what’s your comfort zone?

I know I have to get out of my comfort zone more often, especially in this current political & social environment.  Doing so might actually be an act of revolution now.  On a long drive yesterday I caught up on some podcasts.  The first one I listened to was:  TED radio hour: comfort zones.  I highly recommend it for everyone at every stage of life.

Here’s the link: comfort zones/TED radio hour

Last week my daughters and I traveled to Washington, DC.  Lucy participated in the admitted students overnight at American University.  She slept on the dorm floor of strangers, introduced herself to kids from all over the world and wondered how her skills and talents stacked up. Talk about a seventeen-year-old stepping out of their comfort zone, right?  She stepped way out, which provided rocket fuel for her growth and made me think about my own.

Human beings tend to stick with our own kind.  It’s soooooooo much easier.  Hearing other people’s perspectives or learning something that doesn’t gel with what we’ve held to be true requires intellectual agility.  It’s hard work and requires lots of practice.  That’s why we often end up sticking to what’s safe and familiar.

In adulthood, if we don’t force ourselves into unfamiliar situations, we can get really stuck. 

As an artist, I’ve worked mostly alone for years, with very little feedback or performance reviews of any sort.  If I want to grow, I need to be told when my work is bad, uninteresting, needs far more research or is hard to understand.

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I’m truly grateful for the encouragement over the years from my friends and family regarding my creative work.  The LIKES and comments have been very supportive, but it’s not enough.

True critical feedback is hard for people to give who are close to us.  If we want to grow, we have to actively seek it out ourselves from other sources.  It’s easier to hear when there isn’t an emotional risk involved.  NOTE:  I need to keep this in mind with my nearly eighteen-year-old girls now.  They aren’t asking and I have to quit offering constant feedback now.

In the podcast, a social scientist says that possibilities come from reaching out to our “loose connections” NOT our friends & family.  This makes sense to me especially when thinking about professional opportunities.

It’s time we all take off our fuzzy slippers, put on some sturdy walking shoes and start exploring the world way outside of the comfort zone.

 

 

A word of great relevance and humility.

custodian lisa lillibridge dakota 1966

The word “custodian” is my new favorite word and I want to share with you why.  I was recently in a discussion about why my creative work has any relevance whatsoever in a world that has so many challenges. I always struggle with this.  Should I really paint, write, make jewelry and shoot photographs when so many people are hungry, sick, sad and lonely?

I was then asked two questions:

1. Why were you given these abilities?  2. What could your creative work do to make the world a better place?

As I pondered these questions presented to me the word “custodian” surfaced.  LOUDLY.

CUS•TO•DI•AN

This word to me is a beautiful, humble mantra/prayer to be called upon often—someone who keeps and protects something valuable.  I started thinking about the custodians of my high school when I was growing up—Edith and Andy.  I used to go to school early to do my homework and talk to them as I sat in the hallway finishing up assignments.  They were humble, thoughtful people who kept and protected my school. Custodians…

Being the custodian of our talents is necessary to allow them grow. If we choose to NOT be thoughtful custodians of our talents (whatever they may be) we are not holding up our end of the human bargain.