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Coasting with your nut

By Ellen Hanning
Columnist

Hello nutty friends out there.

Have you reached the place where you experience a thrill in anticipation of stepping outside your comfort zone? Would you agree that we have some comfort zone momentum going? Isn’t becoming a successful nut fun and addicting?

“To do” opportunities that offer me a stretch outside my CZ are a thrill to me since I am a doer. I have discovered that this is not so when the opportunity presented will cause my emotions to stretch outside their comfort zone.

Riding on the back of a speeding bullet, eating fire (which you can watch on YouTube under Sue Ellen eats fire), trying a new sport, etc., all evoke a thrill, and this is accomplishment for one who a few years back was afraid of everything. But speaking about something that brings forth uncomfortable emotions and I shut down. This area of my comfort zone needs some help.

The last column, titled “People who challenge your comfort zone” skimmed the surface of emotional challenges. At some point in the distant future, I need to address this issue again. It’s all a process of uncovering our true selves, — inspirational, and yes, sometimes shocking and uncomfortable. We all can have a perfect life if we can just get out of our own way. Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer, and poet of the 19th century said, “Most of the shadows in this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” Wow, what a simple yet profound truth that is!

Congratulations on the accomplishments you have made if you have been participating in stepping outside your comfort zone. An accomplishment is progress no matter how small you think it is. Please don’t judge your forward momentum. Any steps in the direction to breach that CZ boundary are to be celebrated. Some may have completely conquered a fear. Great. Some may have taken a few steps in that direction. It is all phenomenal. Wallow in the realization of success; pat yourself on the back; bask in good, encouraging thoughts about your achievement. Whatever comfort zone challenge you have conquered is now worth jumping in a big pot of feel good and soaking. This week we will coast along with our nuts. We have tackled, challenged and even freaked out concerning our comfort zones, but we’ve established momentum, and this week we can enjoy each day realizing our successes. Sometimes doing nothing is more productive than doing something, giving our brains time to process.

My daughter spent two years in Italy then came home for two years and did not speak Italian while home, mainly because there aren’t many Texans who speak Italian. She went back to Italy on her honeymoon, and her Italian friends told her that she was speaking their language better than when she left Italy. They commented on her improved use of verbs. They wanted to know if she had been studying Italian while back in the states. When she told them she had not, they said her brain kept studying while she slept. This week let your brain work while you sleep. Each day check in with it and enjoy the epiphanies. All it takes is paying attention to what’s going on up there.

For you overachievers, coasting could be an overwhelming challenge, but we are moving ahead this week. Our heads will be occupied with acknowledging the details of the changes that have taken place in our bodies, minds, emotions, and personalities. If you must have an assignment, spend hours listing the many behaviors and residuals that have taken place because you have changed your comfort zone boundary. I guarantee this list will shock you if you pay attention to and record the changes both inside and out. While coasting we may be able to heed that “stinkin’ thinkin’” as well.

Focusing on the accomplishments rather than the failures is something most of us do not do. In fact do you often obsess about the 1 negative and ignore the 20 positives? If you have overcome any of the 10 comfort zone testers on your original list, even if you have taken steps in that direction, think how great it feels to challenge your CZ and win.

This is successful nut appreciation week! Celebrate your nut. Remember the definition … a nut is one who does the opposite of what everyone else does. While everyone else has been couching out in front of the tube, you have been expanding yourself. Every day we have opportunity to be more then we are, and all you nuts out there continue rising to the challenge. Celebrate!

Back to learning a new language for a moment. The last 18 months my daughter was in Italy, she translated Italian to English for a company that wanted their online articles translated into American English rather than British English. The poor unsuspecting Europeans think they are learning English but instead they are learning loo in place of toilet, plaster for band-aid, screw for prison guard, bonnet for the hood of a car, boot for the trunk, bloke for man, lorry for tractor and rubber for eraser. They even say things like learnt instead of learned! How can we as self-respecting Americans stand for this? The British have capitalized on the opportunity and have language schools all over Italy, which I have seen, and I’m assuming these schools are all over Europe. Starting an American school sounds like a great excuse to move to your favorite European country, right?

The second time I went to Italy for three months, I had opportunity to teach a man in his ’30s English, American style. I can still see the smile on his face. Italians want to learn American English, but we continue to lolly-gag around and let the Brits take over teaching the world English. Ours is an incredibly lavish and diverse language with a multitude of words to express the same thought or concept. The marriage of diverse and subtle win English the title of the grandest language. Take the word cry and compare it to sob, weep, wail, boohoo, bawl, blubber and squall. Each word is subtly different and paints a different picture in our minds but still expresses the concept of tears streaming down one’s face. Compare these many ways of expressing one thought with the person who in the span of five minutes uses the F word 15 times. Got the picture? English is loaded with meaningful words to express each feeling.

This week coast along with your achievements as you give thought to them, applaud them, celebrate them, and join me next time for,  “Would the real me please stand up?” This week as you spend time thinking about your successes and enjoying every moment, I leave you with this thought from Henry David Thoreau, 19th century American author, philosopher and naturalist best known for his book Walden and his essay, “Civil Disobedience.”

“He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life.”

sueellen.haning@gmail.com

This story was posted on April 18, 2013.