Busting Out of My Comfort Zone

As part of my vow to embrace life a little more and focus on The Stuff That Truly Matters, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal comfort zone and how I need to push myself out of it a little more often than I have been. I know for me, too much comfort leads to complacency and just plain old fashioned laziness. I do better when I’m pushing myself just a little bit. After all, it’s only through life’s challenges that we grow and become better people.

My running is a perfect example. I’ve been running a lot these past 7 months or so. Ever since this year began and I promised myself that I would focus more on running (what with not having a wedding plan and all), I’ve been doing a good job of getting out there and hitting the pavement on a regular basis. It’s been good for me on a number of different levels.

Up until recently I was going out there and basically just doing what I felt like in terms of my runs. I haven’t been pushing myself to go further, to be faster, or be stronger. Granted, these things have been happening anyhow, slowly and gradually, but not in any big way. No, in order to be able to run further, I need to push myself to run longer distances, to go a little bit further than I feel comfortable doing. In order to get faster, I need to hit up some hill training. I need to push myself to actually run faster than it feels comfortable for me. I’ve been focusing on these things a little more lately and I’ve been rewarded by feeling stronger and faster. Yes, it sucks to push myself at the time that it’s happening, but in the long run I’m happy that I did it.

The same applies to all aspects of life. In friendships, in my job, in my marriage. In all of these areas if I continue to happily hang out in my comfort zone, there’s no way that these things will challenge me and help me to improve. And if we’re not improving, if we’re not learning and growing, then what’s the point of life?

Breaking out of our comfort zones is never easy. It’s…uncomfortable. But when you feel that old familiar discomfort arising, all that means is that you need to keep pushing forward. That’s exactly what I intend to do.

challenge&change

The Stuff That Truly Matters

I’ve written recently about CBG and I have been going through a bit of a “low period” together lately. I don’t even know if “low period” is really an apt description; it’s one of those things that has been difficult to define.

We’ve just lost a bit of the spark we once had. And I’m not even just talking about that old “marital spark” either (though that’s certainly part of it). I’m actually talking about life in general. We’ve been allowing life to…wear us down. Just a little bit. We’ve been so caught up in the details and obligations of life, that we’ve allowed certain things to fall by the wayside. Things that not so long ago, played a much bigger role in our lives.

Fun.

Spontaneity.

Passion.

Creativity.

Enthusiasm. 

Joy.

We’ve been just going through the motions in a lot of areas, allowing the practical, un-fun, un-passionate parts of life become bigger than they need to be. To the point where we often find ourselves so worn out at the end of the day, or week, that we just don’t have the time or the energy for The Stuff That Truly Matters.

And I’ll be honest, this is not the life that I want. I don’t want to be one of those people who just goes through the motions of life, with only the smallest glimpses of fun and passion. Because honestly, it’s not like I have huge, unrealistic expectations. I want a life that includes daily laughter. Fun experiences. The occasional adventure and memorable moments. I want to formulate goals and work to achieve them. I want to inspire others, if even in just a small way. I want to embrace creativity. I want the kind of contentment that comes from doing good and loving others. From challenging myself in all ways.

These are not impossible goals. But they were quickly becoming impossible if CBG and I stay on the path that we’ve started down. A path that places a little too much importance on things we “should” do. A path that requires so much mental and emotional energy that there’s not enough left for all the other stuff. The Stuff That Truly Matters. Because sure, having a clean bathroom is great and all, but I’m not going to remember all those times that the bathroom was completely spotless and there weren’t any dirty dishes in the sink. What I will remember are the adventures that were had, the joy that was felt, and the zest for life that my husband and I continued to cultivate throughout our lives.

From here on in, I vow to seek out passion, inspiration, joy, creativity and spontaneity wherever possible, and be just enough of a responsible grown up to take care of the important stuff, and remain a curious, enthusiastic kid at heart for everything else.

Because life is too short to spend it constantly cleaning the bathroom. After all, it’s only going to get dirty again.

And then some other days….

So Tuesday was kind of a rotten day.

I’ll spare you all the details, but basically we got a piece of news that threw me into a bit of a tailspin. This news left me feeling defeated, like the air had been let out of me. I’m sure you know the feeling. Kind of like a punch in the gut that leaves you feeling absolutely exhausted.

I do my best to be a positive person. But I’ll be honest — it’s something I have to work at. I’m just not one of those people that positivity comes to naturally. I’ve made a lot of progress in this area in the last several years of my life, but every once in a while something comes along that drags me down again.

And Tuesday happened to be one of those days. I allowed one single thing to drag me down to the point where I just felt like giving up. It felt like everything I’ve been working for in the last few years had just been for nothing. A little voice in the back of my head told me that there really wasn’t any point to any of it, that I needed to give up on unrealistically wanting more and just resign myself to a ‘less-than’ existence.

Oh, it was ugly, alright.

I won’t tell you that CBG talked me down off the negativity ledge, because he didn’t. When I get in that particular head space there’s not really any talking me out of it. In fact, I become like a drowning person who frantically grabs onto the person closest to me and drags THEM down with me, too.

No, instead of trying to buoy me up with positivity, he simply got out of my way. He let me know that I was allowed to feel what I was feeling, but that I needed to go feel it someplace else, and not pull him down with me.

It was exactly what I needed.

A nice run the next morning gave me the opportunity to sort through everything in my head. It gave me the chance to work through what I was feeling, and more importantly, why I was feeling it. I realized that I’d been resting a great deal of my immediate happiness on a very thin wire. And then that particular wire snapped, leaving me feeling utterly defeated.

Once I was able to step outside of myself and work through it, I realized how silly I had been the day before. Sure, we suffered a bit of a setback, but it absolutely wasn’t the end of the world. And sure, I could be unhappy about this setback, but a) that unhappiness wasn’t going to make anything better, and b) I have plenty more things to base my happiness on.

I returned from my run feeling light, determined, and energized. I had a whole new outlook and found myself determined to tackle this obstacle head on…to do what needed to be done so we could just keep on keeping on. The best part of all is that I don’t have to do any of this alone. I have my very own partner in crime, who knows when to step back so I can have the time and space to re-adjust my crappy attitude and get back to living.

Look out world, here we come.

Some days…

Some days, no matter how hard you struggle, it just feels like life is beating you down. There’s no amount of positive thinking and “looking on the bright side” that’s going to make it better.

Some days you get a punch in the gut from life that reminds you that maybe all this positive thinking crap is just that — crap. And sure, maybe you can keep yourself afloat for a little while but sooner or later, you’re just going to get dragged down by it all.

Some days it’s really tough to see the point of it all.

Some days you just want to crawl in bed, yank the covers over your head and pretend that everything is fine. Even though pretending doesn’t actually change anything. Maybe pretending even makes it just a little bit worse.

Some days you just wish desperately for a magic answer. Even though you figured out a long time ago that magic doesn’t exist. It’s all just illusion and that’s not really the same thing at all.

Some days you’ve just wear you down. Do better, tomorrow. I can’t do another day like today.

Half-Assing It

The end of last week wasn’t exactly the most stellar in my world. A single incident between CBG and I triggered a couple of ugly arguments between the two of us. I’ll spare you the details, in the interests of both privacy and the fact that, as is often the case, the things were were arguing about weren’t really the things we were arguing about.

Gotta love how that works, right?

Also — it got ugly. Ugly in that way where you start questioning everything that’s happened in your relationship to lead you up to this particular point. Ugly in the way that pushes you toward something that logically really makes no sense whatsoever, but in desperation you’re just not sure what else to say or do.

Bah.

The good news is that several days of communication, tears, laughter and love means that here, on Monday, we’re in a much better spot than we were three or four days ago. But we still have lots of work to get where we ultimately need to be.

I know what you’re thinking. “But Sunshine! You and CBG haven’t even been married a whole year yet! What the blue hell is going on here?!”

I’ll tell you exactly what’s been going on here. I realized something important about us over the weekend. We’ve been half-assing it. Life. Our relationship. Ourselves. Our goals. Everything. The thing is, CBG and I haven’t stopped to sit down and figure out life as it is right now. For so long we were ‘long-distance Sunshine and CBG’….just trying to get from visit to visit and make life bearable in between. Sure, we sometimes worked on our own personal goals when we were apart, but The Big Picture was always about our long-term dream of being together full time. And to a smaller extent life was also about getting the most out of the time we did have together. Carpe diem and all that jazz.

And then, when CBG made the decision to move here, we quickly moved into planning mode. Life became focused on all the details involved in starting a new  life together here. Finding CBG a job, getting a place to live, selling his house back home, moving him here and on and on. The process itself took almost a whole year, from beginning to end.

Before this was even over, we launched straight into wedding planning. Our focus became everything wedding related as we worked to ensure that our day was exactly what we wanted.

And then, once all that was over, we were very much looking forward to just relaxing together. No more long distance relationship. No more moving. No more wedding planning. The truth is that we took our “relaxing” a little too seriously. We both kind of just sat back and didn’t really do much of anything. Sure, we’ve been dabbling at some personal goals, but we’ve both been lacking a certain zest for life, particularly in the last six months or so. We’ve been going through the motions — at home, at work, and especially in our marriage. The Sunshine and CBG who used to squeeze every bit of fun out of their time together have been more than content to just sit on the couch and allow life to continue on around them.

Sure, there’s something to be said for “just being”. But there’s enjoying the moment and then there’s  allowing the moment to just happen all around you while you just kind of idly watch it happen. And we’ve definitely been spectators more than we’ve been participants.

And you know what? It’s got to stop. We’ve been taking a half-assed approach to life lately. An approach that’s been slowly wearing both of us down to the point that finding and enjoying those moments of joy have been a lot more difficult. And you know what? This is not the way it’s supposed to be. This is NOT the life that CBG and I fought so hard to have together. We owe it to long-distance Sunshine and CBG to make this life that we have together a whole lot better than this.

I’m not going to let them down. No more half-assing it. Life is far too short.

Choices

I woke up this past Sunday morning feeling a bit of inner turmoil and less settled than usual. Saturday night was filled with unpleasant dreams. Not nightmares, exactly, but dreams of struggle and conflict with others. I woke up feeling like I’d been arguing with people all night…and I suppose in a way, I was.

I got ready and headed out on my run. It was just a short one this time, not really long enough to clear my head and give me enough time to process everything I was thinking and feeling, but it gave me a bit of a start. The one thing that was overwhelming in my mind was choices.

I thought about how our past choices shape our current life. Choices that may have seemed to be the right ones at the time they were being made, but that affect our future in ways that usually we aren’t able to envision at the time. Any particular choice we make today could potentially trap us or even harm us later down the road. The scary part is that we don’t even know it at the time. A seemingly small, unimportant choice could create a ripple effect that changes the entire course of our lives.

It’s kind of scary when you stop to think about it.

Scary enough, in fact, to want to not make any choices at all. But the thing is, if we don’t make choices for ourselves, then inevitably they end up getting made for us, in one way or another. And isn’t it better to at least feel like we have some sort of control over our own lives, even if it’s just an illusion?

I’ll be honest. I have made some choices in my life that I regret. I’m not sure if I would change any of them, even if I had the magical ability to; after all, my choices have led me to where I am today. With two beautiful daughters, a gaggle of awesome stepkids and the love of my life by my side. I certainly wouldn’t want to put any of that at risk.

But if I could change some things without adversely affecting where I am right now? You can bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat.

Happy Accidents

I love those photos that end up being magical without even trying.

I captured one such photo this past weekend; a total accidental shot that I happened to snap with my phone on Sunday afternoon when CBG and I were out walking in the sunshine, just enjoying one another. A happy accidental capture of an almost perfect moment. In a flash it was over, but in those few seconds, I was able to grab onto it and now I get to re-live it through this photo, again and again.

Often the best moments in life are like those happy accidental photographs. They happen when we’re not trying to create anything special. A quiet, perfect moment, and if we’re truly lucky, we can hang onto the emotion created long after the moment has passed.

The accidental photo

 

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