Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Roads = Great Discomfort

I'm not certain how I can possibly feel so exhausted after such a well rounded weekend. But I am. Maybe it is the thought of returning to life as I know it. Maybe I just stayed up too late last night. Maybe my brain is tired. Or my body. I gave both my brain and body a bit of a work out this past weekend.

My big weekend plans were to meet up with a friend for an overnight visit at a destination five hours from here. Yes, I had to leave the house for another overnight stay two weeks after my last traumatic experience on a similar venture.

I took what I learned from my last anxiety filled weekend adventure to make it easier for me to walk out the door. I got up early, gave myself plenty of time to enjoy my morning routines so I wouldn't feel rushed and not ready to leave the house. I sat outside with our cats, I sent off an early morning email, I trimmed the grass growing in our non-maintenance zone and just savored the moments.

Then I had to get ready to leave. Easy. All I had to do was take a quick bath and head out. Everything was ready to go. I just needed to freshen up, get dressed and leave the house. Then I decided I could shower without getting my hair wet and I would feel ever so much fresher than I do after having a bath.

I was wrong. I was so wrong. I ended up getting very wet. My hair was a bigger mess than it would have been, had I simply washed it. I tried rushing the drying and styling process because I simply did not have time to be messing with my hair.

In the end, I ended up with two day old "cleanish" hair that felt dirtier than it would have, had it been left alone. Drying and styling two day old hair leaves one feeling very unfresh. But I didn't have time to start from scratch so I sent off a message telling my friend I'd be delayed by a half hour and I was on my way.

I followed the highway signs out of the city. Except they have changed this exit route since the last time I drove down this highway seven years ago. Not only did they change the road, they neglected to erect a sign directing me to the highway I needed to take.

I drove down the wrong highway for a little while before I turned around and started all over again. Obviously I had just missed a sign, right? That is what I thought. I stopped to look at the fifteen year old map in my car before I tried again. Obviously that was not going to help me out since the city has expanded substantially and the exit I was looking for would have been the same one I took seven years ago. So I just backtracked enough to ensure I followed the highway signs. Surely I was not the only one exiting the city who was looking for "Highway 7".

I followed the signs and trusted that the wrong road I had just taken must have been the right one after all, and I just had to be patient and wait for the turn off to my desired highway.

I had no such luck.

Eventually, I stopped at a roadside store/campsite to ask if I was on the right highway. She assured me I was not but comforted me in the fact that I was not alone. A lot of people made this same mistake. She showed me a map, told me to "turn left at Grandora". I was pretty sure she meant "right" but then again, I very often get maps confused unless north is aligned with north and I'm standing in the right direction to get my bearings. So I decided not to trust my instincts because when it comes to directions and instincts I am always 100% wrong.

So when I passed Grandora and there was no "left", I just kept heading straight. One hour after I had left our house, I was back at the city limits, trying to exit one more time.

I just about went home to consult with Google maps but I thought I would take a chance on a main road that was headed in the direction I thought I wanted to go. There were NO highway signs to direct me. I just followed my instinct and this time, my instinct was right. Sometime shortly thereafter, I found the road sign I was looking for and I knew I was on my way.

Delayed a half hour by my unruly hair and another hour, trying to leave the city I was quite frazzled and none too happy about this development. All I could think was I was grateful I had enjoyed my quiet, leisurely morning at home. That was about all that was grounding me. Then I started to lighten up and thought, "I got to enjoy an extra hour of my familiar radio station" before I hit radio silence.

I lost my radio station shortly thereafter and let the radio search for a station. It took about a half hour before I heard music again.

I stopped and regained my bearings and composure three hours later. I wasted an hour of fuel trying to find my highway so I didn't trust that I had enough gas to get me to my destination. Nothing grounds me better than stopping at McDonald's and eating my Saturday morning consolation prize for "doing hard things" - an Egg McMuffin meal.

Three hours after I left the house, I finally took a deep, long breath and enjoyed the ride.

Radio silence is a wonderful thing. I started thinking thoughts and actually followed the thought through to its end. I made goals for myself. I thought outside my box. I reminisced about the last time I took this highway and the memory filled holiday I enjoyed with my youngest son.

I simply enjoyed the process of thinking complete thoughts. My brain has become like a pinball machine. "Ping!" "Ping!" "Ping!", one thought bounces into the next and deflects the original thought and morphs into something unrecognizable. I have become childlike in my inability to concentrate and settle into one activity or thought process. I believe my daycare career has brought out an attention deficit disorder within me.

I savored the miles where I got to feel like the "me" I used to be when I sat still with my thoughts. Something good is happening here.

 I went from "THIS ... is why I hate going places and taking new roads! I hate feeling lost in the world!!" to "I NEED to get out more and take new roads. It feels good to find your way again after losing yourself".

That was really the theme of the weekend past. I know I need to push myself out of this comfortable little space in the world I've built for myself. I'm suffocating a little bit here but at the same time this "safe place to land" is everything in the world to me.

My friend, who I just met up with, is just coming out of the other side of a devastating time of great change. She is walking through the doors that have been opening up and finding her way in her new world. She confessed that when she thinks too hard and too long about "where she is going to end up", it is terrifying. But she is taking one brave step in front of the other and building herself up as she makes her way.

She challenged me to do the same. "Do one thing out of your comfort zone" was one of the three challenges she put before me to help push me out and beyond of this comfortable spot I am living in.

The weekend past was uncomfortable in a comfortable sort of way. Yes, I took a wrong road (twice). But I didn't quit. I didn't go home to regain my bearings. I stayed on the wrong path long enough to find the right one. I didn't give up. In the end, I trusted my instincts and I found my way.

Maybe it's time I set out on a few more new adventures. Not all of them have to involve new highways, but maybe I can make myself uncomfortable right here from the safety of home.

I'm too tired to pursue that thought at the moment but this moment will pass. When it does, I'm ready. I'm ready to step outside my comfort zone. One new road at a time.

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