Waking Up in a Different Time Zone

One day I fell asleep in North Carolina and several months later, just like on TV, woke up in California. But unlike your favorite series, it wasn’t a clean cut. It wasn’t easy or without pain.  If you are still with me after this extended hiatus you are either very patient or, more likely, related to me but either way thanks for hanging around. We’ll now resume where we left off, tackling the 100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU GROW UP. This week’s challenge is to STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

Let’s be honest, this is pretty much a staple of adulthood. As you get older you realize that you can somewhat design your life to minimize encountering situations that require you to step outside your comfort zone. I was probably 24 years old before I realized that I actually didn’t have to ride roller coasters if I didn’t want to.  But with this challenge I feel like I’ve stumbled onto what is probably the existential test of the average person’s life: how to balance comfort and security with continued growth and purpose. Now, I’m no self-help expert so if you are expecting me to give you some timely tools to help you with this I’m going to assume that you are new to this blog and assign you the chore of reading the earlier posts and then going to the library for the latest self-help title.

The book suggests trying a new food, talking to someone you’ve never met, or exploring somewhere you’ve never been.  It says you’ll never know what you’re truly capable of until you push beyond your boundaries a little bit.  I agree. I’ve gotten better at trying new foods as I’ve aged, I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes I am that person who chats up the next person in line and I like to explore places I’ve never been.  These are good comfort zones to expand as a kid.  Life as a military spouse requires a fair amount of time outside the comfort zone. I have learned a couple of things, both as a military spouse and just a participant in life. 1. Discomfort is okay, it’s temporary and usually not as bad as you expected. 2. Always look forward.  My kids know that “Don’t look back” is a long-standing motto of mine, usually deployed upon seeing an animal hovering at the edge of a highway. If we can’t stop something from happening without hurting ourselves our best recourse is to not look back. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t torture yourself over things you can’t change. 3. Who am I kidding? I don’t have a number three.

Sometimes pushing yourself means trying tripe or attending a conference where you know no one. Other times life gives you a push.  For the first time in 27 years I am living in a house without any of my kids. Not only do they not live with me, they live on the other side of the country. Now, I know that many people have it much worse. I have friends living in other countries that put their college student on a plane in August and don’t see them again until June. Comparing one person’s trials against another’s is a long and deep rabbit hole that I have no interest in digging.  What I’m saying is that I am outside my comfort zone and I’m doing ok. Next week I’ll spend the first Thanksgiving, since I had kids, without kids.   But, I’m happy that they will all be together. And, I know that we will all be together again. I’m embracing the discomfort, enjoying time as an empty nester with my co-empty nester, and not looking back. It’s been exciting to watch as my little people have developed into big people. More importantly, developed into good people. The kind of solid people that you spend a lifetime of love and patience, mistakes and worry, pain and joy, hoping you’ll end up with.

So, how big is your comfort zone?  Are you a roller coaster rider? A raw fish eater? An empty nester?  I’d love to hear your experiences. If you did look back on that road and what you saw wasn’t pleasant please keep it to yourself and I won’t say I told you so.

Before you go…I’m well aware that “don’t look back” could be construed as encouraging denial as a coping tool.  Your point is?

 

Much Appreciated

I’ve had a good time working my way through all of these challenges.  Obviously, some are more fun than others.  If you’ve ever sewn on a button you know that it’s not for entertainment. But, I have to say this challenge was the best.  I’m not exaggerating when I say we have been a Marine Corps family for a long time.  Other than the occasional reduced hotel rate, we don’t really take advantage of a lot of the available military discounts.  Then we discovered, after attending a Military Appreciation Day hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes, that they are not exaggerating about their military discount.  This time last year I sat in the best seats I’ve ever had at a professional sporting event. I spent more the year before for seats that were so high up we had to wear an extra layer of clothing. As I called my hockey-loving brother, Daryle, from PNC Arena to wish him a happy birthday I just knew that he had to come with me the next year for his birthday.  Fast forward 365-ish days and here we are.

darylevalhockey
Happy birthday, Daryle!
As an adult, I’ve never lived close enough to a professional sports team to be able to attend regularly and become one of the local fans.  I’m hoping that if someday I do have a local home team that it still generates the same feeling.  There’s nothing like entering a stadium or arena for a sporting event.  The excitement feels electric.  I particularly love it when the players enter.  The music, the introductions, the spectacle. It’s awesome.  This particular game was especially exciting because not only did I get to share it with my brother and my kids but we had really great seats!

bench
View of the ice from our seats!
You know you are in for something special when the guy who looks at your tickets to tell you where your seats are located says, “You’ve got great seats.” When I bought our tickets I wanted to get something up close, center ice.  Well, I succeeded.  We were on the second row behind the opposing team’s bench.   If I had it to do again I’d buy seats a few more rows back.  The seats I purchased were row D which to me equated to the fourth row, not the second.  But, no one was complaining. It was pretty awe-inspiring to be so close.

So, there you have it.  The best challenge yet.  Impressive athletic feats, rockin’ songs to get you pumped up, t-shirts floated down in parachutes from the rafters and a brother who traveled half-way across the country to share it with me.  I realized that, all of the excitement aside, what makes these events even more memorable is that I always get to enjoy them with the people who I love most in the world.  Building relationships and making memories.  I think that’s what this life is really all about.

Before you go…even though we had a great time we did not get to celebrate a Hurricanes victory.  The defeat did not discourage the usual heckling idiot fans. And, don’t think just because we had great seats that we weren’t going to have to listen to it.  I’m never a fan of the loud-mouth who yells during the game but occasionally you’ll find one that, while annoying, is at least begrudgingly funny.  Our trio of fools couldn’t even come up with a good taunt.  On the upside, they did not curse.  But, on the downside, repeatedly yelling, “You’re the worst!”, with an intermittent “You’re literally the worst!” thrown in for emphasis is just embarrassing.  I’m not trying to encourage more negativity in the world but study up on your insults if you are going to try to insert yourself into the game.