Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes, you can get out of your comfort zone.

While on vacation this week on Mount Desert Island in Maine, I had the opportunity to unplug and focus on family in a setting that has stunning scenery and vast opportunities for exploration.  I also realized that there is a whole heck of a lot of the world that I'm missing when at home.  We marveled at all the stars we could see every night from our rental house.  Every night at home in NJ, I could watch Orion rising over the trees out my front door, but with all of the light pollution, it is impossible to see anything besides the brightest stars. Here in Maine, I got a crick in my neck staring at the Milky Way and was literally seeing spots in front of my eyes trying to count all the stars I could see. It was dizzying.

And this got me thinking: the same stars and Milky Way are over my head at home and in Maine, but I've lost sight of them at home.  While it isn't necessarily my fault-- I can't control the streetlights and shopping plazas-- I've forgotten that all of those stars actually exist. I've let, to be cliche, the wool be pulled over my eyes.  What other things am I no longer seeing because I've gotten comfortable with others controlling my view?

We can't see or experience anything new when in our comfort zones. The daily landscape of home and work becomes mundane and, again to be cliche, it is easy to take things for granted.  This week, I stood in awe of the cliffs and crashing surf. I was swept away by the views of mountains and ocean converging. I could stand on the shore and gaze for hours at the bobbing lobster buoys and my daughters exploring the tidal pools in the rocks. And how did I get to this point? I had to drive 12 hours --literally out of my comfort zone-- with the family packed in our Yukon.

Hiking Higher

Exploring Acadia National Park, we took our daughters along the coastal trails of Ship Harbor and Great Head and up to the south summit of the Bubble Mountains. My husband and I, sans the girls, went up the Beehive and to the south summit of Mount Champlain.  While the Beehive is shorter in comparison to all of the other mountains in Acadia, it is one of the most difficult hikes: vertical, exposed, climbers pull themselves up via iron rungs secured in the rock face. Only the Precipice trail is harder.  I'm proud to say I've hiked both multiple times, but that was years ago.

I've gotten complacent and comfortable at home-- as my waistline will attest--and managing being a mom and career woman has kept me with my feet firmly planted on the ground.... although usually running from one thing to another.  But when my husband suggested we take a hike up Beehive, I had a moment of panic. Could I handle this kind of stress? Could I handle clinging to the mountainside? I've surmounted professional tasks with ease, but the Beehive? It has been 6 years since I last climbed it, and so much has changed in 6 years.

I had a choice: I could let me fears and uncertainty rule my actions or I could embrace the opportunity.  Here I was hiking with my husband, and I couldn't remember the last time we took the time to do something together without the kids. I knew without a doubt that as long as I had my husband with me, I could face my fear of heights (actually falling from those heights is my fear), and be rewarded with stunning vistas and a sense of accomplishment.  Whether it was holding my hand across the iron walk or giving me words of encouragement as I pulled myself up the rungs, we reaffirmed our commitment to one another. We are a team whether climbing mountains in Acadia or tackling the mountain of laundry at home.

But it was this challenge that reminded me that even though 6 years have gone by and it has been 12 years that my husband and I have been together, total time is just as important as the small moments of time where we can be pushed beyond our comfort zone. And missing recognizing those opportunities can be detrimental. It is like that old saying found on many locker room walls: Pain is temporary; Pride is forever. Who knows what you might never realize about yourself if you don't push yourself to do something new?

This coming school year I am faced with a difficult schedule of traveling across the building to different classrooms, and while I don't want vacation to end, I know that I can meet this challenge. And while I'm hiking between buildings between classes, don't think I won't visualize being on an Acadia trail.


  1. Nice, Kate. Enjoyed this as well as all your Maine pics. Hugs--Cousin Claudia