You have seen Red and White Fire Alarms on walls everywhere your entire life.  You know what to do when necessary.

At the very beginning of every Winter, news articles begin to appear with titles like: “What to do if you are stranded in your car?”  Within each article is a list of items that could be of great importance to you in such an emergency: eg, flashlight and batteries, blanket, hat, gloves, water, healthy snacks, and items for your car: jumper cables, screwdrivers (Flathead and Philips), etc.

But what if your emotional well-being is endangered?  What can help improve your state of mind?  Here are examples of things I find helpful to return myself to an even keel.  Perhaps something that works for me can help you in a time of crisis.

Ice cream: THE comfort food for me —as my waistline reminds me.  Many moons ago, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a $5 ice cream making course at Penn State University.  They used their acquired knowledge to start an ice cream company in Vermont in 1978.  You know the rest.  My favorite chapters of their story are: Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and New York Super Fudge Chunk.  Plus, if you are lucky, you will live near a dairy farm named, something like, Merry Mead.  Daily, you will be a short drive from cones and half gallons of your favorite flavor of all-time: Peanut Butter Chocolate.


hamburgersA close second in the Comfort Food category for me is: Burgers.  I must say, up front, I like them well done, not pink at all.  Who’s screaming?   I order the same size and price burger as you, but they cook it a bit longer.  Yes, the taste will not remind you of the time that you took a bite out of a steer as he walked by your table.  But I can live with that.  Doesn’t everyone have a local restaurant making the perfect burger.  My place is Bruno’s.  For a chain, I go to Five Guys.

christmas-carol-1984-scott-2_4979Movies.  America’s favorite entertainment?  I won’t bore you with a list of my 20 all time favorite films.  But my metal winners are: To Kill a Mockingbird;  A Thousand Clowns (The film that showed me whether you could still be true to your ideals post-high school.  No, sorry.); and from TV, George C. Scott’s version of A Christmas Carol.  Oh, yes: my favorite baseball film: Field of Dreams.  How many grown men cry when they hear the film’s words: “Hey, Dad, wanna have a catch?”  See what I mean?

bill-jamesReading.  A way to restore your soul, or improve it.  Or help you find it if you have misplaced it, temporarily.  For me, online sites I read regularly are: ESPN, Imdb, and the New York Times.  Favorite book: Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.  A bible for baseball lovers.  (Who, me?)  The sport’s history and evaluations of the 100 best players at each position.  Heaven, outside Iowa.  And mysteries.  Here are 3 from a writer who is one blockbuster away from fame and fortune:  Anchor, Dead Letter, and The Pope’s Stone.  (Author: Marc Kuhn.  Check him on Amazon.)

gershtimeMusic.  Create the soundtrack for your life from the source(s) of your choice.  My taste drifts a bit:  Beethoven, George (and Ira) Gershwin, Broadway shows (eg, Hamilton, The Book of Mormon, South Pacific), popular artists (eg, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Linda Ronstadt, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, etc.).  Download whatever you want to your iPhone or computer.  Work or relax to your favorites.

jackierSports.  Play them, watch them (live or on TV), follow them on every media.  For me, Baseball.  I grew up in its Golden Age: the 1940 – 1960s.  When white players like the DiMaggio brothers, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial were (finally) joined by Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Roberto Clemente.  And, belatedly, for a short time: Satchel Paige.

doglinePets.  Is the world divided into Dog and Cat people?  Sometimes it seems that way.  Who is right?  Your pet is.  It teaches you more than you teach it.  You are a difficult being to train.  Hasn’t your significant other said that?  Maybe a pet told them —in which case, you are outnumbered.  Accept it; there are worse fates.  For me, dogs are defined by Angus and Jake —coming into my life post-allergies— made me and my life better because of their presence.  Never had a pet?  It may be hard to understand their effect on humans.  But if you’ve had one, explanations are not necessary.

Special people.  Significant others, friends, family.  Who is most important to you?  Maybe you have 3 – 4 people who help you keep body and soul together.  Maybe a few other folks who fill a special purpose: your neighbor the lawyer, your niece who finds Belgium chocolates, that Uncle with the “unusual sense of humor.”  I’ve known Marc Kuhn (see santasaysabove) since 1965: I can’t shake him.  Lucky me.  And now I’ll finish where I could/should have begun:  my wife, Donna.  Smart, cute, passionate and patient, possessing more empathy than the next 3 people on my list of “there when you need them.”  Best of all, she loves dogs, me, and tea —with a special emphasis on the second item listed.  Even on my bad days.  What’s that worth?  Say it with me: everything.  She is more important than Santa Claus.

Closing time.  Could some of my “sanity savers” give you assistance in times of trouble?  From my suggestions, and your own ideas, plot your own roadmap through difficulties.  Go through or around problems with the aids of your choosing.  Best of luck.


About rcarmean

Two things... First, why have I decided to establish this blog? I like to put essays together. I research an idea or topic looking for information, statistics, stories, quotes, pictures, etc. I enjoy the process and seeing a finished product. I’m told that as I get older, new activities can help maintain energy and keep my brain alert. In other words, I am not doing this for money or fame. Second, regarding the gentleman in the collage of pictures's not me. Those are photos of Christy Mathewson. Why him? When I was young, my primary activity was being sick. It took up much of my time. Eczema (a case so bad I was written up in a medical journal showing doctors what their patients COULD look like), asthma, and allergies. You know allergies: don’t eat this, don’t wear that, and, for Heaven’s sake, don’t touch any of these things (eg, dogs, cats, horses --I only saw horses in cowboy movies and TV shows, dust, swimming pools, my brother --OK, that’s an exaggeration, Rick was a fine brother). In my spare time between doctors' appointments, pills, and ointments, baseball kept me sane. In the 1940s and 1950s, when I grew up, pro footballI and basketball had not yet become extremely popular. Baseball truly was “the national pastime.” I listened to games on the radio (remember it? TV without the picture). I read magazines, books, and newspaper accounts of games. I collected baseball cards. I learned about the game’s history, as well as present. The same with its stars. One man stood out: Christy Mathewson. He was a great pitcher for the New York Giants in the early 20th century. But there was much more to him. At a time when professional athletes made little money (yes, there was such a time) and ball players were considered on the same level as actors, artists, and prostitutes, Mathewson stood out. One of his nicknames was: “The Christian Gentleman.” Most men is baseball drank, smoked, cursed, and fought —with other players, umpires, and fans. The fights were physical, not just verbal. Mathewson did none of these things. But he earned the respect of other players who did them all. Even Ty Cobb and John McGraw. There’s more. He was a college graduate (Bucknell University) when most men were lucky to have a high school diploma. He played other sports, including pro football which you wouldn’t recognize. He was handsome. He played in New York City, then as now, the largest city in the country. Excellence and popularity there meant fame and money. He dressed well. Today, his commercials would rival LeBron’s. And, finally, a hero’s life must have tragedy. After his playing career ended, WWI arrived. He suffered from influenza and was exposed to mustard gas. Chemical warfare. His lungs were damaged and he required treatment for the rest of his life. (Like my Grandfather who also fought in The Great War.) He died in 1925. He was 45 years old. I have his picture here because you need to know more about him than me. He was what an athlete could be. Players like him and their accomplishments got me through a sickly, painful childhood and can still sustain me in difficult times. *****
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