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

The More Things Change….

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The more things change the more they stay the same. ~Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Binging on old television shows is one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve wallowed in the antics of House, CSI, Criminal Minds, 24, Schitt’s Creek etc. etc. Most of my wallowing have been crime shows and mysteries, and some dark comedies. Yes, I like to waste my time watching tv. It relaxes me while giving me ideas for my writing.

My binge of the week or maybe weeks is now Boston Legal. I watched it previously when it was on in 2004 – 2008. That’s 13 years ago. Things possibly weren’t quite so politically correct back then. Maybe I didn’t get the message or I wasn’t into politics at all. I’m not sure this program would survive in 2021 without major complaints.

Boston Legal is a program about a firm of lawyers, most of them quirky. William Shatner, Candice Bergan and James Spader star along with a revolving cast. There is sexual innuendo, inappropriate behavior and court cases that address social issues. In spite of the shadows of innuendo and inappropriateness when it comes to the treatment of women in the workplace, the characters have heart which is revealed over the seasons. Don’t take me wrong, I am not defending the harassments and varied ways that would be addressed differently today when it comes to women’s rights. Maybe, just maybe, that is part of what we are supposed to see to shock us into changing office behavior.

The subjects front and center in this series are the same issues we battle today. Racial discrimination, gender inequity, gun control, secrets kept hidden from the public in various churches that are shoved under the rug, homelessness and election laws being changed are all present and counted for in 2008. Though this program took place 13 years ago the only way it feels dated is the sexual content. Otherwise it could be dropped into 2021 and with a few tweaks you wouldn’t notice a dated program because we are still fighting about the same injustices.

I laugh at the old technology used in Boston Legal that we thought was up to date in those days. Technology has changed. I marvel at how young William Shatner and even Betty White, who spends a few episodes challenging James Spader, look. It’s inevitable that today their looks match their age. It’s called change.

I was sad when I watched the episodes dealing with racial violence and discrimination, inequity of women’s rights, views on homelessness, and inhuman behavior towards those that are different in gender or even financial status. It appears the more things change the more these things stay the same and maybe now are worse. Perhaps, it may appear to have escalated because social injustice is more front and center these days.

Boston Legal was a popular show in its day so it seemed strange it was cancelled after four seasons. What does that say about us as the American public? We laughed when the sexual banter was going on. We excused bad behavior because of memory problems of Denny Crane. But most of all, we didn’t learn a thing or keep it uppermost in our minds that we have to change the way we live in a society that embraces the unequal treatment of many.

We can chalk it up to a tv show like so many others, meant to entertain, yet making us feel a little uncomfortable sitting in our comfy easy chair. My question to my readers in all of this is: Does what we watch on tv, fiction that addresses issues, actually influence us or are we just thoughtful for a moment, toss it off and continue on accepting what made us uncomfortable in those moments of relaxation?

If you comment, please keep it kind and civil.

My Family Has A Language Barrier

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We have a language barrier in our house. Or we could call it a communication problem. It’s not new to me. I grew up in a household where there was a communication problem because of language, but I didn’t think it would extend to my adulthood.

Boris and Natasha, my two shyster cats, refuse to learn English so we can better cohabitate. I get tired of trying to decipher the tone of their meows. It is hit and miss. I think they’re tired of it too because as they get older, they’re stretching their vocal fold cords to new heights. I must not be getting their new commands right. In the early years, they were quieter, ignored us when we spoke to them, and yet we did what they wanted. Apparently, we were better trained ten years ago than we are now.

Early morning and late evening Boris sits by his bowl and glares at me. That means he wants to be fed. Natasha, on the other hand, gets my attention early morning by putting her paw on my face and waking me up so I will administer her a morning massage. We had our routines down. The minute there is a hole peeking through at the bottom of the food bowl, Boris demands vocally that we fill it. If they think we are going to forget, they open and then slam shut the cupboard door a few times to get our attention.

Lately, they have been directing us more often with their meows. We have a hard time figuring out the new things they want us to do. “There’s a mouse in the basement, let me down there.” We missed that one. The mouse is gone and the meows at the basement door has stopped.

“I want a treat, not my regular food.” as the meowing starts at another cupboard. And then of course, there is the… “You are sitting in my chair.” It took me a while to realize the meow at my head and the push at my back meant I needed to get up and let Boris or Natasha in the chair. The older they get the more demanding they are.

Boris saying, “I want my chair. Get up!“

I tried to teach Natasha to nod yes and no. After all, if my son could train his cat to use the toilet, I should be able to make my cats learn yes and no and to shake their heads. Natasha just blinked at me that she loved me, but she was adamant that nodding was beneath her.

I think of all the arguments we’re having about language these days. Recently, I saw a post that said if you’re going to live in America you needed to speak English. While I agree learning English may be a good idea, I thought of my grandmother.

My grandmother lived in America from the time she was 19 or 20. She never learned to speak English. I have no idea why. That’s what I mean when I say I am used to language barriers in my home. We lived with my grandmother. I never had a conversation with her that I could understand. For some reason, they never taught me Polish. I could understand a few words but that’s it. When my relatives would visit my dad and I would laugh because we couldn’t understand a word. I can’t say I was ever bothered by it because the one thing I did understand was that she loved me.

We are still having language barrier arguments all these years later. I wonder if some of what we are arguing about, only having people speak English, isn’t because of fear. I remember waiting on a couple of customers that spoke Spanish. They spoke English to me and then when talking to each other, spoke Spanish. I must admit I was a little fearful or paranoid because I had no idea if they were talking about me or making fun of me, or were planning something else. Media had put fear in my mind of a different culture. I no longer feel that way once I recognized it for what it was.

Different cultures view language different ways. Young people in other countries and now too here in our own, are learning to speak many different languages. I have friends whose children know how to speak Chinese because they went to language camps in the summer. Knowing each others languages breaks down barriers.

If you’ve ever had teenagers you know that may create a language barrier in your home. They speak teen-speak. The hard part is their language changes with each generation and now…it’s a language with letters and emojis. I can translate LOL but anything more my grandkids text me, I have to ask, “What does that mean?” I think I need to hit them with some shorthand or cursive, although my one grandson can read cursive.

I would like to think if we look someone in the eye and see them, really see them, the language barriers would fall away. If we take away the fear of insecurity of what we don’t know when they are speaking, maybe we wouldn’t be so judgmental.

As I grew up, I knew people who spoke Polish, German and a few other languages. They were the immigrants that were here during my generation. Not all spoke English. The argument was the same as it is now and so was the judgment. Guess what? We survived it and we integrated these people into our culture. I would not be here today, living in America if it were not for my Grandmother who never learned English. Yet in those days their culture was not accepted either.

My family kept their traditions alive by speaking their language and keeping close to the rituals of their heritage. Their roots were important to them. Perhaps it’s hard for those of us that were born in this country to understand that. It took me until my later years to get it as I sort through the things that were important from their native land. Though my mother was born in this country, her roots and heritage mattered to her. She never forgot where she came from and she never neglected to try and teach me their traditions. Sadly, I never realized the importance of keeping another culture’s heritage alive in family until she was gone

I find it exciting to learn about different cultures. The next time you eat Lasagna or Chinese food or take part in a tradition of another country, enjoy it’s richness. I am learning more about my Polish heritage and I am proud of it.

I think Boris and Natasha are proud of theirs too. I am sure Natasha is meowing Siamese and Boris is meowing Alleycat, and both are going to be stubborn and hold tight on keeping their language skills to meowing in their language. How lucky are we that our love for one another transcends those language barriers so we can bask in the purrs and blinks they give us on a daily basis.

Traditions, roots and culture remain important no matter what nationality we are, especially if it connects us to another country rich with history of our ancestors. It doesn’t make us less of an American to embrace our lineage.

Barriers can be created by closed minds and hearts. I am lucky love always won with my grandmother and my shysters. My life is richer because of it.