I’ve been thinking . . .

There’s a difference between stepping outside your comfort zone, and, intentionally depositing yourself into an undesirable situation; discerning between the two . . . well, that takes practice.

In order to grow, we need to try new things. We need to be open to change, too, but that’s another post. Today I am thinking solely about healthy exploits versus creating chaos for one’s self. There is a difference, I’m sure of it; though I often struggle to find the balance.

I am tough on myself, hands down my worst critic. This bodes in my favor where writing is concerned, as I am usually the first to spot the flaws and weaknesses; however, I’ll often resort to chiding or admonishing myself for my lack of willingness to try new foods or restaurants, or venture further than driving distance.

There is certainly truth in that you will never discover all the world has to offer without first having the courage to experience its offerings. There is also truth in knowing that all the world has to offer isn’t always going to please you. Even more, there is wisdom in knowing yourself, your temperament, your ability or inability to “go with the flow”.

I am no such person. The flow is the direction I am pushing it. Again, I speak strictly in terms of trying new things. This philosophy does not pertain to the Greater aspects in life. Those rest on a scale my fragile mind can only stretch for, never quite grasp.

Anyway . . .

I thrive in structure. Routine. Plans. Schedule. Knowing what is set before me on any given day provides an overall sense of relief. In short, what are you serving? I do not want the “succotash surprise,” but thank you for offering. I’ll have the same thing I had last week because it was delicious and made my stomach smile.

I happen to know many people — many of them wonderful, fantastic beings I am proud to call friend — who would slip a noose around their neck if forced to adopt my modus-vivendi. Take all kinds, I always say. Nature, nurture, or just plain ol’ personal preference, I like things a certain way. I like towels hung so you can best appreciate their patten; I like milk cartons pushed off to one side or the other for maximum refrigerator efficiency; I like leaving the house a smidgen early just in case we hit traffic; I like ordering at least one dish I know will enjoy; I carry protein on me at all times. I am a planner, anticipator, prepared, punctual, perfectionist person. That is me.

Now . . . I married my mirror image.

This means, on some level, there is a part of me — latent perhaps — that yearns for a little adventure, a little of the unknown and unexpected, a little escapade now and then. Did you happen to catch the operative word? It’s little. In small doses being exposed to something “outside my comfort zone” is not only acceptable, but necessary. Never do I want to become one of those people who can’t say yes to things for fear it “might not turn out okay”. And professionally speaking, I need a few of those experiences so I can write about them. Take me to a concert in the park; on a 3 mile hike to the precipice of some gorgeous look-out; let me try your cousin’s experimental quinoa; let’s go sing karaoke. I am up for all that — simultaneously if you like!

I do not, however, want to attend a midnight showing of ridiculously popular movie, where I am certain to ingest exorbitant amounts of CO2, have zero arm and leg space, miss half the movie because people are talking or texting, and also because the guy in front of me is 6’7 and there are no other spots in the theater to sit. No. No, no. no. I will wait; a week, maybe two, when I can enjoy the big screen without the big pain. Does this make me rigid and square? If it does, find me a Dutch door and I’ll fit right in!

Throughout life you will meet people, delightful people, who just don’t see things the way you do. It does not mean you can’t be friends or enjoy one another’s company. Heck, I married one of those people; but no one knows me like I know me. I am responsible for my happiness. And in order to ensure I am a happy, well adjusted person I need to figure out what works for me.

Trust your instincts; don’t succumb to peer pressure for fear someone will think less of you, think you high-strung, boring, drab, difficult, and obstinate. There is another side to that coin. And surely I can think of a dozen unflattering adjectives to describe that certain demeanor.

Only small minds find cause for disdaining and criticizing what is dissimilar.

Instead, I shall appreciate the differences, be open the possibility of something new, put myself into adventure’s hand from time-to-time. At the end of the day, though, I still prefer popcorn and a movie in bed to the bar scene. I still like arriving at the restaurant at 6 to avoid waiting 90 minutes at 8. I want to go to bed early so I can wake up early.

This quote — and a recent event in which I was reminded why moderation in everything is sublime — inspired these thoughts I’ve shared today: “Accept everything about yourself – I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end – no apologies, no regrets.” ~ Henry. A. Kissinger.

Well said, Hank.

I am me. I cannot change that, nor should I want to. And neither should anyone.

Hope you are well, my friends.

~ Cara

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52 thoughts on “I’ve been thinking . . .

  1. Oh, Cara! This is a great post! I relate to your need for the routine, being punctual, and making sure things in the refrigerator are lined up carefully. I need it too! And I understand the need to be a bit more spontaneous. My son is always encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone. When I do is it usually a good experience. Don’t change, Cara! I like Kissinger’s quote and yours, “Only small minds find cause for disdaining and criticizing what is dissimilar.” Peace to you!

    • So glad you enjoyed this one, Jonel! It sounds like we are much alike and hold the same habits in high-regard.

      I am glad you have your son to encourage you. I have my Michael, and he does a wonderful job helping me to discern between what is adventurous and what is “not going to be an enjoyable experience”.

      Peace to you as well!

      ~ Cara

  2. I felt like singing. ‘I just got to be me’s I know where you’re coming from. I go with the flow to an extent. Just as long as it doesn’t take me out my comfort zone. Well thought post. Enjoyed reading.

  3. Excellent post, Cara! I can seriously relate. I always carry a walnut or cashew granola bar in my purse, love structure, and always prefer a cozy night in to a night out at the bar. I also love plans and consistency, but Jon does not. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay that he doesn’t do things the way I do, but it’s a mental struggle. He is the ying to my yang, but, by golly, his spontaneity is challenging. However, I have learned to be a dreamy and let myself go with the flow… Just a little but… Thanks to Jon! Sounds like you have found the same :) hope you are having a lovely Saturday, dear! XO Amber

    • Thank you, Amber. ;-)

      Sounds like you and me would hit it off famously!

      How ever did we end marrying these men so different in temperament? It makes me laugh because I am all the more certain that God has a sense of humor; He knows the ways in which we need to grow and develop, and partnered us with the right men for the job. And vice-versa: I can imagine all the ways you inspire Jon and the strengths you offer the marriage.

      Happy Monday to you!
      ~ Cara

    • A good one, right? Smart man he was.

      The other day a friend on mine posted one of FB: “Never go on trips with people you don’t love.” Ernest Hemingway

      I told him the wisdom in those words made my teeth rattle.

  4. Great post little lady! it’s taken me most of my life to really get comfortable in my skin. The irony is when I was young, fit and beautiful, I had very little self confidence and missed out on a lot of living because I was just too shy to step out of my comfort zone. Now I am middle-aged, a little soft and wrinkled around he edges and I love who I am. I still have a healthy conservative side, but I am much more likely to put myself out there and take a risk or two, in moderation of course! ;)

    Old Henry was a very wise man. A great quote to live by!

    • Well, I’ve seen your picture, and I would have to say you are still looking pretty darn fit and beautiful. Just sayin’. ;-)

      But yes, I see what you mean. Comparatively, I was not a pretty youngster; as a child I experienced an usual amount of bullying, so when I finally came into my own, I was ready to throw myself into everything. I had missed out on so much. Then the time arrived where I began to narrow my hobbies and delights, trying to figure out what made me happiest. I feel like I’ve found that, and it sounds like you have too.

      Glad you enjoyed this, Lori. And may we take risks and chances, and be better for them whether they turn out or don’t!

      Xoxo,

      ~ C

  5. As one who needs the occasional nudge out of my routine, I sometimes feel like I should be more…spontaneous, risk-taking, or adventuresome. And maybe sometimes that is true. But, was it Popeyes who said it? “I am who I am.”. Actually I remember it more like “I yam who I yam.” Ok, now I am rambling. Thanks Cara. I like who you are:)

    • I think the best we can do is take it case-by case, examining our hearts at every turn. We know ourselves best, and are blessed to be surrounded by others who can help us make good choices.

      Not many people know it, but Popeye was a brilliant man. He figured out the important truth’s of life — not to mention that he did win the girl. ;-)

      Thank you, Judy! I like who you are, too!

  6. Beautifully said. I relate on so many levels and often struggle when I find myself pushing my boundaries too hard. Don’t get me wrong I love adventure and experiencing new things but sometimes I feel like I HAVE to do certain things as a mom with 4 kids and what I really want is to just take them to the park and sit down…not try and corral them all at a local fancy “make your own pottery class for kids” shop and stress over everything they may be breaking! I just want to be the best mom I can and not keep striving to be the super-duper-cala-frage-listic mom I think I should be. All in due time right? Yes I want to experience things and I want my kids to as well but I also want sanity in my life sometimes…it is not often I have it these days but it will return…it will ;)

    • Though I am not a mom, I do know exactly what you mean. When I was nannying there was constant pressure to entertain the kids 24/7. That’s what I was being paid for, right? Wrong. We did do the pool and the park and the movies and on and on, but some days we squatted right at home and it was wonderful for all involved. It is us, the adults, under the false misconception that kids want all sorts of fresh activity. But really they are happy to do the same things, so long as we make it fun and participate.

      You ARE a wonderful mom. It’s written all over your pictures . . . I see them staring back at you with that unmistakable look of adoration in their eyes.

      It will!

  7. Dear Cara,

    You really have a gift. Your words inspire me.

    I think we were meant to be friends. It’s almost as though you are reading my mind. This post is no exception to the fact that you seem to address issues that have been spiraling through my thoughts, weaving in and out and causing some sort of confusion for me. Then I read your post and I (sometimes out loud) exclaim, YES, Cara has once again put words to my thoughts! So many words, in fact, that this response was getting too long so I decided to email it to you instead.

    Thanks again for your wise words!
    Beth

    • Beth,

      I appreciate the time you took in commenting and writing to me. That you felt led to do so touches my heart deeply. I responded to much of the above in my email, so I will leave it at another thank you, and offer my ear any time you need it.

      Xoxox,

      ~ Cara

  8. Loved this! Writing was superb, as always, and definitely something to keep in mind. I wish I could pluck your words out of the internet-universe and keep them tucked away in my pocket for those moments when struggle for balance inevitably evolves into a push-and-shove fight. As it is, my day is already made better from having read this.<3

    • Kristin! Love when you chime in. ;-)

      Thank you for such warm words. I am thrilled this spoke to you. It had been on my mind all weekend, and fleshing it out felt so good and right. I am sure we can figure out how to get these words into your pocket. I can write down Hank’s quote on some pretty paper and then we can tuck it into that secret jean hole–you know the one I am talking about, right? ;-)

  9. Me…I am a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. Always have been; I consider itineraries arduous and confining. I get everything done, just not in any particular order or any order…I can clean three rooms at once; by walking through to get to another…just the way i roll.
    One of my sisters is like you. always needing a plan or a guide…I do always have lists however.
    J

    • You know . . . that doesn’t surprise me one bit, Jess. ;-) And truly, it’s those such as yourself I tend to gravitate toward, wanting to balance out my own structured temperament. I love that the world has all kinds, and if we are so inclined, we can benefit and enjoy these differences, rather than judge and criticize them.

      Blessings to you!

  10. Fantastic post, which resulted in me emitting continual ohmigod’s, me-too’s, oooh’s, whaa?, how?. It’s a wondrous thing to get older and realise life goes on and it’s fine to be your own self. Me, I need the structure as framework, and from its safety I venture out for a little variety from time to time. Generally I’m pretty good with it’s ok to be me [but please don't let there be too many others like me, that would be annoying] but I’m going to keep the H.A.K. quote as a reminder. Your content timing is good, as I have been labouring over a draft post and only today stopped to wonder why is this post so difficult?, when usually it hits me and flows. The reason was, I had preconceived notions about what it should say & how it should be written [see 2 "shoulds" there, I should have known ;)], and I was trying to do it “properly”. Now, I’ll just get on with being me and get it done soon enough. Thanks for sharing – the blogging world has amazing synchronistic ways:)

    • Oh, I wish I could have been there to see you nodding along. ;-)

      It sounds as if you and I have similar preferences when it comes to stepping out of our comfort zones. It’s never easy, and with each new experience a whole host of subjectives and variables enter the picture, making the decision that much more difficult.

      I am so, so glad you felt the liberation in posting as Ella. You were made to be only her, and it is her voice we want to hear.

      Looking forward to reading it!

  11. Pingback: it’s not easy being green | elladee_words

  12. This was such a brilliant post to read! You are so like myself :’) I like to know where I am with things. I write things down, I plan… everything you have just said I can completely relate to. And yes you are right, we should do what makes us happy. I mean I don’t half do some strange things. For example, I wash my face, put my make-up on, and then get in the shower each morning. Now I know a lot of people will not be able to understand this, but I do it because it helps my make-up set since I have dry skin. This is something I’ll always do, regardless of what people think. So thank you for your post, it was lovely to read :)

    • Aimee,

      I am so glad you dropped by and left your thoughts! There is little else I appreciate more than relating to another human being. Truly, there is something special in that “Really? You do that, too?” moment. I completely get the make-up in the shower. While I have the opposite issue — oily skin — I can see how this might be an effective way to infuse your skin with moisture, giving you that all over glow-y look. ;-)

      Thanks again for coming by!

  13. Great post Cara! I too thrive with structure, routine and discipline, but unlike you my hubby is the opposite, so we nicely balance each other out…he calms my obsessiveness and I give him a little structure! ;)

    • Melly,
      Sounds like you and I would have made great roomates. ;-)

      Actually, my husband is my perfect opposite as well. I think my illustration was a tad confusing. I said, “Mirror image,” meaning not that we are identical, but that he reflects backward to my forward, if that makes any sense at all. Like you and your husband, we balance one another, too. I am eternally grateful God partnered me with someone cool, calm, and collected.

      Blessings!
      ~ Cara

  14. Beautifully written and expressed. Appreciate the differences, but always be true to yourself. Individuality is what makes like interesting, and what gives strength to the world. :)

    • Ah, thank you, Melissa. ;-)

      Wise words indeed.

      On another note, I just thought I would tell you how frequently I am flagged down at the gym, by people wanting to know where I learned to work-out and how I manage to stay in such great shape. I always direct them to you. ;-)

      You happen to be one of my inspirations.

      Happy Sunday to you, M’lady!

  15. Morning Cara.

    I find structure confining, to a certain extent but absolutely necessary. Routine is good for me, even the little things like taking the bike on a Sunday morning and buying fresh croissants from the bakery. Discipline…Ah…here’s where I fall down a little. Self-discipline is (for me) hard to maintain, I have lapses. Even my writing (I think it’s called that), I have non-disciplined off days… Alas.

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Thank you. Enjoy your Sunday.

    Chris

    • Happy Sunday to you, friend. Or is Monday by now? I was never good at time zones.

      Yes, I too enjoy the reliability of simple pleasures. Mm, fresh croissants (in my head I am pronouncing this Kwah-sahnts, just thought I’d tell ya); I can hardly think of a more delightful treat. I hope you accompanied this with a steaming cup of coffee.

      Self-discipline is certainly a learned behavior. We are not born wanting to do the things that are difficult but necessary. This could BE because I AM a writer, but I can think of no other profession more unaccommodating to structure than that of a writer; inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient and inopportune of times, yet if we are to succeed we must bade this incessant beast her yearnings and toils.

      So glad you enjoyed this and left some thoughts for me to nibble.

      Have a lovely day yourself!
      ~ Cara

  16. I enjoyed this, Cara! Your ability to write about yourself, and to do this well, is amazing to me. When I get inside my mind to explore, I feel the need for a map. I’d like to do this kind of writing, but don’t think it would succeed. Because you know yourself well, and have something important to share about your views, it is engrossing. We find an opportunity get to know you better, plus your viewpoint is truly helpful.

    • What a lovely comment, thank you, Maria.
      You know that’s a good way of putting it: “need for a map.” I often have difficulty navigating my thoughts and then finding all the right words to suit them. There are some days, though, or perhaps it’s the lucid subject, that stream of thought takes over and I can just . . . write.
      I told my husband this evening, that if I ever become a respectable writer, I would love to write something in the vein of Anne Lamott or Betsy Lerner. I think I might enjoy writing about writing. ;-)
      Thank you for taking the time to come by today.
      Hope you are well,
      Cara

  17. “…makes my teeth rattle” … I love it! I’ve often wished I were more like you. I am hopeless. I am the least organized person in the world. Thank goodness I always had a secretary or an office manager to handle the details and pay the bills! Now, my daughter does it. I was the adventurous child in the family. If we were all alike, the world would be a most boring place. And, nothing would be accomplished!

    • Oh, I wouldn’t say you are hopeless. Your strengths — and you have many — lie elsewhere. You see, I often thanked God for bringing me to those people in desperate need of me, people like yourself. Without you, I would never have landed such great jobs!

      These are true words indeed. Boring and unaccomplished. So very glad we don’t live in that world!

  18. Brilliant post! I’m the same when it comes to the routine, the schedule, leaving early to be on time! I love lists! I’ve friends who are very different from me, I let them take me out of my comfort zone once in awhile, but there always comes a point where I reach my out-of-comfort quota and say ‘no thanks’! Which they seem to understand, we’re all different, ’tis the beauty of it all! :)

    • Thank you for coming by and leaving such a wonderful response! How fortunate you have friends who know you well enough to nudge, but relent when you’ve had enough of novel and adventurous. My husband does that for me and I am grateful for it!
      You are so right, “Tis the beauty of it all!”

      Have a wonderful weekend!

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