The Comfort Bag

March 28, 2011

I have to admit that when I see other moms who are able to bounce right back into the rhythm of their old lives after having a baby, I find myself somewhat envious. I am struggling to see through the diapers and the late night feedings, the recurrent thrush, and the nasty case of mastitis that landed me in the hospital and briefly interrupted my milk supply.
Of course, no matter how difficult a moment may be with a brand new baby, seeing Landon smile makes everything seem perfect with the world. I am a very firm believer that the only way to get through difficult moments is to create a space, a time where I can find a quick dose of comfort to nurture my soul back and revive my fuzzy mind.
When I was in my second year of university, I discovered a book by Jennifer Louden, The Women’s Comfort Book. I think that I have discussed this book a few times in this space before, but that book is the reason that I take nurturing myself as a mom, as a wife and as a woman so important. Jennifer has these small, quick chapters that give women easy tips on finding comfort in the every day, in changing the attitude from one of thinking of nurturing as self-indulgent (which is what we are unfortunately always taught) to thinking of it as caring for a part of the soul.
My favorite part of that book is the chapter on the comfort bag. I love bags. Love them. I love making them, carrying them, and filling them. Jennifer’s idea of a comfort bag was to fill a space with what one would need in any situation to find comfort. An easy access point to spend 5 minutes or an hour, or a half of a day enjoying something nurturing. To this day I still have the first bag I ever used as my comfort bag. A quilted paisley Vera Bradley with tons of pockets and lots of room for anything I could think of to bring me comfort. It went with me everywhere: work, car, yoga, etc.
Today, Landon’s diaper bag and the boy’s backpack fills up most of my space, so my comfort bag has become the small pillowcase bag I made two summers ago. I love this bag, and the feminine feel and soft look are perfect for my current mood. All that is in it are the essentials for me, for I know that my comfort time may only last a few seconds. The first sweater that I have ever attempted to knit for me is on the needles and safely stowed inside, as is a small bottle of lavender essential oil, my mama shawl, a few tea bags of my favorite new tea, a bag of yummy chocolate covered almonds, the book I am reading (not about parenting, or babies, or education, just something for fun), and my journal. Always my journal.
Quick comfort, essential nurturing and a lot of goodness is one bag can only ever be a positive thing, and it is a great reminder to me that I can carry comfort with me anywhere I ever go. I love being a mother, and a working woman, and a wife, and a ……. but I love being me most of all, and I am never me without a sense of well being. 
So tell me, what would you put into your comfort bag today?

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

samthehamsmom March 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

My comfort bag would be holding a bottle of TUMS, a heating rice bag, cheddar cheese popcorn, a picture of my boy, and an IOU for one morning of uninterrupted sleep! Hope your Rhythm comes back soon Heather~Laura

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Rain March 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm

What a lovely idea! I will look forward to reading that book as soon as I can get my hands on it. Today I have packed a few comfort bags that will carry my through a 10 day solo retreat. One basket (my favorite "bag") full of knitting projects. One bag full of books, journals, and my laptop. And, of course, the barest of necessities. Wishing you many moments of comfort in the coming days!

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Home Baked March 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

That's such a lovely idea. I'm sorry to hear you've been having a rough time of it.
I'm not sure what I'd put in my comfort bag – can I fit two extra hours into it, perhaps?!

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lucy March 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

i have a precious sister enduring the stress of fertility treatment right now, and this post moved me to tears. at first i thought i was crying for me because my life is pretty hard right now but then i knew it was for her….and that this is what she needs to help her. i have a zero budget, but i can pull something together, print out your post and pop it inside and hopefully help her feel nurtured and inspired to find new ways to nurture herself. thanks so much for the prompt!

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Linda March 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Dear Heather,
I do hope you are feeling better my friend, Mastitis is so awful, I have had it with all four of my children. I love the idea of a comfort bag thanks so much for the book link:) I would definately have my knitting or crochet in my comfort bag.
Take care sweet friend
xo xo
Linda

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Sachi March 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I am so sorry about the mastitis. It is really awful. I got it with our third and thought that I had a case of the swine flu. I am glad that you are taking care of yourself–I got it because I clearly was not taking care of myself… In my comfort bad–a really good book. xoxo

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boatbaby2 March 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Ooooo I love this idea. Certain music on the ready that always puts me in my happy place. Dark chocolate. Green passion fruit tea. And, hmmm, how does one pack a long hot shower into a bag?

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Amy March 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm

I love this idea and I already have the bag. Now to plan what to put into it… Stash Christmas Morning Tea (although yours looks delicious!), a craft project, a book, some lavender oil, and definitely a journal. No wonder I enjoy your blog! I must do this though. I think that just looking at it hanging there, waiting, reminding me that eventually I can indulge, will be lovely. I have struggled for years to find the balance between "me time" (really dislike that term for a mother) and time to renew myself. I spend many nights soaking in a tub of lavender oil and epsom salts with a book and a yummy little snack after the little ones are tucked in.
I am sorry to hear that you have had thrush and infection invade your newness. I hope you and baby are feeling better soon.

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mamaacorn March 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm

What a great idea to have a comfort bag! My bag would have a coffee shop gift card, a pair of wool socks, homemade lotion bar and lip balm, my knitting, a rosary, a journal, and a pack of rainbow colored pens.

Sending prayers and healing thoughts your way so you can create new, slower rhythms for this stage of life!

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Camille Dumas Davis March 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

That is the best bag I've seen in awhile. I'm going to copy it straight away. It is so girly and pretty!
Love, Camille

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Its_Lily March 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

tea, raisins, camera, binoculars, small notebook, mesh bag to hold found treasures, pencil, lip balm and a soothing hand lotion. Oh, and a hairband because sometimes my hair bugs me and I just want it out of the way.

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Ashley March 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I love this idea! Your bag is beautiful. I spent a minute thinking about what I'd include in mine, and then realized that I sort of already have a comfort bag. My purse goes everywhere I go, and it carries a small knitting project, my Kindle, my phone (which contains my my music collection), homemade peppermint lip balm, a notebook for knitting notes, recipes, and thoughts, and a hand-embroidered handkerchief. I have a tiny glass vial with a cork that I fill with lavender oil and wear around my neck (I'm actually wearing it now); maybe I'll start keeping it in my purse so I'll always have it. I think I'll make a comfort bag for my uncomfortably pregnant sister – thank you for the inspiration!

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Sarah Jane March 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Oh, my, lady! Wishing you health and rest. I'm liking this comfort bag concept. Just requested the book from the library. I would put in my knitting and journal and book (Pope Joan at the moment) and cheese which I would need to eat sooner than later, but I've been on a cheese kick. Take good care.

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Kerry March 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Feel better soon Mama! My comfort bag holds my knitting, journal and sharpies, my ipod for music and books. Chocolate and tea would also be wonderful… I should add them now!

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Anna March 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

I had mastitis once — no fun at all. Hope you and Landon are feeling better soon, all three of mine had thrush at some point too. I love the idea of a comfort bag. Mine would have Pride and Prejudice, or another book, a journal, dried cherries, my iPod, and my camera.

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kendra March 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

i am sorry to hear you've been sick! i love this idea, and must make myself one right away. ; ) i may even include a little mp3 player with some short meditations to listen to, been searching for time to do that! and embroidery. i love embroidery.

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Twisted Cinderella March 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I really like it!

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Kelly March 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Do you get plugged ducts/mastitis often? I take some herbal things to help with that. I get it a lot. This totally helps. Sorry you had that, it's so hard to take care of the normal stuff, let alone getting yourself sick.

My comfort bag. Hmmm, probably a bar of chocolate, tea bags, a scalp tingler thing I have that feels awesome, bubble bath or bath salts, good book, journal, lavender essential oil, some hand sewing….

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Lacey March 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

this post should go in my bag, because while I hate that you are suffering I remember & realize I'm about to go through the same & if you weren't, it would make my future 'difficulties' all that much more difficult–it is hard to watch others bounce back nearly unaffected by such a monumental change! Thanks again for words of encouragement I know I will use, and help me in the anticipation i'm settled in right now…

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Francesca March 28, 2011 at 10:37 pm

What a beautiful idea. I have a big muma's bag, enough room to fit everything needed for 3 little boys. But, I have little in there just for me. If I could have anything I guess I'd have a book, my iphone with music, the latest new yorker, a thermos of coffee made with oat milk, calm essential oil blend and a cardigan.

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kyndale March 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

ugh, i had thrush with solomon. it was awful. if you need any advise, let me know. one i'd like to mention is gentian violet. take care mama!

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Brittany March 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I love bags, too – though I don't have one dedicated just to me…yet! Thanks for the great idea and for encouraging us to take care of ourselves.

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AG Ambroult March 29, 2011 at 12:21 am

ah, I love this idea. i should fill my bag with all kinds of goodies stat. it's funny because I struggled so much with the idea of nurturing not seeming self-indulgent, but after reading your blog for so long, I have come around to realize that it is actually necessary. For the sanity of all in a household 😉
I now take great pleasure in your "we deserve this" posts and I am the comfort bag's newest, biggest fan. thanks for sharing that, and for influencing my life in such a beautiful way.

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anushka March 29, 2011 at 12:38 am

mmmm….. knitting project, a thich nat hanh book, a lavender eye pillow, meditation cd, a mini photo album of happy times with family here and on the other side. hmm. i think i need to make one of these bags soon! : ) love the idea. hope you're feeling better and can be past the thrush soon and no more mastitis! yipes! one thing i love that i know from reading your blog is that you will allow your family's rhythms to fall into place without a rush and without lasting heartache over things not being the way you would like them to. as soon as you feel better i'm sure it is safe to say we'd all love to see more baby landon pics. be well heather!

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Adrie March 29, 2011 at 1:41 am

Wonderful! Love it. I think I need to go make one right now. Chocolate covered almonds sound like an excellent start, luxury knitting, a book by Mary Oliver, and a tiny journal. Hope you are feeling better – and honestly, I don't think anyone bounces back right away. So terrible that they pretend! Love to you and yours.

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dani March 29, 2011 at 1:42 am

Ugh. I battled thrush and mastitis with my youngest. Not fun at all.

I'm glad you are finding comfort and hope you are on even footing soon.

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Holly Days March 29, 2011 at 2:00 am

What a great idea I'm going to be getting this book. I'd put something to crochet, MP3 player, book, and journal. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful idea and book.
Holly

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Nicola @ Which Name? March 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Who bounces back? I don't know anyone who truly does. Those I think have (at first), I later learn really haven't.
You may have mentioned that book, but I don't remember, so this feels like a new mention to me and I will look for it. Smart woman to have a few little comforts. I am sorry you have suffered some of the early mamma nasties. I hope health has returned!
Warmly, Nicola

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Shivayamama March 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm

There is nothing like a little Mary Oliver to find true comfort.
I hope that you are doing well, and sending you much light and love.
________________________________________

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Nina March 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

my journal. writing and drawing pens. watercolors. lip balm. cuticle cream. a snack. a toy to occupy my son and some crayons. a treat for our dog. some favorite quotes.

your bag is beautiful.

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valarie March 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Love the comfort bag idea. In my comfort bag would be my favorite lipstick color 463, my kindle, kniitting or needle work, and chocolate, the only one true thing that can bring comfort through anything. Thanks for sharing you wonderful idea.

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