Friday, July 10, 2009

The Discomforts of Freedom

While the glow from Independence Day fireworks have dimmed and leftovers from the many picnics have been consumed, there is one element of July 4th that will continue on for days to come. Although we may have won our independence long ago, there are still countries fighting for their own, and with them our very own men and women in the United States armed forces.

It is easy to remember the troops on days of significance-Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day-but its the days in between, the ordinary days to us here in the states, that seem to be the hardest to remember those still very much involved in the age old battle for freedom. Occasionally we hear of terrible tragedy, which brings the heartbreak of war to the forefront of our minds. However, more often, the war continues on without making major headlines-its just another ordinary day for the troops-enduring extreme weather, sleeping in ditches, keeping a sharp eye out for IEDs or other attacks.

There are those out there who consistently reports on the on-goings of the troop
efforts and their daily experiences. One blogger recently interviewed several Marines on their experiences and shot video of life over in Afghanistan. After viewing the soldier's first hand accounts of being over there it made me stop and think how all my problems, discomforts and worries seem some insignificant compared to what they face.

If you take a look at the video in the blog, the soldiers are smeared with dirt and sweat, with sunburn coloring their faces. They rest in abandoned houses on the gravel and dirt floor in the clothes they have worn for days. I thought of all the modern conveniences I use daily to keep me comfortable: showers, clean clothes and a soft mattress. I think of all the times I have complained because I didn't get a good night's sleep and how decent rest to these soldiers is only a dream. I also realized how easy it is for me to walk over to the A/C and I'm instantly comfortable from the "hot" weather while the stand in the blazing sun and temperatures that can reach over 120 Degrees standing guard.

I'm not implying we give up the conveniences and comforts we enjoy as our troops worked darn hard to make sure we have them and can use them whenever we need. But simply take the time to remember their sacrifice when you enjoy a modern day comfort each day. You can even help make them more comfortable by sending a solider a care package with items from home.

What comfort are you most thankful for right now?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Prelude to Summer Discomfort

I live in Cleveland, Ohio. A place where it can be snowing and 70 degrees all in one week (trust me, its actually happened). A great thing about Cleveland weather is its not typically humid during the summer, at least until late August. Well, not usually. However, today I walked out of my house and my hair immediately withered and pasted itself to the side of my face. Which was then followed by my clothes absorbing all the moisture in the air and feeling as though I had taken them from the dryer before they were fully dry. Dis-gust-ING! Where did my light, breezy spring weather go so soon!?

Welcome to unofficial summer. Are you ready? I, as you can see, am not. I am not prepared for uncomfortable weather and the few humid days have been a reminder to get ready for the cooling, as in air conditioning, season. There are many tips out there as to how to prepare for the air conditioning season to ensure your equipment is running properly and you are saving energy while you are using it. Now is the time to make certain your unit will run properly instead of on that 80 degree day your equipment decides to take a mid-summer vacation. Trust me, as someone who experienced several cold winter mornings because I didn't think to have my boiler checked, a non-working piece of heating or AC equipment will make you want to take a baseball bat to it.

You can be sure this summer I will not be left sweltering in my house. Instead, I intend to spend it cool and comfortable with a fruity beach drink in hand...and eventually I'll make it outside.

How are you preparing for the summer months? Are you taking any extra steps to save on your energy bills?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day-Just for Kids?

At our home, we try to shield the kids from many of the current news topics-foreclosed homes, job loss, politics-they can all be pretty scary for adults to deal with and terrifying to a impressionable child who thinks it all means we're going to lose our house someday. But, the one topic that has found its way in is the environment, specifically Earth Day. Thanks to kids tv stations and movies promoting the event today, our kids have gotten pretty excited and very interested in caring for the Earth.

And thanks to Wal-mart's new eco-friendly ad campaign, the kids have turned into sponges and speakers for environmental facts. My stepdaughter has become so impassioned she decided she needed to write a letter to our city council because they don't offer recycle pick-up. Residents have to go to a drop off location which she believed made people not want to help the earth. I was pretty impressed with her letter and her determination to make a difference. Even my step-son has become pretty obsessed with participating in Nickelodeon's "Power Down" which encourages viewers to turn off all the lights and electronics for 60 seconds today to show the impact we can have on the Earth when we work together. He stated, "We should do it because we can help out."

We could all learn a big lesson from kids' attitudes to Earth Day:look beyond ourselves and make small adjustments in our daily lives for the greater good. Even if you don't believe in the "green" movement or global warming, you have to admit these kids are onto something. At their age, helping the Earth is important for a basic reason-they have to live on it and deal with the effects of our (adult) choices even when we are gone. And how fair is that? Kids see making choices to help the environment as a good thing and the right thing to do. Adults, however, see some of these choices as inconvenient, potentially making us sacrifice our level of comfort. But really, can you feel a difference in temperature if you turn the thermostat up one or two degrees in the summertime? Probably not.

Adults forget we make all the big important decisions while kids usually have to wait to grow up to contribute significantly to society. Kids see environmental responsibility as an important issue they can be actively involved in-they have the control to turn lights off, not run the water while brushing their teeth, picking up trash they see outside and they do it because they believe they are contributing and making a difference. If only adults could be so impassioned about issues impacting our lives.

Thank you kids!

How important do you think environmental awareness is among other issues we face today? What changes should we make to help?

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Comfort Kit

After reading a recent article on how the Salvation Army is providing comfort kits to those struck by major catastrophes like flooding and other natural disasters, I think we could all use a comfort kit to help us cope with the state of the world-stories of pirates hijacking ships (I prefer my pirates more of the Johnny Depp/Capt. Jack blend) and an ever-expanding dire economy-although I seem to be growing more numb to this kinds of news.

If I designed my own 2009 comfort kit, I'd have to include:
  • sweatshirt & sweatpants
  • diet coke
  • nachos
  • sour patch kids
  • pasta
  • family time-preferably dinners so I can cook
  • good book
  • better wine
  • iPod
  • my cat & dog
  • cleaning supplies (it helps me relax, strange, I know)

Most of my comfort lies in food, which I think is common for most people. In our house, meals are social events, partly because my family is so large we all only fit in the kitchen, and also because we like to eat-a lot. But while we cook, its more than what for dinner, it's all the activity that surrounds the meal. Drinks are poured, snacks are grazed on and everyone starts retelling favorite stories as the cooking meal's great aromas surround the conversation. There's plenty of laughter to go around for seconds and thirds and by the time the meal is finished, we have laughed until we cried over such obscure, yet cherished family jokes like "You want a pickle up your end?"-I swear, it's not what you think. These meals go beyond what's on the table, they are about what's shared at the table. I remember times like those each time I turn to a particular comfort food and realize its not just the taste, but the memories I enjoy with each bite that makes it so powerfully soothing.

Do you take comfort in food? What comfort belongings would you put in your 2009 comfort kit?

~Comfort Creature

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Snuggie Nation

We've all been there...watching a movie, wishing there was some way to enjoy a snack without having to throw off the cozy blanket we had just meticulously arranged for the ultimate comfort experience. If only there was a solution to reach my drink without the blanket sliding off...

Enter the Snuggie, dubbed the "comfort food of the clothing line" simple solution to an everyday comfort problem-people looking to feel warm and comfortable yet still being able to use their hands. Ingenious, yes. Well timed and targeted, absolutely. Strange, a little bit. However, this overly-simple, borderline ridiculous product has made millions during a time of unprecedented economic losses.

Whether you are a supporter or hater of the one-size-fits-all Snuggie, you can't deny what it has shown us about human behavior and perception. Until someone invents a solution, we may not realize that something is actually a problem impacting our comfort! Think about it-the majority of loungers were content with wrapping themselves in a blanket and dealt with having to throw it off to answer the phone or eat a snack. But since there is now a product that eliminates these every day inconveniences. Not only are people wanting comfort while in their home, they are creating comfort events for all people to celebrate being completely comfortable, wrapped in a blanket with sleeves.

The Snuggie phenomenon isn't just an uprising of energized coach potatoes, its movement with a great philosophy- comfort can be simple. In the past, people paid top dollar for products that guaranteed the ultimate comfort experience-luxury cars, first-class tickets, plush vacations. Now that extraordinary spending has become taboo in today's economic state, people are placing a high value on the the inexpensive products that keep them comfortable. Its the same as a small child carrying a their special blanket around everywhere they go. The blanket gives them a sense of security, of familiarity and ultimate a feeling of comfort. So of course it makes sense for us adults today to turn to the "adult onesie" blanket it our time of comfort need. No wonder they are so popular now...

In a time where costs outweigh comfort, how do you maintain a level of personal comfort?

Stay comfortable out there!

~Comfort Creature