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

I’m A Weed!

I am a weed and I match all the weeds in my yard. Yes, my yard has weeds. I am also a flower. Weeds are an imperfect popup in the midst of the flowers. There is room in our yards and gardens for both, letting them balance each other out. If there isn’t a balance to the weeds growth they choke the life out of the living plants and the same thing can be said in our lives. If we let ourselves be overtaken by the weeds, society changes.

I suspect lately we have more weeds that don’t have that flower to balance them out in our society, popping up to remind us of our imperfections.

My mom had a green thumb. Our yard was full of flowers and our garden was a proliferation of planted vegetables, flowers, strawberries and yes, we had weeds. Our yard had the pretty weeds such as dandelions, violets and other things I would pick as a bouquet for my mom. My mom did not believe in pesticides so she let the weeds grow. The flowers weren’t planted in perfect flower beds but would pop up all over the yard wherever she decided she needed a pop of color. She loved the butterflies, bunnies and birds plus the squirrels that played in our yard. So did my cats, I might add. I remember sitting on the steps or looking out the window and loving the way the yard looked, flowers mixed with weeds. The imperfect lawn. I was naive. I thought that was the way yards were supposed to look, a mixture of flowers and weeds. I have no idea what everyone thought of our yard but I don’t remember my friends yards being much different. We had bare spots in our yard too. So did my friends. We played hard in those yards and the bare spots became bases for our ball games. We accepted all the imperfections of our gardens and our yards.

I have tried not to be a weed . I have tried not to have a yard with weeds and I found both very unsatisfying. Trying to live up to expectations of others wears one out. It is a cruel world out there and if you don’t measure up you are plucked and stripped very fast by a human weed killer. Those weed killers don’t understand there is room for both if both are responsible to not trample on each other.

I have found a balance in my yard. My friend who is a perfectionist gave me one flower bed that is well planned and neatly arranged. I love that she did that for me and I love that flower bed. But thinking back to my childhood I knew I wanted a yard also of random flowering wildflowers and weeds and so I took a page out of my mother’s book of planting, without the green thumb unfortunately. I threw wildflower seeds in one flower bed and I love the surprises popping up. There are weeds but I can’t tell what is what right now until they are up and blooming

I have sunflowers growing by my bird feeder and my yard is full of birds, rabbits and yes, squirrels. My shysters love the squirrels that climb our bird feeder in search of food. They turn around and there is a stare down between the squirrel and my cats. I suspect they both find it fun.

Some prefer manicured yards and make sure the bunnies and the squirrels stay away. I respect that if the manicured yard reflects their personality and values. There is room for both the manicured and the throw it together yard.

There is a fine line though while I am in weed mode. If it isn’t hurting anyone or breaking any laws while I am being a weed I can enjoy the feeling. Yet, if my weeds hurt my neighbors then I need to compromise. In fact we did that last year. We took down some bushes that caused too many shooters in my neighbors lawn. Our neighbors didn’t complain and were very nice about it but…it made me feel uncomfortable that my bushes were ruining their yard and causing them more work. Taking the bushes down was the right thing to do.

I am very lucky I to not live in a neighborhood with a covenant that tells me what I can or cannot do in my yard. Would that infringe on my right to be a weed? Yes it would, but I would have chose to live there and to compromise. Compromise is a hard word for some. Though I am a weed much of the time, I like to compromise with the flower as we need both to live.

Is my right as a weed more important than the right of my friend that is more flower than weed? Lately I’ve been trying to decide.

I don’t mind wearing a mask. Is it uncomfortable? Sometimes it is. I like to also think of it as a fashion statement. Some colorful masks rock. I could complain that it is violating my weed rights, but it is a given we have to wear clothes in public too. Doesn’t that violate our rights that we need to wear clothes in public or in stores? No one seems to be taking a stand on that? How is that different? Now remember that is the weed thinking, popping up and causing trouble.. I wear clothes to protect others. My skin wrinkles and rolls. Just as clothes protect you from seeing my wrinkles and my rolls, a mask protects you from seeing my jowls, my wrinkles and the puckery lined lips and possibly will keep you well.

There is a mixture of flowers and weeds in most of us. We learn to live with one another but in living with one another there has to be compassion, caring and compromise. If as a weed we don’t have the softness of a flower to balance us out we can become cruel, judgmental, unbending and destructive. Yes, I can be all of that.

The flower part of me says I need to compromise and think of my neighbor and how what I do may benefit or hurt them. The flower part of me says along with the right to be free comes the responsibility to see that others are free too and my choices might take their freedom away.

The weed part says it is my lawn and I can do what I want no matter who it harms. The weed part of me says I don’t need to worry if my neighbor has enough food, I worry only about my household. The weed part of me says I don’t have to wear a mask. As long as I’m not sick it doesn’t matter. The weed part of me says laws are for everyone else and not for me because I have the right to not follow the law. Throw that speed limit out.

Both parts of me fight all the time because I have so much selfishness inside of me, but I hope the flower in me isn’t choked out by my weeds so caring about others overrides the want or the need inside of myself to only think of how something benefits me. These past few weeks I have been surprised by the reactions of some I know both online and in person. I came to the conclusion we really don’t know who someone is until we are tested by diverse circumstances. True character sometimes is well hidden until it isn’t and it comes out in selfishness, hatred or racial divisiveness.

What is winning in your life, the flowers or the weeds or are you a perfect mix. allowing for a balance?

Panic Attack! It’s Only Coffee…But

I almost had a panic attack Tuesday evening. I have this routine before I go to bed. I make my coffee so all I have to do when I am bleary-eyed in the morning is to punch the button. I knew I had finished my one container of coffee the day before, but I also knew I had another full container in the cupboard. However, now I am questioning everything I thought I knew.

I went to the cupboard. I found the can. It seemed awfully light. I pulled off the cover and it was…wait…for…it, EMPTY. My can of coffee was empty. There was no coffee. Did I put that empty can in the cupboard? Was I sleepwalking when I did it? I quickly dismissed the thought and blamed it on my Natasha, my crafty kitty who haunts my cupboards or tries to. Let’s pass the blame because I could not handle doing that to myself when it came to coffee.

Immediately I could feel the panic fill my body. There would be no coffee at 6:00 a.m. as I leisurely took my time waking and getting out of bed. Usually, I wallow and read in bed with my coffee at least for an hour. It is my routine. I could handle the not wallowing, but NO COFFEE? Tea wasn’t going to cut it.

Then came the what-ifs.  Would the grocery store let me do the curbside pickup for only coffee as I was stocked up on everything else I needed? And…I am leary about this old person going into a store where no one is wearing masks, That in itself brings panic because I know people in other areas mired in virus problems, and as much as we think we are safe in a low virus county, you never know. Still, even if I did do that in the morning there would be no coffee when I woke up.

It seems like a small thing and it is, but coffee helps because it is a routine and something stable in my life when all else seems to be upended.

Did I have anything stuffed in the freezer that I forgot about? I quickly dug in my freezer and pulled out an old bag of leftover beans that were hidden in the bottom of the freezer, enough to make a pot. But where was my coffee grinder? Did I even have one anymore?

That led to another foraging at night looking for my coffee grinder. I was a madwoman rummaging through cupboards where I stored that which does not get used often. I found it stuffed in the back under some other appliances I haven’t used in years.  I rushed it to the cupboard and put the old coffee beans, as in years and years old, in the grinder. I couldn’t get it to work. I dinged around for a short time and I found success, and ground my beans, dropping them into my Cuisinart, ready for the morning.

I didn’t sleep well that night wondering if I would be able to even drink the coffee. Would it be horrible because the beans were so old?  As I pried my sleepy eyes open and pondered the headache I had, I staggered to the kitchen and pushed the button. The coffee maker sprung to life. I pondered how to get some coffee without visiting the grocery store for one item. I know it seems silly, but did I also mention anxiety is my middle name and I like to avoid it at all costs? There was my neighbors, Brian and Tammy who I knew would go to the store for me, but they do so much for me I hated to ask them for just the coffee, and I feel though they are young and out and about, it is hard to ask for something so silly.

I decided that just once until I needed the next big grocery order to buy from my local grocery, because I believe in buying the things I need that are available in town, to order coffee online.  I thought I had enough beans for maybe two days although the taste wasn’t the best.  Buying online wasn’t an option if I needed it within the next day or so as shipping was two weeks out. I could feel the panic set in again along with my migraine pounding my head, so I gave it up and called my neighbor and he immediately brought my coffee.

As I ponder what I normally wouldn’t have gotten anxious about, which is going to the grocery store, I know I was overreacting. Everyone is going to the grocery store on their own in my community. Masks still haven’t been the norm and we don’t even know if they protect us, but they make some of us feel protected. Part of my anxiety is knowing my friends from all over the states and other countries who have the virus, lost loved ones or have medical conditions, and tell me this could come here easily and all it takes is one person out and about who infects others. We don’t have it in such numbers here but those friends are always in the back of my mind.

And then the thought came to me as I called my neighbor…what if there is no coffee? What if there is a shortage? There is no toilet paper but will we add coffee to the list? Coffee seems to be my security blanket in this time of fear. In the time of not knowing when we will be able to hug our children and grandchildren again. I can’t even go there thinking about how our interaction with other people is going to change. I can’t imagine never hugging anyone on a spur of the moment meeting again. So I choose coffee to panic about. I can’t go to the other possibilities in my mind. But I can do coffee. I can’t think about the hugs shortage that would go far beyond panic.

Let me panic about coffee. It is a small thing to obsess about because it doesn’t let me think about all the other places my mind could go. Let yourself have your feelings in this time about whatever insignificant thing is causing you to freak out. If it gets you through the bigger things then you have got this. Stay safe.

Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.

Martha Beck