Well, today I have decided to explore my comfort zone and saying it out loud makes me really uncomfortable, if I am completely honest. I started writing this last night and got as far as the words “comfort zone” before I stopped. I came home to a warm house, free of humans, with my mind set on decompressing from the twelve-hour work day. The sky was gray and low hanging clouds blanketed the mountains ordinarily visible to me at this time of day from my kitchen table. The rain played a rhythmic cadence on the roof as I watched raindrops hit the pavers out back. What a perfect evening to feed Swaggy, eat a quick breakfast for dinner, get out the journal and write. And it was perfect until the pen guided me into my comfort zone. Suddenly, I felt an urge to check those emails and surf the social media sites like the millennial generation I love so dearly. Now, I am asking myself why we call the place a “comfort zone” at all.
In general, I think we (and that includes me) use this phrase interchangeably with phrases like “safe space” or “safe place” because we need to believe that such a place exists. I believe that each of us has a need for an inviting, soothing environment to release negativity, pain, confusion, chaos, busyness and the noise. My objective in my comfort zone is to quiet the external sounds and oil the cranking internal mechanisms in the process. The goal when I enter my comfort zone is to embrace a mindful decision to permit myself to escape the realities of my external world and the conditions I have owned internally as a consequence of those external realities. I aim to inhale a continuous dose of selfish, self-absorbed moments until I experience a pleasurable exhaustion.
When I use my outside voice to talk about my comfort zone, I envision my protective, safe place as a clear, pliable, transparent bubble that surrounds my physical self. I am challenged in this moment to evaluate why I have difficulty achieving my complete escape from the noise and busyness even when I enter my comfort zone. I think the seal that holds my bubble securely is often compromised by stuff or maybe the parasitic stuff latches onto my thoughts and rides into my comfortable space. Whatever the method of entry, the comfort zone is not the ideal, euphoric space I envisioned when the randomness surfaces: the appointment I forgot to schedule, the memory of the one thing I forgot to buy at the grocery store, or the thought about the unresolved thing that drove me into the zone in the first place.
In addition to the parasites riding into the comfort zone with me, I knowingly bring some crap along for the ride too like caffeine, food, and the remote control. Don’t judge. I’m keeping it 100. (That means real and truthful for those who need a little clarity on that phrasing.) Apparently, distractions and complexities control my life outside of the bubble to the extent that I often use them like security blankets; I pack them in my comfort zone tote and excitedly usher them into my escape.
I have found that zumba and Bikram Yoga are probably the only activities that have afforded me the ability to disconnect from my thoughts about things other than the music or breathing during the intended healthy escape. Some people find their comfort zones while jogging for exercise. When I did jog, my goal was to burn calories that I could replace with food which might explain my daughter’s observation that prompted her to ask, “Mama, why is it some people run and get a good workout and you come home with everybody’s life planned out?” She was right. Running never relaxed my mind or cleared my head. When I ran, I just had time away from other people and things so that I could plan. Even when I make self-care the primary goal, I find that I struggle with detaching from the things and the stuff. Maybe I will need to take myself through a mental exercise of going off the grid for any amount of time that I want to be in my comfort zone. Just turning off the cell phone does not separate me from the last call or text I received or that notification I didn’t check. There are days that my thoughts flow continuously and wake me from my sleep. I have even noticed that my sleep patterns have changed. I wonder if the early rising is due to my creative energy and passion to be a fixer for the young people in my world or if I’m just living that pre-menopausal life. Ha! At any rate, I know that I have to learn to stop at the threshold of my comfort zone and lighten the tote. Out with the phone and the virtual attachments it harbors. Out with the people problems “left” at my office that I need to fix. Out with the snacks that will surely give me the aftermath of pleasure and regret. Out with the shallow breathing reserved for moments of panic and shock. Out with fear. Out with pain. Out with disappointment. Out with insecurities and doubt. Somewhere beneath the virtual noise and the unhealthy diet of regret, pain, disappointment, insecurity and doubt there lies positivity, promise and purpose.
I have decided to enhance my vision board to include these words: positivity, promise and purpose. I need to see them regularly, or at least as often as I see those other words that clutter the space in my tote. If you know me, you know how much I love totes. I refer to my totes as “mama bags” because I have solved some world crises with the contents of my totes. LOL! This narrative makes me wonder if the practice of loading and redesigning the organization of my totes to make room for more things I need to carry for myself and the potential needs of others trained me to do the same internally. On some profound, artistic, analytical level, that makes good sense to me. Maybe it’s time to pare down and carry a much smaller bag.