I realized something tonight while trying to offer advice to a friend suffering from the common cold … after eight years in and out of hospitals, on and off of drugs, moving from doctor to doctor, the best medical advice I can offer, the cure for all that ails you is … wait for it … a shot of bourbon!  More precisely, a shot of bourbon mixed with hot water and a spoonful of honey.  It’s what many affectionately call a “Hot Toddy.” But it works.  Really.  It works.*

When I get sick, like I was last week with a nasty flu-ish plague, all I want is comfort.  I want to wrap myself in my big, fluffy cardigan sweater, snuggle under the electric blanket with Sadie at my feet, and comfort my soul with a hot bourbon.  This led me to wonder…when the chips are down, where do we find comfort?

For some of us, it’s our “comfort people.” These are the people who see us at our best and see us at our worst, but love us anyway.  These are the people who we can be honest and vulnerable with, these are the “quality” people, not the “quantity” people.  Comfort people can serve many different needs – I have “I’m having a nervous breakdown”  people, as well as “I could use a good laugh” people, or “I need you by my side to have this difficult conversation” people.

Some of us have a “comfort place.”  You may be thinking, “I bet Lisa’s comfort place is somewhere in nature.”  Ummm … no.  While I find the ocean peaceful and love my annual trips to Big Sur, my true, honest to god comfort place is … Target!  I see the bright red bullseye from the road, and know all of my worries will disappear upon entering the mecca of home goods and toiletries and food and clothes and, well, just about everything you could ever ask for.  (Even a Starbucks!)  I go to Target when I’m happy, I go when I’m sad, and I go when I need toilet paper.  It’s just my comfort place.

Some times we believe comfort is a bad word – as in “You need to get out of your comfort zone!”  While I am a firm believer that, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, I grow when I do the things I think I cannot do (and that is what I hope I teach to my students), there are times in one’s life where comfort is not only ok, but necessary.  For example, my mother still goes with me to every single doctor’s appointment.  Could I go alone?  Yes.  But she has been with me every step of the way and makes me feel safe in the scary world of medicine.

Some of us find comfort in unproductive ways like food (guilty!) and shopping (guilty!).  Some of us find comfort in burying ourselves in work (sometimes guilty), or some even find comfort in exercise (so not guilty!).  These days, for me, I find comfort in family and friends and big red box stores.  Oh, and bourbon!

*A couple of notes…

This blog post should not be interpreted as an endorsement for the use of alcohol to make all of our problems go away, everyone has their own vices and for me it’s bourbon in moderation.  

For all the teetotalers out there – a good vanilla black tea or chamomile tea works just as well.  Don’t forget the honey!*