Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breaking Through the Cocoon of Comfort

"Comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, then a master. And then it becomes a tamer, and with a hook and whip it makes puppets of your larger desires." Kahlil Gibran, poet philosopher

Over the course of the last few years, I have had more than my fair share of comments from other people on the insanity of my running or how crazy I am. Usually these words are coupled with ‘Why would someone want to run? or train for a marathon'...yet...most of the time these words are uttered by those who dwell in the warmth of their own cocooned visions of ease and contentment. Before I stepped out of my own cocoon, fifteen years ago, I held to the same feelings. To see a runner, seemingly struggling along a path or the side of the road, at least to me back then was a very crazy sight. The same thoughts would race through my mind as I eased past them in the comforts of my air conditioned car...’why would anyone want to do that to themselves?’. Yet, here I stand, today, close to fifteen thousand miles later...a runner. Mind you, not an elite runner nor anyone famous or signed by Nike with some enormous million dollar contract. Just an average Joe runner, with a desire to stay out of the comfort zone of life.

I think, it is here and why I run. It is the one thing that I can do that can and will break up the monotony of my daily ritual. While stating the obvious, Catherine Pulsifer said, , “If you remain in your comfort zone you will not go any further.” About fifteen years ago, I felt the same as those who speak to me now. After wrestling in high school and being in relatively good shape, life happens, and you leave the world of dreams for the rat race of life. The ease of being sheltered in the ‘cares of this world’ always made it easy to excuse myself out of doing anything, especially with anything that might involve cracking through the shell of my cocoon of comfort. Yet, the one thing we cannot stop, though we would like to, ultimately catches up to each of us...that elusive thing called, ‘time’. The ‘has been’ years of wrestling echoed deep within the corridors of my mind, always reminding of what I once was...wrestling practice, running, cutting weight and lifting weights were a daily routine throughout my high school years. Fit and in shape, I could go out and run an eight miler with friends on the cross country team without a problem. BUT, like I said, life has a way of catching up with you or is it? leaves you behind if you let it! Somewhere between the miraculous event of the birth of my first born baby girl and my ever expanding waist line (at the age of 37, I was rapidly closing in on 180 pounds), I woke up. Now mind you, much of this began happening as a mental thing, tormenting me on a daily basis. Deep inside, I knew I had to do something and yes, there was always those inner voices calling me back into the ‘safety’ of my comfort zone.

T. Harv Eker said it this way, “Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!” So, in the spring of nineteen ninety-eight, I did what most people with disgruntled feelings do...I bought a treadmill! Then, after purchasing this fine hi-tech treadmill, I did what most people do...not much. I ran on it a few times and then turned my beautiful treadmill into a corner coat rack in the laundry room! For two years, that treadmill talked to me. Every time I walked past the treadmill, it would say very mean things to me. It would taunt me. It would laugh at me. It would remind me of how I had foolishly spent my money. But more importantly, it would always remind me of how I remained steadfast and unmovable in my comfort zone. Finally, after two years of listening to the rude speech and taunts of my treadmill, I decided enough was enough! And maybe that’s where people have got to get to before they do something. You have to get to the place where you are sick and tired of being sick tired of being sick and tired, and you just hope you’re not too close to death by the time you feel this way. And so I began to run. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t fast by any means, but slowly and incrementally, I began to run. And you know what??? I liked it. I liked it so much, that I have completed myriad of road races, eleven marathons, and a fifty mile ultra marathon on my fiftieth birthday.

So today, I want you to know, the guest you have allowed into your home is not your friend. He’s a moocher of your most valuable commodity...TIME. I encourage you to kick this life sucker out of your home. You never know what you will see when you allow a crack of light break through the walls of your cocoon!

 My Comfort Zone - A Poem
Author Unknown

I used to have a comfort zone where I knew I wouldn't fail.
The same four walls and busywork were really more like jail.
I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before,
But stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor.

I said it didn't matter that I wasn't doing much.
I said I didn't care for things like commission checks and such.
I claimed to be so busy with the things inside the zone,
But deep inside I longed for something special of my own.

I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win.
I held my breath; I stepped outside and let the change begin.
I took a step and with new strength I'd never felt before,
I kissed my comfort zone goodbye and closed and locked the door.

If you're in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out,
Remember that all winners were at one time filled with doubt.
A step or two and words of praise can make your dreams come true.
Reach for your future with a smile; success is there for you!

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