Comfort Zones…

“If you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, you will not only be amazed by the marvel and sights of the world, but also with the wonders that lay deep within yourself.”
Rosanna Ienco
From her new book Awakening the Divine Soul – Finding Your Life Purpose

I used to think of myself as an adventure-seeker, or at the least an outgoing, “I’ll try anything once” kind of girl.  In grade school my nickname was Spaz. Shut up.

So, when I had the opportunity to travel downtown (Chicago) for the AWP Conference, I registered without thinking of my comfort zone, i.e. setting my mind on autopilot for my routine drive to the office,  control over when I arrive and when I can leave.

Now, I don’t like driving. In fact, I would say I’d rather wash toilets than drive, especially during rush hour in Chicago winter weather. So, driving downtown on an unfamiliar route was out of the question. But, I had never taken the train.  My husband, bless him, mapped out my itinerary: which train to take and what time, which bus to catch to get me closest to the Hilton and how much cash I should have on hand for the round trip. Still, my insides were twisting with anxiety.  What if I couldn’t find my way out of Union Station? What if I got on the wrong bus, took it to the end of the line and winded up being this little white girl in a shady part of the city?

My husband dropped me at the Downers Grove Main St. train station before 7am. If you were on that train, you’d know me: petite brunette, Old Navy messenger bag balanced on my lap, favorite NaNoWriMo“Author” coffee mug in right hand, Google map in the left.

But, after I found my way out of Union Station and onto the street and onto the Number 1 Harrison bus, I was alive with energy. To be back in the city, blocks away from Columbia College where I studied Fiction Writing, the bustle of Chicagoans on their morning foot commute, Starbucks coffee cups omitting steam into the city skyline.

And the workshops were amazing! Editors on panel telling us what they want and what they hate; published authors outlining their techniques of the short story; college professors and interns giving tips on how to teach young writers to take risks with their characters. I took pages of notes, handfuls of business cards, freebies from the Book Fair and an overwhelming feeling of community.  I am a writer. There’s nothing better than stepping out of your comfort zone to explore new surroundings, make connections and revel in your new found confidence!

Also, I had the honor of  lunching with my friend and teacher, Christina Katz (aka WriterMama)


 P.S.   I discovered I really like taking the train! When I didn’t have to rein in the growing panic of being outside my comfort zone, I was able to relax. I read, I wrote poetry – Poetry! and I planned out my next creative writing class lesson plan. All while being transported to where I needed to be. Kind of like royalty, when you think about it.

So, are youready to step out of your comfort zone ? Imagine a goal, make a list of action steps  – and Act! And, please – share your steps here. Afterall, this is Writers Inspired!



Filed under Advice, Believe, emotion, Perseverance, writers, writing inspiration

4 responses to “Comfort Zones…

  1. Elise

    Mary Jo! How wonderful for you. The excitement. You ARE a real WRITER! You got out of your comfort zone and succeeded! Good for you. I went to the South Carolina Writers Workshop last October and felt just as energized as you are now. It fuels the fire for a very long time…

  2. I used to love, love taking the L and Burlington Northern. People watching at its best! Good for you.
    Aren’t conferences the best…good vibes all over!

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