The Comfort Zone – A Hump Day Hmmm

My husband is continually amazed by the contrast of me on the page/screen and me in reality. He met me via my words and so thought me this bold, outspoken woman, and though I can be her when I need to be, I am closer to the image that Rodgers and Hammerstein paint of Cinderella, but my little corner is an office that was once a bedroom and my chair sits in front of a Macbook.

I am most comfortable when I can write. I don’t stumble for words (or mispronounce them). No one can hear my slight lisp or the accent that veers back and forth between Southern Iowa and Northern Alberta. Like Cinderella, I can be whatever I want to be. Whether or not that is really me, I haven’t yet discovered.

Almost exactly a year ago, I left the high school where I taught for the last time and headed home to continue purging and packing my belongings and begin my wait for Rob to arrive from Canada. Within a week, the house was near empty and ready for its new owners and we were on our way to a new life in another country.

I am the least adventurous person I know. I am the last person that anyone who knows me would imagine could meet a man on a message board in December and marry him on foreign soil six months later, willing and ready to begin anew.

However, I could write it. The story of love across international boundaries conquering all with a mousy, yet determined, heroine and a sexy, sturdy hero leaping over and pushing aside all manner of obstacles to be together.

But I am living it instead. Minus the mousy. I am shy. Not timid.

Nothing is more terrifying to me than new people and yet I have put myself deliberately in the position of being the new girl over and over most of my life. As blood-curdling as the prospect of a room full of strangers is, I changed schools 5 times in a 20 year teaching career and this was after taking a job in a city where I knew absolutely no one to begin with.

When I came here last June, everyone save Rob and my younger step-daughter, Jordan, was a stranger. Everywhere I went was some place I had never been. And I did a lot of it on my own with only my four and a half year old as back up.

I joined two writing groups, have made myself a regular at the gym and the Starbucks (the only familiar landmark in a Twilight Zone of same yet not same places).

They know me at the grocery, the bank, the child-minding and the school. Maybe not so much a testament to me but to the smallness of our town. Still, I have found a home.

And I write. Send my writing to the world via this blog and MSU and the comments on the blogs of people I have come to know through my initiative and theirs.

My comfortable place is behind the words I write and the stories I dream, but I have and continue to move past and move them out into the world along with myself.

*So what better topic for Hump Day Hmmm this week, eh? Tell us about your comfort zone, outside your comfort zone, and share a journey you took outside your comfort zone…what happened? I think reading each of these stories will pull each of us beyond our own existing horizon, so I really hope for a lot of participation. Let’s even beat last week, which had over a dozen submissions! (I was ecstatic!)

To motivate you even more, I’ll put a prize on the table again: a Morgan Spurlock book or DVD. Choose among his Super Size Me, Don’t Eat This Book, or Season 1 of 30 Days.”

9 responses to “The Comfort Zone – A Hump Day Hmmm

  1. I think some people (like you, apparently) deliberately push themselves because they are aware of their own limitations. That is a great attitude to have.

  2. I am about 50% as bold as I ever hope to be, which means 50% of the time at least I am just that bold…I will say and do those things sometimes.

    Opposite to most, I think I am calmer and quieter in words than in person. More measured, anyway. I live with adjectives such as “intimidating.” So it’s a grass is greener blogoworld, eh?

    But your story is great—and so true: when it is worth it to us in some way, we will step boldly forward and out of the comfort zone. What a great depiction of that you are living and telling.

  3. my comfort zone never used to include the unknown. then four years ago I was forced to use 4 weeks of my leave as I had accumulated too much. this was during a 9 month period when stephen and I were ‘on a break’ and I was severely depressed.

    knowing I would be a basket case if I stayed home alone I took the plunge and signed up to teach english in a vietnamese orphanage for 4 weeks. As a volunteer, you pay your own airfare and a fee for food and accommodation. GVN supply a house, a cook and a translator

    I shared the house with 3 much younger american girls taking gap years which was a lot of fun. It was one of the best things I have ever done though I was terrified beforehand – wondered if I had sold myself into white slavery or if I would be staying in a dirty hovel and end up with dysentery.

    the kids in the orphanage taught me so much more than I taught them. we were stationed in a one horse town where the electricity was turned off several times a week and government propaganda was piped through loudspeakers twice a day. I ate pigeon soup and fertilised duck eggs and bathed in a bucket, bicycled everywhere, gave a speech at government headquarters and was invited to unveil a new school.

    cried when I had to leave them but signed up again in 2006 and took over donations to get dental care for all 86 children. spent 3 months of 2007 trying to learn vietnamese at night school before heading back there again in june last year.

    with stephen dying last september this has been a very tough year so I’m having a holiday instead of returning to vietnam because the work can be quite taxing with lesson plans etc.

    so am stepping outside my comfort zone again and heading off alone to spain next week. I’m not scared at all, more exhilarated at the thought of trying something new. and I’m going to meet up with two blogging pals for the first time while there – azahar who lives in sevilla and daisyfae who is joining us from the states.

    what comfort zone? I think mine encompasses the world now…..

  4. I experience you as bold and audacious, and sometimes even intimidating- how odd is that? I’ve never met you, but I think I know you in some way. Your description of yourself is fascinating, and I heartily approve of you writing your own story, then living it, as it were. Kinda like throwing your heart over the fence, and hoping the horse will follow. Keep following your words (maybe out to Vancouver Island some day…).

    Sally

  5. It seems that writing provides you a stable foundation for your ‘outreach’. I also like the distinction between “timid” and “shy”. Clearly, you are not timid!

    For me? i’m pretty comfortable in a wide range of circumstances, am the classic ‘extrovert’ (gaining energy from people and human interaction). Writing – at least moving into the blogosphere – has been just another tool in the communication/reflection arsenal. i shall remain in constant battle with self-doubt regarding my worthiness, but it feels good out here. And it’s become yet another way to connect to people – globally – and that feeds my ‘connection jones’.

    Will try to take a run at a “Hmmmm”, but it’ll depend on how the rest of my week settles down…

  6. That’s a whole lot of discomfort for something that probably well makes up for all of it.

    I think many bloggers are far braver and tougher on paper than in real life. I have a friend who tells these stories. And he’ll say, “And I was like,’blah blah blah, something outrageous and brave blah blah blah.” “Really? You actually said that?” “No,” he’ll answer, chagrined. “But I thought it.” That’s how blogging seems to work, too.

  7. Ohhh, I identify with your post. You are very brave! I didn’t see this in myself until I read this, I am most comfortable in the written word.

    That’s why when my husband mentioned he’d like more friends, I simply looked over at him before he added, “in real life.”

    Oh well. Thanks for a great post!

  8. As someone who also feels more comfortable expressing herself through the written, as opposed to spoken, word (and who also met her husband online), I really related to this. Thanks for a great post!

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