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I just completed week five of my birthday celebrations. Amazingly, I’m already more than halfway through my 62 activities for my 62nd birthday. With a game that runs this long, I get into the flow of it and drawing an activity and carrying it out becomes part of my day. So it’s very good to shake me up a bit and keep me moving beyond comfort zones. That’s exactly what this week accomplished.
The comfort zone is a state of being in which things feel familiar and safe. While in our comfort zones, we feel like we are in control and anxiety and fear levels are low. There is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable. However, we can become so accustomed to being in that state that we stop growing, stop challenging ourselves, and life can feel a bit stale.
I like the personal growth that comes from going beyond comfort zones. That momentary discomfort is nothing compared to the exhilaration of new adventures and accomplishments.
Week Five Celebrations
As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.
Going Beyond Comfort Zones
Here is how I’ve gone beyond this week.
Write a Travel Piece and Submit It
As a blogger I write all the time and my work is read publicly. So why did I almost drop this slip of paper back into the jar? It feels so different to send in my work and have someone else decide if my writing is good enough for their publication.
This activity propelled me beyond my comfort zone. I reworked a blog post I wrote, about how travelling helps me to grow. Delta Sky Magazine and World Nomads both captured my interest. I’ve sent off pitches to both.
The importance isn’t whether either accepts my pitch and asks for the submission. What is important is that I took action and reached out. Action begets more actions and one step at a time I move beyond the edges of where I feel most comfortable.
Take a Power Nap
I am not a nap taker. In fact, as a child, I didn’t like to nap OR sleep at night. I still consider myself a night owl who enjoys being awake into the wee hours of the morning.
To complete this activity I had to schedule it into my day, for a nap seems like a waste of time to me and an intrusion. However, there are benefits from sleeping for a short period of time.
A power nap last 10 – 40 minutes. That brief break in the day improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity and helps to power up productivity and alertness. Those naps can even slash the risk for heart disease.
Our sleep cycles are divided into four stages.
- one – light sleep somewhere between fully awake and sound asleep
- two – real sleep where we are unaware of our surroundings
- three and four – deep sleep where muscles relax and breathing slows and rapid eye movement (REM) begins
Typically REM begins 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. The perfect power nap stays in stage one and two for up to 40 minutes. If you sleep any longer than that, you’ll feel groggy unless you continue to sleep for 90 minutes and complete the cycle.
I waited until 3:00 to do my activity, when sunlight streamed in through southern windows. My cat Rilynn curled up in my lap and encouraged me by promptly falling asleep. Aren’t cats incredible nappers? I didn’t know if I could even doze off.
Covered by a soft blanket, snuggled with a cat, bathed in warm sunlight I did manage to fall asleep…for exactly 10 minutes.
And I did feel rejuvenated. I didn’t try power napping again, but perhaps I should work on scheduling one in daily.
Listen to a Podcast I’ve Never Listened to Before
I’ve only recently begun to listen to podcasts and I’m not sure why. Podcasts are audio, and sometimes visual, episodes online that range from a few minutes long to a couple of hours. They cover a wide range of topics. Although I almost always play music while in the car, I rarely listen to a podcast. I’m in the process of changing that.
For this activity I selected a podcast from a series called The School of Greatness, by Lewis Howes. I receive emails from Lewis and finally listened to one of his podcasts. Titled Compassion Over Pity with Humble Poet, the recording is excellent. Check out Lewis’ podcasts HERE.
Lewis is a NYT author, lifestyle entrepreneur and former pro athlete. He shares inspiring stories from brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities to help listeners discover what creates greatness.
Create My Own 30 Day Flip Calendar of Inspiring Quotes
I’ve enjoyed this activity. Using index cards on a spiral ring, I used the blank side to write out quotes. My desire is to inspire, encourage and challenge myself…daily. This little DIY flip calendar helps to accomplish that.
So far I’ve written a dozen quotes. I’m taking my time because I want the quotes to find me or draw me. There are many that I’ve used over the years that I could quickly jot down but that’s not what I’m going for. I want to be challenged to think big, expand my awareness and go beyond.
When I have 30 quotes written out I’ll go back through the cards and number them and perhaps add artistic illustrations.
Send a Message of Appreciation to an Actor/Actress
I have great appreciation for actors and actresses who do what they love doing. They enjoy their craft and they excel at stepping out of themselves and into another role. I’m sure my appreciation for performers and films are strongly connected.
Truthfully, though, I felt embarrassed that I wrote out this activity. What was I thinking? Who to contact? And how to get a message to someone?
Back to podcasts. One that I am enjoying is called The Well Podcast. It offers stories and interviews that feature creative inspiration. And it is hosted by Branan Edgens, a film editor and cinematographer, and Anson Mount, an actor who recently portrayed Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek Discovery. I love what Anson brings to a well known although little portrayed character.
Branan and Anson interview fun guests on their casual podcasts and seem to enjoy the banter. Listen in as guest Doug Jones, a regular on Star Trek Discovery, shares amusing stories from his career.
I selected Branan and Anson to write a note to, expressing appreciation for all that they offer to the world. It doesn’t matter whether they respond to that note or not. I accomplished the intended purpose of the activity…going beyond comfort zones to reach out to someone “famous”, with no expectations in return.
Create a New Recipe
Since switching to a plant based lifestyle, I spend more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. I’ve become much more at ease and creative in the cooking process, although I still refer to recipes most of the time.
In spite of writing this activity, I felt stumped when I drew it out of the jar. I had a packed out day ahead. What should I even attempt to create?
I love when I put a question out there…and then go on about my business. Because, invariably, the answer shows up while I’m busy doing something else. Such was the case with creating a new recipe. Out of nowhere, it seemed, the words aloo matar soup popped into my head.
I love this Indian dish made with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and spices such as curry, ginger and garam masala. How well would this dish transform into a soup? I had my idea for a new recipe.
I have to say, the aloo matar soup turned out wonderfully well. Resisting the urge to just peek at a recipe, I instead added ingredients with confidence. The resulting soup has all the flavor of aloo matar with a rich broth. I’ll be making this spicy soup again.
Have an Indoor Camp Out and Sleep in a Blanket Tent
I envisioned drawing this activity on a Friday or Saturday evening, when I had the weekend to recover! Talk about going beyond comfort zones…with the emphasis on comfort. I haven’t slept on the floor in a blanket tent since childhood.
All evening, as I continued to work on writing projects, I debated on whether to draw out another activity and save this one for Saturday night. That’s not the way this game works though. So at 10:00 pm, I snapped my laptop closed and built a blanket tent…technically a sheet tent…in my creative studio.
I lay cushions from the living room sofa on the floor, covered them with a quilt and then added a sleeping bag. A queen sized sheet draped over two chairs formed my tent. I lit candles throughout the room…well away from the tent…prepared a cup of chai hot chocolate and settled into camp out mode.
How lovely the experience became with flickering candlelight, soft music playing on my iPod, and a cup of dairy free, sugar free hot chocolate. It was, indeed, the perfect night for this activity. After finishing the hot chocolate, I crawled into my sleeping bag and listened to yet another podcast on Lewis Howes’ site, this one called The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins.
I slept well, snug in my sleeping bag, and woke up refreshed. And surprisingly, I crawled out of the tent and stood up without groaning!
Going Beyond…and Onward
These weeks of activities are bringing rewards beyond playfulness. I am growing. I’m learning things about myself. And I’m excited to see what’s next.
You can check out the weeks of activities below.
Pick up a sleeping bag and create your own indoor camp out!
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