I am going outside my comfort zone this year. I decided that this would be the year I challenge myself in ways that are uncomfortable. I started this in 2011 by taking up running. I hated running. It was one excercise I didn’t understand but then the opportunity for a free treadmill came my way and I couldn’t refuse. Afterall, I was used to walking a couple of miles a day and since moving to Illinois, I am lucky to walk a few blocks a day. I didn’t want to lose this form of exercise nor my ability to walk a couple of miles without feeling winded.
So I began my stride. I walk quite fast. Often times my husband, when we are walking outside, will tell me to slow down. I don’t like to slow down but I do for the sake of him. My kids, well they have learned to keep pace. I wander though. Somewhere half way through a mile on the treadmill I had the random thought of, “Hey I should try a light jog, just to switch it up”. Now this thought was not so random really. Recently my young cousin ran an 8 minute mile. I thought this was great but then I thought, why can’t I? Thus began my journey on pulling myself out of the comfort zone and into new territory. She inspired me to try, though she may not know it, she did. I’m about 20 years her senior and I refuse to say I can’t do something because, ” I’m getting older and I have arthritis in my hips and yada yada yada.” It just sounds like one big excuse (speaking for myself).
It wasn’t long before I was doing a 10 minute mile and I am slowly getting closer to my goal. I am not planning on running a marathon (though that might be a nice challenge), through this however, I came to the realization that a stagnant life is no life at all. I must stir the pot, challenge myself and go beyond what I think I am capable of.
I am currently reading “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. A great race is the back drop of this book and in this race you face a lot of obstacles. We aren’t talking flat roads and city streets. We are talking big hills and rocks, pushing your body to the extreme. In this book the author talks about Aron Ralston, a rock climber who cut off his own hand when it was pinned by a boulder. Anyways Aron, after crossing the finish said, “You don’t have to be fast, but you’d better be fearless.”
What great words to inspire us to go outside our comfort zone, to dig deep and see just what we are made of. This may come in the form of a marathon for you or it may be as simple as getting up early to paint or do something you have thought about doing but have told yourself you wouldn’t be good at. For me, it mixing in some horror in my writing and continuing without giving up, to write the book I began. Whether anyone reads it, isn’t my concern (though that would be nice), my focus lies in the ‘doing’ of it, not the dreaming. It’s about doing something that stretches me as a person. And as Aron Ralston said, we do not have to be speedy, we can take our time but we have to willing to try very hard and with all that is in us and then some.
One of my art books states that a person who says they can’t draw a straight line, has never taken the time to realize that in art, there are no straight lines. If we drop our suppositions, we can do more than we think. We can reach further than our arms seem to be able to reach.But we have to do it. Talking gets you nowhere.
So to all of those starting new projects, don’t give up, push yourself more and more and soon you’ll look back and realize how far you have gone and be proud that it was through your efforts that you came to be where you are.