Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
~ Neale Donald Walsch
At the time I made last year’s resolution (for 2014) to break out of my comfort zone, I didn’t really know what that would mean. Nor did I expect there would be more than one comfort zone involved or that one of them would involve actual streaking.
Yes. I said streaking. As in moving fast in public naked. I talked to Green Diva Meg about it here:
Anyway… I was determined. It was the year of turning 50. I needed to be bolder in what would be the second half of my century.
Becoming a mom 13 years ago was the beginning of my “somewhat isolated” period. Except for the occasional freelance job, I was no longer working. I became a stay-at-home-mom who loved motherhood to no end, but grew tired of the monotony of the mundane. The only thing that saved me was the moms’ groups which opened the door to loads of play dates and socializing. But I longed to interact with people about topics that didn’t involve potty training, frequency of spit up or neighborhood gossip. And once my son entered grade school, the play dates became less frequent. His not being into organized sports meant even less connection with people since sports is such a focus around kids these days.
So I started nurturing a new passion of mine—the environment and green living. I created an environmental awareness for my son’s school when he was in first grade, started a retail business that failed thanks to the 2008 financial crisis, then started writing green for a number of environmental websites including my myEARTH360 blog. I learned how to social media-cize to spread the word even further to the point I can now market myself as a social media consultant (I already had a background in marketing and advertising, so it was a natural progression).
All of this I did from home via the internet, which meant I was here for my son. But not having to leave the house meant lounge wear became my fashion of choice. I rarely put on make-up unless I was going out for the evening—far cry from all my years in school followed by 15 years in an office where I looked my best and interacted with more people than animals.
The problem with all of this is that I’m a social animal by nature and hanging most of the day with just the cats—as entertaining and cuddly as they are—wasn’t really enough for me. Being a homebody is not a stimulating modus operandi for someone like me, yet here I was.
At the end of 2013, I turned 49. My son was about to turn 13. This resolution to break out of my comfort zone(s) was something I was obligated to do if I was going to call myself part of the living.
The comfort zones.
Comfort zone #1 — getting out of the house
Should have been be simple, but I was stuck in homebody mode so it was harder than I thought. Increasing coffee/tea and walks/runs with friends to a minimum of twice a week. Going out in the eve with friends once or twice a month. Check. Working outside of my house at the local coffee shop at least once a week? Not so easy and something I’m still working on. It gets a bit loud and distracting there, but it’s fun to interact with new people I may not have known before… so I need to restart this and turn it into a habit in 2015. People (with the exception of energy vampires) feed my soul.
Comfort zone #2 — doing a podcast
In February, I was persuaded to become part of The Green Divas Radio Show. Me. The “writer not a talker” me who has paralyzing fear of public speaking. I resisted. “I can’t do a podcast! I’m a writer not a talker.” This writer-not-a-talker mantra has been part of me for so so many years. A podcast would be impossible.
But my resistance was run over by persistence on the part of host/producer of the show Green Diva Meg. She believed in me. The comfort zone resolution put the balance in her favor. So I said yes to having my own segment called The Green Divas myEARTH360 Report—a curation of environmental headlines of the week that we would discuss together.
I absolutely sucked at first. Even though it’s all pre-recorded, I was terrified of putting my actual voice out there. The first few podcasts were absolutely horrifying to listen to, my voice monotonous and barely audible. The moments of dead air were cringe-worthy. But Green Diva Meg continued to encourage me. And I kept doing it, week after week.
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.~ Seth Godin
And I got better. I’m no longer terrified. I still have to over prepare to some degree (I am LOST without my notes) and nobody would mistake me for Edward R. Murrow, but, for me, it’s a quantum leap out of my comfort zone!
I visited the Green Divas Studio in the Spring and was included in recording the opening and close of the show plus the featured guest interview (in which I said profound things like “right,” “uh huh,” “cool,” “really?” and “great“). Little did I know that another comfort zone would be tested…
Listen to this full episode of the Green Divas Radio Show…
Comfort zone #3 — being on video
When someone points a video camera on me, I cower. Watching myself on video is excruciating.
But, while at the studio, you know what Green Diva Meg made me do? Be on video. We created a Vine (a six second video that is all the rage) plus a short for The Green Divas website. And because Meg has this magical skill of making people so comfortable in their own skin, I not only did the video, I had fun! She tapped into my grade school aged self when being a famous actress was my dream. In 4th grade, I had written and starred in a play that was performed in front of the entire school.
Okay, I wasn’t acting in the video, but I had lines, which was different from and easier than being on a home video in which I’m supposed to act “natural. We made more video on my second visit and then, for our GDGD Radio crowdfunding campaign (more on that in a minute), I had to create my own video of myself from my computer.
A year ago, this would have been incomprehensible. But I dove right in because I had no choice. It was quite a feat. But, after uncountable takes, I did it. It was a colossal comfort zone breakthrough and, not only that, I did a pretty good job. Okay, so I’m no Oprah and one of my friends said I look like I’m over-caffeinated. But the fact I did it and the end result was not-so-bad is something I’m proud of. And the more I do the better I will become, right?
Comfort Zone #4 — streaking through Chicago
The closest I’ve been to naked in public is wearing a bikini. I’ve never been an exhibitionist. For that matter, I’m not fond of drawing attention to myself period. But, when talking on the show about the People’s Climate March last summer with ClimateMama Harriet Shugarman and Green Diva Meg, I suggested that perhaps these environmental events needed something edgy to get more attention. Why not get a group of people to streak through the march?
I was half serious. And that’s how it all started. I was planning to hit the Chicago Climate March and the conversation turned to me streaking through, which effortlessly evolved into having my body professionally painted with “Green Diva” across my back to double as a PR stunt for our show. But the march only a week away and it would cost at least $300 to have it done. I would need a sponsor and there just wasn’t enough time to pull it together.
Of course, had I the courage and fortitude, I could have pulled it off. But the reality of it scared me. And, what would my 13-year old son think? Not to mention… how could I allow some random, potentially strange guy to paint my naked bod? Yikes!
When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.
~ Stephen Richards
I have since put it out there into the world that I will streak through Chicago if the goal of raising $50,000 for GDGD Radio—the first global digital radio network dedicated to green and healthy living—is reached. I will be sorta naked, wearing nothing but body paint. And probably shoes so I can streak fast. Plus… I understand I need to wear shorty shorts to avoid being arrested (phew!).
This particular comfort zone breakthrough hasn’t been fulfilled and, although I hope we reach our crowdfunding goal, slightly more than half of me hopes we don’t. If I have to do it, the weather better cooperate. Rain will cause the paint to run. Cold will be… cold. Heat will potentially lead to sweating, which will lead to paint running. Help?
Those close to me believe this particular feat is out of my wheelhouse. “You’ll never go through with it!” they tell me. Little do they know, their skepticism has only made me more determined. And who knows, if I can do this (and I will if we hit the goal, guaranteed) maybe I can pose for Playboy’s “Kinda Hot Over 50” Edition (doubt they’d be interested in a 50-year old like me, but… if you’re reading this, Playboy, I would consider it at the right price. Nothing less than a million so I could send my son to college, help GDGD Radio become a household name, give to other organizations that help people and planet, and take a much needed vacation.
Contribute for cool green rewards (including a Hawai’i Island retreat package!) at FundGDGD.com.
Comfort Zone #5 — ???
We’ve hardly scratched the surface of the new year and I’m faced with another comfort zone challenge. It’s big and scary and not something I can disclose at the moment. Wish me luck!
I’m not going to stop breaking through my comfort zones. I have plenty of them and would love to say I tackled them all before my death, if not sooner.
My resolution for 2015? Letting go.
What comfort zones would you like to break out of?
adapted from LynnHasselberger.com