Leaving the Comfort Zone

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, who just tried to schedule a dinner date with a friend…on Super Bowl Sunday. In New England. 

Clearly, I’m a little out of touch on certain things.

Since it’s January and all, I thought I’d share with you one of my goals for the New Year. And that is:

Do Things That Require Me To Step Out Of My Comfort Zone

Even just writing that down and putting it out there requires my taking a risk (Success #1, LOL!). I’m pretty sure most of us are in some kind of routine of actions that may or may not be serving us anymore. I may not have been paying attention to the football postseason schedule, but I have been paying attention to things I do just because I’ve always done them that way. For some things, that’s okay (my technique for boiling water, as an example, doesn’t really need tweaking). For others, well, there could be better ways of accomplishing goals and I’ve vowed to be open to new methods.

Health. Like a lot of people, I use January to make a commitment to get healthier. But this year, instead of vowing to lose weight and exercise more, I decided to try something new. For the last several weeks I’ve been following, not a weight loss plan, but a plan that eliminates foods with the potential to cause inflammation and allergies/sensitivity. It is very strict–no dairy, grains, sugar, legumes (which means no peanut butter *sob*), or processed food. Eventually, I can introduce these foods back into my diet one at a time and see what’s causing me problems. I’m not gonna lie. It’s been difficult. But not impossible.

And the results have been astounding. Aside from an almost unbelievable double-digit weight loss, I am sleeping like a baby. I no longer crave a nap in the afternoon. I almost never crave sugar anymore. And most wonderful of all: the chronic stuffy nose I’ve had my entire life is now completely clear. I am giddy with all this extra oxygen. All this, because I took a chance on something that looked too scary, too darned hard, before.

Knitting. Yes, knitting! I taught myself to knit, from instructions in a magazine, when I was 7 years old. I have always had a quirk in my knitting that has required me to fiddle with patterns. Stitches came out with a little twist, unless I knitted into the back of the stitch (basic knitting involves putting the needle into the front of the stitch). Most of the time I can make it work, but some more complicated lace and eyelet patterns just don’t. I have never been able to figure out why–and I never asked anyone to watch my technique and tell me. Finally, I sat down with a basic how-to-knit video on YouTube, and I understood. It wasn’t the knit stitches that were the problem. They came out twisted because I was wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong direction on the purl stitches on the back side of the knitted fabric. This seems like a small thing but it honestly was like solving a mystery–one I’d put off addressing for decades. Now to train myself to do the purls correctly!

Writing. This year, I vow to write something other than a cozy mystery, in a completely different genre. To stretch myself. To see if I can do it. Just to see what happens. I’ve already begun the research and some of the outlining. I’ll report back on this one.

How about you? Have you taken a risk lately? Tried something new? 




34 Thoughts

    1. It IS fun. One time when I went on retreat in Vermont, my friends (all romance and women’s fiction writers) helped me hammer out a basic plot. They were all really getting into it–one, because they loved the story, and two, because it was something very different from what we all usually work on. I can’t wait to read your new work!

  1. Good for you, Jane! Those really hard things … well, good for you. Right now I’m not tempted to write a different style of book than the cozies and historicals I already write. But I have taken on the SINC chapter presidency, which is a real stretch both given my writing schedule and our far-flung board – as you know! But I’m drawing on my not-bad organizational skills to get through the next three years sane (mostly) and intact. Maybe then I’ll work on the dairy and sugar thing. ;^)

    1. You are already doing an amazing job as prez (not that I had any different expectations)! We will have some fun, that’s for sure. And keep writing what you’re writing. When or if the time comes that you want to try something different, you will know.

  2. I, too, am toying with writing something novel-length that would be a switch for me. I’ve got the character and setting. Now I need a hook I fall in love with.

  3. I have to ask: if you eliminate all those items from your diet, what’s left?

    My agent keeps asking if I’d like to write historical fiction, and I keep saying no–too much work, too much research, too much detail to mess up. But there’s this one story that nags at me…so maybe this year.

    1. Vegetables, proteins (including eggs), limited fruits, and healthy oils (sunflower, canola, olive, avocado, and clarified butter). Sweet potatoes and white potatoes are allowed. With planning and scanning the Internet for compliant recipes, it’s not too bad, really.

      And re: historical fiction, you can always write the story and hire someone to police the historical elements for you! I say that because I always look forward to a new SC book 🙂

  4. My take on trying something new is, if JK Rowling was brave enough to write in a different genre after Harry Potter, the rest of us mere mortals can do it too! Good luck with your adventures, Susannah.

  5. Wow! Good for you, Jane. Stepping out of your comfort zone does appear to be a very positive experience. I wish you all the luck with everything thing. For me, this year is pushing me out of my comfort zones in so many areas of my life and I’m so excited about it. 2017 is going to be a great year for all of us!

  6. The results of your diet sound wonderful, and I’m happy for you that you’ve found the secret to your knitting problem.

    Good luck with the new project.

  7. Ha! My stomach started to hurt the second I read “do things outside of my comfort zone.”

    I know it’s supposed to help us grown and live full lives but I like my comfort zone. A lot. It’s warm here and, well, comfortable.

    Besides, I quit a well-paying corporate job 16 months ago to become a full-time writer. I think that’s enough Outside My Comfort Zone to last the rest of my life. 😀

    1. That is brave, Aimee. But we only get one life, at least that we remember, and we have to live it on our own terms. Congratulations to you.

  8. Every year I’ve forced myself to go to a doctor/dentist/eye doctor to get something checked or seen to- stuff that I never like to do, but figure if I’m having a rotten time hanging out in waiting rooms it might as well be when the weather is less than ideal anyways. I admire you working with the food plan. A few of my friends have tried whole 30 (and rave about it) but I think it might have to be something I tack on for next year.
    Will you be blogging about your writing process for your new non-cozy? While I have loved reading your Greek restaurant series, it would be interesting to see what you have next!

    1. I am doing Whole 30, btw. I didn’t list all the changes I’ve experienced in this short time but I will say they are dramatic. When the 30 days is up in another week, I will have to do some serious soul searching about how much of these things I want to allow back into my life. If you are feeling brave (and ready to do a lot of vegetable prep, planning, and cooking at home), I do recommend it, if only to see how you are “supposed” to be feeling. As for the noncozy, If you want me to, I can certainly blog about the process. For the first time I will be writing from multiple points of view. That’s a little daunting… And thanks for reading my Greek series. There will be at least a couple more books, one way or the other.

      1. That’s good to hear (about the book series!). As a reader, I hate to demand specific blogs…but just know you’d have an interested audience/ As for Whole 30- my friend swears she would have never made it the first week had she not been snowed in with her kids for a week with all compliant foods- she did nothing but prep/cook and play in the snow. She lost three pounds the first week and is a convert.

  9. Congratulations on your impressive accomplishments already! And it’s only January! 🙂 Reading through the comments makes me feel like it’s a year for new beginnings. That can be daunting but also exciting. I’m in “excitement mode” right now about several new projects. Wishing everyone joyful successes/adventures!

  10. Congratulations on all your recent changes… They sound inspiring and beneficial! My newest ‘risky business’ is to attend concerts more often even if that means solo. Also, I plan on visiting museums monthly as well. I love live music and art and am trying to weave them more often into my life of work and family obligations. Hard but worth it!

    1. Wonderful! I love that you are doing what you love. It’s not like you can really talk in an art gallery or at a concert (or the movies), so no need to feel anything other than your personal joy if you go alone. Wishing you many happy and meaningful experiences.

  11. This year my main resolution is to be more social. I have terrible crowd anxiety, so I never go out. But being single with not many friends in the area, life gets boring and a little lonely. So I’ve been trying to go out at least once a week. I’ve signed up for all the work outings and I went to karaoke with a friend the other night and didn’t have a massive panic attack, so things are looking good.

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