Mar 6, 2023·edited Mar 6, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I have a confession. In my forties, after my husband moved out and we divorced, I found comfort in romance novels. Best sellers, please, give me some credit. Nora Roberts not Harlequin. Why were romance novels so comforting? Well yes, there was the second-hand sex. But more, I identified with the heroines. I'm the victim, he's the villain; I'm innocent, he certainly is not; I'm strikingly attractive yet helpless, and there's a strapping fellow just waiting to save me from this terrible mess called life. Nell Fenwick tied to the railroad track by Snidely Whiplash with Dudley Do-Right of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police coming to the rescue. You get the picture. Eventually, I did, too. Me, an innocent victim, who was I kidding? I took a long, uncomfortable look at myself in the mirror and never read another romance novel. The comfort was gone.

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In one hour, I will be sweating bullets. We will have left our home in the olive fields, making the familiar journey to the gym in Granada. A soaked workout shirt doesn’t take me long training with Pablo. He’ll get us warmed up and then proceed to burn us down with high-quality, efficient exercises. A myriad of healthy torture to maintain our aging bodies as they look forward to the times ahead. To trick the mind to absorb the suffering to achieve the growth. What’s better than feeling strong, limber, energetic? Giving what you’ve got to give. Is there anything more comforting? Yes, there is. When the sweating hour is up, we make our way to the gym’s spa where we will spend another hour in the bubbling jets of the hot tub, the dry heat of the sauna, the hydrating mists of the steam room.

I think I will keep this up.

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Mar 7, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

Embarrassingly, I find comfort in shopping. It is a deeply ingrained habit formed after my parents divorced, when my mother would drag me to the malls on weekends and occasional weekday evenings. My memories of those excursions feature long drives on the highway and visiting endless stores in search of items on sale. Purchases were never made out of indulgence but need. Mostly we would “just look around for fun” but I was soon bored and exhausted. I don’t recall eating out; that would have been too expensive. That was before the proliferation of food courts and their free samples of marinated meat on a toothpick and spiced tea.

Today, I avoid shopping malls but sometimes spend hours shopping online. When I can’t focus or feel drained, I default to practices imprinted on me as a child: going from store to store, comparing prices, looking for deals. I rationalize that what I desire is what my wardrobe or household needs. But the good thing now is the instant gratification, no strings attached. Deliveries can be returned; the browser window clicked away without a trace of transgression. Everything and nothing are just a click away.

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Comfort has been my lifelong pursuit. I swear. From some early or generational wound, I have been seeking comfort foreverrrrrrr. What I didn’t understand, until I spent a lot of time healing myself, was that I confused the external comforting as more important than learning to comfort myself. What I had been seeking and making loads of poor choices around, was witness and distraction. I’m learning (this is my

Neo liberalism) that my energy spent on ALL THE ISSUES of the world meant nothing if I couldn’t find peace and comfort by tending my trauma and wounds. Comfort takes a lot of work for me, digging thru the origin of my anxiety, fear and panic. It’s taking a lot of my energy, but I think it helps me to a level of service and comfort to others, when I can find ways to tend myself. So I don’t take my (well intended) need for comfort and create more dischord collectively. I had to learn to sit in discomfort, follow the feeling to the origin, and comfort myself with truths. Some of them very uncomfortable. I find comfort in knowing that I’m untangling my modern capitalism as a road to comfort, not taking on all the issues of others to distract from my own internalized isms, and getting my heart right for the whole. It’s a tough one, and I think the times are upon us to help each other be uncomfortable for the comfort of the whole.

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There's comfort in cool white hospital sheets that smell of something extra clean. I wish there was comfort in dreams. I try not to remember them, but they remember me. How many times do I have to visit the same labyrinthian house, looking for you? Looking for a key to a locked door. Looking for a way out. There is comfort in waking up I suppose. But then you are really gone, and I know it. There’s comfort in my morning cigarette, knowing it’s the only one of the day. Shaking off any nightmare residue, there is comfort in the routine of making coffee. Waiting for the warm cup in my hands, breathing in the smell. Coffee, though, is one of those strange things that never tastes as good as it smells.

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Mar 8, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

As a child, I loved rainy nights. Best of all were thunder storms; the deep rumbling, the flashes across the ceiling. Chaos outside while I snuggled deep into the blankets. My father would walk around the house, closing windows. Except in the bedrooms, where they were always left open a crack. Even in the depths of a New England winter, we had to have fresh air while we slept. I was a lucky child. I didn’t realize that not everyone had so much love and protection.

Now I live in a place with endless rain and very few storms. The gray skies drag me into a stupor. The constant downpour makes me angry. I still sleep with the window open. The rain itself is such a constant that I no longer notice it. But the sound of car tires on wet pavement - there isn’t another thing in this world that makes me feel so comforted.

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Mar 9, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

When my mum and me had argued, I’d ask, “Do you want a cup of tea?” and she couldn’t say no. The thawing would begin.

When the flat is a mess and I’ve got a million things to do, I can pause time by making a tea. From watching the kettle boil to holding the steaming cup in my hands, the whole ritual is comforting.

After raves with my Northern friends, we would take it turns to make endless cups of tea. When I moved to London, nobody drank tea at the after party.

One night, my boyfriend and I got drunk at his friends’ house and stayed over. In the morning, I asked if I could make a tea. They seemed shocked but said yes. My boyfriend looked embarrassed. In the end, I only had two sips before our taxi arrived. The one cup of tea that didn’t help.

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Mar 9, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

A pint of butter pecan ice cream brought me great solace and comfort throughout my teenage years, with all the stress accompanying them,

Later, breast feeding my daughter was another of those comfort experiences which I probably prolonged as much as for myself as for her. It was the only time in a life occupied with concern for others well-being that I could disengage, find solace and comfort.

From my first visit to Europe, and subsequent visits to Italy I felt that I had finally found my home; a place where my sensibilities, and sense of self would be understood and well received. Even after the brutal experience of WWII, old world charm, civility, and courtesy flourished. The less frenzied pace and savoring of each moment convinced me I should strive to return.

Since 1998 I have lived in Andalusia, Spain nestled between the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean coast. Here I do not feel “invisible” as older citizens are shown the utmost respect by every member of the community. Now I do not “escape” to a corner to experience fleeting moments of comfort, Comfort surrounds me.

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Memories of my mother, who was the mortal embodiment of what comfort means to me.

The feeling I can still feel of 6 year old me getting my long hair brushed by my mother while sitting on our houses stoop on a warm summer's evening before going to bed, looking out over the long gravel driveway towards the creek.

The sounds of my mother's tummy gurgling while I laid my head on her stomach while we watched TV after dinner.

The soft pat on the butt, even as an adult, as I walked past my Mom with her smiling.

The enchilada sauced "Spanish Chicken" dish she made once a month, smothering rice and filling the house with delicious smells.

The warm pies that awaited us kids afterschool, that she lovingly made, spread out on the dining room table. Cherry for my brother. Lemon meringue for my sister and plain old lemon for me.

My parents bedroom ...a window open with the golden color of the setting sun glowing on the 1940's wallpaper, with the warm summer wind gently blowing the flower lace curtains into the room while my Mom and I laid quietly listening to Glenn Campbell sing "I am a Lineman for the County..." on the AM radio next to her bed.

The feeling of mud on my hands while I made mud pies in the backyard, Mama watching me from the kitchen window.

Being carried to bed, up the stairs half asleep ,but fighting to stay downstairs with the grownups, but then surrendering to the comfort of my bed, a kiss on the forehead and a good tuck-in.

The first day of Kindergarten and the security of my Mom sitting, for just a little while, outside the classroom to make me feel safe, that she wasn't going to leave me there forever, then realizing I was comfortable in this setting with kids my own age and my Mother not there any longer.

The comfort of remembering all these single moments in my life that resonate in my heart so greatly of having security and being so immensely loved by my Mother.

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Potatoes. Yes, you read it right, the humble potato is my source of comfort. Home-made chips, plain crisps, jacket potatoes, boiled baby new potatoes fresh from the soil. I love them all, and somehow, over recent decades when my life was at times desperately awful, potatoes became my go-to comfort food. Apparently they’re an excellent source of potassium – maybe that’s why I crave them. Maybe it’s in my DNA… there’s a family story about my mild-mannered Dad almost getting in a fight in a pub because someone stole a chip off his plate. Maybe it’s a Welsh thing - my partners says I remind him of his Mum because of my fondness for a plate of egg and chips. One things’ for sure, when the chips are down, I’ll be the one reaching for a family-sized packet of ready salted.

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Mar 9, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I knew my infant would be required to tolerate noise and not be easily disturbed so throughout my pregnancy I played Ode to Joy and Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash by The Pogues, at high volume. In utero, Joshua came to recognize the former and would kick when he heard it. His response to live bands, like Stiff Little Fingers and Jawbox, was the same. I found comfort in the knowledge that he was active and listening. After watching Holly Hunter sing a tender folk song to the kidnapped baby in Raising Arizona, I decided I would choose a mothering song. Once he was born and I could hold him in my arms, I would sing or hum A Man You Don't Meet Every Day when it was time to sleep, to calm down, or just to have a serene, loving moment together. During his childhood, that song comforted him through cuts and falls, disappointments, and disagreements. My sweet boy has had some hardships and challenges to work through on into adulthood. Luckily, we remain close and on a bad night, I can still provide some comfort humming that tune. Thank you Coen brothers.

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

I can’t overstate how lonely I am. I’ve never been alone. From a young age friendships and socializing came easily. During holidays 50 of us were at family gatherings, crowding my grandparent’s house.

I hate loneliness, its inescapable quiet. So depressing.

One bad night I asked my sister to stay on a video call with me. She did. We talked and also did our own thing separated but together. My so new it feels weird to say “ex” boyfriend stayed on video calls, too. Their presence saved me.

Last night he video called after midnight. Placed the phone down, settled in. Are you staying with me on the phone? Yeah, he said. Don’t you like that?

It felt so good being together, but next afternoon I didn’t know if I still liked that with him. Even though I do like it. I don’t trust him. But I hate being alone.

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

When people talk about (extreme) sports, the phrase "you need to get out of your comfort zone" is often heard. But what is that exactly?

July 8, 2021. It's so hot that I feel like the sun is crushing me into the ground. I run slowly. Around me just the burning heat and the barranco. And suddenly I realize so many things. Why I am here right now. Why this, what others call extreme and out of the comfort zone means exactly the opposite to me.

A life in which everything turns around career and performance, in which people are so stressed and no longer have time for themselves and loved ones… exactly this is outside MY comfort zone. It's like living on a hamster wheel. Either you run with it or you get under the wheel. That moment I felt liberated from a life that strikes me as extremely uncomfortable.

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Apr 1, 2023Liked by M Tamara Cutler

In LA, I had some neighbors I lived with for fifteen years. Barbara and I walked our dogs together. At this time, she was 82 and only able to bring her little dog out to the curb. I'd visit, take the dog out, pick up tiny turds off the cream colored carpet, lay down newspaper; mostly feeling sorry for the dog. One afternoon, I found Barbara distressed. She hadn't heard from her brother who lived in the same complex. She'd been over and knocked repeatedly. The radio was on. She confessed she was afraid he'd died. I offered to go back over with her. No answer. I called the police. The building manager let them in. Moments later, they sullenly informed us what she already knew. I held her, comforting her best I could, and thought how strange that a dead man was lying so close with music still playing.

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