is thriving today.

Christmas, Joyful or Stressful?

Sprinkled Notes by Julie Seedorf © December 2018

Printed in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of December 6.

my angel 1

Copyright Julie Seedorf Creations

Each Christmas season, others remind me when I write my feel-good column about the holiday season that many people struggle with the holiday. I decided to be honest and share my issues so that it doesn’t feel as if I am not empathetic with seasonal depression.

 I loved the Christmas season from the time I was a child. My parents made sure the season was magical. Growing up visiting my dad and mom’s business put me in the mood with the holiday decorations, with the mood continuing as I attended the free Christmas movies at the theater, capping it off going to midnight mass with my mom at her church and Santa’s arrival early Christmas morning at my home. And I can’t forget visiting my Uncle Dominic’s Christmas tree lot in Mankato to pick out our tree.

As an adult, the fun and joy continued on as my own family grew. I loved decorating the Christmas tree with my children and then with my grandchildren when they were small. Putting up the tree and decorating my home was a family affair. Teaching my kids about the Christmas story and having them participate in the Christmas programs at church was also a highlight and one of the reasons I loved the season.

It is 2018 and times have changed. I no longer have that family here to help me get in the mood for the season. We used to do it when the family was here for Thanksgiving, but now with everyone being so busy, our time together is short if our family get-together even happens. It seems like a struggle to figure out a time to celebrate any holiday as a family.

Six or seven years ago I suffered from an illness and depression, and I did not put one single decoration up in my home. I didn’t even go to church that year. It was a dark time in my life.

The severe depression and illness, through a lot of work, have passed, and I again like the Christmas season, but with it still are feelings of sadness.  I miss the hubbub of children helping me with the tree and oohing and awing over Christmas decorations and remembering who made what. My husband isn’t one to get involved except to set up the actual tree. He will help if I twist his arm, but there is no excitement in the task. It just isn’t his thing. It is hard to be excited when you are alone in the feeling.

A couple of years ago, since we never had Christmas at our house anymore but at one of the kid’s homes, we gave our big tree to our son and his family. We now have a small tree that we leave decorated, put in the closet and haul out every year. I no longer cover every nook and cranny with Christmas bauble. But the already decorated tree isn’t the same.

This morning, as I was viewing pictures on Facebook of families decorating trees, I realized part of my sadness at Christmas is because I miss having someone to share the excitement of the season with me. I miss my kids and grandkids helping me with the fun points of making my house feel festive. The other part is me missing those family members who have died, meaning my mom and dad who always joined in the fun too.             

We are having Christmas back at our home this year, and I am looking forward to that. I have some decorations up, but they will be mellower. I know I am blessed to not have to spend Christmas alone, and I will have my family with me. The reasonable part of me says it is no big deal to have to decorate by myself and get ready for the hoopla. But yet there is the niggling feeling of missing days gone by — happy times with my mom and dad’s families and those with my children and grandchildren.

Last year, too, was a struggle for a different reason. My best friend, Jan, was in the last days of her life. I marveled at her peace and joy in the season. She taught me to count my blessings, but yet this year I feel sadness she isn’t here to share the season with me. She, too, loved Christmas. I will never look at an Old World Santa without thinking of her. She also loved the hospitality of the season, always hosting friends and family. And her voice — her beautiful voice — lifting in praise and worship at our church or when we were out caroling will never be forgotten. Joy shared with her, together as friends, kept me going. When I was in my depression, she lifted me up and encouraged me to live in the season of love.

I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. That is not the purpose of my sharing this. I have a choice. I know this from the past. I can leave this sadness to overwhelm me, or I can count my blessings and feel grateful. I will tell you, for me, it is work. It is hard work pulling out of the doldrums. I do know writing down what I am grateful for eventually turns into peace. But I also know there will be an occasional day when it won’t work, and I will have to accept the sadness but not let it carry me away. I know how to reach out if I can’t figure it out myself. Each person has to take care of themselves the way that works for them. But if you feel trapped, and can’t work your way to find a little joy in the season, please reach out to a friend, a pastor or a professional. Your life is worth living, and you deserve joy, peace and love that Christmas can bring. It is there if you reach for it.