Let's get uncomfortable: stretching your comfort zone

My daughter was six weeks old on September 11, 2001. Like many parents that day, I held her tightly in my arms trying to banish the wonder of into what kind of world we’d just brought a child. She’s now in high school and, as the recent attacks around Paris took place, we’ve been discussing her traveling abroad with a school trip. What I want to do is hold her in my arms and believe that I can keep her forever safe from increasing terrorist attacks. What I know that I need to do is step out of my comfort zone and keep encouraging her to see the world.

instagram.comWhen you experience loss at an early age, time becomes priority.  The harsh reality of its fragility creates urgency for jumping into life: the necessity to travel the world, taste exotic foods, kiss passionately, and love completely. Some become thrill-seekers, others -like myself- feel its importance, yet root one foot in a safe zone.

I can confidently venture down a path untraveled just over the border of my comfort zone, and then I retreat to what is safe.

They say that issues you’re struggling with always show up on your yoga mat: balance, breath, patience. Today my struggle was expanding my comfort zone. It’s one thing to balance when your eyes are focused on the path, it’s another to direct your attention elsewhere and trust your grounding and stability still exists.

Really, what was the worst that would happen? I’d lose my balance? I’d fall over on my mat?

There was nothing threatening, but my perceived threat of losing control. Adverting my eyes away from what’s comfortable presents no true risk, except the knowledge that I’m letting go.

parisIn my lifetime I’ve traveled to thirty states, 20 countries, and three continents. I’ve hiked a Sicilian volcano and seen the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve dipped my hand into Bioluminescent Bay and eaten fresh fish on a Santorini beach. I’ve navigated the Paris Metro alone and I’ve danced and sang on stage.  None of these uncomfortably threatened my comfort zone.

Watching my two teenage children grow up brings me to the edge daily.

I’ve hoped they would grow up wanting to travel the world, share a meal with locals, experience new cultures, and dare to seek adventures.

And now here we are.

Driving soon, traveling abroad (without us), college in the all too near future, and desires to seek their own adventures.

I’ve been so busy preparing them, that I forgot to prepare myself.

The limits of our comfort zone are meant to be stretched. They’re tugged and obscured through adventures we choose, and even those that, uninvited, find us.

Sometimes we cross the safe zone not by moving, but watching those we love expand theirs.

It’s not my job to determine the boundaries of my children’s comfort zones. It’s my job to help them trust that they can take their eyes off what’s safe and look toward their next path.

Bridge photo credit

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