The Edge of My Comfort Zone

edgeMy husband finds it extremely puzzling that I enjoy the occasional Lifetime movie. His reasoning is good enough. He thinks I am intelligent, but those movies… not so much. And while I’m appreciative of the reason for his puzzlement, it does not change the way I feel about them.
 
Right around the time I got the ax from my previous place of employment, a movie came out about a woman named Tess who, much like me, had been unexpectedly handed her walking papers. However, this is where the similarities between my life and Tess’s life end. 
 
Reeling from the new reality in which she now finds herself, Tess takes off for a career conference in the hopes of making new connections and netting herself a new gig. Now, the conference, mind you, happens to be taking place in a breathtaking tropical locale. (Of course it does. This IS a Lifetime movie after all)
 
Though, it is at this point that the movie takes an unexpected turn. I know. The mind reels that ANY Lifetime movie plot has the capability to surprise anyone… but this one does. You see, Tess does not find a new job nor does she ever really figure out what it is she wants to be doing. But she does meet a man (obviously) who challenges and ultimately changes her way of thinking. 
 
“Life begins at the edge of one’s comfort zone.” The handsome stranger says after observing her for little more than a day. Watching her come apart over the notion that she has no job and nothing promising on the horizon, he encourages her to take a leap of faith into the great, big unknown. 
 
I won’t tell you how it ends in case you want to see it for yourself, but suffice it to say, I’ve been holding on to that line… “Life begins at the edge of one’s comfort zone” because these days, I believe it to be true. When I first moved to the big city of Columbus, I worked as a freelancer / consultant for over a year before landing a “permanent” job. 
 
Although I met some great people and did some challenging, new work — I had my mind made up that my “life” wouldn’t officially begin until someone invited me into the fold… officially. I worked that entire first year, making the most income that, up until that point, I had ever made. But it wasn’t good enough. I wanted the whole nine yards: full medical / dental coverage, life insurance, disability, vacation, 401k, stock options… you get the idea. Nothing short of that was ever going to make me feel “comfortable.”
 
It did happen. I was eventually offered a permanent job and I slept a little better at night. Knowing where I would be going day after day, week after week and (hopefully) year after year, was extremely comforting to me. I finally had a nice, warm security blanket to wrap myself up in. Or so I thought. I do find it ironic, however, that the circumstance I once deemed to be so completely “secure,” was actually anything but. I waltzed, (quite nonchalantly) through the door on a Wednesday morning, Starbucks in hand, and wound up leaving via escort… carrying all my belongings in a pathetic cardboard box. My point being this: No matter how secure you think you are… You just never know. 
 
Looking back on it now, I realize that I mainly wanted to be employed for the sake of being employed and I never actually got around to asking myself what it was that I really wanted or needed to do with my strengths and abilities. Some of you may not believe this, but I am actually glad that it happened the way that it did because until I was shown the door, I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to walk out of it on my own. I would have wallowed in my comfort zone and I’m convinced I would have wound up staying too long were I actually ever given the choice. 
 
Admittedly, I am a wee bit “uncomfortable” right now in a contract position rather than a “permanent” one… But I guess (according to the handsome stranger in last month’s Lifetime movie) I should be on the lookout since “life” apparently begins at the edge of one’s comfort zone. 

 

Tossing the Rulebook

I’ve always played by the rules. I’ve always done what I’m supposed to do in the order in which I am supposed to do it. College… Work… More work… And continued work. But in a couple of weeks I am going to embark on a journey I never thought I would.

With no job waiting in the wings, I gave notice yesterday at my current place of employment. YIKES! That’s right folks. In this crazy, unpredictable world, shaky political climate and moody economy… I am packing up my house and heading south (only about 140 miles south) to start a brand new life and adventure with the man I love. And I couldn’t be more thrilled!

I am not leaving just any old garden-variety job and home behind. Which is why, perhaps, this leap into unchartered waters feels so foreign to me. The current job is a good one that came complete with a decent title, five zany suite mates/co-workers, a nice office and interesting work.

The home—100 years old, cozy, loaded with character and decorated just the way I want it—sits right across the street from my childhood home, my beloved parents, my “little sister” (their golden retriever) and a mere two blocks away from my big sister and seven nieces and nephews.

But as with everything… there is a trade off.

What I am gaining in the deal is a partner and a friend with whom to share the rest of my life. And I could just stop right there as it is more than a fair trade to spend forever with my best friend. But there also is a new home, which I am told I can decorate any way that I choose. Though we’ll see about that… He didn’t seem super thrilled when I actually told him how I felt about the lamps in his living room. And a “job” that will allow me to play Little Betty Homemaker (at least until I find one with a real paycheck).

The new “career” in and of its self should be pretty interesting since I know I have mentioned before that I tend to be a bit domestically and culinarily-challenged. I figure now is as good a time as any to learn… Provided I don’t burn the house down by leaving a stray oven mitt on a burner or something random like that. (It’s been known to happen.)

Of course, if nothing else… the transition should provide some fairly good fodder for this platform here. I’m sure they’ll be some interesting stories about my Glamour mags taking over the stacks and stacks of Sports Illustrated currently perched on the back of the toilet. Or baskets, candles and picture frames replacing biographies of Howard Stern, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Ernest Hemingway. (OK, Hemingway can stay… but the other stuff just might be gettin’ bumped by Pottery Barn.)

There’s bound to be an adjustment period to the Lifetime channel being on by default when he flicks on the tube looking to watch Sports Center. Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a poorly-scripted, horribly-portrayed, exaggerated, cheesy, over-the-top tale of a woman scorned… even if it IS Bowl Week (which by the way, lasts for THREE weeks… NOT ONE as the name suggests).

In any event, I hope you’ll stay tuned while the adventure unfolds and I try something I’ve never tried before by taking a great big step right off my “map” … into the glorious unknown.

The Back of the Closet

Have you ever, in desperation, looked in the very back of your closet to search for something to wear because nothing you own seems good enough and you HATE all of your clothes? You push aside the tees you wore this past weekend, the blouse you wore yesterday and the top you’re saving for “Casual Friday,” all in the vain attempt to reach the bowels of your wardrobe hoping against hope that therein hangs some incredible unforeseen garment that you’ve forgotten you own and can therefore resurrect!

Aha! You find something! How in the world have you missed it in all this time?!?! This is wonderful! This is going to open you up to endless, interchangeable fashion possibilities! This is going to double, no TRIPLE your number of available ensemble choices! This textile, could perhaps… transform your entire world.

Now, of course, as you stand there… hanger in hand… arm outstretched… admiring the aforementioned “Savior Garment”… there is one thing you know you must check first. And it is absolutely imperative. It is the biggest hurdle you will have to overcome, but you MUST find out before you get too excited and mentally begin pairing things up and creating outfits that will undoubtedly turn heads. I am referring to the all important question: Does it still fit?

<gulp>

Quickly, you consider everything you ate THAT day as a peremptory justification for any minor snugness, should it exist. You try to recall the last time you’ve broken a sweat (not including this one), pushed play on that dusty Denise Austin DVD or even laid eyes on the inside of the gym. Then you begin thinking about all the morning lattes, the mayo on your sandwiches, the bleu cheese dressing on your salads, the 3 p.m. sugar binges, the weekend baseball beers, the weekly-Lifetime-movie-cookie-dough binges… and the fear begins to build.

<double gulp>

Somehow you gather the courage to slide the first appropriate appendage into said clothing item… then the second. So far, so good. Now comes the true confirmation of your intestinal fortitude: Will it button, latch, zip or close without the surgical removal of any vital organs? With your eyes squeezed shut, muttering prayers, you try it. Praise God!! It STILL fits!!! The clouds part, rays of sunshine pour into your room and in the distance you can hear the faintest sound of angels singing The Hallelujah Chorus!

Ah… now the real fun begins. What to pair with this “new” former frock for it’s reintroduction into the rotation. After trying various color and texture combinations, taking into consideration this particular item’s unique strengths and weaknesses… you finally select just the right piece with which to pair it.

You’ll wear it the very next day.

Tomorrow arrives and you’re amazingly able to jump out of bed and kick start your day just by thinking about how nice you will look in the day’s oh-so-stylish ensemble. You will get so many compliments and your envious co-workers will assume you’ve been shopping, when in actuality, you haven’t spent a single dime. In anticipation for your great day, you get dressed, leave for work early and even stop for a latte… because apparently they haven’t damaged your figure too much seeing as this item still fits.

No sooner do you get to work, pull into your parking spot and get out of the car do you realize WHY it is that this piece of clothing was SHOVED to the back of the closet… It may fit you the same as it ever did… but it is so uncomfortable you cannot STAND IT!! You spend your ENTIRE day tugging and pulling and adjusting and hiding in your office, praying for the day to be over so that you can take this freaking piece of crap and CRAM it in THE BACK OF THE CLOSET… right where it belongs.

Fending Off Crazy Cat Woman

I could feel the stranger’s eyes boring into the back of my skull and the heat from his stare on my neck. “Don’t judge me.” I thought to myself as I set the groceries on the conveyor and glanced over my shoulder at the man standing behind me with his filled-to-the-brim shopping cart.

I put the plastic divider in place after pulling the remaining items from the cart and reviewed my impending purchases… A quart of skim milk, two containers of flavored coffee creamer, a bottle of OJ, one box of cereal, a loaf of bread, a brick of cheddar, three Lean Cuisines and 10 cans of cat food.

My tiny bundle of staples barely covered a third of the checkout counter. And it occurred to me that the aforementioned items probably screamed: “CRAZY, SINGLE, CAT WOMAN!!” to anyone who cared to investigate what it was I was buying. I wondered if he felt pity toward me… “Poor woman.” He probably thought. “Mid-thirties. Obviously purchasing dinner for one. Clearly companioned by one or more cats. Poor thing. She’ll probably go home, microwave her dinner and watch Lifetime all by herself.”

It’s what I would have thought. I judge people based on what they buy at the grocery store all the time.

Sensing his judgment and pity I smoothed my skirt and stood a little taller trying to act all nonchalant, confident and indifferent as to what anyone thought of me and my two-cans-shy-of-a-dozen cat food collection. I interacted with the checkout girl by enthusiastically chatting her up about the weather and the upcoming weekend to illustrate that I do, indeed, have social skills and some semblance of a life. She rang me up, we bagged it up and I strutted out of the store like I owned it.

“I am not a crazy, sad, sorry, single, cat woman. I do have a boyfriend. I am a perfectly happy, successful, well-adjusted, strong woman. ” I said with my body language. “You don’t know me.”

Perhaps my affinity for TV shows that delve into the intricacies of the human psyche is to blame for my hyperactive-grocery-store-paranoia. Consistently watching CSI, Criminal Minds and House might be the reason I ask such questions as: What do these purchases say about me? What would an FBI profiler glean from the ratio of human to feline food in my pantry? If someone murdered me in my home while I slept, would the cops feel sorry for me when they processed the crime scene?

Then again… maybe I just watch too much TV… with my cat.