Our little family made the 24+ hour car ride from Montana to Michigan, which is the first leg of our tour toward surgery. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared. The girls were very good, we sang songs (Frozen and Annie- sorry Tom), we had lots of junk food, and we drove late into the night to take advantage of the hours where the kids were sleeping. Tom and I had the chance to talk a little, or rather whisper back and forth, when children were sleeping. Otherwise we were fussing over Google Maps and keeping busy restarting movies on iPads and settling arguments over who got more Pirates’ Booty.
Something that helped the journey go smoothly is that both girls watched the same movie almost the entire trip. For Elle, it was Zootopia. Sophie stuck with her old standby, Frozen. Sophie won’t wear headphones so that means I got to listen to Frozen about 20 times in a row. So that was fun. No matter how hard we tried to persuade her to try out Ariel or Elmo (give our ears a break please, kid!) she kept going back to Frozen.
I was about to write that I cannot understand why or even how children can do that until I realized that it actually makes a lot a of sense. Adults do the same thing. It’s not as basic as watching the same film, but we do stick with what we know and what is comfortable, repeating the same behaviors and responses that we have developed over the course of our lives. It may not be the best choice that we roll out time and time again, but it is familiar. It’s what we know and to some extent it’s what works for us. That familiarity lends itself a great deal of comfort and security, just like those two sisters working out their complicated relationship on an icy tundra. From an early age, we are drawn to the safe and familiar and I think it’s rare that we risk moving outside those boundaries because of how uncomfortable and scary it feels.
Obviously, cancer pushes you outside those boundaries. So does taking leaps in business, relationships, personal health and wellness, etc. For me, it’s always like there is an alarm that goes off, growing louder and more insistent the further I get from my comfort zone. For example, right now I’m sitting with a major business decision and those alarms haven’t stopped for weeks. I can’t say it’s because it’s a bad decision, it’s just a scary one, and almost every molecule in my body wants to pull me back into my comfort zone. I find myself unconsciously meditating on the uncomfortable, the unresolved, because my whole body just cannot be restful when the spooky unknown is floating around out there.
In the battle of comfort or growth, I used to cling to the familiar. But today, I want more than familiarity. Today, I want fantastic.
But of course that’s because I now know, through living it, that nothing spectacular happens at the shallow end of the pool. I’m going through something painful. I’m super uncomfortable. But I’ve seen who shows up when you’re in it and what amazing opportunities there are to build an incredible life. I know that beautiful and incredible things happen when you stick it out, even though I’m less than half way through this thing. The little battles I’ve won along the way and the manner in which my heart has opened and expanded confirms that sticking with the mission yeilds incredible results if we are brave enough to try.
That doesn’t make it easy though. It isn’t. Sometimes is downright awful and overwhelming and yucky. And you have to accept that you will need help. You have to welcome help with just as broad of arms as you welcome the change. It requires humility, vulnerability, and more patience than you can imagine, but it’s there if you ask for it. There are people our there who want to see you succeed. And the people who don’t? Yes, they’re out there, too. Cut ’em loose. You’ll both be better for it.
I know there are so many other people out there who are just like me. People fighting for something bigger, wanting to push the boundaries to see just how meaningful and rewarding life can be. My Facebook feed is full of people pressing forward- people celebrating major moves they made, relationships they entered into, addictions they conquered, business they’ve built, children they are raising. They are an inspiring bunch. It makes me feel less alone and even a bit more comfortable (see how that works?) with my efforts to be daring. It’s a community of bravery and it’s really exciting to be a part of it all.
So I’ll take from them the courage to keep going. I’ll keep pressing forward because while I don’t always know how I’m going to get there, I know where I’m headed. I know what I want this to look like, and backward ain’t it. Plus, lucky for me, cancer doesn’t give you a choice. Forward is the only way out.
So forward and out of that comfort zone I go. From here, I’ll try to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Normalize and reprogram the scary, I guess. Maybe it will work out spectacularly, maybe I’ll fall on my face. Either way, I had enough guts to try. And honestly, I’m sincerely proud of that on its own.
Give ‘Em Hell.