One of my long-term goals has been to have a story published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. In order to achieve this, I would regularly check their website for upcoming titles I could submit to.
I would find a suitable topic, write something, second guess myself and finally step out of my comfort zone to actually submit it.
After several warm-up attempts, also known as submissions that didn’t make the cut, I came up with the right story for the right book.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone was the perfect place to tell of an experience I’d had with my granddaughter, Faith.
For this fun-loving girl’s nineteenth birthday, I suggested the two of us go on a water-water rafting trip. It sounded like fun and we were both excited as we made our plans. Little did I know the fear this would induce and how I would react to it.
What happened? My story, titled I Feared for My Life, can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.
The book released this week, and can be ordered from Amazon. You can also get a signed copy directly from me!
I’m thrilled to be a contributor to this amazing book. I had no idea that fighting fear and getting out of my comfort zone could also help me achieve one of my dreams.
So, when you have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, my advice is to just do it! The results could lead to more than you expected.
“Gran, would you like to learn the barn dance?” Emily asked.
We were at an out-of-town Highland Dance Competition and were filling in time as we waited for the earlier group of dancers to finish and her group to be called.
There was a small cloak room just outside of the auditorium and that is where Emily had just taken my husband through the steps of this same dance. I enjoyed watching the two of them and had even taken a few pictures.
It looked like fun but my mind immediately came up with several reasons why I shouldn’t do it. What if someone else saw us? Chances are I’d make a lot of mistakes and look foolish. Would I embarrass myself? I hesitated as these thoughts flashed across my mind.
The hopeful look in Emily’s eyes convinced me to say yes. I stepped into the small room and she took my hand and started to lead me through some simple steps. We repeated them several times.
As I focused on her instructions and not my insecurities, my former concerns disappeared. I had fun and the time passed far too quickly.
Too often I have let my self-doubts rob me from living life to the fullest. I hate to think of all the adventures I have missed. There are so many opportunities that can’t be embraced until I step out of my comfort zone.
I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, but if I was, near the top of my list would be to dance like nobody’s watching, because usually, no one is!
A few crisp brown leaves scutter across my second story deck. The chinook winds have stripped most trees of their leaves. A few, however, seem to refuse to release their once vibrant fall foliage.
I look at one leaf, fluttering wildly to escape as the tree holds on tenaciously. It is inevitable that the leaf will eventually be let go. This is a natural and necessary part of the life cycle.
I understand the reluctance to let go of what has contributed rich colour to my life. There comes a time, however, where holding onto the past prevents me from moving forward. I can appreciate the past and how it has shaped me into who I am today but know I can’t stay stuck there. With gratitude for lessons learned, I now need to focus on what’s ahead.
That doesn’t mean the letting go is easy. Far from it. The familiar is comfortable and feels safe. It may not be exciting or challenging but it also doesn’t involve risk and uncertainty. Unfortunately, this comfort zone prevents me from growing.
Instead of mourning the end of a season, I choose to welcome a new one. Each season has its own beauty and, as the trees are entering a period of replenishment during this time, so shall I. Without past expectations holding me back, I am free to gather knowledge and skills to help me grow.
Like the approaching winter, I have no idea what this season will bring or how long it will last. What I do know, is I will not be the same at the end of it as I am at the beginning. My life will continue to grow and change as new experiences and opportunities are presented and embraced. Let the possibilities begin!
Earlier this week I made a visit to a store that carries my books and something on the wall caught my attention. There, pinned on a corkboard above the manager’s desk was a sketch. It was a small ink drawing of an old van and the detail and shading were exceptional.
I asked about this unassuming piece of art and was told a little about its history and creator. The man who gifted this to the manager did so as a token of appreciation for her kindness. His life had been one of struggle. Things are turning around but the road he travels is not an easy one.
She was impressed with his drawing and asked him to paint seasonal designs on the window of the store. He refused. She offered to provide the materials and pay him for his work. “I’m not good enough to paint pictures people will see,” he said.
“If you don’t do it, I’ll have to print designs on coloured paper, cut them out and tape them to the window,” she replied. Reassurance of his talent was futile. This man had no belief in himself or his abilities. The store ended up with coloured paper designs in their window.
As I listened to the story, I saw a universal problem. Most of us don’t believe in ourselves. No matter what we may hear to the contrary, we just don’t believe we are good enough to follow our dreams.
Until my desire to succeed became stronger than my fear of rejection I was the same. To some extent, I still am. The risk of failure is real. So is the opportunity for success. There are plenty of lessons on the road to achieving my dreams.
I will be forever grateful for the moment I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go for it! Now I know for certain, I am good enough – and so are you.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Henry Ford
The air was warm and the sky a clear blue when my husband and I attended an outdoor concert. A crowded venue left us no choice but to stand in order to see the musicians. We didn’t mind and soon I was swaying to the beat and singing along softly with the lyrics.
After an hour I knew I needed to go for a little walk. Standing in one spot for an extended period was starting to hurt my back. If I didn’t move soon my movements would become painful. Turning to Brian, I said, “I can’t stay in one spot any more, I have to move.”
The words were barely spoken before I saw the analogy to my life. When I enjoy where I am and what I’m doing, I want to stay there. If I stay in one spot too long I get stuck and it becomes difficult, if not painful to move.
Life is not about finding a comfortable rut and settling in. It is about exploring, adventure and reaching for my dreams. None of that is possible if I am stuck in one spot.
Moving is good for my well-being. Not just for my body but also for my mind. When I think I’ve stretched as far as I can it’s time to remember the words of Paul Brandt; “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”