It’s finally happened: after a 7-hour layover in Reykjavik, a whirlwind time showing Fraser London for the first time, and a 7-hour train ride (what is it with us and travel times of 7?) we’re back in Scotland. The jet lag is passing; my suitcase has yet to be unpacked; and I’m returning to my usual balance of workouts, writing, and frantically hunting for a job. In a weird way, I missed my sometimes paralysingly-hectic routine. Even though it’s easy to get overwhelmed to the point of freezing up entirely and thereby doing nothing, I’m dedicating myself to overcoming this hurdle more frequently. See, I’ve brought one souvenir back with me from the USA, and I’m optimistic that its simple reminder will help me in this endeavour.
As a quick backstory, I have a tendency to collect mugs or scarves from wherever I travel. I want a reminder of my time visiting different places but don’t want a lot of “stuff,” and I’m not too fond of blowing my hard-earned holiday money on trinkets I’ll forget about in a few months’ time. However, I figure since a cup of tea is a morning ritual and I have a habit of living places where winter is regularly below freezing, mugs and scarves will actually come in handy.
It’s also worth mentioning that my dad and I are pretty close. One of our routines when I lived with him, assuming I actually woke up early enough (not likely since he’s up by 4 and I like making it until just after sunrise to get out of bed), was to have a cup of coffee or tea together. It made sense, then, when I really started travelling, to bring him a matching mug as a souvenir. We’ve even found mugs at local art fairs and bought them for each other. When Fraser and I visited my dad he saw that mug and realised why I only ever use one mug for morning tea-it’s a match with my dad’s. It’s a fun item to look for at art festivals and while travelling, and helps me feel closer to him. So when Fraser and I were perusing the shops in downtown Frederick for his family’s gifts, I found another matching gift for me and my dad. Surprisingly it wasn’t a mug, but a trinket tray, easily packed in my carry-on and helpful since Fraser and I have a tendency to toss our keys, coins, and anything else in our pockets on the coffee table.
Now, if you know my dad you know that in addition to his pre-dawn coffee he also loves inspirational quotes and mantras. One such quote that has hung on our refrigerator for as long as I can remember is “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” by Neale Donald Walsch, and is probably the fridge quote that resonates with me the most. When I came across two trinket trays with that quote printed on them, I knew I had to buy the pair for my father and myself. Of course he got a little teary when I gave him his, as he has a tough time with me leaving (I do too!) but I know it’ll find a good home either on his coffee table or his dresser. Lord knows the dresser top needs all the organisation it can get!
I, personally, will be keeping my quote trinket tray on my coffee table. My friend/sister Sara gave me a lovely Paris tray for my birthday when she visited so that’s taken residence on my nightstand, and as my living room has become a makeshift office for when I need to do interviews for my dissertation or can’t be bothered fighting for a desk at the university library I know I’ll see the tray whenever I need that quote the most.
I might be wrong, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find that anything really life-changing comes easily. There may be a raw talent that makes elite athletics easier, the stars may align for your dream role or travel opportunity, but to make a real change that sticks requires a dedication and determination we aren’t always comfortable with. Change is, as I’ve said before, one of the most exhilarating and terrifying things we have to deal with, but you’d be amazed at what it can lead to. Without it, we merely exist instead of live.
Keep some comfortable routines (I won’t be giving up my daily tea anytime soon!) but push yourself to try something you’ve always wanted to do and see where it takes you, or even progress beyond what you’re already doing. A solo holiday, new (or more regular) fitness classes, even daring to speak to the cashier beyond “hi, you alright, me too thanks, bye”…progressing beyond your comfort zone means a bigger world every time you walk out your front door.
When do you remember leaving your comfort zone and discovering something incredible? Let me know below!