“I’m built for comfort, I ain’t built for speed”.
This line from a song keeps going through my head. I think it was Howlin’ Wolf . Didn’t Canned Heat do a version of it also? (I can’t find it if they did). I looked it up and it’s written by Willie Dixon. It’s been sort of an ear worm throughout the holiday season. I used to be built for speed. But things seem to have shifted in the other direction.
This holiday I have been showered with family and love…and also lovely gifts that were thoughtfully chosen. What I have noticed is that there has been a bit of a theme – things that I either wanted or were chosen by the giver, with a focus of well-being, relief and relaxation in mind.
Along with a variety of thoughtful and even righteous gifts (a significant donation to the local food bank in our names, for instance) from immediate and extended family and friends, the running theme really was All Manner of Comfortable Things For the Aging Woman.
In no special order, the Items Of Comfort included: a good lumbar pillow for back support, an array of dry skin products, a couple of pairs of yoga pants, stretchy leggings, a loosely fitting shirt and dress that hides lumps and bumps, a really good leave-in conditioner for dry and crazy hair, an interesting book, yummy home-made cookies and cakes, organic dark chocolate bars filled with ginger and spices, and (now, don’t laugh ….) a Chillow (as seen on TV!) for those night time hot flashes.
Out of all this, my guess is that some of you might have questions about the Chillow. Does it really work? My assessment thus far; sort of, yes. (And no, I have no affiliation with the Chillow company, whoever they may be). It’s somewhat like a vinyl, inflatable pillow that doesn’t inflate. It has fake suede-like material on one side of it and just the plain vinyl on the other. Inside it is filled with a flat sponge. You open the cap, add water, and let it disperse throughout the sponge. Then you wait a number of hours before using.
It might be a bit difficult to honestly assess, since it has been about ten degrees here, and all of the pillows leaning against the outside wall of the bedroom are absorbing the chill. So as soon as I warm the bed pillows up with my unpredictable furnace of a body, I flip the other sides against the freezing wall and repeat…all night long. But I will say that so far, when I tuck the Chillow under my face or neck, it seems to be pretty cold all on its own. I tried putting it in its own little pillow case, but that seemed to take away from the effectiveness of it. So I keep it lying against the top of the bed to be grabbed if one of those hot flashes should occur.
The only thing problematic about it I have discovered is that if you are one of those people who scrunches up your pillow while you are sleeping, it can bunch up the Chillow and make it lopsided. Then you have to smooth it out. And having your face on it is just not as cozy as an actual pillow. But I guess in the throes of a hot flash, who cares about that? The other thought at the back of my mind is hoping it doesn’t somehow spring a leak or have the fill-cap open up. That would not be a fun situation. But so far, so good.
There are also such things as psychic relief and comfort. The gift I specifically asked for from the S.O. concerned that kind of comfort. The thing I have been wanting for six years finally manifested itself. Outlets. No, not retail shopping outlets; regular plug-it-into-the-wall outlets. The comfort and ease of having outlets.
The entire upstairs of this very old house is rather short on electrical outlets. Because of that, a jumble of extension cords, power strips and cables is strung across the floor, the rugs, along the wall. This makes for fierce competition between phone chargers, reading lights, electric fans (hot flash fans!), the cable box, television, computer, printer. All those technological wonders we have filled our lives with.
In one room there is no place to plug in both my sewing machine, an iron and a light at the same time. In another, you have to snake cords out into the hallway to find a place to plug something in. The bedroom is a jungle of tangled, unsightly electrical snakes just waiting to trip you as you vacuum or make the bed…. and probably a fire hazard too. It has bothered me. Every. Single. Day. For years. I have asked the S.O., who is quite adept at doing these things, many times if he would please provide outlets to the upstairs. In that “cobbler’s children have no shoes” way, it never happens. So this year, I asked if I could have outlets for Christmas. “All I want for Christmas is outlets, please.”
He said he would do half of them. OK, I’ll take it! So two of the rooms now are outfitted with power. I feel so much more Comfortable not having to look at the messy wires (I am my mother’s daughter for sure. I can envision her face and feel her incredible discomfort, her angst, at such things). That little bit of “less chaos” feels a whole lot better. And as a bonus, he removed the thick black TV cable that ran across the floor from one end of the room to the other and replaced it with a white cable, which is now neatly tacked out of the way along the white baseboard. And I feel relief.
Reflection on this throughout the holiday, all manner of comfortable things, I feel tremendous gratitude for the incredible privilege of simply having electricity, or heat, or hot running water; of cookies and chocolates and comfy clothes, of good food to eat, when so many in the world are without. We are fortunate, blessed, to have such things, and I would not want to do without them, nor give up what by comparison is a comfortable life. I will be enjoying these wonderful gifts, while reminding myself to keep it all in perspective.