In my most recent interview with author Ann Hood, she stated that knitting helped her cope and get through her day-to-day grief. She wrote a best-selling novel, The Knitting Circle, about women coming together to knit while discussing their losses and problems. Knitting was a source of comfort.
When my daughter, Nava, went through a medical crisis, I lived up at her rehabilitation hospital for nine months while she went through intensive work to relearn and regain her functioning skills and levels. Within my 14 hour days of being by her side, cheering her on and encouraging her through the difficult therapy sessions, I did manage to take off an hour during her schooling time (when I finally felt secure enough to leave her side for the hour) to do my walking.
Walking was my respite – out in the open, breathing in the fresh air and feeling my body move in long strides; away from the sickness, away from the hardship of rebuilding bodies. It provided my body, soul and mind with renewed strength and much needed vigor to help sustain me through the long days, weeks and months of ‘being on’ for Nava.
Not knowing much of the surrounding area outside the hospital grounds, I asked staff people for some places to venture out. I eventually felt comfortable leaving during Nava’s entire school morning. After wheeling her down to class, I had about 2 hours for myself.
I was told about this great fruit market – Apple Farms. But after a few outings of buying beautiful crisp snap peas, bright red, yellow and orange Holland peppers, and juicy sweet seedless watermelon, I needed something else on which to focus my attention and distract myself.
And so I was directed to TJMaxx. I had never been to one of their stores; I’m not even sure I had ever heard of it back then (9 years ago). It quickly became my haven of distraction. Clothes, picture frames, bags, household goods, funky mugs, shoes – everything in an easy to find, neat arrangement. Now, I was never one to enjoy shopping. I shopped when I had to. Leisure and enjoyment was found in fun excursions and activities, not shopping.
But for whatever reason, TJMaxx became my place to go for mindless enjoyment. I never went in looking for anything specific. I needed nothing that year except my daughter’s health restored as fully as possible. However, I did often come out with some fun items – giraffes to add to my collection, cute outfits for my new grandchild (overseas) who I’d be seeing that summer; and I bought Nava some clothes which the therapists suggested – large button-down shirts that she could practice buttoning, elastic waistband pants that she could just pull up and down. I even bought myself a purple bathing suit with the new hope of going to the beach that summer.
I’d go back another day to return something and I’d stroll around the store again for an hour or so. I’d walk out with cute note paper and Monet thank-you cards. This went on for the better part of Nava’s last 3 months at the rehab hospital.
I alternated my leisure activities between walking a nature trail and going to TJMaxx. Both were my respite during a most difficult and critical point in my life. They brought me many moments of pleasure. Walking allowed me to clear my mind so I could hear myself think and feel. And Maxx gave me colorful windows into a possible hopeful future once again, where I could connect with things that brought me simple joy.
To this day I am a TJMaxx junkie, only going in when I’m not looking for anything specific, and walking out with a bit of fun.
What is your constructive form of comfort? What is your positive means of distraction, away from your troubles?
Thank you for reading this post. Please subscribe at Rebuild Your Life Coach.