Comfort Zone”

“Oh God, I’m in trouble,” I thought to myself as I realized I was in over my head with what was about to transpire.

Walking into that darkened industrial building one Saturday evening, I was shocked to see a maze of 16 floor to ceiling metal poles scattered throughout the room. To the left was a wall rack filled with black patent leather, 6 inch stiletto heels and straight ahead was a massive mirror covering the entire wall.. No matter where you stood, you were visible for the world to see.

Two young women, scantily clad, entered with their highly defined and sculpted legs dangling from the hemline of extremely short shorts. Nancy, a petite, but athletic looking woman in her Betty Boop hairdo gave the introduction as Aheisha, a six-foot tall Bohemian beauty with legs that traveled to her throat, paraded around the room in red leather, thigh high boots and a “scanky”, barely-there, black lace outfit, illustrating exotic moves we would all be expected to replicate.

“Where are the whips and chains?” I whispered to the woman next to me who looked like she was in an advanced state of shock.

“Ok ladies, everyone pick a out a pair of shoes and let’s get going,” Nancy called out above the giggles invading the room masking everyone’s trepidation.

“Now I’m really nervous.  I haven’t had a pair of shoes like these on my feet in over 25 years.  I’m sure I’ll break an ankle or quite possibly my head when I fall on it.”

Determined to be a good sport at this “pole dancing” birthday party, I sat down and squeezed my large foot into the itty bitty shoe. As we all stood up to try to walk, I was comforted by the fact that the other 15 women in the group were having just as much difficulty trying to navigate themselves toward the liquid courage one participant brought.

“Drink up ladies. This is a party!”

“Drink up! No problem. I’m going to need all the help I can get to make it through this evening.” I said out loud as I wobbled my way to the make shift bar.

“Jackie relax,” I kept repeating over and over in my head. “You can learn to gyrate just as good as you wiggle. Get out of your safety net. It’s time you challenged yourself a little!”

A safety net, or comfort zone, is that place where we love to hide when we’re unfamiliar with a new surrounding, unfamiliar people or a shocking experience.  How many times have we gone to a party realizing we know no one and what is the first thing we do? Well, if you’re anything like me, you hide in a corner with a stiff drink and hope just one familiar face walks through the door so that you have someone to glom onto. Making conversation with someone you have never met before can be very disconcerting, if not down right scary.

Talking for me has never been a problem, but to people I donn’t know… well, that was a different story. Early in my career as a “Neighborhood Specialist”, I realized I would have to over come this weakness in order to survive. Networking is the life’s blood of a realtor and conversing to a “potential” client is the way to keep it flowing.

Typically,  I’m a creature of habit and like to know what is going to happen next…even with my children. When they were little there was a schedule…when to get up, when to eat, when to nap, when they were allowed to bug me.  Then they turned into teenagers. Talk about being hurled out of my comfort zone!

“What do you mean you might not be home tonight? Where do you think you’re going?”

“Mom, I’m 18 now…a legal adult. You need to stop worrying and let me grow up. I promise I will make good choices.”

This was probably the hardest challenge of my life for they were right. I had to let them grow up, spread their wings and make the choices that were correct for them whether I liked it or not.

While our comfort zones are very safe and secure, they are extremely limiting and confining. By staying in our protective bubble, we have no room to grow intellectually, spiritually, experientially or in relationships. We need to try to let go of our fears and break out once in  awhile.

As I strutted my stuff in that dimly-lit room, first holding onto the wall until I could actually grabbed onto a pole for dear life, I felt  ridiculous, awkward and silly. Once I became more confident in those treacherous shoes, I started to add a little of my own personality to the moves. Small at first, guarded and inhibited.  Finally, I let loose and allowed my body to do things I didn’t think were possible – all the while watching myself in that once foreboding mirror.

“Jackie, you’re doing great.”  Nancy, the sex goddess stated, as I twirled my torso around the pole in ten concentric circles  “And the arch in your back bend is perfect. Isn’t it amazing how you can slide your body upside down until your head is on the floor at the same time as your feet?”

“Yeah, but how do I get back down? I think I’m stuck!”

Make life a little more interesting once in awhile. Take a challenge. Explore something that is daunting. Approach that person you have been wanting to get to know or go after that relationship from which you’ve been holding back. What do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing, but just think what you might gain.  Pole dancing anyone!!