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.
A 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.
Movies. 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?
Reading. 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.)
Music. 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.
Sports. 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.
Pets. 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 above) 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.