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Many of the women whose blogs I read are mothers, and as such, they often talk about their child-rearing methodologies, frustrations and the little details of Life With Kids. One term I see come up somewhat frequently is “self-soothing,” and today that hitched itself to another theme I’ve been seeing with remarkable frequency these last two days: What makes you happy?

Pondering the things that make me happy, things I can do by myself, I stumbled upon something I hadn’t thought of in a long time: Chocolate pudding. We have whole, raw milk… I have chocolate… how had I not made this dessert yet?!

Grepping about for chocolate pudding recipes, I alighted on Smitten Kitchen, a cooking site I trust. Her recipe is simple, flies in the face of all the overly-complicated, overly-decadent concoctions and goes back to the simplicity of smooth, rich, chocolate pudding essence.

Six simple ingredients slowly warmed into one of the ultimate comfort foods – what better day to make it than a sick day? Start to finish less than a half hour, thanks to the handy-dandy immersion blender’s chopper attachment. It made quick, gorgeous work of the chocolate squares:

Milk, starch, sugar:

And the final, yummy combination (a food photographer I am most certainly not:)

Mmmmm. I took a few sips of it warm, straight out of the bowl after having poured the rest into ramekins –  It was to die for. I am now patiently waiting for the little ramekins to chill in the fridge, so I can properly enjoy its delights.

But let’s revisit, for a moment, the original topic here – what things that make me happy, things I can do by myself? What comforts me? This is something different from, “what satisfies me,” or “what would I like to do.” These need to be things that speak to my parasympathetic nervous system on a deep, deep level, things like what I asked you folks about a few posts ago. I think my parasympathetic system isn’t getting enough exercise (much like the rest of me;) I’m “fight-or-flight” all the time (stress/sympathetic nervous system,) as opposed to the “rest and digest” mode of the parasympathetic.

I need to start taking care of relaxing, detoxing, destressing with as much of an interest (and eventually as automatically) as I amp myself up and become tense.

These things relax me intrinsically:

  • Baking
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Reading
  • Taking a bath
  • Cuddling with dogs
  • Eating comfort foods
  • Learning new skills
  • Planning for chickens & the garden
  • Stretching, doing yoga
  • Drinking a mug of tea
  • Writing
  • Watching the woodpeckers in the trees outside my office
  • Having quiet and stillness around me
  • Being outside, surrounded by nature, simply observing and listening
  • Sitting by a river
  • Swimming in a remote, deserted mountain lake
  • Watching snow fall
  • Having a fire, watching the embers and flames
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Wearing comfortable, loose clothing

There are definitely things I can do to my immediate environment to make it more conducive to relaxation – adding more personal touches to our home, placing non-toxic candles about to light in the evenings, painting the walls more attractive colors, replacing window treatments with softer, more drapey, fabrics, organizing spaces so the clutter is at least hidden behind something attractive. I love being surrounded by natural things – I don’t like bright, shiny chrome or plastic glaring at me in spaces where I want to relax. In fact, I don’t much care for chrome/shiny at all. I prefer, by and large, muted things.

Barbara urges me to de-glutenize my life, because if I do have a sensitivity the gluten is contributing to the stress, weight and general apathy. My doctor’s appointment is Friday for follow-ups, and I hope to have something I can point to then or shortly after. Without Genuine Motivation, it’s difficult to make a radical choice that will eliminate some of my favorite comfort foods – homemade mac and cheese, breads, dumplings, cookies and for some reason “cupcakes” keeps jumping into my mental temper tantrum, even though I haven’t made cupcakes in probably ten years. But I love the idea of making them.

Of course, cutting these things out is entirely at my discretion; the gluten police aren’t monitoring me, much like the meat police don’t care, or I could always just make them and take them into work. We have no shortage of appreciative geeks, especially having recently hired about 30 new people. The satisfaction of baking, without the final payoff. Hmm.

For today, though, I have my tea (and am contemplating getting a proper tea pot, so I don’t have to run down and microwave another cup every half hour,) I have my Bieler brother, I have beans soaking overnight for tomorrow’s Portuguese kale soup, I’ll soon have my pudding, and I’m about to settle in for some knitting in the hopes of having a finished scarf while the weather still warrants it.

Footnote: So the pudding never set up – I’m guessing I didn’t let it thicken over the heat enough, alas. Tasty, but not pudding. Also, when chopping onions for the kale soup, I sliced through my left thumbnail cleanly and removed a tiny portion of the end of my thumb itself. Not the most awesome, soothing of nights. <sigh>

On the plus side, my fever is down a notch.

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5 responses to Self-Soothing

  1. Stacey Krusac

    Bummer! Hope your finger feels better! 🙁

  2. That would be the downside of cooking while sick. Sorry! Hope you feel better ASAP!

  3. Oh, sorry about the pain you must feel. I like your list.

  4. French Picnic hopes you are better soon!

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