Expanding the Zone

In my last post, I said that starting Eden Design took a leap of faith. What I didn’t mention, is how absolutely terrifying that was. 

If you were to ask my teenage son to describe me, I am quite certain that he would say that I’m overprotective and in most situations go directly to the worst-case-scenario. Unfortunately, I can’t disagree with that assessment. Even though one part of me wants to be adventurous and fearless, my brain would rather spew as many “what-ifs…” that it can before I have to force it to stop. It’s funny to me how we are able to continuously hold within us conflicting perspectives — one says “Stay here, it’s cozy and safe” and the other says “Leap!”

Having to navigate these two feuding parts of me is an ongoing battle that has resulted in great successes and good tries, but rarely a complete failure, or as I often fear – certain death. I’m only half-kidding on that last one. I want to expand beyond my comfort-zone but sometimes it is SO hard.

COMFORT ZONE: a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

Why would we ever want to leave our safe place or intentionally cause ourselves stress? Expanding out of your zone and “challenging yourself pushes you to dip into and utilize your personal store of untapped knowledge and resources. You have no idea what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside of your own familiar world.” (Psychology Today)

And, according to some actual scientific results on Lifehacker.com, “taking risks can help you respond better to stress and be more creative.”

Birds of Inspiration

My sculptor friend Scott Cawood gave me this when I started Eden Design. It says “You can stay on this limb for the rest of your life, or you can spread your wings and fly!”

The base of Humphreys Peak, Flagstaff, AZ

The key, I believe, is to recognize your fear, greet it, explore worst case scenarios, pretend that you have some control over the outcome, and then take the leap. 

Here are a few things that I’ve done to expand my comfort zone:

  • After a lifetime of swearing I would never try running as a sport,  I was inspired to start running about six year ago when my son and husband started. I’ve since completed several half marathons, a 32K trail run in sub-freezing temps, and multiple smaller races. I’ll never forget how many butterflies I had before my very first 5K at Freedom’s Run. Am I ever going to win a race? Probably not but I make sure I enjoy every minute of the view along the way.
  • Last year, I started taking voice lessons with the amazing Andrea Diggs at Ellsworth Music and even sang at their holiday recital. IN. FRONT. OF. PEOPLE. Am I going to be the next Beyonce? Absolutely not. But my car karaoke skills have definitely approved. 
  • This spring, I started a yoga teacher training program at Jala Yoga. This is an 8-weekend program that is teaching me the intricacies of the poses but also the philosophy and Sanskrit language behind it. I haven’t been in school since I graduated college so having to study and memorize is definitely working some new muscles. Pun intended. 
  • And, just a few weeks ago, I attempted to reach great heights by hiking some mountains in Arizona. 
Humphreys Peak

The hike to Humphreys Peak. What you can’t read is this warning that basically says you’re most likely going to die so be ready to try to rescue yourself.

It turns out that one of my biggest fears (heights) is still in full swing and I’m not sure I’m going to overcome it anytime soon. My fearless husband, Patrick, was mostly patient with me when as we’d just get to the “good part” of the hike I would basically breakdown with vertigo and the overwhelming feeling of falling through the earth. This also meant that I could barely look at the Grand Canyon and could only view the cliff dwellings of Walnut Canyon from very far away. Even three year olds were walking down that canyon! Obviously, this is something I need to work on.

And, writing these posts is DEFINITELY out of my comfort zone. But with each one it gets a little bit easier.

Want to get out of your comfort zone and try something new? I’m so inspired by these friends and family:

  • Our own Molly Bloom has been taking piano lessons but has yet to serenade me
  • My friend Carol of Green Bamboo Skincare sets fantastic goals for herself – one year it was biking the entire C&O Canal, one section at a time. She has travelled to all 50 US States, is in the process of visiting all the WV State Parks, and one day hopes to reach her seventh continent – Antarctica!
  • My friend Allyson has been taking improv lessons (listen about it on her podcast, Episode 2)
  • Ali, probably my most fearless friend, is currently training for a 110 mile trail run.
  • In 2016, my extremely dedicated sister-in-law Kate took the Chief’s Challenge to hike 100 miles in WV State Parks and now continues to hike several times a week.
  • My friend B and her husband are training for a 50K run/hike to celebrate her 50th birthday. 
  • And, I don’t think my parents are really afraid of anything. I’ve taken them on crazy hikes, kayak trips, and snorkeling adventures and they are always game.

Spring is the perfect time to set a new challenge for yourself — have something in mind? Let me know about it so I can cheer you on!

Sunset Crater

The start of our hike up O’Leary’s Peak that gave us this cool view of Sunset Crater.

Lava Tubes

I may not be great at heights but going underground doesn’t seem to bother me. Here we are on the descent into the Lava Tubes.

The money shot that made the hike worth it. That mountain in the distance is Sunset Crater and you can see partly into the crater.