- A Thing of Comfort.
Day 32 of Shelter-in-Place.
We are searching for a thing of comfort to help us through this very uncomfortable time.
At least, I can tell you that I am.
A thing. A “some” thing. A “one” thing. An “any” thing.
The comfort of our daily routine, as we knew them, has dissipated into thin air. Unseen, floating, somewhere out there.
The comfort we may be missing is familiarity.
In my life, I’ve often confused comfort for familiarity.
When my life turned upside down, was shaken, and shifted in ways in which I didn’t see it coming, I found it to be unbearably uncomfortable. A new way, a tight space, that had not been arrived upon by way of invitation or personal quest. The shake-up and shut-down, that I experienced, was thrust upon me, in sudden-like surprise.
I had to shelter in a new space—internally.
I sought comfort and, often, it eluded me.
Until I discovered that what I was truly mourning was familiarity.
My familiar way of life. Familiar people. Familiar choices. Familiar systems. Familiar roles. One will eventually notice–if they are the type that pays attention–that when disrupted, even dysfunction can be found to be familiar.
Take a home from childhood with its dysfunction—although flawed, it is not uncommon to look back and focus on what we found comforting. To maximize the good and minimize the bad. The mind is protective of its memories.
We can’t always return to the familiar. Sometimes we shouldn’t return to familiar in an effort to move forward. And other times, familiarity may be just what we need.
I have found it fruitful, in times of discomfort, to rely upon simple familiar comforts.
I realize it is a double-edged sword of sorts as one side of our brain works to let go and grieve the loss of our familiar lives, while the other side of our brain (or is it our hearts?) seeks small familiar comforts to cope, heal and carry on.
I’ve lived long (through) enough to know that the mind and heart work in conjunction and that we can (and should) grieve what must be grieved and, yet we are complicated enough to still experience comfort, even joy, in the midst of dark and difficult times. [This is why I believe beauty is an answer to our ache, a balm to our pain].
I realize that simple familiar comforts may be tricky or hard to come by in our current collective circumstance. For many things which we deem a simple and familiar comfort are quite literally unavailable to us or not allowed. Comforts such as: grabbing coffee with a friend, a meal out, or an afternoon movie. On the other hand, things, which we effortlessly enjoyed as simple pleasures, or daily escapes, may be hard to indulge in at the moment. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate or focus on reading a book or watching a show, let alone trying to decide what to watch or read, in the first place. And, I’ve heard from many of you that your experience is the same.
My tendency, then, is to resort to the mind-numbing (false) safety of social media scrolling. I say, for a sense of a connection (and in these strange times, there is actual validity to this sentiment as it is one of the only ways to connect with others outside of our homes). I scroll, also, because it requires no concentration. But as I’ve learned with much time and observation that social media often gives me a disconnected connection and furthers my distracted mind and inability to concentrate on anything longer than a speedy swipe in front of blurry eyes.
This week, heading in the 5th week of isolation, I’ve decided to turn to familiar comforts, as I’m suggesting to you. Books I’ve already read. Movies I’ve already seen. Foods that have history. Writing just to write. Talking, and not just typing.
A new book or author may be hard to trust or commit to in a time like this (I don’t really like to write these words as an author, however, as an author, I can only write what pours out and here it is). There is a familiarity in our favorite stories, styles, and shows and this familiarity will bring us comfort. There is a reason we return to things over and again. And I say, now is the time to revisit.
I do believe, of course, in finding new comforting books, authors, stories, poems, movies, shows and follows on social media. Sometimes we find them upon happenstance, and what a lovely treat that is, but more often I ask or pay attention to what is highly recommended by a friend or someone I trust.
If you should so trust me and my recommendations than I thought I’d share a list of my familiar comforts that I’m returning to again, like an old friend who makes you feel like yourself again. And I suppose I should note that many of my selections offer me visual beauty (another thing we which are in dire need of). I am the sort that will watch a show or movie for mere aesthetics and design:
*I am looking for beauty, inspiration, and enjoyment. Should something inspire me I may try a recipe or rearrange some furniture, but no pressure.
Cookbooks (Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks read like a book. She’s an excellent writer)
Old design magazines (I never regret hoarding print)
Design and coffee table books
*I found such comfort looking through my old Shabby Chic books, last night. It brought me back to an origin and reminded me of my continued love for beauty and sharing it (along with my continued affinity for pastels, white paint, old things and squidgy furniture). I’m also really enjoying Rachel Ashwell’s daily IGTV posts (She is a kindred)
Children’s Books. I love to thumb through the illustrations and read the cheeky stories. Lauren Child is my favorite author and illustrator.
Beautiful dishes and china. I’ve decided to start having my tea in my teacups. The delicate beauty is bringing me joy and that I’m using something special my grandmother gave to me.
Word Games (I’m really liking Word Trip)
Toast and cheese
*This is my greatest comfort meal, with a cup of tea. My grandma, once, persuaded me to try raisin toast with a slice of sharp cheddar and it was a winning combination. If only I had some raisin toast. Cinnamon toast is also, lovely.)
Chicken Noodle soup
Mashed potatoes (we often make a meal called “minch.” I wrote about it back in 2008. Read the post if you dare.).
Tacos and guacamole
About a Boy
You’ve Got Mail
Sleepless in Seattle
Emma (the new one!!! And I love the 90’s version)
The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes (Netflix)
Anything: Nancy Meyer, Nora Ephron, Wes Anderson, Richard Curtis or John Hughes. Masterpiece.
Cooking Shows: I used to love watching Food Network as a way to relax. My favorites have always been: Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Giada, and Barefoot Contessa.
*I also should note that I’ve started watching movies from my childhood, including the ones I watched but didn’t understand at the time—the one’s my parent’s watched. A few being: First Wives’ Club, The Money Pit, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (it had been awhile and I picked up on so many more details this time around) and Arthur (although, I confess I didn’t get very far with this one).
Any 80s/90s movie suggestions for me?
Emily and Charlotte Brönte
Abiding in Christ
Pride and Prejudice
A Still Life
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry
The Dutch House
Psalms in the Passion Translation
Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less
The Secret Keeper
These lists are not exhaustive. I could carry on. But I shall stop for now. And I must tell you, that simply listing familiar comforts has truly brought a sense of comfort to me. I believe the books we read, movies we love, things we cherish tell so much about us and the life we have lived.
Consider making your own list, today.
And, Dear Reader, would you be so kind as to share some of your familiar comforts with me?