In October, the melanoma community lost a beloved friend. I posted a tribute to her, and mentioned the first time we met. It began with "In November 2012, I stepped out of my comfort zone..." I told of how I went to Charlotte, NC and I met her and her husband. She was a blessing, and became a good friend. She always had something nice and encouraging, or funny to say. She loved life, she was feisty and spunky and always positive. I prayed for her often, requested prayers for her often. She would comment with a thank you to the prayers as she was going in for one of her many craniotomies. Let's be honest, I don't think I would be able to be on social media before that. Of course, it does make for a great distraction. Several hours later, we would get a message that all went well. A couple of hours later, we would see a post about her hockey team, or hear she was cheering them on. What a spirit! Everyone who knew her loved her. We all miss her so much.
Over the days that followed, the "I stepped out of my comfort zone" rang through my head. I did something that I would have never imagined, I was brave and I made many great friends and memories in the process. I could have missed out. Last December we lost a family member suddenly. She was like a second mother to me. This December, my best friends mother-in-law passed away suddenly. She was a good friend too. Life is so fragile, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow, why are we settling for more of the same? I started stepping out of my comfort zone.
In the process of this, I read a book called How To Be Brave. It is written for young adults, so it is told very simply. It is about a girl in high school, who lost her mother, and as she grieves, she decides to make a list of things to do. Basically, she stepped out of her comfort zone and stop being scared to live. I found this very relatable, I lost my mom in high school, I knew the grieving process and other issues she dealt with (slightly overweight, awkward, not knowing where to fit in), and here I was just about a month into stepping out of my own comfort zone.
So here's just a few things that I've stepped out and done differently.
I've been more involved in my daughters school. A blessing of changes in our professional life. Right now that has just been for class parties and in the lunch room once a month, I've also been able to join all school field trips. Best of all, the memories that are being made.
I've been helping out with the church Children's Ministry. Wow. This one is big for me. I have worked in the nursery since my daughter outgrew it. I always said I didn't want to move up because I dont feel I am ready to teach. Well, the opportunity came to help with the Christmas musical. Since then, I've decided to stay on with the new program. Nervously excited to see how this plays out.
Not the way we had been promised for years, but God had another plan and he has rewarded our patience to listen to his way and timing. We have been so blessed, professionally.
Relationship-wise, I've stuck up for myself a little more. Nothing huge. Just saying, "You know, I'm not okay with that" or not putting up with condescending, snarky statements. Pointing out a repeated awkward situation to a friend, so they are aware and can help make it less awkward. I've worked to make sure that a certain teenager realizes that I am not a taxi, but will help with transport if it is convenient to me, since they wont learn to drive. Asserting without being bitchy is hard at first, but once you do your confidence is boosted and you find that you aren't as taken for granted.
I've stepped back a little from social media. I still share a lot, but not as much personal detail as I did. Maybe I'm getting older and wiser. Maybe I just realized that putting myself out there on social media wasn't the same as being in person.
Finally, all of us have had this conversation "We need to get together soon." "Yes! let's plan something" and nothing has ever become of it. I'm guilty. This year, I am following through. I challenge everyone to do the same. Respond with a date, if they cant, make them give you a date. Make it happen. I met a friend the other day, we each had to drive 45 minutes to meet in the middle, and we each had 3 kids with us. It wasn't ideal, but it happened, and we enjoyed it. Leave these meet ups with a promise to do it again in so many weeks, with the intention to keep that promise.
Life is short, we aren't promised tomorrow, next week or even next year. We can live it while we are here though.