Three things: comfort and joy

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Last night I slept terribly. My son woke briefly a little after 1 and after getting him settled again I found myself staring wide-eyed through the dark at the ceiling. I didn’t drift off again until after 4.

I can’t say for sure but I don’t think this is a rerun of last winter’s long insomnia. What I do know is that last night I was fretful about the baby. Moving late in a pregnancy is hard. I’m struggling, a lot, to surrender to some pretty enormous changes in my prenatal care and in our plans for how and where to welcome this baby.

The deep darkness of the wee small hours doesn’t do one’s fears any favors, of course. I lay there for a long time, panicky, miserable, begging for sleep, before remembering: sit up and be with this wakefulness. And so I did. I was immediately rewarded for that tiny act of surrender when I opened Pandora and this was playing. I snorted aloud before switching to a piano station and pulling The Zuni Cafe Cookbook onto my lap. A little later I slipped from under the down comforter and headed to the fridge for a big glass of milk.

I didn’t find any answers, but eventually a certain kind of peacefulness crept in and dulled the edges of my worry. With blessedly heavy eyelids I turned off the lamp and pulled the comforter back over my shoulders.

I woke a few hours later to the sweet smell of hash browns in the skillet and the sweeter sound of dishes being put away. In the muted light of early morning I felt a little better, which seems to be how morning works. I found my slippers, made my way to the kitchen, hugged my husband, and thought with delight about some things bringing me quite a bit of comfort and joy:

1) Heather of Beauty That Moves just announced her latest online workshop! Heather writes: “Hibernate is a self-paced, four week, online retreat – a place to celebrate the pause that wintertime brings. A place to linger through the dark and quiet, to welcome stillness, and allow time to enjoy home and hearth.” Each week will offer ideas to nourish, gather, refresh, create, and rest. I cannot think of something more appealing. I’ve participated in Heather’s 30 Day Vegan and Whole Food Kitchen courses, and I think what I love most is her gentle, non-dogmatic approach and her heavy focus on self care. This course begins January 13. Lots more details here.

2) Nicole of Gidget Goes Home is running The Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club in 2014 – a chance to read or reread all six of Jane Austen’s novels though the lens of motherhood. Nicole notes that the novels are “chock full of interesting mothers, mother figures, absent mothers and young women who we imagine may become mothers later. We will discuss these characters, how they affect the plot, how they make us feel as mothers, how they relate to mothers we know, and more.” First up is Pride & Prejudice. I can’t wait.

3) Throughout all of that – and also as soon as I post this – I plan to drink a lot of chai. I’ve made a lot of versions over the years, all delicious, but my current favorite method comes from Jess at Witchin’ in the Kitchen. I like my chai spicy and not too sweet, so I’ve been reducing the honey by a smidge, upping the ginger, crushing cardamom pods, black peppercorns, and a star anise pod to add to the garam masala, and using some cardamom-flavored tea in place of straight black tea. For a decaf version I bet rooibos would be nice! Delicious, gorgeous recipe here.

 I’d love to know what’s bringing you comfort and joy these days.

14 thoughts on “Three things: comfort and joy

  1. Nicole

    Thanks for mentioning the book club, Lisa! I’m so excited about it. Reading is bringing me a lot of comfort and joy these days. I go through phases with how much I read, and lately it seems to be the hobby that keeps calling my name. It relaxes me to get my nose in a book and get my mind off real life for a bit. 🙂

    1. Lisa Post author

      In ways I could really use with getting my mind off real life right now. In the main, real life is wonderful – I’m loving our new town, the holiday season feels joyful and peaceful, we’ve got lots of family coming soon, and we’re so so excited about this baby. But there is the harder stuff. P&P it is! I’m so excited. First time around I had soooo much reading time during those long early nursing months – hard to imagine it will be quite as peaceful this time, but we’ll see!

  2. Kerrie

    This post is so peaceful! I love what you say about being “with this wakefulness”. I go through many phases of sleeplessness…sometimes only a few nights long, sometimes weeks long. I need to remember to embrace the wakefulness in order to find some peace rather than tossing and turning and over-thinking my desire to sleep to the point of not being able to sleep.

    1. Lisa Post author

      It really is so much better when I remember to sit up and stop fighting. Sleep doesn’t necessarily come faster, but there’s so much less suffering.

  3. nichole

    It’s been unseasonable cold in our parts, and I’m loving it, because I love cold and gray – especially at this time of the year. Beeswax candles, hot tea, and Elizabeth Mitchell’s The Sounding Joy have been bringing me peace and joy. That, and holiday crafting with my little girl. Also, the usual…books, flannel sheets, wool, the twinkling lights…:)

    Thanks for mentioning the book club. I just started reading Emma a couple of nights ago. I think I might have to move on over to Pride and Prejudice so that I can enjoy a bit of on-line mama fun, though. Also, will check out your recommended chai recipe as I’ve been thinking I’d like to have another hot drink in the rotation of coffee, tea, hot cocoa…

    1. Lisa Post author

      Ohhh, I’ve been meaning to listen to listen to that Elizabeth Mitchell! Thank you so much for the reminder!! And yes yes yes to hot drinks. I love them all. A few years ago it struck me that there’s a concrete place that love began – I should write a post about it.

  4. rebecca

    I take comfort in your words. i often suffer from insomnia and I did so especially when I was pregnant. Letting go, and letting life in is one way to soothe those anxieties.

    Thanks for your suggestions as well! they seem to be the perfect thing to soothe the winter grumpies come this january. xo

  5. Krista

    Insomnia is such a difficult and incapacitating thing. I’m so glad you were able to sleep at last, and especially that you woke up to your love in the kitchen making this easier. I am comforted by my love too, who bought me dinner tonight when I was so very, very tired. 🙂

  6. Thursday

    There is something odd about being awake in the early hours of the morning. Even small, inconsequential worries balloon to gargantuan, monumental crises. I cannot fathom why this is. Anyway, good to hear that you embraced the wakefulness.
    Finding comfort and joy in new cookbooks, cooed over whilst curled on the sofa.

  7. Leslie

    Please enjoy your chai, but also be mindful that black caffeinated tea may also deprive you of sleep. Can you find a decaf tea that would work? Good to make friends with the insomnia and you still need sleep! Currently finding joy in the gentleness of a long relationship that is such a gift. And cookies!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for the reminder, and I will keep an eye on caffeine if sleep troubles continue. But I’ve actually been sleeping quite soundly of late – I think this was just an off night.

  8. Jess

    Awww, thanks so much for the mention, sweet one! I hope you find peace and comfort in these darkest nights and that your growing baby is healthy and strong. xo

  9. danijela

    I have just discovered your blog so I know very little about you. However, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of your writing.
    …and, I like to make my chai with fennel seeds instead of black tea.


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