October 7 13

Stepping out of your comfort zone.

Do things that scare you.

I keep seeing these messages pop up all over the place. And not just from Eleanor Roosevelt or your Lululemon bag. No, they come from the words of amazing people.

Most of the time I’m all Pssshaw, I don’t need those messages! Who needs to do scary things? My life is just fine and dandy if I never mountain climb. I have exactly zero desire or need for thrill-seeking behavior and I feel good about it. If I never go on another roller coaster again for the rest of my days, I won’t even bat an eyelash. Jumping out of an airplane? Only mildly interesting to me when it’s Donna Martin and Brenda Walsh doing it. Running a marathon? I love my knees and heels, thanks. Waterskiing? Jetskiing? Downhill skiing? Nope. I’d rather watch my kids do it, from the comfort of the dock and the chalet.

My comfort zone is an awesome place to be, dammit. I’m here because I LIKE IT. What the hell is wrong with that?

And truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with it.

But there are so many things out there that I’d miss out on if I just stayed within these walls of my soon-to-be home office (Oh yes, it’s happening. After almost two years of working from home, I’m finally getting an actual place to work from home that’s not, you know, my lap.) And here’s the thing, really.

Doing something that scares you doesn’t need to be something grand and death-defying.

It just doesn’t.

It can be small.

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Doing something that scares me can be about saying yes to speak on a panel instead of saying no.

Or going away for a week where there is exactly zero internet connection. No really, I am doing this. I am tagging along and I am unplugging for the first time, well, ever. I need this, I know I need it. Because I was the girl who was working from her phone in Ireland. “Just one sec, there’s an emergency at work. I need to do this real quick before I go and don’t get herpes from kissing the blarney stone.” I don’t really know how to unplug, to walk away, to leave my everything in the hands of others. Hi, I’m Ali, I’m somewhat of a control freak. But I’m doing it. Soon. It’s probably why I have nervous tummy right now and have been sending incoherent emails to my co-workers.

I am going to spend seven days reading a million books whilst wearing a bikini. (Eeep. Talk about doing things that scare me…) Actually, I will probably spend the first two days trying to calm the no-internet twitches. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T INSTAGRAM A PHOTO RIGHT NOW? Speaking of books, I finally finished my book club book so I’m in the market for some recent favorites. Tell me at least one book that I must read. Or tell me your most favorite book that you read in 2013. Or in your entire life. Please!

Doing something outside of my comfort zone can be about signing up for a photography class, complete with homework and assignments and out-of-the box thinking. I fancy myself a fairly decent photographer, but I really wanted to challenge myself to think differently about light and faces and technique. But while learning new skills and looking at other photographer’s photos, other photographers are looking at my work, and critiquing. Now THAT is way outside of my comfortable little space where my biggest critics are under 5 feet tall and call me Mama.

It was so hard to send that first assignment, to push PUBLISH on those SOOC (no editing at all!) photos that I took, to be put on display for people to make comments about chin positioning and about cropping choices and white balance issues.

But it was amazing.

This small thing. Not conventionally scary. Not grand. Not death-defying. There were no heights involved, no planes, nothing moving faster than the speed of anything.

It can be about hitting send on an email you have been afraid to send, or publish on that blog post that has been sitting in your drafts. It can be about not letting something go that you’d normally just sweep until the rug. It can be about saying no when you’d normally say yes. It can be about saying yes when you’d normally say no. Take a class. Sit on a panel. Speak at a conference. Wear a bikini. Run a race. Try a new food. Try to cook a new food. Call an old friend. Call anyone. Dance in public. Cut bangs. Try egg nog for the first time. Don’t cancel the plans you really want to cancel. Wear red lipstick. Pitch a magazine article. Pitch a book idea. Stop reading that book you don’t love. Stop watching that show you can’t stand but still watch anyway even though it fills you with rage every Thursday night at 9pm. Ahem.

Listen to your Nikes from the 80s and just do it.

Even if it means going curling in a stupid hat.

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Small is big, my friends. Small is big.

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Although I probably won’t ever dance in public.

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  1. I just read “The Girl You Left Behind” by JoJo Moyes and it was really good. I also loved “The Age of Miracles”, “The Art of Fielding” and “Defending Jacob”. And I love that curling hat!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Stacey on October 7, 2013
  2. True, true, true. Of course I totally agree.

    (What will the internet do without you for 7 whole days? I RELY ON YOUR ENTERTAINMENT. How totally selfish of you to go and relax.)

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    Comment by Alex on October 7, 2013
  3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I know she isn’t your favorite but I think you’d like it AND there are tons of baked goods.

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    Comment by Alison on October 7, 2013
  4. Snowflower and the Secret Fan and any Wayson Choi fiction. Have a fabulous trip! xo

    [Reply]

    Comment by Louise on October 7, 2013
  5. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it through your trip without periodic updates. Sigh.

    And I love that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. It always leads to awesome things.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Meghan on October 7, 2013
  6. This is exactly what I’m facing right now… the scary thing, the thing that will change our lives for the better, and all we have to do is jump (and fill out gobs and gobs of paperwork).

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    ali replied on

    if it’ll change your life for the better…I say YES. Go for it.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Darcey on October 7, 2013
  7. Embrace those books and rock that bikini. I promise we will keep things running relatively smoothly until you get back : )

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    ali replied on

    A bikini! Me! Can you believe it?

    I know I’m leaving everything in good hands…I’m just a total crazy person. hee!

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    Comment by Sharon on October 7, 2013
  8. I just finished “Birdsong” by Sebastien Faulks. Loved it.

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    Comment by Chantal on October 7, 2013
  9. I loved Eleanor & Park. Also liked Where’d You Go Bernadette?

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    ali replied on

    Put these two on my list—I love your recommendations.

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    Comment by Tamara on October 7, 2013
  10. I said no today when I would have said yes. Way out of my comfort zone because I am a people pleaser, but I did it anyway and am happier for it! Small is big!!

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    ali replied on

    AWESOME!

    I’m a pleaser too and find it so incredibly hard to say no.

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    Comment by Shan on October 7, 2013
  11. This is wonderful. I think that we don’t recognize those small things as actually being large steps for ourselves.
    You wouldn’t catch me jumping out of anything unless there is a spider crawling around.
    Enjoy those books in the sun!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kimberly on October 10, 2013
  12. Another vote for Where’d you go Bernadette, that was a great one. Right now I’m reading Rosie Project, also a good one. And my other two favorites from the year are: Beautiful Ruins and A light between Oceans.

    Have a great vacation!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jenn on October 11, 2013
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